Who is Hob Gadling? The Sandman character explained

Hob Gadling is an old acquaintance that Dream decides to visit after Death brings up his name. A brief history between Hob and Dream is also explored.

Dream spends a day with Death because he feels lost now that he’s gotten revenge against the people responsible for his imprisonment and one of the things Death reminds him about is his special project with Hob Gadling.

An interesting wish

Sometime in the 14th century, Death convinced Dream to join her and spend some time amongst the humans and share their experience of life. As they roamed around a tavern, they came across a man named Hob Gadling who has a curious opinion on death and claims that will not die simply because he chooses not to.

Who is Hob Gadling? The Sandman character explained 1
Hob Gadling was a lowly peasant with an ambitious wish in the !4th century

Dream wonders aloud why any human would want to live out an eternity of just drinking and laying with women and experiencing life. Death tells him that he can find out for himself by granting Hob’s wish for eternal life.

Dream is convinced that Hob will be begging for death within half a century and takes on Death’s challenge. He approaches Hob and tells him that he would like to hear all about his life in a 100 years time and sets a date for them to meet again.

A lifetime of encounters

On his first visit since granting the wish, Dream finds Hob questioning why he’s still alive and what he’s gotten himself into. Dream tells him that all he has to do is live his life as he chooses and then share his experiences every 100 years.

He expects Hob to be fed up with life already but to his surprise, Hob has a wonderful outlook on life and how everything has been changing for the better.

Who is Hob Gadling? The Sandman character explained 2
By the 18th century, Hob had learnt how to survive and make the most of his unique gift

Each time they visit over the next couple of centuries, Hob has something different to share. One year he’s knighted by the queen, another year he’s lost it all and is roaming the streets looking for scraps. Throughout all this he never loses his will to live however.

During one meeting, Dream encounters a young William Shakespeare and inspires him to continue his writing. In another year, their meeting is interrupted by Lady Johanna Constantine, the first time Dream meets someone from the Constantine family.

A lesson learnt

When they meet in the 19th century, Hob suggests that Dream has changed a lot since their meeting and the reason they continue to meet is because Dream is lonely and considers Hob as one of his few friends.

Dream is appalled by the notion that someone so powerful would seek companionship, and denies his claims. He then leaves in anger and promises to never show up for them meetings again.

The following year, Dream is stuck in Roderick Burgess’s basement and Hob still shows up for their meeting but blames himself for speaking out of turn and possibly ruining their friendship.

Who is Hob Gadling? The Sandman character explained 3
Hob Gadling was proven right when Dream decided to visit once again in the 21st century

But after all of his experiences with humans and spending a day with Death, he realises where he went wrong and decides to go meet Hob Gadling once more, even if it is a few years late.

He sees that the old pub is shut down but finds a new one opened up nearby. He walks in and finds Hob sitting there, waiting for him like a good friend would. And he finally admits the truth, that Hob Gadling is well and truly his friend.

Also Read: How and why was Dream captured in The Sandman?

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