The Scarlet Letter has been filmed a number of times, with two particularly outstanding versions. The 1926 silent film version starring Lillian Gish (Hester) and Lars Hanson (Arthur) was an excellent, straightforward adaptation. Filmed several more times during the silent-film era, The Scarlet Letter was adapted as a talking film in 1934 but not filmed again until the 1979 PBS version. Filmed in Boston, this four-part mini-series boasted authenticity in every detail, researched by scholars of literature and American culture. Considered a masterpiece of documentary as well as commercial filmmaking, it starred Meg Foster as Hester and John Heard as Arthur.
Many of Hawthorne’s short stories, especially “The Minister’s Black Veil,” “My Kinsman, Major Molineau,” and “Young Goodman Brown,” deal with the same themes as does The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne’s novel The House of the Seven Gables and many of his shorter works are set in New England and use the seventeenth-century Puritan setting to discuss universal human problems.