Robin Hood Archetype

Learn all about the Robin Hood archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Rebel archetype.

What is the Robin Hood Archetype?

The Robin Hood archetype is in fact a combination of a number of other archetypes, all brought together into one character and story type now widely recognised in Western culture as the Outlaw Hero.

Robin Hood is a legendary heroic outlaw in English folklore. According to legend, Robin was a highly skilled fighter, archer and swordsman, sometimes depicted as being of noble birth and in others an ordinary man of yeoman class.

Traditionally depicted wearing Lincoln green, Robin’s nemesis was the Sheriff of Nottingham, a man who treated the poor of Northern England with utmost cruelty, inspiring Robin rob from the rich and give to the poor in an effort to rebalance the scales of justice.

Robin Hood Archetype Characteristics & Traits

  • The main character archetype at play in the Robin Hood archetype is the heroic type, albeit an outlawed one.
  • Anyone displaying traits of the Robin Hood type thus acts in the aim of improving the lives of those less fortunate than them, though they may go about this through morally or legally dubious means.
  • To do so the Robin Hood archetype is willing to put themselves at risk of prison or even losing their life, recognizing that the benefits at stake are work the risk they take for those in need.
  • The Robin Hood archetype usually exists in the context of a situational archetype such as a task which they need to accomplish.
  • Where the archetype exists in this literature this usually involves a plot to steal from the rich to aid the poor, and also to overcome the machinations of a villain such as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • A romantic archetype is often also associated with the Robin Hood type character.
  • For example, in the story of Robin Hood himself he is often depicted as being a Star Crossed Lover, destined to be with his true love Maid Marian, but having to overcome a variety of obstacles placed in their path before they can embark on their life together.

What’s the importance of green? (aka colour green symbolism)

The colour green which is commonly associated with the Robin Hood archetype is also symbolic in itself. Green is believed to represent wealth and luck.

It can be representative of hope and optimism, as well as the bringing of new life and regeneration. The association of the archetype with this colour links it to the bringing of new hope and a new future in the personification of the archetype.

Robin Hood Archetype Examples

Alongside the obvious example of Robin Hood himself another example of the archetype is Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara.

Whilst a medical student Guevara traveled throughout South America and became outraged by the poverty, hunger, and disease he saw, developing a desire to help overturn capitalist exploitation of Latin America by the United States.

He thus became involved in Guatemala’s social reforms and the Cuban revolution, where he was second in command.

Guevara has become a revered figure and perceived martyr due to his efforts on behalf of class struggle and desire to create a society driven by moral rather than material desires.

Further Reading

Further reading on the Robin Hood archetype includes:

  • Robin Hood in Popular Culture: Violence, Transgression, and Justice – edited by Thomas G. Hahn
  • Archetypal Analysis of Robin Hood and Maid Marian – by Kimberly Amzi
  • Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism – edited by Stephen Thomas Knight
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