This production closely follows Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. In Boston, shortly after its founding in 1630, the Puritan citizenry order Hester Prynne (Meg Foster), a beautiful young woman, to wear a scarlet letter "A" (signifying "adulteress") on her dress for life after she bears a child in the absence of her husband, who has delayed his trip to the New World to conclude business. Despite intense questioning, Hester refuses to identify the father, Arthur Dimmesdale (John Heard), a respected minister who cannot muster the courage to acknowledge his sin in public. After Hester's husband (Kevin Conway) arrives unrecognized by anyone but Hester, he, too, fails to extract the name from her. So he assumes another identity, calling himself Roger Chillingworth, in order to ferret out the wrongdoer and gain revenge. Meanwhile, Hester, a seamstress, bears up with dignity even though she and her child, Pearl (Elisa Erali), suffer continual ridicule. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, suffers gnawing guilt, and his health declines. Chillingworth, a scholar familiar with medicinal remedies, provides potions to Dimmesdale while gathering clues that evenutally implicate the reverend as the culprit. All the while, Chillingworth, monomanical in his quest for revenge, becomes corrupt, and Dimmesdale, distraught with remorse, develops heart problems. But Hester, stronger and wiser for her experience, carries on and earns the respect of the people. When Hester and Dimmesdale meet alone, they agree to set sail together and begin anew. But after Dimmesdale delivers a rousing sermon on a holiday, his guilt causes him to mount a scaffold to speak to the people Viewers then learn whether he has finally gathered the courage to reveal himself as Pearl's father.