Fairy Tale Facts: Rapunzel

I can’t believe I haven’t talked about Rapunzel yet! So here I go! It was first published by the Brothers Grimm in their 1812 collection, Children’s and Household Tales.

What It’s About

A young wife is pregnant. A window in her house overlooked a garden of a powerful enchantress. Day after day, she would sit at the window and look at the rampion plant and wish she had some to eat. Eventually she became sick. Her husband grew worried and asked what he could do to help. She demanded rampion, or else she would die. The husband reluctantly agreed to get her some. That night, he scaled the wall around the garden and took some of the rampion. He returned the next night to retrieve more, but was confronted by the enchantress. When the husband explains he stole for his pregnant wife, she agrees to give him as much rampion as he wants on one condition; he must give the enchantress the child after it is born. The man agrees and when the baby girl is born, the enchantress takes her away and names her Rapunzel. When Rapunzel was twelve, the enchantress shut her in a tower in the forest. There were no doors or stairs. The only way up was to climb Rapunzel’s long, golden hair. A young prince one day finds the tower and, overhearing the enchantress’s words, makes his way up Rapunzel’s hair. The two fall in love and devise a way to get Rapunzel out of the tower. Then she stupidly mentions to the enchantress that she’s much heavier than the prince when climbing her hair. The enchantress is furious and cuts off Rapunzel’s hair, banishing her too the desert alone. Meanwhile, the prince returns and climbs the hair thrown down to him. The enchantress angrily tells the prince that Rapunzel is gone and he will never see her again. He jumps from the tower to escape and somehow survives, but he lands on a thorny bush, which blinds him. So he wanders around the forest for a few years (the story says lamenting the loss of his wife, but it never says when they were married). Eventually he stumbles upon the desert where Rapunzel is living with, surprise!, twins; a boy and a girl. Rapunzel cries on the prince’s face and he can see again! Happily ever after, the end, etc.

Fun Fact #1

Different versions of the story have different phrases that Rapunzel responds to: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down thy hair”, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, That I may climb the golden stair”, or some other variation of that.

Fun Fact #2

Another name for the rampion plant is rapunzel. So the enchantress named the girl for the plant that got her parents into the mess in the first place. Kind of asking for trouble, don’t you think?

Fun Fact #3

The plan Rapunzel and the prince came up with to escape involved several skeins of silk; every time the prince visited, he brought one to Rapunzel, who wove them into a ladder. Why it has to be one at a time, I don’t know. Sadly, they never get to use the ladder.

Fun Fact #4

The enchantress’s name, or at least the name Rapunzel uses to refer to her, is Dame Gothel.

If You’re Interested….

Disney’s Tangled takes the story of Rapunzel and turns it into a fun-filled, musical adventure. There aren’t a whole lot of similarities to the original story, but it’s still a great tale.

Do you have any favorite adaptations of Rapunzel?

Until next time, word nerds!

3 thoughts on “Fairy Tale Facts: Rapunzel

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