The Scarlet Letter was the first important novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of the leading authors of nineteenth-century romanticism in American literature. Like many of his works, the novel is set in Puritan New England and examines guilt, sin, and evil as inherent human traits. The main character, Hester Prynne, is condemned to wear a scarlet “A” (for “adultery”) on her chest because of an affair that resulted in an illegitimate child. Meanwhile, her child’s father, a Puritan pastor who has kept their affair secret, holds a high place in the community. Similar themes are found in later literature as well as in current events.