Friday, August 16, 2013

Nosey About the Nursery

You know how it’s Wendy’s last night in the nursery when Peter Pan comes to take her away?

I don’t.

It’s not in Barrie, folks.  Neither book nor play.
Disney seems to have concocted this wrinkle as well.

Nowhere in Barrie’s texts does it suggest Wendy is being made to grow up.  Neither Mr. Darling nor Mrs. Darling approach (or even reproach) Wendy about her time in the nursery.

But as with many other errors, it has become ingrained into popular thought.  P.J. Hogan, too, used this concept in his, the only live-action [& not silent] motion picture of Barrie’s tale.  Although I did enjoy the added* character of Aunt Millicent who wished to impart her womanly knowledge on Wendy by taking her away from the nursery, I wish Hogan had not done the “last night” shtick.
*or rather replacement for Liza the Maid

To me, the actual story makes the situation all the creepier.

Consider that in the popular skewed scenario, Wendy has cause to leave.  After all, she’s being made to do something she supposedly doesn’t want to do - become an adult.  So she retaliates by flying off with Peter Pan.  She’s afraid/angry/curious/take your pick!  For she’s not really any of those emotions.  She doesn’t go for that reason at all!
Think about it the other (ahem! actual) way - Wendy & her brothers leave.  Without warning.  Without being admonished.  [Unless one counts the debacle with Nana, but that’s not an incident to incite children to run/fly away.]  Wendy leaves because she wants to go be a mother and have adventures.   So she abandons her own mother to do so.  There’s no “This will show them!” or “They don’t really want me!” mindset involved.  She leaves.  Period.  Just before Xmas, mind you.  Much darker than one might first realize, no?  Just like the rest of the story.

So please let Wendy not be fearful that she’ll grow up.  It’s in her nature to do so, just as it’s in Peter’s to not.

UPDATE:  So much to recall in Barrie!  When my friend and colleague Andrea Jones (author of The Hook & Jill Saga) read this, she reminded me that Barrie does indeed have a line which tells us Wendy did not fear the fate of adulthood.  Must have sunk in to me, even if I didn't recall it specifically:  You need not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to grow up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than other girls.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

LEFT with the RIGHT Answer

On which hand does the captain have a hook instead? 

This is one (among many) pet peeves I have regarding people’s perception of the Peter Pan story.  Seemingly invariably, people tend to be wrong.  Most likely because of the majority of Captain Hook depictions on stage and screen.  Usually they show the left hand with the claw.  Why?  Well, it’s likely that would-be Hooks can’t swordfight with their left hand.   So it’s a detail that’s switched.  The result?  The wrong image/idea becomes ingrained in people’s minds and pop culture.

But does it really matter?  Am I just nit-picking?
Far from it.  It’s the only valid choice.

My new (relatively, I’ve known him months now) friend Darling had not been sure which hand the infamous pirate lord sported his menacing iron.  But he didn’t want me to tell him.  He wanted to reason it out.  He DID!  Correctly.  And Darling doesn't even fully know the story!  Here’s what he surmised:

Assuming James to be part of the right-handed majority trait from the start, the hook would HAVE to be the right hand.  Why?  Darling figured that James fought valiantly with it against his foes, and therefore that hand would be prominently in position for hacking off. 

Besides this simple logic, there’s the bit that Darling does not yet know:  The issue of infliction rather than circumstance.  Cutting off someone’s hand is ‘wrong’ enough.  Yet when it’s the most often used hand, the one which allows someone to function (let alone swordfight), it’s something else entirely.  It’s not only problematic, but more humiliating.  Most of us realize that part of the reason Hook is bloodthirsty for Pan stems from the fact that the flying urchin mutilated him.  If Peter had chopped off his left, it would have been dreadful, but not as debilitating.  Pan knew that.  So whack went the hand on the right.  It doesn’t work the other way.

Think about it.

Side Note:  Jason Isaacs [the best Hook!] had been asked if he had swordfight training.  Of course, said he.  “With your left hand?” came the follow-up question.  And so, Isaacs learned to fight with his other hand instead.  Bravo.  Thanks for not “copping out”, director P.J. Hogan and Jason Isaacs!