Freud/Hoffmann Presentation

My presentation question: “So in ‘The Sandman’, Hoffmann REALLY likes to use heat and fire as a motif. He often links it to the overarching theme of perception/vision/eyes…Why is that? How is that? How does it link? WHAT?”

As you guys know what happened at our last Freud/Hoffmann seminar, my group and I had a huge epiphany. We had our minds blown thanks to Christina for helping us put the last piece of the puzzle together! MIND BLOWN. *makes sound of something exploding* Yeah, I was really happy about that. Still happy about that actually. Maybe too happy.

So, here’s what my group came up with this whole heat and fire relationship with vision and perception:

Nathanael deals a lot with warped perception and reality. He definitely has trouble differentiating what’s real and what isn’t. Hence why Freud sees this whole uncanny business going on. Nathanael can’t tell the difference between things and he often finds similarities and differences in polar opposite or very similar characters e.g. calling Clara an automaton when really Olimpia (who he says has full of life) is an automaton, as well as Coppelius and Coppola possibly inhabiting the same entity.

Whenever Nathanael thinks of Coppelius or whenever Coppelius’ presence is around, fire comes up. The two come hand in hand. This is found in the poem about Clara as well as other recurring thoughts that imply Coppelius’ presence. With Coppola, he is the one who’s got all the gadgets – the telescope, the spectacles… And what is interesting is that despite a spyglass’ use being to help magnify and make distant objects clearer, if anything, it has caused Nathanel to blur reality and imagination together. Hence, warped perception. And this faulty perception usually happens with the use of a spyglass or a spectacle made by Coppola, who also made Olimpia’s eyes.

What connects these two entities into one is how hot burning rains of sand is used to throw into one’s eyes. And guess what? sand is used to make glass(es)!!! What even.

All in all, you can tell that fire and eyes/vision/spectacles/anything related to perception and the ability to see something are motifs/symbols used to trigger the reader and Nathanael’s subconscious into relating the two characters as one being. THAT IS PRETTY SICK.

1 thought on “Freud/Hoffmann Presentation

  1. Christina Hendricks

    Nice description of the link between fire/Coppelius and glass/Coppola! I like how you explain it at the end here: Hoffmann uses fire to make the connection between Coppelius and Coppola because sand-fire-glass. I knew that glass was made out of sand (at least, that’s one of the main ingredients), and I just double-checked that heat is used to make glass from sand (and other things). So yes, this works! Perfect thing to write a blog post on…something that your group came up with in class that is interesting and thought-provoking!


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