Why Delight Had to Become Delirium
It’s rather simple, once you map it out. The Endless are the anthropomorphic representations of not just their names (Destiny, Death, Dream, Despair, Desire, Destruction,
Delight Delirium), but by defining those concepts also define the opposite. Some of the siblings are more difficult to define this way than others, but try this out for size:
Destiny —> Things that don’t ever happen/free will
Death —> Life
Dream —> Reality
Destruction —> Creation
Despair —> Hope
Desire —> Apathy
Delight —> Anguish
Delirium —> Absolute knowledge of reality
This map doesn’t just provide insight into each sibling, but reveals some very interesting relationships between the siblings that explain a great deal about the family dynamic as it’s seen in the comics. Dream himself alludes to this in “Three Septembers and a January” when he tells Despair that she couldn’t exist if people did not dream of hope (and even earlier, in Hell, when he used the dream of hope as one of his main cards to regain his helmet). You can also see it in the differences between the two Despairs – both of whom take delight from the Despair of others, but in very different ways. The second Despair, having experienced change, has a less abstract, more visceral sense of her duties than the one who planned the end of Krypton.
I used “Anguish” to describe the opposite of Delight, but just as easily, I could have used both “Despair” and “Apathy”. Which are concepts that canonically require twins to represent them. Oddly enough, Delight cannot maintain the balance between her two sides for very long before having a schizophrenic break and becoming Delirium.
Poor Del is the one who, much like the youngest in any family, bumps into the expectations set up by her older siblings the most. Unlike Destruction she doesn’t get to be the middle child/mediator, and she doesn’t have a twin to support her against the others. And she finds Dream to be scary, even though she loves him, because she’s seen the greatest joys and worst nightmares that he has to offer, in both reality and in places that do not and cannot exist. Her knowledge of this is what brings her into greatest conflict with Destiny, who refuses to even change her portrait in his gallery.
But unlike her older brothers, one of whom apathetically accepts that which is written in his book and cannot see nor does he seek to change that which he reads, and the other who decides he would rather die than change, Del, initially being an emotion, doesn’t have a sense of duty to shield her. She simply takes the hand me downs as they come, and because she is the youngest, she is also one that the others see not only as child-like, but also one to be patronized in both the offensive, pandering sense, as well as the defensive, protective definition. Destruction sees things coming, and it is probably this insight that helped her ease through the change, rather than call for her oldest sister, as Dream did.
And thus, Delight was destined to become Delirium, whether Destiny liked it or not. Not that Destiny would ever confess to a preference, of course.