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Lecture 8

ENGL208C Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: J. M. Barrie


Department
English
Course Code
ENGL208C
Professor
Kathryn Mc Arthur
Lecture
8

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ENG 208C
Module 8
October 27 2014
Peter Pan
An Introduction to Peter Pan
General Responses
In childrens literature we often see childhood portrayed as divine and special,
something that the child may not be aware of but something that the adult narrator
understands and laments
Childhood is short, sweet, and fragile, so should be protected
Wordsworth and the romantics give us this view of childhood as both innocent,
and at the same time, heartless that we see in much of childrens literature
There is an echo of the immortality ode in peter pan
There is an uncomfortable, out of control narrative structure
We are still like the fun, the play, and the idea of the special childhood
Essay possibility final: the paradoxical joys of childhood as expressed in children’s
literature
Essay topic: the relationship between peter pan and the film ET
Gender Roles
The description of Wendy
The only good thing is to be a mother, just like Mrs. Darling
There are two kinds of women: mothers like Mrs. Darling or Wendy, and Sex-pots
like Tinkerbelle
In addition to stereotypic female characters there are no adult male characters in
Peter Pan
The Neverlands
Islands in the mind
Everything a little child plays to be
The description of the Neverland includes things found in fairy tales and
childrens books
A literary place, a kind of compendium of childrens literature
The Narrative Structure
A narrative that is in love with the idea of childhood
The book was created from a play
When the play was rewritten in book form, all the action had to be described to
the reader

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Perhaps it is the narrator that makes us feel uneasy about the story
Barrie plays with the idea of books for children as well as the whole idea of
narrative
We get an immediacy of narrative from this style which is both comfortable and
uncomfortable
The portrayal of men and women comes from the narrator
The narrator is playful, but annoying, because he chooses to give us what he
wants (chooses which stories to tell)
There is a sense that this is a male narrator
The Author
J. M. Barrie
Barrie was the ninth of ten children, the youngest and third son, and nineteen
years younger than the oldest boy
The second son, seven years older than J.M. was his mother’s “great hope”
This brother died in a freak skating accident away from home, this sent his mother
into a decline
oTook out her anger and grief on everyone
Barrie had a very troubled relationship with his mother, trying to reach her by
dressing like his dead brother and sitting at her bedside
When he was older, he married an actress who had provided care for him during
an illness, but the couple spent long periods of time apart and divorced after
fifteen years
Some suggestion that the marriage was never consummated
Relationship with the Davies
Barrie met the three Davies boys before their father died, the two youngest boys
were born later
Barrie met the Davies boys in Kensington Park, their parents at a dinner party
They went on holidays with the Davies
Arthur Davies (the dad) was uncomfortable with Barries relationship with his
family
Arthur died following long illness, during which Barrie was very supportive of
the family and Arthur
At the time of Sylvia’s death, the youngest two boys, Michael and Nico were 10
and 7, peter and his oldest brothers in their teens
Not happy that Barrie moved in and took over
He was never legally the boy’s guardian, but used manipulation to achieve that
position
Barrie had a love affair with the boys themselves, not with their mother
Barrie was most attached to Michael Davies
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