Recollections of Robin's Love Interest

This next section departs from the artistic interpretations of the stage, and instead visits the collections, histories, and novels of Robin Hood’s life and love. The garlands of this selection contain commentary by the authors, allowing for a look in interpretations of the past. Not only this, but Marian is not present in one of the pieces, allowing us to see the holes in stories she would’ve otherwise filled. The author of the novel chosen is clear on who Marian is, inspired by the Marian characters of past.

Robin Hood's Garland, 1805

Robin Hood's Garland: being a complete history of all the notable exploits performed by him and his merry men, 1805

We begin this section without Marian, and instead are introduced to a new love interest: Clorinda, Queen of the Tidbury Feast. The absence of Maid Marian from the garland is not noted by the author, and considering that earlier works contained her character, it is not known why. Clorinda is present in other stories, but not as a love interest of Robin Hood, but either as a maid or companion to Marian. In the first poem of the collection, Robin marries Clorinda within a few lines of their introduction. The author makes a note of this, saying “one thing we must observe in reading it, and that is, between some of the stanzas we must suppose a considerable time to pass” providing interpretation of the love story. The only time Clorinda is mentioned, is her wedding to Robin Hood, and therefore her consequence on the stories is minor.

Robin Hood, a collection..., 1820

Robin Hood, a collection of all the ancient poems, songs, and ballads, now extant, relative to that celebrated English outlaw, 1820

In this collection there is a ballad, seen in the image above, titled ‘Robin Hood and Maid Marian.’ In the author’s commentary on this piece, he notes that the ballad “has never been inserted in any of the publications intitled “Robin Hood’s Garland” (and, perhaps, was not worth inserting here).” This is an interesting take on the ballad, given its topic and Marian’s involvement stray away from typical female presentations. Drawing back to other works referring to Marian as ‘Rosalindish,’ this ballad draws upon similar inspirations. Marian is forced apart from Robin Hood, and instead of becoming a damsel-in-distress, she takes action. She dresses as a man to escape into the forest to find him, they end up in a battle, but Robin recognises her voice after injuring her. They have a happily-ever-after as Marian joins Robin to live in the woods. It is rare to see her in such a dominant role in the story, a character in her own right. This rarity is perhaps why the author comments on its omission from previous collections. The other hand suggests that the progressive nature of Marian’s portrayal may be why it has not been deemed adequate for inclusion.

The Life of Robin Hood, 1900

The Life of Robin Hood, the celebrated outlaw, 1900

The historical account of Robin Hood given by the author also provides an insight into the historical development of Maid Marian’s character also. The author believes that “Clorinda was the original, from which the character of Maid Marian has been deduced.” He claims the earliest mentions of Maid Marian appeared in plays in 1580, which accounts for Maid Marian being excluded from an earlier collection published in 1805. An interesting connection to previous ties to Shakespeares’ ‘As You Like It,’ this author begins chapter seventeen with a quote from the very play. The author includes ‘Robin Hood and Maid Marian’ with a similar line to the 1820 collection, seen above. There is no inclusion of Clorinda as a love interest in any of the other pieces gathered by the author, and he made no further comments on Marian’s impact on Robin Hood’s life throughout his historical recount. It is possible that she was not significant enough to be included in a tale about Robin Hood.

Maid Marian and Robin Hood, 1910

Maid Marian and Robin Hood: a romance of old Sherwood Forest, 1910

In this novel, Marian is introduced to the audience through only her physical features. An entire page is dedicated to the intricacy of her body, skin, posture, social status, and many other surface features. Despite being a title character of the novel, she never reveals layers underneath this physical description. The author describes her as “the most perfect Saxon type” and that “the free healthful life she led in the forest had imparted a brilliancy to her blue eyes.” The reference to her life in the forest is not communicated as a departure from stereotypes of women, but instead shaped to fit the current societal mould. 

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