Literary Devices in Peter Pan
Barrie juxtaposes our ordinary world against the fantastical, playground landscape of Neverland. This vivid imagery demonstrates how Neverland symbolically represents childhood imagination. The text’s fantastical imagery and language creates a sense of wonder or awe in the audience or reader. In the telling of the story, the narrator repeatedly breaks the fourth wall of the novel to talk directly to the reader. This creates a sense of oral storytelling; as if the reader is engaged in conversation with their audience. While the tone throughout the narrative is largely playful, the reader is left with a subtle sense of tragedy at its conclusion.
Literary Devices Examples in Peter Pan:
Chapter 2 - The Shadow
"Michael, who was of a suspicious nature..." See in text (Chapter 2 - The Shadow)
Being suspicious is a characterization of a child’s nature, and Barrie uses adjectives to characterize how adults differ from children. Notice how the adjectives change for characters as the story progresses. Barrie describes Michael with the most childlike characteristics because he is the youngest of the Darling children.
Chapter 3 - Come Away, Come Away!
"I solemnly promise that it will all come right in the end..." See in text (Chapter 3 - Come Away, Come Away!)
Again the narrator breaks the fourth wall to enhance the oral-storytelling tone of the book. In this instance, the narrator ensures the reader that “it will all come right in the end” because it is meant to be a children's tale and such stories typically have happy endings.
"EMBONPOINT. [plump hourglass figure]..." See in text (Chapter 3 - Come Away, Come Away!)
Barrie includes short definitions of advanced words or words with multiple meanings to ensure Peter Pan is accessible to younger readers.
Chapter 7 - The Home Under The Ground
"As time wore on did she think much about the beloved parents she had left behind her?..." See in text (Chapter 7 - The Home Under The Ground)
This is another instance where Barrie uses a conversational tone to enhance the oral storytelling style of the writing. By using a conversational structure, we as readers question whether Wendy is thinking about her parents or enjoying her adventures in Neverland. The proposition of this question also calls into question if eternal childhood in Neverland is preferable to growing up with parents and a home.
Chapter 13 - Do You Believe In Fairies?
"It was Tink..." See in text (Chapter 13 - Do You Believe In Fairies?)
Barrie withholds information in the story to support his oral storytelling tone. First, since it’s meant to be a bedtime story, withholding information builds anticipation and excitement for children listening to their parents read it.
Chapter 14 - The Pirate Ship
"This inscrutable man never felt more alone than when surrounded by his dogs..." See in text (Chapter 14 - The Pirate Ship)
This directly contrasts with the Darling children. They have grown up with Nana as their nanny, so they feel extremely comforted and cared for when around dogs. Barrie includes this line to draw more contrast between the story’s antagonist and protagonists.