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Peter Pan by J M Barrie is an incredibly moving and poignant tale which is guaranteed to set the imaginations of both children and adults on fire.
The tale follows Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up, from the time he meets Wendy and her brothers as children to when he returns to the nursery many years later to find Wendy a grown woman, whilst he is still a boy. In between, Peter takes Wendy to Neverland where she meets the Lost Boys, Captain Hook and his band of pirates, and their adventures together truly begin.
Much has been said about J M Barrie's personal life because of his close relationship with the Llewellyn Davies children whom he befriended and, on the deaths of their parents, took into his care. It has been insinuated, rather cruelly, that he was in fact a paedophile and he prayed on the five young boys.
In my opinion you only have to read Peter Pan to understand he had no improper intentions towards those boys - in deed he was childlike himself and so therefore probably felt more comfortable associating with them than he did a lot of adults. He said the character of Peter Pan was based on aspects of all five of these boys but I feel, and I know others do too, that J M Barrie is more of a Peter Pan figure than those boys ever could be.
It is his childlike imagination and his extraordinary ability to create new worlds which ensures his tale of Peter Pan is such a wonderful and enduring one.
Peter Pan is a story of which I am very familiar but I realised recently that I had never actually read the book. This surprised me as I felt I knew the characters and the essential plot of a boy who does not want to grow up, so well. However, I think it is because the imagery and the characters in the book are so strong and have permeated so easily into modern day culture that we all feel we know more about Peter Pan the book than perhaps we do.
The book really left a lasting impression on me because it is so deeply moving. I am not ashamed to say the ending made me shed tears. Yes it is a story about a boy who does not want to grow up but what struck me more than this was how the tale surrounds itself very much around motherhood and the idea of mothering.
The action in the Darling household is all set in the womb-like territory of the nursery. Mrs Darling is the epitome of a nurturing mother. There are some incredibly endearing scenes such as how Mrs Darling goes through her children's minds once they are asleep to tidy them up for the next day, while Mrs Darling is also an amazingly caring and diligent mother. She loves and cares for her children more than any child could ever wish to be loved and cared for. As a reader we feel her anguish as she sees her children take off and fly away with Peter. We are urging them to come back for her sake, whilst her steadfastness in keeping the window open every night encase her children should come home leaves a lump in the throat.
We discover that Peter Pan's problem is not that he does not wish to grow up but that he cannot grow up because he does not have a mother figure to help him. Similarly the Lost Boys - who are indeed lost because they have no parents - are stuck in limbo in Neverland because they have no one to look after them and help them grow up into men. When Wendy arrives they are joyful at finally having a mother figure to look after them and Wendy embraces her new role. Even Captain Hook reminisces at one point about how it once was to be loved by a mother but then stops himself just in time before he softens completely.
I was a little afraid at first when I began reading Peter Pan as I felt the words did not flow very well. The language was a little stilted and J M Barrie immediately launched into some rather obscure metaphors such as Mrs Darling's kiss which were in danger of alienating a reader from continuing on with the book.
I found though as the story started to blossom with the arrival of Peter Pan, the language began to order itself and as the adventure truly began, J M Barrie began to paint a vivid and breathtaking picture of new lands and exciting characters with words which seemed to pour out of him as naturally as a waterfall.
The battle between Peter Pan and Captain Hook was exhilarating and provided some fantastic swash-buckling interludes within the main tale and it was interesting to learn more about the pirates who we see are far from two-dimensional bad guys but people with their own troubles and doubts. Even Hook we find has been led to his life of cruelty because of his past experiences.
It was also interesting to learn the true character of Tinkerbell as J M Barrie created her. Far from the angelic little fairy girls and women alike seem to idolise and name their dogs after, she is actually a little vixen of a woman who is intensely jealous at Peter's relationship with Wendy and is mischievous to the point of cruelty to Wendy at times.
I think Peter Pan's enduring appeal has been sealed through how J M Barrie mixes the realistic scenes of the nursery and the Darling household seamlessly with Neverland. It makes the possibly of Neverland very real and accessible to all children to the point they as readers feel they could easily get there themselves. All they have to hope is Peter Pan chooses their window to fly in to.
But I also enjoyed how the limits of reality are pushed even within the environment of the Darling home. Nana for example, who is put in charge of the Darling children, is a dog. And we have the strange scene in which Wendy sews Peter Pan's shadow back on again with a needle and thread.
J M Barrie's soul seeps right out of the pages of Peter Pan. Here we have a childlike man with an incredibly active imagination who did little adventuring in his own life but was able to paint wonderful adventures on the page for children and adults to enjoy forever. He was an incredibly generous soul not only with his storytelling but with any profits he made from Peter Pan. He wanted the children of Great Ormond Street Hospital to benefit from any profits he made from book sales and a share of the cover price still goes to the children at the hospital today. This is surely reason enough to buy a copy of the book if I have not been able to convince you in any other way.
I would say though Peter Pan is a wonderful read for all the family. Just look past the difficult language at the beginning and get your tissues ready for the end.
