Friday, 28 December 2012

Dream's Helmet And Other Objects

In the previous post, I argued that readers of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman are powerfully affected by the author's description of the Gates of Horn and Ivory whether the Gates are, as they seem to be, an ancient myth or whether, alternatively, they are an invented story cleverly inserted into the narrative to resemble a myth. Having said that, it is now an easy matter to google and thus to confirm that the Gates are indeed ancient and were first mentioned in the Odyssey (see attached image). Their names are explained. There is a reason why truth comes through Horn and falsehoods through Ivory.

The Gates form a pair with each other and also a triad with Morpheus' helmet because all three are constructed from body parts of gods defeated by Dream. We must by now have entered a narrative solely created by Gaiman. The helmet also belongs to a second triad. The magician who imprisons Dream takes the latter's helmet, ruby and pouch of sand. The magician's assistant then steals these items and gives the helmet to a demon in exchange for an amulet of protection. The assistant's mistress absconds with the amulet, the ruby and the pouch, sells the pouch but gives the ruby and later the amulet to her son.

The son had used the power in the ruby to become a super-villain. Thus, Gaiman retroactively explains the villain of some earlier Justice League stories. The mother, very aged, dies when she parts with the amulet. Dream's first tasks after his escape are to retrieve the pouch from the English magician who had bought it, the helmet from Hell and the ruby from a Gotham warehouse, a classic quest story although the series soon transcended such cliches.

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