Anth. 110 – Heather Myers – Fall/2017
Final Exam Rough Draft
November 12th, 2017
The Legend of Robin Hood
In this paper I will analyze the importance of the story of Robin Hood. This story is one that we have all heard. Robin Hood exists as legend for people to follow as somewhat of an example in our society. Though existing as a criminal Robin Hood still exists as a public figure, a public figure that people want to be. The legend of Robin Hood proves to be a good topic in the legends section because it provides so much versatility to it, whether it be historically or contextually.
Robin Hood is one of the most famous legendary characters of all time. For centuries Robin Hood has existed as a representation of good vs. evil and tyranny vs righteousness. Robin Hood is also a legend that has been adapted many ways throughout our history which makes it an interesting legend to analyze. We all know the story of Robin Hood, and despite many of the issues that lie within the story, many still look at his heroism and willingness to help the less fortunate. Analytically speaking the legend of Robin Hood exists across a multitude of spectrums, with its vast importance across the category of historical significance as well as the way it has been adapted over generations.
One of the most important aspects of the Robin Hood story is the historical significance of the character and the legend. Robin Hood has never been proven to be a real person but there have been people who share the similar Robin Hood style story. The historical significance behind the legend comes from the real people, places and time period aspects that the legend is based upon. One important aspect of the Robin Hood is the forest legend. The forest that Robin Hood presides in is where he was able to gain access to many of his victims, and the men that were ruling the forest for the king. In the original Robin Hood story, the tyrannical king ruled the forest, many of the king’s knights and “handymen” would invade the forest and take advantage of it and its residents. Robin Hood and his group of Merry men would fight off these invaders, robbing and or killing them in order to protect the forest. Though Robin Hood is only a story, in England during the same time period Robin Hood is based, there were things known as “private preserves” that existed within the forests. According to BBC’s article on the Historical Context of Robin Hood, “England during this time where private preserves of the king and his officers, and were protected by a harsh series of forest laws, against which there could be no appeal – not even to the ecclesiastical courts.” (Ibeji) In other words, the king and his men were not subjected to the harsh laws, but instead imposed them on the less fortunate people of the lands. According to the BBC’s article on the Historical Context of Robin Hood Many people could not live up to the standards of these harsh laws, so they would seek refuge within the forests. This is where characters such as Robin Hood came from. People who would seek refuge in the forest where considered fugitives. In reference to Robin Hood and his Merry Men, they would have been considered fugitives of the law. The thing is that all of the people living in the forest where not really fugitives, many of them where mothers, children, and families trying to get by the harsh rule of the king, and in the tale these where the people Robin Hood was trying to protect.
Another historical, real-world aspect of Robin Hood is the tyrannical king. In Robin Hood, the Kings was either depicted as King John or King Richard, but this has changed over time, King Richard a real king, but it believed that the Robin Hood’s “King’s”is a mere a representation of a few kings in English History. During the early English centuries, there were many tyrant English kings, and the idea of the King in Robin Hood was to represent many kings who had oppressed the people of England. A tyrant by definition is “a sovereign or other ruler who uses power oppressively or unjustly.”(dictionary.com) One King that they could be based on is believed to be based upon is, King John or better to be known as the tyrant King of England. King John is considered one of the worst kings of English History. King John, along with being an absolute tyrant, created many unfair laws at his whim, which included often increasing the taxes of the poor and protecting the rich. King John is not the only tyrant king in English history, according to Allen W. Wright the Author of “The Beginners Guide to Robin Hood” the Kings in the Robin Hood have actually changed over time. Wright writes,
“In the early ballad, the king is called Edward and described as “our comely king”. Currently, scholars think this king was Edward III. But many retellings say the king was someone else. Early historians said that Robin Hood’s adventures were set at the time Henry III or Edward I.” (Wright)
The view of the king has adjusted over time likely due to the public view of each king. It is easier for people to associate an evil king with the real tyrant King John, and In most Robin Hood stories King John does have to be evil. According to author of the film review, “Robin Hood: The Magna Carta” Aelarsen writes, “In most Robin Hood movies, John is a bad guy because he’s A) hoping to usurp the throne from his older brother King Richard and B) collecting taxes, which is always an evil thing to do in movies.” (Aelarsen.) In some original depictions, the King may not have been evil but there needs to be a “bad guy” within each film, and as Robin Hood adapted, it was better relating the “bad guys” to a real-life tyrant king.
