J M Barrie’s Peter Pan
J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan is a children’s novel about a boy who doesn’t want to grow up. It’s a story of adventure and fantasy. The focus of the story is on a magical place called Neverland where Peter Pan lives with fairies, pirates, and Indians. Children have the power to escape reality by creating an imaginary world with unrealistic characters. J.M.Barrie uses the character of Peter Pan to show the imagination of childhood, uncertainty and emotional complexity of children and adults.
Peter pan represents the spirit of a child and the imagination of childhood.
When Wendy asks Peter if he can fly, he says, “when you just think lovely wonderful thoughts and they lift you up in the air.” Children are innocent and naive. They have the ability to do more than pretend that something is real; they believe and make it real.
Peter says, “Of all the delectable islands the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact, not large and sprawl, you know, but nicely crammed. When you play at it by day with the chairs and table cloth, it is not the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep, it becomes very nearly real that is why they are night lights.” Children are scared of darkness and being surrounded by darkness because its similar to being lost. Peter avoids the darkness by pretending there is light, he feels protected and safe.
It takes courage to grow up and face the adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it.
Through Peter, Wendy, and the lost boys, Bernie portraits what is like to be caught between childhood and adulthood.
“Let me go! She ordered him” Wendy wanted to go to Neverland, because she wanted to be a mother. Going there would give her the opportunity to fulfill her dream of being a mother. Being the eldest, she wanted to watch over them and protect them. Also, she knew that Peter and the lost boys don’t have a mother Peter says, “And you could darn or clothes, and make pockets for us. None of us have any pockets.” Peter wants to have a mother, that’s why he wants Wendy to be their mother because he has already seen her taking care of her brothers.
“I was just thinking,’ he said, a little scared. ‘It is only make-believe, isn’t it, that I am their father?” Peter loves playing pretend father with Wendy, but he doesn’t like to take the responsibilities of a father. He is the one who protects them from Captain Hook and teaches them how to fly in Neverland, but in reality he doesn’t want to accept any responsibility.
In order to grow up and take responsibility, you need the guidance of your parents.
The role of motherhood is repeated throughout Peter Pan.
“See, dear brothers,”says Wendy pointing upwards, “there is the window still standing open. Ah, now we are rewarded for our sublime faith in a mother ‘s love. “So up they flew to their parents, and pen cannot describe the happy scene, over which we draw a veil.” Wendy had such a faith in her mother’s love that she was confident that she would be welcomed back.
“Mrs. Darling had bathed them and sung to them till one by one they had let go her hand and slid away into the land of sleep.” Mrs. Darling was a very dedicated mother and Wendy and her brothers were confident of her love for them, and that’s why Wendy decides to leave Neverland and go back home. She takes on the responsibility to care for Peter and the other children but she also decides to go back home and not make her mom worried.
He tells Wendy that he was once like them; he flew off to Neverland thinking that his mother would always leave the window open. “long ago,” he said, “I thought like you that my mother would always keep the window open for me; so I stayed away for moons and moons and moons, and then flew back; but the window was barred, for mother had forgotten all about me, and there was another little boy sleeping in my bed.” The closed window represents irresponsibility and a lack of parental nurturing. In order to grow up and mature you need guidance from your parents and since his mom shut the window, he never had that from her.
Ultimately, it’s only Peter that decides not to grow up, because he doesn’t remember the past, and he only remembers the present. He wants to live at the moment and stay a child forever.
J.M. Barrie uses the character of Peter Pan to show the imagination of childhood, his hatred toward adulthood, and the effect of mother/child relationship on the journey to maturity. I believe children don’t have any power over their lives. They are told what to do, when to eat, and who to talk to. However, they are able to influence their world through their belief and imagination.