Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Parallels of King David and Robin Hood

I was sitting in a Panera talking with my friend, Renée, when she told me that she saw many similarities between the life of King David of Israel and the story of Robin Hood. Skeptical and surprised, I listened as she began to lay out the parallels and earnest excitement radiated from her deep brown eyes as she attempted to convince me.  I was been astounded, and a swirl of thoughts and possibilities rustled through my mind. The similarities were clear and I saw potential blog material. Before long she cried out with animation, "Your face! You're not sure what you just heard!"
"No, you're right!" I stuttered out, and continued, "My blog is all about comparisons. I was thinking about maybe you could do a guest post for my blog."
Fortunately she was excited with this idea, and so I am pleased to present the first ever guest post on Lore and Literature:

The Parallels of King David and Robin Hood
By Renée Du'Quatre

 Ever since I was a child, I have loved the story of Robin Hood. It has always been one of my favorites. It’s a fun, adventurous, romantic story with memorable characters that you immediately grow to love. When I was little I would take my toys, assign them a character from the story, and play for hours.

Growing up in a Christian home I also learned all about the Bible at a young age. Biblical History was one of my favorite subjects in school and even now as an adult I still love and enjoy studying the Word of God.

 Over the years I’ve seen many different versions of Robin Hood and read over the history of King David many times. As I learned more and studied each of them individually, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two legendary, historical heroes. 

I believe it started when I was still in either elementary or middle school and we had to read a novelized version of the life of King David called The Fugitive King by Elizabeth Rice Handford. It struck me then how similar David’s life (before he was crowned king) was to that of Robin Hood.

 Now, I don’t know if this is just me and how my strange, overactive mind works, but personally I don’t believe it takes a lot of imagination to see all the similarities here. 

Granted, with Robin Hood most of the details in the characters and the story line vary depending on the version you read or watch. But I think most of the details listed below are ones that most adaptations generally stick to and are traditionally accepted by those who enjoy or are familiar with the story. 

After a few days of researching I was able to compile this list:

Robin, or Sir Robin of Locksley, was a knight who was pursued by the oppressive ruler Prince John.
David was a shepherd, (who as a young man was anointed to be the next king of Israel, 1 Samuel 16:1-13), who became appointed as head over the king’s men of war, (1 Samuel 18:5) and was later resented and hunted by King Saul. (1 Samuel chapter 19.) 

Both were honorable men with titles and a promising future. Both were declared fugitives and were savagely pursued by the active rulers of their land and forced into hiding for years. (1 Samuel 26:1; 27:1.)

Both were noted as being excellent warriors. (1 Samuel 18:5-7.)

Robin is famous for using his bow and arrow.
David is known for using his sling and a smooth stone. (1 Samuel 17:40, 49.)

Both had high respect and loyalty to their kings. Robin was known for being dedicated to King Richard. David, even though he was pursued by King Saul, still refused to kill him or even do him harm. (1 Samuel 24:1-22, 26:1-25.)

Robin is known for taking down his foe, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, (in some adaptations an assassin, in others a fellow nobleman) who was sent to kill him.
David is known for taking down the giant, Philistine champion, Goliath. (1 Samuel chapter 17.)

Robin had his ‘Merry Men.’
David had his ‘Mighty Men.’ (2 Samuel 23:8-39.)

Robin’s best friend was ‘Little John.’
David’s best friend was Prince Jonathan. (1 Samuel 18:1-4, 19:1-20:42.)

Jonathan and David used a bow and three arrows as a signal in I Samuel 20:18-23; something Robin and Little John would be accustomed to do. (In 2 Samuel 1:17-27 David wrote The Song of the Bow in mourning over the death of Jonathan.) 

Robin was in love with Maid Marian who (in certain versions) was a relative (or ward) to the king (in early adaptations she is a shepherdess).
David’s first wife, Michal, was the second daughter of King Saul. (1 Samuel 18:17-30.) 
Both women were used by the callous rulers, (the men whose responsibility it was to protect them) as bait/a snare in order to trap the men they loved. (1 Samuel 18:17-30) However, instead of trapping them they proved to be helpful assets in their escape. (1 Samuel 19:15-17.)

Robin and his ‘Merry Men’ liked to sing and are known through ballads.
David was a musician who wrote many songs and poems.

