Rapunzel: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Illustration by Johnny Gruelle

"Rapunzel" is a German fairy tale in the collection assembled by the Brothers Grimm, and first published in 1812 as part of Children's and Household Tales.[1] It is one of the best known fairy tales, and its plot has been used and parodied by many cartoonists and comedians, its best known line ("Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair") having entered popular culture.

Andrew Lang included it in The Red Fairy Book.[2] Other versions of the tale also appear in A Book of Witches by Ruth Manning-Sanders and in Paul O. Zelinsky's 1998 Caldecott Medal-winning picture book, Rapunzel.



A childless couple that wanted a child lived next to a walled garden which belonged to an enchantress. The wife, as a result of her long-awaited pregnancy, noticed a rapunzel plant (or, in some versions[3] of the story, rampion radishes or lamb's lettuce), planted in the garden and longed for it to the point of death. For two nights, the husband went out and broke into the garden to gather some for her; on the third night, as he was scaling the wall to return home, the enchantress, whose name is said to be "Dame Gothel", caught him and accused him of theft. He begged for mercy, and the old woman agreed to be lenient, on condition that the then-unborn child be surrendered to her at birth. Desperate, the man agreed. When the girl was born, the enchantress took her and raised her as a ward, naming her Rapunzel. When Rapunzel reached her twelfth year, the enchantress shut her away into a tower in the middle of the woods, with neither stairs nor door, and only one room and one window. When the witch went to visit Rapunzel, she stood beneath the tower and called out:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair.
Rapunzel in the fairy tale garden in Ludwigsburg, Germany


Upon hearing these words, Rapunzel would wrap her long, fair hair around a hook that sat beside the window and drop 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 hair's length.

One day, a prince rode through the forest and heard Rapunzel singing from the tower. Entranced by her ethereal voice, he went to look for the girl and found the tower, but was unable to enter. He then returned often, listening to her beautiful singing, and one day saw Dame Gothel visit, thus learning how to gain access to Rapunzel. When Dame Gothel was gone, he bade Rapunzel let her hair down. When she did this, he climbed up, made her acquaintance, and finally asked her to marry him. Rapunzel agreed.

Together they planned a means of escape, wherein he would come each night (thus avoiding the enchantress who visited her by day), and bring her silk, which Rapunzel would gradually weave into a ladder. Before the plan came to fruition, however, Rapunzel foolishly gave the prince away. In the first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Rapunzel innocently says that her dress is getting tight around her belly; in subsequent editions, she asks the witch (in a moment of forgetfulness) why it was easier for her to draw him up than her.[4] In anger, Dame Gothel cut short Rapunzel's braided hair and cast her out into the wilderness to fend for herself.

When the prince called that night, the enchantress let the severed braids down to haul him up. To his horror, he found himself staring at the witch instead of Rapunzel, who was nowhere to be found. When she told him in anger that he would never see Rapunzel again, he leapt from the tower in despair and was blinded by the thorns below. In another version, the witch pushes him and he falls on the thorns, thus becoming blind.

For months he wandered through the wastelands of the country. One day, while Rapunzel sang as she fetched water, the prince heard Rapunzel's voice again, and they were reunited. When they fell into each other's arms, her tears immediately restored his sight. The prince led her to his kingdom, where they lived happily ever after. In the early Grimm version the Prince makes Rapunzel pregnant. In another version of the story, the ending reveals that the witch untied Rapunzel's braid after the prince leapt from the tower, but it slipped from her hands and landed below the tower. This left the witch trapped in the tower.


Rapunzel - Rapunzel statue at the Old Market of Dresden in Saxony, Germany.

