Typical Gender Stereotypes In Peter Pan By J. M. Barrier
The root of J. M. Barrie’s classic fairy tale Peter Pan can be traced back in time to 1904. The novel presents typical gender stereotypes regarding expected social norms in early twentieth-century in English families. Traditionally, men had to be tough, masculine, the achiever of success, and the provider of the family whereas women were defined to be soft, caring, and motherly. The book being released close after the Victorian era, the stereotypes are boldly displayed.
The story first starts off in the apartment of the darling family. Wendy the eldest of 3 sibling takes the role of a caretaker, looking after her two younger brothers. She is said to be a younger version of her mother. Her goals and ambitions are to continue protecting her brother while her younger brother John’s goal is to follow their fathers lead and take control of the family business. At the beginning of the novel when Peter Pan fly’s through the window into the nursery he rips his clothing trying to capture his shadow, and Wendy instantly offers to sew it back together presenting her motherly traits.
Peter pan bought Wendy back with him to Neverland as a mother figure for the “the lost boys” and to tell them stories. Throughout the novel we see Wendy looking out for her brothers and continually telling them to be cautious. The lost boys on the island are portrayed as brave and masculine little boys who love to hunt. In the novel, the boys only do the hunting, attacking, and fighting whereas the girls are either a motherly figure or a jealous mean girl drooling over Peter Pan.
Mr and Mrs.Darling are portrayed as the stereotypical married couple of their time. George Darling is the man of the house. He works in the city of London and provides for his family, while Mary Darling is an intelligent, polite and caring wife who spends her time at home looking after the children. George is seen as a protector and provider of the family, “Mr. Darling used to boast to Wendy that her mother not only loved him but respected him. He was one of those deep ones who know about stocks and shares.” meantime, Mary is an idealized mother. Staying home and taking care of the children. She dislikes going out or socializing unless she needs to like in chapter 2 for her husband’s job dinner. Mrs.Darling even acts like a mother to her husband who is a full grown man.
When Mr.Darling cannot tie his tie, his wife does it for him and calms him down like she would a small child. Out of frustration by his tie Mr.Darling says “I warn you of this, Mother, that unless this tie is around my neck we don’t go out to dinner tonight, and if I don’t go out to dinner tonight, I never go to the office again, and if I don’t go to the office again, you and I starve, our children will be flung into the streets.” Showing authority and instead of showing gratitude for her assistance Mr.Darling thanks his wife carelessly and expects her to fix all his problems. Mr.Darling got rattled up due to the lack of attention and respect his family was paying him so he demanded Nana the family dog who takes care of the children to leave. “He was determined to show who the master was in the house. He dragged (Nana) from the house.” ( Motherhood in Peter Pan seems to be the most valuable and respected role women can have.
Tinkerbell is intensely in love with Peter Pan. She is loyal and obeys all his requests and will not let anyone jeopardize their relationship which results in her toxic and envious behavior towards any female that Peter Pan near to. Tinkerbell is manipulative and will commit any heinous act required to get what she wants (Peter Pan). When Peter Pan bought Wendy back with him to Neverland to take care of the “Lost boys” Tinkerbell manipulated the lost boys into attacking Wendy and preventing her from reaching Neverland safely all due to her jealousy and love for Peter Pan. At the end of the novel when Tinkerbell meets Captain Hook he pretends to side with her to get the hidden location of Neverland. “I hear she (Wendy) has come between you and Peter, but we mustn’t judge Peter so harsh, it’s that Wendy.” – Captain Hook indicating that it’s always the fault of the female. Once Tinkerbell revealed the hidden location, Captain Hooks trapped her in a glass cage. Tinkerbell regretful of her actions she was willing to die for Peter Pan to prove her loyalty to him.
Peter Pan also known as the boy who never wants to grow up is the main character and hero of the novel. Despite his childish and immature personality, he is ironically a well respected male leader and a father figure to the lost boys. Peter Pan often acts without thinking of the consequences his actions may have. For example when he barged into the nursery of the Darling family waking up all the kids. Peter also has authoritative traits like when he gripped Wendy and began to draw her near the window showing everyone who’s in charge. Peter pan even acknowledged that “there was never a cockier boy than me.” The ending of the novel was not unexpected as Peter Pan saved the day by rescuing everyone from walking the plank by the malicious Captain Hook and is perceived as the hero.
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