Understanding of the Repression against Women, Distress and Vulnerability, As Described By the Grimm Brothers in Their Story, Rapunzel
Rapunzel Analytical Essay
What do the Brothers’ Grimm fairy tales reveal about gender stereotypes?
Although Rapunzel was also a part of the Brothers Grimm’s first edition of “Children’s and Household Tales” it was an adaptation of the story Persinette which was written by the French novelist and poet, Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force in 1698.
The story of Rapunzel, the girl who was locked away in a tower, is said to be based on the legend of Saint Barbara, a Christian Saint and martyr who lived around the third century. Saint Barbara was locked in a tower by her father after she refused a variety of marriage proposals. This legend as well as Rapunzel speaks to how, in past centuries, women were ‘locked away’ in convents or even at home in order to isolate them from society, separate them from men as well as to control their behaviour. This therefore suggests that the purpose for the story of Rapunzel was to not only give these women a voice, but to also bring light to their oppression, fear and helplessness.
The protagonist, Rapunzel, represents what was considered to be the idealistic woman during the time in which the story was written. As is common in many fairy tales, Rapunzel is described in a way that is very shallow. The only things that we learn about her from these descriptions is that she is “the most beautiful child under the sun” (Grimm, 43), kind, has a lovely voice and is lonely in her tower.
Singing is an important characteristic for Rapunzel to have. It is her beautiful voice that not only leads to her eventual freedom but it also is the only other positive quality given to her other than her physical beauty. Singing is a characteristic that would have set Rapunzel apart from most people during that time, as people who had beautiful voices were held in high esteem.
Despite her few positive qualities, Rapunzel had quite a few negative ones. One of the most prominent of these was her lack of intelligence. Evidence of her inanity can be seen when she gives away her plans to run away with the prince. She mistakenly blurts to Mother Gothel: “how is it that you’re much heavier than the prince? When I pull him up, he’s here in a second” (Grimm, 44). Later in the story, when Mother Gothel confronts the prince, she compares Rapunzel to a “beautiful bird.” Comparing Rapunzel to a caged songbird solidifies the idea that the protagonist is simple-minded and has dull tendencies. Along with being less than smart, Rapunzel is also seen as passive because she allows others to think for her. The fact that it was the prince who suggests that she escapes proves this idea.
As is common with fairy tales, the theme of good versus evil is also explored in Rapunzel. Despite the role that the parents played in the story, they were not considered to be the villains. This was the part of the sorceress, Mother Gothel. With a closer look at the text, it can be seen that Mother Gothel was not as much of the villain as she was claimed to be. In the beginning of the text, she is described as “very powerful and feared by all” (Grimm, 42) but not as evil or wicked. When she discovers Rapunzel’s father stealing from her garden, naturally, she is angry. Though after hearing that the father did so for his sick wife, “the anger of the sorceress subsided” (Grimm, 43). Instead of punishing Rapunzel’s father, she allows him to take as much lettuce as he needed in exchange for his daughter. As stated in the story, the reason that Gothel wanted Rapunzel was so that she could become a mother. She tells Rapunzel’s father that he “needn’t fear about the child’s well-being, for I shall take care of it like a mother” (Grimm, 43). This in itself shows that she is not really evil at all, at least not in the beginning. It is not until after she has been deceived, for the second time, by Rapunzel that she is described as “cruel.” The things that she does to Rapunzel, cutting off her hair and banishing her to a desolate land, is all done out of anger.
Hair is an important symbols in the story of Rapunzel. In many fairy tales, hair is “a source of magic power…cutting the hair and sacrificing it often means submission to a new collective state—a giving up and a rebirth” (Marie-Louise von Franz, 179). Rapunzel hair is symbolic of her love and affection. By allowing the prince to climb up the tower and using her hair as rope, Rapunzel transfers her love to the prince and away from the sorceress. As punishment, the sorceress forcibly cuts off her hair and banishes her to a desert where she experiences a form of rebirth. Rapunzel’s hair is cut as she gains control of her life. Cutting hair may also symbolize a woman severing the ties to her parents to create her own family with her husband. Evidence of this is seen when she was “leading a wretched existence with the twins, a boy and a girl, to whom she had given birth” (Grimm, 45). Not only does this imply that Rapunzel engaged in premarital sex, but also that this is one of the reasons why she was punished. The religious undertones throughout the story suggests a possible reason for this. Premarital sex was viewed as something that was quite scandalous during this time, partially due to religion. The story of Rapunzel possibly served as a teaching tool to children. It shows them that, if they partake in such acts, they will be punished severely.
Rapunzel leaving the tower is another important symbol as it represents her maturing into a young woman. This suggests that women are unable to fully mature until they leave their parents’ house and try to make it on their own.
There were three main female characters in the story are Rapunzel, Rapunzel’s mother and Mother Gothel. These three women represents the three stages in a woman’s life. Rapunzel represents being young, beautiful and naive. Women in this stage of life are preoccupied with trying to gain control of their lives and looking for husbands. The second stage in a woman’s life involves being a mother-women during this time should be focused on having children. The text infers that as women get older, they show more negative qualities such as being selfish and greedy. Mother Gothel represents older women. Her character suggests that women become more cruel and controlled by their emotions overtime.