The witch is called "Mother Gothel", a common term for a godmother in German.[5] She features as the overprotective parent, and interpretations often differ on how negatively she is to be regarded.[6]

Folkloric beliefs often regarded it as quite dangerous to deny a pregnant woman any food she craved. Family members would often go to great lengths to secure such cravings. [7] Such desires for lettuce and like vegetables may indicate a need on her part for vitamins.[8]

The uneven bargain with which it opens is quite common in fairy tales having little else in common with this one: in Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack trades a cow for beans, and in Beauty and the Beast, Beauty comes to the Beast in return for a rose.[9]

An influence on Grimm's Rapunzel was Petrosinella or Parsley, written by Giambattista Basile in his collection of fairy tales in 1634, Lo cunto de li cunti (The Story of Stories), or "Pentamerone". This tells a similar tale of a pregnant woman desiring some parsley from the garden of an ogress, getting caught, and having to promise the ogress her baby. The encounters between the prince and the maiden in the tower are described in quite bawdy language. [10]

About half a century later, in France, a similar story was published by Mademoiselle de la Force, called "Persinette". As Rapunzel did in the first edition of the Brothers Grimm, Persinette becomes pregnant during the course of the prince's visits. [11]


Italo Calvino included in his Italian Folktales a similar tale of a princess imprisoned in a tower, "The Canary Prince", though the imprisonment was caused by her stepmother's jealousy.

A German tale Puddocky also opens with a girl falling into the hands of a witch because of stolen food, but the person who craves it is the girl herself, and the person who steals it her mother. Another Italian tale, Prunella, has the girl steal the food and be captured by a witch.

Snow-White-Fire-Red, another Italian tale of this type, and Anthousa, Xanthousa, Chrisomalousa, a Greek one, tell the story from the hero's point of view; he and the heroine escape the ogress, but have to deal with a curse after.

References in popular culture

The song Rappunzel of German band Megaherz's 1998 album Kopfschuss references the tale.

Rapunzel is a supporting character in the Shrek film series. She is deconstructed into becoming a villainess in Shrek The Third. She is voiced by Maya Rudolph.

In the musical Into the Woods, Rapunzel is the sister of The Baker.

The band Passion Pit references the character in their song, Cuddle Fuddle.

Rapunzel is a character in the Vertigo title Fables where her hair grows constantly, forcing her to get it cut every hour or so.

It also has a indirect reference in the 2005 film The Brothers Grimm as the wicked Queen who is still keeping the village hostage to her evils.

In 2009 on the Monster Ball Tour, Lady Gaga was dressed as Rapunzel as she performed her song "Paparazzi".

Film adaptations

Disney is developing a story in reference to Rapunzel called Tangled.[12]

An adaptation featuring Barbie entitled Barbie as Rapunzel was released in 2002.

There was also an animated film adaptation with Olivia Newton-John narrating the story.

What is "Rapunzel"?

Campanula rapunculus, one candidate

It is difficult to be certain which plant species the Brothers Grimm meant by the word Rapunzel, but the following, listed in their own dictionary,[13] are candidates.

  1. Valerianella locusta, common names: Corn salad, mache, lamb's lettuce, field salad. Rapunzel is called Feldsalat in Germany, Nuesslisalat in Switzerland and Vogerlsalat in Austria. In cultivated form it has a low growing rosette of succulent green rounded leaves when young, when they are picked whole, washed of grit and eaten with oil and vinegar. When it bolts to seed it shows clusters of small white flowers.[14] Etty's seed catalogue[15] states Corn Salad (Verte de Cambrai) was in use by 1810.
  2. Campanula rapunculus is known as Rapunzel-Glockenblume in German, and as Rampion[16] in Etty's seed catalogue, and although classified under a different family, Campanulaceae, has a similar rosette when young, although with pointed leaves. Some English translations of Rapunzel used the word Rampion. Etty's catalogue states that it was noted in 1633, an esteemed root in salads, and to be sown in April or May. Herb catalogue Sand Mountain Herbs[17] describes the root as extremely tasty, and the rosette leaves as edible, and that its blue bell-flowers[18] appear in June or July."
  3. Phyteuma spicata,[19] known as Ährige Teufelskralle in German.

