Shakespeare may have ruined Robin Goodfellow’s name in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Reading the folklore, I would much rather think that he was, instead of the impish sprite Puck, the handsome young half-fae with a name Robin. Perhaps I can set the record straight? My reference (Encyclopedia of Things that Never Were; Michael Page, Robert Ingpent @1987) tells of a much kinder and gentler sort than this scoundrel Puck!
Robin was born to Oberon, a fairy and a human peasant girl that the fairy god fell in love with. This happened around the time of Richard the Lion-Hearted. Oberon chose to let the boy live with his mother but gave him the ability to change his shape if he needed to help someone in trouble, or punish someone.
As all children, Robin had his mischievous moments. Still, that’s no reason to call him the devil (Puck is a loose translation of the Welsh word for devil). I think rumor changed Robin’s image. You know how one ill deed can give you a reputation? Poor lad!
Robin grew to be a handsome man and a lady’s lover, helping in the kitchen and sweet talking the damsels. I think its perhaps this quality that made him a target of the Englishmen who would rather call him a rascal and blame him for whatever might go wrong. I detect a note of jealousy. Who knows, perhaps Shakespeare himself had a run in with Robin Goodfellow. If you can, for a moment, disregard the poet’s claim that Puck and Robin are one in the same, and look further into history, you will see that Robin Goodfellow is his own man. I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would so discredit him!