My daughter is desperate to see the new Disney version of Rapunzel. I’m hesitant, not just because the Disney versions are pale versions of the original fairy tales, but also because I know what the idea of long golden tresses does to a kid’s self-esteem when her hair just doesn’t grow that way. However, I think that’s less true today than it was when I was a kid, so I’m willing to let it go.
What my daughter doesn’t know is that the original version of Rapunzel is a seedy cautionary tale. It’s a story of greed, lies, seduction, betrayal, and teenage pregnancy. In the original, there isn’t a single good guy. Rapunzel’s birth mother is greedy. Her birth father is a thief. The witch is wickedly unjust, the Prince is lustful, and Rapunzel is a bad liar and a tramp.
The title of the Disney version is apt, though. Tangled translates nicely from the original story, where the lives of all involved become tangled up in their deceptions.
I promised I’d read one of the original versions of the story to my daughter, the one where the prince and Rapunzel are married before she becomes pregnant (only how they do this in a tower on their own is suspect) and where the witch finds out because Rapunzel complains that the witch climbs up her hair slower than the prince. In another version, Rapunzel reveals herself when she wonders aloud why her dress is getting so tight around the tummy.
I bet that’s not in the Disney version.
[Image from Paul O. Zelinsky’s RAPUNZEL.]