PETER OR DEMON PAN?

the first time I saw peter pan, the Disney cartoon, I didn't like it. it seemed to me insanely useless, a jumble of senseless dream skits: children flying, a villain who is bad because yes, and peter who doesn't know what he is, where he comes from and why he always smiles or almost.

but I don't live on the island that doesn't exist; and I grow up, and so it happens that I meet peter again and this time I see him differently. this time I see beyond his smile, indeed this time that smile looks more like a grin.

already because now I read peter pan as the "lost" son of a distracted mother who becomes the child who does not grow. all children grow up, except one, peter.
the story starts from an industrial London. a dark and famous city, where wendy and her little brothers live. it is a London with the first hospitals, where children were hospitalized and tried to cure them. so if a child was sick, his mother would take him to the hospital, she had no other choice to protect the child she loved.

it was however a big step forward, compared to a rural society, when the care was at home and many children died, all in their bed.

however, it was a time when there was no telephone and distances were not cleared with a couple of subway stops. the mother took the little patient to the ward, put him in the room, prepared him and made him wear pajamas.

then she put the dress and the shoes in a small closet. in the evening, she gave him a kiss and then went home. every Sunday she went to see him, hoping he was well. and maybe one Sunday they would leave the hospital together.

but there were also bad Sundays.
when a mother would come home bringing back only her son's dresses and shoes. of her child who died, who knows, a day or two ago. not in his cot, but on a stretcher
in limbo between one Sunday and another. Alone.
that's who peter pan is, with his suit made of autumn leaves and cobwebs, and who are his lost children. they are the children whose mothers were only able to get back clothes and shoes.
And the figure of this peter who has as a smile "a row of pearls" made exclusively of milk teeth becomes a sad image. pearls that should fall but tragically never fall.
And then it is no longer a coincidence that there is wendy to embody what the lost children have always sought. to be the projection of their mother. his is the voice that tells bedtime stories or consoles peter by singing him a lullaby, a motherly voice.
Wendy and the siblings, however, eventually return home, in their pajamas, just as they left their bed.
It will be a coincidence, but they remain in pajamas for the whole story, just as if they were wearing a uniform for little patients in the wards of a hospital. but at the end of the story they leave the Neverland.
They go home, to their home. they are not lost.
and peter pan remains confined in a useless limbo, with his eternal smile.
But maybe I just misinterpreted.
Ah, I forgot, a little curiosity: the author, sir james matthew barrie, on his death bequeathed the rights of the work to the great ormond street hospital in london, a pediatric hospital located in bloomsbury a few steps from where it is wendy's house was imagined.
Anyway maybe I just misinterpreted.
or maybe not.
In the middle of Kensington Gardens, next to Hyde Park in London, is a beautiful bronze statue of none other than Peter Pan. The work was created by sculptor George Frampton, and was installed on May 1, 1912. As the Times announced that day, “today there will be a surprise waiting for the children who will go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks. of the Serpentine ". A 6-year-old boy, Michael Llewelyn Davies, chosen and photographed by Sir James Matthew Barrie, the author of the famous fable who still has lost none of its charm, was used as a model to create the sculpture. It was Barrie who wanted that statue, and he wanted it exactly where in Kensington Gardens he had imagined that Peter Pan had come into the world. Well, once the opera was inaugurated, in the midst of the many amazed and happy children of this new "guest" in their playground, Barrie, looking perplexed, exclaimed: "Do not show the demon that is in Peter". How did you say, sir? Peter Pan? Demon? Two words that really cannot be more antithetical. Or rather, this is what led us to believe the fable that Walt Disney so kindly fictionalized and covered in honey, because the true story of Peter Pan and the true character of Peter Pan are drenched in drama, cynicism and anger.
the original plot and characters are far from fairytale, so much so that Barrie's book was originally intended for an adult audience. In the first and second edition, published respectively in 1902 (titled The White Bird and part of an anthology of short stories) and in 1906 (this time in an independent version and under the title of Peter Pan in the Kensington Gardens), the story takes place precisely at the Kensington Gardens, within which Barrie imagined the existence of a lake with the so-called Bird Island in the middle (archetype of the subsequent Neverland), ruled by King Solomon to whom prayers were addressed by women who wished to have a child. He, in response, sent small sparrows to their homes, which over time would turn into real children, after a period of indefinite length in which they live in a sort of intersection, in appearance and characteristics, between a bird and a human.
Among these, was also sent little Peter, who however, after just seven days in his new home, returned back to the island, more by instinct than anything else. Once again in front of King Solomon, he was punished by it and condemned to remain forever in that sort of hybrid state between a child and a bird, and unable to return to his home. But Peter manages to escape and go back to his mother, to find her, however, already with another child and totally forget about him. Peter then resigns himself to living his existence in Kensington Gardens, surrounded by fantastic creatures and other sparrows-children in the same situation as him. The addition of the name "Pan" is due to the instrument, the pan flute, which he would have started to play.
The image we all have of the mocking, rebellious but basically good and simple Peter Pan is the opposite of what Barrie had initially thought. Peter is a slave to a merciless and cruel destiny, which, relying on the natural curiosity and recklessness typical of children, condemns him to a life without primary affections, to be forgotten by his mother and severely punished by a sort of king-tyrant who condemns him. without the possibility of appeal. The resulting character is an aggressive and angry half-child for this doom, which makes him cynical and unable to look beyond his own interests. A tragic, almost heartbreaking figure, with an intricate psychology and who lives a Dionysian life with the exclusive desire to escape from the harsh reality of the facts: he has been completely abandoned.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. haoyando
    Nov 09, 2021 @ 21:47:47

    I didn’t know that Peter Pan has such a complicated growing up story and psychological trauma. It really makes sense. So his happy carefree exterior is just an exterior.

    Reply

  2. dumbestblogger
    Nov 10, 2021 @ 03:45:35

    Very interesting. I’ve always appreciated some of the more blatant symbolism in Peter Pan, like the Clock in the Crocodile that keeps ticking as it seeks its prey. Time’s gonna get us all!

    Reply

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