Analysis of the Story of Odyssey vs. Rapunzel
The Tangled Odyssey
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” —Joseph Campbell. Campbell means that in order to live the great life that is ahead of us, we have to finish up the loose ends of our life that we have been trying to achieve for so long and start a new beginning. This applies to both Rapunzel and Odysseus because they must conclude their life and yet discover a new life to live. A long lost princess, “daughter” of the witch Mother Gothel, Rapunzel is awaiting her birthday and she wishes to achieve her dream to see the lanterns. Dying to see the lights, Rapunzel finds her way out of the tower to chase her dreams and on the way she ends up a new dream. Disney Pixar, the creators of Tangled, portrays the contemporary hero’s journey from the hero’s journey archetype also shown through Homer’s The Odyssey. Odysseus is the king of Ithaca who has been away from his homeland, his wife Penelopeia, and his son Telemachos. While his house is overcome with unruly men, Penelopeia and Telemachos are hopeless about Odysseus’ return. Odysseus is met with many trials on his journey and is unable to return home for twenty years. Finally, when he comes home, he is a new man and has changed 180 degrees. The steps to the hero’s journey that are applied to the journey of Rapunzel and Odysseus were rephrased by Christopher Vogler, who in return, derived his claim through Joseph Campbell, the one who uncovered the hero’s journey archetype. The purpose of the hero’s journey can always vary, though they have the same three steps: The Preparation, The Journey, and The Return, all of which depict the significance, the reality, and the depth of the hero’s journey. The similarities and differences of Rapunzel from Disney Pixar’s Tangled and Odysseus from Homer’s The Odyssey are based on the hero’s journey archetype and show that they are not only stories that should be told, but instead stories that should be lived.
The Preparation is an important stage in kick starting the hero’s journey of Odysseus and Rapunzel who both have similar and different reactions to each step. The first stage, The Preparation, consists of five steps: the ordinary world, the call to adventure, the refusal of the call, meeting the mentor, and crossing the threshold. Overall, the ordinary world is the most essential step to The Preparation and is the moment where the hero feels like something is not right with where they are. During their stay in the ordinary world, Odysseus and Rapunzel are both discontent with where they are and want to leave. Staying at Calypso’s island, Odysseus is stuck and finally Calypso tells him to leave: “She found him sitting upon the shore. The tears were never dry in his eyes; life with its sweetness was slowly trickling away” (Homer 65). Odysseus illustrates his dissatisfaction with his ordinary world and shows how being at Ogygia without anything to do about it causes him to become lifeless. With each passing day, Odysseus’ hope of returning home becomes severed as he is all by himself and has no one to console with. This ordinary world shown through Odysseus can be relatable to some; although, instead of losing hope and the meaning of life such as Odysseus, people should keep enduring and not give up. In Tangled, Rapunzel is a long lost princess kept away in a tower with her “mother,” and feels as if something isn’t right. For example Rapunzel questions her mother as to why she can never go outside and Mother Gothel replies: “The outside world is a very dangerous place filled with horrible, selfish people.” (Tangled). This is significant because this shows that Rapunzel is questioning why Mother Gothel isn’t letting her go outside and doesn’t fully believe in her. By questioning Mother Gothel, Rapunzel shows how she feels as if she no longer belongs in the tower anymore and needs to find her new life prepared for her on the journey. This is similar to Odysseus’ ordinary world because he too, is discontent with his ordinary world and wants to leave. By both wanting to leave their ordinary worlds, Rapunzel and Odysseus show that they want to search for the life in store for them instead of having to keep on living the life they’ve always been living. People too, should follow their instincts like Rapunzel and Odysseus in their ordinary worlds, and know when something doesn’t feel right.
The second stage in the hero’s journey archetype is The Journey, which is the actual adventure itself and the main part of the story. It also is the part where the hero experiences life to the fullest and undergoes many challenges that affect the heroes. In this stage there are four steps: the test, allies and enemies, the new approach, the ordeal, and lastly, the reward. The ordeal is the most important step because the hero finally understands that he or she hasn’t been living the way he or she could have and learns that what they’ve been doing isn’t right. When Odysseus is at the party and the minstrel sings the songs of Odysseus, he relives flashbacks of his tribulations from his past. For example the book narrates: “So sang the famous minstrel. Odysseus was melted, and tears ran over his cheeks” (Homer 98). As the minstrel sang the song about Odysseus’ past, Odysseus had to reevaluate how he lived his life, what he did wrong, and how he should approach life differently. The ordeal is an important stage in life for everyone to experience because, without enduring the ordeal, no one would learn from mistakes. Similarly, Rapunzel also goes through her ordeal, though in a different way. In this case, Eugene “leaves” Rapunzel which is all part of Mother’s plan and Rapunzel figures out she is the lost princess. For example Rapunzel says, “I am the lost princess, aren’t I? Did I mumble, mother? Or should I even call you that?… No! You were wrong about the world. And you were wrong about me” (Tangled). In her case, Rapunzel falls in love with Eugene and gives the stolen crown back, but his “monsters”: Mother Gothel and the two crooks, send him off to jail putting him on a boat. Meanwhile, Rapunzel sees him “leaving” and Mother tries proving herself to Rapunzel on how she knew that Eugene would leave her and forsake her. Mother Gothel then brings Rapunzel back to the castle and Rapunzel finally figures out that she is the lost princess. The way she handles this ordeal can lead to a life or death crisis; therefore, Rapunzel has to meticulously make her decision on how to deal with it. This is important to apply in life because it only takes one mistake from the hero for the antagonist to destroy their life.
