The novel was written in the mid-nineteenth century, but it takes the mid-seventeenth century for the events it describes (1642-49). Hawthorne wrote during the Romantic Movement in American literature, which continued about 1830 to 1865. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edgar Allen Poe, and Walt Whitman were his literary generations. The Scarlet Letter is considered a piece of American Romantic literature because it is set in a distant past, the Puritan era 200 years earlier to Hawthorne’s time, and because it deals with the interior psychology of individual characters.
Romantic literature is marked by the belief that the imagination is capable of discovering truths that the rational mind cannot reach. These truths were usually accompanied by powerful emotion and associated with natural beauty. Reason, logic, and cultivation did not have greater value than imagination, individual felling, and wild nature to the Romantics. The Romantics didn't completely reject logical thought as invalid for all purposes; but for the purpose of art, they placed a premium on intuitive, "felt" experience.
Although Hawthorne wrote the novel during the Romantic literature, Puritanism was highly reflected in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. The Puritans is a religious group, which migrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in New England in the early 1600s, believed in a “pure” interpretation of the Bible, which did not contain some of the traditional practices of the Church of England. Although the Church did not officially control the State in Puritan settlements, religion and government were closely intertwined. The ministers counseled the magistrates in all affairs concerning the settlement and its citizens. The Puritans had strict rules against the theater, religious music, sensuous poetry, and frivolous dress; art was generally utilitarian, religious, or served a personal purpose.