tree cel

The Last Unicorn
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small pink unicorn screencap

For someone who has never read the short story, the scene with the Tree must seem extremely odd. This part of the story continues to deal with what is real and what is just a nice fantasy that we tell ourselves. It starts with the real bandits, who are nothing like the fantasy bandits of Robin Hood. In the book, the leader of the bandits points out that Robin Hood robs from the rich to give to the poor. He says the reality is just the reverse. They rob from the poor who cannot defend themselves. The rich can send military units to the forest to wipe them out so instead the bandits pay a fee to the wealthy landowners in order to continue to live in the forest undisturbed.

The theme is repeated with the concept of love. The Tree represents a shallow and false love. She claims that she will love Schmendrick forever. To paraphrase, I will remember the color of your eyes when no one else remembers your name. The problem is that she knows nothing at all about Schmendrick so there is no way she can love him. In the book, Schmendrick has been cursed with eternal life. One of his instructors thought he was being helpful and cast a spell with the condition that Schmendrick would not age until he learned true magic. The problem is that it is almost impossible to learn anything without aging and experiencing life. The very spell that prevents him from aging prevents him from fullfilling his goal in life; becoming a true magician. Instead of wanting eternal life, Schmendrick wants to become mortal. Although an exact age is not given, it is implied that he is really centuries old and not the twenty-something he appears to be. This false and meaningless love of the Tree will be contrasted later in the show with the true love that the Unicorn learns to feel towards Lir. Schmendrick himself states that she will remember his heart when men are fairy tales and books written by rabbits. Regarding eternal love, the Tree is pretty fairy tale of Robin Hood, while the Unicorn is the plain truth of the Bandit.