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Ethan Brand

In these excerpts, Richard Harter Fogle focuses on Ethan Brand's Unpardonable Sin as due to his assuming he has become as the gods. Fogle also clarifies the difference between Ethan's sin and the sin of the villagers..

In this first excerpt from Hawthorne's Fiction: The Light and the Dark, Richard Harter Fogle focuses on the physical and spiritual alienation of Ethan's Unpardonable Sin.

Brand has completed the full circle, both physically and spiritually. He has sought the world over, and in one direction he has explored human nature to its farthest reaches. Ironically, he travels circlewise and finds his end in his beginning. The Sin is in himself. Thus his spiritual and physical journeys precisely coincide, and he returns to his point of departure, the spot where the Sin was conceived. Since his mission is fulfilled and his isolation from humanity is consummated, nothing remains but to die-a death emblematic of total separation (47). (courtesy of University of Oklahoma Press)

In this excerpt Richard Harter Fogle explains how Brand's laugh is an expression of his isolation.

Most prominent among the devices which bind the tale together are the recurrent references to the laugh by which Brand wordlessly expresses his unspeakable isolation and the irony of his search. This laughter, slow, heavy, and mirthless, precedes the first entrance of Brand (47-48). (courtesy of University of Oklahoma Press)

In this excerpt Richard Harter Fogle suggests to us that Brand's expression of his isolation may also be a warning to other would-be seekers.

The laugh tolls out for the last time in the dreams of the lime-burner and his son-Brand's final knell, filled with irony and irreconcilable defiance. The implications of this culminating outburst borrow power and spaciousness from the recurring waves of wild sound which are infrequent but regular and emphatic throughout the tale (48). (courtesy of University of Oklahoma Press)

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