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When you consider that Nathaniel Hawthorne was a romantic author writing against Puritan ideals, the character traits he likely admired most would have been qualities that were not common to Puritans.
Consider ways in which the Puritans were portrayed negatively. He shows them to be hypocritical, judgmental, religious, legalistic, sexist, afraid of God's wrath and judgment and exclusive.
Now consider some of the romantic ideals that were in direct opposition to Puritan teachings. Romantic ideals looked for beauty and an understanding of "God" in nature. Romantic heroes were admired for their simplicity, honesty, acceptance of others, rugged individualism and good-natured tendencies. Hawthorne heightens these qualities (and gives a very strong push towards feminism) subtly, through his two primary characters Hester and Pearl (both females).
Think through these points and see if you cannot come up with a list of qualities that Hawthorne seems to admire based on the way Hester and Pearl are portrayed in the novel.
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