The Sandman, Morpheus, Dream…. One has so many names only if they are that famous, or that old. The Sandman is both. We all know that age plays a significant role in our personalities. It changes us over time. So what would the Sandman be like, when he has lived through endless time and will continue to live through all of eternity? Would he be unchanging, having seen everything that humanity has to offer? Or would he discover that he is a complex being after all and is capable of surprising himself every once in a while? Maybe he is a bit of both.
The Sandman, aka Morpheus, has been around since the beginning of time. He has seen the best and worst of mankind and believes that he knows everything there is to know about them. Maybe he does, and maybe he doesn’t, as was evidenced by his surprise when he found that Hob Gadling was interested in living longer. And this character is the first obvious evidence that Sandman has changed.
Let’s be clear about one thing: we see Morpheus’s story from the moment he is imprisoned. We don’t know what he was like before that. It is just left to our inference from what happens; later on, subtle hints we gather that this is a man who has experienced some sort of profound change in his life. Morpheus is introduced to Hob Gadling through his elder sister, Death. Back in the 1300s, both of them heard him bragging in a bar that he had no intention of dying. And Death obliged. Maybe this is what the Endless do for fun. Either way, Dream, and Hob kept meeting every hundred years, and he was always surprised by Hob’s zeal and zest for life, which just never seemed to run out, no matter what he had seen or lived through. And that was a surprise for Dream. Our theory is that it could stem from just one reason-his own cynical view of human life. The surprise had to mean that if Morpheus himself had the choice, he would have chosen Death. What can make one of the most powerful beings in the existing world so weary of life? Is it loneliness? As was rightfully pointed out by Hob Gadling, causing Dream to leave in a fury. Because he considered such emotions beneath him, but that changed, and he was able to acknowledge that Hob was a friend. Probably because spending decades imprisoned in a glass cell, without his duties to distract him, forced him to recognize his more “human” side. The one that sought the familiarity of someone who understood and accepted them without conditions. A gentle softening of pride gained Morpheus, a friend, a dream that he had not realized he had had for a long time. This is the moment we know that Morpheus has changed.
When we backtrack our thoughts, we realize that humility was Morpheus’s greatest lesson after all. When he is just sitting on the bench, not knowing what to do with himself now that he has taken his revenge and regained his tools, he is visited by his sister. Morpheus is an Endless being, and there is no dearth of work for him, especially if he has come out of such long imprisonment. He definitely has a lot of damage control to do and set a lot of things right. If he was really an unfeeling, unchanging being, he wouldn’t be feeling the confusion he was at that time. And his wiser sister understood that. She gives him the reminder, as only a sibling can, that he needs to get over his inflated sense of self-importance and just think about the people who care for him. She also reminds him that they exist because humans do. Their ultimate job is to serve humanity. Maybe this is what introduces Morpheus to the humility that he needed to start his journey of healing. Because that is the problem with being a lone wolf- that it is lonely.
A much, much more subtle instance that Dream is a changed man is when he is on a mission to retrieve his bag of sand with Constantine. The empathy he shows for Rachael and Johanna is an example of how he understands love. And this instance is only highlighted to us because when he meets Nada in hell, he tells her that he has not forgiven her, though he still loves her. It was Dream himself who put Nada there, so he understood the emotions of anger and hurt pride. But him letting Rachael have an easy death upon Johanna’s request is an example that he also knows how to forgive in love. We just need to see him do that for his own unfinished story, probably in “The Sandman” Season 2.
We believe that Morpheus is a kind and just being. We understand this by the decisions he makes and the simple fact that he gives Cain and Abel another dragon in return for the one he took from them. His only vice was pride, and once that softened, he was more open to the simple joys of companionship and an ease of mind that was not burdened by prejudice. And that is how Dream changed, for his own good and that of everyone who dreams.