This article is about the traditional fairy tale.

For the Disney character, see
Rapunzel (Disney). For other uses, see Rapunzel (disambiguation).
Illustration for the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Rapunzel..jpg
Illustration for the Brothers Grimm fairy tale
Author The Grimm Brothers
Publication date
Media type Print
"Rapunzel" (/r?'p?nz?l/; German pronunciation: [?a'p?nt?s?l]) is a German fairy
tale in the collection assembled by the Brothers Grimm, and first published in 1
812 as part of Children's and Household Tales.[1] The Grimm Brothers' story is a
n adaptation of the fairy tale Persinette by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La For
ce originally published in 1698.[2] Its plot has been used and parodied in vario
us media and its best known line ("Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair") is a
n idiom of popular culture.
In the AarneThompson classification system for folktales it is type 310, "The Mai
den in The Tower".[3]
Andrew Lang included it in The Red Fairy Book.[4] Other versions of the tale als
o appear in A Book of Witches by Ruth Manning-Sanders and in Paul O. Zelinsky's
1997 Caldecott Medal-winning picture book, Rapunzel and the Disney movie Tangled
Rapunzel's story has striking similarities to the 10th-century AD Persian tale o
f Rudaba, included in the epic poem Shahnameh by Ferdowsi. Rudaba offers to let
down her hair from her tower so that her lover Zal can climb up to her.[5] Some
elements of the fairy tale might also have originally been based upon the tale o
f Saint Barbara, who was said to have been locked in a tower by her father.[6]
Contents [hide]
1 Plot
2 Commentary
3 Film adaptations
4 Television adaptations
5 See also
6 References
7 External links
A lonely couple, who want a child, live next to a walled garden belonging to a w
itch. The wife, experiencing the cravings associated with the arrival of her lon
g-awaited pregnancy, notices a rapunzel plant (or, in some versions[7] of the st
ory, rampion), growing in the garden and longs for it, desperate to the point of
death. One night, her husband breaks into the garden to gather some for her; on
a second night, as he scales the wall to return home, an evil witch named Dame
Gothel catches him and accuses him of theft. He begs for mercy, and she agrees t
o be lenient, on condition that the then-unborn child be given to her at birth.
Desperate, he agrees. When the baby is born, Dame Gothel takes her to raise as h
er own, and names her Rapunzel, after the plant her mother craved. She grows up
to be the most beautiful child in the world with long golden hair. When she reac
hes her twelfth year, Dame Gothel shuts her away in a tower in the middle of the
woods, with neither stairs nor a door, and only one room and one window. When s
he visits her, she stands beneath the tower and calls out:
"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair".
Illustration by Johnny Gruelle
Upon hearing these words, Rapunzel would wrap her long, fair hair around a hook
beside the window, dropping it down to Dame Gothel, who would then climb up the
hair to Rapunzel's tower room. (A variation on the story also has Dame Gothel im
bued with the power of flight and/or levitation and Rapunzel unaware of her hair
's length.)
One day, a prince rides through the forest and hears Rapunzel singing from the t
ower. Entranced by her ethereal voice, he searches for her and discovers the tow
er, but is naturally unable to enter. He returns often, listening to her beautif
ul singing, and one day sees Dame Gothel visit, and thus learns how to gain acce
ss to Rapunzel. When Dame Gothel has gone, he bids Rapunzel let her hair down. W
hen she does so, he climbs up, makes her acquaintance, and eventually asks her t
o marry him. She agrees.
Together they plan a means of escape, wherein he will come each night (thus avoi
ding the Dame Gothel who visits her by day), and bring Rapunzel a piece of silk,
which she will gradually weave into a ladder. Before the plan can come to fruit
ion, however, she foolishly gives the prince away. In the first edition of Grimm
's Fairy Tales, she innocently says that her dress is getting tight around her w
aist (indicating pregnancy); in the second edition, she asks Dame Gothel (in a m
oment of forgetfulness) why it is easier for her to draw up the prince than her.
[8] In anger, she cuts off Rapunzel's hair and casts her out into the wilderness
to fend for herself.
When the prince calls that night, Dame Gothel lets the severed hair down to haul
him up. To his horror, he finds himself staring at her instead of Rapunzel, who
is nowhere to be found. When she tells him in anger that he will never see Rapu
nzel again, he leaps from the tower in despair and is blinded by the thorns belo
w. In another version, she pushes him and he falls on the thorns, thus becoming
For months, he wanders through the wastelands of the country and eventually come
s to the wilderness where Rapunzel now lives with the twins she has given birth
to, a boy and a girl. One day, as she sings while fetching water, he hears her v
oice again, and they are reunited. When they fall into each other's arms, her te
ars immediately restore his sight. He leads her and their children to his kingdo
m, where they live happily ever after.
