This week’s reading is the first requested one!
Thank you Marieke, and I hope you enjoy this piece of Neverland.
On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.
Who doesn’t know the story of Peter Pan?
Most of us will be familiar with the Disney classic, a very popular and (radical opinion time:) good adaptation. Not many know that Peter Pan in its first telling was a stage play by J. M. Barrie, who after its tremendous success adapted his story into a children’s novel.
The adaptation that captures the feel of the original story the most, I think, is 1991’s Hook, starring the brilliant and late Robin Williams. This film shows what happens when Peter comes back to Neverland after having been gone for a long time, and having forgotten about everyone there.
The reason I think this adaptation is amongst the best is because it keeps some of the beautiful language that was in the original:
You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.
It also does not leave out the more troubling parts or aspects of Peter Pan; the death and utter carelessness of Peter (although Hook‘s Peter is a good person).
For you see, even though I love Peter Pan and Wendy, I really don’t like Peter Pan.
Peter Pan and Wendy tells the tale of the Darling children, headed by Wendy, who get lured to Neverland by the boy who never grows up: Peter Pan. There, the boys have many adventures and Wendy becomes the mother to her brothers and Peter and his lost boys. Together they fight the pirates, led by the dreadful and foppish captain Hook. In the very end, the Darling children fly back to their home in London and take the lost boys with them, leaving Peter (by his own choice) in Neverland, where he’ll never have to grow up.
There is a lot of death in this story, some of it hidden. The lost boys, “Indians” and pirates are in a constant war. It is treated as a game by the boys, but there is lots of bloodshed on all sides. The most troubling deaths, however, are those of the lost boys. They’re only hinted at in the narrative, when the narrator tells us that when they get too big, Peter “thins them out”!
On top of that, being in Neverland makes everyone forget about their old lives. The lost boys and Peter don’t remember anything about their lives in the real world, and even the Darling children are forgetting about their parents, who are anxiously awaiting their return.
That said, Neverland is also a lot of fun: it is the manifestation of children’s dreams and imagination, a dangerous Eden. There are fairies, mermaids, pirates, you can fly and do anything you want to. The boys go on wonderful adventures, too many for the narrator to tell us about, and the idea of never having to grow up sounds really good to me, especially now that I work full time and pay tax and all that grown up nonsense. Peter’s invitation to just come with him and “never, never have to worry about grown up things again” sounds pretty good to me now!
Wendy is head over heels in love with Peter, as are actually all girls in Neverland. Peter, however, is in that boy’s phase of life forever and is just not that into any of them. This is played more for laughs than as something sad, and it actually works here. These kids are just too young for one sided love to be a painful drama, it is how it is. And to see Wendy fall so fast and so hard for Peter is actually very cute and sweet. It is reminiscent of first love. Silly and sweet.
The children are taught to fly, with some fairydust (reluctantly provided by Tinker Bell, the most prototypical example of unrequited love), and the belief they can. And that, I think, is really nice. No I don’t think you can actually fly fly (please don’t try!), but I do believe that you can escape your situation and go somewhere better with some help and a lot of faith.
Is Neverland strictly better? No, probably not in the long run. But for the time they were there, it provided the children with happiness.
And isn’t that all we ever strive for?
This is a story about nostalgia. Nostalgia for childhood, adventure and domesticity all the same.
It’s actually really hard to think of a good tea to accompany this read. It needs something adventurous, light, slightly fruity and maybe nutty…but where does the sense of danger come in? The saltiness of the seawater or the peatiness of a forest?
The closest I can get to this multi-faceted novel is with Orange Pistacio Rooibos, by Anteaques. It is fruity, refreshing and slightly playful: befitting of the surface impressions of Neverland and the sweet puppy love between Wendy and Peter (well, mostly from Wendy anyways). Because of the pistachios it’s also got a bit more body to it without getting the heavy, earthy flavour that often comes with nut flavoured teas.
On top of that, rooibos is actually not a tea in the traditional sense. Whereas tea is made from dried and processed tea leaves, rooibos is made from processed redbush needle like leaves – not from tea plants. It is also the one main South African tea.
Sure, maybe it’s a bit corny, but I feel like this adds that little kick to the tea: the light and pleasant flavour is there, but it’s not all there is to it. And what you have is not exactly what you think it is, there is more to it.
Just like Neverland.
So enjoy your cup of tea-that-is-not-technically-tea, grab some fairydust, and let yourself be transported back to your childhood dreamland. And try to avoid the crocodile.
One thought on “Peter Pan (and Wendy)”
I saved this review for my lunch break during a busy day at work, and it sure helped me get some rest within the madness! Thanks so much for doing this review, I’m always curious what other people think about the Peter Pan and Wendy story, because it means something different to almost everyone. For instance, to me it is a tragic story. When I read it I tend to focus more on Peter being trapped in Neverland and youth rather than the unrequited love plot, but both are valid. Also, my favorite adaptation will always be the 2003 Universal production, which I strongly recommend to anyone I talk to. Ever. Anyone. I love it. And yes, I certainly agree that nostalgia plays a big role in this story. It just feels nostalgic? In its lovely language and the way these children play and imagine completely unbridled. I love it.