Heroes in Hypertext

Heroes in Hypertext
Our Heroes
Welcome to HEROES IN HYPERTEXT, a website that helps you discover the heroes of today and from long ago. We have links to modern heroes like Thor from Marvel comics, or ancient heroes in the form of Beowulf. We hope to introduce to you a range of critical concepts concerning the text in a variety of media ranging from manuscript culture, through film, to the mobile screen. We hope to identify key concepts in textual transmission and explain the socio-cultural impact of literacy in the medieval world.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Heroes Of The Wire


What are the characteristics of a hero? Traditionally are they not selflessness, strength, honour, purity, moral fibre? Do these attributes still stand? According to the student staple that is Wikipedia: 

“... hero (male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity.”

 In some of the older works of fiction we have studied the hero has stuck rigidly to this template. Even Robin Hood, despite his outlaw status, is morally unambiguous. There is an unspoken rule in these older works of fiction that the hero must follow a certain strict moral code. Do we look for the same things in a modern hero? Do we desire our heroes to be as virtuous? In more contemporary fiction, in a grimmer world; I feel a different type of hero is more suited. In short, the heroes of today are less easily understood in traditional terms.

The world of David Simon’s revolutionary television series The Wire is undeniably a bleak one, unsurprisingly so, as it is grounded in the reality of Baltimore, Maryland. Being that it is realistically painted very much in figurative shades of grey rather than the blacks and whites of texts such as those featuring Robin Hood or the great King Arthur, the heroes may be more difficult to identify.

Some of Season One’s hopeless characters.

Speaking of Robin, The Wire features its own Robin Hood figure in the shape of Omar Little. Similar to Robin he tends to work with and lead a group of likeminded outlaws in the robbery of the corrupt. The Wire spans five seasons which cover various aspects of the city, featuring heroes with often questionable motives; but Omar is arguably the most interesting and compelling character of the entire series. He is relatively unique in the show, in that he is shrewd without being insidious. His line of work is as a thief; specifically one who steals from drug dealers.

Omar in his normal street attire.
Omar is similar to more traditional heroes in his persistent adherence to his own moral code. This code may be more questionable than that of King Arthur for example, but he makes a point not to rob or otherwise torment those who are not involved in what he refers to as “the game”. This scene is important in understanding Omar as a character:


Omar testifies, not because a sense of civic duty at the apathetic slaying of Gant, a state witness against a member of Avon Barksdale’s drug empire; but in anger at the murder of his lover. Importantly, Simon chose to write him as gay:

“Brilliantly, Omar's sexuality is neither here nor there to most of the plot lines. But it is relevant to the overall picture. David Simon explains: ‘I thought Omar, as an unaffiliated character, could be boldly and openly homosexual in a way that a gay man within the organised drug trade or within the police department could not be.’”
  
Interesting is his self confessed interest in Greek mythology, which itself outlines the basic principles of heroism. Morality is a strong theme in Greek mythology, and as previously mentioned Omar stringently follows his own idea of a moral code. There is a mythology surrounding Omar himself, with the locals of his area of Baltimore calling “Omar comin’” when his customary whistle of A-Hunting We Will Go is heard. This call inspires those who have heard the legend of Omar to run and hide. Omar is an infectiously likeable character because of his honesty and his sometimes contradictory morality. He is intriguingly calm and speaks in a poetic manner. Despite his dicey code of honour and other pitfalls, we can recognise him as a hero.

Probably the character most easily recognisable as a hero is Jimmy McNulty, albeit a decidedly rakish one. Though he could easily be pigeonholed as your archetypal rogue cop (bouncing around between various units throughout the series), he is not quite so simply defined. A functional alcoholic (barely) and womaniser, McNulty is also a talented and fiercely dedicated detective, earnest in his pursuit of those he perceives as evil or corrupt.


A day on the job for Jimmy McNulty.

