Wendy Darling

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Wendy Moira Angela Darling
Peter Pan character
Wendy Darling.PNG
1907 illustration by Oliver Herford of Wendy and the Lost Boys
First appearance Peter Pan (1904)
Created by J. M. Barrie
Information
Gender Female
Children Jane (daughter)
Relatives John Darling (brother)
Michael Darling (brother)
Margaret (grandchild)
Nationality English

Wendy Moira Angela Darling is a fictional character and the female protagonist of Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie, and in most adaptations in other media. Her exact age is not specified in the original play or novel by Barrie, though she is implied to be 12 or 13 years old or younger, as she is "just Peter's size" and he still has all his baby teeth. Wendy expresses an innocent adoration for Peter as soon as they meet, and is honest to herself and company throughout the entire book, play or film. As a girl who is beginning to "grow up", she stands in contrast to Peter Pan, a boy who refuses to do so, the major theme of the Peter Pan stories. In the beginning, Wendy hesitates to escape to the Neverland, to take care of her brothers and accompany her mother, but in time, she shows passion for magical events and adventures.

Background[edit]

In the novel Peter Pan, and its cinematic adaptations, she is an Edwardian schoolgirl. The novel states that she attends a "kindergarten school" with her younger brothers, meaning a school for pre-adolescent children. Like Peter, in many adaptations of the story she is shown to be on the brink of adolescence. She belongs to a middle class London household of that era, and is the daughter of George Darling, a short-tempered and pompous bank/office worker, and his wife, Mary. Wendy shares a nursery room with her two brothers, Michael and John. However, in the Disney version, her father decides that "it's high time she had a room of her own" and kicks her out of the nursery for "stuffing the boys' heads with a lot of silly stories", but changes his mind at the end of the film after he returns home with his wife after the party.

Character[edit]

Wendy is the most developed character in the story of Peter Pan, and is often considered the central protagonist. She is proud of her own childhood and enjoys telling stories and fantasising. She has a distaste for adulthood, acquired partly by the example of it set by her father, whom she loves but fears due to his somewhat violent fits of anger. Her ambition early in the story is to somehow avoid growing up. She is granted this opportunity by Peter Pan, who takes her and her brothers to Neverland, where they can remain young forever.

Ironically, Wendy finds that this experience brings out her more adult side. Peter and the tribe of Lost Boys who dwell in Neverland want her to be their "mother" (a role they remember only vaguely), a request she tentatively accedes to, performing various domestic tasks for them. There is also a degree of innocent or implied flirtation with Peter (thereby forming a love triangle with Peter's sometimes-jealous fairy friend Tinker Bell). In the Disney version she also becomes jealous of Princess Tiger Lily after the Princess kisses Peter. (In fact, she becomes so jealous she turns on her heel and marches back to Hangman's Tree. In the original script of Barrie's book, Peter and Wendy, Wendy asks Peter, towards the end of the book, if he would like to speak to her parents about 'a very sweet subject', implying that she would like him to speak to her parents about someday marrying her).

Wendy eventually learns that adulthood has its rewards, and returns to London, having decided not to postpone maturity any longer.

In An Afterthought written by JM Barrie and staged in 1908, which was included in the novel published in 1911 and later incorporated into some productions of the play, Wendy has grown up and married (it is not known whom she marries), and has a daughter, Jane. When Peter returns looking for Wendy (not understanding that she would no longer be a young girl, as time escapes him while he is in the Neverland), he meets Jane; Wendy lets her daughter go off with him, apparently trusting her to make the same choices. The same scenario later plays out between Jane's daughter, Wendy's granddaughter, Margaret. (We don't actually see this happen. Barrie states [at the very end of the book] that Jane has a daughter, Margaret, who will one day go to the Neverland with Peter Pan, and that the same thing will happen with Margaret's future daughter and future granddaughter, and on and on, for as long as children believe in fairies.)

Physical appearance[edit]

Barrie does not give any description of Wendy, but she is generally depicted as a pretty girl with either blond or brown hair. While Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell are usually portrayed as exotic or magical figures, Wendy represents the conventional young mother figure who ultimately captures Peter Pan's attention. Wendy is portrayed in the Disney movie with light brown hair, wearing a blue nightdress and a blue ribbon in her hair.

Relationships[edit]

In the original novel and the 1953 Disney movie, Wendy has an easy relationship with her mother, Mary Darling. Her relationship with her father, George Darling, is more difficult as he is always serious and does not like Wendy telling stories to her brothers that he considers childish, threatening to move Wendy to her own room. However, Wendy and her father do love each other and when Wendy comes back from Neverland, she seems to have a better understanding of her father.