I am in my twenties and I still adore the story of Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie managed to create a wonderful imaginary world. There is so much description in the book from the Darling family living in London to Captain Hook and his crew in Neverland - you can picture each moment happening without ever having to watch the films.
If you've watched the Disney film before reading the book you'll probably open it up expecting it to be a children's book. Once you've read the first few pages you'll realise just how wrong you were at the beginning. The book is written so that adults and children alike can read and enjoy it. It's a great book for you to sit and have your children read to you or you can read to them before bedtime.
If you've never read the book before you're in for a treat. Peter Pan is about a boy who never grew up and visits London to sit and listen to Wendy Darling telling her younger brother stories. He ends up taking them to Neverland (second star on the right and straight on till morning) so that Wendy can be a mother to his Lost Boys and tell them stories too. While they are there the Darling children have adventures, meet a little rascal fairy named Tinkerbell and fight Captain Hook and his crew.
There is so much more to the story and Peter Pan is a definite book for the entire family to read - make sure you get caught up in the world of Pan, his Lost Boys and Captain Hook!
The version of Peter Pan that I read was an adaptation to make it easier for children with reading difficulties to read. This is a story that I as an adult like as much as any child, so it is suitable for anyone and a great action story to read to your children.
The story starts with Wendy and her two brothers, Michael and John, asleep in their room. Their parents have gone out for the night leaving them in the capable hands of their Nanny (who is a dog). Peter Pan fly's into the room, he becomes detached from his shadow and sits down crying because he can't reattach himself. Wendy wakes up and sews his shadow back on. He then convinces her and her brothers to come to Never-Land with him. Once in Never-Land they have lots of adventures with the pirates and the mermaids. They meet the lost-boys and Tinker Bell. They discover that Peter Pan lives in Never-Land and will never grow up. Eventually Wendy and her brothers decide that they want to go home, the lost-boys go with them and Peter visits every year.
Peter Pan is a true adventure story, one I think every child should hear. There are lots of different versions available for different ability levels. This is a very good book and I definitely recommend that you read it.
Another one of the books that I have had to read just recently for my degree course is Peter Pan. I was quite excited by the prospect of reading this novel, as it is one that I have been meaning to read for quite some time but have just not got round too. Upon initially picking up the book I was expecting to read page after page of a pantomime like story full of mythical qualities and swashbuckling adventures. In short however I can say that this is not what I received. True the book does contain a great deal of pirating and is quite magical and mythical at times but it certainly does not have the pantomime like style I was expecting.
Peter Pan is the boy who never grows up and when one evening he enters the window of the Darling children's nursery they are soon plunged into his magical Neverland. He first enters the room in search of his wayward shadow but after failing to stick it back to himself resorts to crying on the nursery floor. This sounds wakes up the young Wendy who without having to ask knows immediately who he is, as do John and Michael once they are awakened.
After stitching his shadow back on to him Peter invites Wendy and reluctantly John and Michael to return to Neverland within him. It is here that Peter introduces them to the World in which he and the Lost Boys are fighting a never-ending battle against the wicked Captain Hook. It is also here that the somewhat irritable fairy Tinkerbell is replaced by Wendy as the only mother that the children have ever known.
The story is generally considered as a children's book but personally I can easily see how it can appeal to adults as well. Now I'm sure the short synopsis above sounds much like the story that I'm sure the majority of you have either seen in Pantomime or on film and even I will agree with you here as the basis of the story hasn't been changed by either of these mediums. It is therefore this tale that we associate with the complete novel and therefore this one that we ascertain as being a children's tale. As you dig deeper into the novel however a much darker and sinister side to the story is allowed to permeate through and it is this that gives the book an added dimension that appeals for adults.
Don't take this 'dark side' comment however to mean that the book is not suitable for children because this is in no way the case. The book is still very child orientated in my mind as it plays upon the childhood ideas of wanting to stay little forever and wanting to have great adventures in a magical land. The darker comments and sides to the book are also of such a nature that many of them wash quickly over the heads of small children and therefore do not affect the story that is told in any way shape or form. Reading the book as an English student however I was able to spot some of the other issues that in some way influence the story being told. The jealous tension between Peter, Tinkerbell and Wendy can rapidly be interpreted in more than one way, as can the reasons behind Hook's wickedness.
The book itself is very easy to read in my opinion and is therefore a very manageable classic novel. The language isn't overly complex and the sentence structures and phrasings easily comprehendible for most people over the age of 13 I would say. The novel is also split into sizeable chapters, which make it even easier to read although I found that once I had begun reading this book I didn't want to put it down with any sort of haste.
To be perfectly honest I'm not sure where I stand on the is it a novel for children or adults front because I can see both sides of the story - maybe that's because I'm only 18 and therefore on the cusp between childhood fantasies and more adult ideas and interpretations. All I can say however is that I'm not sure why, in a world that seems to be more concerned with children growing up than enjoying their childhoods, the novel is so popular. This isn't however me discouraging anyone from reading this marvellous book because in my opinion it captures in many respects that spark of childhood that none of us should ever let go - the ability to feel young.