The Golden Pot

This study guide will help you analyze the novella The Golden Pot by E.T.A. Hoffmann. You can also find a summary of the text, detailed characterizations, as well as inspiration for interpreting the novella and putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: The Golden Pot: A Modern Fairytale (1814)

Author: Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann

Genre: Novella

E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) was a German writer, composer, music critic, and artist. He was one of the most notable representatives of the Romantic literary movement. His works include short stories, such as The Sandman, novellas, such as The Golden Pot, and novels, such as The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr.

His novella The Golden Pot is considered a classic of German late Romanticism and was first published in 1814 in the collection Fantasy Pieces in Callot's Manner. The work combines characteristics of the novella and the literary fairy tale. The action is set in Dresden, and the novella deals with a mixture of fantasy and reality, as the main character, the student Anselmus, encounters an enchanted snake and falls in love with her. The novella tackles themes frequently used by Romantic writers, such as the theme of the outsider, love, and the longing to return to a golden age when people lived in harmony with nature.


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide:

Merging of the worlds

The novella The Golden Pot takes place in two different worlds, which interact with each other and are not necessarily to be understood as incompatible opposites, even if it appears so at first glance. Rather, Hoffmann was interested in the possibility of a change of perspective.

On the one hand, there is the mundane everyday world, characterized by bourgeois conservative values and the supremacy of reason and intellect. This sphere is represented by figures who belong to the so-called Philistines, a social class that was criticized and ridiculed by the Romantics...

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The Golden Pot

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