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Ethan Brand

In the chapter Salem Is My Dwelling Place from which these excerpts are drawn, Edwin Haviland Miller puts the writing of "Ethan Brand" in the context of Hawthorne 's life at the time. In this excerpt, the reader can find parallels between the theme of alienation in the story and in Hawthorne's life.

As soon as Hawthorne learned of the campaign to unseat him, he set the wheels turning for a full-scale counteroffensive which in the next few months would involve political figures as influential as Daniel Webster and newspapers of both parties in Salem, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and probably elsewhere. His cause became one of those much-discussed scandals which temporarily arouse partisan outcries and extend language to its outer limits, only to be barely remembered within six months or a year. Hawthorne's case was an exception, for, his sensibilities wounded--'my head has been chopt off' was the way he characterized the indignity--he attacked those who in his perception had deprived him of livelihood as well as of masculinity: Hawthorne had a way of transforming situations into confirmations of lifelong fears.

What rankled many people in Salem, particularly among the local Whigs, was the support Hawthorne received from outsiders. Salem Democrats were also annoyed by this outside support as well as by Hawthorne's well-publicized abstention from the usual party activities such as parades, conventions, committees. As Hawthorne himself noted when he began to defend his position and his integrity, 'A large portion of the local Democratic party look coldly on me, for not having used the influence of my position to obtain the removal of Whigs.' The truth apparently was, if it is possible to arrive at truth in emotionally charged situations where ideologies and self-interest inevitably produce distortions, that Hawthorne had lost the support of many Salem Democrats, merchants, and even friends like Horace Conolly and Caleb Foote (267)

. . . .

Except for the local newspapers, the press treated Hawthorne sympathetically, as an Owen Warland battling against the philistines (270). (courtesy of University of Iowa Press)




Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/10625/


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