Probably more than any other character in the series, the wrong-doing rife in Baltimore angers him; and he struggles to keep within the law in order to fight it. In doing so, he follows his own code à la Omar; which eventually strays outside the confines of the law. McNulty begins to rig crime scenes to follow the modus operandi of a fabricated serial killer, and the case gains press attention. Though extremely morally questionable, he does so in order to redirect the funds afforded the high profile serial killer case into a drugs case he is seemingly destructively obsessed with bringing to a close. He is eventually pressured by his fellow detectives into spreading the much needed money into other departments and cases.

McNulty and his colleagues sometimes rely on Reginald Cousins for information, a homeless recovering drug abuser far better known as Bubbles.  Bubbles is a hero in his own right, facing full on and tackling the adversity he experiences everyday in his homelessness and drug addiction. In the final season he seems to have successfully overcome his addiction, and is one of the few characters of the series who appears to have a bright future. 


A hopeful Bubbles, helping the homeless community he was once a part of.

Perhaps in this respect, Bubbles is the most successful and most adequate example of a hero in this text despite not appearing particularly heroic based on first impressions. While the heroes of The Wire are deeply complicated in comparison to the relatively two dimensional heroes of old, they teach us moral lessons in their own slightly twisted way.  

Bibliography
The Wire: Truth Be Told, Rafael Alvarez, Canongate Books, 2010.

Friday 3 December 2010

A question of Heroes?


A question of Heroes?

Perhaps as a result of inheriting a wealth of hero tales from our forebears or a subconscious inheritance of  their values, the tendency to associate heroes in narrative with warriors is embed firmly somewhere within our psyche.Almost every hero has some attributes strongly connected with those of an ideal warrior, be it by the use of weapons or just brute strength. We see this across the board with Robin Hood and his bow, Arthur and Excalibur, and Beowulf is portrayed with both weapons and incredible strength. The trend also extends to our modern heroes, with Aragorn strider who embodies all the characteristics of a noble warrior king. Great emphasis is placed on superman’s strength, Jedi and Lightsabers, wolverine and his claws and so on. As a further point of contemplation, has there ever been a hero who does not fight? Even the fact that is important for a hero to protect those around him echoes the days of camaraderie amongst warriors.
But what is it exactly that defines someone as a Hero? It is clearly not simply one factor which makes a Hero, but a number of combined characteristics and attributes which together form the concept of a Hero.  As Hero is usually the main Character in a story, someone remarkably brave, sometimes have Supernatural powers, they are admired by others around them, they help the innocent or those who cannot protect themselves, and I will argue that most importantly they embody the values and morals of the society around them.  This last point is central to a deeper understanding of the hero. From a study of texts such as Empress, in which the central character Hekat is undoubtedly a heroine within her own society, but to the modern reader her actions are most certainly those of a villain, it can be seen that it is the culture and ideals of a society that create the hero rather than the actions or deeds of the hero themselves. It is not uncommon for heroes to be reinvented by each generation, with their more primal warrior aspects toned down, while their more suitable attributes are highlighted to better reflect more current morals and values. This can be seen the tales of Robin Hood. In the early tales his character kills an innocent, an act later versions of the hero would never commit. In the past mercy was seen as a sign of weakness within warrior societies, this view has changed dramatically over time.

The dilemma of the female hero.

