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Although we do not yet know the truth about Olimpia, it is clear that there is something odd about her. Thus we see that Olimpia is in fact much more than a mindless automaton.
Nathanael sees in her his own creativity and spirit, the forces of which have made her, at least from his perspective, a human. While Olimpia, to the troubled artist, has appeared to take on human qualities, there is another type of role reversal at play here. In response to her inability to attentively appreciate his poems, Nathanael accuses Clara of being a lifeless robot. We have already seen numerous instances illustrating the importance of the theme of eyes in Der Sandmann.
As the story opens, we learn that the city has been terrorized by a string of late-night robberies and murders, during which the victims are killed for the expensive jewelry they carry. This recent wave of violence follows a senseless series of poisonings which were committed supposedly at random and without purpose.
Having followed Cardillac and witnessed his failed attack on the officer, Olivier carried the man home only to be discovered later by the household employees in the vicinity of the corpse and in possession of the murder weapon. Also, Cardillac had recently thrown him out of his house after discovering the relationship between him and Madelon. In his book E.
The night imagery is by far the stronger and more richly portrayed, as all of the crimes occur after dark. The opening scene of the story takes place at midnight, setting the tone of violence and fear. In contrast to the dark undertones of greed and passion is the symbolism of the light of day, during which people return to clear-headed rationality and logic. While she occasionally finds herself overcome by realizations of the cruelty of man, she nevertheless resolves to help Olivier and Madelon at any cost.
The goldsmith is aware of his violent tendencies and of the catalyst driving them, but he is unable to stop killing for his art. The art of jewelry-making is his calling, but he is incapable of simply letting his work go, just as he is incapable of giving up his trade in order to save the lives of his customers. Thus we see that the goldsmith is indeed a split individual. Menhennet also recognizes within Cardillac a kind of Doppelfigur.
He writes that the goldsmith is another variant of the common Hoffmanesque figure of the sensitive and artistic spirit with the capacity to apprehend the realm of the wondrous, but not the ability to channel and control its spiritual and psychological effects. The duality of life becomes a destructive split, another not uncommon phenomenon in our author. Sheedy 61 While frequently at opposition with himself, Cardillac also serves as a foil to other characters and aspects of the story. While the poisoners kill without reason, the narrator does attempt to explain his behavior.
She had been drawn to the man because he wore a stunning diamond necklace, and Cardillac attributes his obsession with jewelry to this experience and as a cause for his violent tendencies, a result of pre-determined fate She is well acquainted with the king and his mistress, die Marquise de Maintenon, and is frequently a guest at their court.
Tied in with this paradox of innocence is once more the duality of truth and illusion. Madelon, on the other hand, in her innocence represents illusion, which shields her from harsh truths but, at the same time, prevents her from maturing and growing herself. The third Hoffmann work I will consider here is Der goldne Topf. At the beginning of the story, the young stundent and fledgling poet Anselmus starts to draw unwanted attention to himself due to a number of incidents in which he hears the sound of bells and sees three green- gold serpents.
Anselmus is generally assumed to be intoxicated or mad as a result of his behavior, but he cannot help himself, as he has fallen in love with the youngest of the snakes, Serpentina. With the help of his friend, Assistant Headmaster Paulmann, Anselmus is able to obtain work copying manuscripts for the eccentric Archivist Lindhorst, who eventually reveals to Anselmus that he is a salamander from Atlantis and father to the three snakes. When she realizes that, despite her charms, he does not feel the same, she turns to the fearsome old apple monger, a witch named Liese, for help.
The old woman, a nemesis of the Archivist, forges a magical mirror that causes Anselmus to believe that the life he has begun to lead in the supernatural company of Lindhorst and his daughters has in fact been merely a product of his fancy. During the ensuing battle, the Archivist vanquishes his enemy and, realizing that Anselmus had been under her spell, releases him from his crystal prison. Anselmus marries Serpentina and the two return to her former home in Atlantis. Like Nathanael in Der Sandmann, Anselmus finds himself torn between the fantastic world and the real world.
As the story opens, though, Anselmus appears to be a young man constantly plagued by trouble.
The Plays of Heinrich von Kleist: Ideals and Illusions (Cambridge Studies in German)
Shortly after Anselmus first hears the mysterious bells and finds himself overwhelmed by the charms of the three snakes, he embarks on an impromptu gondola ride with Paulmann and his daughters. Anselmus is forced then to question his sanity and to consider reality in absolute terms: If the waking world is the real one, then the world of his waking dreams cannot possibly be real. In her book E. Both worlds exist simultaneously, however, which contributes to the difficulty Anselmus finds in determining what exactly is real. Anselmus also struggles to reconcile the demands of society with his own dreams and ideals.
