In this excerpt from "Ethan Brand's Homecoming," published in New Essays
on Hawthorne 's Major Tales, edited by Millicent Bell, Rita K. Gollin remarks
on Brand's fragmented romance and Hawthorne's fragment of a Romance.
"Meanwhile, the story's circularity has been reinforced by the narrator's
single sentence about Esther: She had 'gone off with a company of circus-performers,…
and… rode on horseback in the ring.' The reader never learns exactly what
Ethan did to 'Esther of our tale.' Though that phrase recalls the earlier
'as we have seen' and the tale's eventual subtitle, 'A Chapter From an Abortive
Romance,' we cannot assume that Hawthorne planned to enclose this story within
a larger. As with 'Fragments from the Journal of a Solitary Man,' the larger
work remains metafictional. But that phrase leaves Esther doubly abandoned,
forever riding in a ring, a soulless performer who can never come home" (93).
(courtesy of Cambridge University Press)