The Sandman | Study Guide

Neil Gaiman

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The Sandman | Character Analysis

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Morpheus

Morpheus is the being at the center of the stories collected in The Sandman narrative even when he isn't present directly. He's the white-skinned, black-haired lord of the Dreaming. He dresses all in black and has a helm carved from the bones of monsters. He has been alive for countless eons in this aspect and will live for countless more, though in another aspect. He is captured by a magician at the beginning of the series and the remaining volumes detail his journey to make peace with the changes his imprisonment wrought in him. He is a changed being without the capacity to embrace those changes fully. An entity of tremendous power, he—and his Endless siblings—outlives empires, religions, gods, and worlds. As the series progresses, Morpheus becomes more and more human, something his current incarnation is unable to fully process. He sets up the framework to pass along his power to the next aspect of Dream.

Daniel

Conceived before Hector's death, Daniel gestated in Jed Walker's dreaming mind when Brute and Glob sundered Jed from the true Dreaming and trapped him there along with Hector and Lyta. When Morpheus frees Jed, he realizes the rarity of such a thing and lays claim to Daniel, already thinking about the part the child may play in both of their futures. Morpheus even gives Daniel his name. Daniel wanders into the Dreaming easily in Fables and Reflections, a sign of his connection with that realm. During the events of The Kindly Ones, Daniel's humanity is burned away and he is taken to the Dreaming for safekeeping. It is during that time Morpheus chooses to die and Daniel becomes the new Dream. Daniel represents possibility and new beginnings throughout the series. When he finally appears as Dream, he is all in white, with white hair and pale skin and a much softer expression.

Death

Death appears as a cute goth girl, her signature ankh around her neck. She is the most compassionate of all of the Endless. She is the most tied to the humans whose souls she collects and shepherds to whatever comes next. Death spends one day every 100 years as a human to better understand the lives she takes. Death is closest to Morpheus of all of the siblings and one of the few people he listens to and whose good opinion matters to him. While she takes her responsibilities as seriously as her brother, her personality is much more flexible.

Desire

Desire appears as either a beautiful male or female depending on mood since the being is everything anyone could desire. The being is cold and often cruel, and holds a grudge against Morpheus. They have been at odds for a long time, though readers are never told exactly what caused the rift in the series. Desire manipulates the events of The Doll's House hoping to cause Morpheus to spill family blood and bring him to ruin. When this proves unsuccessful and the meddling is discovered by Morpheus, Desire does not appear chastised or even particularly regretful. When Desire finally gets what it wants—for the Kindly Ones to go after Morpheus—Desire is not as happy about the event as it expected to be.

Lyta Hall

Lyta Hall has seen her share of tragedy. Her husband Hector was killed in the real world, but then resurrected in a strange dream world. She and Hector lived in dreams for some time, even though she knew something wasn't right. Her mind refused to accept what had happened to her. When Morpheus frees Jed, he destroys her fantasy world and Hector, leaving her alone with her unborn baby. He tells her he will be back for the child, something she sees as a direct threat. She becomes overprotective of the baby. After Daniel is born, she spends all of her time taking care of him, never leaving him alone. The one night she does, Daniel is kidnapped. Blaming Morpheus for his loss, Lyta descends into madness as she searches in the waking world and the dreaming world for the Furies. She joins them, becoming a physical force for them to punish Morpheus. Even when she no longer wishes to continue with these actions, the Furies give her no choice but to keep on with their destruction. In the end Lyta returns to sanity, but she's lost her son. Everything she did ended up making sure he could never return to her after all.

Orpheus

After losing his wife on their wedding night, Orpheus rashly journeys to the Underworld to ask Hades and Persephone to return her. He plays so beautifully they give him one chance to bring her back to the world above. Unfortunately, he does not follow the rules and so loses her forever. He is then doomed to a half-life—he possesses immortality of a sort because Death will not take him, but he does not want to live without Eurydice. Even after he is torn apart by the Bacchae, he continues to live on as just a head. The only person who can release Orpheus is his father, but Morpheus refuses to even speak or see his son. They had argued over Orpheus's plan to rescue Eurydice. Orpheus is left for hundreds of years with only the priest who watches over his head for company. He still sings and he is the only oracle that can read the Endless since he is part of their blood. Morpheus finally kills him at the end of Brief Lives.

Rose Walker

Rose Walker was the dream vortex for a time before Unity took that role from her right before her death. Since then, Rose feels distant from people, unable to form connections. She gets her heart back when she goes to England and regains her ability to feel things and fall in love, but discovers that's not always a good thing. She tries to do right by the people she cares about because she feels a responsibility for them. This leads her to taking care of Zelda as she dies of AIDS. Rose appears younger than she actually is.

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