Please can you give me a summary of Robin Hood?  

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kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Robin Hood is a prominent figure of English folklore who is considered to be a champion to the oppressed peasantry because he "stole from the rich and gave to the poor." There are many variations on the Robin Hood narrative, with literary and legal references as old as the 13th century. Almost all of the texts which reference Robin Hood are historical or historiographical-- even the earliest mentions of him speak of the bandit as having lived and done his work some time before. A few of the 13th century legal records list various spellings of Robin Hood, which suggests that the name may have been used by a number of criminals as an alias. We do not know whether there was an actual, living person who regularly went by the name of Robin Hood and was skilled in archery and swordsmanship, but we do know that the mythological figure is an important part of the English folk and literary histories.

The most comprehensive summary I can offer you of the Robin Hood narrative is a bit reductive, but accurate all the same. "He stole from the rich and gave to the poor." This is the running theme in all of the Robin Hood stories. The most popular Robin Hood legend was revitalized in the modern mind with Walt Disney's 1973 animated film titled Robin Hood. In this particular legend, Robin steals from corrupt tax collectors, returning money to the poor peasants who cannot get by without it. When Robin finds out that the King is the source of all this corruption, he steals from the King's coffers and returns the money to the people of the countryside. 

As I mentioned, there are lots of variations on the Robin Hood legend, but here are the basic similarities of most of the tales surrounding him:

  • Robin Hood was of noble heart and stole from the unjust ruling class to support the poor peasantry.
  • Robin Hood was skilled with both the sword and the bow and arrow.
  • Robin Hood was respectful towards women and may have had a particular (chaste) love interest.
  • Robin Hood had a small following of men who helped him pull off some of his schemes.

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