In episode "A Midsummer Night's Dream" of the Audible version of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, Morpheus/Dream references a deal he made earlier with Will Shakespeare: Will's stories will live on forever, and in turn Will will write two plays about/for Morpheus. The play A Midsummer Night's Dream is the first of those plays.

Later in the episode,

Dream confides in Tatania that the cost to Will is likely to be greater than the mortal can fathom. Even so, he knows that Will would have taken the deal whether he had known of the cost or not

(quoted from The Sandman Wiki, emphasis mine)

What is this 'cost' for Will that comes with the deal? It does not become clear for me from the context. It might be related to his son Hamnet.

Answers from the original comic book (Sandman Vol 2 #19 (1990)) are welcome.

  • 1
    Will's own dreams, creativity and sense of accomplishment. The problem with "deals with the devil" is that you'll always wonder what could have been if you didn't accept it. Did the riches you have come from your own power or from the deal with the devil?
    – jo1storm
    Mar 21, 2022 at 10:19

1 Answer 1


Dream spells it out explicitly for Titania. The cost is that having achieved his heart's desire, he's now left without any further ambition than to continue producing plays.

"They only see the prize, their heart's desire, their dream... But the price of getting what you want, is getting what once you wanted"

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Hamnet tells us that he's neglected his family and his wife and we learn from Dream that he's lost contact with his closest friends.

"He's very distant, Tommy. He doesn't seem like he's there any more. Not really. It's like he's somewhere else. Anything that happens he just makes stories out of it"

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This theme, of not really wanting what you think you want, is reflected repeatedly throughout the Sandman comics, most notably in The Hunt

  • Basically, he became an observer in his own life, not a protagonist.
    – jo1storm
    Aug 15, 2022 at 13:02

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