The last stage, The Return, is when the hero finally reaches his or her destination, experiences much more than they have expected to happen, and becomes a new and improved person. The three steps included in this stage are: the road back, the resurrection hero, and the return with the elixir. The most important step of this stage can be considered to be the return with the elixir because it is when the hero can finally relax and radiate happiness and relief to those around him or her. Odysseus’ return with the elixir is when he publicizes about his homecoming to Penelopeia and everyone around him. For example, when Penolopeia realizes that the stranger is actually Odysseus, she is filled with emotion: “She was conquered, she could hold out no longer when Odysseus told the secret she knew so well. She burst into tears and ran straight to him, throwing her arms about his neck. She kissed his head…” (Homer 257). Comfort and joy overwhelms Penelopeia as Odysseus returns to her with the “elixir” and makes everything in the world seem perfect. The “return with the elixir” is the moment where the struggle not only ends for Odysseus, but also ends the torment caused upon Penelopeia and Telemachos throughout Odysseus’ absence. When Odysseus returns to Ithaca, people can finally lay down all their troubles and rejoice about his coming. This is important because it isn’t just a moment to celebrate the hero’s homecoming, but it also is a time to rejoice over the new life the hero is living. In Disney’s Tangled, the hero’s return with the elixir is when Rapunzel returns to the kingdom as the princess, everyone’s dreams come true, and Rapunzel accepts Eugene’s marriage proposal. For example, Eugene describes how everyone’s dreams became reality and also narrates: “The party lasted an entire week, and honestly, I don’t remember most of it.” (Tangled). Returning with the elixir, Rapunzel and her return has caused the anxiety within the kingdom to be replaced with peace, joy, and hope. The long lost princess’ homecoming not only brightens the mood of the kingdom, but also unlocks a new sense of life within the people. This new sense of life is “the life that has been waiting for them”. Rapunzel’s return with the elixir is important because it enabled everyone to carry out their dreams. Overall the return with the elixir is the moment when the hero begins living the life that they found in their hero’s journey. The hero begins living a new life, and also brings a new lifestyle and to those around him or her.
Odysseus and Rapunzel are portrayed as heroes whose journeys should be learned from and taught about in order to capture the lifestyle people should be living. Throughout the three stages of The Preparation, The Journey, and The Return, each has a significant step that pushes the hero to live the life ahead of him or her. Those steps are: the ordinary world, the ordeal, and the return with the elixir. The beginning the hero feels as if something is wrong and begins the journey. Then the hero experiences many trials in their journey and finally returns home as a changed person, also changing those around him or her. In the hero’s journey archetype, the journey not only changes the hero’s character but also brings fresh qualities to the lives of those around him or her. All of these steps cause a person to mold and change their lifestyle, living less of the life that they’ve tried to live for so long. Still, in the real world, some people never get to experience the hero’s journey… Should that interfere in “getting rid of the life we’ve planned” and “living the life ahead of us” as John Campbell mentioned
Review of the theme of losing innocence as depicted in the Biography of Ishmael Beah, A Long Way to Go
The Loss of Innocence of a Child
Many children in the world have encountered or are now encountering internal conflicts within their region that can cause much harm to not only their physical bodies but also to their emotional well-being. In Ishmael Beah’s illuminating memoir, A Long Way Gone, Beah explores the idea that the atrocities in the world can affect a child’s life traumatically by causing a loss of innocence within the child, and Beah does this through his use of imagery, flashbacks and characterization.
The atrocities in the world can affect a child’s life by causing a loss of innocence within the child. Unfortunately, a child from a certain part of the world, like Beah, can struggle with meeting with the conflict that is happening within the child’s country face-to-face, and that conflict can include either a Civil War or even a Revolution against their own government. As a child, Beah came face-to-face with the Sierra Leone Civil War. Sierra Leone is his birthplace. In his younger age, it was hard for him to understand things and his “emotions were in disarray” (86). It’s difficult in the beginning of a war, like the Sierra Leone Civil War, for a child to fully understand what is even going at all. Usually a child around Beah’s age is hanging around his home, helping his parents, and living the life of a student through school participation, so to see dead people that the child may or may not know on the ground can surely be overwhelming, and he may react in ways just like Beah did. The different types of reactions are something to expect from a child with such innocence, and because of this loss of it, most children grow up to become evil or mentally insane, and some don’t bother to get rehabilitated. It’s very upsetting, but it’s true.