Yet few understand his aims or react favorably to his demands. The Archivist Lindhorst and his daughters can also be considered split individuals. As Anselmus learns, the Archivist is in fact a salamander, the elemental spirit of fire. His true amphibious identity is disguised by his appearance as a human. He had been banned from his home of Atlantis by the Prince of Spirits for having destroyed a flower garden and can only return after he has successfully married off his three daughters.
Therefore he has also a demonic side which on a few occasions makes him appear threatening and even destructive. This characteristic can be traced back largely to his forced exile from Atlantis […]. Thus for the time being he is a fallen angel doing penance. Sheedy 68 In addition to these Doppelfiguren, a number of instances of duality occur throughout the text.
Serpentina, who appears to Anselmus as in a dream, embodies poetic inspiration Daemmrich 29 and symbolizes the world of the fantastic, the Romantic, and the artistic. Veronika, on the other hand, represents life among the bourgeois Daemmrich While Serpentina helps Anselmus succeed in copying manuscripts for her father, Veronika goes to the evil apple monger in the hopes of using false pretences to win his love. Although Serpentina and Veronika differ greatly in their attitudes toward and treatment of Anselmus, they nevertheless do share one similarity: their blue eyes.
In his physical descriptions of his characters, Hoffmann once again emphasizes the eyes. Even stronger than the contrast between Serpentina and Veronika is that between Serpentina and the sinister apple monger Liese. During the scene in which she forges the enchanted mirror, Liese takes Veronika with her out into the stormy night of the equinox. Much like Cardillac, whose strongest obsessions overwhelm him at night, the witch performs her most powerful magic after dark.
Here we see the fundamental differences between the Archivist of the higher realm and the witch of the underworld. As Negus notes, Lindhorst and the apple monger are perfect opposites: Liese is the exact counterpart of Lindhorst: She is primarily a creature of the [lower realm], but has certain peripheral attributes of the higher levels of the primeval cosmos. The principal themes with which she is associated are those connotating darkness, grotesqueness, and destruction.
The Archivist and Liese, outsiders to the middle realm, meet and clash inside of it. One day while out walking, Theodor catches a glimpse of a female hand wearing a marvelous jeweled ring in the window. He finds himself entranced by the vision of the white hand and begins to watch the house daily. He even purchases a mirror so that he can sit facing the opposite direction on a bench across the street and gaze over his shoulder. He begins to draw upon the image of the hand in his mind to create a living image of the girl to whom it must certainly belong.
When a passerby informs him one day that the woman at the window is in fact only an oil painting, placed there by the caretaker as he dusts the room, Theodor cannot believe it. He sees the woman in his dreams and he even fancies that he glimpses her face in the mirror. Theodor at last decides to visit the psychiatrist, who suspends his disbelief when he eventually also sees the woman in the mirror.
As a result, Angelika went mad and now lives in the empty house with the caretaker, who uses all means possible in a fruitless attempt to subdue her ravings. Theodor returns home after hearing the story and, like the reader, is never able to concretely establish whether the vision of a woman at the window is in fact the girl he imagines, or simply a painting. Once again, we see in the story several examples of split individuals, and one of these is Theodor himself, who for the reader oscillates between the poles of madness and sanity. Also, while Nathanael struggles with sanity itself, I would argue that Theodor differs in that he struggles more with the ideas of logic and perception, rather than reality and fantasy.
Negus writes: [W]hen he sees the portrait of a beautiful woman — an ideal feminine figure — in the window, he endows it with a life stemming from his most desperate need for spiritual regeneration. The way is paved thereby for a breakthrough of a myth embodying the transcendent powers for which he seems to be yearning. Another Anselmus is in the making. For Theodor, these two contrasting images are impossible to reconcile.
Though he never truly sees her outside of his mirror, the girl of his imagining has become real for him. Sheedy 74 In addition to Theodor and the human figures in the story, the deserted house itself can also arguably be considered a character.
True, it is the glimpse of the hand at the window that fuels his obsession, but it is the house itself that Theodor first notices. He finds himself strangely attracted to the old house in its unique, contrasting position in relation to the other houses in the neighborhood. Duality also occurs in the story within the realm of perception, specifically between the ideas of sight and sense. As the story opens, a group of friends discusses means of perception and those who are gifted with insight. McFarland writes: Theodor asserts that his own fantasies, feelings and intuitions can bring him closer to the hidden truth than any other method.
Visual observation only establishes for Theodor the presence of another person in the house, but his eyes deceive him. Although the painting, if it does exist, is by no means a puppet or an automaton like Olimpia, Theodor is nevertheless convinced of its humanity. The fact that he only sees a small part of the painting allows his imagination to craft an ideal female figure. Like Olimpia, the hand in the portrait represents a blank canvas, upon which Theodor can project his internal fantasies and desires.