In the male dominated world of heroes where do women fit in if historically their socially accepted role is that of peace weavers? The position of women is most certainly changing along with society’s views. Even the traditional role of characters such as Guinevere and Marion as the damsels in distress has been radically altered in the latest film versions with both Guinevere and Marion taking part in the battles scenes. In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood Marion takes on a very male role of managing her land and holdings. She also saves herself from an attacker by killing him with a dagger and even rides into battle with Robin, however we then see the familiar pattern of Marion needing to be rescued towards the end of the film. By examining what elements of older hero tales modern film makers choose to focus on and those which they leave out, we can gain an insight into current social views. In Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur Guinevere’s character has two distinct aspects, appearing as both a savage tribal warrior and yet also playing a more elegant role. This sense of playing a dual role seems to be a common trend among heroines, reflecting a stage of transition in their portrayal. The character of Luuna from a graphic novel by Crisse Keramidas, is a most vivid example of this, as her soul is literately divided between darkness and light. Her constant companions, two wolves, one black and one white serve as constant visual reminders of this. Luunas dark side takes over when she is in situations where she needs to fight and kill to survive, while her good side is otherwise in control.
There is clearly a tension within the role played by heroines in trying to fulfil two conflicting parts. That of a more conventional view of how women should behave by being kind, gentle, understanding even motherly while also playing out the part of a warrior, and needing to convey strength and unflinching resolve. As the shift in how women are thought of in society is express though the medium of films books comic etc we can follow its progress by reading into aspects which lie behind the basic plot line. Tentative steps are being taken towards equality with the emergence of a new class of female heroes, however in some cases the heroine seems bound by past ideals and expectations. By not fitting into a more socially accepted somewhat stereotypical role are they seen as less heroic? This seems to depend of individual opinion, as the by breaking away from conventions can also gives the heroine a new sort of freedom, within a social sphere which is still evolving along with our culture and our perception of the Hero.



Robin Hood by Stephanie Reed

Robin Hood and his portrayal in film
                          The most recent Robin hood interpretation is Robin Hood (2010) directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Russell Crowe as Robin Hood and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian.


                            Robin Hood is everyones favourite outlaw and in today’s society almost everyone knows the name Robin Hood, which is an amazing feat given his origins as ballads and folk tales in medieval times. He has become one of modern day’s most enduring heroes. Many characteristics of the medieval Robin Hood character are still present in today’s modern portrayal; and many of these characteristics have become defining features of Robin Hood by which he is instantly recognisable. Physically some of these are his green clothes and hat that blend with the forest, and his bow and arrow. His bow and arrow are a big feature of Robin hood as he is known to be an expert archer and many of the medieval ballads have Robin participating in an archery contest, such as Robin Hood and the golden arrow, the competition is usually for a silver and gold arrow with the sheriff attempting to deceive Robin, but he usually shows up in disguise and wins the competition. This is also portrayed in many films, but more recent films have actually foregone the famed archery contest including the most recent Ridley Scott version.
                            
                           The most famous characteristic about Robin Hood is the fact that he steals from the rich and gives to the poor, but interestingly the medieval Robin Hood did not overtly do this. The earlier Robin Hood was described as a yeoman who stole from the dishonest and gave when it pleased him, but in time Robin Hood has become famed for his generosity. The figure of Robin Hood has been made more virtuous as time goes on to fit in with modern societies view of what a hero is. In early ballads such as Robin Hood and The Monk, Robin is somewhat of an anti-hero with questionable actions, morals and motives. Yet in films today robin has turned into a very generous character, and stealing from the rich to benefit the poor is one of his most defineable characteristics. The most recent Robin Hood film, Robin Hood (2010), directed by Ridley Scott has veered away from thie typical Robin Hood characteristics. Only one scene in the movie has Robin stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Another major element of the Robin Hood story is the idea of saving Nottingham and Sherwood forest, usually from an evil sheriff and King John. Ridley Scott focuses on this main plot throughout the fim. In many stories Robin is known to be a follower of King Richard the lionheart and enemy of King John, whereas this film eventually has Robin an enemy of both.


