Category Archives: Peter Pan

Peter Pan and Wendy: In the Classroom

Front cover of Peter Pan and Wendy, written by J.M. Barrie and illustrated by F.D. Bedford

Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan and Wendy. Illus. F. D. Bedford. London, 1936.

© Copyright 2011, Vajiha Sipra

Seven years after the debut of J. M. Barrie’s critically-acclaimed play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, its literary adaptation took to bookshelves and classrooms across the British Commonwealth. First released as Peter and Wendy in 1911, and then as Peter Pan and Wendy, the book quickly became part of curricular reading in British elementary schools. As imperial rule spread across the globe, so did the story of Peter Pan. Accordingly, Peter Pan and Wendy was repeatedly published for several decades in London, Sydney, Toronto, Bombay, and several other prominent cities under British control. With detailed illustrations by F. D. Bedford intertwined with Barrie’s dynamic storytelling style, the book appealed to children’s imaginations. This narrative technique was considered progressive when the book was first published.

Following the Victorian era, early 20th-century Britain ranked among the world’s leading industrial powers. During this time, strong Protestant work ethics drove individuals across the hierarchal spectrum to expand and develop British civilization. Old colonies were supplemented with newer ones to preserve existing boundaries. Technological advancements, such as the steamship and telegraph, also allowed the United Kingdom to control and defend the empire (Atterbury, 2011). At the time of Peter Pan and Wendy’s publication, Britain assumed the role of universal law enforcer. Accordingly, the empire’s strong position in global trade allowed for the control of other economies, including those of China and Argentina. Consequently, notions of superiority, in terms of race and culture, rooted themselves within the British psyche, particularly from childhood ideologies.

Fairy tales and children’s literature have always shaped young minds by schooling them with society’s standards of gender roles, cultural norms and individual expectations. Even today, the story of Peter Pan not only mirrors society; it constructs the future. As University of London’s English professor Jacqueline Rose wrote, “Peter Pan . . . speaks to and for children, addresses them as a group which is knowable and exists for the book, much as the book exists for them” (Rudd 290). Through specific portrayals of ideal femininity, ideal masculinity, and foreigners, Barrie’s imperial biases establish frameworks of supremacy. Specifically, representations of Peter Pan, Wendy, and Indians in Peter Pan and Wendy contribute to the ideologies of race and gender typical of early 20th-century Britain and across the Commonwealth by shaping children’s line of thinking.

Peter brings Wendy to Neverland to become a mother to the Lost Boys, and it is this role that entices her to join him. Wendy’s role in Peter Pan and Wendy falls perfectly in line with British society’s expectations from women at the time. Even Mrs. Darling is a nurturing mother and an obedient wife. Evidently, motherhood is idealized throughout the book, which in turn reinforces feminine ideals of marrying young, staying home, and raising a family. Women in the early 1900s had little chance of evading the role that was expected of them. Men were the primary breadwinners, and the women who did work were paid significantly lower wages (Murray, 2011). As the civilizing figure, Wendy perpetuates stereotypical ideologies for girls across the Commonwealth nations and colonies. Seemingly, for women, true happiness is only achieved through possessing maternal characteristics, marriage and motherhood. In the early 20th-century, a woman who did not fit these expectations was harshly criticized (Murray, 2011). Girls who read the book were likely to identify with Wendy and the ‘feminine’ characteristics she embodies. They were trained to become obedient, unquestioning and passive young women. After all, Peter was there to fight Hook and save Wendy from any danger. Accordingly, girls viewed strength, certainty and independence as characteristics which are exclusive to boys.

Peter flies through the Darlings’ window
Peter protects the Lost Boys










“To die will be an awfully big adventure”

Similarly, readers tend to view Peter as the protector and provider for the Lost Boys. He falls into the stereotype of a ‘strong masculine leader’ by fighting pirates and saving Wendy, the damsel-in-distress. Peter is a father figure to the Lost Boys; they come to him for guidance and even punishment. He also builds Wendy a house, further validating Peter as the dominant male in charge of all those around him.

In patriarchal Britain, the supremacy of the ‘white male’ resonates through Peter. He also possesses traits that are considered valuable for empire-building, such as stubbornness, endurance and wit . In fact, Barrie considered The Great White Father as the play’s original working title (Birkin 105) for the play, acknowledging Peter’s supposed superiority of gender and race. This is also a patronizing reference to how the Indians viewed Peter, or the ‘white man’. In accordance with Britain being at the height of empire-building at the time, both in terms of wealth and expanse, the mainstream view of British as the supreme race grounded itself. Practices of dividing people based on class and race commonly occurred within the imperial system.

Racism, sexism and class prejudice are envoys of political power; they are also measures which work in favour of society’s privileged individuals. Consequently, native Indians in Peter Pan and Wendy are portrayed as primitive, savage, and cruel. Such impressions enforce the notion of Indians as civilizations destined to remain on the margins of ‘true’ civilization. Setting these impressions at an early age makes them difficult to shake, thus enforcing colonial ideals of civilization.

As part of curricular readings for students, Peter Pan and Wendy delivered implicit Victorian ideals of British colonialism, in accordance with patriarchy and racial stereotypes, which were at the heart of empire-building endeavours. The fact that the book was read across the empire reinforced the importance of these depictions in the eyes of the dominant class. After all, these children were the next generation and they were taught the same values and ideologies responsible for imperialism. Those who planted and enhanced depictions of ideal gender roles and race relations from an early age strived for an even larger empire.

Works Cited

Atterbury, Paul. “Victorian Technology.” British History. BBC, 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.

Birkin, Andrew. J.M. Barrie & the Lost Boys. London: Yale University Press. Print.

Murray, Jenni. “20th Century Britain: The Woman’s Hour.” British History. BBC, 3 March, 2011. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.

Shout, John D. “From Nora Helmer to Wendy Darling: if you believe in heroines, clap your hands.” Modern Drama 35.3 (1992): 353+. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 Oct. 2011.

Wellhousen, Karyn, and Zenong Yin. “Peter Pan Isn’t a Girls’ Part”: An Investigation of Gender Bias in a Kindergarten Classroom.” Women and Language 20.2 (1997): 35,35-39. ProQuest. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.

Legends of Mermaids: Sexual Temptresses in *The Story of Peter Pan*

The Story of Peter Pan (cover)
© 2011, Alicia Chirrey, Mamta Patel
O’Connor, Daniel. The Story of Peter Pan. Illustrated by Alice Woodward. London: G Bell, 1923. Print.

Introduction – By: Alicia Chirrey

Mermaids have been an iconic symbol in folklore ever since their origination in 1000 BC Greece. The representation of this fictitious creature in literature and pop culture has evolved in meaning and appearance. This evolution is based on their early legends and myths of being sexual symbols. Daniel O’Connor’s 1923 version of The Story of Peter Pan, found in the Children’s Literature Archive,utilizes mermaids in a very interesting way. O’Connor uses a combination of mythological representation and symbolic physical features in order to portray their meaning to Never-Never-Never Land. Alice Woodward, a famous British illustrator of books, is best known for her illustrations in The Story of Peter Pan. These works are considered to be very early in her career. In this exhibit, we identify mermaids as illusory creatures that use their sexuality to lure humans into dangerous situations. Alicia Chirrey examines why mermaids are sexualized as temptresses in The Story of Peter Pan and Mamta Patel analyzes the evolution of sexuality in mermaids, demonstrated in featured legends.

The Representation of Mermaids in The Story of Peter Pan – By: Alicia Chirrey

The Meaning of Mermaids to Neverland
The Story of Peter Pan is a narrative about an adventure to a place called Never-Never-Never Land (abbreviated to Never Land in this Exhibit). This is a magical land that represents the unconscious fantasy that lies within the children’s reality. Never Land comforts the crisis of having to eventually accept the responsibilities of adulthood. Time and space do not exist there. The children who live in Never Land are able to live forever in their state of childhood. The transition from childhood into adulthood has key turning points. As Peter Hollindale expresses in A Hundred Years of Peter Pan, one of these important developments that help acknowledge the transformation is the passage into active sexuality (Hollindale 212). Through written description and illustration, Daniel O’Connor and Alice B. Woodward sexualize mermaids as temptresses in The Story of Peter Pan. This portrayal supports the theme of the eternal child by hindering the sexual maturity of the children in Never Land.
About the Illustrator

Alice Woodward is recognized as a well-established, inventive and talented illustrator of books, as Geoffrey Beare describes. Woodward’s illustrations can be found in a variety of books for a vast range of ages. Her work however, has been considered most appropriate for adults, as her usual style has been identified as detailed and macabre. Her work is therefore, very human-like. She is also known for her ability to economically illustrate (Beare 2006). Perhaps these reasons provide explanation for why O’Connor selected Woodward as the illustrator to visually capture the essence of his appropriated story in just 19 images.

