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.

No comments: