also known as: Rapunzel.
Yes. It’s a far cry from the story we all (think) we knew, or that was presented in Tangled. Since Rapunzel is my gravatar, you can assume I liked that movie. I did, certainly.
But the real story of Rapunzel is… disturbing.
A man and woman lived next door to a witch. The woman was pregnant, and had an incredible craving for the rapunzel plant (Or rampion, in some versions of the story) that grew in the witch’s garden. Her husband, being a dutiful husband, went over the wall separating the gardens and picked some for his wife.
This did not make the witch happy. For payment, she demanded that the couple give her the child once it was born, in exchange for sparing the man’s life. The witch’s name is Mother Gothel (so Disney did retain this).
Every day, the witch asks Rapunzel to “let down her hair” so she could “climb the golden stair” to the tower to visit her.
One day, a prince rides by and hears Rapunzel’s voice. He comes to visit the area every day and discovers it’s a maiden in a tower. He observes Mother Gothel’s method for entrance, and when the witch has left, he tries it himself. Rapunzel throws down her hair and the prince can enter. He repeats his visits, eventually asking Rapunzel to marry him. She agrees.
Rapunzel and the prince plot her escape: Rapunzel will weave a ladder of silk to facilitate her descent, using the scraps the witch brings her daily.
Then Rapunzel spills the beans.
One day, while the witch is visiting, Rapunzel mentions that her dress is becoming too tight around her stomach, not knowing what this means. The witch does, though: Rapunzel is pregnant. Gothel cuts off Rapunzel’s hair and casts her off into the wilderness, where she bears her children–twins (one boy, one girl)–alone.
The prince, not knowing this development, comes to the tower as usual. Gothel tosses down the severed braid and pulls him up. Shocked at seeing the witch, and not Rapunzel, the witch tells him he will never see Rapunzel again.
This becomes literally true: the prince, in horror, throws himself off the tower, landing in the thorn bushes below, and is blinded.
Months later, wandering in the wilderness, the prince again hears Rapunzel’s voice, and they find each other. When she sees he is blind, she weeps, and the tears heal his eyes. With his sight restored, the prince leads his wife and children to his kingdom, where they live happily ever after.
So, you see, not a very kid-friendly story, huh? Although I’m sure it deterred girls from allowing strange boys into their rooms–at least for awhile.
Yet another Grimm Tale from those Brothers Grimm. German folktale definitely has a dark side.