J.M. Barrie’s works collectively have a theme of children being overwhelmed by the struggles of the real world. His characters flee to fairytale lands to preserve their innocence for as long as possible. The most common example of this is in Peter Pan. Peter flies to “Neverland” where he can never grow up. Similarly, the title character of Mary Rose disappears on a fishing island and reappears without aging a day, thus also keeping her youth and innocence. By examining Barrie’s characters, one finds parallels between them and Barrie’s mother, Margaret Ogilvy. Her childhood was short since she rose to a matriarch position of her family following her mother’s death. Even as an adult Ogilvy still wished to be a child again. By the same token, Barrie’s sister Jane Ann, had a brief childhood since she also needed to assume an interim role as a mother to her siblings. Barrie was transparent about his inspiration for his stories coming from his family. However, there’s dispute about whether characters are based off of his mother or his sister. In this essay, the examination of his plays finds that maybe Barrie was just looking for a mother figure in an emotionally fragile time.
"J. M. Barrie: His Search for a Mother Figure,"
Kean Quest: Vol. 2
, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.kean.edu/keanquest/vol2/iss1/4