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Peter Pan; or the Boy who Wouldn’t Grow Up, when first staged in 1904, was received with almost unanimous enthusiasm. The critics though appreciative were ‘a little cautious and puzzled’ (Watson, 2009, p. 143); and not surprisingly so. Peter Pan was no ordinary children’s tale. With its queer mixture of childlike fantasy and very adult dark humour, even the first, spectacular viewing of the play must have hinted at the layers of subliminal messages it contained. Peter Pan evidently deserved further penetration. The Peter Pan myth, as indeed it grew to become, has been interpreted with various perspectives. The Spectacle used in the play, the psychological character of Peter and Wendy’s relationship, the biographical link to Barrie’s own experiences with the Llewellyn Davies boys – have all been scrutinised and commented upon. But the most prominent observation the play seems to make, and Barrie through it, is on the divide separating children and grown-ups.
What does Peter Pan say about childhood and adulthood? Or to divide it further, on girlhood and boyhood? Does this commentary hold ground a hundred years after its inception? In what ways have its interpretations changed? Children are known (and often rebuked) for asking too many questions: what better way to begin such an exploration than to try and answer these?
Barrie’s treatment of adult males in his play might be a good place to begin. Neither of the two significant men characters, Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, is portrayed charitably. Mr. Darling has the trappings of a characteristic patriarchal head, but that is all. He holds no real authority, either at the workplace ‘where he sits on a stool all day, as fixed as a postage stamp’ (Barrie, 2008 , Act I) or at home; as is evident in the scene about the medicine between him and Michael in Act I. Without being too simplistic, one can sum up Mr. Darling as a fussy man, too anxious about social propriety and not
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The character has been referred to many times in popular culture and led to the socio-psychological reference to the “Peter Pan Syndrome” (Yeomann, 1998). Peter Pan symbolises society’s obsession with youth through the use of an adventure story format and to this end has remained an evergreen character; that remains relevant to contemporary culture (Yeomann, 1998).
One of the reasons for its popularity is the whimsical fairy tale world that it conjures up, including a boy who can fly and never wants to go up, a group of “lost boys” who follow him around, and a collection of exotic characters like fairies, Indians, mermaids and pirates, along with a crocodile who has swallowed a clock and a St Bernard dog who acts as nanny for human children.
The imagination Peter Pan uses can be divided into two categories: imagining the nurturing he so desires ; and the good fun of imagining how he perceives the nature of life. The nurturing of imagination is universal and the imagination of the nature of life has evolved has evolved from the Victoria Era.
However, his real intentions have been to reach out to other like-minded characters who believe in the supernatural and diversity for fun to make them his true friends. Peter Pan is ever “young” and does not plan to alter this fact. In her opinion, Yeoman describes Peter Pan as a perfectly genderless character (Yeoman, 1998, p15).
Peter teaches the children to fly. He takes them to the ‘Neverland,’ where Peter is the head of a band of Lost Boys. The children meet various characters and take part in many thrilling adventures. At the climax, Peter leads them in a war against the pirates under the evil Captain Hook.
Both stories also share at the core several common themes, but that is not to go as far as to say these stories are similar in any way shape or form. Both of the stories teach valuable lessons that can be applied to real life; not only the fantasy settings they are taught in.
Fairy tales are dubbed such because they present us with a glimpse of another world. This is a world that is similar to ours in that it typically contains all the same features and natural processes, but in this world, things work a little differently. The rules can be bent, changed, or work directly opposite to how they work in our world.
Unlike modern interpretations that hold the female roles of the early 20th century were powerless and meaningless, both of these books reveal flashes of tremendous strength in the form of the female figure, both within and without the traditional roles. Both Peter Pan and Mary Poppins convey the sense of the traditional female role as something both strong and weak.
It must have been the author’s main purpose, because the style he uses in this novel (later a play) is not brilliant. However, as Mincoff puts it in his “The Study of Style”, “an author who can express character through the speech is certainly a stylist
As such, Sula faces discrimination against her characters that she appears to have gotten from those who raised her up. The use of these societal norms in Bottom ends up showing Nel that the society has
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