                                
                                       Robin Hood has been known by many names and in this film alone he goes by three, Robin Longstride, Robert Loxley and Robin of the hood. He was often depicted as a dispossessed noble man or under the guise of being a nobleman, which you can see in Robin Hood and Maid Marian, and in this most recent Robin Hood interpretation one of the elements taken from the medieval ballads is that he impersonates a knight. This all adds to the mysteriousness of the Robin Hood character who is loved for his mischievous ways.
                                 Marian is depicted in many ways in the ballads, from an outlaw with fighting skills as good as Robin, to a damsel in distress who needs Robin to save her, which is the stance taken by most films. Yet in most cases Marian is usually portrayed as having great strength of character and self sacrifice, in Robin Hood the Prince of Thieves she agrees to marry the sheriff in a bid to save some of the outlaws. In Robin Hood (2010) she plays the very male role of looking after and working the land. She also defends the property from a group of plundering orphans, and at the end of the film rides into battle just as bravely as Robin does, but true to form Robin has to save her, physically but also saves her land. Marian was not in the earliest ballads but her character has become central to the Robin Hood story, as Robin’s love interest.

                              The merry men in the medieval ballads are depicted as brave fighters who often save Robin Hood  himself but the merry men in this Robin Hood film seem to take a back seat and many plot points associated with them are left out, such as how they came to be merry men byt Robin challenging them in the forest. This scene is included in most Robin Hood films such as Robin Hood the Prince of Thieves. The merry men we see in this version are portrayed as men who are interested in getting drunk and chasing woman. Whilst in the ballads Robin would not last very long without his merry men and can be seen blowing his horn three times if in trouble and his merry men come to his aid, such as in Robin Hood and The Curtal Friar. Yet in this film they become a bit unnecessary and serve more as a bit of comic relief.
                            
            

                                   Overall it seems many of the main characteristics that define Robin Hood have been left out of this film in a bid to be original and to not sound too cliché, but those characteristics are why we love Robin Hood and it doesn’t feel like a true Robin Hood story without them. From Maid Marian to the Merry Men everyone loves the original or more typical characters.                
                                      





Achilles by Sinead Reed


Achilles
Achilles is the heroic Greek mythological figure, who has been depicted throughout time, from ancient Greek stories to modern day films. Achilles is the son of Peleus and Thetis. Thetis is a semi god, it was said that Thetis would have a child greater than its Father, as a result Zeus decided he did not want to marry Thetis and a result she was passed on to marry Peleus. It is believed that Thetis wanted Achilles to be immortal.  Although throughout time there have been many different stories about how exactly Thetis made Achilles immortal. In some Greek myths about Achilles, it is said that Thetis rubbed him with ambrosia, the food of the Gods and she held him in fire to burn away human weakness. The most popular story however is the one about Achilles being dipped in the river Styx. It was believed that Thetis desired Achilles to be immortal so much, she dipped him into the river Styx that flowed through the underworld. Unfortunately she held him by his left ankle and as a result this is the only part of his body that is not immortal.

Some aspects about the myth of Achilles have been kept in modern day interpretations, From Helen of Troy, to the most recent interpretation, the 2004 movie Troy. Both movies kept the mythological aspect of Achilles mortal left ankle. In the 2004 movie Paris Prince of Troy, shoots an arrow into Achilles left ankle, fatally wounding him.  Similarly we can also see this in Helen of Troy, were Achilles is on his chariot and an arrow hits his left ankle. Some aspects about Achilles have survived through time and are kept in modern day interpretations, however many aspects about Achilles and his life have been changed and questioned.

In Greek myths Achilles is the legendary but reluctant warrior who fought in the Trojan War. It has been described in some Greek tales that Achilles mother Thetis did not wish for her only son to go to war. In some tales it is said that Thetis knew Achilles would never return from battle, if he went. Some Greek stories suggest that Achilles mother made him dress like a girl to avoid going. In modern interpretations however we see that this aspect about Achilles has not been kept. In the 2004 movie Troy, we see a different story, Achilles mother encourages him to go as his name will live forever. For her that appeared to be more valuable than if Achilles had stayed and lived.

