terça-feira, 29 de março de 2016

Robin Hood mythical hero

By: Hellen Reis Mourão
Robin Hood is a mythical English hero. In short, he was an outlaw, who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.

           According to the legend, he would have lived in the 13th century, in the Crusades period, along with King Richard, the Lionheart, being his loyal supporter.
It’s commonly said that Robin truly existed, but the fact is, if he did, it doesn’t matter, because his legend has been still alive and delight the whole world for centuries and it has been portrayed several times on films, comic books and on television.

          In Nottingham, a city in the centre of England, where Robin’s Hood adventures take place, besides monuments, there are streets with his name and an annual festival entirely dedicated to him. There is also what was left of Sherwood forest , where it is possible to find the three in which Robin and his band gathered.

            Robin Hood was portrayed in popular culture as a highly skilled archer and swordsman. He used to live in the Sherwood forest and among his best friends and companions were Little John
, Will Scarlet e Friar Tuck. His love interest was Maid Marian who he gets married in all versions.

            He was known as “The prince of the Thieves” who valued freedom, adventure and the open air life. 

           One of the first written references to the character is the epic poem “Piers Plowman” written by William Langand  around 1377. The compilation “Gest of Robin Hood” dated by 1400 , suggests that the stories about the legend had been around a lot at that time and were all public knowledge years before, at least, since 1310.
There are several versions and origins related to the hero. The most known is that his name was Robert Locksley.
Robert fought in a Crusade alongside King Richard, but when he went back home, Nottingham, find it under Prince John’s tyranny.
People were under abusive laws, and the hunting – the only source of livelihood at that time – had been forbidden. Angry, Robin Hood refuses to accept the situation and becomes an outlaw. Taking advantage of his knowledge of cavalry, archery and combat acquired in the war, he joins to a group and begins a combat against the noble tyranny, stealing arrogant nobles and wealthy clerics as a way to make up the abuses. 

            In the end of the history, he wins Prince John and gets married to Maid Marian, Ricardo’s niece. In the end of the history, Richard, the Lionheart reappears after his defeat in foreign lands and he makes Robin Hood a knight, turning him into a noble again.

            The truth is that Robin Hood was always a source of versions to the movies and television. The idea of an anti-hero that uses an unethical argument to promote justice, pleases the collective consciousness.
In all the theories that support the existence of Robin, the hero chose the clandestine life and the fact that he was an outlaw, a rebel, due to the fact that he was wronged and this way summoning to his mission a huge group of allies.

         He becomes a hero symbol of generosity and fear of governor.

          Robin used to be portrayed wearing a green outfit, handling his bow like nobody’s business, fearless and living free and happy, surrounded by friends who help him on a brink of any threat.

           Before starting the analysis  it is important to highlight that little attention is given to the real man who would have served as inspiration to the appearing of this mythological figure.  I intent to analyse the symbol and alleged historical context.
The great question and core issue of Robin Hood’s Epic is the Crusades.

 King Richard sets off to the combat in the name of church. He goes to Jerusalem during the third Crusade and his throne is usurped by his tyrannical brother, Prince John.
Here we have the onset of the problem: the King is weak and succumbs to the power. 

          According to Von Franz (2005), the tales and the legends always begin with an issue related to the King:

“Now, we keep the exposition, in other words, with the onset of the problem. You will find it in a shape of the sick old King, for example, or the King who finds out that every night golden apples are stolen from his tree, or his horse is sterile, or his wife is sick and needs the water of life. Some problems always appear in the beginning of the story obviously, because if it didn’t, there would never be a story. So, it establishes the problem psychologically and tries to understand its nature.”

After the whole explanation, it is necessary to understand the nature of this initial problem.

            First, the King’s symbolism is very important. An extensive study about the King is in the chapter called “ Rex et Regina”, from Jung’s book, Mysterium Coniunctionis.
The King, in the ancient tribes, had magical qualities to the people. Some leaders, for example, were so sacred that they could not touch the ground and for this reason they were carried by his people (Von Franz, 2005).
In several primitives societies, the prosperity of the whole country relied on the King’s health and physical sanity: If he became powerless or sick, he had to be killed and another king should take over his place, whose health and power could guarantee women and cattle fertility as well as, the whole tribe prosperity.
Hence there is the idea of King be periodically renewed.

            According to Von Franz (2005)
“We may say, to sum up, that the King or the leader assumes a divine figure, on which depends the physical and psychic well- being of the whole nation. The King represents a divine principle in its most visible form, it is its incarnation and home.
As a result, he has a lot of characteristics that lead us to consider him a symbol of SELF, because SELF, according to our definition, is the centre of psyche self regulation system on which depends the individual well-being.”

