Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Hawthorne at Salem

Hawthorne - Literature

Ethan Brand

"Ethan Brand": Introduction

Material prepared by:
Richard Murphy, Department of English
Emmanuel College, Boston, MA

 

Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
 

In the short story "Ethan Brand," Ethan has an interest in the industrial arts and is the victim of his own alienation in the new industrial age, an age which begins the emphasis on the Protestant Ethic. His alienation is not alienation from the centers of power so much as an alienation from the empathetic value system, sometimes associated with "brotherhood." He becomes an intellectual product of his age who then applies a religious concept, "sin," to his age. His journey inward is that of a man whose heart is marble and whose value system is weighted with the intellect of the age, an intellect that triumphed over the sense of brotherhood. When he goes in search for the "unpardonable sin," he finds himself, whereupon he ruins lives and returns to the kiln that symbolizes the industrialist's head alone in thought, unbalanced and as lucid as Lucifer.

 

We can see that the stroke of luck that may save Joe from the stony heart of his father, Bartram, is Bartram's inclination to follow the rhythm of the sun and moon and not to sacrifice all for "mighty claims" of the intellect. Should he have the will to stare religiously into the fire each night, Joe could be ruined also. The townspeople who come for entertainment leave, indifferent to Ethan's return, not recognizing the lopsided genius of Ethan.

There is nothing to pardon. The morning's light upon the heart-shaped lump of lime wakes no "half-bushel" lesson in anyone in the story. The cur of the new age, chasing its tail by day, by night is "mild, quiet, sensible and respectable." Ethan, the fiend, goes unnoticed, alienated from the society that produced him as surely as it needed the lime that only the brilliance of the kiln could provide. The only one who notices Ethan's hell and the marketplace's scale is the reader. Critics and biographers such as Rita K. Gollin and Edwin Haviland Miller have written on Ethan's alienation. Gollin studies his "homecoming," and Miller places the story of alienation in a significant moment in Hawthorne's career. The story takes on more power when one recalls Claudia Johnson's lecture on the Protestant Ethic and Lyotard's definition of a "differand."

Literature Related to Artist and Alienation in "Ethan Brand"

Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images Related to "Ethan Brand"

 

Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
Early lime kilns in Lenox, MA which are very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Remains of lime kilns in the Berkshires
Remains of lime kilns in the Berkshires
 (photography by Rich Murphy)
Pictures from Rich Murphy
Pictures from Rich Murphy
The remains of lime kilns in the Berkshires. 
Lime Kiln
Lime Kiln
Out of service lime kiln from 1800-1900s 
Lime Kiln
Lime Kiln
Lime kiln from a distance  
Lime Kiln
Lime Kiln
Early lime kiln in Lenox, MA which is very similar to the one mentioned in the story "Ethan Brand" 
Sign on the private office of the Collector in the Salem Custom House
Sign on the private office of the Collector in the Salem Custom House
 
Lime kiln in the Berkshires
Lime kiln in the Berkshires
Early lime kiln from Lenox, MA which is very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Lime Kiln
Lime Kiln 
Early lime kiln in Lenox, MA which is very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
Early lime kilns in Lenox, MA which are very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Lime Kiln
Lime Kiln
Early lime kiln from Lenox, MA which is very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
Early lime kilns in Lenox, MA which are very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
Early lime kilns in Lenox, MA which are very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Lime Kiln
Lime Kiln
Early lime kiln in lenox, MA which is very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
A row of early lime kilns built into the side of hill in Lenox, MA 
Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
Two of a row of early lime kilns in Lenox, MA which are very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
Two in a row of early lime kilns in Lenox, MA which are very similar to the one mentioned in "Ethan Brand" 
Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
A row of lime kilns built into the side of a hill

Critical Commentary Related to Alienation and the Artist in "Ethan Brand"

Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multimedia Related to "Ethan Brand"

Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
 

 

 

  • Excerpts from Dr. Claudia Durst Johnson's lecture entitled "The Secular Calling and the Protestant Ethic in The House of the Seven Gables" on 10/20/2000 at the House of the Seven Gables Historic Site defining the Secular Calling and the Protestant Ethic.
  • Excerpts from Dr. Richard Millington's lecture entitled "Women In Hawthorne's Fiction" on 9/8/2000 at the House of the Seven Gables Historic Site describing Hawthorne's literary persona.
  • Excerpts from Dr. Melinda Ponder's lecture entitled "Women in Hawthorne's Time" on 10/14/2000 at the Peabody Essex Museum discussing the influence of women on Hawthorne.

Websites Related to "Ethan Brand"

 

Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
 

 

 

Learning Activities Related to "Ethan Brand"

Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
 
  1. Ethan Brand is one of Hawthorne's many fallen characters. At the outset a decent fellow, he succumbs to the temptations offered by meditative solitude and, his consequent pursuit of an intellectual abstraction, the Unpardonable Sin, turns his heart to stone. A deeper understanding of the moral lesson Brand presents can be gained by comparing him with other Hawthorne villains. Look especially at Roger Chillingworth of The Scarlet LetterYoung Goodman Brown of "Young Goodman Brown," Reverend Hooper of "The Minister's Black Veil," and Richard Digby of "The Man of Adamant." What characteristics do these figures share? What hints does Hawthorne provide his readers as to what it might take to rehabilitate them? How does their shared plight help you clarify your understanding of Hawthorne's attitude toward artists and intellectuals?

Lectures and Articles Related to "Ethan Brand"

Lime Kilns
Lime Kilns
 

 

  • Dr. Claudia Durst Johnson's lectureentitled "The Secular Calling and the Protestant Ethic in The House of the Seven Gables" on 10/20/2000 at the House of the Seven Gables Historic Site Defining the Secular Calling and the Protestant Ethic
  • Dr. Richard Millington's lecture entitled "Women In Hawthorne's Fiction" on 9/8/2000 at the House of the Seven Gables Historic Site describing Hawthorne's literary persona
  • Dr. Melinda Ponder's lecture entitled "Women in Hawthorne's Time" on 10/14/2000 at the Peabody Essex Museum discussing the influence of women on Hawthorne