The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

The Role of Maid Marian in Robin Hood

It is hard to evaluate and study the mythic character of Robin Hood without considering his significant other, the fair Maid Marian. Though Marian does not appear in the original legend, by the sixteenth century she becomes an essential part of the tale. One common theory suggests that Marian appeared because the Robin Hood character was rising in class stature: “[T]he first time a role of substance for a lady emerges in the outlaw myth is when its hero has become a lord, and so needs a lady, both as part of his gracious style of living and to provide the continuation of the landed line”(Knight, 59). Marian plays more significant a role than lady of the house, however. Two major works that have lent an identity to Marian are Thomas Love Peacock’s 1822 novella Maid Marian and the ballad Robin Hood and Maid Marian. In these two pieces of literature Marian appears as both a strong intellectual role model for women and an overlooked, sexualized subordinate to her male peers. This dichotomy draws questions about the possible biases that may have affected the myth until modern times and about the type of feminist hero that Marian has the potential to embody.

In Peacock’s Maid Marian, the title character “is drawn from Peacock's...

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