            So, Richard, the King, as a symbol of SELF, is connected to a Western civilization, that represented, above all, the current religion: Christianity , that should be the people’s  source of mental health.
However, at that time, there was an enormous dissatisfaction with Christianity, due to the Crusades. This dissatisfaction appears several times in the hero’s adaptation to the movies, mainly in his lines.

          This way, religion, as any other current system, wears off. Its symbols lose their numinous qualities.
The comparative history of religions show the tendency of rituals and dogmas become overcome after some time, losing its original emotive impact, becoming useless formulas. Although they acquire some conscience positive qualities, such as continuity, they lose contact with the life irrational current and have a tendency to become automatic. (Von Franz, 2005).

           The same happens to the political systems that become wear off as the time goes by.
In Robin Hood story, we see the current political and religious system in a wearing off process. Richard, as a King succumbs to the Crusades and left behind what was essential: the people.

          The Crusades were a supposedly Christian inspired military movement that set off from Western Europe towards Jerusalem in order to conquer, take and keep it under Christian domain. There were around nine Crusades.
The third Crusade was preached by Pope Gregory VIII right after Jerusalem had been captured by the sultan Saladin in 1187 and it is also known as The King’s Crusade. It is so-called by the participation of the main European sovereigns at that time: King Philip of France, Frederick Barbarossa (Holy German-Roman Emperor) and Richard, the Lionheart (England).

Hence, it is possible to see that Christianity had succumbed to the Power principle. There was no more Eros in the current religion. Greed and brutality marked this movements. 

The King’s brother then usurps the throne. John was the King’s shadow, the power principle.

Wherever a cultural, religious and civilization structure loses its religious characteristics, political fights happen among dictator and restrict groups that determine the destine of a whole civilization. In case there isn’t a much more powerful symbol capable of uniting people , so the disruptive influence, allied to battles for prestige and vanity, appears (Von Franz, 2002).

The church at this time didn’t have a more spiritual life capable of keeping people united and then, was destined to perish in the constant battle of power.
At this time, when the King needs to be renewed, the principle of power, represented by John prevails. 

In John’s figure we have the destructive rage. In Disney’s animation from 1973, John is represented by a lion, animal that Jung, on top of being symbol of royalty, represents strong, passionate desire and loving animal impulses. The lion represents an strong animal impulse.
According to Von Franz (2002):
“If a human being lose its religious support, they fall apart becoming an easy target of affection, such as sex, power, besides other desires and impulses and it is the moment in which the personality is taken by the greed”
It is in the scenario that Robin Hood emerges, protecting the powerless and becoming a mythical figure. 

Despite being an outlaw, Hood is a hero.
Among the hero figures, there is a great variety of them: the “fool” type, the “cheater” type, the strong man type, the naive, the handsome guy, the wizard, the one that sort out all the problems and the one that sort out and supplants through power and courage.  

The hero is the savior, He renew the life situation. 

As Von Franz (2005) mentions:
“The hero is, consequently, the restorer of the sound situation, conscious.  He is an ego that reestablishes the normal and sound operation of a situation, in which all egos from the tribe or nation are diverting from the totality instinctive pattern. We may say that the hero is an archetype who represents a ego model working according to the SELF. Being a product from the unconscious psyche, He is a model that must be observed, because He shows the ego according to the SELF solicitation”

Robin performs the designs of the hero archetype, because He really makes up and restore the sound situation.
The fact that he is an outlaw shows that the individuals who prove the Self don’t fit in the current moral. The unconscious is amoral in face of conscious.
But in fact, Robin is not a transgressor. The act of stealing gets him close to the mythical Prometheus, who steals fire from Gods to give it to the humanity. Robin steals the powerful people’s amount and from the unconscious principle regent, that divert from instinctive operating pattern.
As well as Prometheus brought progress to humanity, Robin brings a new vision of western man, an unconscious increase. 
This unconscious increase comes through the questioning of human actions. The destruction of people in the name of power and the negligence of other people at the expenses of what is called God.
As well as Job, the biblical figure, and Prometheus, He questions this divinity. He question his acts, his aggressive behaviour, his instinct. The uncertainty is the beginning of the conscious.
Both the myth and the legend show that every benefit from the knowledge and conscious is followed, inexorably, by pain, guilty and punishment. The benefit given to the one who scapes from the darkness.

Robin pays his debits with the exclusion and loneliness.
On top of that, Robin lives in the woods, in the middle of nature. The wood is a feminine symbol and an untouched psyche area. So much so that the Goddess associated to the woods and forests is the virgin Goddess Artemis, one of Great Mother aspects.
In the legend and in the movies adaptations, there isn’t any feminine figure alongside the King. In other words, the lack of the feminine element in  the unconscious principle regent.
 Robin’s legend shows a current problem of humanity, which is the exploitation of natural resources made by modern man. This exploitation has come to the limit of absurd. The wood’s life chosen by Robin shows a completely different way from the Western man who prefers the hectic life from the consorts of Great Mother.

