Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

Ethan Brand by nathaniel hawthorne

Ethan Brand locates the unpardonable sin within himself. what is this sin of which he speaks? find specific textual proof to support your claim.

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Brand reveals that he has indeed found the Unpardonable Sin, and it resides in his own heart.  Ethan Brand begins as an upright man who cares about others and hopes that all sins are pardonable. Yet, in his intellectual quest, he becomes the most sinful man of all. He becomes obsessed with the question of what the Unpardonable Sin is, and in his eagerness for discovery, manipulates others into committing sin as well; for example, he tricks the “Esther” of the story, the daughter of an old man, with “cold and remorseless purpose” into his “psychological experiment” which “wasted, absorbed, and perhaps annihilated her soul”. 

The Unpardonable Sin can be interpreted in many ways. First, Brand's psychological experimentation on others can clearly be construed as fiendish. Second, his self-imposed alienation leads to a cold view of mankind. He values intellect over compassion and cuts himself off from others. Third, for a sin to be unpardonable, the sinner must be unrepentant. Brand says, "Freely, were it to do again, would I incur the guilt." Lastly, the sin he searches for is within his own heart. This may allude to the Biblical original sin - the sin of knowledge. The quest for the sin becomes the means to its own end; the knowledge itself becomes the sin.