10 Disney Fairy Tales and Their Original Versions, Compared

7. Rapunzel

The version you know

In 2010 Disney adapted the folk story of Rapunzel into Tangled, the story of a young princess named Rapunzel with magical hair.

Once upon a time there was a magical golden flower capable of healing any illness or injury and is used by Mother Gothel to retain her youth, one day the flower is discovered by soldiers who take the flower for the Queen and soon after the Queen gives birth to a daughter, Rapunzel. Mother Gothel discovers that Rapunzel’s hair has the same healing properties as the flower but cutting her hair will destroy its powers. She kidnaps Rapunzel and keeps her in a tower in the wilderness, raising her as her own and never allowing her to leave.

Every year the King and Queen let off lanterns on Rapunzel’s birthday, hoping for her safe return. Nearing her eighteenth birthday Rapunzel asks to leave the tower and discover the source of the lanterns, which Mother Gothel refuses.

At the same time a thief named Flynn Rider has stolen Rapunzel’s crown from the royal city and happens upon Rapunzel’s tower after ditching his partners in crime the Stabbington Brothers. Rapunzel along with her pet chameleon Pascal, captures Flynn in the tower and discovers the crown he has stolen, although she is unaware of its significance, and plans to show Flynn to Gothel as proof she can look after herself. However after Gothel becomes enraged at her wanting to leave the tower again she instead asks her to get her a special paint that will take three days to obtain, to which Gothel agrees and leaves to go and collect. Rapunzel makes a deal with Flynn that she will give him the crown if he escorts her to the lanterns.

On their journey Flynn takes Rapunzel to a pub called the Snuggly Duckling in an attempt to frighten her into returning to her tower as the pub is filled with the types of people Mother Gothel warned her about, but they are enchanted by Rapunzel and her innocence. When the guards arrive at the pub looking for Flynn the other patrons help Rapunzel and Flynn leave through a secret tunnel. Whilst escaping the pair become trapped and the tunnel begins to fill with water, they each reveal a secret to the other, Rapunzel that her hair glows when she sings and Flynn that his real name is Eugene.

Whilst using Rapunzel’s glowing hair to illuminate their escape Mother Gothel returns to the tower to find Rapunzel gone but a satchel containing the crown in a cupboard. She tracks down Rapunzel and Flynn but fails to convince Rapunzel to return to the tower so she gives Rapunzel the crown and tells her not to come crying to her when Flynn leaves her. The next morning Rapunzel awakes to find Maximus (the guard’s horse) trying to drag Flynn off back to the royal city, but she manages to befriend the horse and he accompanies them on their journey.

By the time they reach the city Flynn has realised he has feelings for Rapunzel and that he would rather be with her than have the crown. Whilst touring around the city Rapunzel notices the portrait of the royal family and the princess with glowing hair. They take a boat out on the lake to watch the lanterns being released, whilst on the lake she gives him the satchel containing the crown but he puts it aside and instead takes her hands, but before they can kiss he spots the Stabbington brothers on the shore.

Flynn hands over the crown to the brothers but they are no longer interested in the crown and instead tie him to the boat and approach Rapunzel claiming he has run off and left her. Mother Gothel then appears and rescues Rapunzel, taking her back to the tower while Flynn is arrested by the castle guards and placed in a cell under the castle.

Once back in the tower Rapunzel begins to realise that she is the long lost princess and confronts Gothel, meanwhile Flynn manages to escape his prison cell with help from Maximus and regulars from the Snuggly Duckling and rides to the tower. After climbing up Rapunzel’s hair he finds her bound to a chair and is ambushed by Gothel, Rapunzel agrees to stay in the tower but only if she can first heal Flynn. Flynn cuts off Rapunzel’s hair losing all its magic powers, Mother Gothel ages rapidly and falls from the tower but has disintegrated into dust before she hits the ground. As Flynn dies Rapunzel cries and a tear lands on his cheek restoring him to life, the two travel back to the castle where Rapunzel is reunited with her parents, Flynn and Rapunzel marry and they all live happily ever after.

The original version

The Disney story is based on the German folk tale Rapunzel by the Grimm Brothers and follows the basic outline of the story but with quite a few differences and without sidekicks Pascal and Maximus. In the original Grimm version Rapunzel is not born a princess, instead she is the daughter of a couple who lived next door to a witch named Dame Gothel. One day the wife notices a rapunzel plant growing in the witch’s garden and begins to crave it, the husband sneaks into the garden at night to retrieve it but is caught by the witch. He begs Dame Gothel for mercy and offers him a deal, she will spare him but the unborn child must be given to her as soon as it is born. Out of desperation he agrees and when the girl is born she is handed over to Gothel who names her Rapunzel after the plant and as she get older Gothel decides to keep her hidden in a tower.

When Gothel visits Rapunzel in the tower she calls to Rapunzel, who now has long golden hair, to let down her hair so she may climb it. One day a prince passes through the forest and hears Rapunzel singing, captivated by her voice he seeks her out and finds the tower with no door or stairs. He returns regularly to listen to her singing and one day see Dame Gothel visiting Rapunzel and learns that the way into the tower is to climb Rapunzel’s hair. After Gothel leaves he calls to Rapunzel to let down her hair, she does so and he enters the tower introducing himself to her and asking her to marry him, which she agrees to do.

The couple plan a way for Rapunzel to escape, each night the prince will bring her a piece of silk and Rapunzel will weave the silk into a ladder and climb down from the tower. During one of the prince’s nightly visits Rapunzel falls pregnant, when Dame Gothel realises this (after Rapunzel mentions her dress is tight around her stomach) she cuts off Rapunzel’s hair and casts her out into the wild to fend for herself, she then waits for the prince. When the Prince visits and finds Dame Gothel instead of Rapunzel, she tells him he will never see Rapunzel again and throws him from the tower where is blinded by the thorns below.

Time has passed and while the prince wanders blindly through the wilderness Rapunzel has given birth to twins. One day he hears her singing and finds his way back to her, when the two are reunited her tears restore his sight and in some versions of the story Rapunzel’s long hair instantly grows back after her and the prince kiss. The prince then leads Rapunzel and their children back to his kingdom where they live happily ever after.

Kat Lawson
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