           The feminine element is also came to light by the hero who helps him and his adventure, who is his beloved Marian, portrayed sometimes as King’s Richard niece.

            Another Robin interesting aspect is the fact that he deals with his bow and arrow skillfully.

            About that we can make some assumptions. The bow and arrow can be considered one of the most intelligent inventions of human history. By the use of this tool, man started avoiding hand to hand combats in which he was submitted in antiquity.

            In this period, man needed to fight hand to hand with animals or throw darts and Spears, which was extremely dangerous and turn almost impossible the hunt of birds. So, bow and arrow start to protect man who could shoot from a sound distance and in silence, taking humanity to a huge step forward in terms of improvement when it comes to survival. Bow and arrow are fruits of intuition function once they came to oppose to the brute force.

                 Besides that, to use bow and arrow in a hunt, not only was it necessary to have a good shot, but also an appropriated psychological condition. If before the hunt, the hunter had had a fight, he would certainly miss the target.
Therefore it is necessary to hit a target look for an inner balance. Hitting the target requires concentration, intelligence and intuition. 

Once Self is represented as psyche centre as a whole, Robin, besides being extremely intelligent, he hits the target skillfully, showing that he is going along with Self’ designs. Due to it, he is capable to lead people to their totality.

            Robin incorporated the shadow, because it is possible to see the the hero’s negative aspect in him, in the outlaw figure. 
Hood is proclaimed as The prince of the Thieves. The thief is a mythical figure, being even more famous than God Hermes, considered by Greeks the patron of intelligence, cunning and thieves.
All the Gods’ pagan characteristic seeing in Robin are quite interesting. In a period in which the paganism was suppressed as a function of a unique God, much of the lost knowledge in this period went to the unconscious. Along with this pagan knowledge, it is the feminine, that has a much more magnificent expression at paganism.
Then, Robin is responsible for bringing back this suppressed knowledge to the consciousness and bring back in order to have an renewal

 It is also important to highlight that in the fairies we see that the renewal begins in the grassroots sections of society. All the renewal doesn’t immediately happen to the highest sections of society. The renewal coming from the grassroot sections of society first would mean the necessity of people to get rid of oppression and wishing freedom.
Deepening Robin archetype.

             According to (1998), Puer Aeternus figure as a single archetype has the tendency of unify in one piece the following figures: the Hero, The Divine Child, The Kings’s son, The Son of the Great Mother, Eros, the Psychopomp, Mercury - Hermes, Trickster and the Messiah (the savior).
Robin Hood has many of these mentioned qualities: He is a hero, a seductive man like Eros, a Trickster, because he plays pranks in the powerful man around town, he is a Mercury – Hermes because his intelligence, criativity and cunning, a son of nature, in other words, of Great Mother and also a Savior.

            Still according to Hillman (1998), the archetype of Puer Aeternus personify or it is in a special relation to the transcendent special powers of the collective unconscious. Representing this way, the Spirit’s impulse.

           The Puer issue was very well detailed by Marie Louise Von Franz in her piece
Puer Aeternus: A Psychological Study of the Adult Struggle With the Paradise of Childhood. In this piece she approaches with clarity and details the main neurotic plan.


        However, I would like to emphasize, using  Robin Hood figure, the archetype background, which brings the light and shadow and a great possibility of growth and development.

              The Puer is our own nature, something essential that is part of us and goes beyond the collective agreements. It is our essence that connect us to the Self.

               Through Puer it is given us the meaning of destiny and mission., that we have a message and that we hold the divine flame. He is our vitality, abundance and enthusiasm meaning.

              As well as Robin, he is at the service of the Gods (here, King Richard), in other words, Self .

              I don’t want to wrap this subject up, because there is a lot to say about  Robin Hood and his image of a Hero, Trickster, Seductive and Transgressor. But it is worth understanding that he represents the freshness of the soul, the spark of the spirit and our deeply originality.

HILLMAN, J. O Livro do Puer – ensaios sobre o Arquétipo do Puer Aeternus. São Paulo: Paulus, 1998.
KAWAI, H. A Psique Japonesa – Grandes temas dos contos de fadas japoneses. São Paulo: Paulus, 2007.
VON FRANZ, M. L. A interpretação dos contos de fada. 5 ed. Paulus. São Paulo: 2005.
_________________. A sombra e o mal nos contos de fada. 3 ed. Paulus. São Paulo: 2002.
________________ A individuação nos contos de fadas. 3 ed. Paulus: São Paulo: 1984.
________________ Puer Aeternus – A luta do adulto contra o paraíso da infancia. 5 ed. Paulus. São Paulo: 2005.