Peter Pan Is Peter Pan Essay

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132). Hence the Faerie Folk came to symbolize the De Danann's "earlier sensual and spiritual connection to life and nature that influenced the beliefs of the Druids" until Christianity showed up, Yeoman continues. This analogy dovetails with the confusion and game playing in Neverland, according to Yeoman's point-of-view.

The author dips into the sexuality issues on page 133, asserting that the blending together of masculine and feminine attributes within Berrie's characters offers "yet another example" of how powerful "but unconscious" the hold on maternal feminine is. Yes, Peter's charm is in large part based on his "prepubescent asexuality" but the way Hook is presented casts a shadowy set of images that mix masculine and feminine qualities, Yeoman asserts. For example, Hook's style of dress reminds the author of King Charles II, whose court "was renowned for its permissive admixture of effeminacy, sexual license and perversity" (Yeoman, p. 133). Hook is both elegant and sinister, Yeoman writes, and he has features of the devil and yet his eyes are "of the blue of the forget-me-not"; he pretends to be impervious to emotional change, yet he "swipes an errant tear from his eye with a flourish of his iron claw," Yeoman continues (p. 133).

Continuing her psychological analysis of the play, Yeoman (p. 135) explains that the crocodile signifies "the dual nature of humankind"; it reflects ancient worlds that existed long before recorded history, and also is seen as having "a nearness to the origins and source of life" (p. 135). And so for Hook, to be eaten by the crocodile reflects in the story an "irreversible defeat by process (time) and a final descent into hell, into the maternal matrix," the author posits (p. 135). She suggests that Hook's "horror of death" shows readers the "fragmentation of identity" and "resistance against regression" (p. 135).

The real bottom line as to why Berrie created this iconic fictional work, according to Yeoman (p. 149), is connected to the fact that his own boyhood lacked security and "solace." His own childhood was based largely on fantasy, Yeoman asserts, and hence the Davies family filled his desire for a family right out of a storybook. Moreover, the author explains on page 151, "Play and fantasy lead us into the future because they make us creators" and they also "legitimize" our own reconstruction and "re-creation" of the world we live in. Creating fantasy, as Berrie did so brilliantly, makes us "gods for an hour or a day"; and in addition, by making our own fantasy, we are creating an unlimited vision of a world of our own making that is, Yeoman writes, "is secret and therefore save" (p. 151).

There are no deep psychological investigations in the Peter Pan illustrated book by Young Classics, adapted by Michael Johnstone. In fact this is the classic children's version of the story. And interestingly, in the two pages prior to the start of the story, readers are given a brief biography of Berrie and more than that, a map of the gardens in London near where Berrie grew up. The Kensington Gardens in London are connected to Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana lived prior to her untimely, tragic death. Berrie, as a boy, fantasized that there were fairies and runaway children hidden in Kensington Gardens; he visited the gardens often but he wasn't alone because many others enjoyed walks through the gardens, including nannies that took their children to the gardens to play.

The book has a beautiful illustration (made by Barrie) of the Kensington Gardens, with his own fictional venues prominently displayed. There is the Fairies' Winter Palace, the Bird's Island, the Fairies' Basin and, of course, X marks the spot where "Peter Pan landed" (Johnstone, 1998, pp. 6-7). The publisher of the Young Classics book, Dorling Kindersley Limited, and since Berrie had donated his copyright to the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in 1929, a royalty (not specified as to how much) is sent to the hospital from the sale of this book.

Still on the subject of Berrie's youth, Sydney Blow has written the Foreword in Barrie's book, When Wendy Grew Up: An Afterthought, and Blow describes Berrie's childhood experiences in a way that links seamlessly in some passages with the story of Peter Pan. Blow notes that at the age of seven, Barrie suffered and grieved because his older brother (David, nearly 14 years old) was killed in a skating accident. "The bond of sorrow" brought James and his mother closer together than they had been, and part of that bonding included the two reading books to one another, Blow explains (Blow, 1957, p. 2).

Two of the books that mother and son read to one another included Robinson Crusoe and Pilgrim's Progress, Blow writes. "Young James was fascinated" with Pilgrim's Progress and he was so taken by the book that he "turned the [family] garden into "a Slough of Despond!" (Blow, p. 2). (in Pilgrim's Progress, the character Christian sinks into the slough due to the intensity of his guilt from the sins he has committed.) Blow references Barrie's book, Margaret Ogilvy, in which Barrie reports that he read "every book" that he could borrow or beg, and occasionally Barrie would buy a book at a bookshop. While standing at the counter, Barrie would read "…most of the other books in the shop" (Blow quoting from Margaret Ogilvy). Moreover, while Barrie was reading books in the bookstore, he happened upon a periodical called Sunshine. Barrie referred to Sunshine as "…the most delicious periodical, I am sure, of any day… [and] it was full of stories about pirates and desert islands…fairytale and romance" (Blow, pp. 2-3).

Sounding like Peter Pan himself, Barrie is quoted on page 4 of Blow's Foreword as worrying that his emerging beard meant he was growing up. "The horror of my boyhood was that I knew a time would come when I also must give up the games… [and so] I felt that I must continue playing in secret" (Blow, p. 4).

On the subject of his brother dying, author Anthony Lane writes in the New Yorker that James' brother David was killed when a fellow ice-skater hit him and David fell backwards and "cracked his skull" (Lane, 2004, p. 3). James' mother fell into a deep grieving spell, and James was there to offer comfort, Lane writes. When James entered his mother's room -- she was in bed with the lights out -- his mother said, "Is that you?" But James had never heard her use that tone before so he did not respond (Lane, p. 3). A second time, his mother said "Is that you?" And according to Lane James thought perhaps his mother was calling out to the dead brother David. But James finally offered, "No, it's no' him, it's just me."

From that time forward, James "…worshipped his dead brother with a devotion that carried the taint of jealousy," Lane writes (p. 3). At one point James went into his mother's room wearing one of David's suits, Lane writes. And within the "residue of calamity" that James experienced vis-a-vis his older brother's death, the conviction "seeped into Barrie's art" that a "perfect child who dies on the eve of his fourteenth birthday will be spared the degradation of growing up" (Lane, p. 3). Enter the idea and theme for Peter Pan; and if imagine how Barrie constructed a picture of perfection regarding David, within James' creative and active mind the boy "…will seem scarcely to have passed away at all" (Lane, p. 3).

Lane offers some interesting biographical material on Barrie, including the fact that albeit he married Mary AnseU on 1894, he also loved "many women" besides her in his career (p. 5). That said, Lane's research reveals that Barrie did not have sex with all the women he had affairs with. It was "outside his interests," and perhaps it was also "beyond his grasp" Lane writes, subtly suggesting that perhaps Barrie was impotent. The fact that Barrie never had a child of his own adds to the mysteries and subtleties of this author's peculiar life.

In Barrie's story Tommy and Grizel Barrie seems to be revealing his own sexual incapacities, according to Lane on page 5. Instead of burying his flaws, he dug them up, Lane writes, "like a pirate uncovering a treasure chest" (p. 5). "Grizel, I seem to be different from all other men," the author penned in Tommy and Grizel; "There seems to be a curse upon me…You are the only woman I ever wanted to love, but apparently I can't" (Lane quoting from Barrie).


There are an impressive number of scholarly articles, books, reviews, and editorials surrounding the iconic story of Peter Pan. And from the research presented in this paper it is clear that while parts of the story are perfectly suited for children, the deeper themes and symbols in the book are more in the "adult" category than…[continue]

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