Author Topic: Peter Pan as Death - Dissertation help  (Read 42437 times)

ac_anon

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Peter Pan as Death - Dissertation help
« on: January 11, 2011, 04:04:25 AM »
Hi, I am a university student who is (supposed to be) doing his dissertation. I am looking at the personification of death in literature and I am interested in looking into the idea that Peter Pan is some idea of death and was wondering if anyone knows of anything written on this or anything like it?

I have found some vague references to the idea before and it struck me when I was reading Peter Pan in Kensington gardens where it said (I don't have a copy here so this is just from memory) Peter led the souls of children who had gotten lost and died in Kensington Gardens.

Thanks very much, and any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

JAQ

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Re: Peter Pan as Death - Dissertation help
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2011, 06:40:29 PM »
I've come across a reference or two to Peter and the Lost Boys being an example of the "totenkinder" (German for "death of children") genre, but I don't know anything about it.

Nothing to do with Peter, but I trust you're looking at Neil Gaiman's personification of Death in The Sandman?

ac_anon

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Re: Peter Pan as Death - Dissertation help
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2011, 10:09:34 PM »
I have also come across that, thanks for reminding me.

Yeah I have been told to check that out, I am a fan of his work but I haven't read sandman yet.

yohei306

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Re: Peter Pan as Death - Dissertation help
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2011, 02:47:06 AM »
If remember this correctly, Neverland is also described as a heaven for dead children. This led to that often quoted line about death being a "big adventure."

Another off the topic idea for your dissertation: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.

SingsWithRavens

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Re: Peter Pan as Death - Dissertation help
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2011, 05:39:14 AM »
A great dissertation topic C: I wish you luck in its completion!
I'd steer clear of stating Neverland represents a heaven for dead children; finding quotes to suggest this could be a little challenging, and making a case that Peter represents death is a much safer route in general. Peter's "To die would be an awfully big adventure!" quote suggests that he is courageous in that he does not fear death (unlike Hook, who, ironically dies as a direct result of his fear of death).
In regards to Peter as death, I'd check out the play as well as the novel, looking into the boy's relationship with Hook. Though I tend to lean toward the idea that the crocodile represents Hook's mortality, you could most certainly make an argument in favor of Peter bringing on Hook's death, thus personifying the boy as death. Indeed, though the crocodile is the one to eventually bring about Hook's end, it is Peter who "controls" the beast. Peter gave Hook's hand to the crocodile, an act that haunted the man until the day he died. Peter is also is never fearful of the message of the ticking (the passage of time; age), and even mimics the creature, much to his advantage (Ch. 15).

I hope my thoughts on your argument are helpful! Best luck with your dissertation.

Barriesaxxy

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Re: Peter Pan as Death - Dissertation help
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 04:21:20 PM »
I have also long been interested in this topic, due to the fact that Mrs. Darling says in the novel that the Peter Pan she had heard of walked children to the land of the dead so they didn't get scared.

The interpretation as Neverland representing death does exist in some form because it's used in the film Finding Neverland. Barrie's brother, David, died young, which had a substantial effect on him. In the film, Barrie says "I used to say he'd gone to Neverland." This idea is used again at the end of the film, as Sylvia's death is symbolized by her entering Neverland. Playing off this interpretation, one could say that if Neverland is the land of death, and Peter is it's ruler, he is a personification of death, but I don't know if anyone has actually gone that far. (Though in Zenoscope Comics' new Neverland series, Peter more or less eats children, which makes him and Neverland deathly, but it's not a plainly stated interpretation, as it is in Finding Neverland.) I don't know if there's anything else, but if I run across more, I'll be sure to let you know.

(Also, off the subject of Peter, have you looked into Terry Pratchett's death?)

ac_anon

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Re: Peter Pan as Death - Dissertation help
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2011, 08:54:32 PM »
If remember this correctly, Neverland is also described as a heaven for dead children. This led to that often quoted line about death being a "big adventure."

Another off the topic idea for your dissertation: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.


I have been told to read that by a few people however its looking more and more like I will be focusing on peter pan. I will have a look into it though, I may need more modern works to compare with.