Achilles has been depicted as a heroic figure throughout time, although some aspects about his life have been either changed, forgotten or have come under scrutiny in the past centuries. The relationship between Achilles and Patriaclus has been open for dispute in both the classical period and in modern times. In some Greek tales, it said Thetis raised both Achilles and Patriaclus. According to Homer, Thetis raised both Achilles and Patriaclus as brothers. In many Greek tales, Patriaclus has been described as Achilles best friend. However this aspect has come under scrutiny as in other Greek tales about Achilles, Patriaclus is described as Achilles lover. This aspect about the relationship between Achilles and Patriaclus has been changed in modern day interpretations. This aspect about the heroic figure has been left open for personnel opinion, on which tale you prefer to believe. There have been many different stories about Achilles and his life, throughout time many aspects have been forgotten or changed. However despite things being changed or forgotten one thing about Achilles has continued to remain the same, Achilles continues to be depicted as a great heroic figure

There have been many stories written about Achilles throughout the centuries about his involvement in the Trojan War. They all retain similar views on Achilles and his enemies. In the Iliad of Homer, the tension between Achilles and Agamemnon is described. “Agamemnon and Achilles fell out at the siege of Troy and Achilles withdrew himself from battle, and won from Zeus a pledge that his wrong should be avenged on Agamemnon.” This aspect about the turbulent relationship between Achilles and Agamemnon is captured in many stories about the Trojan War. Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis describes how Achilles name was used by Agamemnon to lure Iphigenia to be sacrificed. This book is similar to the Iliad of Homer, as it captures the deceptive ways Agamemnon was towards Achilles.  The hostile relationship between Achilles and Agamemnon is captured in the 2004 movie Troy, This essence of their relationship is still portrayed the same. The hostile relationship between Achilles, Hector and Paris is also still described in a very similar way to the ancient Greek tales.

The tale of the heroic figure Achilles has been told in many different ways from stories, plays and movies. However in all the tales about this heroic mythological figure, we can see why Achilles is still portrayed as a Greek hero. His extreme strength, good looks and immortal body make him the ideal hero. He is depicted as a brave honourable man who is true to himself and his own beliefs, rather than those of his enemies, such as the beliefs of Agamemnon.  We can see this when Achilles withdraws himself from battle over how Agamemnon has treated him and his men, the myrmidons. Achilles is the commander of the myrmidon, a feared force that a loyal to him above everybody else. Achilles is one of the few Greek mythological heroes that have continued to be depicted as an almost Godly figure, from the Iliad of Homer to the 2004 movie Troy.
                                                                                                                            
In conclusion we can see why Achilles has continued to be described a heroic figure. He is a semi God but thanks to his mother’s determination, he is almost completely immortal. Although some aspects about Achilles have been changed or forgotten, some things remain the same, from Achilles strength and determination to his extreme skill in battle. Achilles has continued to be depicted as Greek mythological hero. There are still many feathers about Achilles that can be easily recognised by those from every century.












Anglo-Saxon Heroes

INTRODUCTION TO ANGLO-SAXON HEROES



The manuscript culture of the Anglo-Saxon era marks the first momentous developments within heroic texts. The shift from orality to literacy is one of the most imperative progressions in textual transmission history. Texts such as Caedmon’s Hymn (recorded in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History),  Robin Hood, and of course the zenith of Anglo-Saxon scripture, the epic Beowulf, allowed the culture of heroic texts to become a staple of early literature, literary criticisms of which are still being shaped and changed today.
The concept of the Anglo-Saxon hero has transcended from it’s original cultural context through to the contemporary era in a myriad of avenues. Beowulf has seen countless film adaptions, most recently Robert Zemeckis’ 2007 effort. J.R.R. Tolkien’s infamous book trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, is intricately rooted in Anglo-Saxon folklore – the elvish language within the tale is remarkably similar to Old English and the societal customs of Kingship and the heroic code saturate the storyline. The books themselves also received a film adaption, Peter Jackson’s infamous approach to the original in the early noughties. In this respect it is quite simple to comprehend the extent of the influence the Anglo-Saxon period has had on the development of textual transmission on heroic tales and indeed on the concept of what a “hero” can actually be defined as.
The manuscript culture of the Anglo-Saxon period is not to be ignored by any means. Many of the current conventions, principles, customs and motifs of the heroic genre are deeply rooted in Anglo-Saxon literature, and travelling on the pathway of textual development have percolated through the centuries to contemporary times. Within this section of the website three key texts will be discussed in terms of their content, their influence on the heroic genre and indeed their cultural importance. These texts, as already mentioned, are “Caedmon’s Hymn”, “Robin Hood”, and Beowulf.