Visual and Textual Symbolism

Daniel O’Connor describes the mermaids of Never Land as beautiful, charming, carefree creatures. They spend all day in their Lagoon combing their hair, singing and swimming. From the very beginning, even before the children fly to Never Land, the discussion of mermaids arises. Peter Pan uses the idea of them to tempt Wendy and ultimately, convince her into venturing off to the mystical land.

The way Woodward draws the mermaid carefully encompasses sexual allure while maintaining a degree of appropriateness. The Story of Peter Pan only allocates two images in the book to mermaids.  The very first image of the mermaid is seen below:

As O’Connor describes, the boys are immediately drawn to the beauty of the mermaid and her charming melody. The mermaid’s long glorious hair is the only thing takes the focus off of her half naked body. This meticulous collectivity contributes to the theme of enticing mystery. The mermaid is a creature the children have never seen before. From the children’s perspective, they can only see the portion of the mermaid the familiar, human half of the mermaid that is above water. The foreign, amphibious portion is mostly immersed in the dark depths of the water.

This unfamiliar creature lures the natural curiosity of the children. The tempting hidden half of the mermaid is what the children lust to see and interact with. The mystery of the unexplored is exemplified by the physical sexuality of the mermaid. The boys even try to catch one as Wendy carefully observes. The action of trying to catch the mermaid for their own objectifies the mermaid, making her less than human. Capturing her would fulfill their sensual desires.

When the mermaid sees the children approaching, she is offended by them and cries out the word: mortals. This outcry of fear and displeasure suggests that mermaids and humans are not allies in this story. In the second picture “She slipped out of his grasp” the children’s hands are only inches away from the mermaid tail as she dives into the water.

O’Connor compares the mermaid’s escape from the boys to be eel-like. This slithery animalistic comparison indicates that the mermaids are like snakes of the sea. The mermaid does not allow the children to fulfill their desires of interacting and acquainting themselves with the mermaid, thus through her escape, keep the children in Never Land.

According to most religions, water represents the unconscious and rebirth (Hallman 67). It holds a great amount of mystery through depth and potentiality, therefore, undiscovered knowledge. In this case, through the use of sexuality, undiscovered knowledge is synonymous with adulthood. In each picture, the mermaid symbolizes the tempting passageway from a world that the children understand to a place that holds mystery of experience. The mermaid is sexualized in order to tempt the children to follow her into the water. Instead, the children hold tightly onto the stable rock. They do not dare follow her for fear of the unknown.

The Historical Context of Mermaids – By: Mamta Patel

Mermaids are mysterious creatures that have been around for many centuries. Most of their myths have derived from Europe. Many of the mermaid’s myths originate from what sailors claim to see. Many Greeks, medieval sailors, and also Christopher Columbus have claimed to have seen mermaids (Ramano et al. 253). Throughout history, mermaids have been portrayed holding a mirror admiring their beauty and combing their hair, this is the exact way they are depicted in The Story of Peter Pan as well. Mermaid’s upper body is made up of a woman and the lower body is fish, however legends describe that they did not always consist of women parts. All legends depict mermaids as singing creatures that lure sailors and then enchant them to death.  In historical literature, mermaids are usually portrayed sitting on rocks holding a mirror and combing their long blonde hair. This depiction of mermaids has remained the same in literature; they are also depicted sitting on a rock looking into a mirror in The Story of Peter Pan.   

The first legends of mermaids were told by the Greeks in 1000 BC. The first mermaid tale was about a mermaid named Atargatis who was the goddess of love and beauty. She fell in love with a mortal shepherd who she accidentally killed.  She was consumed by guilt for losing her loved one that in shame she wanted to punish herself by jumping into the deep waters and turning into a fish. However, her transformation was incomplete because her beauty was so divine. Instead Atargatis formed into a mermaid she was half woman from the upper body and fish from waist below (Adams 56).

The Greeks believed that mermaids were sirens. Sirens are hybrid legendary creatures that had a women’s head, a feathery bird body and large scaly feet. Overtime, the sirens were represented as half woman and half fish. Although the body composition of the sirens changed, they always lured sailors with their charming voices.  Sirens used their voices to seduce the sailors, they acted as seductresses and caused the sailors to walk off of their ships and drown.  As you can see, sirens and mermaids have many similarities; therefore they are used interchangeably (Ramano et al. 254).

Another legend suggests that the idea of mermaids derived from manatees, which are sea cows. Manatees are linked to folklore with mermaids. Initially mermaids were made of monkey’s body attached to shark tale (Kokai 68). Originally, they were hideous creatures, contrasting how their beautiful and charming features as depicted in literature.  It is believed that in 1493, Christopher Columbus misunderstood manatees for mermaids.  He announced that mermaids were not half as beautiful as they are painted. This leads us to the myth about mermaids that they are elegant and charming creatures (Ramano et al. 253). Overtime, the physical appearance of the mermaid has changed drastically.

All legends reveal the myth about mermaids being beautiful in cartoons and in fairy tales, along with The Story of Peter Pan. Mermaids are portrayed as beautiful because they are exposed to children through the use of fairy tales. The representations of mermaids are portrayed as role models for young girls, thus, the image of mermaids must be appealing. In reality, all legends about mermaids depict their appearances in various ways, but none are depicted as beautiful. Legends suggest that mermaids originated from “sea cows”, also called manatees. These are giant whale-like creatures. For many centuries, sailors have also mistaken manatees for mermaids. Christopher Columbus, who was the first expeditionary, saw manatees and proclaimed that mermaids are not half as beautiful as they have been painted.

Conclusion – By: Mamta Patel

Daniel O’Connor utilizes the imagery of mermaids by Alice Woodward to represent them as temptresses in Never Land. The mermaids are initially introduced as mysterious creatures that the children of Never Land are curious to know about, however their representations are shown to be alluring for all ages. They are displayed as extremely beautiful, charming, and attractive creatures in The Story of Peter Pan.  Focusing on the origin of mermaids, various works have revealed that mermaids have evolved from legendary creatures called ‘sirens’ that had a woman’s head, a feathery bird body, and large scaly feet. Various other sources reveal that mermaids have evolved from whale-like creatures known as “sea cows”, which were generally seen to be unpleasant in appearance. Their appearances had been mistaken, leading to the belief of the existence of mermaids as half-fish and half-woman. This representation of mermaids has led to the portrayal of mermaids as being seductresses who live in the sea. They lure sailors with their enchanting songs and beauty. These creatures have since been used in folklore, such as The Story of Peter Pan, as symbols of temptation in order to create conflict.

Works Cited

Beare, Geoffrey. “Woodward, Alice B.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature.                     Ed. Jack Zipes. Oxford University Press, 2006. 14 October 2011. Web

Hallman, Ralph J. “The Archetypes in Peter Pan.” Journal of Analytical Psychology                       14.1(1969): 65-73. Academic Search Premier. 13 Oct 2011. Web.

Hollindale, Peter. “A Hundred Years of Peter Pan.” Children’s Literature in Education 36.               (2005): 197-215. Academic Search Premier. 16 Oct. 2011. Web.

Adam, Amanda. A Mermaid’s Tale: A Personal Search for Love and Lore. Vancouver                     [BC]:Greystone Books , 2009. Print.

Kokai, Jennifer . “Weeki Wachee Girls and Buccaneer Boys: The Evolution of Mermaids,              Gender, and “Man versus Nature” Tourism.” Theatre history studies 31 (2011): 67-               89,177. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 13 Oct. 2011.

Romano, Stefania , Vincenzo Esposito, Claudio Fonda, Anna Russo, and Roberto                          Grassi.”Beyond the myth: The mermaid syndrome from Homerus to Andersen’s                   bicentennial of birth.” European Journal of Radiology 58.2006 (2005): 252-259.                   Print.

Fantasy or Reality: Analyzing Pirates in Peter Pan

© Copyright 2011, Ethan Krebs, Justin Levine

James Matthew, Barrie. Nursery Peter Pan. Ed. Olive Jones. Liverpool: Brockhampton Press Ltd, 1961. Print.

