Literature: Rapunzel

Rapunzel (With, as she is often depicted, golden hair)

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

Once upon a time, a couple lived next door to a witch with a beautiful garden. The wife developed such a craving for the rapunzel (specified as rampion in some versions) in this garden that the husband snuck into the garden and stole some for her. The longing increased, and the husband tried to steal more, only to be caught by the witch, who demanded their unborn child as a consequence.

Sure as her word, the witch took the couple's daughter and called her Rapunzel. When she was twelve, the witch shut Rapunzel into a tall tower without doors, whenever she wanted to enter, she would call, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair", and Rapunzel would lower her extremely long hair for the witch to climb. One day a prince overheard Rapunzel singing, and, having taken an interest in her situation, soon saw how the witch came and went.

He repeated the witch's trick, Rapunzel dutifully let her hair down, and the two made plans to elope. One day, however, Rapunzel accidentally revealed the Prince's existence to the witch, who cut off the girl's hair and banished her to the desert. The witch then lay in wait for the Prince, and pushed him off the tower into a bed of thorns, which blinded him.

The unlucky couple wandered the wasteland for some time (during which Rapunzel bore twins) before running into one another. Rapunzel immediately embraced him, weeping, and her tears fell on his eyes and healed them. He took her back to his kingdom, and they lived Happily Ever After.

The best known version of this story comes from The Brothers Grimm, probably based on Giambattista Basile's Petrosinella. Initially, Rapunzel betrayed the Prince's existence by remarking on how tight her dress was getting around the middle, but the Grimms decided that this was too raunchy and so in later versions, she instead remarked that the witch was much heavier to pull up than her Prince.

The story may have been based on St. Barbara. Many of the older forms — such as Snow-White-Fire-Red — appear more closely related to a tale type called "The Girl Helps The Hero Flee" — such as The White Dove. Another variant is Prunella

A Disney Animated Canon version of this fairy tale was released in 2010 under the title Tangled as a result of Executive Meddling figuring a non-gender specific title would bring more people in. It went on to become one of Walt Disney Animation Studios' highest-grossing movies of all time.

