The Sandman by E.T.A. Hoffmann

As Metallica once said, “Enter Sandman.” This is turbulent story of love, misguided love, and insanity. Our protagonist, Nathaniel, has for the lack of a better term, baggage. He carries with him the knowledge of a creature that exists solely for the purpose of his torment. When he was young, a despicable figure would come to his house and interfere with the family dynamic that he held so dear. His nurse would describe the monster as thus, “Why, ‘thanael, darling, don’t you know? Oh! He’s a wicked man, who comes to little children when they won’t go to bed and throws handfuls of sand in their eyes, so that they jump out of their heads all bloody; and he puts them into a bag and takes them to the half-moon as food for his little ones; and they sit there in the nest and have hooked beaks like owls, and they pick naughty little boys’ and girls’ eyes out with them” (Hoffman, pg. 87). Nathaniel creates the Sandman around a man he knows by the name Coppelius.

The story starts with Nathaniel writing a letter to the brother of his fiancé. He poorly relates the terror he feels towards this nightmare man who comes to his house. The most interesting part about this shady creature, Coppelius, is the relationship he stirs with Nathaniel’s father. It is never abundantly clear why his father is working with Coppelius, only ever indicated as some sort of alchemy. The evil seed grows within Nathaniel, eventually driving him to madness.

Advertisements