So I've asked my sister Shannan to write a guest post for me. She blogs at A Creator's Heart.
The Bold Outlaw
I don’t think a series on “Boldness” would be complete without at least one mention of Robin Hood. I mean, he is the Bold Outlaw (that’s a real title, I kid you not). So I’m really excited that Angie’s letting me write a guest post on this series as I am more than a little obsessed with the legend.
Stephen Knight describes Robin Hood’s boldness in his “mythic biography” of the man as, “physical and ethical courage and success in his encounters with strong, oppressive enemies.” So not only does he have the courage to stand up for what’s right, but he has the physical strength to do it and he’s even successful! Also, can I just say that his boldness combined with his crazy skill at archery makes him seem a lot like a super hero?
But I digress. The point is that Robin Hood exemplified bold living in everything he did. When Robin and his gang robbed people, they didn’t just take their stuff and be done. Before robbing the guy, they’d actually blindfold him, take him to their camp, and feed him a kingly feast. Afterwards they’d “ask” for payment, only taking all the money if the dude lied about how much he had (I should point out here that these details I’m drawing from the original Robin Hood ballads from which the legend stems). When Robin opposed the sheriff, he was always sure to thoroughly embarrass him before he escaped. Nothing Robin did was subtle. He was extravagant in his rebellion and no one could be in any doubt of what he stood for.
His way or rebellion wasn’t the only thing that made him bold. Look at his chosen enemies: Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Guy of Gisbourne (a freaky assassin in the original tale), and pretty much all men of the cloth (excluding Friar Tuck, of course). These are powerful, dangerous men who had the resources to make Robin really suffer without punishment. That’s why he was outlawed. The life of an outlaw is romanticized through Robin Hood, but imagine for a moment what it would be like to be considered no better than a wolf - evil, and anyone can slaughter them and be rewarded. That’s not exactly a life of luxury. Despite that, Robin made his life in Sherwood worthwhile and wonderful and kept pressing forward with never a worry about what the men of power might do to him.
Robin Hood is bold because he didn’t hide. True, he had to stay out of reach of foresters and soldiers, but he usually outright robbed all those guys, and everyone knew he lived in Sherwood. In a world of corrupt government and religious leaders, Robin never faltered in his opposition to them and he didn’t worry about all of them knowing it. He even maintained a loyalty to King Richard - a king that most the people didn’t believe in anymore (although, it should be said that Robin Hood tales were originally set during King Henry’s reign, not Richard’s. But whoever the King, Robin was always loyal).
I think the boldness of Robin Hood is what makes him so enduring. In this world of shifting values, distrust, and cowardice, people want to believe in someone who will stand up for the right thing no matter what. That’s why super hero movies are so popular these days. Would that we could all be bold enough to never hide what we believe and feel.
If you're wondering why Robin Hood was excluded from my Bold Literary Characters list, it's because he's not strictly literary. And I haven't actually read any books about Robin Hood. This must be fixed.