"Peter Pan", in full "Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up" is a play written by Scottish playwright James M. Barrie, first produced in 1904. Although the title character first appeared in Barrie’s novel "The Little White Bird" (1902), he is best known as the protagonist of "Peter Pan". The work added a new character to the mythology of the English-speaking world in the figure of Peter Pan, the eternal boy. It is a tribute to Barrie's brother who died in childhood and is eternally young.
"Peter Pan" is an exciting story, atypical for fairytale because of the absence of a moral lesson that should be passed on to the children, as in every classical fairytale.
The author isn’t giving us any clue about how the children should behave or what is expected from them. Quite the opposite, he encounters us with a character who is refusing to grow up. Peter Pan doesn’t miss growing up, he finds it as a way for children to become boring and unimaginative.
With all that taken to our knowledge, the main character of the story, Peter Pan, is not an entirely a positive character. He is not good or noble, rather he is boastful, conceited and loving only himself. Likewise, the fairy who follows him is jealous and prickly, without any resemblance with the other good fairies, as they are usually expected to be like in fairytales. We also get to meet the lost boys who feel no sorrow for being lost, enjoying the freedom of living in Neverland among mermaids, Indians, and pirates.
The theme about never-ending childhood as described by author James M. Barrie is quite innovative in children’s literature. The main character who isn’t growing up is actually an allegory for author’s irony directed against children’s literature in general.
The play begins in the nursery of the Darling household in London, where Wendy, John, and Michael are going to bed when they are surprised by the arrival of Peter Pan and the fairy Tinker Bell. Peter has come to retrieve his shadow, which he had previously lost there. Peter reveals that he lives in the Never Land as captain of the Lost Boys, children who fell out of their baby carriages when their nurses were looking the other way. Invited by Peter to come to the Never Land to tell stories to the Lost Boys, Wendy and her brothers fly with Peter to an island populated by, in addition to the Lost Boys, villainous pirates led by Peter’s sworn enemy, Captain Hook; a crocodile that had been fed Hook’s arm by Peter Pan and wishes to eat the rest of him (but has also swallowed a clock, the ticking of which can be heard when the beast is near); and Tiger Lily, leader of a band of “redskin braves” who is also in competition with Wendy and the jealous Tinker Bell for Peter’s affection. Peter, however, shows little reciprocal interest. Magical adventures and pirate attacks take place. At length the Darling children decide to return home, taking the Lost Boys with them, but they are captured by the pirates. The boys are being made to walk the plank and Wendy is tied to the mast, but Peter Pan rescues them, and the boys kill all the pirates. At last the children return to London, leaving Peter Pan to his perpetual boyhood.