Both were God-fearing men, (David was a man after God’s own heart [1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22]) who were associated with godly men. 

Robin was good friends with Friar Tuck.
David was anointed by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:1-13) and goes to him for safety when hunted by King Saul in 1 Samuel 19:18. Later when he is king, David is rebuked by Nathan the prophet for sinning with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:1-14) and by the prophet Gad for an unspecified sin in 2 Samuel 24:1-17.  (Possibly his sin was taking a census of the people, an act of pride instead of relying wholly on God.) Gad is also referred to as David’s Seer in 2 Samuel 24:11. 

Robin would occasionally disguise himself like a beggar or farmer to spy on his enemies or extract information from them.
David pretended to be insane before Achish the king of Gath when he was in fear of his life. (1 Samuel 21:10-15.)

Although they are both highly acclaimed heroes and usually praised for their valiant efforts, they are also notoriously remembered for their faults. Robin was an outlaw and a thief. David was an adulterer and a murderer. 

I’m sure there are probably more similarities to the two heroes that I missed.

Overall, my reason for pointing out these similarities is purely out of love and respect for both legendary heroes. It was fun for me to consider, and then take the time to do some personal research on each man.  

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed researching. 

Note: I put Biblical references to David but no references to Robin, because the Bible is literal, factual history whereas the stories of Robin Hood (as I previously mentioned) are mostly based off ballads and traditions that vary; most of which are listed on the Wikipedia website and can be referenced there if desired.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

J.R.R. Tolkien's Translation of Beowulf To Be Published

I just read the news: J.R.R. Tolkien's translation of Beowulf  is set to be published on May 22 (The Guardian).

As a Beowulf and Tolkien fan, this is very exciting. How will it differ from other translations? What phrases like gold and jewels strung together will be set forth to shine in the sun like ancient treasures newly discovered from some grim coffer where they have lain hidden? What will it reveal about the influence of Beowulf on Middle-Earth?

However my anticipation was stung a little with the thought,"if it hasn't been published until now, then maybe J. R. R. Tolkien never wanted it to be published?" Similar thoughts by others are reported in The Guardian's article "J. R. R. Tolkien translation of Beowulf to be published after 90 year wait."

And now we wait.


Read the latest on TheOneRing.Net:
The official word on the publication of Tolkien's Beowulf Translation

This article includes details about the book and includes a picture of the cover. The dragon on it looks like one that Tolkien drew.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dr. Watson an Expressive ISFJ

In the Sherlock Holmes canon, there are many incidents that support the generally accepted idea that Dr. John H. Watson is an ISFJ.

ISFJ stands for Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging, and is a personality type in the Myers Briggs system of personality analysis.

ISFJs are known as "The Protectors" and "The Defenders." Watson felt the need to protect his friend, insisting on accompanying Holmes when he was being pursued by Moriarty (The Final Problem, 734). He also felt protective of Miss Mary Morstan. When Thaddeus Sholto suddenly and offhandedly revealed that her father was dead, Watson wrote, "I could have struck the man across the face, so hot was I at this callous and offhand reference to so delicate a matter." Not long later they found themselves holding hands, "I have marvelled at it since, but at the time it seemed the most natural thing that I should go out to her so, and, as she has often told me, there was in her also the instinct to turn to me for comfort and protection" (The Sign of Four). In this quote, it is clear that he instinctively wanted to be supportive to her, and that she saw him as a good emotional support and protector.

Dr. Watson
Heiss wrote that ISFJ's will provide practical support at a moment's notice to their close friends. This is seen a number of times throughout the canon. In The Final Problem, Watson left on very short notice with Holmes in order to protect and assist him. He arose early to go on adventures with Holmes and undertook assignments from Holmes that involved leaving his own business behind. Additionally, he retrieved a different friend from an opium den and the man was grateful for this rescue (The Man With the Twisted Lip). Watson definitely exhibits this ISFJ trait. 