 Pirates have been prominent in society’s dominant culture for centuries. Pirates are portrayed in countless ways. Some pirates are portrayed as good people stealing from the rich and giving to the poor while others are shown as scoundrels with a lust for murder. In any case, pirates are a dominant grouping of characters in the text Nursery Peter Pan. The original author of the Peter Panbooks was J.M. Barrie. This adaptation of the text was first published in 1961 by author Olive Jones. The text was written for a children’s audience but can also be enjoyed by an older range of people. The text has both colour and black and white illustrations. The colour illustrations were created by Mable Lucie Attwell while the black and white drawings were done by J.S. Goodall. The text and the illustrations flow nicely together to create a balanced book that can be appreciated by all readers. In this exhibit, the category of pirates in Peter Pan will be examined. To start, research has been done to uncover facts about real life pirates in history and compare them to the pirates in Nursery Peter Pan. Pirates in Nursery Peter Pan will also be explained as a whole and how they interact throughout the text. Also, pirates in Peter Pan will be compared to the Hollywood movie Pirates of the Caribbean. The overall critical connection for this exhibit will to determine how accurate pirates in real life history were compared to pirates in Nursery Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean. Similarities and differences will be discussed throughout the exhibit and it will illustrate the facts about the pirates themselves. Ethan Krebs will be discussing pirates in Nursery Peter Pan as a whole, while Justin Levine will be explaining the connection to Pirates of the Caribbean

The Pirates in Peter Pan

Every story needs an antagonist and there are a perfect set of villains in the text Nursery Peter Pan. The text itself follows the original story of Peter Pan but brings it down to simpler level so that it could be appreciated and read by anyone. In case you haven’t read or heard of Peter Pan, here is a brief description of the text. The book starts off following the lives of Wendy, John and Michael Darling. It seems that their parents are out for the night so in swoops Peter Pan. Peter Pan can be described as the boy who never grew up. Peter Pan, with the help of his fairy friend Tinker Bell, sprinkles fairy dust on the kids which gives them the ability to fly. The kids, along with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, fly to Never Never Land where they meet the Lost Boys. The Lost Boys are Peter Pan’s crew. Throughout the text, the readers discover that not all is right in Never Never Land. Peter Pan has

The crocodile that ate Captain Hooks hand. It is Hooks greatest fear.

nemesis. This nemesis is named James Hook, otherwise known by his more familiar name, Captain Hook. Hook is seeking revenge on Peter Pan for the loss of his hand. Hook is described in the book to be fearless except for when the crocodile appears. The crocodile is the one who ate Hooks hand in the first place. There are many twists and turns throughout the book. Hook has many attempts at revenge but the overall ending of the book leads to Captain Hook’s demise along with the rest of his pirate crew. The three Darling children eventually make it home and Peter Pan returns to Never Never Land.

The pirates in the text constantly antagonize all the other characters in the book. As said before, the leader of the pirate crew in Nursery Peter Pan is Captain Hook. Hook can be described as many things in this text. He plays both sides of the spectrum. In some cases, he comes off as goofy, stupid and arrogant. In other cases he has the tendency of being a cold, hard, sociopathic killer. His character description tends to fluctuate throughout the text. There is no real clear objective or answer on why Hook is the way he is. Since the beginning of the text he had his mind set on terrorizing Peter Pan and everyone acquainted with him. The other pirates on the ship do not really have real names and they often change.

Captain Hook and his first mate Smee causing trouble

They are often referred to as the crew or mates. The other pirates on the ship are regarded as emotionless, yet loyal. They listen to Hook’s every demand and do what their captain says. They do not really have a personality in the book other than taking orders. The only other pirate in Nursery Peter Pan who is really addressed as a character is Hook’s first mate named Bartholomew Quigley Smeethington, or generally called Smee. Smee is portrayed as a bumbling idiot in the text. If this were a television show, Smee would be the comic relief. Smee often comes up with stupid ideas and Hook is there to correct him. J.S. Goodall did a really good job creating the black and white pictures in the text. The black and white pictures of the pirates really show their evil side, while also showing how goofy and stupid they can be at other times. The overall impression of the pirates in Nursery Peter Pan is that they have a split personality. Hook displays the characteristics of being both goofy and evil. Overall, his evil side comes out more than his other personalities. In the text Hook, along with the other pirates, do countless horrible acts towards Peter Pan and his friends. There are three main things that Hook and the other pirates do in the text which I personally consider beyond evil. The first thing Hook and his crew do is kidnapping Tiger Lily. Tiger Lily is the Indian chief’s daughter. Hook kidnaps her in order to get closer to Peter Pan. This is evil because she is a child. Hook and the pirates are willing to let an innocent girl die just so that they can get a hold of Peter Pan. Of course, Hook’s plan is spoiled but nonetheless he intended to kill both the girl and Peter Pan. The next evil thing Hook and the pirates do is poisoning Peter Pan’s medicine. Tinker Bell learns of this and drinks it herself before Peter Pan can. This almost leads to Tinker Bell’s death, again showing that the pirates will stop at nothing unless Peter Pan is dead. The last evil thing they do is kidnapping the kids and almost making them walk the plank. The main similarities between these three evils is that Hook and the pirates are willing to kill innocent children. They have no gain if they succeed in killing Peter Pan or the others. What do they really accomplish? Even though this is a children’s book, it shows that the pirates are sociopathic killers.

The pirates kidnapping Tiger Lily in order to kill Peter Pan

The real question here is: were pirates in real life actually this brutal? J.M. Barrie came up with the character of Captain Hook based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island character, Long John Silver. Barrie did extensive research on pirates before he wrote his Peter Pan books. The truth of the matter is that what Captain Hook did in Nursery Peter Pan wasn’t even half as bad compared to what some other pirates did. Historically, pirates were found to show no mercy. Forget about making you walk the plank, they would simply slit your throat and throw you off the ship. Although brutal and ruthless, the pirates were usually after something. If you had something the pirates wanted, they would simply kill you for it. The pirates in Nursery Peter Pan were dulled down to suit a wider audience. Overall, the facts show that pirates were indeed more brutal than in Nursery Peter Pan and that technically, the characterization of pirates in Nursery Peter Pan is historically accurate. 

The Pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates in Hollywood are portrayed in many different fashions. In general, people were afraid of pirates because pirates were governed by their own pirate code, and they did not follow the law of the land. They were known to be ruthless and violent and would use any means necessary to take whatever they wanted. Most movies base their pirate interpretations on this premise. The pirates in Nursery Peter Pan were no different, although they were tempered for a young audience. The main antagonist in the tale of Peter Pan was Captain James Hook, the lead pirate causing peril and mayhem to Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. It would be fair to say that the evil pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean were based on the same model as Captain Hook and his gang. Both sets of pirates have the same attitude and goals as recounted in historical accounts of typical pirates. 

 At one point in Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Barbosa, the captain of the Black Pearl, a haunted pirate ship, is described as ‘a man so evil that hell itself spat him back out’. Captain Hook can be seen in the same way. Barbosa’s kidnapping of Elizabeth, the governor’s daughter of the film, parallels that of Captain Hook’s kidnapping of Tiger Lily. Captain Hook threatens to kill Tiger Lily in order to learn the location of Peter’s hideout.

Barbosa’s men are willing to kill the innocent character Elizabeth in order to lift their curse; however, she is not the only innocent character that the pirates are willing to kill. The pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean were seen invading the town, destroying anything in their way, including defenseless people. The pirates show no mercy, and this is how typical pirates behave in Hollywood films. These are the type of pirates who are the most fearsome. Captain Hook and his gang attempted to murder children by making them walk the plank on their infamous ship named “The Jolly Roger”. These were innocent children.

 Pirates in film and fiction, as in real life, are shown to be motivated primarily by greed. In Pirates of the Caribbean, there are two kinds of pirates – the typical ones and the ones who are pirates that are also “good men”.  Captain Jack Sparrow, the main character in this film, falls into the latter category. Captain Hook falls into the classification of a typical, evil pirate. Unlike most portrayals of pirates, Captain Jack Sparrow is not portrayed as a “bad guy”.  Captain Jack certainly does things to achieve his own ends, but he is not portrayed as violent and uses his cleverness to get what he wants, outsmarting both other pirates and representatives of the British government and making all of them look foolish along the way. Captain Barbosa, on the other hand, more closely fits Hollywood’s typical definition of a pirate and shares many similar characteristics with Captain Hook in Nursery Peter Pan. Hook tries to get revenge on Peter Pan due to the fact that Peter cut off his hand and it was eaten by the crocodile that is always following him, hoping for more of the same. Captain Jack wants revenge on Barbosa, his former first mate, for inciting the mutiny and taking his ship, the Black Pearl. While Hook and Jack are both motivated by revenge in these stories, Jack is willing to help others as long as it doesn’t conflict with his own objectives. Jack’s character does not conform to the typical historical representation of a pirate, which is why the Hollywood scriptwriters created the evil pirates in order to balance out Jack’s uniqueness. The typical historical pirate sailed the seven seas, violently destroying any ship that came within a certain distance, murdering all the innocent people on board with no motive. The aftermath of one such incident is shown at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean.

