"The Sandman" Analytical Essay by capital writers

"The Sandman"
A review of the book "The Sandman" by author E.T.A. Hoffman.
# 28354 | 2,039 words | 0 sources | 2002 | US
Published on Jun 26, 2003 in English (Analysis) , Literature (German)

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This paper examines how the lighthearted fairy/folk tale of "The Sandman" becomes a sinister psychological thriller in the hands of nineteenth century German author E.T.A. Hoffman. It looks at how throughout "The Sandman", Hoffman never makes entirely clear the nature of the protagonist Nathaniel's visions and fear. It discusses how Hoffman's method of delivery, a personal narrator addressing the reader halfway through the tale, after presenting letters to and from the protagonist, help "The Sandman" to mirror itself and to present its theme of blurred barriers between the real and the unreal. It also evaluates how the structure of the story itself blends fantasy and reality.

From the Paper:

"This interplay of the real and the unreal mirrors mental illness, schizophrenia in particular. Nathaniel is unable, throughout the duration of his life, to function in society without lapsing into morbid reflection. Witnessing with his ten-year old eyes the death of his father at the hands of the creepy Coppelius undoubtedly scarred him, leaving the indelible mark of the Sandman on his soul. The young Nathaniel was already afraid of Coppelius, who like clockwork visited his father. Perhaps the sense of foreboding he had was exacerbated by a vivid imagination, fed by the old woman's scary Sandman story. Nathaniel never outgrew this childhood experience, and as a result he fails to function fully as an adult. Sabotaging his relationships, Nathaniel cannot remain rooted in the "real world." It is Nathaniel's inability to process and overcome the tragedy of his father's death that leads him to accept a life of dread and dysfunction, and eventually causes him to attempt murder and successfully commit suicide."

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