Peter Pan Characters
The main characters in Peter Pan are Peter Pan, Wendy Darling, Mrs. Darling, Tinker Bell, and Captain Hook.
- Peter Pan is a boy who never grows up. He lives in Neverland and is the leader of the lost boys.
- Wendy Darling is an English girl who, along with her brothers, joins Peter Pan in Neverland, where she acts as a mother to the lost boys.
- Mrs. Darling is the mother of Wendy, Michael, and John. She never loses faith that her children will return.
- Tinker Bell is Peter Pan’s loyal but jealous fairy.
- Captain Hook is Peter's arch nemesis and leader of the pirates of Neverland.
Last Reviewed on March 16, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1309
Peter Pan is introduced as a mysterious character that visits children in their dreams. When he first appears at the Darling home, he is “clad in skeleton leaves and the juices that ooze out of trees.” He is wildly stubborn and mischievous yet vivaciously adventurous and charming. Most essential to Peter’s character is his refusal to grow up and his resulting contempt for adults—especially mothers.
As the established leader of the Lost Boys, Peter enjoys his authority. The boys—all of whom have no mother—are, just like Peter, never allowed to grow up. When Peter meets Wendy, however, his desire for her affection challenges his previous opinion of mothers. While the narrator reiterates that “there was never a cockier boy,” Peter’s selflessness toward Wendy—from building her a house when she first arrives in Neverland, to rescuing her from Captain Hook’s ship, to his adventures with future generations of Darling children—reflects his internal sensitivity.
Suitably, as Peter Pan progresses, the titular character proves to have a strong moral compass. While Peter’s firm belief in fighting fairly is honorable, it clashes with his reckless and spontaneous nature. This penchant for thrill-seeking, to him, is always justified; he even sees death as “an awfully big adventure.” It is this courageous spirit and eternally youthful energy that makes Peter Pan a timeless symbol of the boundless magic of children’s imaginations.
Wendy, the firstborn and only daughter of the Darlings, is “always glad to be of service.” Just like her brothers, Wendy visits Neverland in her dreams. When Peter Pan arrives at her window, she is enamored by his endearingly boyish charm and is enticed to fly to Neverland with him. With enthusiasm and pride, Wendy thus becomes a mother to the lost boys in Neverland. Unsure of how much time has passed since she and her brothers left home, she insists that her mother will always leave the window open for them. Wendy always follows her mother’s example, from reminding Peter to take his medicine, to tucking the children into their beds at night, to desiring “everything to be just so.”
After being held captive by Hook and subsequently saved by Peter, Wendy finally returns home to find her mother waiting by their bedroom window, as she expected. Mrs. Darling agrees to adopt the lost boys, per Wendy’s request. Peter, however, still wants Wendy to come back with him to Neverland, and so Mrs. Darling, Wendy, and Peter make a compromise that Wendy will visit Peter once a year. After many years without seeing him, Wendy marries and has a daughter named Jane. At the end of the book, Peter finally visits Wendy—who now lives in the same house she grew up in—and takes her daughter on an adventure to Neverland.
Mrs. Darling, deemed “the heroine” of the story by the narrator, is a loving matriarch and devoted homemaker. Like Wendy, she is compassionate and instinctually feels concern for Peter. Her fierce love for her children remains a significant force throughout the story, with Wendy correctly believing that her mother will always keep the window open for when they return.
George Darling, Mrs. Darling’s husband, is a frugal man with a classic education; emotionally, however, he is considerably melodramatic and “might have passed for a boy again if he had been able to take his baldness off.” The narrator, however, does maintain that “he had also a noble sense of justice and a lion’s courage,” paralleling Peter’s character: like Peter, Mr. Darling’s honor offsets his emotional immaturity.
John, the middle child, also has a vivid imagination and taste for danger. John becomes especially determined to go to Neverland after Peter mentions the pirates; later on, after Hook and his men take the lost boys hostage, he is tempted to accept Hook’s offer to join them but emphatically changes his mind. He thus returns home with his siblings.
Michael is the youngest of the Darlings and the “baby” of the lost boys. During his time in Neverland, he starts to forget his parents and comes to truly believe that Wendy is his mother. When they return, however, his memory immediately reignites.
The Darling family refers to their huge Newfoundland dog, Nana, as their nurse. She has a heightened sense of the children's well-being, which is evident when she storms the Darlings’ dinner party to warn them of Peter’s arrival.
Captain James Hook, leader of the pirates in Neverland, is Peter Pan’s nemesis and the antagonist of the story. He despises Peter with an irrational fury, mostly for the reason that Peter cut off Hook’s right hand, leaving him with an iron hook as its replacement. Hook’s outlandishly elegant clothing and haughty demeanor indicate his elevated position among the pirates. While the narrator introduces Hook as “a man of indomitable courage”—mostly from the perspective of his fellow pirates, whom he refers to as dogs—his fragile ego and deep insecurities overshadow this supposed bravery.
Later on, the narrator reveals that Hook is not the captain's real name and suggests that he likely once attended an elite public school. Hook is aware that he has “degenerated” since those days, yet “he retained his passion for good form.” Unlike Peter, Hook does not value fairness, does not follow the implied rules of warfare in Neverland, and cowers in the face of danger. In feeling “his ego slipping from him” during the battle, Hook experiences karmic retribution when he falls victim to the crocodile that ate his hand.
Tinker Bell, also known as “Tink,” is a fairy from Neverland and Peter’s closest companion. Typical of most fairies, Tinker Bell has a fickle nature; because fairies are so small, “they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time.” She is initially jealous of Wendy and deceivingly friendly to her. However, Tinker Bell is fiercely loyal to Peter, such as when she drinks Peter’s medicine after Hook poisons it. Tink later accompanies the Darlings when they fly home.
Smee, Hook’s confidante, is portrayed as “infinitely pathetic” and ridiculously devoted to Hook. Along with Starkey, he is the only other pirate to survive the battle with Peter Pan and the lost boys.
Gentleman Starkey is another of Hook’s closest pirate comrades. He also survives the fight on the pirate ship and is subsequently taken captive by the redskins.
Also referred to as “Italian Cecco” by the other pirates, Cecco is described by the narrator as “the bravest of the brave.” He is the third pirate killed by Peter on the ship, after Jukes.
The most conceited of the lost boys, Slightly also proves to be sneaky and clever, such as when he whittles his tree to fit his body.
The most “gay and debonair” of the lost boys, Nibs is the first boy to encounter Wendy in Neverland. Like the other boys, he considers Wendy his mother and becomes increasingly attached to her.
The narrator describes Tootles as “the only humble” lost boy. While he accidentally shoots Wendy in the chest, mistaking her for a bird, he later grows to be a fiercely devoted son to Wendy.
As members of the lost boys, the twins are difficult for the others to tell apart, so they are usually treated as a pair.
Curly, another of the lost boys, is labeled a “pickle” by the narrator of Peter Pan, because of how often he gets into predicaments.
Tiger Lily is the leader of the redskins and the daughter of a chief. She is described as prideful, beautiful, and fierce. After Peter saves her life from the pirate attack at the Mermaids’ Lagoon, the redskins unite with the lost boys.