Beah’s use of imagery throughout the memoir helps illustrate to the reader the everyday struggles that a child striving to survive the Sierra Leone Civil War would’ve had to face. Many of these struggles includes the worst kinds of all: thinking, dreaming, imagining. Countless times, from childhood to today, “[through his] mind’s eye [he] would see sparks of flame, flashes of scenes [he] had witnessed, and the agonizing voices of children and women would come alive in [his] head. [He] cried quietly as [his] head beat like the clapper of a bell. Sometimes after the migraine had stopped, [he] was able to fall asleep briefly, only to be woken by nightmares” (103). It’s unfortunate that the child who witnesses war doesn’t get the chance to keep the innocent dreams that he wants to remember within his head and is left to have his head filled with the types previously mentioned.
When dealing with times of war, a child will always look for things to help get reality off the child’s mind. If the child’s family died, then the child will always try to keep the happy memories of them all spending time together within the realms of his mind, or the child would probably not want to think about family at all. The child would envy another child who still had a family to run to because he had no one to run to and had to do everything for himself and by himself. Sometimes these memories would be of times where the child took advantage of a day that he wishes would just happen over and over again now that he can’t see his loved ones anymore. For example, when Beah’s grandmother first told him about being like the moon, he didn’t really try to understand what she meant until later on, but “[w]henever [Beah] get[s] the chance to observe the moon now, [he would] still see those same images [he] saw when [he] was six, and it pleases [him] to know that that part of [his] childhood is still embedded in [him]” (17). His innocence was also lost a bit more when “[Gasemu’s] arms were cold. His body was still sweating and he continued bleeding. [Beah] didn’t say a word to… [he] … knew what had happened” (98). Usually, if this were to happen, a child wouldn’t know what to do but sob. This happened initially when Saidu died, and “all [he] could do was sob.”
Beah would use many flashbacks throughout the whole memoir to tell his story. He used flashbacks that relaxed him, tensed him, and chilled him.
Beah’s character and morals changed a lot throughout his memoir. Beah even admitted that “[his] innocence had been replaced by fear and [he] had become [a monster]” (55).
When looking at history and listening to the stories that child soldiers tell people are honestly amazing. It’s amazing that one can learn from them how they survived and why they never gave up. One would think that it just makes an American child look like a brat compared to these child soldiers, and it’s true. Disney has to dumb down Grimm stories like Snow White and Rapunzel just so that kids won’t be afraid. America has so many laws put together to protect this and that for children of America… but what about the kids who don’t have it so easy? What about their innocence? Because of them having to fight and survive war within their own region, they won’t ever get to have an innocent life again.
Fairytale Gender Dynamics: Rapunzel
In “Rapunzel”, Brothers Grimm depict the harsh reality of gendered dynamics with a female’s need for a heroic male to satisfy her desires. The brothers do this through the select details of the sorceress, the symbolism of Rapunzel’s hair, and the punishment of women’s desires. In the fairytale, the sorceress, just from her name, evokes a bias response. Due to the word and its suffix, it’s presumed that a female villain manipulates vulnerable individuals, utilizing witch-like tendencies. As noted, this sorceress “possessed great power and was feared by everyone” by harnessing her autonomy. However, it is important to note that she only seeks vengeance against Rapunzel’s father after she catches him stealing from her enclosed garden. Thus, she uses her feared attributes to achieve her biological desire, having a child. She promises to “take care of [the child] like a mother”, revealing her femininity and maternal instinct. However, the audience is unable to empathize with the sorceress because she preyed and manipulated a male, which society disapproves of.
The sorceress is further portrayed as a villain with undesirable masculine characteristics. When Rapunzel ponders why it is “more difficult to pull up the prince”, the audience envisions the sorceress as rotund and grotesque in comparison to the strong prince. Her “wicked and poisonous looks” consume her identity when navigating the grief of betrayal, enabling her emotions to dictate actions. In this fairytale, an independent unmarried woman is depicted as the enemy, who is criticized with any use of her own agency. The notable symbol within this fairytale is Rapunzel’s “splendid long hair, as fine as spun gold.”Her hair resembles an enchanting, extraordinary, or identifiable characteristic of femininity. In other words, Rapunzel is depicted as something to be desired by men. Overall, Rapunzel is an innocent and beautiful girl, fulfilling the stereotype of a desirable homemaker with her sweet voice and ability to weave a silk ladder for escape. “When she was twelve years old, the sorceress locked her in a tower” with only a little window at the top. This occurred around the age of maturation, so it can be assumed that Rapunzel preserves the persona of innocence through the lack of connection to the outside world. Her hair is the channel connecting her to the civilization. It is only when the sorceress hears that she has been deceived by her adopted daughter that she grabs “Rapunzel’s beautiful hair, it around her left hand and it off”, leaving her in the wilderness to suffer. The sorceress reasserts her dominance over Rapunzel, punishing her for going against expectations. This not only strips Rapunzel of her divine attribute, but defeminizes her, keeping her further isolated from society.
