In 17th century New England, an adulterous relation between Hester Prynne and a lover she refuses to name, results in the birth of a daughter, Pearl. To advertise Hester's sin, she is forced to wear a crimson 'A' on her bosom, and the cumulative, constant disapproval of the tightly-knit Puritan community makes life a daily torture. But worse torments beset the unnamed father, torn between love of Hester and his daughter, and a desire to maintain his position within the unforgiving Puritan society. Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel is at once a sombre, almost gothic romance, and a pungent critique of societies that seek to overly restrict human activity. The author mercilessly dissects human relationships, examining themes of shame, dread and mental anguish, in a book that has become an American Classic.