The Values of Changing Society: The Scarlet Letter Unmarried women that got pregnant in the day of the Hester Prynne, the main character of the Scarlet Letter, suffered many more prejudices and punishments than women in the same situation today. The penance Hester was forced to pay for the sin of adultery was incredibly harsh, though many of her peers believed it was not a worthy punishment. In todayÃÂ¹s society, women that have premarital sex are often looked down on, yet unmarried pregnancies are becoming more and more accepted.
In the Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne committed adultery, had a child, and therefore was punished by her Puritan community. The punishment Hester received was to wear a scarlet letter on her chest and stand on the town scaffold, while she was pressured to admit who her babies father was. As adultery was an incredibly serious sin, many of the women in the town believed she should have been more strongly penalized.
For example, as Hester leaves the prison she is scorned by a group of women who believe she should have been put to death. Yet the public humiliation Hester receives for the three hours she must stand on the scaffold was agonizing. And for the next seven years of her life, Hester with her scarlet A had to live her life as an object of morbid curiosity to everyone in the town.
Unmarried pregnancies today have become more and more common. Not only adult women, but teenagers in high school engage in premarital sex and often are forced to endure the consequence of a child. As a pregnant teen, girls feel some of the pressure and suffer from the alienation that Hester felt. They continue their lives at school in front of their peers, living every day as a spectacle. Adult women that have fatherless children are also detested by many people in the society. But often they are praised, even encouraged to raise their child without a father.
So much has changed from the times of Hester Prynne and the Puritans. Unmarried pregnancies of today are not looked down on as much as they used to be. Unfortunately, premarital sex is becoming more and more common. The values of the Puritan time, at times unfairly strict, are practically nonexistent today. It is sad that it is practically accepted to see a young girl, high school, or even middle school age, that is pregnant. It is not a rare thing anymore, to hear about girls dropping out of school to support their child or children. Even more unfortunate is that the ethics of marriage and premarital sex are so low now, and have changed so much over a few hundred years, that they may be completely void within the next century.