The Uncanny

The Uncanny Character List

Sigmund Freud

Freud writes almost the entirety of his essay from the first person point of view. He believed that the term "uncanny" referred to an object or concept being at the same time both familiar and unfamiliar. He gives examples of the German words heimlich and unheimlich, and discusses the connotations behind the multiple definitions of the words.

Ernest Jentsch

Ernest Jentsch, a German psychiatrist, had conducted an earlier study of the uncanny. Freud references Jentsch's research in the beginning of his essay, noting his observation that different people vary in their opinions of the "uncanny." Jentsch claims that the uncanny is induced simply by the experience of something unfamiliar, but Freud is not satisfied with this claim.

E. T. A. Hoffman

E. T. A. Hoffman's short novel, "The Sand-Man," is summarized in Freud's essay. Freud uses the titular character in Hoffman's novel as an exemplar of the uncanny, particularly because of his supposed removal of children's eyes.