Neither one of them can trust their sense of sight, because their eyes lie to them, and so they must rely on intuition to perceive reality. After all, it is also possible that, like Nathanael, Theodor is mad. This question brings us back to the philosophical discussion of the frame narrative and the duality between sight and sense. By constantly gazing into the mirror, Theodor has begun to completely rely on his sense of sight as his primary means of perception. However, the mirror, like his eyes, is not to be trusted, as it cuts Theodor off from his own intuition, his ability to see without looking.
However, the mirror and his eyes are not the only sources of deception for Theodor. Mir war das ganz entsetzlich graulich, aber in vollem Grausen konnt ich doch oft nicht unterlassen, wenigstens nach dem Spiegel hinzublinzeln, weil ich neugierig war auf das fremde Gesicht. In other words, it causes him to fail to see things for what they are — another form of eye stealing.
Here, once again, Hoffmann emphasizes eyes. We must ask ourselves how Hoffmann uses and avoids the idea of reconciliation, and what work do we as readers expect to have before us? I argue that, like Kleist, Hoffmann largely resists synthesis and harmony of the dualistic elements in his texts, and that readers of Hoffmann, like readers of Kleist, find themselves compelled to seek reconciliation between these opposing elements, but will likely find this to be a difficult task. In other words, the unremitting duality of life in his works is simply not to be reconciled.
It revealed a contented but prosaic domesticity, while his writings showed a vague yearning for the ideal woman. In reality Hoffmann had no wish to have this yearning satisfied, for its fulfillment in this world would have killed both the emotion and inspiration it gave him.
The Pre-Colonial Imagination: Race and Revolution in Literature of the Napoleonic Period
So there existed no desire for a harmonious integration of spirit or matter, of love and sensuousness […]. Neither could the mystic part of him be completely reconciled with the spirit of order and exactness to which he unwillingly submitted in spite of having learned […] to loathe its stifling effect on ideas. For Hoffmann, duality and paradox represent inspiration, a dynamic creative force that thrives on dualistic tension and Sehnsucht. However, any reconciliation of these opposing forces would weaken and destroy his inspiration, leaving him bereft as an artist.
Nathanael finds himself torn between the forces of creation and destruction and is ultimately unable to resolve the tension. He is overcome by the conflict and by his madness, causing him to attempt to murder Clara and then to kill himself. Nathanael, perhaps more than any other Hoffmann character, suffers the quintessential plight of the artist, destroyed by his Sehnsucht and the need to live and function in a prosaic world.
The conflicting ideas of fantasy and reality also find no resolution in the text. Nathanael appears briefly to overcome his insanity and recognize what is part of the real world and what is merely delusion, but he slips once again into madness. Tied in with the real and the imagined worlds are Coppola and Coppelius.
Sheedy 81 The story also offers no reconciliation of the duality between robots and humans. There is, however, evidence of role reversal, which we see for example in Olimpia, who takes on very human-like characteristics, and in Clara, whom Nathanael at one point accuses of being an automaton. However, a plot-driven resolution is not necessarily a reconciliation: the story is still divided along the lines of textual and thematic duality.
One example of this dualism is the goldsmith Cardillac. Like Nathanael, Cardillac is divided by conflicting urges of creation and destruction. Also like Nathanael, he is unable to overcome them and dies as a result of his murderous compulsion. Though he attempts to stop or at least circumvent the homicidal half of his nature, he is compelled to destroy just as he is compelled to create, and his character is divided and guided by the symbolism of night and day. As Cardillac is not able to gain control of either of his halves, he remains an irrevocably split individual. In Der goldne Topf, as in Der Sandmann, we see again an inversion of the worlds of the real and the fantastic.
For example, we never find out whether the girl at the window is indeed just a painting. Thus Theodor, as well as the reader, is never able to reconcile his idealistic vision of the perfect woman with the frightening reality of the mad countess. And, additionally, as Theodor is unable to solve the mystery of the dilapidated house, then the reader is unable to resolve the duality of the shabby structure in contrast to the splendid neighborhood buildings.
As we do not fully understand the house itself as a character in the story, then we are unable to fully comprehend its relationship to the surrounding buildings. Related to the idea of reconciliation is the question of the role of the reader. What is expected of an audience when reading a work by Hoffmann?
However, as we have seen with Kleist, reconciliation most often simply does not exist. Once again, as with Kleist, readers of Hoffmann find themselves drawn resolutely into the text itself. Sheedy 86 Chapter 4 Kleist, Hoffmann and Romanticism With these works in mind, I will now discuss in greater detail the position of Kleist and Hoffmann in the context of German Romanticism and analyze how they compare to one another, beginning with Kleist and his relationship to the Romantics.
Perhaps the most obvious theme linking Kleist to Romanticism is his penchant for irony in his works.
