Peter Pan

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Mrs. Darling Character Analysis

The children’s mother, and the narrator’s favorite, Mrs. Darling is a lovely, cheerful woman with a mysterious “kiss” in the corner of her mouth, like some leftover childhood magic. She adores her children and loves to care for them, and pines away when they leave her. To see them come home again is her greatest happiness.

Mrs. Darling Quotes in Peter Pan

The Peter Pan quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Darling or refer to Mrs. Darling . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scholastic Inc edition of Peter Pan published in 2002.
Chapter 1 Quotes

He got all of her, except the innermost box and the kiss. He never knew about the box, and in time he gave up trying for the kiss.

Related Characters: Mrs. Darling , Mr. Darling
Related Symbols: The Kiss
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we get a sense of J.M. Barrie's whimsy and inventiveness. We're told that Mrs. Darling (the mother of the book's main characters) has a "kiss" on her face. This kiss isn't exactly like the word readers are familiar with--instead, a "kiss" is a kind of dimple symbolizing childlike wonder and freedom. There's no way to explain a kiss--if there were, then anybody could have one, including boring adults like Mr. Darling (who tries, but cannot access, his wife's "kiss"). Instead, the kiss is a symbol of youth and its fleetingness, of unadulterated freedom.

As the passage makes clear, Mrs. Darling is still in touch with her childlike side. Some children feel closer with their mothers than with their fathers--they feel that their mothers understand their needs and desires better. By portraying Mrs. Darling as a close ally to her children, Barrie shows that he's a keen observer of human nature and family dynamics.

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It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day.

Related Characters: Mrs. Darling
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

Barrie portrays Mrs. Darling as a kind, loving mother. Like all good mothers, we're told, her duty is to make sure that her children are happy and contented as often as possible--even after they go to bed. Barrie chooses an interesting and inventive metaphor for this idea: he describes Mrs. Darling "sorting" through her children's minds and feelings.

It's interesting to note that Barrie begins his novel about a rebellious child by describing a happy, peaceful household. The children are loved and well cared for, and there are no traces of cruelty or poverty. In short, the children in the novel have no concrete problems-- as we'll see, their only "problem" is a vague desire (one that all children know) to get away from the house and have adventures.

She dreamt that the Neverland had come too near and that a strange boy had broken through from it. He did not alarm her, for she thought she had seen him before in the faces of many women who have no children.

Related Characters: Peter Pan , Mrs. Darling
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Darling is an adult, but she's also a kind, loving mother to her three children. As a result, she can vaguely remember Peter Pan. Peter Pan is a friend to all children: when children go to sleep, they go to Neverland and play with Peter Pan, the leader of children in Neverland. As they grow up, children forget about Neverland, and therefore about Peter Pan. It's a sign of Mrs. Darling's close connection to her children (and her still-present "kiss")  that she can remember Peter, however vaguely.

The passage is interesting because it suggests that "women who have no children" have some kind of connection to Peter Pan. It may be that adult women choose to have children because they want to reunite with Peter Pan (or what he represents), and they want to introduce their offspring to the marvels of Neverland, which they encountered when they were little children themselves. Or perhaps the passage is meant to suggest that adults without children tend to be selfish and to relish their freedom--just like Peter Pan, we'll learn.

Chapter 11 Quotes

"See, dear brothers," says Wendy, pointing upwards, '"there is the window still standing open. Ah, now we are rewarded for our sublime faith in a mother's love."

Related Characters: Wendy (speaker), Mrs. Darling , John , Michael
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Wendy tells the children of Neverland a story. In the story, a group of children fly away from home, only to find that, years later, their parents continue to love them and have left a window open for their return.

The story is interesting for a couple reasons. First, the very fact that Wendy is telling the children a story suggests that she's maturing, playing the part of a leader and a guide to the other children. Wendy's new authority among the children is also reflected in the content of her story--Wendy associates herself with motherhood by celebrating mothers in her story. Wendy is still very much a child, of course (she's still in Neverland, after all), but she's clearly starting to pine for her home--hence her story's ending.

Chapter 16 Quotes

If she was too fond of her rubbishy children she couldn't help it. Look at her in her chair, where she has fallen asleep. The corner of her mouth, where one looks first, is almost withered up. Her hand moves restlessly on her breast as if she had a pain there. Some like Peter best and some like Wendy best, but I like her best.

Related Characters: Peter Pan , Wendy , Mrs. Darling
Related Symbols: The Kiss
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Barrie describes Mrs. Darling, a woman who feels an unqualified, complete love for her children, no matter who they are or what they do. Barrie's description is Mrs. Darling is poignant because it emphasizes her tenuous connection to the world of children: her "kiss" (the dimple on her mouth) is almost gone--i.e., her connection to the gentle world of youth is dangling by a thread. Furthermore, the passage emphasizes Mrs. Darling's mortality--note the descrption of the "pain in her breast" (some have suggested that Barrie based Mrs. Darling on a beloved friend who was dying of tuberculosis).