CAEDMON’S HYMN
Caedmon’s Hymn, suggested to be one of the oldest surviving manuscripts in history, was largely recited in order to develop a society pervaded in Paganism with a powerful message of Christianity. Recorded within Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica, Caedmon’s Hymn marks the beginning of tremendous developments within textual transmission and the heroic genre itself.
Caedmon’s Hymn may be regarded as a dream visions narrative. This style of poetry is formulated by an individual who has experienced a dreamlike revelation within which they are guided by an authoritative figure, in Caedmon’s case this figure being God. The “hero” discussed within the poem is perhaps unconventional in modern terms, but just as the Gods of classical literature were seen as heroes within their cultural context, so too does the Christian God in Caedmon’s Hymn represent a hero to the people of Caedmon’s culture.
The poem features heavy use of stylistic features archetypal of Anglo-Saxon poetry. It is clearly a work permeated in the many distinctive characteristics of orality. In his commentary of the poem, Ian Lancashire analyses the musical quality of the poem, and suggests that the poem itself constitutes merely two sentences. In his essay, he writes:

“Caedmon's hymn has just two sentences, which can be summarized: "Let me now praise God the Creator" (1-4), and "God created Heaven, earth, and man" (5-9). The assertion itself has a simple logic that ensures Caedmon can link together, in memory, the larger units, the full lines, into a verse paragraph. Its length may also reflect a common cognitive upper-limit on large text segments.”

In light of the concept that each segment of the poem itself exists solely to portray but one simple message, and to recite the poem entirely from memory, it is of no surprise that Caedmon’s Hymn also contains an abundance of alliteration. From the very opening of the poem this typical aspect of orality is clearly evident:

(1)  Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard
 (2) metudæs maecti end his modgidanc

The poem itself consistently repeats phrases associated with God being an almighty figure which has created the world within which we exist, which can loosely be translated to descriptions such as “the Father of Glory”, and “the Almighty Lord”. These descriptions, used in order to formulate a romanticised illustration of an all powerful God, are perhaps a precursor to later buzz words used in connection with heroes as they are described in various texts. Beowulf is described as “the mightiest man on earth” amongst a plethora of other typical heroic depictions, and indeed in a far more modern context heroes are portrayed using such phrases as “The Incredible Spiderman”. Indeed, the Christian God is vastly different to these characters, but the mounting composite of prefixed words which highlight the importance of the heroic figure present definite similarities in the way in which dignitary heroes are portrayed.



The influence of Caedmon’s Hymn on later Anglo-Saxon works is clearly evident and stretches even to the 20th and 21st Centuries. Caedmon’s use of the phrase “middingard”, meaning Middle-Earth, in contemporary popular culture is known as the realm within which J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic heroic narrative “The Lord of The Rings” takes place. Suggested to be the first ever Anglo-Saxon poem to be recorded, Caedmon’s Hymn could have arguably instigated the butterfly effect which manifested itself in the form of one of the most famous literary and cinematic works in recent times, and with regard to the subject of heroes, works which produced perhaps the most infamous heroic protagonists in today’s textual culture.

