Compare and contrast the depictions of Robin Hood and Dracula; in what ways do these characters challenge societal norms?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There have been many literary depictions of both Dracula and Robin Hood. Both figures are alike in that they spring from folklore, stories told and passed on by common people. They are similar as well in that they both have a band of followers. Both, too, are outlaws. Beyond that, they represent polar opposites in their personalities and intentions.

The first reference to Robin Hood is in "Piers Plowman," written in the late 1300s, but the first ballads dedicated to him did not appear until about a hundred years later. While early references to vampire-like creatures appear in England as early as the twelfth century, vampire lore did not gather steam until the eighteenth century and became even more popular in the nineteenth.

Robin Hood is a good-hearted yeoman (neither peasant not aristocrat) and a skillful hunter and fighter, who with his band of followers called the Merry Men, proverbially steals from the rich to give to the poor. The men who oppose him, such as the Sheriff of Nottingham and King John, are depicted as evil and oppressive figures against whom Robin Hood protects the vulnerable. Robin Hood is traditionally described as wearing green, perhaps to blend in better with the foliage in the woods where he lives. Robin Hood is a happy figure of generosity, a folk hero because of his aid to the poor.

Dracula, in contrast, is a frightening, evil figure; an emblem of the undead, those who wander the earth neither dead nor alive. His intentions toward humans are malevolent, for he wants to bite them and infect them so that they can join his army of the undead. In Bram Stoker's late nineteenth century version of the story, perhaps the most famous, Dracula arrives in London bent on creating an army of undead followers who will fan out from London's harbor and take over the globe. Those who fight Dracula are heroes, while Dracula is associated with such traditionally sinister animals as bats, rats, and wolves.

Both Robin Hood and Dracula can be understood as popular and ever evolving tales that explore, respectively, powerful, paradigmatic figures who do good, and powerful figures who do evil.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial