I clearly remember my first experience of going to a movie theatre with someone else
other then my mother. The movie I watched with my babysitter and other friends was
Steven Spielberg’s, Hook. Of course, the movie, itself, was fun but the only thing that
filled my mind was the absence of my mother. I guess to a little, five year old girl, all the
excitement and adventures couldn’t mean as much as her mother. The film, Hook, is
relatively a recent version of J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan, which was first introduced in 1902
novel, The Little white bird. There have been many other versions created, including
Peter and Wendy, which was published in1911 and Walt Disney’s 1953 animation, Peter
Pan. There are few unchanging elements, which are responsible for the story’s worldwide
reputation and its survival. However, most people have tendency to identify the story
with only one aspect of it. Generally, Peter’s everlasting youth is considered to be the
dominant essence in the story of Peter Pan; however, this notion is severely distorted as
most children do wish to grow up, and the real, ageless defining elements are Neverland
and the motherhood, imbedded in the story.
Oxford English dictionary states, “True fairy tales concern a ‘class of supernatural
beings of diminutive size, who in popular belief are said to possess magical powers and
to have great influence for good or evil over the affairs of humans’”(qtd. in Behrens 594).
According to this definition, Peter Pan qualifies as a fairy tale because Tinkerbell exists
in the story as a fairy that is small in size and has the ability to perform magic. The story
of Peter Pan, both the original and other retellings of it, have elements, which are
required for children’s literature. However, Barrie’s original fairy tale had been written
for adults and it is rather complex in terms of presenting emotional components. On the
contrary, most versions of the story have been produced, over the years, targeting the
young children population, therefore, different adaptations will be attempted to be
examined through children’s perspective, representing their standpoint.
When people are asked to describe peter pan, most of them will emphasize the fact
that time has stopped ticking for him. Among those who mention his everlasting
youthfulness, some are going to show their enviousness more then others but not many
children will be fascinated by it. Hollindale states that Children nowadays do not wish to
remain perpetually young like Peter because they are aware of other rights and enjoyment,
which only grown-ups are able to exercise (25). Steven Spielberg also proved, in his
version of Peter Pan, that the story can still have the same impact even when Peter is
made to grows old. This indicates that, “children do not, and never did, want to be Peter
Pan, [but] they want, in fantasy and imagination, to be with him”(Hollindale 25). Adults,
however, neither want to be with Peter Pan nor become fully like him. They just wish to
become or remain mentally knowledgeable and powerful while physically staying young.
(Hollindale 26). To wish to be with Peter means to envy the fact that Peter does not have
obligations or responsibilities. However, responsibilities and obligations, oftentimes,
provide people with a sense of identity and status and most adults are not quite willing to
give up that awareness. Moreover, to wish to be Peter means to envy Peter’s immortality,
which underlies his forever youth, and this also is not envied by many grown ups because
we all know that everyone inevitably dies and nobody wants to be caught in “the
successive oblivions of make-believe”(hollindale 29). Thus, it is logical to claim that
Peter’s agelessness has been irrationally emphasized for the convenience of having
something simple to represent a complex story, at the expense of other...
Cited: Barrie, James M. Peter and Wendy. London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1911.
Barrie, James M. The little white bird. London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1902.
Behrens, Laurence, et al. ed. Reading and writing across the curriculum. Toronto:
Issue 1 (Mar 2001): 57-74.
Vol.18 issue 2 (Fall 1985): 47- 63.
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