The Sandman is about a man named Nathanael’s life and the monsters he faced. In his childhood he was told stories about the sandman. These stories tormented him for years because he was told the sandman took children’s eyes. Every night he would hear the “Sandman” walking down the hall to his father’s room. One night Nathanael hid in his father’s room and waited to find out who the “Sandman” really was. Come to find out, it was Coppelius, a man that had dinner with his family a few times in the past and was always tormenting the kids by touching their sweets with his big hairy hands.
No one liked Coppelius. “Mother seemed to dislike this hateful Coppelius as much as we did. For as soon as he appeared her cheerfulness and bright and natural manner were transformed into sad, gloomy seriousness” (E.T.A Hoffman). Even their mother didn’t like him. Nathaniel was caught by Coppelius who threatened to take his eyes.
After that night he wasn’t seen again till about a year later.
Coppelius showed up and murdered Nathanael’s father. In E.T.A Hoffman’s The Sandman, Coppelius is the monster. Ever since his father’s murder Nathanael was obsessed with Coppelius. It ruled his life. “I am determined to deal with him, and to avenge my father’s death, be the issue what it may” (Hoffman, 5). Nathaniel was determined to avenge is father at all costs. It also ruined his relationship with Clara. “Clara was cut to the heart, and wept bitterly. ‘Oh! He has never loved me, for he does not understand me’” (Hoffman, 12). Clara did not like his sad poem about his fear of Coppelius so they fought. The monster in The Sandman is Coppelius. He causes fear in Nathaniel after he murders his father. “But in the dead of night, when no one can hear, even a hero might admit that the monster inspires one thing more than any other: fear” (Blake).
This quote is saying to everyone a monster only equals fear. Nathanael was always paranoid that he might run into Coppelius. He wrote a poem about what Coppelius was doing to his relationship with Clara. Clara did not like the poem. She wanted Coppelius out of his funk and wanted her life with him back. Something Nathaniel didn’t understand was the warning of the Sandman. The warning of the sandman is not to give yourself up to an evil power in your life. “Lothaire adds that if we willingly yielded ourselves up to the dark powers, they are known often to impress upon our minds any strange, unfamiliar shape…” (Hoffman). Hoffman is saying that dark powers alter our minds and make us do things we wouldn’t normally do. Coppelius is the evil power in Nathaniel’s life. They also affect the people around us.
Dark powers change us as people. Nathanael gave himself over to the dark powers in his life and he changed after his father’s death. Nathanael’s writing became dark and he wasn’t able to come out of it. Clara got fed up with his dark moods. She pushed as hard as she could to get him to change but nothing worked. In the past I have given myself over to a dark power that changed the way I acted in high school. My grades started to plummet. I barely graduated because of my poor choices my freshman year of high school. I was pretending to be something I wasn’t to fit in. It affected my attitude when I was at home a little. I got lazy and only wanted to hang out with my friends.
I made no time for homework. I was afraid that if I didn’t have cool friends and didn’t fit in that my high school experience would have been terrible. “People can face the darkness within themselves by embodying it in a monstrous form and finding ways to conquer it” (Blake). This quote says that to conquer your darkness you must find ways to overcome it. I conquered the dark powers in my life by getting rid of a lot of my friends that were negative influences on me and focused on my school work. I made that my number one priority.
In the end I felt much better only having a small group of friends. My attitude changed completely, and I matured a lot after that. The Sandman is a warning against giving yourself up to a monster or dark power in your life. It may ruin your relationships and will change you as a person. You’ll do things you wouldn’t normally do and hurt the people around you. I gave myself up to a dark power and was able to overcome it, but Nathanael wasn’t able to. His monster ended up killing him. Clara ended up happy with another man because Nathanael wasn’t able to keep her happy. Monsters take things from you. You must overcome them to get those things back.
Blake, Brandy Ball, and L. Andrew Cooper. “Introduction: Hunting Boundaries.” Monsters. Editors Brandy Ball Blake and L. Andrew Cooper. Southlake TX.: Fountainhead Press, 2012. 1-10. Print.
Hoffman, E.T.A. “The Sandman.” Translated by John Oxenford. Richmond VA.: Virginia Commonwealth University, 1999. Print