In this excerpt from Hawthorne's Fiction: The Light and the Dark,
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)