How and why was Dream captured in The Sandman?

Dream heads out into the waking world to reign in one of his creations that has gone rogue but he runs into some trouble while he’s there.

Dream is warned by Lucienne about the dangers of going into the waking world but he pays no heed to her and that comes back to him in the worst possible way.

A father’s greed

Roderick Burgess was an old man who liked to be referred to as ‘Magus’ and had some knowledge of magic and the supernatural. He learns of a way to bring back his older son who had died in battle.

He acquires the necessary artefacts and begins a ritual that is supposed to trap the Angel of Death so that he may convince death to bring his son back. All the while he treats his younger son, Alex, with contempt.

He performs the ritual but instead of Death he traps Dream who was out capturing his nightmare, The Corinthian. Roderick doesn’t know that he got things wrong but he takes Dream’s tools and keeps him trapped within a magical containment circle.

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How and why was Dream captured in The Sandman? 1
Roderick captures Dream with an amateur spell

The Corinthian shows up at Rodericks house and explains to him that he has captured Dream of the Endless and while he cannot get his son back, there could be other benefits. So Roderick imprisons the lord appropriately and keeps offering to free him in exchange for riches or immortality.

Dream does not say a single word out of spite and simply accepts his captivity.

A matter of trust

Despite his father’s callous nature, Alex showed signs of compassion and sympathy towards Dream. He often considered setting him free but was always held back by his father’s words.

He also wanted to earn his father’s love and respect and goes as far as killing Dream’s raven, Jessamy. His father still scolds him for almost shattering the glass prison rather than thank him for thwarting an escape.

Alex and Roderick get into an argument and in the ensuing scuffle, Roderick is knocked back on the glass and hurts his head. He dies almost instantly but not before promising his captive that they will never be freed.

How and why was Dream captured in The Sandman? 2
Alex became the man in charge after his father’s death

Alex takes a different approach and offers to free Dream as long he promises not to hurt them but Dream holds in so much hate towards Alex for killing his raven and simply chooses not to answer.

This continues on for close to 100 years that he remains a captive and Alex grows older.

Finally free

Alex decides to visit his prisoner one last time now that he’s an old man living his final days and says that it was his stubbornness to not answer that kept him in there for so long.

As he gets into his wheelchair and is wheeled away, the containment circle is finally broken, giving Dream the opportunity to escape.

Also Read: The Sandman (2022) review: Phenomenal adaptation of an iconic story