Finally, “Rapunzel” reinforces the stereotype that women are unable to accomplish anything without a heroic man and will be punished for pursuing their desires. The males within the story only face conflict when acting on female wishes, signaling that women should not desire. This is first seen when Rapunzel’s mother prays for the lush plant behind her house, enticing her husband to get it by saying “if I do not get some rapunzel from the garden behind our house, I shall die.”In order to satisfy this desire, she relies on a male. This act is later punished by the heinous compromise of giving up their child, depriving them from unconditional love. This instance’s message alludes to The Garden of Eden and Eve tempting Adam to get the apple, although forbidden. Like Rapunzel’s parents, Adam and Eve are condemned, living a life of repentance. Additionally, Rapunzel is punished for her desire to escape. She is helpless and does not even think to escape from the tower until she is entranced by the prince’s presence. Her plan, however, is fully reliant on his aide: “when is finished I will climb down, and you can take me away.” Her desire to live a life of royalty with the prince is dismissed when the old sorceress condemns her to life of wretchedness. Rapunzel withers in the absence of a masculine figure.
Finally, the sorceress, in a sense, is punished for her desire to have a child and for selfishfully raising her without a present father. Cutting Rapunzel’s hair signifies the bond between the two women as severed. Although Rapunzel is commonly seen as the victim, the sorceress too is left without the love of the child she raised. Thus, it is evident that the Brothers Grimm disapprove of females who desire through the depiction of their cruel punishment. Irrefutably, within this fairytale, women are seen in a binary terms, either as a vulnerable individual or as sly manipulator who abuses her power, while males are only seen in a valiant representation. However, all of the women fall victim to the underlying message that to desire something is immoral and unattainable without the presence of a heroic male.
Compare and Contrast Essay: Rapunzel and All Summer in a Day
Telling someone there’s a shocking amount of similarities between the classic children’s fairy tale Rapunzel by Brothers Grimm and Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi short story All Summer in a Day could be hard to believe, at first. For starters, Rapunzel was written in 1790, how similar can it be to the 1958 post-apocalyptic story? The answer is a lot. This essay is going to prove that Rapunzel and All Summer in a Day are extremely similar in terms of characterization, setting, and the stories’ underlying themes using quotes and proof from the two stories.
First, let’s talk about the characters. Rapunzel and Margot are as similar as two characters from two completely different backgrounds and time periods can manage to be. Although it can be hard to see at first, both are portrayed as fairly weak, helpless, and ultimately unable to change the course of the story on their own. They rely completely on side characters. The two of them were also taken away from what would have presumably been a happy, fairly pleasant life and thrown into one of misery. They’re mistreated, alone, and unaware of a lot of “the outside world”. Rapunzel is completely cut off from society, but Margot refuses to interact with her classmates, which is understandable, given the way they treat her. The two girls also undergo a similar predicament, having been locked up. Because of this, they completely miss crucial parts of their lives. For Rapunzel, it would have been her teenage years, and Margot missed what could have been her only chance at seeing sunshine again. All that, just because they were locked up, which brings us to setting. The setting often plays a big role in the theme and plot of a story.
Although these two stories take place in two very different time periods and places (Germany, Venus…? ) there are some resemblances, starting with the feelings they invoke. These settings inspire feelings of isolation and sadness through their portrayals of solitude. The “locked in” part of the story is extremely crucial, and that’s because of the setting. Both Rapunzel and All Summer in a Day recall happier times, Rapunzel’s being her time spent not in the tower, and Margot’s being her brief time on Earth. You can almost feel the nostalgia, and the feelings of homesickness that seep through into the more somber settings. The story of Rapunzel doesn’t go into much detail about her tower, saying only: When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower in the middle of a forest. The tower had neither stairs nor door, but near the top was a little window. Although that doesn’t tell us much, it gives the reader what they need to visualize her tower. It’s much easier to find the theme in a short story than a regular book, because they are often more condensed. This seemed to be especially true with All Summer in a Day, and using those themes, I was able to find parallels in Rapunzel.
All Summer in a Day has a particularly dark and dull mood, but I found it extremely easy to see the underlying misery conveyed through the word choice and portrayal of Margot. Just looking at this description shows you more than enough: She was a very frail girl who looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair. She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost. Solitude is also prominent in both stories. Just look at Rapunzel, who was so close to escaping her misfortune, but was then sent to: the desert where Rapunzel, with the twins to which she had given birth, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness. She is obviously no longer completely alone, but she’s probably not enjoying that very much, having no company other than her children. Weakness is also unfortunately constantly present, as was mentioned earlier in this essay. Rapunzel only made it out of the desert because of her prince (“He led her to his kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented. ”) and Margot was completely forgotten until the very end of the story (“They unlocked the door, even more slowly, and let Margot out. ”) which does imply that they weren’t strong enough to escape their predicament on their own. Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the resemblances between the two stories, it’s hard not to see the parallels.
Although it wouldn’t be wise as to say they are “the same”, they do appear to be undeniably similar in the way they depict their protagonists, their choice of setting, and the tone and theme. Altogether, reading these stories with a new perspective changed my perspective on these tales. Hopefully, after reading this essay, you see this as well. No matter what, Rapunzel and All Summer in a Day are great stories, and will remain timeless classics.
