Second to the right, and then straight on till morning.
— The original directions Peter gives to Neverland (although it turns out there isn't really a 'direction' as such. He just gets there. He only gives these directions to sound clever to Wendy.)
James M. Barrie was a prolific writer at the turn of the 20th century, but his most-beloved works are his play and novels about Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up and lives in Neverland, a Magical Land. He has a feisty fairy Sidekick in Tinker Bell.One spring evening, Peter follows his wayward shadow into a young girl's bedroom. When Wendy Darling fastens his shadow back on, Peter invites her to come and look after his Lost Boys, similarly ageless kids who (like him) lack a mother.Wendy and her brothers, John and Michael, fly away to Neverland, where the boys have many adventures while Wendy mothers them. Finally, after a climactic battle with Peter's archenemy, the pirate Captain Hook, Wendy decides she's had enough of Neverland. Peter agrees to let her go, and to let her take her brothers and the Lost Boys with her. Twenty years later, Peter Pan returns for Wendy's daughter Jane, and the adventures begin anew.Peter Pan is a trickster, only nominally human. In Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Peter is alluded to as being half bird; as all children in fact come from birds, but only Peter is close enough to his youth to remember being a bird. In Neverland, he is more like a playful demigod, with aspects of Puck and Pan. The character has become something of a cultural symbol for youthful exuberance and innocence, especially if it persists into adulthood; it also evokes the poignant flip side - never becoming truly mature. Michael Jackson identified with the character so much he named his estate (with an amusement park, et. al. on the grounds) "Neverland Ranch". The darker implications of eternal youth and perpetual irresponsibility is likely why a well-remembered 1987 film about teen vampires was called The Lost Boys.Also in the 1950s, a successful Broadway musical version of the story was launched; live TV broadcasts of it with Mary Martin as Peter were ratings winners, and this version is frequently staged in US theaters great and small to this day. An unusual quirk of most stagings of the play and musical, going back to its original productions, is that Peter is traditionally played by a young woman instead of a preteen male actor.Between licensing by Great Ormond Street Hospital (who still holds certain rights in the UK) and the expiration of copyright in most of the world, there are clashing Sequel and Prequel books and films. In addition to the 1953 Disney film and a 2002 sequel, there was a 41 episode Anime adaption as part of the World Masterpiece Theater series in 1989, the 1990 animated series on the first season of Fox Kids, Steven Spielberg's Hook (1991), a sequel that posits what would have happened had Peter eventually decided to grow up, and a 2003 live-action adaptation. See also Finding Neverland (2004), a Very Loosely Based on a True Story drama about Barrie's conception and initial production of the play.For various major adaptations, see:
Disney's Peter Pan and its sequel Return to Neverland
Which was also adapted to stage, having a popular run on Broadway.
Peter Pan In Scarlet, by Geraldine McCaughrean. The offical sequel approved by rights-holder Great Ormond Street Hospital. McCaughrean was selected during a competition in 2004, and the book was published in 2006. Her Majesty Elizabeth II recieved a specially printed copy.
Traditionally in the stage play and musical, and in the 2003 movie, Captain Hook and Mr. Darling are played by the same actor. In the Disney version, they still bear a resemblance, and are voiced by the same actor. Interestingly, J. M. Barrie wanted Captain Hook to be played by Mrs. Darling's actress, but was evidently overruled.
JMB didn't really intend a message from the dual roles; it was mostly to get more use out of a single (rather good) actor, who'd otherwise be sitting around for half the performance.
Actually, it may be intended to make a point as Hook is, in the book, described as being somewhat feminine, as Barrie envisions all pirates to be. It is something to do with Hook's intuitiveness at times.
From the first book, chapter eight: "In his dark nature there was a touch of the feminine, as in all the great pirates, and it sometimes gave him intuitions."
In just about any theatrical or film version, Peter was played by a woman, until the 2003 version came in.
Disney's Peter Pan had Peter voiced by a boy, Bobby Driscol.
The only male to have played Peter Pan on Broadway is Jack Noseworthy, who was an understudy in Jerome Robbins' Broadway, a musical revue of highlights of choreographer Jerome Robbins' work, which included the Mary Martin Broadway version.
Dawn Attack: In Neverland, all attacks take place at dawn. Captain Hook is considered a vile scoundrel when he has his pirates attack before dawn, when nobody's ready.
Distressed Damsel: Wendy, Tinker Bell, and Tiger Lily are all captured at one point or another.
Friendly War: The Lost Boys and the Indians take turns attacking each other as a game. It turns serious in the Disney version when the Chief accuses the Boys of kidnapping Tiger Lily, who was actually taken by Captain Hook for the purpose of trying to get the location of Peter Pan's hiding place out of her.
In the Disney sequel "Return to Neverland", Hook tells Jane that his relationship with Peter is this. He's lying.
Just Desserts: The fate of Hook in the original play and book, as well as many adaptations.
