Sypnosis: The Darling household is a place of joy, consisting of the three children, Wendy, John, and Michael; the practical and sometimes stern father, Mr. Darling; the loving mother, Mrs. Darling; and the children’s nurse, a dog named Nana. But,one day,after a series of events, the legendary Peter Pan comes at the Darlings’ window sill and meets the three children.Shortly afterwards, they are all on their way to Neverland, where they will meet the lost boys,the sirens,the Indians,and the abominable Captain Hook and his pirate henchmen!
Reasons why you should read ‘Peter Pan’ :
1. Welcome back to your childhood!
In ‘Peter Pan’, we seldom hear and see adults,so we are left with only children for the most part of the book.In fact, the childish tone and mood prevailing over the story really contribute to its freshness and lightness,especially because almost all other books are tinged with a dose of pessimism to evoke pathos. J.M.Barrie has made the children’s way of thinking,credulity and typically-childish traits so crude that it becomes difficult for us,readers,not to indulge easily in their world. Besides, the narrator of the story occasionally ensures that our mind is fully engrossed in the story by directly talking to us,as if we were by his side witnessing all the events taking place in Neverland. For instance, when the pirates are marching towards our direction,he tells us to hide in the fields! In this respect, such proximity with the characters,the narrator and Neverland itself,leads us to leave our adult world and our woes to live with those kids whose adventure are incredibly funny; as we become indulged in Barrie’s book, we become children again,albeit only for a short while.
2. Disney ruined it!
In adapting short stories and fairy tales to movies, Disney completely ruined many masterpieces.It’s no wonder,thus,that their rendition of ‘Peter Pan’ is a poor display of Barrie’s book. In the original story, the sadness of Mrs Darling upon discovering that her children have disappeared,couldn’t be made any clearer.Likewise, extreme pathos is evoked when we witness the changes in Peter,Wendy and the other boys by the end of story. However,Disney fails to convey similar feelings in its movie which,in the end, is only a series of animated images purposed to entertain kids of a very young age. Besides,given it is the amalgam of the respective paroxysms of innocence, joy and pathos that contributes to the beauty of ‘Peter Pan’, it is right to say that the Disney movie is an utter failure,for it fails to convey not only the paroxysms of any of these emotions,but also the sad feelings evoked in the story.
3. Autobiographical gem!
Seen from a different perspective,‘Peter Pan’ is born from a young son’s craving for his mother’s love.James Matthew Barrie’s brother died at the age of 7 and his mother couldn’t get over his death.So more so that she couldn’t love or take care of James,who tried his best to replace his brother. At some point in her life, Margaret Barrie began convincing herself that she would find his deceased son as the little boy he was at the moment of his death,when she would go to heaven. Having heard her say so,James,in an attempt to win his mother’s heart, decided to behave and dress like a little boy,even though he had passed the period of childhood since long; he became ‘the child who never grew up’! As you may have guessed, his lack of maternal love and his obsession to become ‘a child who never grew up’ provided the basis for Barrie’s story ‘Peter Pan’,in which the protagonist doesn’t grow up and doesn’t have a mother. If you’re perspicacious enough, you’ll notice Barrie’s innermost feelings being reflected in Peter’s reaction to the word ‘mother’.
4. A must-read for Potterheads!
If you have been a Potterhead like me, then ‘Peter Pan’ is a must-read. Since reading the last Harry Potter, I had yet to find another book that could help me immerse in a fictional world with so much ease. But,now,after reading ‘Peter Pan’, I will venture to say that it is better than the Harry Potter books,simply because Barrie doesn’t only create a fictional world;his narrator invites us to see things by his side,and the moral of the story is extremely moving,as it makes us ponder over what happened to our own childhood!
5. The element of tragedy!
I will quote Wikipedia: ”The play’s subtitle “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” underscores the primary theme: the conflict between the innocence of childhood and the responsibility of adulthood. Peter has literally chosen not to make the transition from one to the other, and encourages the other children to do the same. However, the opening line of the novel, “All children, except one, grow up”, and the conclusion of the story indicates that this wish is unrealistic, and there is an element of tragedy in the alternative.”
This very element of tragedy is what makes ‘Peter Pan‘ a timeless masterpiece. We all wish we were like Peter,but we can’t.Instead, we have to grow up and face the hardships and responsibilities of adulthood.This sad realisation is made even more bitter through Barrie’s portrayal of Peter: he is fun to be around with and is extremely attaching a character,so it is hard when we realise we can never be like him; we will never experience eternal joy. As if to amplify our feelings in respect to this tragedy, Barrie adds his ‘Afterthought’ at the end of his original story,in which Peter comes back to visit Wendy,years after they first met…. ( I won’t tell you more, you have to find out by yourself why this scene is particularly moving!)
Verdict: ‘Peter Pan’ is a work of compelling beauty that unites fantasy with reality,pathos with moments of sheer happiness,and comedy with tragedy. It is a definite must-read because it really changes our outlook on certain things;in a world tainted with crime and malevolence, we should know how to appreciate moments of purity,however insignificant they may be. I will end this review with a short quote from George Bernard Shaw describing Barrie’s story: ”Peter Pan is ostensibly a holiday entertainment for children but really a play for grown-up people”. There are far more social allegories at work in this book that you may think of.So give it a read!
You might as well want to read this article: ‘Why Peter Pan never grows up!’
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