Rapunzel – a Tale About a Girl with Very Long Hair
Once upon a time, I lived in a house fit for a queen. My garden was the most magnificent in all the land; a vibrant oasis surrounded by my neighbours dull colourless squalor. It was filled with lots of different flowers and vegetables. To protect my Eden, I surrounded it with an impressive fortification, complete with CCTV. Normally when someone puts up a boisterous barrier people stay out, but my nosy neighbours just didn’t get the hint.They had one little window at the back of their house that veered over my garden.I didn’t take the child, he brought it to me. In all honesty, I agreed to the deal more because I pitied his predicament than for true desire for an heir. But when she looked at me, I knew she would rather have me as a parent, than that cowardly cat.Before you get carried away, the tower did have stairs and a door. She just loved to be dramatic: ‘Mother! Mother! Won’t you try abseiling with me just once? If I Photoshop the pics, all of my Facebook friends will think you’re climbing up with my hair!’The so-called ‘Prince’ must have been stalking her FB profile.
After searching for the tower, he obviously didn’t have enough energy to look for the door and my little pumpkin couldn’t resist the drama of the hair stunt. It’s not even real hair; she bought it from eBay!She had already tweeted the code to the world so when he called, ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!’ it could have been anyone. “Will you marry me?” the prince asked. Rapunzel didn’t even know this man and said, “Yes”. I doubt she would have agreed if she knew the man’s name was Bruce. I guess she is justa pretty face.His wife continued this guilty pleasure and demanded he continue to thieve from me. Of course, his attempts were all captured on my CCTV and I caught him in the act. The spineless weasel couldn’t admit it to his wife but he was more scared of her hunger than my idea of justice. So in return for the endless supply of rampion, he offered me their first child. Having known the horrors of a crying newborn, believe me, I was doing him a favour.I told her not to marry him, but she wouldn’t listen. You can’t tell teenagers anything these days.
So I just went home to water my garden.I didn’t bannish her to a desert or curse Bruce. That’s just what Rapunzel claims to the in-laws so she gets more attention.Every day she would peer at the rampion, devouring it with her stare; her appetite ever-increasing. The stupid woman refused to eat anything until she got it, so her husband was assigned the task of clambering over the barricade to steal some. I am still not sure how he made it over…Of course I can’t see the photos because all of a sudden her profile is private.She is blind to the fact that 77% of teen marriages fail these days. Of the divorcees, they almost exclusively come home to their mothers. I will be waiting in my favourite chair in the garden for inevitable returnAfter all.
Hero’s Journey: the Case of Rapunzel
Tangled up in the Odyssey of a lifetime
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”
(Elisabeth Kubler-Ross). For a Journey to be realized it must have 3 stages, a call to adventure, challenges, transformation and return.Rapunzel has been living in a tower secluded from the rest of the world. She is held by mother Gothel who hid her after stealing her from the King and Queen to use her healing powers to keep herself young. Rapunzel begins to want to explore the word. Most off all she wishes to see the floating lanterns that are being lit up and lifted into the sky. This opportunity is given to her when Flynn arrives at her tower and leads her onto her journey. However she must face many struggles as she journeys to find who she is, eventually returning to her rightful place as princess.Odysseus also faces a similar sense of imprisonment on Calypso’s island as he cannot leave without the consent of the gods. Odysseus must also endure through hardships and tests when Poseidon shipwrecks him and he must seek help from the Phaeacians. The two heroes begin their journey in similar worlds where they are self centered and focused on themselves yet as their journey progresses they encounter different ordeals and internal struggles that eventually develop their character and maturity, shaping them into better people. The Power of the Hero’s Journey lies in its ability to engage and its power to persuade. From the stories such as the Odyssey the hero’s Journal reflects the guiding beliefs of our society and these stories continue to impact us in modern times because it reflects humanity’s fears and longings and as Joseph Campbell describes it “ The inner whisperings of our souls” and “ the world’s dreams”. We seek to find hints of our our life story within these character and clues that can lend meaning and purpose to our own life story. We cannot resist a good story and we have never been able to resist it since the beginning of myths and storytelling. Although the circumstances of Odysseus and Rapunzel’s hero’s journey differ, the similarities of the Hero’s journey archetype are universal stories that enduring, lending meaning and purpose to our own life story by showing that pain and suffering are necessary for humans to mature.