Lost In Imitation: Tons. In many adaptations and spinoffs, nobody ages while on Neverland. Yet in the novel it's clear that people do age and grow to some degree - the Lost Boys arrive as infants, after all, and Peter "thins them out" (which knowing Peter, is probably lethal) if they seem to be growing up. For more examples, see the page on Disney's Peter Pan.
Living Shadow: Peter's shadow is alive and tries to escape. Wendy sews it back on.
Mr Smee. So. Very. Much. The original book goes into great detail about how pathetic-but-loveable he is.
Though he's still willing to tickle the kids with Johnny Cork-screw if the situation demands it. More than one critic has pointed out that, viewed in a certain light, Smee is deeply frightening in that he's an innocent simpleton who is completely sanguine about murdering children.
Noodle Incident: Hook's origins. Barrie wrote, "To reveal who he really was would even at this date set the country (England) in a blaze." Future tellings reveal he attended Eton College, although the records were destroyed to prevent further scandal.
Captain Hook usually doesn't die in most versions.
In the novel, fairies have extremely short lifespans and Tinker Bell died of old age not long after the Darling children's adventures. This is changed in any adaptation that takes place after the Darling children return home.
Spell My Name with an S: Is it Tinkerbell, Tinkerbelle, or Tinker Bell? The Kingdom Hearts series uses Tinker Bell, and so does the new Disney movie that centers around her. It's likely that Tinker Bell is the official spelling, as it is spelled that way in the original novel.
Super Persistent Predator: The Crocodile, after eating Hook's hand, liked the taste so much that it has constantly pursued Hook ever since, hoping to eat the rest of him.
The defining characteristic of children, according to the novel — and of Peter Pan in particular — is that they are "innocent and heartless." Peter Pan laughs as Wendy's siblings nearly fall to their deaths and in general lives up to his last name. He even attempts to convince Wendy that her mother abandoned her.
It just goes to show the downside of innocence; namely, a lack of knowing right from wrong and Moral Dissonance. Innocent doesn't necessarily mean 'good.'
Such a famous example that it extends even to the book sometimes—people reading it aloud to little kids encourage them to clap at the same point in the story. The main character's younger sister and her mother are shown doing this in the movie ET
Better to Die than Be Killed: Hook certainly feels this way. He carries poison around with him in case he's taken alive, and in the play, when he senses that death is imminent, he tries to blow up his entire ship.
Book Dumb: Peter is an extreme example—he's loaded with mysterious knowledge of magical things, but is absurdly "ignorant" of everything mortals regard as normal.
Not one of them could fly an inch, though even Michael was in words of two syllables, and Peter did not know A from Z.
Coming of Age Story: For Wendy. She leaves Neverland because she realizes that her relationship with Peter can only be a shallow imitation of the adult life she really wants.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Mr. Darling gives one of these to himself after the children fly away because he chained Nana in the yard. He vows to trade places with Nana and live in her kennel until the moment the children come back—even having the kennel loaded onto the cab every morning and riding it to work.
Driven to Suicide: Hook in the play, upon being defeated, goes to the crocodile "like one greeting a friend."
The Fair Folk: Fairies in the books are notoriously fickle and love playing tricks on people. Peter Pan is the only one they don't mess with. Though Peter himself is not a fairy, he bears a good resemblance to folkloric fairies, with his child-stealing and general amorality.
Fisher King: Peter is this to Neverland. The land wakes up when he arrives, and reflects his mood. The 2003 movie adaptation showcases it prominently.
From Beyond The Fourth Wall: Why did the crocodile's clock stop ticking? The author says we stopped it. Then Barrie later says that he might tell Mrs. Darling that the children are coming back, but that she would essentially be angry at us for spoiling the surprise.
Generation Xerox: Wendy's daughter, Jane, sees Peter weeping on the nursery floor and addresses him with the words, "Boy, why are you crying?" They proceed to go through dialogue highly reminiscent of Wendy's with Peter. This might be justified in that Jane has often heard the stories of Peter Pan from her mother and is implied to be rather Genre Savvy. Note that she also shares some traits with her uncle Michael, complaining "I won't go to bed!" in the same way he complains about being bathed at the beginning of the play and book.
Honor Before Reason: The Piccaninnies' codes of honor prevented them from taking strategic moves that would have saved a fair number of them from being slaughtered by the pirates.
I Call Her "Vera": The pirates seem to do this a lot. Smee's cutlass is named "Johnny Corkscrew", the ship's cannon is called "Long Tom", and the plank is called "Johnny Plank".
Meaningful Name: "Tiger Lily" is a pretty apt name for a tsundere - aside from being the name of a real flower, it combines a vicious predator with a beautiful flower.
Oddly enough, this is averted with the Lost Boys—Peter named them (well, except for Slightly), but their names make absolutely no sense, even in context. It's possible that Curly might have curly hair, but this is never stated. (Peter Pan In Scarlet goes ahead and states that Curly's hair is curly.)
