Nathaniel's poem in "The Sandman," originally written in German by E. T. A. Hoffmann, is the symbol of his madness.
The story tells of a young man who began to feel haunted by a man who had scared him as a child and possibly killed his father. As an adult, Nathaniel thinks he sees this man again.
Though he tries to seek help from his childhood friend and girlfriend, they dismiss his fears and tell him that he is imagining the return of Coppelius. For a long time Nathaniel remains at home, attempting to recover from his fright.
However, during this time he begins writing stories. Unlike the creative stories he wrote as a child, these are dark and sinister. Nathaniel is isolated in his fears and consumed by these dark images...
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