The passage is important because, in claiming that he likes Mrs. Darlin best, Barrie is ultimately throwing his sympathies to the world of kind, empathetic adults, not the world of children. Barrie loves children, and understands them deeply. And yet in the end, he believes that children should not resist growing up to be adults--kind, fun, and gentle adults, with responsibility to other people (above all, to their own children).

He ceased to look at her, but even then she would not let go of him. He skipped about and made funny faces, but when he stopped it was just as if she were inside him, knocking.

Related Characters: Peter Pan , Mrs. Darling
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

Peter Pan flies to the Darlings' house, intending to shut the window so that Wendy will believe that her parents have forgotten her. But when Peter see Mrs. Darling crying herself to sleep, he's touched. He tries everything he can to makes Mrs. Darling cheer up--but nothing works. Her love for her children is so complete that she won't be happy until they return to her home.

The passage has Peter showing a rare flash of maturity--instead of selfishly tricking the Darling children into staying Neverland, he decides to let them rejoin their mother, recognizing that it's the right thing to do. Furthermore, Peter feels a little of Mrs. Darling "inside him," suggesting that, perhaps, he's developing the tiniest bit of self-awareness and maturity.

Chapter 17 Quotes

He took Mrs. Darling's kiss with him. The kiss that had been for no one else Peter took quite easily. Funny. But she seemed satisfied.

Related Characters: Peter Pan , Mrs. Darling
Related Symbols: The Kiss
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Peter leaves Wendy and the Darlings for a year: he's flying back to Neverland alone. But Peter takes one memento of his time with the Darlings: the "kiss" hidden in Mrs. Darling's face.

The meaning of Mrs. Darling's "kiss" is so ambiguous that it's difficult to tell exactly what Barrie is trying to say in this passage. Peter has been craving a mother-figure in his life, though he's always denied it. Now, Peter is flying back to Neverland with a tiny sign that he does have a mother--Mrs. Darling. Mrs. Darling may not be his literal mother, but she gives him love and affection, a reminder that Peter is still a little boy, and needs a mother. Peter continues to live in Neverland, but Barrie suggests that he's finally gotten some of the parental love he's always been denied--and in the process, learned to respect the world of adults (or at least be a little confused in his dislike of it).

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Mrs. Darling Character Timeline in Peter Pan

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Darling appears in Peter Pan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Peter Breaks Through
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Wendy’s mother, Mrs. Darling , is pretty and imaginative, with some mystery about her. The mystery seems to reside... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
...might affect his reputation. He also worries that Nana does not respect him sufficiently, but Mrs. Darling always assures him otherwise. They are, in general, a happy, jolly family. (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Mrs. Darling first learns of Peter Pan late one night in the nursery, where she is performing... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
One day Mrs. Darling asks Wendy to explain Peter Pan, a person she has noticed in the children’s minds.... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
The next night, Mrs. Darling falls asleep over her sewing in the nursery after the three children have gone to... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Shadow
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Mrs. Darling gives a startled shout when she sees the boy, and Nana runs into the room... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
...ill-fated evening begins in an ordinary way. Michael is refusing to take a bath, and Mrs. Darling is dressing for her evening out. Wendy and John are pretending to be Mr. and... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Mrs. Darling sadly puts the children to bed. Nana is barking loudly outside, and Wendy explains that... (full context)
Chapter 3: Come Away, Come Away!
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
...the lost boys know any good stories. Wendy tells him the end of Cinderella, which Mrs. Darling has been reciting for the children at bedtime, and when Peter jumps up to go... (full context)
Chapter 11: Wendy’s Story
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Wendy’s a story is about a couple called Mr. and Mrs. Darling , who had three children and a dog named Nana. When Mr. Darling tied Nana... (full context)
Chapter 16: The Return Home
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
...narrator considers telling the Darlings in advance about the children’s return, but he imagines that Mrs. Darling would not want him to spoil the children’s surprise. She has kept the children’s room... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Mrs. Darling misses the children very much and always seems sad. The mysterious kiss in the corner... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form  Theme Icon
Mr. Darling comes home. He asks Mrs. Darling to play a song on the piano and to close the window, but she insists... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...old home. They are surprised to see their father in Nana’s kennel. They wonder about Mrs. Darling , but just then she begins to play the piano again, and they sigh with... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
When Mrs. Darling comes into the nursery and sees the children in their beds, she thinks she is... (full context)
Chapter 17: When Wendy Grew Up
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
The lost boys are waiting downstairs. When Mrs. Darling sees them, she resolves to adopt them right away. She wants to adopt Peter too,... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Wendy gets married, and soon she has a daughter named Jane. Mrs. Darling is no longer alive. Jane, who now sleeps in the children’s old nursery, loves to... (full context)