The next history based question, is who is the Real Robin Hood? There has been a lot of question behind the historical truth of Robin Hood. If he did not exist who was he based off of? There were many men like Robin Hood, and what I mean by that is that there where many fugitive types, who fought back for the people and against the law. According to the University of Rochester’s publication “Robin Hood: Development of a Popular Hero” by John H. Chandler, he finds that there Is little proof to show the actual existence of Robin Hood, Chandler writes;
“In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, antiquarians were especially invested in finding the sources of their national culture and heroes, and Robin proved to be of special interest to the English. They not only reviewed these early plays and poems for clues to the historical identity of the figure but also scoured historical and legal records to find any information that may have led to a proof for his identity. Despite the efforts of authors like P. Valentine Harris (see case 5), no verifiable Robin Hood emerged from the historical record. Today, most scholars accept Robin as a literary invention, based in part on other figures like Gamelyn and Fouke Fitz Waryn, as well as real-life outlaws. Any search for the ideal Robin Hood, a dispossessed noble who robs from the rich to give to the poor, is doomed to failure. That Robin is a modern figure whose individual characteristics were added in different stages, which are roughly represented in this exhibit.” (Chandler)
Many searched high and low for the potential existence of a real-life Robin Hood, but none could be found. Robin Hood has instead become a representative figure of false history. What is meant by that is that Robin Hood is what many uses today to relate to early English times, when you think of forest law outlaws, or other early English rebels you automatically think of Robin Hood. Robin Hood despite not being a real person has also inspired decades of stories, figures, legends, and adaptations, that we have all gotten to know in love.
The importance of Robin Hood comes from how it had been adapted over time. Within each generation, there has been some sort of Robin Hood Adaptation. The story of Robin Hood can be traced back as early as 1300 ‘s. According to Author Matt Phillpott research on the history of Robin Hood in his article “The legend of Robin Hood”
“A brief reference to a man knowing of the ‘rhymes of Robin Hood’ in William Langland’s Piers Ploughman (1377) is our earliest written evidence. Holt tells us that the tales were most likely started in the latter half of the fourteenth century, written down in the fifteenth, and reformed and solidified in the sixteenth.”
In this, we can see that Robin Hood being created in the 1300’s was adapted well adapted over the course of three centuries, into the story that we, later on, adapted to what it is today. The original Robin Hood is likely very different than what we know today. According to the University of Rochester’s publication “Robin Hood: Development of a Popular Hero” by John H. Chandler, Robin Hood’s origins where not as cut and dry as they are today. Chandler writes
“It seems as though every schoolchild knows who Robin Hood is: a noble outlaw in Sherwood Forest who fights the oppressive evil of Prince (or King) John by robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. The earliest appearances of Robin are at odds with this romantic notion, as Robin is a violent yeoman who steals from the dishonest and helps those whom he pleases. Perhaps the one constant feature of the legend is his placement in the center of England, in the Sherwood and Barnsdale area. This first case presents some of the venues in which Robin Hood appears. The earliest tales of Robin Hood largely focus on Robin encountering someone in the forest, and either fighting with them or inviting them to dine, after which they would be asked to pay for their dinner.” (Chandler)
This is not exactly the Robin Hood story we know but with each generation the story of Robin Hood has had to change. After Robin Hood was adapted in the early centuries, it began being adapted to film in the early 1900’s, the first appearance of Robin Hood on the big screen was the 1908 Robin Hood and His Merry Men. Like many films of this time this was a silent black and white film. This film tells the story of Robin Hood an English outlaw who protects the forest with his master archery skills and saves the innocent from the forest sheriff. In this film as well as many other of the early Robin Hood films, the character begins to take a stereotypical view of Robin Hood. In this Robin Hood is depicted as a young man dressed in all green, he often has orange or brown tights, a green top and green kilt and a green or brown hat with an orange feather. Robin hood in the stereotypical look has adapted from films to Halloween costumes. In more recent films Robin Hood has lost his stereotypical style and been made to fit each generation that it is shown to.
One of the more recent Robin Hood films Robin of Locksley (1996), tells the story of Robin McAllister a teenager who is sent away to a prestigious private school, Locksley Hall. In the film Robin is bullied by a boy named John Prince whose parents are the founders of the school. John Prince and his group of friends pick on Robin and exclude him from the school activities including the archery program. Despite the angst from John and his friends Robin is still able to find a group of trusty friends. Then when one of the kids in the school gets into a terrible accident, Robin comprises a plan to get back at John Prince while helping the student who was hurt. John Prince comes from a very wealthy and evil family, so Robin and his friends decide to Rob John and his family in order to pay for the student’s medical bills. This film is similar to the original stories in the sense that Robin is being tortured by John Prince or Prince John and he is stealing from the rich to give to the poor and needy. The difference in this story is really how robin looks, Robin is a blonde teenager, without the tights and kilt but still having the same heroism behind his thievery.