Wendy and her brothers, John Darling and Michael Darling, to whom she tells stories, have a good relationship. She shows great concern for them and is very protective towards them. In the 1953 cartoon movie, she makes John and Michael realize that they need their real mother and persuades them to return home after their adventures in Neverland.

Wendy believes in Peter Pan and shares his stories with her brothers every night. When Wendy and Peter meet for the first time, she begins to care about him too. Romantic feelings between them are hinted at, but never articulated. In the 2003 film, the feeling is mutual and Wendy shows her love when she gives Peter a hidden kiss in order to save him from Captain Hook. They also have a special moment in the cartoon sequel to the 1953 film, Return to Neverland, when Peter and a grown up Wendy are reunited for the first time in years and they say goodbye for the final time. In Hook, an older Wendy hints she still has feelings for Peter (who has grown up and married her great granddaughter, Moira).

The name Wendy[edit]

The first name Wendy was very uncommon in the Anglosphere before J. M. Barrie's work and its subsequent popularity has led some to credit him with "inventing" it. Although the name Wendy was used to a limited extent as the familiar-form of the Welsh name Gwendolyn, it is thought that Barrie took the name from a phrase used by Margaret Henley, a five-year-old girl whom Barrie befriended in the 1890s, daughter of his friend William Henley.[1] She called Barrie her "friendy-wendy", which she pronounced as "fwendy-wendy".[2][3] She died at the age of five and was buried, along with her family, in Cockayne Hatley.[2][3]

In Great Britain, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, children's playhouses are commonly known as Wendy houses.

Portrayal in popular culture[edit]

In film[edit]

Wendy Darling as portrayed in Disney's Peter Pan.
  • Peter Pan (1924 silent live-action film) – Mary Brian. The actress was 18, but publicity materials claimed she was 16.
  • Peter Pan (1953 animated film) – Kathryn Beaumont. Disney's Wendy is portrayed as being a mother first and foremost, with all the classical ideas of how to be a mother and care for people. She appears bossy but well-meaning, and slightly taken with Peter. Like her original character in the novel, she cares about Peter and about her brothers well-being. She also appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meetable character.
  • Hook (1991 live-action film) – Dame Maggie Smith plays an elderly Wendy, who is being honoured for her lifetime of work in finding homes for orphans. She was also a former neighbour of J. M. Barrie, who loved Wendy's stories to her siblings and wrote them in books. Her granddaughter Moira is the wife of Peter Banning (Robin Williams), the former Peter Pan who has grown up and forgotten his life in Neverland. During a flashback to Peter's childhood, a younger Wendy is played by Gwyneth Paltrow. (Peter's and Moira's daughter, Wendy's great-granddaughter, is Maggie, a common pet name for Margaret, the name of Jane's daughter, Wendy's granddaughter, in the original book by Barrie.) During the movie, it is implied that Wendy once and still does have feelings for the now-grown-up Peter.
  • Return to Never Land (2002 animated film) – Kath Soucie voices a grown-up Wendy who has married a man named Edward and has raised her children on tales of Peter Pan. Her role is minimal in this portrayal, but at the end of the film she is briefly, but happily, reunited with Peter after so many years.
  • Peter Pan (2003 live-action film) – Rachel Hurd-Wood. In this film, as in Barrie's original treatment, Wendy easily falls into a mothering role with her male companions, but is conflicted by her romantic feelings towards Peter, who reacts with incomprehension and annoyance. She is also more adventurous than in most adaptations, taking part in the conflict with the pirates including sword fighting. The film also develops Barrie's hint that Wendy has incipient romantic feelings for the more mature and virile Hook, showing that she is growing up in spite of herself.
  • Tinker Bell (2008 animated film) – America Young. In Tinker Bell, Wendy was the baby from which Tinker Bell came. Wendy is shown as the recipient of a long-forgotten ballerina music box that Tinker Bell has repaired. Wendy is much younger in appearance than in 1953's Peter Pan.