The fact that Caedmon's Hymn has been recorded in writing also showcases the momentous movement from orality to literacy in Anglo Saxon culture. In terms of textual transmission, this movement was momentous to say the least. Prior to the era of increased literacy, characters within folklore and tales were two dimensional and lacked the depth of those of, for example, the Shakespearean epoch. The fact that the vast majority of tales were spoken or sung restricted the storytellers from developing the heroes within the tale for fear that some details may be forgotten. The heroic code, a staple of classical authors in the development of epic poetry, allowed for an exact template by which the heroes of texts were obliged to follow, once again aiding memory and allowing those who recite the tale to remain true to it’s original format. The advent of written text coincided with the formulation of more complex and convoluted heroes, allowing for the concepts of the “outlaw” hero and the anti-hero to become more common, and indeed from the point of Caemdon’s Hymn through the rest of the Anglo-Saxon manuscript culture we begin to see these developments arise.

-Tiarnan-


ROBIN HOOD


 
Almost everybody has grown up with and is familiar with some version of the Robin Hood myth. I certainly remember spending my childhood watching the Walt Disney adaptation of the outlawed hero’s tale in all it’s animated glory. In fact, this particular version is a perfect example of just how timeless the tale really is; by virtue of the fact that even though it was created in 1973, it was still extremely popular and widely available on VHS throughout the 1990s. While this is very interesting (and a little bit nostalgic), this is a subject which should be examined in an objective and un-biased manner, so that we can uncover the true reasons that this is such an incredible myth.

The main reason for the durability of the Robin Hood story is that it reaches out to the majority of the world’s population, in no small part due to the “take from the rich to give to the poor” philosophy which has become so renowned, which certainly has an influence in modern times, and of course, it is especially resonant in recessionary times such as these. For example, in the context of Irish politics, the Labour party is one group who have adopted a sort of modern political variation of this philosophy in the hope that it will win over the majority of the Irish electorate. My point in this digression is, I believe that the equal distribution of wealth is a sentiment that people will always agree with, regardless of the time period.

There were many ballads and tales written about Robin Hood in the Medieval time period. The earliest known ballad is “Robin Hood and the Monk” [1], written sometime after 1450 AD. In this particular ballad, Robin orders Little John to carry his bow, “But Litull John shall beyre my bow, til that me list to drawe.” but Little John Refuses refuses. “Thou shall beyre thin own.” This sparks an argument between the two, causing them to separate. Robin is then captured by the sheriff, and placed in prison. When Little John hears this, he swears to rescue him. This ballad has been recognised as a very influential text, and has had much praise heaped upon it.

After this ballad, came a collection of tales, called “A Gest of Robyn Hode”, and then “Robin Hood and the Potter”, circa 1503. Between these texts, the story and myth of Robin Hood was firmly established, along with the  philosophy of stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
Another major factor in the popularity of the myth is of course, its continued use in modern film. Indeed, it can be found that each of these films keep the famous philosophy of “taking from the rich to give to the poor”. One difference I have found, however, is that the films don’t necessarily seem to keep the traditional image of Robin Hood’s unique green suit. As I have already mentioned, Walt Disney created the version with which I am most familiar. I think that the animation played a huge part in its 20 year lifespan, and the use of anthropomorphic animals was extremely clever. What child doesn’t like the idea of a heroic fox with a bear as a sidekick?[2]                                                                           

Robin Hood had a cameo appearance more recently in another well known animated film; Shrek. This was quite a humorous portrayal, in which he is given a slight French accent, presumably to accentuate the humour[3].          
                                                                                                                            And of course, it would be silly to forget the portrayal of Robin Hood in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as Sir Robin the-Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Launcelot.[4]  The more serious adaptations of Robin Hood, however, such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,[5] and the most recent version, Robin Hood[6] (2010) are just as enthralling, as they stick more closely to the original portrayal of the myth.

We have now seen how popular and enduring the tale of Robin Hood is, and how it is a tale that will always prove popular among every age group, and in any era. On a personal level, I find it absolutely fascinating how there can be so many different cinematic interpretations of a single myth, which range from purely comic, to serious representations. I think that this apparent popularity is a true indication of how many future generations will also be enriched by this tale of such a fantastic hero. 

-Fiachra-