Hoffmann's role in The Lyre of Orpheus

Essay by szczygielHigh School, 12th gradeA-, December 2004

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Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann plays an extremely important role in The Lyre of Orpheus. His character is vital to plot development, character exposition and theme revelation. Hoffmann has no physical role in the story: "sojourning in limbo because he died with his opera incomplete, he looks down on the scene and comments on the performances of the mortals whose activities, he hopes, will get him out of there" (Stewart). Hoffmann's supernatural presence impacts these aspects of the novel.

One of the main plot strands of The Lyre of Orpheus "concerns the production of an opera subsidized by the Cornish Foundation - not so much a production, in fact, as the reconstruction and completion of a complicated original work by the German Romantic composer E.T.A. Hoffmann" (Lodge). Hoffmann initiates this action as he is responsible for the opera that all of the characters have come together to finish. Although Hoffmann has little further effect on the action, he has a role in the success of the opera.

Hoffmann recognizes his opportunity to escape limbo though the success of the opera:

Is this my great chance? I must do everything I can to help. I shall stand at Schnak's shoulder and push her in the right direction, so far as I can...Schnak is going to need luck, or she will simply make a mess of my hastily scribbled intentions. I must be Schnak's luck. (Davies 48)

Hoffmann ensures the success of the Opera: He appears again in an encounter with Dr. Dahl-Soot: "I sat by her bedside the whole night through. Did I speak to her in her dreams?...that was my hope" (154). Hoffmann plays a critical role in the initiation of the plot and the resolution as well.

Hoffmann's influence exposes the characteristics of the mortals whom he watches. Hoffmann...