 In the majority of Hollywood movies in which pirates are the antagonists, there are the protagonists trying to bring them down. The audience is usually able to relate to the protagonists and is usually rooting for them to defeat the pirates. That is not the case in Pirates of the Caribbean, where Captain Jack Sparrow is the unlikely hero. In one sense, some may even compare Peter Pan to Captain Jack Sparrow in the sense that both are mischievous and have a child-like quality. They both reject the establishment and live by their own rules. Neither one was clearly good or bad by societal standards. In effect, even

though the Darling children went willingly, Peter pirated them from their parent’s house during the night to achieve his own ends – he wanted Wendy to tell him stories and act as a pseudo-mother to him. The pirates in Nursery Peter Panall abide by the rules of Captain Hook, following him around like his pets obeying his every command, which is a requirement of the pirate code. They are not individually mentioned other than Smee, the pirate that acts as the comic relief of the story. The lack of addressing other pirates generally shows the reader that all the pirates share the same attitude as their leader. They follow in the footsteps of their captain just as the pirates on the Black Pearl all go nameless

Captain Hook aboard his pirate ship giving orders to his crew

and follow in the footsteps of their captain  Hollywood’s representation of pirates goes back to some of the first movies ever made that starred buccaneers, such as Treasure Island in 1912 and The Black Pirate in 1926. In both of these movies, a Captain led the crew. The story of Peter Pan came into existence in 1902 where it was found inside a story written by J.M. Barrie called The Little White Bird. The pirates first made their appearance in this story and were then later adapted to Hollywood films in many different variations. In all adaptations of the Peter Pan stories, the pirates always played the roles of the antagonists and Captain Hook always led the pack. The pirates in Nursery Peter Pan and in Pirates of the Caribbean are described in a more comical way and are less sinister and ruthless than reports of actual historical pirates.


In many cases, the depiction of pirates in films is somewhat sanitized when compared to historical pirates in an effort to make them more entertaining and less disturbing to the viewer. This applies even more in films and stories that are geared towards a younger audience, such as Nursery Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie used his extensive research on pirates to create believable images of pirates, even though they are watered-down in Nursery Peter Pan. Overall, our research concludes that in Jones’ adaptation of Nursery Peter Pan, Olive Jones’ portrayal is an accurate representation of the spirit of pirates, while eliminating the gory details. 


Barrie, James Matthew. Nursery Peter Pan. Ed. Olive Jones. Liverpool: Brockhampton Press Ltd,              1961. Print.

Beetles, Chris. Mabel Lucie Attwell. London: Antique Collectors’ Club, 1997. Print.

Birkin, Andrew, and Sharon Goode. J.M. Barrie & the Lost Boys: [the Real Story behind Peter              Pan]. New Haven: Yale UP, 2003. Print. 

Kavey, Allison B., and Lester D. Friedman, eds. Second Start To The Right: Peter Pan in the                  Popular Imagination. London: Rutgers UP, 2009. Print

Kuhn, Gabriel. Life under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy. Oakland, CA: PM,          2010. Print.

“Pirate Code of Conduct. “ELIZABETHAN ERA. Web. 09 Nov. 2011. <http://www.elizabethan-        >.

Stacy, Jan, and Ryder Syvertsen. The Great Book of Movie Villains: a Guide to the Screen’s              Meanies, Tough Guys, and Bullies. Chicago: Contemporary, 1984. Print.

Surrell, J. Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies. San Val                     Incorporated, 2005. Print

Men Who Never Grow Up: Peter Pan’s Influence on Storytellers

Barrie, J.M. Peter and Wendy. Illus. F.D. Bedford. 1st. London: Hazel, Watson & Viney, Ltd., 1911. Print.

©2011, Meagan Kelly, Julia Lennox

We’ve all heard of Peter Pan. But what do we really know? What is the story behind how it all began? As we look deeper into the story of this never-aging boy, we will also be looking deeper into J.M. Barrie’s life and how events within it affected his writing. We will be specifically focusing on J.M. Barrie’s classic tale, Peter and Wendy.

The Story

The story of Peter and Wendy, written by J.M. Barrie, is one of many tales that follows Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up. One night, Peter is found listening in on Mrs. Darling’s bedtime stories. After some initial interaction with her daughter, Wendy, he invites her to Neverland to be a mother to his group of friends, The Lost Boys. Once in Neverland, Peter Pan takes Wendy and her brothers, who come along on this magical journey, on many adventures. As the story moves along, all the children are put in danger at different times. Peter Pan awakens only to find out from Tinker Bell that Wendy has been kidnapped. On his way to the pirate ship to save Wendy, Peter encounters the ticking crocodile. He gets passed the croc and onto the ship, where he finds Captain Hook. Hook and Peter begin to battle. Peter easily winds by pushing Hook into the jaws of the crocodile. Peter then takes control of the ship and sails home to London. Wendy decides her place is at home. Though Peter is not happy with this decision, he knows it is best. Peter promises he will return for Wendy every spring (Barrie).

Barrie, J.M. Peter and Wendy. Illus. F.D. Bedford. 1st. London: Hazel, Watson & Viney, Ltd., 1911. Print.

In the story of Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan is described as a practically fearless young boy. He is a boy who never grows up and has many adventures in Neverland. Peter is looked at as a leader by all of the characters in Neverland, which is part of his wonderful personality.

The Author

J.M. Barrie was born in Scotland in 1860 and passed away in 1937. He is most remembered for his works of Peter Pan. Barrie was a very complex man and was often misunderstood (Walker). He held many personal relationships throughout his life, arguably the most important of which with the Lleweyln Davies brothers.

Barrie, J.M. Peter and Wendy. Illus. F.D. Bedford. 1st. London: Hazel, Watson & Viney, Ltd., 1911. Print.

The Inspiration

The original idea of the character Peter Pan was based off of the Llewelyn Davies brothers (Walker). Barrie, a close friend of the boys, would often entertain them by telling stories of Peter and his adventures. The name Peter came from the youngest brother, no older than a toddler at the time (White). The Lewelyn brothers were very close with J.M. Barrie. He wanted to keep them entertained.

Although the story of Peter and Wendy was first written in 1911, the portrayal of the boys fighting at war in Neverland reflects upon the new types of warfare used by Britain in the Boer War years before publication (Springer).

Barrie drew from his own experience on never wanting to grow up while creating Peter Pan. Barrie has been quoted as saying that the horror of his boyhood was knowing that a time would come when he would have to give up his games, and he didn’t know how that could be done. Barrie felt he had to continue to play in secret (LaRue). Barrie also went through puberty late, which caused him traumatizing embarrassment (Nicol). This is why he was so good at writing for children, because he always felt he was one.  There is also speculation that J.M. Barrie engaged in the idea of never growing up partially because of an accident that occurred when he was just 7 years old. Barrie was skating with his brother David the night before David’s 14th birthday. An accident happened and David ended up falling on the ice and fracturing his skull, killing him. Some say Barrie chose the idea of never growing up for Peter Pan because David would never grow up either (Staff).

Barrie, J.M. Peter and Wendy. Illus. F.D. Bedford.1st. London: Hazel, Watson & Viney, Ltd., 1911. Print.

 Peter and Wendy: Their Relationship

 The relationship between Peter Pan and Wendy Darling is very unique. He is in love with Wendy, not in a romantic way, but rather a maternal way. He sees Wendy as his mother, which is ironic, because mothers are the only things in the world he is afraid of. It is almost as though Peter yearns for a maternal figure deep inside, and Wendy is able to offer that support, while still remaining a child.

The Illustrations

 The illustrator for Peter and Wendy was the brilliant F.D. Bedford. Bedford was a British artist born in 1864. He attended school for architecture, but then realized a career in that field was not for him. Bedford then switched paths to become an illustrator. His first illustrated books were released between 1890 and 1900. In 1911, Bedford illustrated Peter and Wendy (Dalby).

