You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

The Right-Wing Robin Hood

I have not seen the latest Robin Hood. But it's interesting that, among the other familiar aspects of the legend that are missing or altered, this version presents the hero as a kind of anti-egalitarian activist. A.O. Scott:

You may have heard that Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but that was just liberal media propaganda. This Robin is no socialist bandit practicing freelance wealth redistribution, but rather a manly libertarian rebel striking out against high taxes and a big government scheme to trample the ancient liberties of property owners and provincial nobles. Don’t tread on him!

Robin Hood has always been something of a bugaboo on the right. Ayn Rand in "Atlas Shrugged" created Ragnar Danneskjold, a reverse Robin Hood, who proclaimed, "I'm the man who robs from the poor and gives to the rich - or, to be exact, the man who robs the thieving poor and gives back to the productive rich."

The classic 1938 film, "The Adventures of Robin Hood," presented the protagonist not only as redistributing from the rich to the poor, but as a fighter for ethnic harmony. It depicts Normans as persecuting the Saxons. Maid Marian is actually the character who undergoes the most dramatic arc. A Norman noble, she begins the film holding all the prejudices of her ruling ilk. Eventually, her eyes are opened to the oppression her people are imposing upon the Saxons, and ultimately she joins Robin Hood's rebellion and issues a rousing call for Normans and saxons to live together in harmony.

The pivotal Maid Marian consciousness-raising scene can be viewed here.