The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood: Analysis & Themes

Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

Jackie has taught college English and Critical Thinking and has a Master's degree in English Rhetoric and Composition

Robin Hood ends someone's life in anger and goes to live deep in Sherwood Forest, attracting other societal outcasts to live in brotherhood with him. He and his Merry Men also attract the attention of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who wants to capture Robin Hood. Read on for a short discussion of The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and its major themes!

Robin Hood and His Merry Men

Robin Hood is the leader of a band of men who are outlaws, hiding from the Sheriff of Nottingham. These men are often outlaws not because they are bad at heart, but because they are mistreated by authority. Robin, for example, is an outlaw because he kills a man who shot an arrow at him when Robin won a bet with him.

Like most of his men, Robin regrets the crime that has forced him to become an outlaw. Immediately after ending someone's life in self-defense, Robin is immediately sick at heart, and sad that he ever met the man whom he killed:

  • ''I would that thou hadst ne'er said one word to me, or that I had never passed thy way, or e'en that my right forefinger had been stricken off ere that this had happened! In haste I smote, but grieve I sore at leisure!''

More men come to live with Robin Hood for different reasons. Killing the King of England's deer just to eat for the winter, or having to commit violence in self-defense, the outlaws become a band of brothers. and are like family to one another. They also strike back against the King and his men by taking back the wealth that they have extracted from everyday people.

Brotherhood and Family

The men who live with Robin Hood grow close bonds with one another. Even when they are in conflict, they talk about each other as family. Little John, Robin's closest friend, calls him brother, and before Little John has a fight with a cook that he has disagreed with, he says:

  • ''...and I love thee truly as thou wert my brother''.

Though they fight in this image, Robin Hood and Little John consider each other family and share a strong brotherhood.

These relationships of circumstance are also familial via blood, as when Will Scarlet joins the band. Scarlet is like the other men in that he killed in defense. In this case, he was defending his father from an abusive employee when a single punch from Scarlet ended in death. Scarlet comes upon Robin Hood and his men, and after a long fight, Scarlet says:

  • ''...thence I come to seek my mother's young brother, whom men call Robin Hood.''

Scarlet is as loyal to his uncle Robin as Little John is, and Robin loves them both equally. Family is determined in these stories by circumstance and by personal loyalty, both more important than one's family tree. There is no wonder that the word ''brother'' is spoken over seventy times within this collection of stories.

Robin Fought the Law

The reason that these men are brothers is that they have been made outcast by the law. The King of England and his administrators are portrayed as cruel and petty. The Sheriff of Nottingham is Robin's biggest adversary. They clash throughout the book, and the Sheriff is determined to catch Robin and punish him for his crime.

The Sheriff of Nottingham is the major enemy of Robin Hood and continuously tries to capture Robin.

Robin not only tries to keep his freedom. He also tries to strike back against the unfair practices of the King and the Sheriff. The King taxes the people heavily and keeps many of the deer in the forest that people need for food as his. Robin takes every chance that he can to take some of the wealth of the Sheriff, and the other rich people who the King favors so that he can return it to the people.

In one chapter, Robin disguises himself as a butcher and goes to a fair in town. He sells all of the meat that he carries for very cheap or gives it out for free; he knows how hard it can be for the people to feed themselves. The only people who he charges full price are people who are part of the King's upper-class:

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