Though there is no information on the medium in which Bedford used to illustrate, upon examination, it appears to be some form of sketching or etching. There are many details and lines throughout each image, suggesting Bedford put much care into each drawing. Bedford not only did the embedded illustrations for Peter and Wendy, he also designed the cover, title page, and end covers. Each illustration by Bedford is a full page. In the specific edition we researched, the illustrations were all in green ink, matching the cover, while all the type was in black ink.


Barrie, J.M. Peter and Wendy. Illus. F.D. Bedford 1st. London: Hazel, Watson & Viney, Ltd., 1911. Print.

Bedford’s illustrations of Neverland leave the audience breathless. He beautifully illustrates coves, lagoons and tropical vegetation that make the story seem so much more whimsical (Barrie, and McCaffrey).

Barrie, J.M. Peter and Wendy. Illus. F.D. Bedford. 1st. London: Hazel, Watson & Viney, Ltd., 1911. Print.

Bedford chose to illustrate narrative moments in the story as they happened. The illustrations tend to be of the more exciting moments; the ones where the audience is wondering what it looks like, whether it be the Darlings flying for the first time, or The Lost Boys wandering around Neverland through the forest. These images address the readers while providing them with an omniscient point of view so they can see everything that is happening.

Rumours continue to swirl around who or what was the true inspiration behind Peter Pan. Many argue that it was the peculiar relationship between J.M. Barrie and the Lewelyn Brothers. Others believe that it was Barrie’s overwhelming fear of growing up that led to the creation of the rambunctious character. Perhaps the inspiration lies buried with the author, in the responsibility he may have internalized after his 14 – year – old brother’s untimely death. It could very well be a combination of any or all of these things. No matter the inspiration, one fact still rings true: Peter Pan is one of the most memorable and adored figures in all of children’s fiction. This character has inspired countless authors, illustrators, animators, and filmmakers, including one of the most successful directors in all of Hollywood: Steven Spielberg.


There are a variety of films that chronicle the adventures of one Peter Pan, most notably Disney’s animated classic released in 1953. While their take attempted to emulate Barrie’s stage productions and books, there is one Pan film that seems to have turn his timeless story on its head. Steven Spielberg’s live action fantasy, Hook, released in 1991, poses a rather fascinating question: what if Peter Pan did grow up? The film focuses on the life of one Peter Banning (Robin Williams), a successful corporate lawyer and the father of two children. He is the complete juxtaposition of Peter Pan; he is an extremely – goal oriented workaholic who can barely fit in spending quality time with his family. As he struggles to find balance between his profession and family life, his absence begins to cause tremendous strain on his relationship with both his children and his wife. His life takes an interesting turn when his children are kidnapped – by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). Banning then comes to the startling realization that he was once the infamous Peter Pan. Throughout his journey in Neverland, it is up to Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) and the Lost Boys to help Banning find his inner child in order to save his own children.

Spielberg’s Interpretation

Who exactly is Steven Spielberg’s Peter Pan? J.M. Barrie’s character is exactly who readers know him to be: a child who has the inability to mature into an adult. Although perceived as brave and boisterous through his actions and demeanor, Barrie does provide some insight to Peter’s psyche: the longing he has for a family. Evident through his fascination with Wendy as a maternal figure and his strong, “brotherly” bond with his Lost Boys, what Peter truly wants is to experience that unconditional love that family members have for one another. In Hook, Spielberg brings the underlying theme of family to the foreground of his story. Peter Banning has that natural bond with his wife and children Pan so desperately craves, but is letting his demanding job jeopardize their relationship. Spielberg’s Peter Pan is a father, struggling with what the majority of parents in today’s society also struggle with: finding a balance between work and family life. In his film, the tale surrounding children with no parents becomes a story about a father who – metaphorically – leaves his children (Friedman).

Robin Williams as Peter Pan, otherwise known as Peter Banning

In order for Banning to save his children from the clutches of his arch nemesis, Captain Hook, he must attempt to re – learn all of the unique skills that made him so extraordinary as a boy. Essentially, he needs to forgo using logic and reason – the way of thinking that dominates his adulthood – and instead embrace his imagination. As Banning spends more and more time with Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys, his transformation from man to Pan quickens, and he begins to take on the persona of a child. What proves to be most difficult for Peter is learning how to fly. He cannot seem to find a happy memory strong enough to make him soar. When Peter remembers why he accepted the responsibilities of the temporal world, and gave up his eternal childhood however, (Friedman) that all changes. The memories that allow him to fly are not about his adventures with the Lost Boys, games with Tinkerbell or battles against Hook and his pirates; they are about his children, and by extension, his parental obligation to love, nurture and protect them (Friedman). In Spielberg’s interpretation, Peter’s longing to be a part of a family ultimately takes over, and prompts him to make a huge sacrifice in order to be a father. Hook is not about remaining a boy forever, but highlights the necessity of growing up, and choosing external obligations over personal pleasures (Friedman).

Peter Banning, reunited with his family after his adventure in Neverland.

Steven Spielberg: Peter Pan?

Many critics and media – watchers have dubbed Steven Spielberg “the perennial Peter Pan,” cinemas ur-child who will not grow up, gifted with a child’s eye and childlike wonder (Pace). But his colleagues aren’t the only ones who would stand by that sentiment. In fact, Spielberg is a self – proclaimed sufferer of Peter Pan Syndrome, the belief that one will never, and more importantly, must never grow up. In fact, many claimed that Hook was supposedly ‘Spielberg’s ultimate autobiographical project’ [Taylor 1992: 136] (Morris); throughout the 1980s, he was saddled with a Peter Pan image, partly due to his own self – promotion in which he referred to both his enthusiasm for adolescent playthings and his desire to film Barrie’s classic (Morris). But by the time Hook was finally released in 1991, Spielberg’s outlook had drastically changed:

“My son [Max] was born, and I lost my appetite for the project. Because suddenly I couldn’t be Peter Pan anymore. I had to be his father. That’s literally the reason I didn’t do the movie back then…In a way, my son took my childhood away from me. But he also gave it back to me. When he was born, I suddenly became the spitting image of my father and mother…I guess now I can appreciate even more who my parents were” [Bahiana 152 – 53] (Friedman)

Hook is a prime example of Spielberg’s conflicting ideals. On the one hand, there is his fascination with Peter Pan; the concept of never growing up is enticing to many, but as a director, a motion picture visionary, the thought of “growing up” and having to abandon your imagination is absolutely frightening. On the other hand, he has chosen to embrace adulthood by raising his own children, and having a family; suddenly, his exciting career must take a back seat to the mundane responsibilities of family life. Spielberg’s interpretation of Barrie’s work is in a way autobiographical. Banning mirrors Spielberg in more ways than one, but these parallels are universal struggles among all parents and adults.

Peter Pan’s Influence on Storytellers

Both J.M. Barrie and Steven Spielberg were heavily influenced by Peter Pan. The character shaped Barrie’s career, and solidified his place among the great children’s fiction writers of all time. Although Peter Pan did not directly influence his childhood, the notion of never having to grow up stemmed from many aspects of his life. In comparison, Peter Pan did in fact have a direct influence on Spielberg’s childhood; Barrie’s book Peter and Wendy was often read to him by his mother (McBride) and was the principle text that shaped the Hook’s screenplay. Not only is Pan’s influence evident in Spielberg’s work, but also in the man himself. Spielberg embraced his personification of the fictitious character in the media. His larger – than – life imagination and eye for the whimsical has allowed him to create some of cinema’s most extraordinary films.

Both storytellers – granted their various mediums and styles – used the character Peter Pan to express parts of themselves. Barrie created him out of his own desire to never grow up, or perhaps to symbolize his brother’s spirit. Spielberg places himself in his film through his main character, Peter Banning, and his former self, the infamous Peter Pan. The internal battle between personal success and sacrifice for those you love is something many can relate to. What is simply fascinating about this boy who never grows up is that so many different individuals, across all demographics, can identify with him. It stands as a testament to just how timeless this character truly is.



Barrie, J.M. Peter and Wendy. Illus. F.D. Bedford. 1st. London: Hazel, Watson & Viney, Ltd., 1911. Print.

Barrie, J.M., and Anne McCaffrey. Peter Pan. Modern Library, 2004.

Dalby, Richard. The Golden Age of Children’s Book Illustration. Gallery Books, Web.

