The Sandman, how fun. Born from dark tradition and transmitted orally, the Sandman truly lives in myth. Nathaniel came to know the Sandman through his father and his connection to a man known as Coppelius. He is described as a foul and repulsive man “who was deliberately intent on spoiling our slightest pleasures” (Hoffmann, Pg. 89). Whenever he would come over, the family would hide away. He brought with him a cloud of darkness. Nathaniel, despite being terrified, was curious as to what the man he knew to be the Sandman looked like. One night he hid away in his father’s office and waited for the Sandman to come. He was discovered and Coppelius wants to take his eyes, thus sparking Nathaniel’s life long fear of losing his eyes. His father is able to stop this, but that leaves the question of what the situation is like once his father dies mysteriously.
With Nathaniel’s father dead, he is no longer protected. The Sandman now has free reign over the boy. It is curious, that when Nathaniel’s father dies, the Sandman takes leave from his life. He disappears for a long time and doesn’t even reappear in the same form. He surfaces as Coppola, a dealer of eyes. When Nathaniel first meets Coppola, he is terrified, believing the man is none other than Coppelius. The man sells eyes for crying out loud. Nathaniel, with the help of Clara’s rational tendencies is able to quell his jumpy mind, but it is misguided, because he was right all along. The man is actually the same Sandman from he childhood, resurfacing to torment the fragile Nathaniel. In a funny twist, the man even sells Nathaniel an eye, in the form of a telescope. This same telescope is the device that leads him to Olympia and his eventual downfall, proving that Coppelius/Coppola is working in hidden and destructive ways.
It is Coppelius that appears at the end of the story, causing Nathaniel to go mad and jump from the tower. The terror this man brings to Nathaniel is more of a slow burn, a constant torment on his mind and on his life. The suffering is fun for him and he does in the end, claim his victim.