In some versions of the story, Rapunzel's hair magically grows back after the pr
ince touched it.
In another version of the story, it ends with the revelation that the enchantres
s had untied Rapunzel's braid after the prince leapt from the tower, and it slip
ped from her hands and landed far below, leaving her trapped in the tower.[1]
Rapunzel Dresden in Saxony, Germany.
The seemingly uneven bargain with which "Rapunzel" opens is a common trope in fa
iry tales which is replicated in "Jack and the Beanstalk", Jack trades a cow for
beans, and in "Beauty and the Beast", Belle comes to the Beast in return for a
rose.[9] Folkloric beliefs often regarded it as quite dangerous to deny a pregna
nt woman any food she craved. Family members would often go to great lengths to
secure such cravings.[10] Such desires for lettuce and like vegetables may indic
ate a need on her part for vitamins.[11] From a scientific ethnobotanic interpre
tation the enchantress Dame Gothel is rather obviously a witch or medicine woman
, who had mastered the use and production of a plant or drug capable of saving R
apunzel's mother from complications of pregnancy. Ergotics, opioids or cannabis
can be considered candidates in the original Persian or subsequent versions of t
he tale, by analogy to the problem of Delphos' Oracle.
An influence on Grimm's Rapunzel was Petrosinella or Parsley, written by Giambat
tista Basile in his collection of fairy tales in 1634, Lo cunto de li cunti (The
Story of Stories), or Pentamerone. This tells a similar tale of a pregnant woma
n desiring some parsley from the garden of an ogress, getting caught, and having
to promise the ogress her baby. The encounters between the prince and the maide
n in the tower are described in quite bawdy language. A similar story was publis
hed in France by Mademoiselle de la Force, called "Persinette". As Rapunzel did
in the first edition of the Brothers Grimm, Persinette becomes pregnant during t
he course of the prince's visits.[8]
Film adaptations[edit]
A live action version was filmed for television as part of Shelley Duvall's seri
es Faerie Tale Theatre, airing on Showtime. It aired on 5 February 1983. In it,
the main character (played by Shelley Duvall) is taken from her parents by a wit
ch (Gena Rowlands), and is brought up in an isolated tower that can only be acce
ssed by climbing her unnaturally long hair. Jeff Bridges played the prince, and
Roddy McDowall narrated.
The story is retold in a second season (1987) episode of Grimm's Fairy Tale Clas
sics, aka Grimm Masterpiece Theatre.
A 1988 German film adaption, Rapunzel oder der Zauber der Tränen (meaning "Rapunze
l or the Magic of Tears"), combines the story with the lesser known Grimm fairy
tale Maid Maleen. After escaping the witch's tower, Rapunzel finds work as a kit
chen maid in the prince's court, where she must contend with an evil princess wh
o aims to marry her prince.
A 1990 straight-to-video animated film adaption by Hanna-Barbera and, unusually,
Hallmark Cards, simply titled "Rapunzel", featured Olivia Newton-John narrating
the story. The major difference between the film and the Grimm tale is that ins
tead of making the prince blind, the witch transforms him into a bird, possibly
a reference to The Blue Bird, a French variant of the story.
Into the Woods is a musical combining elements from several classic fairy tales,
in which Rapunzel is one of the main characters; it was also filmed for televis
ion in 1991 by American Playhouse.
In "Barbie as Rapunzel" (2002), Rapunzel was raised by Gothel and she acted as a
servant for her. Rapunzel uses a magic paintbrush to get out of captivity, but
Gothel locks her in the tower.
In Shrek the Third (2007), Rapunzel (voiced by Maya Rudolph) is a character who
is later revealed as the secondary antagonist and was friends with Princess Fion
a. She is shown to be the true love of the evil Prince Charming and helps to foo
l Princess Fiona and her group when they try to escape from Charming's wrath.
Disney Animation's 50th feature Tangled (2010) is a loose retelling. Rapunzel (v
oiced by Mandy Moore) is more assertive in character, and was born a princess. H
er hair has healing and restoration powers. Mother Gothel (voiced by Donna Murph
y) kidnaps Rapunzel for her hair. Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi) is a thie
f that replaces the prince character.[12]
Television adaptations[edit]
In the U.S. TV series Once Upon a Time (3.14, The Tower), Rapunzel is locked in
the tower by her own choice. She is afraid to face the responsibility of taking
over her kingdom from her parents, who are still alive.
See also[edit]
Portal icon Children's literature portal
Rapunzel syndrome
Danae, daughter of King Acrisius and Queen Eurydice was shut up in a bronze towe
r or cave.
'Sooyoung's' concept photo for Girls' Generation's third studio album 'The Boys'
was inspired by the fairy tale