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Wendy Moira Angela Darling
Peter Pan, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up (1904)
In the novel Peter Pan, 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, 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.
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 fantasizing. 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 indefinitely.
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.
Wendy eventually learns to accept the virtues of adulthood, 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 (readers 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).
Wendy is generally depicted as a pretty girl with soft features, twinkling eyes and either blonde, brown or black hair. While Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell are portrayed as the figures of exotic, magical beauty, Wendy represents the conventional, flirtatious young mother figure, and ultimately, it is she who captures the attention of Peter Pan.
In the original novel, 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.
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.
Public Domain Appearances
- Peter and Wendy
- Wendy was inspired by Barrie's earlier character, Maimie Mannering, even though the story featuring Maimie wasn't published until two years after the play starring Wendy.
- The Peter Pan play is not public domain in England or the United States. Special legislation was passed that gave the play a perpetual copyright. The characters, however, are public domain (as are the novels).