Gender Roles – Men
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Women
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Men: 4 Stars
Robin Hood is a brave and somewhat over-confident hero, but he also displays a large amount of sensitivity and compassion.
He encourages the children and to gives hope and solace to the poor people of Nottingham. While some versions of Robin Hood focus almost exclusively on the conflict between Robin Hood and the Sherriff of Nottingham, this version also highlights the caring relationship he has with the people he protects. Robin Hood isn’t invincible and even expresses his own fears and insecurities from time to time, making him an entirely relatable and engaging role model for young boys.
Supporting Characters: 3 Stars
Robin Hood includes a number of minor female characters that are worthy of mention. The most obvious example is Maid Marian’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Kluck. Lady Kluck is fierce and imaginative in her make-believe games with the children, taking on the role of Prince John and challenging young Skippy to a duel. And it comes as no surprise that Lady Kluck joins in the fray after the archery tournament, shooing Marian off and telling her that “this is no place for a lady.” It’s refreshing to see an overweight female presented in such a likeable and appealing manner, even if it’s clear that young girls are more likely to model themselves after the “lady” than the hen that Prince John refers to as “the fat one.”
Robin Hood also contains a handful of other women who perform small acts of kindness or courage throughout the film - from the church mouse who offers her last bit of money to help the poor, to the widowed rabbit working to provide for her children. While these background characters provide some sense of strength and dedication for young girls to emulate, their presence only makes it that much more curious that Maid Marian hasn’t dedicated herself to the same noble causes.
Gender Roles - Women: 1.5 Stars
Maid Marian is the lovely niece of the absent King Richard. She’s in love with her childhood sweetheart and seems prepared to give up the luxuries of a pristine palace to live with him as an outlaw in Sherwood Forest. Marian warms our hearts when she engages in a game of make-believe with some children from Nottingham, dreaming of the day that Robin Hood will confront Prince John and rescue her. Despite her engaging character, however, Marian’s role is limited and disappointing. She is ultimately used as a trap to lure Robin out of hiding, and finds herself holding her dress and calling for help in the resulting chaos - like a stereotypical damsel in distress.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 3 Stars
Maid Marian is relatively self-assured in her interactions with the children and Lady Kluck, but she is equally insecure about her relationship with Robin Hood. She worries that she’s spent too much time in London and that he’s forgotten all about her, and doesn’t have the confidence to simply send him a message telling him where to find her and how she feels. Instead she waits, dreaming of him in Prince John’s castle, hoping that he’ll appear out of nowhere and declare his love.
Because Robin Hood is a tale told with animals, beauty and body image are less of a concern. But even within the animal kingdom, Marian is played by the slim and attractive fox, rather than the short and portly hen. Thankfully, Marian still has a winning personality that directly compliments her long eyelashes and lady-like grace.
Plot: 1.5 Stars
Robin Hood is full of endearing characters and provides a caring and heroic role model for boys. But like most Robin Hood stories, this version has little to offer young girls with equally active imaginations. One simple solution for making this story more empowering for girls is to give Maid Marian a larger role in fight against Prince John and the Sherriff of Nottingham. She could easily be as heroic and inspiring as her childhood love - if given the opportunity. As a resident of the palace, Marian could assist with planning and carrying out Robin’s escapades. She could pass along vital information about Prince John’s whereabouts, mislead and confuse his royal guard, or use her political clout as King Richard’s niece to argue for the release of prisoners or mercy for the people of Nottingham. There is no convincing reason that she couldn't have been portrayed as cunning, dedicated and brave as the others characters. She clearly cares for the people on Nottingham, it’s time she joins in the fight to free them.
Character Development: 1 Stars
Maid Marian is far too simple a character for such an intriguing story. She is in the unique position of being directly related to the ruling class, and yet in love with an outlaw that is openly hostile to the throne. Marian never seems concerned about how her uncle, King Richard, might view her relationship with Robin Hood. She never questions Robin’s decision to oppose Prince John, or spends any time trying to determine who is really terrorizing the people of Nottingham. For a woman caught in the middle of such personal power struggle, she doesn’t appear conflicted at all. She simply loves and supports Robin no matter what the circumstances.
Love: 2.5 Stars
Robin Hood and Maid Marian don’t spend much time romancing each other, but the film makes it clear that they’ve been in love since childhood. And in the end, their connection is strong enough to survive the political obstacles that might have kept them apart. Marian remains devoted to Robin, despite the fact that he’s become an outlaw and a traitor to the throne. She even begs Prince John to spare his life, despite what it might cost her. The film could have made it more clear that the couple shares the same dedication to justice and concern for the poor people of Nottingham - and that Marian isn’t simply following Robin out of a sense of blind love. But her interactions with the children and the people of Nottingham make it easy for us to read between the lines and conclude that Marian also believes fairness and equality, even if she is less active or vocal about the cause.
Friendship: 2.5 Stars
One of Robin Hood’s strongest features is the friendship between Robin Hood and Little John. While the two men spend a fair amount of time laughing together and antagonizing Prince John, there is also a surprising depth to their relationship. They openly discuss their concerns over being caught by the Sherriff’s men, Little John’s struggle over whether they are truly good guys or bad guys, and Robin Hood’s insecurity over his chances with Marian. It’s unfortunately rare to see such a legendary hero expressing so much vulnerability and insecurity. If nothing else, Robin Hood shows us that even brave men sometimes take the time to talk through their feelings with their closest friends.