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Dame Gothel

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Dame Gothel
Dame gothel

Real Name

Gothel

First Appearance

Unknown

Original Publisher

Folklore

Created by

Unknown

Origin

Dame Gothel was an evil witch who once caught a man in her yard attempting to steal a Rapunzel plant for his pregnant wife. In exchange for the couples' unborn child that which she could raise as her own, Dame Gothel agreed to let the man go free.

When the child, whom she named Rapunzel, was twelve years old, Dame Gothel locked her away in a tower and would only visit her once per day by announcing:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair".

Upon hearing these words, Rapunzel would wrap her long, fair hair around a hook beside the window, dropping it down to the enchantress, who would then climb up the hair to Rapunzel's tower room (a variation on the story also has the enchantress imbued with the power of flight and/or levitation and the young girl unaware of her extraordinary hair's length).

One day, a prince rides through the forest and hears Rapunzel singing from the tower. Entranced by her ethereal voice, he searches for the girl and discovers the tower but, is naturally unable to enter. He returns often, listening to her beautiful singing, and one day sees Dame Gothel visit, and thus learns how to gain access to Rapunzel. When Dame Gothel is gone, he bids Rapunzel let her hair down. When she does so, he climbs up, makes her acquaintance, and eventually asks her to marry him. Rapunzel agrees.

Together they plan a means of escape, wherein he will come each night (thus avoiding the enchantress who visited her by day), and bring her silk, which Rapunzel will gradually weave into a ladder. Before the plan can come to fruition, however, Rapunzel foolishly gives the prince away. In the first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Rapunzel innocently says that her dress is getting tight around her belly (indicating pregnancy); in the second edition, she asks the witch (in a moment of forgetfulness) why it is easier for her to draw up the prince than her. In anger, Dame Gothel cuts short Rapunzel's braided hair and casts her out into the wilderness to fend for herself. When the prince calls that night, the enchantress lets the severed braids down to haul him up. To his horror, he finds himself staring at the witch instead of Rapunzel, who is nowhere to be found. When she tells him in anger that he will never see Rapunzel again, he leaps from the tower in despair and is blinded by the thorns below. In another version, the witch pushes him and he falls on the thorns, thus becoming blind.

For months, he wanders through the wastelands of the country and eventually comes to the wilderness where Rapunzel now lives with the twins she has given birth to, a boy and a girl. One day, as Rapunzel sings while she fetches water, the prince hears Rapunzel's voice again, and they are reunited. When they fall into each other's arms, her tears immediately restore his sight. The prince leads her and their children to his kingdom, where they live happily ever after.

In some versions of the story, Rapunzel's hair magically grows long and beautiful again, once the prince touched it.

In another version of the story, the story ends with the revelation that the witch had untied Rapunzel's braid after the prince leapt from the tower, and the braid slipped from her hands and landed far below, leaving her trapped in the tower.

Notes

While the original character is in public domain, the version of the character used by Disney and other later adaptations published after 1923 are NOT.

See Also

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