Friedman, Lester D. Citizen Spielberg. Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2006.                  Print.

McBride, Joseph. Steven Spielberg: A Biography. 2nd. New York, New York: Simon and               Schuster, 2010. Print.

Morris, Nigel. The Cinema of Steven Spielberg: Empire of Light. London: Wallflower Press,            2007. Print.

Pace, Patricia. “Robert Bly Does Peter Pan: The Inner Child as Father to the Man in Steven            Spielberg’s Hook.” The Films of Steven Spielberg: Critical Essays. Ed. Charles L. P.            Silet. Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, 2002. 159 – 167. Print.

Rennell, Tony. “THE DARK SIDE the OF NEVERLAND.” Daily Mail:                                                    52. ProQuest Newsstand (Canada). Jul 26 2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2011                                    <                                                                                        url=>.

Springer, Heather. “Barrie’s PETER PAN.” The Explicator 65.2 (2007): 96-                                      8. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 13 Nov. 2011.

Staff, HeraldScotland. “Tragedy behind Neverland: did JM Barrie cause                                         brother’s death?.” Herald Scotland. 10 007 2008: n. page. Web. 14 Oct. 2011.                   <             brother-s-death-1.884307>.

Walker, J. “Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J.M. Barrie.” Choice 44.6                                  (2007): 984. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 13 Nov. 2011.

White, Donna R. S. (1994). British Children’s Writers, 1880-1914. Detroit, Michigan: Gale.

Pirates in The Peter Pan Picture Book and Morfar är Sjörövare

© 2011, Chris Johnston, Gustav Berg

O’Connor, Daniel. The Peter Pan Picture Book: An Illustrated Narrative of J.M. Barrie’s                Classic. Ill Alice B Woodward. Reprint of the 1907 ed. New York: Derrydale Books,            1980. Print.

The Peter Pan Picture Book


In this document we will make a comparison between the books The Peter Pan Picture Book and Morfar är Sjörövare, the title translates to “Grandpa is a Pirate”. We will look how the pirates are portrayed and analyze the books’ messages to the reader. We think that  belonging to the “right” country and/or ethnicity is a strong message in the books. So why do we analyze children’s literature? Our answer to that question is a quote by Peter Neumeyer “We simply must have faith that as students understand more, they enjoy more” (147). That has been our driving force in this project. Both books are interesting as historical documents from their time and place. We think that by analyzing them we will understand their context and appreciate the books more even though we might not agree with their messages. We also think that there are surprising similarities between these two books.

Alice B. Woodward (1862-1951) was an English illustrator from a family of artists and scientists (Beare). The illustrations for The Peter Pan Picture Book was made on plates and is one of her more influential works considering the book has been in print since its first publication. It is interesting to note that this is her first printed work in colour (Beare). Jan Lööf (1940) is a Swedish author and illustrator mostly known for his picture books for children (Nordvik). He has won several Swedish awards and is mostly known for the book and the show “Skrot-Nisse”, Nisse the Junk Man, which has a cult following. Very little of his work is known outside of Scandinavia. Lööf’s trademark in his books are machines, real or fantasy. Christopher Johnston has written the category part about pirates and the conclusion. Gustav Berg has written the introduction and the context part about Morfar är Sjörövare.


How the political state of the day influenced how the pirates were depicted in Morfar är Sjörövare.

Morfar är Sjörövare was released in 1966. This was amidst of what in Sweden is known as the “record years”,  which was the time period from the end of WW2 to the oil crisis in 1973 (Schön 367). The period known as the “record years” was a time of steady economic growth in Sweden, and that gave the government the ability to increase the living standard of most people (Stenmo 33). A result of this stability can be sensed in the book as it has an an aire of peace and security to it, even the conflicts are resolved “nicely”. We see it in a general way throughout the book on the people’s facial expressions, no one is ever displaying real anger or happiness. The book released  during a period in the cold war when the United States started war in Indochina and the relations between the young state of Israel and some of the Middle Eastern states was unstable, with two super powers supporting each side. This focus and interest on countries outside of the western world might be the reason we see Arabs in this story.. However this paper takes its point out of a re-release in 1975 and due to global events the story can be interpreted very differently.

The Yom Kippur war that took place in October 1973 between Egypt and Syria on one side and Israel on the other (Rabinovich xv). The conflict had a big impact on the Western world as well. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which represents most oil selling countries  of the Middle East, refused to sell oil to the countries helping Israel, mainly the United States and then the Netherlands. In January of 1974 the OPEC countries agreed of a price adjustment of the oil price which meant that since October of 1973 to January of 1974 the price of raw oil had increased with 400% (Bjereld 197). As an effect, the Swedish government decided to introduce ration laws for oil. These rations laws were abandoned in the first quarter of 1974 (Bjereld 207). Though not long lasting, the Yom Kippur war may have changed the portrayal of people with Middle Eastern background. In Morfar är Sjörövare the antagonist is the pirate Omar, a man that looks like he comes from the Middle East. He kidnaps Grandpa not with force but with cunning trickery; drilling a hole in grandpas pirate ship and capturing Grandpa and his crew from behind. The boy helps Grandpa to free himself by handing him a shovel, so he can dig himself out and win in a duel over Omar. The boy and Grandpa then run away since they are vastly outnumbered, and escape via an air ship. This suggest to the readers that the Arabs are cunning, and although there are many of them, a Swede/Westerner will win in a one on one battle against them.

The pictures

In our opinion the pictures represents two main categories. Firstly, the pictures reinforce a male stereotype. Secondly, the pictures portray Arabs as a people that are different from Westerners. The pictures are also easy to identify with for the reader, which would make the message of the book for the reader more effective. We see the male stereotype and male as the norm in many ways in the book. There is only one woman with any influence at all in this story, and that is the boys grandma. She says grandpas stories are only imaginative and she therefore only represents a hindrance to the boy and grandpa to have an adventure and some fun. They also has to sneak past her when they start their adventure and they have, conveniently, lost all evidence of their adventure when they get back. We see this as a way of telling the reader that this is a book mainly for boys, and if your a girl listening to the story there will be no one for you to identify with, except maybe Grandma, and she is boring.

Grandpa is wearing a black hat with a skull on it, a red coat, an orange dress shirt, beige gloves and pants and black boots. Omar has a long black beard, and wears an earring of gold, a green turban with a diamond garnish, blue “Alladin”-pants, pointed shoes, a grey coat and golden neck warmer. Omar’s style is more gaudy or feminine, he even has longer nails. Omar loses in this book so therefore it could be implied that displaying femininity makes you weaker and therefore you lose.

Grandpa himself, is portrayed as a man of action and in control of his feelings, his behaviour is stereotypical male.  His lack of emotional display is almost profound, he smiles at five different places in the book, and the biggest smile is when he is engaged in a fight . He is mildly upset when he gets kidnapped and when the airship is sinking, but show no signs of fear which would have been appropriate in those situations. Grandpa does not comfort the boy nor does he thank him when the boy hands him the shovel that helps him escape from his prison cell. His inability to show emotions is a classical male stereotype, and something the boy can be assumed to pick up since grandpa is the closest role model to the boy in the book. Omar and his men are portrayed very differently than the pirates on Grandpas boat. Omar’s men are also drawn in the same way, they look like identical twins. Grandpa’s men are all drawn with individual characteristics and personalities. This could suggest to the readers that Westerners are individuals and the leader only has slightly more power, whereas the Arabs are one indistinguishable group that follows an omnipotent leader.

According to Scott McCloud it is easier for a reader to identify with a character if it is drawn in a more cartoonish or simplistic way than if it is to realistic (36). The argument is that a character with more general characteristics will be easier to identify with since the characteristics apply to more people than a character that is drawn realisticly. The pictures in grandpa is a pirate are cartoonish and should therefore be easy to identify with. Identification is perhaps further improved by the fact that the only character with a “proper” name is the antagonist Omar. This could then suggest that the interpretation of Arabs the other is reinforced to the reader by the easy identification of the main character. Having this images and values presented to you at an early age would sets the foundation for your symbolism (Nodelman 106), in this story following the Western tradition. We realize that every mind will have a starting point set somewhere and we do not think that Jan Lööf had a secret agenda behind it . We see it more as an example of the time, with all that it implies.

We are not implying that Jan Lööf tries to promote a negative view towards Arabs, the story is testament to a time where our contacts with other cultures where more naive. We also recognize that Omar is one of few racialised characters in a picture book for children at that time.  However we think that during certain circumstances, the story could contribute to the formation of negative views against Arabs.

