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How Exactly Is The Sandman Connected To William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?

In "The Sandman," the Endless — seven immortal entities representing the forces that shape humanity — rarely interfere with the day-to-day minutiae of life. For the most part, they ensure that nothing goes awry. Sometimes, when they're bored, curious, or trying to keep their egos in check, they find themselves walking among ordinary men. For Dream (Tom Sturridge), aka Morpheus, it's often loneliness that stirs him to enter the mortal realm. Of course, that same loneliness tends to get mortals irrationally imprisoned in Hell for thousands of years, but that's another story. 

There are a few instances when his meddling benefits the world, though. One or two, not many. Look, the Endless, once explained, are doing their best. At any rate, many years ago, Dream decided to share his gift for dreaming with a particular playwright. In this way, let's look at how everyone's favorite bard (sorry, Jaskier, this isn't about you) had a little help from the Lord of Dreams. 

Morpheus gifted Shakespeare with the power of dreaming

"The Sandman" fans who have only consumed the Netflix will series will understand the beginning of this connection, but anyone who has read the comics or listened to the audio drama will know the whole story. Let's use the Netflix adaptation as a starting point. In episode six, "The Sound of Her Wings," Morpheus meets Hob Gadling (Ferdinand Kingsley), with whom he makes a magical wager. Gadling, an average mortal, intrigued Morpheus and his sister (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) — who plays Death in "The Sandman"— by proclaiming that dying is overrated and that he wouldn't do it. In this way, the Endless siblings, bored and curious, permit Gadling immortality on the condition that he visits Morpheus once every hundred years to renew his immortality and share his story. 

During one such meeting, Morpheus overhears a struggling young playwright, William Shakespeare (Samuel Blenkin), wish for the ability to create compelling stories. In the same way that Gadling was blessed, Morpheus bestows Shakespeare with fantastical dreaming on the condition that he use it to make the most glorious plays. In a later meeting, Gadling mentions that Shakespeare took off after meeting Morpheus. That's as far as the Netflix adaptation has taken this particular storyline. The rest of the story, and hopefully "The Sandman" will depict this in other seasons, sees Morpheus commissioning a play about the fairy folk's antics with the intention that the playwright and his acting troupe perform it for the fairy folk on whom the characters were based. 

In this way, in Volume 2, Issue 19, entitled "Dream Country," Shakespeare wrote "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for fae royalty. Shenanigans followed, but we won't spoil all the fun.