Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In the nursery of the Darling home, a dog is the nurse, or nanny. Perhaps that is one reason there is so much joy there. Nurse Nana bathes the three children and gives them their suppers and in all ways watches over them. One night, Mrs. Darling, on Nana’s night off, sits with the children as they sleep. Drowsing, she is awakened by a slight draft from the window, and, looking around, she sees a strange boy in the room. She screams, and Nana, who has just returned home, lunges for the intruder, but the boy leaps out the window, leaving only his shadow behind. He had been accompanied also by a ball of light, but it too has escaped. Mrs. Darling rolls up the boy’s shadow and puts it in a drawer, thinking that the boy will come back for it sometime soon and thus may be caught.
When Mr. Darling is told of the incident he considers it a little silly; at present he is more concerned with finding a different nurse for the children. Believing that the dog, Nana, is getting too much authority in the household, Mr. Darling drags her out of the house and locks her up.
Mr. and Mrs. Darling go out the following night, leaving only a maid to look in on the children occasionally. After the lights are out and the children are asleep, the intruder returns. The boy, whose name is Peter Pan, is accompanied by Tinker Bell, a fairy who appears as a ball of light. Peter finds his shadow after searching in all the drawers in the nursery, but in his excitement he...
(The entire section is 1279 words.)
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Act I Summary
Peter Pan opens in the nursery of the Darling family household in Bloomsbury, London. The family is somewhat impoverished, employing Nana, a Newfoundland dog, as the three children’s nurse. When the play’s action begins, Nana is putting the youngest Darling child, Michael to bed, while Mrs. Darling prepares to go out for dinner with her husband. Wendy and John, the eldest and middle, respectively, play at being their parents for her. While Nana sees to the children. Mrs. Darling confides to her husband that she saw the face of a little boy at the window trying to get in and that she has seen it before. She almost caught him once but only managed to snare his shadow, which she has kept rolled up in a drawer. Mrs. Darling also describes a ball of light accompanying him.
Mr. Darling declares that he is sick of Nana working in the nursery and takes her to be tied up in the yard. Wendy hears Nana’s barking, noting that the sound is one of danger and warning, not unhappiness. Despite her reservations about leaving her brood, Mrs. Darling tucks the children in bed and departs, turning out their light as she goes. Right after she leaves, Tinkerbell and Peter Pan enter, looking for Peter’s shadow. Peter finds the shadow but cannot reattach it. His efforts awaken Wendy. She learns that he does not have a mother and that she must never touch him. She finally realizes that he cannot reattach his shadow, and she sews it back on for him. She tries to...
(The entire section is 407 words.)
Act II Summary
In Never Land, the Lost Boys wait for Peter to return. They discuss their fear of pirates and how they do not remember their mothers. The pirates approach, lead by Captain Hook, and the boys hide in the trees. Captain Hook orders his crew to look for the boys, especially their leader, Peter Pan, because he cut Hook’s arm off and the Captain wants revenge. Hook decides to catch the boys by leaving poisoned cake out that will kill them. Tiger Lily and her band of Indians make a brief appearance, and they see the pirates. They decide that they will scalp them when they catch them.
Following the pirates’ departure and Peter and the Darling children’s arrival, the Lost Boys emerge from their hiding places. Tinkerbell tricks the boys into shooting an arrow at Wendy. Wendy falls to the ground and seems dead. Peter lands. Wendy is very much alive: the arrow hit the acorn button Peter gave her. Tinkerbell is unhappy to learn that Wendy is alive, and Peter sends her away.
Peter decides that they will build a house around the still-prostrate Wendy. While Peter and the Lost Boys gather material, Michael and John land. They cannot believe where they are, and Peter shortly employs them in the building of their house. Once the structure is built around her, Wendy wakes up. Everyone begs her to be their mother. After a moment of hesitation, she agrees and begins to tell them the story of Cinderella.
(The entire section is 250 words.)
Act III Summary
Peter and the boys play in the Mermaid’s Lagoon, trying unsuccessfully to catch a mermaid to show Wendy. Peter tells Wendy about Marooners’ Rock, where sailors are left to die by drowning in the tide. The boys sense danger, and they all hide underwater. Two of Hook’s pirates show up with a captive Tiger Lily and her Indians. They leave their captives on the rock. Peter imitates Captain Hook’s voice and tells the pirates to untie their prisoners. The pirates follow his orders and release Tiger Lily, but the real Captain Hook arrives.
Hook tells his pirates that the boys have found a mother and that all is lost. One of Hook’s men suggests that they capture Wendy and all the boys, kill the boys, then make Wendy their mother. Hook learns of the voice, Peter’s, that commanded them to free Tiger Lily and communicates with it. Peter tells Hook that he is Hook. The real Hook asks many questions, but cannot figure the situation out. Finally, Peter tells Hook who he is, and leads an attack on the pirates. All the boys, except Peter, manage to capture the pirates dinghy and float away. Wendy and Peter are left stuck on the rock. The tide starts to come in, and Wendy makes her escape by holding on to the tail of a kite. Peter stays behind, hiding in a floating bird’s nest.
(The entire section is 238 words.)
Act IV Summary
All of the children manage to make it back to their underground home. Tiger Lily and her Indians guard the children from the pirates above ground. Wendy has done the laundry and is serving the boys, save Peter, a pretend meal, as is done in New Land. The boys bicker among themselves, and it is revealed that Wendy regards Peter as the father of the bunch.
Peter returns and greets the Indians, thanking them for guarding his home. While the boys get ready for bed, Peter is concerned that it is only ‘‘pretend’’ that he is the father. When Wendy questions him, he tells her that he feels like her son, not the father to her mother. The boys return and under Wendy’s orders, climb into bed. The story she tells them is about her own home—her father, mother, and Nana—and her brothers immediately recognize it. Wendy ends the story by saying that she knows the mother is leaving the window open for the children, hoping they will return and fly through it. But when she implies that she and her brothers will eventually return, Peter is unhappy. Despite this, Wendy decides that they will return to their parents. She asks Peter to make the appropriate arrangements.
Tinkerbell is to guide the Darlings home, but she tries to refuse the task. The boys beg Wendy not to leave, but she quiets them by telling them to come back with her. Her parents, she is sure, will adopt the Lost Boys. Peter refuses to join them, though Wendy wants him to come along as...
(The entire section is 338 words.)
Act V Summary
Act V, scene 1
On the pirate ship, Hook is happy, convinced that Peter is dead from the poison he left. Hook calls up the prisoners, telling them that six will walk the plank but two can become his cabin-boys. The boys refuse to work for him, and Wendy is brought up to witness their deaths.
Unbeknownst to Hook, Peter is swimming the waters around the ship, pretending to be a crocodile (the animal Hook most fears). Tinkerbell’s light flits around, distracting the pirates, while Peter climbs aboard and hides in the cabin. Hook orders one of his men to fetch the cat, but the pirate does not return for he is killed in the cabin. Hook sends several other men inside, and they are all killed. This scares the pirates and they believe they are doomed. The boys are driven into the cabin, Peter releases their manacles, and they find hiding places from which to attack.
Hook decides to throw Wendy overboard to change their luck. Peter reveals himself then, and the boys attack. The battle finally comes down to Peter and Hook in a sword fight. When that reaches a stalemate, Hook arranges for the ship to be blown up in two minutes. Peter finds the bomb in time. Hook is finally defeated and eaten by a crocodile.
Act V, scene 2
In the Darling household nursery, Mrs. Darling waits for her children’s return. Mr. Darling and Nana have switched places for his earlier actions which led to the loss of...
(The entire section is 348 words.)