This is even more interesting due to the fact that Jan Lööf himself writes, in his book Jan Lööfs serier vol1, that anti-racism is a question that is very close to him, but that it is mostly focused on African-Americans and jazz-music. It could be that he had not reflected over these matters and Omar and his companions reflected the common mans view of people from the middle east at the time.


Political state of England at the time of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan

As Mary Brewer explains, “at the turn of the twentieth century, theatrical and literary ideas of race constituted important components of British public discourse, which helped shape the common understanding or radicalized subjects and related rationales for the subjugation of racial others” (387). Racial others in this context would be non-English looking whites.  As is the case with most fairy tales, in the story of Peter Pan there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters. A sense of British imperialism during this period suggests that in Peter Pan the Boys and Pan represent ‘good’ white Englishmen, and Captain Hook as a ‘bad’ racial other (Brewer 389). Based on the heightened sense of British imperialism during this period, perhaps Neverland is a depiction of the young, independent country the United States. Much like the United States, Neverland has native peoples, a land of opportunity and exploration that is separated from England by water, inhabited by pirates and native indians (racial others), and crocodiles. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century literary and theatrical devices were used to support patriotism and a sense of imperialism to the British public especially the middle and working class (Banham 157).  These devices such as books,  provided a romanticized view of the British empire to its public.  O’Connor & Woodward’s The Peter Pan Picture Book, adapted from J.M. Barrie’s screenplay provides examples supporting the previous statement that the Boys and Pan are ‘good’ white Englishmen. In order to avoid walking the plank, Captain Hook provides an option to the Boys. Hook proposes to the Boys that if they join his ship they would not have to walk the plank, but to do so they must proclaim, “down with King Edward” (O’Connor and Woodward 87). To this neither of the boys would agree to and as such, Captain Hook deemed that their “doom was sealed” (O’Connor and Woodward 87). Being the brave young Englishmen that they are, the Boys who would not declare down with King Edward and proceeded to sing “Rule Britannia” in the face of Captain Hook as he was attempting to force them to walk the plank (O’Connor and Woodward 88). Finally, the fate of the pirate Smee who was, “not so wicked as the rest of the crew” turned into a “reformed character and a brave sailor in His Majesty’s Fleet” once the crew disbanded following Captain Hook’s death (O’Connor and Woodward 92). The reformation of Smee from a ‘bad’ pirate to a brave sailor in the British navy further shows the British imperial undertones found in The Peter Pan Picture Book.

The role of gender in the Peter Pan Picture Book

Michael Egan argues that the serious study of children’s literature began with Freud who discovered evidence in folk and fairy tales to support his theory of the unconscious (37). Egan suggests that Neverland represents a child’s unconscious and that an Oedipal relationship exists between Peter Pan and Captain Hook (39). In the center of Neverland is Captain Hook, Peter Pan’s once greatest enemy as well an enemy to all children (Egan 47). Captain Hook as a pirate was not portrayed as a grungy, classless man, but instead a handsome one who enjoys quality clothing, music, drink, and a sharp mind (Egan 49). If an Oedipal relationship exists between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, then Pan must be the son and Hook the father. Peter Pan’s victory over Hook adds to this. In the Peter Pan Picture Book Wendy was portrayed in a motherly manner to the boys while in Neverland. Aside from the obvious age difference between Pan and Hook the aforementioned interests of Hook in conjunction with his ship, crew of other pirates, and suave nature makes him seem more mature or fatherly in comparison to the children. In the part of the book where Captain Hook captures the boys, Egan states that Hook charmingly escorts Wendy away from her home because she was fascinated and entranced by his gentlemanly personality (51). Wendy taking on a motherly role in the book, as well as the characteristics indicated of Captain Hook, and Peter Pan representing eternal childhood shows the Oedipal triangle of mother, father, and son. In the final battle, Hook, having trouble fighting against Pan asks whom he is fighting to which Pan replies “I’m youth, I’m joy. I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg.” (O’Connor and Woodward 91). Pan then pushes Hook off his own ship and into the jaws of the crocodile who already had taste of his hand. By Peter Pan defeated Captain Hook, he must replace Hook as the father in the Oedipal role with Wendy. This is seen at the end of the book where Pan and Wendy exchange a kiss in combination with Pan and the Lost Boy’s desire for a mother in Neverland.


The imagery of pirates/Captain Hook in the Peter Pan Picture Book

Captain Hook is shown in The Peter Pan Picture Book as a tall, slender, dark haired man whose right hand is a hook. This image is shown in a print corresponding to the text on page 91. The text of that page depicts the Boys and Hook fighting on the ship. While fighting Hook is shown toting two pistols, one in his left hand, one tucked in his sash, and his hook held up in the air as if ready to strike down. He has a mean snarl on his face and an aggressive confrontational stance. The images of Pan from the Peter Pan Picture Book arguably set the standard to which Captain Hook and his pirate crew would look like in other forms of media proceeding the first 1907 publication. Captain Hook is portrayed in a less cartoonish, more realistic way than Grandpa from Grandpa is a Pirate.  McCloud states that images drawn realistically are done in order to objectify them and emphasize certain characteristics that may separate them as different (44).



Through our exploration of the political state of the respective countries to which Morfar är Sjörövare (Grandpa is a Pirate) and The Peter Pan Picture Book we found that it played an important role in the works’ content. During the 1960s when Morfar är Sjörövare was written and first published, Sweden was experiencing a steady economic growth with high levels of equality amongst classes. The second print came following the Yom Kippur War which took place in the middle east, the same place that the protagonist Omar is depicted to rein from. The Peter Pan Picture Book was written during a sense of British imperialism and a heightened sense of patriotism. This was a period of British pride and loyalty. Captain Hook was anti-England as he made the boys declare down with the King if they were to join his rank of multicultural pirates. We also found that an Oedipal relationship exists between Peter Pan as the son, Wendy as a mother, and Captain Hook in a Oedipal father role. In Morfar är Sjörövare there is only one woman with any importance to the story, the Grandmother. It was found that stereotypical 21st century ideology of men and women was found in Morfar är Sjörövare in regards to Grandpa’s actions towards his grandson and the Grandma’s representation of hinderance of imagination. As one can see, these books written at different times, in different countries has created a vastly different interpretation and presentation of pirates. But nonetheless they present to the reader a view back to the day they were released and in some cases an understanding that the interpretation of the story can change in as little as ten years.



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tags: O’Connor, Woodward, Alice B., J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan Picture Book, Peter Pan, Morfar är Sjörövare, Grandpa is a Pirate, pirates, Captain Hook, Neverland, Chris Johnston, Gustav Berg

Pirates in Peter Pan: Examining the Categorization of Adults as the ‘Other’

Authors: © Copyright 2011, Rebecca Freedman and Denielle Jackson

Daniel O’Connor. The Story of Peter Pan. Illustrated by Alice Woodward. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1907
Pirates in Peter Pan: Examining the Categorization of Adults as the ‘Other’

Curated by: Rebecca Freedman and Denielle Jackson

 “Literature entertains, stretches imagination, elicits a wealth of emotions, and develops compassion. It generates questions and new knowledge, affords vicarious experiences of other worlds, and provides encounters with different beliefs and values” (Pantaleo 221).

           J.M. Barrie’s play, Peter Pan,is retold by Daniel O’Connor. In Daniel O’Connor’s, The Story of Peter Pan, illustrated by Alice Woodward, the reader’s thoughts are stimulated through the imaginary world of Neverland. In Neverland, we are introduced to the unforgettable characters of Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and the pirates. Throughout the story, Peter Pan’s adventures are fearful, dangerous and exciting.  Peter Pan and his young friends are faced with many barriers that they overcome. The most important barrier to overcome is the battle with the pirates. The evil pirates represent the ‘other’ as they are opposite of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. The ideologies of childhood in the twentieth century are evident throughout the story. The focus of our exhibit is to examine the ideological values of childhood represented in Daniel O’Connor’s The Story of Peter Pan. Rebecca will explore the representations of pirates as adult, male figures, and the relationship between the pirates and the Lost Boys. Denielle will dive into the the social and cultural realities of 1907 in order to place this book at a particular moment in time.