In television[edit]

  • In the first two telecasts of the 1954 Broadway musical version of the play (1955 and 1956), Wendy was portrayed by Kathleen Nolan, who had also played her onstage. In the 1960 telecast of the musical, Ms. Nolan was replaced by Maureen Bailey, whose only major television role this was.
  • In both these musical versions, Wendy as an adult was played by a different actress.
  • The Disney version of Wendy was featured as one of the guests in House of Mouse; however, despite the fact that Kathryn Beaumont was credited as providing Alice's voice, Wendy said nothing.
  • Wendy is a recurring character in the second and third season of Once Upon a Time and was interpreted by Freya Tingley. In the Once Upon A Time episode Second Star to the Right, she is portrayed by actress Freya Tingley. Wendy finds Rumpelstiltskin's son, Baelfire after he arrives in the real world, who broke into her parents house for food. Realizing that he is an orphan and hungry, she allows him to stay in her parents home. She hides him in the nursery and brings him food for a few weeks until her parents discover him. After they let him stay, Wendy tells Baelfire about a shadow she keeps on seeing. Baelfire warns her to stay away from it, since he comes from a world with magic and lost everything to magic. She eventually goes with the shadow to Neverland. Wendy returns the next morning and reunites with Baelfire, telling him about Neverland and the Lost Boys. However, she reveals that the shadow takes only boys to Neverland and never lets them leave, and that the shadow only brought her back because she is a girl. She also tells him that the shadow will come back to take her brothers, which Baelfire promises he won't let happen. Wendy, Baelfire, and her brothers, John and Michael, make a stand against the shadow the next night but are quickly outmatched by it. Baelfire sacrifices himself to the shadow in order to protect Wendy's brothers, despite she doesn't want him to. Wendy watches in horror as Baelfire is take away to Neverland.
In Season 3, it is revealed that Wendy made an attempt to rescue Baelfire from Neverland but was captured by Peter Pan and taken prisoner. Peter Pan uses Wendy as leverage against her younger brothers, who do his dirty work now. They are sent on a mission to find Henry and eventually drive into Storybrooke. They later try to get Pandora's box to stop Belle and Ariel because they must do Peter's bidding or Wendy will die. However, they end up trusting Belle as she sends the box to Rumpelstiltskin. Wendy is used to trick Henry with false information by Peter Pan, who wishes to have Henry believe in him. When Emma, Snow White, The Evil Queen and the rest of their group reunites, they find Wendy held captive in her wooden cage. Baelfire frees her, and she expresses her feelings with him. Wendy tells them that Peter Pan was lying to them, and if Henry dies, Peter becomes immortal. After Pan's "supposed" defeat, Wendy travels with Emma, Snow White, Prince Charming, The Evil Queen, Baelfire, Rumpelstiltskin, Killian, Henry, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys aboard the Jolly Roger for Storybrooke. Wendy happily reunites with her brothers, who also meet Baelfire again after so many years. Wendy and her brothers decide to head back "home", to modern London.

In other literary works[edit]

  • In the Peter and the Starcatchers series, Wendy Darling is the daughter of Molly Aster, whom Peter has encountered while first discovering Neverland.

In anime and manga[edit]

  • In the anime series Peter Pan no Boken (Adventures of Peter Pan), which is a part of the World Masterpiece Theater, a rather tomboyish Wendy has a pivotal role in the second part of the series, which depicts a completely original story where Peter Pan, the Lost Kids and the Darling siblings must save a young witch named Luna from the clutches of her evil grandmother, the witch Sinistra, and Wendy is the one who truly saves her. She's also shown directly antagonizing Captain Hook when he kidnaps her in the first part, yelling at him and even impersonating his mother at some point to manipulate his fears against him.

In music[edit]

  • The Wendy Trilogy, a feminist-minded retelling of the Peter Pan story as a three-song cycle, shows Wendy accepting, rather than refusing, Captain Hook's offer to make her a pirate, and subsequently becoming mistress of the Jolly Roger.

In video games[edit]

  • The Disney version of Wendy is featured in the video-game Kingdom Hearts. In the game, Captain Hook believes she is a princess of Heart and is displeased when it turns out she's not.

In comic and graphic novel[edit]

Non-fiction[edit]

  • Dr. Dan Kiley's book, The Wendy Dilemma (1984), advises women romantically involved with "Peter Pans" how to improve their relationships.[4] This book is a sequel to The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up,[5] about individuals (usually male) with underdeveloped maturity.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Birkin, Andrew. J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys, Yale University Press, 2003.
  2. ^ a b "The History of Wendy". Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  3. ^ a b Winn, Christopher. I Never Knew That About England. 
  4. ^ Kiley, Dr. Dan (1984). The Wendy Dilemma: When Women Stop Mothering Their Men. Arbor House Publishing. ASIN B000O6BTHI. ISBN 9780877956259. 
  5. ^ Kiley, Dr. Dan (1983). The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up. Avon Books. ISBN 0380688905. 

External links[edit]