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Lecture

E.T.A Hoffman, The Sandman


Department
European Studies
Course Code
EURO 1200
Professor
Paola Mayer

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The Sandman
Undermining Enlightened Rationalism
possibility of supernatural
enlightened world view, there is nothing in the world that can't be explained
by reason
nothing exists that doesn't manifest itself to the senses
fragility of rational control
nothing scarier than going mad, and if reason is the most important human
faculty thats super scary
just takes one trauma as a child, and you could go crazy
unresolvable ambiguity
mode of narration (perspectives)
if you can't make up your mind if something is real or not
inadequacy of common sense approach to solve N's problems
critic of Clara just saying to stop thinking about it and it will go away
Exploration of Human Psyche
(similarity to Goya's Sleep of Reason)
2 one-sided problematic perspectives:
N's = imagination freed from rational control
conducive to art but leads to inability to distinguish real from unreal and so
to mental illness
going with his imagination, putting aside reason
so instead of trying to get over it, he obsesses about it, partly because he
thinks it produces great art, so partly his felt
poetic, possibility that he is right
no body but him sees anything supernatural, unable to distinguish between
reality and fantasy
Clara's = rationality and common sense
believable but unsympathetic, not realizable, fails to explain everything
nothing strange is happening, everything is normal except Nathaniel
pros, know that Nathaniel falls into mental illness, so she is right
cons, can't explain something, completely unsympathetic
inhumanity of humans to humans
critique of childhood education (use of frightening stories)
scaring children into obedience
what does the sandman do to children, when they stay up late, he tosses
sand in their eyes and they will pop out of your head and
he will take them and feed them to someone
Coppelius' sadism
if he isn't supernatural he is a sadist who likes torturing children
lack of sympathy and understanding for mental illness
N is treated like an animal when he falls into madness
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