, Research Paper
The Tragedy of an Unintentional PregnancyUnintentional pregnancies have forever haunted the lives of teenagers throughout this country. In The Scarlet Letter, a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a parallel is drawn to these unwanted pregnancies through the character of Hester Prynne. Hester, a middle-aged adult, commits the sin of adultery in her small Puritan community. For a long period of time, Hester is renounced by the other citizens of the community for her sin. Though she was not a teenager at the time of her sin, we can see some of the same things happen to Hester that would most likely happen to a teenager if she became pregnant. Each day that she lived her life after her sin, Hester received daily reminders, not only from the other citizens, but from her punishment, of what she had done. As her punishment demanded, she wore a scarlet letter A, “so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom”. This was a constant reminder of what she had done. Teenage parents also have a constant reminder, their child. As happens with the teenager’s child, Hester’s letter A “had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself.” This often happens with teenage parents. They find themselves alone, as Hester was, with nowhere to turn. An unwanted pregnancy also plays with their heads, as well. Shortly after the sentencing Hester received for her crime, her mental well-being was in great jeopardy. She had been removed from the jail for her public humiliation, and “after her return to the prison, Hester…was found to be in a state of nervous excitement, that demanded constant watchfulness.” After a teenage pregnancy, mothers are often in a state of partial insanity, mostly due to the great trauma that they have just experienced. Unfortunately, some mothers of an unwanted child must be watched, as Hester was, “lest she should perpetrate violence on herself, or do some half-frenzied mischief to the poor babe.” The state that the poor women end up in is a dangerous one, because no one, not even the mother herself, wants to do any harm to the baby, but when mothers become in this state, they are dangerous. The most danger, however, is in the reaction that Hester received from the other members of society, and the reaction that most teenage mothers receive from their communities.
The most disgrace that Hester felt came from the Puritan community around her. They ostracized her from her own town. This is the same treatment that most teenage parents receive, just because they are different and have committed a sin that most people do not find to be right. The bulk of Hester’s persecution came from the women of the town. They were not even happy with the sentence handed down on her by the ministers. “It would be greatly for the public behoof, if we women, being of mature age and churchmembers in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne…If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knot together, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not!” This kind of heartless discrimination is often the same that teenage mothers receive from fellow teenagers and other women in society today. Sometimes, people go too far with this, as they did with Hester. The women in her community wanted to take away her child. “There was a design on the part of some of the leading inhabitants, cherishing the more rigid order of principles in religion and government, to deprive her of her child. On the supposition that Pearl, as already hinted, was of demon origin, these good people not unreasonably argued that a Christian interest in the mother’s soul required them to remove such a stumbling-block from her path.” Although in most cases teenage parents do not have to face this harsh treatment, certain things that people suggest to them are not their right to decide, like whether or not the baby should be put up for adoption, or even aborted. Too many teenage mothers, like Hester, experience this type of persecution. The experiences that Hester Prynne has in this story with her baby are very similar to some of the experiences that a teenage mother goes through with her baby. Hester’s trials and tribulations are almost mirror images of a teenage mother’s. In both cases, the persecution, while it has opinionated support behind it, is wrong. The wrongful renouncement of people who must deal with unintentional pregnancies, especially the mothers, is very detrimental to the well-being not only of the mother, but of the child itself.