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Hester Prynne is the main character of Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. Set in Massachusetts colony in Puritan times, the story tells of Hester's scandalous affair with the minister Arthur Dimmesdale, which results in the birth of Hester's daughter Pearl. Hester protects Dimmesdale by concealing his identity from the community, but is forced to wear on her clothing the letter 'A' for adultery -- the 'scarlet letter' of the story's title. Always a sympathetic character, Hester is also now seen by some as an early example of feminine strength and moxie in American literature.
Actresses who have played Hester in film versions of The Scarlet Letter include Lillian Gish (in 1926) and Demi Moore (in 1995).