"Rapunzel" contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Very prone to it. Into the Woods expands on the relationship between Rapunzel and the Witch (as well as Rapunzel's mental state when it's all over...) There is also a graphic novel, Rapunzel's Revenge, set in the Old West where the title character escapes on her own, uses her hair as lassos, and sets out to overturn the wicked witch's empire.
    • Donna Jo Napoli's Zel delves into the psyche of the Witch, the Prince and Rapunzel, including the effects of being locked in a tower and devoid of almost all human contact for months at a time.
    • Regina Doman's Rapunzel Let Down retells the story in a modern setting.
    • Once Upon a Time puts an interesting spin on the story: The "witch" is actually just a physical embodiment of Rapunzel's fear, created when she ate something called Nightroot, which is a cure for anxiety. Also, the prince who rescues her is Prince Charming from the story of Snow White. As he is already married, they do not become a couple.
  • Babies Ever After: Almost all versions end with Rapunzel and the prince living happily ever after with their two children (even if Rapunzel's pregnancy was not mentioned earlier on).
  • Bowdlerise: In the revised edition of the Brothers Grimm's story, Rapunzel (handling the Idiot Ball) asks the witch why she's so much heavier to bring up the tower than the prince. This was changed from the original version, determined to be unfriendly for children, in which Rapunzel innocently asked why her dress was getting so tight around the middle.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: If Rapunzel's parents had just asked the witch politely for some of her greens, instead of outright stealing them, the story probably wouldn't have happened. (Then again, the witch might have refused, or asked for the baby anyway as legitimate payment rather than restitution, so who knows?)
  • Damsel in Distress: The titular heroine, who is locked in a tower and in need of rescue. Interestingly, however, the prince does not actually save her—she only gets out of the tower when the witch banishes her. In the end, Rapunzel saves the prince by healing his eyes with her tears.
  • Defiled Forever: The original version where Rapunzel gets pregnant and that's what tips off the witch. So Rapunzel is banished to a faraway desert.
  • Dumb Blonde: Rapunzel can come off as this in the Grimm version, where she carries an Idiot Ball in her moment of forgetfulness to ask the witch why she is heavier to bring up the side of the tower with her hair than the prince.
  • Enter Stage Window: The only entrance and exit into Rapunzel's tower is a window, through which she uses her hair to bring people up and down.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Rapunzel's tower serves as her prison, doubling as this.
  • Evil Matriarch: Rapunzel calls the witch "Frau Gothel," which means "godmother," While it could be just a formality, she is a literal godmother in some early French and Italian variants of the story.
  • Eye Scream: The Prince is blinded near the end of the story, either by falling into thorn bushes or by the witch scratching his eyes out.
  • The Fair Folk: In early versions, the witch was a fairy. She sure acts like it!
  • Girl in the Tower: Possibly the girl in the tower.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: The innocent, beautiful, pure, inaccessible maiden is blonde. Yup.
  • Handicapped Badass: The prince may qualify as after he's blinded he still searches for Rapunzel on foot. Some versions have him do this for years.
  • Happily Ever After: After suffering at the hands of the witch, Rapunzel and the prince return to his kingdom in happiness (with their twin children in the original version).
  • I Am Not Pretty: Some variations give Rapunzel self-esteem issues, making her believe she's ugly.
  • Idiot Ball: The Brothers Grimm gave Rapunzel this in their Bowdlerised version when they have her, unprompted, mention the Prince to the witch. The first edition at least makes sense — Rapunzel wonders aloud why her clothing no longer fits. Unsurprisingly, considering how the girl lived her life, she didn't know she was pregnant. The Faerie Tale Theatre adaptation removes all Idiot Ball by giving Rapunzel a pet parrot who mimics the prince when the Witch comes to visit.
    • The parents also carried an Idiot Ball, considering they lived next door to a women they knew was a witch and then chose to even risk stealing from her. Wacky Cravings or not, that was just dumb in its purest form.
    • However, in some versions, the mother's want for the lettuce is so strong that she faces death if she doesn't get it, caused by the witch herself, or both.
    • In at least one version, the mother is ill and the flower is a magic cure.
  • If I Can't Have You: Mother Gothel, of course.
  • Karma Houdini: In most versions, it isn't mentioned what happens to the witch after she banishes Rapunzel.
    • It is often common in retellings to have her be stuck in the tower. The earliest known variant, Petrosinella, avoids this by having her get eaten by a wolf.
  • The Kindnapper: Some interpretations of the witch.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Some versions of the witch.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: her parents had long wanted and never had a child. Apparently the witch also wanted a child. And in some versions, Rapunzel inconveniently becomes pregnant.
  • Love at First Note: The prince for Rapunzel.
  • Love at First Sight: Rapunzel for the prince.
  • Parental Abandonment: Her father was pretty quick to accept the witch's deal of some rapunzel lettuce in exchange for his unborn child. Maybe she really was better off with the witch.
  • Pregnant Badass: Rapunzel. Living alone in the desert isn't easy at the best of times, especially for a pregnant woman who has no survival skills.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Trope Namer.
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: Some versions the story say that Rapunzel's long golden hair is braided or tied up 90% of the time, and it's only untied when Mother Gothel or the prince climb up it.
  • Swiss Army Tears: Rapunzel's tears unblind the Prince.
  • Teen Pregnancy: In the first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Rapunzel is actually pregnant. And gives births to two sons (in some versions a boy and a girl instead).
  • Traumatic Haircut: Done to Rapunzel by the witch.
  • Wacky Cravings: Rapunzel's mother's craving for a herb is what starts the entire plot.
  • What Happened to the Witch?: In many, if not all, versions of the story, the witch vanishes completely from the story after blinding the prince and sending Rapunzel elsewhere. Where did she go? What happened to her? She just seems to go away, scot-free. Unless one takes the view that the cut hair fell away from the tower before she could descend, leaving her trapped in there to die alone.
    • Rapunzel's parents are never mentioned again after she is taken. Though considering they sold her to a witch, she might be better off...
  • Wicked Witch: In earlier versions, a fairy.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Rapunzel.