Peter Pan

Now, we are all familiar with the more recent adaptations of the well-known Fairy tales and I can almost guarantee that we have all seen at least one Disney version of them, but what is it that makes these tales so alluring? Where did they originate from and what were they before Disney put their spin on them? I have decided to look at the most common fairy tales we know and ruin their endings for you, you’ve been officially warned! Fairy tales from decades ago are nothing like the fairy tales we have today, there were no fairy god mothers or pumpkins turning into carriages. There aren’t any Jiminy Cricket’s to help guide your moral compass and there were certainly no knights in shining armour or magical beans!

Instead there were many themes such as incest, cannibalism, child abuse, violence, wicked parents, racism, sexual predators, death/suicide and body mutilation. And you want to know what the majority of these fairy tales have in common? Apart from being just genuinely gruesome, all the perpetrators of these horrendous acts were human. There were no shape shifters (Red Riding Hood), octopus ladies (The Little Mermaid), Witches (Hansel and Gretel) or any other type of supernatural being (Maleficent, Rumpelstiltskin – Need I list more?). . . They were human and even though some of these monsters were given the appearance of something disorientating and “not normal” in reality they were, they personified something or someone who was.

Peter Pan has always been a childhood favourite of mine; my Nan would read this to me before I went to sleep. I decided to do some research into where it originated and what I discovered helps to understand where the idea behind the story came from but the sad and dreary history attached to it. A little about the author, James Barrie (1860-1937) was the youngest in a family of ten and originally from Scotland, Barrie moved to London to pursue writing and quickly became successful. At the age of six Barrie experienced the loss of his brother David, David was one of the oldest and died due to a head injury he sustained during a skating accident. The loss devastated the entire family and has since been regarded as one of the pivotal moments in Barrie’s life, a moment which may have inspired him to write Peter Pan.

“All children except one grow up. They soon know that they will grow up …this is the beginning of the end.” – J.M. Barrie

Another factor that inspired the story was the Davies family. In 1899, Barrie befriended the Davies family where he met George, John, and Peter Davies and their mother, Sylvia, in London’s Kensington Park. Barrie developed a strong bond with the family, strong enough that when the children’s parents had passed, he became their unofficial guardian and looked after them as if they were his own. Although there are questions surrounding the nature of his relationship with the boys, some people deemed their relationship strange and his behaviour borderline paedophilia however, just to state there was NO actual evidence of paedophilia. Barrie used the family as inspiration for his story, thus creating the Darlings and merging the five boys personalities together to make his main character, Peter and even using them as inspiration for the Lost Boys. Barrie even went as far as to use the boy’s names as characters in his book. Mr. Darling was named after the eldest sibling, George and his brother Jack was the inspiration for John Darling. Michael and Nicholas became Michael Nicholas Darling and Peter Davies’ became known and associated with Peter pan.

So what you are all probably wondering? Was Peter Pan a child snatching villain who targeted children who were lost, forgotten, or abused? Or was he the ferrier of dead children’s souls? I guess it’s down to interpretation and as the story gets re-told, the story line changes and the plot thickens. I cannot confirm which is true and which isn’t, I guess the only one who will ever know is the author himself, I can however say that Barrie never once confirmed that Peter or any of the characters were dead even though the Idea is played upon within the book. I can see how both interpretations could work and can be played out but again it’s down to interpretation. I know what I think but what do you?

And finally, what happened to the lost boys? Its suspected that Michael Davies made a suicide pact with a friend and he and his partner drown themselves others say he was learning how to swim and his friend drowned whilst trying to save him, it has also been suggested that the twos friendship was more than friendly, although it has never been confirmed. George Davies died whilst serving during the First World War and Peter Davies committed suicide by jumping in front of an incoming train at Sloane Square station in 1960.

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