Honors English 10B
15 February 2013
When the name “Robin Hood” is mentioned, most people will instantly think of the cliché hackneyed phrase “the outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor”. No one ever knew if he was real or not, but there are plausible proofs of his existence, and his story was retold through tales materialized as books, movies, television shows, video games, and poems. He lived most likely during medieval times in late 12th century England when Richard the Lionheart was king. Many stories had told Robin Hood lived in Sherwood Forest at Nottinghamshire, but it was not the only setting for the legend, although it was highly likely that he did settle in Nottingham. Even though Robin Hood gave to the poor, he was not entirely a Good Samaritan. His story was revived during the Age of Romanticism when people began to reject the ideas of the Enlightenment. At that time, people portrayed poor people as good and rich and powerful men as evil. The themes in social movement arise as social conflict between the rich and the poor, or outlaws against the state. Minorities were exalted as heroes and that is why Robin Hood’s tale was reincarnated during the Romantic era, to represent that the rich were evil, even though most of them were not because they helped some of the poor. His stories’ rebirth were not entirely true, regardless if he was real or not, Hood was not a hero, he was an outlaw who stole from the rich, whether they were innocent or evil.
Many have asked who the real Robin Hood was. Was there even an outlaw named Robin Hood? Evidence of Hood’s existence stretched back to at least 13th century. English legal records showed names of criminals such as “Robehod,” “Rabunhod” and other variations which became common nicknames for criminals. It was either fictional tales or an infamous bandit that inspired these names. The first literary references to Robin Hood appeared during fourteenth to fifteenth century of series of ballads about “a violent worker who lived in Sherwood Forest with his men and frequently clashed with the Sheriff of Nottingham.” In later versions, he was a peasant, a knight, or a fallen noble with a heart of gold, but the hero of the story was still a commoner. (“Real Robin Hood”)
From the pre-Reformation in England, Robin Hood was like King Arthur, who were the most memorable familiar figures, but unlike Arthur, Robin Hood “eludes the historian’s grasp.” The further someone traces back his story, the less he succeeds in finding out. Most evidence that were found was written down mostly by antiquaries of the seventeenth century, when his tales were “no longer new and time had elaborated it with every sort of spurious detail.” That tomb in Yorkshire, the one that claims to be where Hood is buried, was carved in an age where he was already famous. Though many stories claimed Robin Hood stories was the outlaw of Sherwood Forest in Nottingham, according to earlier tales, “it was Barnsdale Forest in Yorkshire that Robin Hood lived as an outlaw.” These kinds of absent information is what checks historians from “hazarding every sort of guess as to the historical basis of the Robin Hood myth.” They have found obscure records, references to more than a half- dozen Robin Hoods, of the details of whose lives they can say nothing, but each of whom, if more were known, might turn out to be the original legendary outlaw. Without any specific proof, it still remains an open problem. “For all our conjectures, we do not know who Robin Hood really was, and probably we never shall.” (Keen)
An explanatory of England’s condition is best to analyze what was Robin Hood’s lifestyle was like. The circumstances were very rough. Rolling green hills covered large areas of England in medieval times. People lived in the open air, and like sailors nowadays, “only caught colds when they went indoors.” Peasant cottages in the country would be a simple oblong building, with a...