Quotes

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Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 584

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Something horrible has crossed my path of life. Dark forebodings of a cruel, threatening, fate spread themselves over me like dark clouds, which no friendly sunbeam can penetrate.

This first quotation is one of many in the story which suggests how traumatic the encounter with the Sandman has been for the narrator. The simile, "like dark clouds," implies that there is always a darkness hanging over the narrator because of his encounter.

. . . all to me seems colourless, but that a dark fatality has actually suspended over my life a gloomy veil of clouds, which I shall perhaps only tear away in death.

This second quotation is another example of how the Sandman has left an indelible impression on the narrator's life. There is again imagery of darkness, and the "clouds" imagery is employed again. In the first quotation, the author describes how no sunbeam could penetrate the dark clouds, and in this quotation, the author describes how the clouds will never be parted until death.

He is a wicked man, who comes to children when they will not go to bed, and throws a handful of sand into their eyes, so that they start out bleeding from their heads. These eyes he puts in a bag and carries them to the half-moon to feed his own children, who sit in the nest up yonder, and have crooked beaks like owls with which they may pick up the eyes of the naughty human children.

This third quotation is perhaps the most vividly grotesque description of the Sandman in the story. The graphic imagery of eyes "bleeding from their heads" and the animalistic imagery of the Sandman's children, sitting in their "nest" with their "crooked beaks like owls," create the impression that the Sandman is a cruel, inhuman creature.

On the floor of the smoking hearth lay my father dead, with his face burned and blackened, and hideously distorted,—my sisters were shrieking and moaning around him,—and my mother had fainted.

In this fourth quotation, the author describes the death of the father. There is a semantic field of language connoting fire and burning (e.g., "smoking," "burned and blackened") which perhaps calls to mind the fires of hell, furthering the impression that the Sandman is a demonic creature. The reaction of the sisters and the mother emphasizes the hideous distortion of the father's face.

I saw human faces around without any eyes—but with deep holes instead. "Eyes here, eyes!" said Coppelius in a dull roaring voice . . . Coppelius seized me, and showing his teeth, bleated out, "Ah—little wretch,—little wretch!"—then dragging me up, he flung me on the hearth, where the fire began to singe my hair. "Now we have eyes enough—a pretty pair of child's eyes." Thus whispered Coppelius and taking out of the flame some red-hot grains with his fists, he was about to sprinkle them in my eyes.

In this fifth quotation we hear the voice of the Sandman, or Coppelius, as he is also known. It is described partly in animalistic terms ("bleated") and is also quite repetitive and frenzied, as suggested by the repetition of exclamation marks. The implication is that he is psychotically excited at the prospect of the eyes, and also that he has no pity at all for the boy, whom he calls a "little wretch." His speech is also rather sneering and covetous ("a pretty pair of child's eyes"). His voice fits perfectly with the demonic, monstrous descriptions of his physical appearances.

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