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Setzer 1
Kyle Setzer
Mr. Barzcak
Theology and Culture 191-11
30 April 2016
Disney’s Robin Hood
The movie begins with Robin Hood and Little John talking about whether they are doing
good or just plain criminals. As Prince John and his assistant, Sir Hiss are going through the
kingdom collecting taxes from the citizens, Robin Hood and Little John decide to rob him by
disguising themselves as fortunetellers. Despite multiple warnings from Sir Hiss, Robin Hood
and Little John successfully rob Prince John. After those events, Prince John puts a bounty the
heads on Robin Hood and Little John and makes the Sheriff of Nottingham his personal tax
collector in order to reclaim the lost money. The Sheriff goes around town collecting taxes from
the citizens such as an injured blacksmith and a kid celebrating his birthday. Robin Hood appears
and gives Skippy money and his hat and bow. Skippy tries out the bow and shoots an arrow into
Maid Marian’s castle. Skippy and his friends have a fun time with Marian and Lady Kluck.
While this is happening, Friar Tuck visits Robin Hood and tells him that Prince John is holding
an archery tournament and the winner is going to receive a kiss from Maid Marian. Robin Hood
enters the tournament and wins but the tournament proved to be a setup so Prince John could
capture Robin Hood. A huge brawl erupts at the tournament after Prince John attempts to execute
Robin Hood. Marian, Robin Hood, and the other citizens of Nottingham escape to Sherwood
Forest. After the brawl, Prince John triples the taxes and puts people who cannot pay into prison.
Later Friar Tuck is thrown into prison after the Sheriff goes too far in collecting taxes. Robin
Setzer 2
Hood and Little John decide to break him and the rest of the citizens from Nottingham out of
prison. During the night of the prison raid, Robin Hood successfully rescues Friar Tuck and the
citizens from prison and manages to steal the money back from Prince John that he had collected
as taxes. After the prison raid, King Richard returns from the Crusades, restores peace to the
kingdom, severely punishes Prince John and his subordinates i and allows Robin Hood to marry
The moral and ethics examined in this film relate to the fairness of taxation in the society.
According to Mark Pinsky, “In Nottingham, the consequences of Prince John’s confiscatory tax
policy are evident and dire” (95). In the film, Robin Hood the role of government was corrupted
with the rise of Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham. He begins collecting taxes from the
poor to give to the Prince John. In the exchange between the Sheriff of Nottingham and Friar
Tuck, we get a glimpse of how the people of the town view the taxes\Friar Tuck: You thieving
scandal\Sheriff of Nottingham: Now take it easy, Friar, I am only doing my duty.\ Friar Tuck:
“Collecting taxes for that arrogant, greedy ruthless, no-good Prince John.\ (Disney, Robin Hood,
59.35-46). Christianity states in Matthew 22:17-21, the Pharisees asked Jesus a question:
"Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" But Jesus,
knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the
coin used for paying the tax." They brought Him a denarius, and He asked them, "Whose portrait
is this? And whose inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied. Then He said to them, "Give to Caesar
what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Standard Revised Version, Matthew 22:17- 21)
Also in Romans we find that the Apostle Paul taught, "This is also why you pay taxes, for
the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you
owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor,
then honor" (Standard Revised Version, Romans 13:6-7). Christianity supports paying taxes to
the government but that taxes should be use to uplift the poor and provide vital services in our
Setzer 3
communities. Christianity promotes paying taxes to support the government because they
provide authority to God’s servants in the world. According to the Colin Farrelly, “raising
revenue through taxation is necessary because the benefits of social cooperation be they the
enjoyment of negative liberties (such as the right to private property or the freedom of
expression) or welfare rights.” (Farrelly 185) Taxpayers always squawk about the high rate of
taxes paid in our society not realizing how it supports some of the benefits we enjoy such as a
free public education, safety and security, and a transportation network. In the movie, the
challenge faced by the common people was paying taxes without receiving the benefits of being
under the rule of a government structure.
The second ethical or moral dilemma examined in the film is the justification for stealing
to do the right thing, which is giving back to the community. The Ten Commandments clearly
state that “Thou shall not steal” (Standard Revised Version, Exodus 20:15). While Robin Hood
justifies his actions as borrowing from this exchange between him and little John
Little John: You know something, Robin. I was just wondering, as we the good guys or
the bad guys? You know I mean, uh? Our robbing the rich to feed the poor.
Robin Hood: Rob? Tsk tsk tsk. That’s a naughty word. We never rob. We just sort of
borrow a bit from those who can afford it.
Little John: Borrow? Boy are we in debt.
(Disney, Robin Hood, 5:23-43)
We all face challenges in our life where we are tempted to do something bad to serve the
greater purpose for good. But in God’s eye it is sin. Leviticus 19:11 confirms God’s position by
stating, “You should not steal nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another” (Standard Revised
Version, Leviticus 19:11). We see images and hear stories in the news of how people steal and
beg to feed their families. We question “Why?” Many people do the correct thing by seeking out
the resources available from the government but the bureaucracy and delay in help does not
provide the immediate relief that a family may need. The economic cycle of our economy drives
Setzer 4
people to do the wrong thing. During these times of economic downturn is when we need our
government to support those in need temporarily. While I don’t support people in need stealing
to provide for their families, I understand that they are placed in a predicament to survive or die.
Most people will do what is necessary to survive. It’s like “survival of the fittest”!
The lifelong lessons of this film are within the components of catholic social teaching
such as charity and justice. Today’s controversy around taxation is that the middle class people
who pay a large percentage of their income to taxes do not receive most the benefits from the
government. Most citizens feel that the governmental agencies do not spend the tax dollars
wisely. Charity is giving back to others in need through time, talent and treasure. The gifts of
charity are done through many church settings or via donations to various philanthropic
endeavors. In this film, Robin Hood tries to right and injustice by stealing from the rich to
support the poor. While he mode of acquiring resources is illegal but his intent was to help the
least of those in his community. As Christians, we use our excess resources to give back to the
poor and uplift them in their journey. According the Mark, “the beggar is welcomed into the
cottage, demonstrating that the poor have compassion for those worse off than themselves. Their
generosity is rewarded, as the beggar turns out to be Robin Hood in disguise. Justice is
correcting the long term problems within the community of poverty. These resources should be
provided by the government through taxation.
We as Christians must always keep in mind that we must accountable for following the
life of Christ by selflessly giving to others and always keep in mind the verse in Matthew where
we render unto Caesar what is Caesar. With faith as our foundation, we should not worry about
the role of government but pray that our leaders make decisions that are good for all people.
Setzer 5
Works Cited
Holy Bible. The English Standard Version Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Farrelly, Cohn. “Taxation and Distributive Justice.” Political Studies Review 2.2 (2004): 185197. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Pinsky, Mark I. “Chapter 16.” The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust.
Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2004. 94-98. Print.
Robin Hood. Dir. Wolfgang Reitherman. Perf. Roger Miller, Phil Harris.Amazzon. N.p,5 July
1994. Web. 8 May 2016