Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Peter Pan, Oz, children's literature, criticism
Scholars often analyze J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz biographically through the author, didactically, or as pure entertainment. While those interpretations provide insight, children's literature like Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz can also be analyzed as political and social commentary. Although children’s literature is often discounted as a lesser genre of literature, analyzing children’s works offers later generations a view into contemporary societal mores because the generally straightforward plotline allows for subtly incorporated commentary by the author. One can read Peter Pan as “simply a children’s story,” or note the underlying satirical view of Victorian England, consumed with class and propriety, highlighting emerging Edwardian ideals about leisure and fun. Previous scholars have looked at The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a populist, progressive, and even purely economic, allegory of the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. While valuing the potential of the story to serve dual purposes, seeing the work as an American pro-isolationist document seems to have been overlooked. Studying Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as both literary and historical texts, suggests an explanation for their continued relevance today. Looking at children’s works as potential social and political criticisms will allow future scholars to utilize these stories as more than simply didactic tales, but as historical texts commenting on societal concerns of their time.
Stone, Tamara, "Do You Believe? Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as Historical Artifacts" (2013). Honors Theses and Student Projects. 739.