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Peter Pan

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Douglas Bruce

Peter Pan - Written in 1911 by J.M. Barrie - Born in 1860 and died in 1937 - Novelist and playwright - Met family with 5 boys and befriended them - Statue in London garden - Boys’ parents died, so adopted them - Peter in story based on real boy named Peter o Committed suicide in 1960 - Barrie’s brother died before he turned 14 o Acted like he was always there though Eternal Child - What is it like to be a Victorian man? - “Wendy, I ran away the day I was born... It was because I heard father and mother... talking about what I was to be when I became a man... I want always to be a little boy and have fun (Chapter 3) - “... soon they settled down to being as ordinary as you or me... In time they could not even fly after their hats. What of practice, they called it; but what it really meant was that it no longer believed.” - What/ who are you, Peter Pan? o - Eternal youth, immortality, ideal image of the innocent child - “I’m youth, I’m joy... I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg.” (Chapter 15) o Not given the choice to have this o Breaking out of the egg symbolizes freedom (flying)  Characterizes Peter Pan o His wish not to grow up can be anxieties and becoming ordinary like everyone else  Losing the freedom and joy - Psychologically: anxieties about growing up? - Work of art, never ages o Character in a book and it never ages o Lives for the moment, forgets the past in Neverland o Attributes associated with a work of art Neverland - Our world and Neverland; out of time and place, loses his memory, lives only for the moment, is that good? o Escape from duties, responsibilities o Everything needed to be a functioning member of society - Illiteracy? - “... he was the only boy on the island who could neither write nor spell; not the smallest word. He was above all that sort of thing.” (Chapter 7) - But he understands the Neverbird o Communication is possible without words for him? - Is eternal life not terrible? Tragic? He forgets everything, even Tinkerbell, memory (needed for identity) Many Worlds – Crossing Over - World of the British Empire, Empire Building, Colonialism - Gender, race, identity, class - Juxtapose with innocence o The innocence of Peter Pan - Gender o Homoeroticism: refusal to grow up and “become a man”  Peter Pan doesn’t fit into the society’s model of a “man”  Because Peter Pan left his parents so early on in life, may imply that he’s not following the “gender rules” of society o Gender indeterminacy is unsettling o Peter lives with the “lost boys”, rejection of heterosexuality”?, “we have no female companionship” (Chapter 3) Mary Martin Peter Pan, Broadway Musical - Feminine, boyish, tomboy, man trapped in a woman’s body or woman trapped in a man’s body... crossing over
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