Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

Ronald Granofsky

Language

English

Abstract

James Matthew Barrie, a Scottish novelist and dramatist, created a large and successful body of work during his lifetime. While Barrie's oeuvre includes over fifty fictional works, his reputation as a writer is based almost entirely on his text Peter Pan. Recently there has been a vast interest in Peter Pan (1911), an interest that is reflected by the numerous fictional and cinematic adaptations that have appeared over the last few decades. These modem adaptations of Barrie's work consistently simplify Peter Pan by disregarding the homosocial aspects of the text and presenting the narrative with heterosexual denotations that are non-existent in the original. For example, P. J. Hogan's film Peter Pan (2003) exaggerates the Peter and Wendy plot to establish an archetypal-like romance. Hogan inserts a romantic plotline between Peter and Wendy that does not exist in Barrie's original text. Most modem adaptations also simplify the narrative by removing the issues ofheterosexual uncertainty and masculine insecurity, which are prevalent themes in Barrie's original. In Walt Disney's Peter Pan (1953), the male protagonists are presented as highly masculine individuals, particularly Peter who is given a deep voice and adult-like features. By ignoring the issues of masculinity and male homosociality, these modem adaptations fail to showcase Barrie's social criticism on the negative effects of Edwardian constructions of gender identity. Although the interest in Peter Pan narrative is also reflected by the recent increase in Barrie scholarship, many ofthese critics also heterosexualize Barrie's work and ignore the issues of masculinity that saturate the Peter Pan stories. Most critics focus entirely on the 1911 novel Peter Pan and ignore the significance of other Peter Pan stories such as, Sentimental Tommy (1896), Tommy and Grizel (1900), The Little White Bird (1901), and Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (1928). A study of Barrie's earlier Peter Pan stories demonstrates Barrie's social criticism of the nineteenth-century masculine identity.

McMaster University Library

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