Freaky Fairytale: The Clueless Rapunzel

Our next segment of Freaky Fairytales is Rapunzel. Unlike the Tangled adaptation, the original story is a lot more than an isolated girl.

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Disney might be a fairy godmother for Grimm’s stories. It has the magic to transform the darkest, most gruesome adult stories into children-friendly bedtime fairy tales. Yet, for this Grimm tale, Disney required slightly more time. Rapunzel, the story of a young girl with freakishly long hair was adapted for the first time in 2010. One would think, why would a company that has mastered the art of childproofing take so long. Here is the reason why Flynn Rider took some time to come into our lives.

Grimm’s tales are notoriously based on many real-life instances. They got their inspiration from cultures across the globe. The story of Rapunzel is based on many young girls who would live a trapped life. The brothers released the story in 1812 and the perplexed reactions led to them releasing a little toned-down version again in 1857. Neither the first nor the second version were Disney appropriate.

Rapunzel Story 1

So, what makes the story so dark. As mentioned before Grimm Brothers based stories on real-life incidents. In the original story, the captor was not an old greedy witch, but the girl’s father himself. He was a wealthy controlling man whose daughter, Barbara was very beautiful. To make sure his status is maintained, he felt it right to subject his daughter’s suitors to an interview process.

His daughter was furious at this decision and rebelled against meeting men vetted by him. He got furious and decided to lock her up in a tower whenever he could not be home. It would seem logical to think that being in a locked tower leaves you with very slim possibilities to pass time but not for Barbara. She rebelled by joining an illegal religious cult, which was Christianity at the time. The people hired to get her food, water and keep the tower from falling helped her in other ways too. By the time her father came back from work, Barbara hadn’t only broken his rules but had become a fugitive.

Image Via History Collection

Thinking her father’s devotion to her was more than for the state, she stood proudly on her ground. But her father handed her to the authorities. The judge sentenced her to torture which included her being mercilessly skinned. They would cut her skin and then apply salt to it. Following this monstrosity, they went onto burning her so much that she would be badly charred but just enough to keep her alive. When she was near death, on the state’s order her father chopped her head off.

Rapunzel Story 2

Though Barbara did not have the signature long hair, the Grimm brothers picked up that aspect from a Persian woman. She went through a similar ordeal that involved long black hair, an angelic prince, and unplanned pregnancy. The Persian Girl was neither handed off to anyone nor trapped by her own family but she was having secret rendezvous with a boy who was the son of her parents’ enemies.

Using the two stories Grimm Brothers published their version. In their story, the girl was sold off as a baby to an old woman. She is locked in a tower with minimal human interaction. Apparently, that is not as great an experience as it sounds. From then her guardian would leave her from time to time and in those periods, Rapunzel had the prince to keep her company. Unlike Disney’s Eugene, this prince was no sweetheart.

Image Via History Collection

He would climb the tower only to have sex and then leave the girl. Rapunzel was clueless about the consequences of unprotected sex so after many such rendezvous, she got pregnant. Not having known this biological phenomenon, she was shocked that her clothes were not fitting. This concern was raised to her guardian and the latter realized what was happening behind her back.

The old lady expels Rapunzel out of the tower, to fend for herself in a desert while also conning the prince up the tower and blinding him. Rapunzel delivers alone in the desert. While the 1812 version says she dies while giving birth, the 1857 one reunites her to the blind prince.

From the medley of these tales, we are now the joyful readers of the Disney version. We have to give credit to them for having given the old woman/witch/guardian a much more logical reason to imprison someone; magic.
Hope you were as shocked as I was about this original dark tale. If you enjoyed this article, check out these similar articles here.