Friday’s Fairy tales: Rapunzel


TADA! Friday’s Fairytales is back after a nearly two month long hiatus!

Did you miss it? I know I did! I think I might make this feature a fortnightly one so I don’t get too bogged down over it, which seems to be what happened last time- but we’ll see.

This week’s tale is Rapunzel!

Origins: Rapunzel is German in origin and was collected by those pesky brothers the Grimms. It was first published in 1812. However, this well known version is actually an adaptation of an earlier work, “Persinette” which was published in 1698 in France!…

In our favourite Aarne Thompson Scale, Rapunzel falls under the category of 310: “The Maiden in the Tower”

Source: For this, I have used my Barnes and Nobles Leatherbound Edition of “Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales”- pg 88.

The Tale:

  • The tale begins with a couple who wish to have a child of their own. From the back of their home’s window, they could see a garden, full of beautiful herbs and flowers, which nobody would enter as it was surrounded by a high wall and owned by a dreaded enchantress.

  • One day, the woman spotted that within the garden, there was some beautiiful rampion (rapunzel), and wished to have some for her own to eat. Every day she pined for it and quietly began to look more and more miserable without it. Her husband noticed this.

  • The husband thought “Sooner than let my wife die, bring her some of the rampion thyself, let it cost thee what it will” (awh)

  • That evening, the husband climbed into the enchantress’ garden, intent on taking some of this rampion to his wife- who ate once made it into a salad and ate it. However, after finally eating it, she found herself craving it even more than she had originally!

  • The husband entered the garden again, except this time, he was caught red handed by the enchantress herself. Oh dear.

  • The enchantress promises him that he will suffer for stealing from her garden.

  • Upon hearing his story about his wife however, her heart softened a little bit and decided to make him a deal. He can now take as much rampion as he wants for his wife. However, she wants their first-born child, to raise as her own.

  • The terrified husband agreed to this condition, probably thinking it would never happen anyway. Surprise Surprise however, the wife falls pregnant, and the second the child is born the Enchantress appears, named the kid “Rapunzel” and takes her away.

  • When Rapunzel reached the age of twelve years old, the enchantress locked her away in a tower which was located in the middle of a forest and had no doors, no stairs- only a small window at the top of the tower.

  • The enchantress would appear at the bottom of the tower and shout up “Rapunzel! Rapunzel!Let down thy hair to me!

  • For over the time of childhood and in the tower, Rapunzel’s hair had grown to a magnificent length, and was as fine as spun gold. And whenever she heard her enchantress shout up, she would unbraid her hair, wind it around a hook which rested just above the window and the enchantress would climb up.

  • After a year or two (so Rapunzel is now around…14/15 years old), the King’s son happens to be riding through this forest and past the tower, when he hears singing.

  • The Prince wants to find out who is singing, and looks for a door into the tower but finds none. He can’t stop thinking about the voice he heard though and returns every day to hear the voice again. One day, he witnesses the enchantress appear at the bottom of the tower, shout up to Rapunzel, and climb up the hair.

  • The next day, he goes to the foot of the tower and cries “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down thy hair to me!” (Note: you would think she would notice this isn’t the enchantress’ voice but hey ho).

  • At first, Rapunzel is terrified of this stranger but after talking with him for a time, she grows fond of him. He proposes to her and she thinks “He will love me more than Dame Gothel does”. She does not know how to leave the tower with him, so she asks him that every time he visits, he should bring a length of silk with him so that she can make a ladder to climb down from the tower herself and run away with him.

  • The Prince visits her in the evenings, since Gothel visits her by day- and Gothel knew none the wiser under Rapunzel (stupidly) slips up and asks “Tell me Dame Gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier or me to draw up than the young King’s son he is with me in a moment.” (* facepalm * I mean not only stupid but what a way to insult her!)

  • Dame Gothel is furious that Rapunzel has been lying to her, and in her fury, she grabs a pair of scissors and cuts Rapunzel’s hair short. She then takes Rapunzel to a desert, where she is to live in grief and misery.

  • That same evening, the enchantress returns to the tower, and fastens Rapunzel’s discarded braids to the hook above the window, and sure enough the voice comes: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down thy hair!”