The Relationship between Adults and Children in The Story of Peter Pan

In O’Connor’s The Story of Peter Pan, is it important to recognize the contradictory relationship between the adult and the child. Though the story mostly describes the adventures of the children, it is crucial to understand the relationship between the pirates and Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. As O’Connor’s story is a retelling of J.M. Barrie’s play, similar ideologies of childhood are presented. These ideologies are the opposing relationship between the imaginative child and the realistic adult. “What Barrie is mapping in his Neverland are fluid relationships between the real world of the Edwardian adults – overinscribed with imperial, impositional determinations – and the barrier-less world of the imaginary” (Fox 255). The notion of childhood is known as imaginary and unrealistic. These notions oppose the view of adults as colonial and superior. In The Story of Peter Pan, the adults are portrayed as pirates and are seen as superior to the children. The pirates represent the ‘other’ as they oppose the view of the imaginary and joyful children. Thus, the contrasting relationship between the pirates and the children in O’Connor’s story reinforce the ideologies of childhood.

 The Representation of Pirates in The Story of Peter Pan

The pirate ship is depicted in black and white, which is not only stylistic, but also economical. Printing in colour was very expensive.

Pirates in The Story of Peter Pan are important characters. The representation of pirates serves of great purpose when examining the ideologies of childhood. Historically, pirates were conniving, male adults who participate in illegal acts such as stealing. In the text, the historical identities of pirates are expected and portrayed through their behaviour (Fox 262). In The Story of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, the antagonist, represents Peter Pan’s arch-nemesis. Through a coloured illustration, by Alice Woodward, Captain Hook’s features are evil and scary. His face is angular and boney, and is shadowed to accentuate his dreadful features. His long black hair also represents wickedness, immorality and darkness. The all male cast of pirates are corrupted and “simply act as pirates do” (Fox 262). The pirates are deceitful in The Story of Peter Pan as it is expected of them through historical identity. Furthermore, the pirates have captured innocent children, the Lost Boys. Consequently, the pirates represent adult figures who are over exaggeratedly opposite of the innocent Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. This emphasis on child-adult conflict in The Story of Peter Pan reinforces the notion of childhood.

Eternal Youth: Peter Pan and the Lost Boys

In order to judge the pirates as evil, we must compare them to other characters. In opposing the representation of pirates as the ‘other’, we can examine the representation of children in The Story of Peter Pan. Eternal youth is a main theme in the story and overpowers the strong pirates. The children in the text are innocent and joyful. Their innocence seems to be more powerful than the pirates’ evilness. The Lost Boys are five young boys who were captured by Captain Hook and his crew. The five young and innocent boys were chained as prisoners on their ship. Neverland puts an emphasis on eternal youth as the children do not want to grow up (Springer 97). Shockingly, in the text, childhood innocence overpowers adulthood realism. When battling the pirates, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys ultimately outsmart them. Even thought the pirates were armed with swords, daggers, and blunderbusses, “youth and the values it protects come out victorious” (Springer 97).

 Fate of the Pirates

The outcome of the pirates proves that the ideologies of childhood are misleading. Childhood innocence is deemed to be superior to the pirates’ wickedness. The Story of Peter Pan portrays a deserving fate for the pirates. During the battle on the pirate ship, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys defeates the pirates. Peter Pan pushes Captain Hook into the jaws of a crocodile. The rest of the pirates drown except for two particular pirates, Smee and Starkey. “Starkey never shed blood but was guilty of evil deeds” (O’Connor 58). Starkey was captured by the Redskins and was made a nurse. This was a bad outcome for him as it was a step down from pirating. Smee, on the other hand, was the least evil of the pirates. He was not as wicked as the rest and therefore became a reformed character and a sailor (O’Connor 58). The outcome for Smee and Starkey was not fatal as they portrayed glimpses of innocence and were not purely evil, like the rest. Therefore, it can be said that the pirates that portrayed characteristics of childhood received a better fate than those who resembled adulthood.

Peter Pan: a timeless classic or a product of its era?

This picture illustrates the moment of victory for Peter Pan where Captain Hook is about to be eaten by a crocodile.

       Fairy tales are often seen as being timeless and placeless, conveying universal truths. Daniel O’Connor’s The Story of Peter Pan is no exception to this commonly held belief. If we have a closer look, we can see that fairy tales are actually time and place specific. They express conditions, attitudes and values pertaining to specific socio-cultural moments.This story is one of many children’s books that are used to socialize children in helping them understand the culture of the time as it emphasizes the differing relationship between the adult and the child (Pantaleo 226). In order to better understand the context of The Story of Peter Pan, we need to take a closer look at the period in which the story was written. At the time of the writing of The Story of Peter Pan, Britain had transformed from the Victorian era to the Edwardian period.


The Victorian-era: Children as Superior Beings

During the Victorian period, there was a large amount of industrialization and urbanization. Childhood was idealized because it was seen as pure, closer to nature, and closer to God. Children were largely regarded as superior beings in some regards. In Jacqueline Rose’s The Case of Peter Pan, or, the Impossibility of Children’s Fiction, she makes the argument that The Story of Peter Pan is not for or about children, but rather illustrates adults’ desire for the fantasy of childhood; innocence is not a distinctive quality of childhood, but rather adult desire (Rose 128). Victoria’s England was a child-dominated society, with one of every three of her subjects under the age of fifteen. For the first time, books were aimed at entertaining children instead of instructing them how to behave. This period was what many consider “The Golden Age” of children’s literature (White). In children’s fiction, it is common to put children in opposition with adults. This creates a binary that highlights the differences between adult and child. In Donna White’s, Child-Hating: Peter Pan in the Context of Victorian Hatred, she argues that “fantasy spaces of childhood almost always include beings that hate both the state of childhood and childhood itself” and that in Peter Pan, there is a “deliberately antagonistic relationship between adulthood and childhood…grounded in an irrational hatred” (White 44). Artists during the Victorian period portrayed children as innocent, simple and playful. Peter Pan is depicted as a complex character; he is full of joy, vitality and fearlessness but also selfish, cocky and ill-mannered. This can be attributed to the beginning of the Edwardian period. “The Victorian child is a symbol of innocence, the Edwardian child of hedonism. In fiction, the former is good, the latter has a good time” (White 122).

The Edwardian-era: the age of rebellion

The death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and the succession by her son Edward marked the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of the Edwardian period. Edward, the Prince of Wales, had the reputation of being an irresponsible pleasure-seeking playboy. This, compounded with Victorian social and moral repression created an appetite for rebellion (Norris). Following the example of the fun-loving Prince of Wales sounded more appealing than growing up into the inadequate Victorian male. The Edwardian era is perceived as a romantic period with long endless summer afternoons. As Lyn Gardner said in her article Confronting Peter Pan’s ‘awfully big adventure’ in the Guardian, “it is easy to explain the appeal of Peter Pan to the Edwardians and post-WWI generation, who could see in the play an elegiac spectacle of endless summer days spent playing pirates and Indians”. The Story of Peter Pan continues to hold a place in our popular culture as a result of many ideas that the Edwardian period gave rise to. These include the rising importance of childhood, the influence of the imagined space, and the engagement of the hero archetype (Norris).

Alice B. Woodward: The Illustrator

This is a pivotal moment in the text and is the final battle between Peter Pan and the Lost Boys versus Captain Hook and the pirates


Alice Bolingbroke Woodward (1862-1951) was a famous English illustrator. She created 28 coloured plates for The Story of Peter Pan, and it has been continuously in print from 1907 to the present day (Springer). It is considered to be the most popular illustrated Peter Pan book of all time. Alice illustrates pivotal plot points and emotional moments, such as the battle between Peter and the pirates and the fate of the pirates when Peter pushes captain hook off of the ship. She also illustrates establishing pictures that place the reader in Neverland, such as the pirate ship.



Like many children’s books, the conflict in Peter Pan is derived from the pitting of child against adult, creating a binary opposite with the adult as ‘other’. By analyzing the representation of pirates in Daniel O’Connor’s The Story of Peter Pan, we are able to understand the significance of the relationship between the pirates and the Lost Boys as they represent adulthood and childhood. By delving into the historical moment in which the book was written, we are able to challenge the notion that children’s books are timeless and placeless and see that this is a book that could not have come out of any other time period.

“Torn between the opposing demands of innocence and experience, the author who resorts to the wishful magical thinking of the child nonetheless feels compelled, in varying degrees, to hold on to the grown-up’s circumscribed notions about reality. In the better works of fantasy of the [Victorian] period, this dramatic tension between the outlooks of adult and childhood selves becomes rich and elastic: conflict and harmony, friction and reconciliation, realism and wonder, are allowed to interpenetrate and co-exist.” (White 245)


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