In the prequel Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Peter's mother lost him very much against her will. He could have chosen to go back to his mother but he kept putting it off because he was having so much fun among the birds and fairies, even though he knew his mother must have been missing him. By the time he had finally resigned himself to giving up his freedom, his mother had had another baby, and to prevent this one from becoming lost as well she had had bars placed over the nursery window. She must have believed Peter was lost to her forever. Tragically, the bars prevented Peter from coming back in, and so the two were forever separated.
Name and Name: The book was originally published as Peter and Wendy.
No Hero to His Valet: Even after gaining celebrity through riding to work in Nana's kennel, George Darling gets no respect from the maid, Liza. In fact, her respect for him actually lessens.
Oblivious to Love: Wendy, Tiger Lily, and Tinker Bell all have a crush on Peter, but Peter is so immature he can't see a female as anything other than a mother figure.
Oedipus Complex: Despite Wendy and Tiger Lily's obvious sexual/presexual interest, Peter regards his relationship with Wendy as a mother/son one. Furthermore, Peter manages to get Mrs. Darling's "hidden kiss"—a symbol which the 2003 film promptly renormatized as romantic between Wendy and Peter.
Tinker Bell, too. As a fairy, she literally only has room to experience one emotion at a time, but those emotions are strong.
Sacrificial Lamb: Skylights the pirate, who is killed solely to show Hook's method of dispatchment.
Servile Snarker: The Darling's sole servant, Liza, toward the end of the play. Granted, her master was living in a dog kennel at the time, so he was practically begging to be snarked at.
Shout Out: Hook describes himself as "the only man whom Barbecue feared, and Flint himself feared Barbecue". Captain Flint was the pirate captain in Treasure Island, and "Barbecue" was the nickname of his cook — Long John Silver.
Sociopathic Hero: See Ambiguous Innocence. During the climactic fight against Hook and his crew, Peter actually attacks both sides in order to keep things "interesting."
On at least two occasions, Peter tells everyone that nobody's allowed to touch him — this is taken directly from the original play, where he in their first scene together tells Wendy that "No one must ever touch me," and during the course of the play no one does.
John is a patriot to the extreme, which is a nod to the fact that his motivation for refusing to be a pirate in the original book was that he would no longer be subject to the British Crown.
Slightly in the original book is mentioned to make flutes and whistles for himself and make up tunes to play. This is brought up and expanded upon here, as he's taken up the clarinet and his musical talent plays an important part in the plot.
Captain Hook is revealed to have been at Eton College. This was hinted at in the original play *
when his final words are "Floreat Etona", the College's motto.
In one chapter, Wendy tells Peter and the Lost Boys a story about a little white bird in Kensington Gardens. This is a Shout Out to Barrie's book The Little White Bird, which featured the first appearance of Peter Pan.
The Crocodile is revealed to be female. In the original book, the narrative does refer to the Crocodile as a "she" in the first scene it appears (the rest of the book uses "it").
In the original book, it was explicitly stated that Peter cut off Hook's right hand. In this book, probably influenced by all the adaptations, it's stated that it was Hook's left hand that was cut off.
It's stated that nobody can fly without a shadow, but this contradicts the first book, where Peter is perfectly able to fly after he's separated from his shadow. (Then again, the character who states this is Hook, and nobody really sets out to prove him wrong — he may have been lying.)
The fate of the pirates is completely different. In the original book, all of them except Smee and Starkey are killed in the final battle. Here, Smee and Starkey are still the only survivors, but the other pirates are mentioned as having been given leave to go fight in World War I, and never returned. It is, of course, possible that Hook was talking about a different crew, but it still doesn't fit the original timeline very well.
Confusingly, both Smee and Starkey are referred to as having been Hook's "first mate." Reading the original book, it's Starkey who is the real first mate; Smee is the bo'sun.
Embarrassing First Name: Turns out the twins are named Marmaduke and Binky. Subverted in that the twins themselves don't find the names embarrassing at all, but are just thrilled that they finally know their real names.
Gender Bender: Tootles, for the entire book, after putting on his daughter's ballet dress to magically become young again. (He has no sons). In typical Neverland fashion, he quickly forgets his past life, including the fact that he was a guy in the first place, and becomes girlier even than Wendy. Things get pretty awkward when he decides, like every female character, that he wants to marry Peter.
Love at First Sight: Fireflyer and Tinkerbell, sort of. Fireflyer is revealed to have developed a crush on Tinkerbell long before he even meets her, thanks to Sightly's stories about her, and it's his wish that eventually calls her back to life.
Spin Offspring: Averted with the human characters (though Wendy's daughter Jane appears a few times, and children of other characters are mentioned, though not by name). Played straight with "Puppy", a descendant of the original Nana, who joins the adventure.
Self Proclaimed Liar: Fireflyer claims that he never tells the truth (but this is confirmed to be a lie).
Took a Level in Kindness: Bratty, vain Slightly became extremely sensitive during the time skip. It's possible to infer that he was softened out by misfortune, as Tootles was in the original; the book and play imply that he was taken down a peg or two after the boys left Neverland, and by the events of Peter Pan In Scarlethis wife has died, leaving him with no children.