The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is considered to be one of the greatest examples of true American literature. Its excellency of topic, characterization, and description has made it a permanent part of our history. Set in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s, it describes the life of Hester Prynne, a Puritan woman whose existence is marred by sin. The real genius of the book is found in its description. Hawthorne makes allusion, symbolism, and romanticism work toward one effect, making the reader feel as if she was there, watching it all happen, living through Hester's struggle.