Voiced by: Mandy Moore
Film: Disney’s Tangled
Tangled takes the classic fairytale of Rapunzel and brilliantly adds more depth to the story and character. Rapunzel is a multifaceted heroine that many people can relate to while keeping her flaws and facing her hurdles.
She is a girl with a dream who’s confined by her circumstances. Yet, the determination within her jumps at the first chance she gets to fulfill her desires. Rapunzel’s yearning to escape and accomplish her dream is something that all can understand. The journey she goes on is enlightening and freeing in many ways, both literally and metaphorically.
Rapunzel: The Girl with the Magic Golden Hair
Rapunzel grew up believing that her magic golden hair was the most important thing about her. Mother Gothel used not only the tower to imprison Rapunzel, but her hair. Gothel has been gaslighting Rapunzel her entire life. She is also guilty of the very thing she makes Rapunzel fear, being taken and used for her hair. We only see one day of Gothel’s verbal and emotional abuse, but it is enough to understand why Rapunzel is the way she is after years of tireless abuse. There is an innate goodness in her that Gothel couldn’t affect with her lackluster parenting (if you can even call it that).
This kind of treatment for years causes Rapunzel to doubt her own self-worth and creates a lack of confidence in her. Yet, thankfully, we watch her shed these beliefs during her journey with Eugene throughout the film. All she experiences pushes Rapunzel to learn more about herself and the world. Even with her fears and prejudices formed from Gothel being her only window to the outside, she realizes with joy that Gothel was wrong.
Once Rapunzel finds her footing outside of the tower, she welcomes new experiences with an open heart and mind. She is genuine and open to learning about people. She thrives during the montage when they arrive at the kingdom, soaking up everything in the community she has been deprived of.
With her heart freshly broken, Rapunzel does not question Gothel on all of her lies about the world. She cannot fathom the depths of Gothel’s depravity because she would never consider treating another that way. We could call it naivete, but there is nothing wrong with expecting the best of people—it is on others for choosing not to act with kindness.
As she processes her heartbreak, she realizes what Gothel is and who she is. She is more than a girl with magical golden hair. There are so many facets to Rapunzel that make her a well-rounded character and destined to be a good and fair ruler. For example, her determination to do right by those around her and her thirst to understand the world she has been kept from are two of her essential traits. (You cannot boil her down into one thing.)
She’s Got a Dream
Rapunzel has a dream that has fueled her from her earliest days. Many would consider it a simple dream, but it is not simple for someone who has been locked in a tower for her entire life. It is a life-changing experience. It is something she looks forward to and gets her through the monotonous days in the tower. The lanterns have called to her every birthday. They gave her hope in what she believes is a terrifying world. And while the world has its problems, it is nowhere near as bad as Gothel portrays it.
Rapunzel wants to see the floating lights, and she takes a massive risk in following her dream, fighting with everything she has to achieve it. She is able to subdue a notorious thief, Flynn Rider or Eugene Fitzherbert, and blackmail him into helping her. She has the courage to chase her dreams and face a scary world to do so, pushing herself to do more than just see the floating lights. She also inspires a lonely thief to hope for more, change his ways, and think about what he really wants from life.
However, Rapunzel fears what will happen after she finally sees the floating lights. I know I have had those fears; to have one thing be what you are looking forward to and then wonder what happens next? It is human to worry about our dreams or our purpose. Having something to look forward to is important, and accomplishing your dream can be bittersweet. But with surprisingly wise words from Eugene, she can also find a new dream to chase. Those words gave her hope and, indeed, a new dream.
The Lost Princess
Rapunzel is able to realize that she is the Lost Princess from her journey. Between seeing the mosaic of her and her family and remembering the sun symbol of Corona, it all clicks into place. Suddenly, her “mother” was the very person she should have feared. Her transformation throughout the movie leads to her standing up for herself in a way she never had before.
Related Content: Relationship Deep Dive: Rapunzel and Flynn Rider
Rapunzel has the qualities to become a great ruler, with a lot of learning to do since Gothel kept her in the dark with only three books to read. But, with people who love her standing beside her, we know she will learn to be a great ruler (and we see that in Tangled the series, which takes place after the movie). The lost princess’s story follows the love of her parents lighting up the night sky to honor her and call her home. It was always their means of signaling that they never gave up on her. They brought her comfort in all her years away from them. Their love never abandoned her. It was constant and dependable. Every year on her birthday, she knew what she would see, and though she didn’t understand at the time, they never let her down.
Rapunzel is an inspiration for everyone. Her kindness and determination are powerful forces driving her through life. Even when everything was seemingly against her, she still made it through, not sacrificing the values she holds dear. She will be a great queen one day, with her unique views and experiences shaping her world.