The similarities and differences between Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled and Odysseus from Homer’s The Odyssey during the preparation stage of the hero’s journey show that struggles and new experiences are necessary for oneself to discover true purpose and meaning in life. Both Rapunzel and Odysseus start their journey living in an Ordinary world. Ultimately the hero’s dissatisfaction with their lives lead to their call to adventure. However Odysseus is hopeless while Rapunzel is full of hope and dreams. Both Odysseus and Rapunzel feel as if their lives meanless and wasting away and cannot find a purpose. Imprisoned by the witch Calypso’s island “ She found him sitting upon the short. The tears were never dry in his eyes: life with its sweetness was slowly trickling away” ( Homer) paints a picture of time slowly “trickling away” to emphasize the hopelessness Odysseus faces. As time trickled away Odysseus recognized that with each passing day and year that he was not yet free of the troubles and that his hope of returning home is also slowly trickling away. Odysseus illustrates his dissatisfaction with his ordinary world and shows how being at Ogygia without anything to do about it causes him to become lifeless. This ordinary world shown through Odysseus can be relatable to some; although, instead of losing hope and the meaning of life such as Odysseus, people should keep enduring and not give up. In the same way Rapunzel’s life although filled with countless tasks and activities, her life lack meaning and she searches for something more. She feel as if something is not right which awakens her thirst of adventure. She sings:
I’ve got so many things
I should be thankful for
Yes I have everything
except I guess, a door
perhaps its better than I stay in
but tell me
When will my life begin? (Disney’s Rapunzel)
Rapunzel’s whole life was centered around herself, she was cut off from others and the only human interacted with was Mother Gothel someone only used her for her hair and it’s healing ability. She had never experienced genuine love. Although Rapunzel can be shown in the tower enjoying her solitude by filling her hours with various seemly fun activities, painting sewing pottery she was isolated and lonely. Her life had no purpose and she lived without hope of ever leaving the castle or achieving her dream of seeing the floating lights.What do we do to criminals? The ones who behave the worst? We put them in solitary confinement. That is what Rapunzel is in, locked up in a castle she is essentially less than a human, a prisoner. Although Rapunzel has been sheltered from the world her innocence ultimately makes her more vulnerable and weak. Her ordinary world begins in a way all humans can identify with, as innocent child, pure and full of hope and dreams. However her true captor is not Mother Gothel but fear, having lived in her ordinary world for 18 years she has never made an attempt to defy her mother or venture out of her tower. What is truly holding her back is her inner struggle with confidence and her fear of the unknown. She has blindly believes every word Mother Gothel has told her about the “scary” world and lived in fear of it her whole life. Her escape comes when she crosses the decision but eventually takes the first step after focusing on her dream of seeing the lights.
Here I go…
Just smell the grass! The dirt! Just like I dreamed they’d be!
Just feel that summer breeze – the way it’s calling me
For like the first time ever, I’m completely free! We realized that Rapunzel was so separated from reality and the real world and that she had never felt grass or dirt. This is similar to Odysseus’ ordinary world because he too, is discontent with his ordinary world and wants to leave. By both wanting to leave their ordinary worlds, Rapunzel and Odysseus show that they want to search for the life in store for them instead of having to keep on living the life they’ve always been living. People too, should follow their instincts like Rapunzel and Odysseus in their ordinary worlds, and know when something doesn’t feel right.
Throughout the Journey struggles and hardships they face give them purpose in life, the negative consequences serve to mold them into better characters. The mentor Flynn brings Rapunzel to the Snuggly Duckling a restaurant filled with thugs in order to expose her to the “horrors” of the real world. However Rapunzel surprises Flynn by finding common ground with the thugs, who then help Flynn and Rapunzel escape after the palace guards come after Flynn. After the Snuggly Duckling, Flynn becomes a “true mentor” who genuinely wants to help Rapunzel. He has seen her passion for her dream. Mentors The gang of thugs help solidify Rapunzel’s dream and sense of adventure.
Another test appears Mother Gothel appears to Rapunzel and gives her the crown that was hidden in the tower. She challenges Rapunzel to give Flynn the crown to prove that he does care about her and won’t abandon her when he gets the stolen crown back. “Don’t let him deceive you!/Give it to him, watch, you’ll see!/Trust me, my dear, that’s how fast he’ll leave you./I won’t say I told you so!/No, Rapunzel knows best!/Well, if he’s such a dreamboat,/Go and put him to the test!/If he’s lying, don’t come crying/Mother… knows best!”- Mother Gothel Rapunzel begins to learn what it means
When at last Rapunzel reaches her Reward and dream seeing the “floating lights” that appear each year on her Birthday.
“And at last I see the light
And it’s like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it’s like the sky is new
And it’s warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different”( Disney Rapunzel)
Rapunzel’s reaction to seeing the lights is important to maintaining the authenticity of her character. This moment not only resolves her lifelong dream of seeing the lights but also shows a transition to her new dream; being with Flynn. When Rapunzel is apprehensive about seeing the lights rise into the sky, she asks Flynn what she is to do if they turn out to be everything she dreamed they would be. To which Flynn responds by telling her she will get to find a new dream. The scene is pivotal to consolidating who Rapunzel was before meeting Flynn and who she will become in the later part of the film. There is a subtle moment when we see Rapunzel’s thought process as her focus shifts from the lights to Flynn and their possible future together. The lantern scene begins with Rapunzel and Flynn in a boat placing flowers in the water. The second stage in the hero’s journey archetype is The Journey, which is the actual adventure itself and the main part of the story. It also is the part where the hero experiences life to the fullest and undergoes many challenges that affect the heroes. In this stage there are four steps: the test, allies and enemies, the new approach, the ordeal, and lastly, the reward. The ordeal is the most important step because the hero finally understands that he or she hasn’t been living the way he or she could have and learns that what they’ve been doing isn’t right. During Odysseus’s Journey he When Odysseus is at the party and the minstrel sings the songs of Odysseus, he relives flashbacks of his tribulations from his past. For example the book narrates: “So sang the famous minstrel. Odysseus was melted, and tears ran over his cheeks” (Homer 98). As the minstrel sang the song about Odysseus’ past, Odysseus had to reevaluate how he lived his life, what he did wrong, and how he should approach life differently. The ordeal is an important stage in life for everyone to experience because, without enduring the ordeal, no one would learn from mistakes. Similarly, Rapunzel also goes through her ordeal, though in a different way. In this case, Eugene “leaves” Rapunzel which is all part of Mother’s plan and Rapunzel figures out she is the lost princess. For example Rapunzel says, “I am the lost princess, aren’t I? Did I mumble, mother? Or should I even call you that?… No! You were wrong about the world. And you were wrong about me” (Tangled). In her case, Rapunzel falls in love with Eugene and gives the stolen crown back, but his “monsters”: Mother Gothel and the two crooks, send him off to jail putting him on a boat. Rapunzel sees him “leaving” and Mother tries proving herself to Rapunzel on how she knew that Eugene would leave her and forsake her. Mother Gothel then brings Rapunzel back to the castle and Rapunzel finally figures out that she is the lost princess. The way she handles this ordeal can lead to a life or death crisis; therefore, Rapunzel has to meticulously make her decision on how to deal with it. This is important to apply in life because it only takes one mistake from the hero for the antagonist to destroy their life.