Disney also found themselves dabbling in the Robin Hood story. In 1973 Disney made their own version of Robin Hood. This Robin Hood film is quite different from most of its counterparts due to the fact that it’s a cartoon. Robin Hood in this cartoon is depicted by a small red fox, who wears a green kilt with a green hat, and is also a master archer, closely following the original Robin Hood. In the story, Robin Hood and his friend Little John, the bear, live in the Sherwood forest, as outlaws. Little John and Robin Hood steal from the evil Prince John, who overtaxes the poor and punishes those unfairly. Robin Hood feels that the only way he can deal with King John is by stealing from him to take care of the less fortunate. Since this is a children’s movie, Robin Hood is not as violent as his original character was once created to be. I think the childhood take on the story and the film, is a fun way to look back in time and for even the youngest members of our society to learn the important lessons Robin Hood has to teach.
Finally the most recent adaptation from the oh so famous Russel Crowe. Crowes 2010 version of Robin hood is much darker and more adventurous than the previous two discussed. In this Russel Crowe in this is a dark Robin Hood who needs to find light after the darkness overcomes Nottingham following King Richards death. This differs from the previous Robin Hood stories, this is less about giving back to the poor and more about saving the English from French invasion. Robin Hood in this is more of a protector of all rather than a protector of the poor. Robin Hood in this film, as previously mentioned was pretty dark, there was a lot more killing in this film then the other Robin Hood films and this Robin Hood also is much more gritty, irritable and harsh.
All of these films, though very different share the same common background. This truly shows the way the Robin Hood story has traveled and adapted through time. As we have seen the legend of Robin Hood exists across a multitude of spectrums, it has not only historical significance but this historical significance has become so important that the story of Robin Hood has been adapted to format to many societies. Robin Hood despite being an outlaw and a thief, is still a person many of us can look up to. That despite time, and the way the world changes there is always a Robin Hood to grow with us.
Bridgewater State University Folklore Archive
November 12th, 2017
Title: Robin Hood
Informant Data: Myself
Robert Farias is a full time- student at Bridgewater State University as well as a full-time employee in the local 3 unions. Robert was born in Lakeville Massachusetts in 1996 and has lived in the same home his entire life. Robert lives with his mother and his brother. Robert is a majority Portuguese and his family actively participates in their Portuguese heritage. Robert studies Criminal Justice at Bridgewater but had previously studied kinesiology at the University of Rhode Island. Robert will be graduating from Bridgewater State in January of 2018. Robert intends on keeping his Job in the local 3 unions after graduation, because of how much he enjoys the job.
Robert grew up in Lakeville and played sports his entire life, and had always had a passion for being active. Robert currently competitively weight lifts and stays active. Robert has a passion for music and comedy, an avid country music fan who attends many concerts.
Robin Hood is one of the well-known characters that of travel throughout history. Robin Hood stands for many things in society, and though his existence stems back to the 14th century his methods are useful in today society. Robert believes that Robin Hood is a good topic to choose because some of his actions are still relevant in today’s society. Socially there are many Robin Hood. Robin Hood has been a figure for many people in England.
We have many modern-day Robin Hoods in our own society. Robert chose the story of Robin Hood to analyze due to a story he recently saw on the internet. The story was about an anonymous group of New Yorkers who allegedly stole construction materials from luxury developments in Manhattan and delivered them to neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Though Robert does not condone thievery and criminal behavior, what is especially compelling to Robert is people risking everything to help others, essentially the ideals of Robin Hood.
Robin Hood is a heroic outlaw in English folklore who, according to legend, was a highly skilled archer and swordsman. Robin Hood is a legendary English hero from the 14th century. Robin Hood is said to live in Sherwood Forest in the county of Nottinghamshire, where he was an influential presence in the lives of the people of the forest. Along with his group of Merry Men, robin hood fought to protect the people of the forest. Robin Hood was an outlaw more than he was a hero in some senses. Robin hood with assistance from his Merry men would kill and rob from the invaders of the forest, mainly from the hierarchy or the authority figures. Robin Hood fought against injustice and tyranny in order to help people in need, he would steal from the rich to help the poor who were victims to the tyranny of the king.