Rapunzel – A story for a New Era
“Forget everything you ever read about Rapunzel, sure her parents were vain and stupid and essentially sold her to a witch for some salad herbs, I mean really? What if Rapunzel could re-write her story?”
I do think that the Grimm Brothers embellished on stories a bit, they often had a cruel streak, I mean what did they have against children? I realize there is a moral in these stories somewhere, but were children really so stupid back then? So Rapunzel’s dumb parents sold her off to the witch next door as punishment for stealing some herbs from the witch’s garden. Rapunzel’s Mother claimed she would die if her silly husband did not sneak into the witches’ garden to steal some herbs (reportedly also called Rapunzel, so that is how she got her crazy name). He did this several times, until Dame Gothel caught him and got mad. You cannot rally blame her, it was theft after all. Some farmers shoot trespassers on sight, Dame Gothel just asked why he had done it and instead of shooting him, or cursing him (she was a witch), she asked for their first born, I wonder if she was joking? So, a beautiful baby girl was born to parents who had supposedly waited so long for a child and was promptly given to the hands of Mother Gothel, a known wicked witch and a jealous old crone (with minimal talents, to be honest. More bark than bite and she had the whole village terrified of her, but in truth could do little but curse) Perhaps the baby was better off, if her parents were that stupid and selfish. The witch took poor Rapunzel, and seemingly lived next door to her stupid parents for a while, so she could build her tower in the forest. I mean building a tower like that must have taken time to build and surely a baby wasn’t born with hair braids that long for climbing?
Now jump ahead a few years, poor Rapunzel has been locked in her tower for a while by her witch/adopted Mother, nothing more than being a beautiful young girl. Think about this No door, No stairs, I don’t believe that for a minute, some old crone climbing up a long piece of braided hair to get access to the window at the top? I think the Grimm Brothers embellished a LOT on this one. So, I think there may have been a secret or hidden doorway and stair case, her capture was a witch after all, so why not. I mean if the witch is climbing up the hair, how could she carry anything up, or down, stairs make much more sense.
Rapunzel, was not quite the dumb blonde Mother Gothel took her for, she was far smarter than both her parents, she read every book she found and had quite the imagination as well. Dame Gothel was not above home schooling the girl and left books with her. She would reportedly sit by her lone window looking longingly onto the world outside and sing in her beautifully natural voice, or perhaps she sounded like a crow, how do we know? One day when the Prince heard her in the forest, he followed her voice and found her tower and instantly became smitten by her, of course! Being the clever girl she was, she saw her chance for freedom and lured him up with promises she never intended to keep. Every afternoon, after the witch had left, the Prince would come to the base of the tower, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair” he would call out to her, she did, letting her unbelievably long locks down for him to climb up. This was incredibly painful, as you can imagine, but she had a plan, and endured her suffering in silence. Each evening, she made him search for the hidden stairs and doorway, and tell her of the lay of the land and the world beyond the forest. The Each morning she would hang her long braid out the window for the Prince to climb down, with promises of things to come. The poor suffering Prince, helped her out and eventually they found both the hidden door and the stairs. “Come away with me tonight?” he urged her, “No,” she said, “I need to make plans and make sure I can safely get away before Mother knows I am gone. We need to wait til the last snows have melted and the nights warmer for traveling.” He agreed and left with a list of things she asked him to bring; a lantern, and a cape for traveling, some boots and some scissors. The Prince returned that evening with a basket of supplies and her requirements. At least he could use the door and stairs.
Late one Spring day, when the snow and frost had gone, and it was finally pleasant enough to travel, Rapunzel made ready her few belongings, in truth she had little to take with her. When the Prince arrived that evening, taking the stairs, they made their plans to escape the following evening. When morning came, she bid the Prince a fond farewell, after all, She did have plans to leave the next day, but without him, and he had been so nice and helped her so much, it really wasn’t his fault, but why leave the tower only to be held almost a prisoner again as the Princess in a different tower, in a different castle? No Thanks, this girl was doing it for herself.
So one last day she put up with Mother, her tirade of insults and abuse, worse than ever before, but Rapunzel took it all and said nothing back. If nothing else it strengthened her resolve to be gone. As soon as Mother left, Rapunzel took the scissors and cut her braid to a more manageable length and hung it out the window. Before the Prince could arrive, she quietly gathered her cloak and boots and meager belongings and descended the stairs and slipped out the doorway into the forest.
She had a general lay of the land and a crude map, drawn by the Prince, so she knew which way to head. She decided to go in the opposite direction of the Princes Palace, lest he finds her. At first, she just ran and ran, to place as much distance between her, the tower, Dame Gothel and the Prince. As the sun dropped low on the horizon, she finally slowed down and took in the beauty of the forest all around her. It was cool and calm in the forest and the forest creatures showed no fear as they watched and followed her. She made her bed for the night in a sheltered spot and lay on her cloak, as the evening was warm. The next morning she wandered through the ancient Redwood Forest, made friends with various animals and basked in the sunshine that made its way through the branches and in beautiful forest glades. She picked and ate berries and drank from fresh, clear water streams. She was free and in charge of her life and her destiny now. The rest of her life was before her and the big wide world. She packed up her meager supplies and left to explore the world and her future.
Whatever happened to the Prince, you ask? Well, I guess he returned to the tower and called out after seeing Rapunzel’s’ hair hanging from the window, ran up the stairs only to find her gone. I think she would have written him a note, thanking him for everything he had done and explaining why she could never be with him, she was not a cruel girl by choice. I hope that he understood and left before the witch arrived and pushed him out the window and blinded him on thorn bushes to wander the desert for years, as in the original Grimm tale. I hope he eventually found another girl who wanted to be a Princess, and they lived happily ever after.
Dame Gothel? I assume she was furious and yelled and screamed and perhaps even destroyed the tower in her madness and frustration, being crushed by falling rock with only her feet left sticking out, like in the Wizard of Oz! It would seem a fitting end, would it not?
And Rapunzel? I doubt she looked in on her stupid parents, I mean would you? They were so silly and vain and selfish to give her away like that, without even a fight or to mount a campaign to steal her back. I would like to think that Rapunzel, changed her name, traveled the world, had many adventures, eventually fell in love, made many friends and lived a happy life.