Message Behind the Magic – Cinderella and Peter Pan – Part One
Message Behind the Magic – Cinderella and Peter Pan – Part Two
Note: Below is the script for my Peter Pan video analysis. Click here to view my Cinderella analysis. Enjoy!
“All children grow up,
Except one –”
Peter Pan is a prized fairytale about the parallel worlds of fantasy and reality, of the vast imagination and the societal norms, and of being a child and being an adult. I treasure this coming-of-age story since it challenges you to ask yourself, when is it time to abandon your child-like self and take your place in society? What does it mean to be an adult? What are the consequences of refusing to grow up? These are just a few central themes in this classic story of a boy who refuses to grow up. And as you suspected, we will explore these themes as we enjoy glimpses of the film.
Aunt Millicent is the enforcer of false ego. The false ego is primarily based on how others perceive you. It feeds on the need to be accepted based on shallow pieces of life like image, status, and power based on image and status. As the false ego queen, Aunt Millicent is the entity who appeals to the other characters’ insecurities, especially the father Mr. Darling.
Mr. Darling desires a picture perfect lifestyle, or to be blunt, he desires a lifestyle based on the false ego. Mr. Darling is a textbook definition of a conformist, so it is only natural for Mr. Darling to accept the aunt’s advice and rehearse ways to “climb the ladder” at his job at the bank. So I am sure you can guess what happens when Wendy contributes to Mr. Darling and his colleague’s physical downfall. Mr. Darling is instantly embarrassed. And yes! You should already know by now. Embarrassment is a direct emotion stimulated by that oh-so-sneaky false ego. It is a shallow emotion that creates shallow reactions. Observe Mr. Darling’s actions in this next scene.
After Wendy is told she will sleep in a room separate from her brothers, which is in an attempt to force her to become her father and aunt’s perception of a young lady, the king of childhood arrives.
Wendy is entranced by Peter’s whimsical spirit and innocent charm, which are the very traits that she cherishes in herself. Wendy is more than excited to be given the chance to visit Neverland. But notice a small detail when Wendy and her brothers learn to fly for the first time.
Remember the powerful saying from the very beginning of this film, “For what troubles a grown-up will never trouble a child.” Wendy and her brothers suddenly become concerned about leaving their parents, their dog, and their life in London. In this instant moment, Wendy and her brothers tap into their adult selves. They slightly understand that their child-like desires to explore and experience life beyond their own realm comes with a heavy price. They are concerned that their actions will cause stress for those who love them. They are concerned that they may never return to their conventional lives. Basically what I am trying to get at is, Wendy and her brothers are concerned that they may not turn into the type of grow-up individuals they are meant to be. However, Peter, who has abandoned his adult self with no regrets, used his persuasion to convince Wendy and her brothers to do the same. Peter promises pirates and mermaids, and many other fantastical elements that will guarantee non-stop entertainment. They cannot resist; Wendy and her brother turned to their innocence and never look back.
Now we are in Neverland. Neverland is exactly like Wonderland in Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. It is Peter Pan’s subconscious mind. It is his hopes, it is his dreams, it is his fears, and to sum it all up, it is him. Wendy is given the chance to visit Peter Pan’s mind and way of life, and since she is a storyteller, she is very fascinated with the opportunity.
In Neverland, we meet Peter Pan’s arch nemesis, Captain Hook. Captain Hook is the darker aspect of Peter Pan, but I will dive deeper into this fact once we reach the end of the review. Captain Hook recognizes that it is spring time in Neverland, which means Peter has returned home. On a deeper level, spring represents a new beginning, or in Peter’s case, a new idea that has promoted growth in his way of thinking.
Let’s take a quick detour. Think about the formation of Egyptian or Western astrology. Aries, which is the astrological sign of the time dates March 20th – April 19th, is the first sign on the charts. This may be strange on first sight since the New Year begins for us (Western Hemisphere) in January and for others in February, but take another moment to think. On the very basic level, astrology is based on the positioning of the sun. Since the sun rises during the spring, it only makes sense for Aries to be the first sign. In addition, spring is a time of new beginnings for animals coming out of hibernation. This is the season of heated romances and a bundle of new born babies seeing the world for the first time. Spring is a time for the plants and flowers to get a taste of warm air after a long period of a chilly autumn and a bitter winter. It is spring time in Neverland because Peter Pan is experiencing a new beginning, and the person who triggered this new beginning is, of course, Wendy. Wendy loves Peter’s untamed imagination and Peter loves Wendy’s enthusiasm and appreciation of all things fantastical. However, their love is not equal.
Wendy’s feelings are growing beyond Peter Pan’s comprehension. Though to give Peter some credit, he does sense that Wendy is acting less like Tinker Bell, his forever playful, fairy friend, and more like her own mother, Mrs. Darling. Peter then admits that he is just pretending, which means he is just having fun. Wendy is shocked by his statement and taps into of her adult self once again. She starts to realize that their relationship can never grow into the type of romantic exchange she sees in her parents. Wendy begins to realize the limitations of remaining a permanent child. She begins to understand the type of adult she wants to be, and she is noticing that what she wants does not match what Peter wants. Wendy is disappointed that Peter does not want to grow up with her, and through this disappoint, she begins to despise her feelings toward him. This is the perfect opportunity for Captain Hook to use Wendy’s dark feeling to his advantage.
Remember I said, Captain Hook is the dark side of Peter Pan? After all, it is no accident that Hook is in Peter’s Neverland…Peter’s subconscious mind. He represents Peter Pan’s potential future. He is an adult who never grew up and is consumed by his own limitations. Hook is a hateful, jealous, selfish being who will stop at nothing to end the light around him, especially Peter Pan.
Now Hook does like Wendy, but not the way that Peter does. Hook likes Wendy for selfish reasons. He wants Wendy to tell him stories in an attempt to make him feel whole just like she does with Peter and Peter’s band of followers, the Lost Boys. Wendy does accept Hook’s offer to become a mother pirate just to get back at Peter because she is still bitter. Through Hook’s manipulation of course, Wendy is still bitter about Peter’s lack of maturity. However, Wendy comes to her senses when she sees Peter in trouble. She helps Peter defeat his villain.
It is so rare for me to say this, but Peter and Wendy are granted a very genuine and a very real Happily Ever After. They learn from each other and become stronger because of it. Peter learns there are aspects of adulthood, like being open to change and considering others’ feelings, which can help him build a stronger Neverland (or mind). Wendy learns to keep her child-like self close as she transforms into the adult she was meant to be, a star novelist. She is growing into a woman of her own passion, talents, and will. Wendy’s new found strength even convinces Mr. Darling and Aunt Millicent to abandon their false egos and embrace their new beginnings with their adopted family, the Lost Boys. Wendy, I believe, learns the most from Peter. It is somewhat sad to conclude, but Peter and Wendy are officially a part of two different worlds, but it is apparent that they accept each other as strong friends.
And another beginning~
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