Puritan America in the 17th century: A small village on the East Coast surrounded by nothing but wilderness. A woman, Hester Prynne (Senta Berger), is pilloried because she is bearing an illegitimate child and refuses to reveal the father’s (Lou Castel) name. As a punishment, she is forced to wear a scarlet “A” (for “adulteress”) on her chest. Her pride and her love let her endure the contempt of the puritan townspeople. She raises her daughter (for ther first time: Yella Rottländer) on her own.
When an old stranger comes to the village, Hester recognizes him as her long lost husband Chillingworth (Hans-Christian Blech). He pretends to be a doctor, lives in the town unrecognized and sets about uncovering the identity of Hester’s lover.