  • Instead of finding his darling Rapunzel, he finds himself face to face with Gothel. Oh no. Gothel tells him that Rapunzel is gone forever and he will never see her again.

  • In his despair, he chucks himself out of the window. While he survived the fall, his eyes did not- he landed in a patch of thorns, which pierced his eyes, blinding him.

  • He wanders blind about the forest, surviving on nothing but berries, and mourning for his lost future wife.

  • He roamed in misery for years, and one day, he was in the desert where he came across Rapunzel, who in the time since had given birth to twins, a girl and a boy, all of whom had been living in poverty and misery for all this time. He hears a familiar voice and goes towards it.

  • Rapunzel instantly recognises him, runs to him and cries.

  • Her tears land on his eyes, and they grow clear again- his vision is restored.

  • He takes his family back to his kingdom, where they live “happy and contended”.

Note: I think this is the first fairytale I’ve done in the feature which comes close to ending with “happily ever after”!

I find it interesting that Disney felt the need to give Rapunzel magical hair, which became Gothel’s obsession. Whereas really, I believe in the original tale, Gothel really did love Rapunzel as her own daughter. The ends don’t justify the means but I do find a little pity in my heart for Gothel here.

I was also really amused when, in The Lunar Chronicles, Captain Thorne was introduced- mainly because I instantly cottoned on to the fact that it was a reference to Rapunzel’s Prince and his fate with the thorns! (I SO SMRT).


I have quite a few re-tellings of this tale on my TBR list but I have only really read one so far, which is the Lunar Chronicles/Cress.

  1. The Lunar ChroniclesMarissa Meyer- all three books so far have been golden (pun intended), and Cress specifically focuses on Rapunzel’s story, although as it is a series I highly recommend you read them all!

  2. I also recommend “Into the Woods”, the musical by Stephen Sondheim. Rapunzel is one of the main characters in it and it’s just absolutely lovely. The full soundtrack is up on youtube, and the MOVIE is coming out later this year/early 2015! I’m very excited!!

  3. My Name is Rapunzel– K. C Hilton

  4. The Crystal Heart– Sophie Masson

  5. Golden- a Re-telling of Rapunzel– Cameron Dokey

What do you think of this tale, do you prefer the original or Disney’s reincarnation of it? Have you read any re-tellings of Rapunzel?


8 thoughts on “Friday’s Fairy tales: Rapunzel

  1. JZ says:

    I read Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst, and the main character’s parents are Rapunzel and her prince. I found your break down of the story familiar as the author used the Brothers Grimm version for Rapunzel’s backstory. And I have Cress sitting on my table waiting to be read 😀

  2. Elen @ A World of Reviews says:

    I love the story of Rapunzel (and I’m a huge fan of the Disney version). The Lunar Chronicles version of the story is also great – I loved the references to the original story. I heard about Into The Woods recently and it sounds awesome! I’m going to have to listen to the soundtrack now. 🙂

  3. I’ve missed your fairy tales articles! I didn’t know Rapunzel was French originally. Fairy tales were so brutal. I remembered all of the tale up to the witch stealing Rapunzel’s hair to trick the prince, but I didn’t remember he got blinded or that they had kids. I think I like the Disney version better, but I usually do. Cinder is the best retelling I’ve ever read! I can’t wait for Winter! 🙂

    • thebookheap says:

      Awh thanks 🙂 I wish I could take any credit for these tales but sadly I aren’t that smrt- all I do is copy the plots out of the books I have to summarise them! I’m glad so many people have missed this feature though, it means it is worth spending time on it because people are enjoying it!

      I am ridiculously excited for winter (and fairest, now that I know that is coming too!)

  4. I find it really amusing that the guy jumps out of the tower and doesn’t brek a bone in his body, but manages to land with his eyes on thorns. You’ve gotta have some skill to do that! Also, who is Rapunzel’s twins baby daddy, or was it an immuaculate conception? Because if there was a baby daddy, surely he would be miffed that she ran off with his kids to get hitched to some other guy.
    I really do love Rapunzel though, very happy you’ve done it! Also, I’m not going to lie, I totally love the magical hair, mostly just for Flynn’s reaction when he finds out
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    • thebookheap says:

      Haha ikr, those are some serious free falling skills! Turns out those evening visits weren’t disney friendly after all!!

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