Recommended reading: Kelly, R. (1999) Lewis Carroll. Twayne’s English Authors Online. [online] Available: Gale Group – Literature Resource Center. Chap. 3: “Dream Child” Littlefield, H.M. (1964) The Wizard of Oz: parable on populism. American Quarterly. [online] 16(1): Available: JSTOR Routh, C. (2001) “Man for the Sword and for the Needle She”: illustrations of Wendy’s role in J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. Children’s literature in Education. 32(1): 57-74
Interpretations: Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz These 3 books are classics. They are 3 of the most popular, enduring and influential stories in the whole canon of English language children’s literature. And each of them is used to demonstrate just about every possible meaning analysts can think of: literary, political, psychological, social, aesthetic, biographical, mythical, philosophical, sexual, religious, historical …. Think of the 4 approaches … then multiply by lots!
F’rinstance Peter Pan – a feminist perspective on the role of Wendy Routh, C. (2001) “Man for the Sword and for the Needle She”: illustrations of Wendy’s role in J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. Children’s literature in Education. 32(1): Note: Barrie’s own uncertain relationships with his mother, his wife, and Sylvia Llewellyn Davies. Victorian definition of women as home maker Sewing: Barrie’s mother, Mrs Darling, Wendy as child, Wendy as adult Wendy’s stated role in Neverland – nurturing the Lost Boys: story-telling, tucking in, cleaning, sewing
The feminine role in Peter Pan Peter’s natural transition of desire from mother to lover is arrested because he refuses to grow up. So Wendy becomes mother to him, not love interest. Confused messages, though, as Tinker Bell is the jealous other. Hook is the adulthood – the father figure - against which Peter fights, but is also the rival for Wendy (Note: pantomime tradition of Hook/Mr Darling) Wendy is needed to restore natural order to the boys and to Neverland. Is this an empowering role for the Female, or a subservient one?
And then … A socio-psychological perspective on Alice in Wonderland Kelly, R. (1999) Lewis Carroll. Twayne’s English Authors Online. [online] Available: Gale Group – Literature Resource Center. Chap. 3: “Dream Child” Note: Inversion and mirror images Child’s interpretation of the intricacies of the adult world Literal and deliberate mis-interpretations Growing up?
Or perhaps … A political interpretation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Littlefield, H.M. (1964) The Wizard of Oz: parable on populism. American Quarterly. [online] 16(1): Available: JSTOR Note: Baum worked in a small prairie town ravaged by drought and economic hardship 1891 he moved to Chicago and wrote WWoOz while being involved in political campaigns over corrupt politicians and economic moves on the gold standard. Wicked witches in East and West, Yellow brick road and silver slippers, country vs city, flying monkeys
Direct symbolism Fantasy literature entails the creation of worlds, of universes and the making of reality (and its own logic) But it must begin and end here, in our world Symbols and allusions - things representing other things and carrying their meaning Emotions and attitudes - the feelings, choices and reactions of the people Concepts and Ideas - what we are given to think about when the story is over