Not being or belonging: Peter Pan's hidden evils



Publication Details

Fitzsimmons, P. R. (2009). Not being or belonging: Peter Pan's hidden evils. In C. P. Burns (Eds.), Mis/Representing Evil (pp. 297-314). Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press.


Considered a children s picture book classic, J.M. Barrie s Peter Pan script and subsequent versions (including Disney s platinum boxed DVD set) had their origin in Barrie s earlier text entitled Little White Bird. This latter text is now recognised as an autobiographical treatise on paedophilia in general and Barrie s obsession with one young boy in particular. Literary myth has also suggested that this text appeared in a men s only magazine, which had paedophiliac leanings, as perhaps the first sealed centrefold. With the exception of Rose s1 brief mention of this publication which fits into her belief that in Pan - murkiness is not so much hidden underneath as running all along the seams - few analytic readings of Barrie s text deal with the transtextual nature of Peter Pan or how it relates to the concept of evil. Using the principles of Lakoff s - folk theory of language -, this paper argues that because Peter Pan arose in a time and place when Freudian psychology was on the rise, and when Barrie had begun to wrestle with what he perceived to be the social epitome of evil, Peter Pan represents a polyvalent autobiography of liminality, in which the surface plot is underpinned by - where the elements of culture and society are released from their customary configurations and recombined in, bizarre or terrifying ways -. In other words, Barrie's language use represents - heavy words lightly thrown - , an untapped definition of evil couched in the language of a children s text.

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