As the Journey progresses, Odysseus and Rapunzel overcome their obstacles and mature as character during the Road Back.The last stage, The Return, is when the hero finally reaches his or her destination, experiences much more than they have expected to happen, and becomes a new and improved person. The three steps included in this stage are: the road back, the resurrection hero, and the return with the elixir. The most important step of this stage can be considered to be the return with the elixir because it is when the hero can finally relax and radiate happiness and relief to those around him or her. Odysseus’ return with the elixir is when he publicizes about his homecoming to Penelopeia and everyone around him. For example, when Penolopeia realizes that the stranger is actually Odysseus, she is filled with emotion: “She was conquered, she could hold out no longer when Odysseus told the secret she knew so well. She burst into tears and ran straight to him, throwing her arms about his neck. She kissed his head…” (Homer 257). Comfort and joy overwhelms Penelopeia as Odysseus returns to her with the “elixir” and makes everything in the world seem perfect. The “return with the elixir” is the moment where the struggle not only ends for Odysseus, but also ends the torment caused upon Penelopeia and Telemachos throughout Odysseus’ absence. When Odysseus returns to Ithaca, people can finally lay down all their troubles and rejoice about his coming. This is important because it isn’t just a moment to celebrate the hero’s homecoming, but it also is a time to rejoice over the new life the hero is living. In Disney’s Tangled, the hero’s return with the elixir is when Rapunzel returns to the kingdom as the princess, the dream of the princess finally returning is fulfilled and Rapunzel accepts Eugene’s marriage proposal. For example, Eugene describes how everyone’s dreams became reality and also narrates: “The party lasted an entire week, and honestly, I don’t remember most of it.” (Tangled). Returning with the elixir, Rapunzel and her return has caused the anxiety within the kingdom to be replaced with peace, joy, and hope. The long lost princess’ homecoming not only brightens the mood of the kingdom, but also unlocks a new sense of life within the people. This new sense of life is “the life that has been waiting for them”.Rapunzel’s life has officially begun Rapunzel’s return with the elixir is important because it enabled everyone to carry out their dreams. Overall the return with the elixir is the moment when the hero begins living the life that they found in their hero’s journey. The hero begins living a new life, and also brings a new lifestyle and to those around him or her.
We begin life as an ‘innocent,’ the archetype that represents the child – pure, full of hope and becoming. But soon we must leave the world of innocence and the protective sphere of our parents and enter the adult world where we become seekers, travelers along the uncertain road of life. And as we journey through life we embrace different archetypes Each archetype brings with a different worldview and values. There are times when we must be warriors like Odysseus When we must be willing to fight, perhaps even die, for what we believe. Rapunzel’s ordinary world and captivity represent as reality for many people. People living imprisonment. What do we do to criminals? The ones who behave the worst? We put them in solitary confinement. That is what Rapunzel is in. The only human she is allowed to see is the one who is cruel and mean to her. In this way Rapunzel’s hero’s journey reminds us all of the great story that has and is unfolding. The story of Rapunzel is the story of all humanity really;
When struggles are presented before us we are tempted to find fault within both ourselves and God in our suffering. We have all been taken captive by evil, the evil of our own sin. We find ourselves trapped in a tower of this sin with no escape. Yet God in his mercy saw the anguish of this condition and heard our voice and sent a prince to rescue us. Christ came to free us from the bondage of being enslaved to sin. In “Tangled” we see Rapunzel rejoicing greatly at her release. She is dancing, skipping and squealing She is rejoicing for this great and wonderful love. And so should we. The great Prince has come and we have been set free! That is the greatest news that any man could ever hear.
Alot of times, us humans, with our limited point of view, can’t understand why we must persevere through pain and suffering. We often expect God to act in a way that is favorable and reasonable to us and capitulate to our demands. We think that when things go wrong, God should have something to answer for. Alot of people ask why suffering exists. However, imagine a world without suffering. Would love and compassion exist, if there was nothing to be compassionate for? Would we grow, if there were no obstacles to overcome and learn from? Would we be complacent? for God at all? When we suffer, we have opportunities to draw closer to God and reach for Him during times of struggle.