What literary device does this show (if any)?

To die will be an awfully big adventure. — Peter Pan

  • 1
    I don't find any definite literary device. It would be a stretch to call "awfully big adventure" a metaphor, as in "To die is an unwrapped gift."
    – Zan700
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 21:50
  • 3
    it is surreal, an understatement, ironic if not sarcastic, redundant if adventures are implicitly dangerous, a metaphor for fear, a matter of fact, hyperbole ...
    – vectory
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 21:57
  • Probably answered by Kris here, Layla. I'm assuming you're asking about the grammar involved. Commented May 22, 2019 at 18:34
  • I have to assume that the original with "would" was a misquote.
    – Laurel
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


I agree with Zan700: there's no definite literary device. It doesn't LIKEN death to an awfully big adventure. It is simply Peter Pan's understanding of what death IS. It's an adventurous child's understanding. And perhaps it makes adults who read the book wonder if their understanding of death is any more accurate, or useful, than his.

You probably know J.M.Barrie's own son died while still a child. Perhaps that's why he gave Peter that line. And he donated the royalties from Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London, which still benefits from his gift. Patients in the poorest health there might be reassured by the idea of embarking on an awfully big adventure.


It seems to be an example of the rather obscure: Panglossianism

The term “panglossianism” describes baseless optimism of the sort exemplified by the beliefs of Pangloss from Voltaire’s Candide, which are the opposite of his fellow traveller Martin’s pessimism and emphasis on free will.


Panglossianism, n.

Etymology: < Panglossian adj. + -ism suffix. Compare earlier Panglossism n.

The belief that all occurrences or developments have a beneficial purpose or result; naive or unrealistic optimism.

1968 A. Burgess Urgent Copy v. 142 The Panglossianism of the Chancellor which, untragic, is also not tragoid.

1995 Gazette (Montreal) (Nexis) 23 Jan. b3 The Premier's refusal to consider all but the best possible outcomes—his economic Panglossianism.

  • Not a literary device. Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 16:30

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