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Tucker, N. (1982). Peter Pan and Captain Hook: A Study in Oedipal Rivalry. Ann. Psychoanal., 10:355-368.
  

(1982). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 10:355-368

Peter Pan and Captain Hook: A Study in Oedipal Rivalry

Nicholas Tucker, M.A.

One of the best entrances to the inner world of childhood fantasy has always been through a study of stories that have proved, over the years, to be long-term favorites with the young. In cases where children seem genuinely gripped by a story, demanding to hear it over and over again or re-enacting it afterward in their imagination or with their friends, one can only assume that, to be able to work up this level of interest in the first place, such a story must be expressing something of major importance to the child. It may be, for example, that certain plots or characters sometimes seem to offer a remarkably close fit to children's own aspirations, anxieties, or attitudes, and that the more important these are to the individual, the more popular a story which embodies them most vividly. If such a story, however, also embodies personal fantasies that children may not otherwise be able to bring to consciousness without considerable shame or guilt, children may then be even more glad of the opportunity to identify themselves, through the disguise of literary symbolism, with certain central, normally forbidden aspirations which, if described more openly, would usually lead to hot denial.

Not surprisingly, therefore, many favorite children's books or plays tend to revolve around characters who can be quickly identified with figures in the primary family—the main arena for a child's most important psychic conflicts in the early years. As Freud (1933) himself once wrote, “It begins to dawn on us that the many fairy tales which begin ‘Once upon a time there was a King and Queen’ only mean to say that there were once a father and mother” (p.

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