In J.M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan, the audience is led through a world of magic and immortality; occupying fairies, pirates, and mermaids. Everyone was captivated by the 1904 performance of a young boy and his adventures, but we’re all unaware of the appalling underlying details.
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For instance, Emily Asher-Perrin explains in her article “in no uncertain rhetoric—that when the Lost Boys get too numerous, Peter Pan thins out the herd… Peter Pan cares so little for his compatriots, that he takes no issue at all with killing them” (Asher-Perrin). By being able to comprehend Peter Pan killing those in neverland who age, it makes it easier to understand the idea of Hook’s constant battle with Peter. Does he attack Hook because of his age? Or does Hook try to kill Peter before Peter kills him? Both questions hold probable cause, and by knowing their backgrounds we can come to the conclusion that it is actually Peter Pan in pursuit of Hook. For instance, it is implied that the tick tock croc does Peter’s bidding while he is not around, which can be explained by his random appearances at the most convenient times for Peter. In the play, Time can be characterized by the crocodile who swallowed the clock. During Hook’s first fight with Peter, Hook’s hand was cut off by Peter and fed to the crocodile, indicating that the Tick Tock Croc is literally eating away at the time he has remaining, as Hook now ages. The crocodile took part of Hook and will hunt him until he devours the rest of him. Hook mirrors all the similar qualities as to adults; Time will consume him entirely, piece by piece, until he is gone. Foreshadowing the inevitable death Hook and everyone else will face else. As an audience who adores the innocent main character Peter Pan, it is hard for us to think of him as cynical, and murderous. Though the idea isn’t to hard to comprehend when you take into account the author’s alluring back story.
James Matthew Barrie, or J.M Barrie, credited his work to 5 aspiring boys each playing some part in the creation of Peter Pan and his personality. Although in his original casting of the play, Peter Pan was a young boy who created his own havoc, and was moderately the villain. Barrie was forced to change his script due to the low amount of stage hands, and the boys’ ideas for the play, which created the character Captain Hook. Barrie met the 5 boys; George, John (Jack), Peter, Michael and Nicholas (Nico); while walking in Kensington Gardens. From then on he grew closer to the boys and their mother, Sylvia, and was seen as a father figure to the boys, who tragically lost their father in 1907.
With the boys help, the play had its first opening in 1904 and was a huge success. It wasn’t until after the play that details from Peter Pan began playing into their lives. For example, Sylvia died a premature death in 1910, in her will she stated “What I would like would be if Jimmy would come to Mary, and that the two together would be looking after the boys…” (Barrie.. was also known as Jimmy; Mary was the boys’ nanny.) Following these instructions, Barrie took primary responsibility for the children”(Sarah Kettler). Although, it was later discovered that the will was changed from its original contents, which stated “‘What I would like would be if Jenny would come to Mary and that the two together would be looking after the boys…’ (Jenny was Mary’s sister.)” (Sarah Kettler). From this we can determine that Barrie purposely altered the will, ultimately giving himself full custody. Which might not have been the best thing that could happen in the boys’ lives. In 1915 George died fighting in World War 1, after receiving delegation as a second lieutenant he was shot in the head during battle. 5 years after Barrie had custody of the boys. In 1921 Michael was found dead at the bottom of Stanford Lasher, a body of water close to the Oxford. He died shortly before his birthday, close to the same age George died. In 1960 Peter, who was constantly teased for sharing his name with Peter Pan, committed suicide by jumping in front of a train. Only weeks before the 100th anniversary of J.M. Barrie’s birth.
All these deaths have the same trend Peter Pan holds close to his heart; as each boy grows older they die off, similar to his Lost Boys’, Peter Pan will ” thin out the heard”. Showing you the sick, dark aspects intertwined through the classic tale of Peter Pan. Which, if you take out the mystical details, explains to us our inability to control our age and what it ultimately leads to: Death.
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