Through the reading of The Sandman by Hoffmann, I found the link between the symbol of eyes and Nathanael’s mentality being affected by the character created from his mind, Coppelius. I believe the eyes can be seen as a symbol for one’s clarity of vision and mind, as Nathanael often loses sight/vision as he gets closer towards the imagined figure of Coppelius the Sandman.
The eyes of the characters in the story reflect a lot about their personality, as demonstrated through the characters Coppelius and Clara. Coppelius’s eyes are described as “two greenish cat’s eyes” which illustrates the beast-like and wild aspect of Coppelius’s personality since he is the figure who haunts and torments Nathanael’s eyes. On the other hand, Clara’s eyes are described as the “Ruysdael lake, in which were reflected the pure azure of the cloudless sky, the tract of forest and flowers, and the whole variegated and merry life of the opulent landscape”. The clarity in Clara’s eyes can be seen as the logic and reason which is lacking in the eyes of the protagonist Nathanael, thus making it significant when Nathanael choose to blindly follow the eyes of Olimpia. When Nathanael saw himself in the eyes of Olimpia and rejected Clara, it can be interpreted as how Nathanael submits to the madness of Coppelius and rejects all from the logic and reason that he had. Also, the difference between the eyes of Clara and Olimpia can be a metaphor of how Nathanael transitions between reality and the world created from his twisted hatred of Coppelius. When Nathanael mentions “the circle of fire” he tends to lose sight of reality and plunge into the darkness of Coppelius. Clara’s eyes being symbolic of reason and logic plays a key role in bringing sense into the visions and eyes of Nathanael, thus keeping him from being consumed by the shadow of Coppelius the Sandman.
The unknown that he had feared was just a part of him that he tried so hard to reject, but in the end, Nathanael ultimately became the Sandman that he had feared so much as a child. Coppelius can be seen as an alternate personality that Nathanael had and slowly consumed him as he failed to see reason and accept his own false reality.