“The Sandman” Thesis Statement

The status of Nathaniel’s being in E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Sandman” is an issue that is never clarified in the sci-fi tale. While the reader initially assumes that Nathaniel is human, various small plot-points within the novel— such as Coppelius dislocating Nathaniel’s joints and intending to burn out his eyes, and Nathaniel’s head “shattering” like glass at the end of the tale— suggest that Nathaniel could very well be an automaton himself, and his constant confusion and apparent malfunction at the end of the tale (yelling “Beautiful eyes! Beautiful eyes!” before jumping to his death) seem to support this theory.

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