Explorations of Childhood Gender-Fluidity and the Subversion of Masculinity in Peter Pan
1 online resource (95 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
In declaring Peter Pan as the only child who will not grow up, J.M. Barrie has developed a character with an unmatched capacity for subverting masculine forms of normalization, social acceptance, and gender appropriation. Through Peter’s consistent power through performativity as well as J.M. Barrie’s own depictions of the adult male, Peter Pan demonstrates a succinct critique of the male at the dawn of the twentieth century. This thesis explores how Peter Pan subverts concepts of cultural construction, the performance of childhood gender, and the progress of maturation from the gender- fluid child to the fully gendered adult. The systems of power which seek to normalize a child’s gender manifest through masculine institutions – namely marriage, family, church, education, and the financial system – and force the abandonment of childhood and the acceptance of normative gender. Peter Pan, as eternal child and innate fantasy, holds singular agency over this process of maturation and is able to playfully perform his way out of heteronormative maturation. J.M. Barrie presents two ideas of death in the novel: a passage from childhood to adulthood, and physical death. Mr. Darling, espousing the masculine institutions of marriage, family, and economy, illustrates an imprisonment of the male to the first death, each child is destined to pass away into a man. Captain Hook symbolically represents the institutions of the church and education system, and tries to usher Peter’s demise, yet meets his own physical doom. Peter, however, continues to show mastery of performance and gender-fluidity as eternal youth.
GENDERHETERONORMATIVITYJ.M. BARRIEMASCULINITYPERFORMATIVITYPETER PAN
Basu, BalakaGargano, Elizabeth
Thesis (M.A.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2018.
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