Thou shalt have the better cloathe': reading second skins in Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne

Ward, Renée (2017) Thou shalt have the better cloathe': reading second skins in Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne. In: Flaying in the Premodern World: Practice and Representation. Boydell & Brewer, pp. 349-365. ISBN 9781843844525

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Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne is one of the earliest extant Robin Hood ballads. It is also one of the most grisly of the medieval outlaw tales, with a total of five deaths and several intense moments of violence connected directly to Robin, especially his decapitation, disfigurement and flaying of the bounty hunter Guy of Gisborne’s body. The cultural meaning of Robin’s violence and his treatment of Guy’s body resides in the animal skin (a horse hide) the bounty hunter wears. As this study demonstrates, the hide carries a series of identities, some of which transgress species boundaries and, through their connections to social mobility and monetary economies, also transgress class boundaries. Guy’s appropriation of the hide, and, thus, of these transgressive identities, threatens traditional social structures that rely upon clear divisions between both. Robin’s treatment of Guy, then, specifically his violence towards the bounty hunter’s body, is a rejection of all that he and his second skin represent; it is an attempt to eradicate the new social order. Additionally, Robin’s transferal of the hide to himself renders him an alternate source of justice, one which reinforces class boundaries and reinscribes the social hegemony of the very system that excludes him through the practice of outlawry.

Keywords:Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne, Robin Hood, Medieval Outlaws, Flaying, Horses, Decapitation, Beheading, Violence, Outlawry, Hunting, Feudalism, Zooproloteriat
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q323 English Literature by topic
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V130 Medieval History
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q321 English Literature by period
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
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ID Code:25277
Deposited On:02 Dec 2016 09:17

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