A Lesson in Maturity from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan Essay examples

A Lesson in Maturity from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan Essay examples

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J M. Barrie's Peter Pan is a poignant tale about the magic of childhood. The main character, Peter Pan, is a magical boy who wishes never to fall into the banality of adulthood, but to have an adventure every moment and remain forever young. The play details Peter's relationship with a young girl, Wendy, who is on the cusp of young adulthood. Peter's gang, the Lost Boys, wish for a mother to read them stories. Peter goes and retrieves Wendy to be their new mother. Their adventures reveal much about the nature of childhood and Barrie's thoughts on the bittersweet necessity of growing up.

In order for Barrie to get his message on the importance of growing up across to the audience, he must first set himself up as an authority on adolescence and the child's mind. A fine example of how he establishes this can be seen in the description of Peter's natural habitat, Never Land. The beginning of Act II (47-50) explains the manner in which Never Land must be introduced to the audience. The description creates an air of mystery, awe, and expectation. At first the audience gets only a vague impression of the grandeur. The narrator explains "What you see is not the beasts themselves but only the shadows of them" (47). However, as the scene draws near, other details about the set and the characters becomes clear. Never Land is the physical realm of childhood; everything is bright and wondrous and new. Furthermore, everything is placed just so for the amusement of a child. The mermaids are preening for Peter's arrival and

"everybody and everything know that they will catch it from him if they don't give satisfaction" (48). The audience is even told that the sun is "another of [Peter's] servants" (48) Peter has complete and...


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...t a sense of relief, knowing he will soon be released from Never Land.

At first, Peter Pan seems to be a playful children's story. With closer examination, one notices that the play not only entertains but teaches an important lesson. Do not squander your youth. At the same time, one must realize when it is time to let it go and to move on. By the end of the play, it is hard to envy Peter as much as pity him. He never touches reality. All others are allowed to experience both the magic of youth and the joy of growing up. Peter is never allowed to transition into adulthood. His life is incomplete. Though one cannot help feeling a yearning for one's own youth when Wendy's face is seen growing older. Peter should be pitied for being the only little boy who never grows up and truly gets to discover what it is like to have a family and not just pretend.

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