On a related note, this type feels a need to serve. "ISFJs are characterized above all by their desire to serve others, their 'need to be needed.' In extreme cases, this need is so strong that standard give-and-take relationships are deeply unsatisfying to them" (Heiss). Watson once referred to Holmes as his master, which implies that he was the servant or pupil. He, himself, stated that he served Holmeswith these words: "my years of humble but single-minded service" (The Adventure of the Three Garridebs). While he would have liked to be more appreciated this need to serve is perhaps why he continued to serve Holmes despite the fact that he felt unappreciated. It seems that Watson would have liked a normal give-and-take friendship, but because he was an ISFJ he put up with one that was not and on learning that Holmes really did value his friendship and service after his apparent indifference, it was enough for him: "All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation" (The Adventure of the Three Garridebs).  "ISFJs are loyal to the end," Joe Butt.

Typical ISFJ, Watson feels unappreciated, "I have often been piqued by his indifference to my admiration and to the attempts I had made to give publicity to his methods" (The Hound of the Baskervilles).  Heiss wrote, "ISFJs are often unappreciated....they are often unwilling to toot their own horns about their accomplishments because they feel that although they deserve more credit than they're getting, it's somehow wrong to want any sort of reward for doing work." Watson doesn't express the feeling that it is wrong to want recognition, but he does feel unappreciated and that he deserves more gratitude from Holmes.

ISFJs are Sensors as opposed to Intuitives. Andrea Wenger wrote, "They’re more interested in sensory data than in the patterns perceived by the unconscious mind." Watson saw and noticed details but he could not connect them correctly in the grand way the intuitive Holmes did. Now, that being said, ISFJs do have some intuition which may misguide them (Heiss) as perhaps it did Watson.

Watson possessed an inability to hide his true feelings well. Joe Butt wrote that ISFJs are "are often unable to either hide or articulate any distress they may be feeling." One example was when Holmes deceived Watson instead of taking him into his schemes because he knew Watson wouldn't be as convincing if he didn't believe in it.  In The Dying Detective. Holmes said to Watson, "among your many talents dissimulation finds no place, and that if you had shared my secret you would never have been able to impress Smith with the urgent necessity of his presence, which was the vital point of the whole scheme." (Conversely: because he did believe Holmes was dieing, he succeeded in convincing the villain to come). In The Sign of Four, he pretended to be happy although his heart "was heavy within" him and it was evident: "I think I must have been rather over-acting my delight, and that she detected a hollow ring in my congratulations."

Now, in response to the latter half of Joe Butt's statement, Watson was able to articulate his feelings just fine, and I think this is because we see his feelings through his writings. Writing gives one the chance to analyze one's emotions and pick the right words to describe them. In Portrait of an ISFJ, we read, "more so than other types, ISFJs are extremely aware of their own internal feelings, as well as other people's feelings" which they may refrain from expressing. From personal experience both these statements are true in the right context. ISFJs just hide their feelings poorly. 

On a similar note, and although not technically an ISFJ trait, Watson had an expressive face. In The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, Holmes was able to basically read Watson's mind because, well, it was written across his face:
“You remember,” said he, “that some little time ago when I read you the passage in one of Poe’s sketches in which a close reasoner follows the unspoken thoughts of his companion, you were inclined to treat the matter as a mere tour-de-force of the author. On my remarking that I was constantly in the habit of doing the same thing you expressed incredulity.”
“Oh, no!”
“Perhaps not with your tongue, my dear Watson, but certainly with your eyebrows."
Their conversation continued and Watson argued:
"But I have been seated quietly in my chair, and what clues can I have given you?”
“You do yourself an injustice. The features are given to man as the means by which he shall express his emotions, and yours are faithful servants.”
“Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts from my features?”
“Your features and especially your eyes.” Holmes continued with an analysis of Watson's expressions and movements which were the foot-prints that led him through the path of Watson's mind.

And this is one reason why Martin Freeman is an excellent Watson:

Watson from BBC Sherlock
What a veritable palette of expression!

Further Exploration:

His writing style also indicates that he is an ISFJ. For more on that see:
Dr. Watson's Writing Style and Personality Type

I really enjoyed this post about Dr. John Watson from BBC's Sherlock. It approaches character analysis by looking at personality functions. I learned a lot about Myers Briggs through her series and the further exploration that it prompted:


Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, edited by Leslie J. Klinger, intro by John Le Carré. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, vol 1 & 2. W. W. Norton & Company. New York: 2005.

Heiss, Marina Margaret and Joe Butt. ISFJ Profile, on TypeLogic.

Wenger, Andrea. The ISFJ Writing Personality: Tangible Warmth.

Portrait of an ISFJ