A great dissertation topic C: I wish you luck in its completion!
I'd steer clear of stating Neverland represents a heaven for dead children; finding quotes to suggest this could be a little challenging, and making a case that Peter represents death is a much safer route in general. Peter's "To die would be an awfully big adventure!" quote suggests that he is courageous in that he does not fear death (unlike Hook, who, ironically dies as a direct result of his fear of death).
In regards to Peter as death, I'd check out the play as well as the novel, looking into the boy's relationship with Hook. Though I tend to lean toward the idea that the crocodile represents Hook's mortality, you could most certainly make an argument in favor of Peter bringing on Hook's death, thus personifying the boy as death. Indeed, though the crocodile is the one to eventually bring about Hook's end, it is Peter who "controls" the beast. Peter gave Hook's hand to the crocodile, an act that haunted the man until the day he died. Peter is also is never fearful of the message of the ticking (the passage of time; age), and even mimics the creature, much to his advantage (Ch. 15).

I hope my thoughts on your argument are helpful! Best luck with your dissertation.

I actually see it as more purgatory like, and that it is all created by peter, since he can almost control what happens (i.e the bird saving him and there is a line somewhere about neverland coming to life when he appears)

It's the play I will probably focus on, I will probably mention both however as well as peter pan in kensington gardens.

i do like the idea of peter not being afraid of the passing of time, I hadn't thought of that . Thanks for the help.


I have also long been interested in this topic, due to the fact that Mrs. Darling says in the novel that the Peter Pan she had heard of walked children to the land of the dead so they didn't get scared.

The interpretation as Neverland representing death does exist in some form because it's used in the film Finding Neverland. Barrie's brother, David, died young, which had a substantial effect on him. In the film, Barrie says "I used to say he'd gone to Neverland." This idea is used again at the end of the film, as Sylvia's death is symbolized by her entering Neverland. Playing off this interpretation, one could say that if Neverland is the land of death, and Peter is it's ruler, he is a personification of death, but I don't know if anyone has actually gone that far. (Though in Zenoscope Comics' new Neverland series, Peter more or less eats children, which makes him and Neverland deathly, but it's not a plainly stated interpretation, as it is in Finding Neverland.) I don't know if there's anything else, but if I run across more, I'll be sure to let you know.

(Also, off the subject of Peter, have you looked into Terry Pratchett's death?)

I have not yet seen finding neverland actually, I want to but I haven't gotten around to it. I'm not sure I would go that far exactly, I imagine peter as death but still as a child, he doesn't really know the seriousness of  what he is doing if that makes sense.

Yeah I have read a couple of the discworld books so I am aware of his death which is pretty interesting, will probably be mentioned, the other one i was going to mention was his dark materials since everyone has their own personal death in that which makes for a good comparison.

Thank you all for your help by the way, this is all very useful.

Elfinwaffle

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Re: Peter Pan as Death - Dissertation help
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2012, 11:53:22 PM »
Hi!

New to the site so I've not really said much at all.

I'm doing my dissertation on Peter Pan and the Images of Childhood within the various texts. So far my interpretation of Neverland and Peter Pan is more of the transition between childhood and adulthood. When we are introduced to the Lost Boys it is mentioned that as some of them attempt to grow up Peter 'thins them out'. Peter forbids the act of growing up among the Lost Boys and tries to keep them young like him, but because they are in fact boys that fell from their prams and not 'ethereal' fairy like birds like Peter is (excuse my inaccuracies please, I'm still learning  ;D) they effectively must grow up. Wendy herself is taken there to take on the role of mother, and as such as almost forced to grow up and so far Iíve understood her returning to her home and continuing wither her transition into adulthood as her choice not to remain a child forever and commit to growing up.

I do believe you are right though in thinking that Neverland is Barrie's way of coping with death and perhaps would rather give death a 'reality' rather than accept the finality of it.

So maybe rather than him being the personification for actual death in the sense of being buried and no longer living, perhaps Peter is the personification of life, and the continuation of life as a child and retaining childishness and innocence rather than the 'death' of childhood in becoming an adult. After all isnít wasnít Peter Pan in Little White Bird originally intended for adults, and as far as I understand (you can thank my tutor for this bit) Barrie was in fact endeavouring to encourage adults to reconnect with their childhood and have a deeper sense of appreciation for children and the wonderfully exciting world that children create for themselves through make believe?

I'm probably wrong on alot of accounts, but there are a few books you should check out. The Case of Peter Pan by Jaqueline Rose is a good start. Loads in there.

Wishing you all the best with your Diss.

Charlotte.