S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) English Language and Literature (영어영문학과) 영학논집(English Studies) 영학논집(English Studies) No.38 (2018)
‘조각’된 몸 너머를 향한 관음의 욕망: 『켄싱턴 공원의 피터 팬』에 드러난 화자의 시선과 권력 읽기
The Voyeuristic Desire beyond the ‘Carved’ Bodies: Reading the Gaze and Power of the Narrator in Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 인문대학 영어영문학과
- 영학논집, Vol.38, pp. 51-78
- J. M. Barrie; Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens; children’s literature; body; gaze; voyeurism; queer; norms
- This paper explores how the narrator in Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens satisfies his sexual desire through voyeuristically gazing at other bodies and retains power to keep doing so. Kensington Gardens has never been the center of interest in the field of children’s literature, or even of Peter Pan studies. The key to understanding the novel from scratch requires much more than the autobiographical approach which has occupied the mainstream in the existing studies, and the fact that the novel is narrated solely from the narrator’s point of view, many times biased, brings our attention to the narrator’s intention and queer desire. From beginning to end, the narrator does not reveal himself (or his body) in front of the readers and the characters, only viewing the particular types of bodies which sexually attract him. In the first chapter of the novel, the narrator focuses his gaze on the bodies that resist normalcy, while metaphorically and literally cutting and carving out the normal ones, ultimately erasing them out of the narrative. His selective voyeurism further suggests the possibility that his body also might have been ‘carved’ as a result of abiding by the norms. While exhibiting his desire for the ‘uncut’ bodies, the narrator also shows the tendency to read them in a way social convention dictates him to, thereby often misreading the meanings and potentials of the queer bodies he gazes at. The narrator’s normalcy, however, does not hinder his attraction to those bodies, nor the enjoyment he receives from them. Rather, the narrator, the only spectator in the scenes, utilizes the power gained from his own subordination to the norms as a kind of shelter allowing him to maintain his gaze at the rebellious bodies. The most seductive bodies to the narrator here are Peter’s and Maimie’s, and they survive through the narrative to the end of the novel unlike the others. Their secret to be the sole survivors against the fastidious gaze of the narrator seems to lie in their potential to expand: if the erased bodies are ‘carved’ by the surrounding norms, the surviving bodies supposedly tend to expand their bulk to fight back against the carving. Interestingly enough, Peter’s and Maimie’s bodies, after clashing in “a sort of fairy wedding,” expand physically in ways that subverts the norms, but the narrator still seems to misread the two bodies. Again, this failure does not lead him to the frustration of his desire. In order for him to keep staring at the bodies under the bunker built of norms, the narrator must at all means delay the moment of his recognition of the bodies’ potentials and his climatic moment of his sexual satisfaction. Otherwise, the narrator would lose his privileged position as the voyeur and only become one of the queer bodies that the norms (and the readers might) oppress. Thus, hiding his body under the veil of normalcy is his tactful strategy to avoid such oppression and retain the long-term satisfaction of desire, which mostly accompanies his chronic misreading. That is, the narrator’ s failure, in turn, brings him success.