Thou and thine, Hester Prynne, belong to me.'
With these chilling words a husband claims his wife after a two-year absence. But the child she clutches is not his, and Hester must wear a scarlet 'A' upon her breast, the sin of adultery visible to all. Under an assumed name her husband begins his search for her lover, determined to expose what Hester is equally determined to protect. Defiant and proud, Hester witnesses the degradation of two very different men, as moral codes and legal imperatives painfully collide.
Set in the Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, The Scarlet Letter also sheds light on the nineteenth-century in which it was written, as Hawthorne explores his ambivalent relations with his Puritan forebears. The text of this edition is taken from the Centenary Edition of Hawthorne's works, the most authoritative critical edition.