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August 14, 2022

The Subtle Poetic Reference You Might Have Missed In The Sandman

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Episode 6 of the Netflix series “The Sandman” takes viewers of the series back in time. In the second half, the episode follows Tom Sturridge’s dream after he decides to try to reunite with Hob Gadling (Ferdinand Kingsley), an immortal human he has met every 100 years for the past few centuries. As he tries to find him in the present day, The Sandman flashes back in time to show all of the conversations Dream and Hob have had over the years.

During their third meeting, Dream overhears a conversation between two playwrights, one of whom is named Will Shaxberd (Samuel Blenkin). The latter character, of course, is the series’ take on William Shakespeare, whose last name was sometimes spelled “Shaxberd” during his lifetime (via History). Upon hearing of Shaxberd’s desire to write great plays, Dream approaches Shaxberd and asks if he really wants to “create new dreams to inspire people’s spirits.”

The scene was pulled straight from Neil Gaiman’s original Sandman comic book series, but its inclusion in the Netflix adaptation leads some fans to discover a fun detail about it for the first time. A spectator even accepted Twitter to admit they are only just realizing that Dream and Shaxberd’s first conversation is written entirely in iambic pentameter, AKA the rhythmic structure Shakespeare used frequently in his poetry and plays.

The use of the style results in each line consisting of five iambic feet, which are essentially pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables. Many of Shakespeare’s most famous lines are written in iambic pentameter, including “Shall I compare you to a summer’s day?” (via No Sweat Shakespeare).

The “Sandman” detail in question was confirmed on Twitter by Gaiman himself, who responded to the aforementioned fan’s tweet by simply writing, “Big smile.”





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