Comparison of the Idea of Fairyland in Peter Pan and in William Allingham’s Poem the Fairies

Topics: Fairy, Peter Pan, Neverland Pages: 5 (2123 words) Published: November 4, 2011
Fairies have maintained a persistent presence in literature throughout human history and references can be dated back to 1000 BC where in the Iliad, Homer describes how “watery fairies dance in mazy rings.” This is an indication that the notion of the fairy and it’s environment is heavily entrenched throughout the different cultures of the world and occupies a place in written history that skews the boarders of reality and make believe, where the point of fact and myth begin to blur. This ambiguity represents a fascination within society to attempt to understand and explore the world by presenting the natural and supernatural side by side. A later historical example of this is the Medieval period that introduced texts such as Beowulf and the Arthurial legends that created a romanticism that is intertwined with the country’s history where actual fact becomes debated. This romanticism was a clear interest in the 19th Century where an interest in supernatural lands, particularly those of the fairy became apparent through western culture, but were particularly noted in English and Irish literature. The reasoning behind this interest is partially attributed to the expansion of the British Empire that sparked a sense of superiority and patriotism that saw the country rewrite it’s own history to emphasise the power and romanticism behind the building of an Empire. This is apparent in much of the artwork throughout the Houses of Parliament. This sense of national identity also developed throughout Ireland during its occupation by the English where writers and in particular William Allingham used fairies and the fairy world to establish the origins of Ireland and give it it’s identity as a country. Another reason behind this resurgence is the progression of the Industrial Revolution. It is here that a clear division between nature and the industrial world was defined and in essence created two separate worlds that created a nostalgia for a past steeped in folk tradition against the future that would inevitably see these mythical lands replaced by cities for the sake of progress. Further more to the link of progress, Victorian society developed a religious ambiguity as advances in science began to introduce a sense of understanding in the world where previously only faith was required. This further developed the idea of a world being lost that existed in the past. But it is clear that the ability to question the world more freely left the Victorians more open in expressing ideas about the past more freely. A notable example of this is the evolution theorist Arthur Wallace and his interest in Spiritualism. What is clear is that the changes and developments in Victorian society during the late 19th Century created a heavy nostalgia for the past in search of a historical identity. These fascinations developed into a sense of escapism from the real world to one of fantasy built around innocence. This developed further as a move away from adult responsibility and therefore became heavily associated with the youth and innocence of childhood. Indeed the belief of fairies can be viewed as a reaction against progressive late Victorian culture. This passive form of civil disobedience took a clear form as an Edwardian audience declared in 1904 that yes, they did believe in fairies. Both William Allingham and J M Barrie created fairy lands that fulfilled the desires of society to escape and bring make believe into actuality and defy the conventions that have been placed on the world from science. The Never Land defied worldly conventions. It is a physical place (an island) yet without a tangible location in the world. The journey to and from this place is not documented as it is a place that can’t be defined on a map and instead has a loose navigational instruction of “Second to the right, and straight on till morning” to find it. The Never Land can also not be reached by conventional travel, one must “think happy thoughts, and they...
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