Historical and symbolic information on residents and topographical features found in Neverland.
Crocodiles: Europeans were unfamiliar with this creature in ancient times, believing Egyptians worshiped crocodiles for their silence and ability to see all with eyes covered. For the Egyptians, crocodiles were associated with land, water, the underworld, primal abilities, and with both masculine and feminine powers. Icons Some gods would resemble or transform to crocodiles to devour wrongdoers and sinful souls. A crocodile’s large mouth was associated with the abyss. The dead were often depicted or said to appear as crocodiles. By medieval times crocodiles were used as an allegory for hypocrisy; their eyes were said to stream tears while eating prey.
Fairies: Usually identified as tiny creatures with a human form and delicate, light wings that protrude from their back. Part spirit, they dress in extravagant colors of green, gold, or blue. Small fairies are known for their virtuosity and kindness toward humans who are hospital to them, however they can also severely punish humans that insult or slight them even a tiny bit. Fairies are not as common in modern times because of the imbalance of nature and human influence, or in Peter Pan, because children are skeptical of the natural world and do not believe in fairies.
Peter Pan first came into contact with fairies in Kensington Gardens where he learned their language. Kensington Garden fairies live underground and are sometimes detected by children near the roots of trees. Fairies come out at dusk and play once the park’s gates close at “lockout time.” You can read Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens online for free.
Mermaids, both in Peter Pan and mythological history, are usually found on rocks above water looking at themselves in a mirror, combing their hair, or (just in Peter Pan) playing catch with balls created from rainbow bubbles. Historically, mermaids have beautiful voices not unlike sirens, and would sometimes lure sailors do their doom beneath the sea. if a mermaid was rescued she would potentially give an herbal cure for deathly illness, gifts, or warnings concerning storms.
Pirates: Piracy has been around for as long as the seas have been used for trading. Pirates roamed the Mediterranean sea for years before a Roman fleet went out specifically to destroy the fleets. Vikings are considered pirates as they ambushed towns and settlements. The Golden Age of Piracy from around the 1500s to 1700s is the best known and celebrated period. While pirates usually operated outside a country, European countries did sponsor certain pirates, known as privateers, to attack Spanish ships that would be carrying valuables such as gold. Though pirates operated (and still do operate!) on international waters without rules, each pirate crew followed democratic practices such as voting on certain issues and having assigned roles such as captains. Suspected pirates were persecuted during the this time under various Piracy Acts. The Piracy Act of 1721 was most brutal as anyone who traded with a pirate,supplied any goods to a pirate, or even corresponded with a pirate, would be treated and prosecuted as a pirate. Piracy died down circa 1730 not so much because of the punishments, but because factions shifted within European countries and peace treaties were signed. North American and Caribbean trading patterns changed as well from Europe’s peace treaties, and the rewards of pirating lessened.
Braves: Originally referred to as “Redskins,” and named “the Piccaninny tribe” in Peter Pan, Braves represent the natives of Neverland and are modeled off of stereotyped Native Americans. Both original terms are considered derogatory by today’s standards, however many theorists have defended Barrie’s choice to use these names. “Barrie exaggerates and so overdoes the rhetoric used to describe the natives of Neverland that–as some critics argue–he ends by undoing racial stereotyping (Tatar 69). Still, as Tatar argues, defending inherently racial expressions and depictions of Redskins/Natives/Piccaninnies as savage, violent, and other stereotypes is difficult to defend. Even though Edwardian England stopped claiming territories, ideas that Westerners were superior to native inhabitants of other lands had not been challenged. The U.S. too had not reconsidered their assumptions and beliefs on Native American culture.
Shadows: “Often seen in symbolic terms as a manifestation of the soul” (Tatar 26), shadows play outside the limits of a normal body through shape, visual illusion and emotional enhancement. Shadows are sometimes spirits of the dead who may feed upon the living, an alter ego. In Western culture, not having a shadow was a sign that one sold one’s soul to the devil. Psychology defines the shadow as “the intuitive, selfish side of the psyche, often repressed” (Tresidder 436).
Want to make a story through shadows? Create hand shadow puppets and let your imagination take hold. Some hand shadow puppets can be explored at the following two sites:
Wolves: may symbolize cruelty and cunning, but also courage and care. Wolves are also associated with victory and triumph, and can be found on some warrior emblems. Romans believed that the wolf was an omen of victory in battle if spotted before the enemy was confronted.
Trees: Each lost boy has a custom-fit tree that he slips down into the underground home. Trees represent growth, seasonal regeneration and death. In fairy tales, trees can either be protective or ominous.
The Island: Neverland is an island that takes its shape based on the dreams and imagination of children, and changes seasons based on Peter’s whereabouts. Maria Tatar links the island’s model on Tír and nÓg, an Ireland Otherworld found in mythology that cannot be located on a map and can only be reached by mortals through a fairy’s invitation.
Mermaid Lagoon: A lagoon is shallow water separated by sea by coral reefs or sandbars. Seas are traditionally considered the essential form of life, even moreso than earth. Seas can represent endless possibilities, transformation, rebirth, and the unconscious in psychology. In the novel Peter Pan, Mermaid’s Lagoon is found at times when “if you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire. But just before they go on fire you see the lagoon.”