Die Verlobung in St. Domingo - German Literature
We see other examples of irony in Das Erdbeben in Chili as well. Jeronimo and Josephe, condemned to die, are in fact among the few survivors of the massive earthquake that destroys Santiago. I have already discussed to a certain extent the role of irony in Michael Kohlhaas, especially as it pertains to the power of documents. The written word forms a crucial aspect of the text and often plays contrasting roles. For example, a letter is the reason Elisabeth Kohlhaas is killed, and yet at the end of the story she presumably reaches out to her husband through a letter.
Documents, such as the fake permit demanded of Kohlhaas, serve as advantageous tools for the Junker and for the Elector of Saxony, yet at the same time this power of documents is governed by irony Stephens , and Kohlhaas is given an opportunity to wield his own power with the document from the old gypsy woman. In addition to Michael Kohlhaas, Die Verlobung in Santo Domingo is another narrative steeped in irony, which we see, for example, as Toni attempts to save Gustav through betraying him. Duality is, of course, a device by no means limited to Kleist alone. In fact, I would argue that the Romantic movement largely defines itself based on a system of opposing elements and paradox.
Menhennet writes: In view of the dualism […] between spirit and reality in the romantic experience, it is not surprising that dualism plays a significant role in romantic thinking. Menhennet also brings to light other similarities between Kleist and the Romantics. Despite these similarities, however, we have already seen that Kleist is a classic outsider to the movement. One considerable difference distinguishing Kleist from his Romantic counterparts is a matter of style. In all of his works, Kleist explores the question of truth, and his texts, while not overtly supernatural, address the perceptions of evil, righteousness, and religion.
For example, while he does craft long sentences and paragraphs of great complexity, he also frequently relies on punctuation to make a point. For example, we can never be certain whether the dash directly indicates the rape of the Marquise or not, but it nevertheless expresses a sense of deep significance and emotion. Kleist also sets himself apart from Romanticism through the dramatic use of realism in his texts. While Kleist also looks toward the past Die Verlobung in Santo Domingo is the only Kleist work I discuss that occurs contemporaneously with the time in which he was writing , he generally resists a utopian or romanticized portrayal of events.
Das Erdbeben in Chili, for example, takes place in , but Kleist by no means attempts to glorify this period in the past. His criticism of the church and of mob violence is strong, and the story and its conclusion offer the reader very little hope for the future. Additionally, Kleist tends to avoid other literary and thematic hallmarks of Romanticism, such as music, art, and travel that appear so frequently in works by Hoffmann.
Although these objectives are not always possible for the Romantics to achieve, they are compelled to strive toward them, a goal, however, that Kleist does not share. Like Kleist, E. Hoffmann also occupies a unique position among the authors of the Romantic movement, as I have shown. Unlike Kleist, however, Hoffmann is generally accepted as an illustrative member of German Romanticism.
And indeed, Hoffmann shares too many tendencies with the Romantics for this connection to be dismissed. While I agree that Hoffmann and his works form a solid and undeniable component of German Romantic literature, I also find the differences that separate him from the movement to be a much more compelling aspect of him as a writer.
To a certain extent, Hoffmann is, like Kleist, himself an outsider, and it is the differences as well as similarities that I will now explore. Traditionally for them, dualistic tension leads to a sense of confusion, which ideally resolves itself and forges the path leading to the discovery of truth Menhennet For Hoffmann, confusion likewise plays a significant role in his stories.
Kleist, on the other hand, tends to pay less attention to nature in his works, both as a descriptive technique or as any kind of underlying theme. He does use a natural disaster in Das Erdbeben in Chili, as a central event, but the earthquake actually has very little to do with the plot. It is true that the event initially saves Jeronimo and Josephe, but as the story progresses, Kleist seldom mentions the catastrophe.
We recognize subjective emotion in the tormented rage of Nathanael and Cardillac and in the Sehnsucht of Anselmus and Theodor. I would argue that Hoffmann distinguishes himself from other authors of the Romantic movement primarily through his relative resistantance toward reconciliation. Yet, as mentioned, his stories generally elude any reconciliation of their inherent duality, basing themselves instead on a system of tension and opposition. In his discussion of Der goldne Topf, Bruning comments on reconciliation in the text. Saint Kilda, The Island of the Birdmen [excerpts].
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Star without name [excerpt]. The Dark Lady of the Sonnets [excerpt]. Shining Brow [excerpt]. La Fenice [excerpts].
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The Garden [excerpts]. Brass Poppies. Young Caesar [excerpts]. Simplicius Simplicissimus. Passion and Resurrection [trailer]. Wagner Dream [trailer]. Yunan und Duban. Pocahontas [excerpt]. Metamorphosis [excerpt]. The Glass Woman [excerpts].
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