The Scarlet Letter is set in the late 1840's in Salem, Massachusetts. During that era, it wasn't uncommon for individuals to be persecuted on ridiculous accounts. This was because the Puritans had the majority of the world under wraps. The Puritans were a group of people who grew discontent with the Church of England and thrived for not just religious reforms, but moral and social reforms as well. The Puritan's believed that the Bible was God's "true law," and that it provided a plan for living. The Devil was believed to be the creator of all evil; and all bad occurrences were considered to be his doing. Puritans stripped away the conventional formalities of Christianity in an attempt to "purify" the church and their own lives. The spiritual beliefs they detained were strong; this strength was held over to include communities, laws, and customs. Each person and each church was held under God's order; no one dared to disobey, if they did they'd have to face harsh consequences. With such strong beliefs it was known that they had to find a place of their own. They couldn't stand be under the King's rule any longer. After escaping the King of England's persecutions, they came to America.
In America, they settled all up and down the East coast. Hester Prynne, a mother of one who committed adultery while her husband was being apprehended by an Indian tribe and also the protagonist of the story, lived in Salem, a very prominent Puritan settlement known for their "witch trials." Once the Puritans discovered that Hester had committed such an unmoral sin, they put her on public display for townspeople to scorn and criticize her. Following her release, "the scene was not of mixture awe such as much always invest the spectacle of guilt and shame of a fellow creature" (63). Eventually, the citizens of Salem banished Hester to the far outskirts of town, "in a land where iniquity is searched out and punished." (83). One might think that Hester would be completely and utterly ashamed, however