See also


  1. ^ Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Household Tales (English translation by Margaretmm Hunt), 1884, "Rapunzel"
  2. ^ Andrew Lang, The Red Fairy Book, "Rapunzel"
  3. ^ http://german.berkeley.edu/poetry/rapunzel.php
  4. ^ Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales, p18, ISBN 0-691-06722-8
  5. ^ Maria Tatar, p 112, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ISBN 0-393-05163-3
  6. ^ Maria Tatar, p 106, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ISBN 0-393-05163-3
  7. ^ Jack Zipes, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, p 474, ISBN 0-393-97636-X
  8. ^ Heidi Anne Heiner, "Annotated Rapunzel"
  9. ^ Maria Tatar, The Annotated Brothers Grimm, p 58 ISBN 0-393-05848-4
  10. ^ Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales
  11. ^ Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales
  12. ^ Rapunzel at IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398286/
  13. ^ http://germa83.uni-trier.de/DWB/
  14. ^ http://nafoku.de/flora/htm/valelocu.htm
  15. ^ http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~nfarley/thomas-etty/vegetables/etty_veg_2005.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~nfarley/thomas-etty/vegetables/graphics/rampion.gif
  17. ^ http://www.sandmountainherbs.com/rampion.html
  18. ^ http://nafoku.de/flora/htm/camprapu.htm
  19. ^ picture

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Brothers Grimm
From Grimm's Fairy Tales. "Rapunzel" is a German fairy tale in the collection assembled by the Brothers Grimm, and first published in 1812 as part of Children's and Household Tales. It is one of the best known of fairy tales, and its plot has been used and parodied by many cartoonists and comedians, its best known line ("Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair") having entered popular culture.

There were once a man and a woman who had long in vain wished for a child. At length the woman hoped that God was about to grant her desire. These people had a little window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had great power and was dreaded by all the world.

One day the woman was standing by this window and looking down into the garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful rampion (rapunzel), and it looked so fresh and green that she longed for it, and had the greatest desire to eat some. This desire increased every day, and as she knew that she could not get any of it, she quite pined away, and looked pale and miserable.

Then her husband was alarmed, and asked, "What ails you, dear wife?"

"Ah," she replied, "if I can't get some of the rampion which is in the garden behind our house, to eat, I shall die."

The man, who loved her, thought, "Sooner than let your wife die, bring her some of the rampion yourself, let it cost you what it will." In the twilight of evening, he clambered down over the wall into the garden of the enchantress, hastily clutched a handful of rampion, and took it to his wife. She at once made herself a salad of it, and ate it with much relish. She, however, liked it so much, so very much, that the next day she longed for it three times as much as before. If he was to have any rest, her husband must once more descend into the garden. In the gloom of evening, therefore, he let himself down again; but when he had clambered down the wall he was terribly afraid, for he saw the enchantress standing before him.

"How can you dare," said she with angry look, "to descend into my garden and steal my rampion like a thief? You shall suffer for it!"

"Ah," answered he, "let mercy take the place of justice. I only made up my mind to do it out of necessity. My wife saw your rampion from the window, and felt such a longing for it that she would have died if she had not got some to eat."

Then the enchantress allowed her anger to be softened, and said to him, "If the case be as you say, I will allow you to take away with you as much rampion as you will, only I make one condition, you must give me the child which your wife will bring into the world; it shall be well treated, and I will care for it like a mother."

The man in his terror consented to everything, and when the little one came to them, the enchantress appeared at once, gave the child the name of Rapunzel, and took it away with her.

Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child beneath the sun. When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower, which lay in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but quite at the top was a little window. When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath this, and cried,

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me."

Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened her braided tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the hair fell twenty yards down, and the enchantress climbed up by it.

After a year or two, it came to pass that the King's son rode through the forest and went by the tower. Then he heard a song, which was so charming that he stood still and listened. This was Rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet voice resound. The King's son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest and listened to it. Once when he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw that an enchantress came there, and he heard how she cried,

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair."

Then Rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the enchantress climbed up to her. "If that is the ladder by which one mounts, I will for once try my fortune," said he, and the next day, when it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried.

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair."

Immediately the hair fell down, and the King's son climbed up. At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man such as her eyes had never yet beheld came to her; but the King's son began to talk to her quite like a friend, and told her that his heart had been so stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he had been forced to see her. Then Rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she would take him for a husband, and she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought, "He will love me more than old Dame Gothel does;" and she said yes, and laid her hand in his.

She said, "I will willingly go away with you, but I do not know how to get down. Bring with you a skein of silk every time that you come, and I will weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready I will descend, and you will take me on your horse."

They agreed that until that time he should come to her every evening, for the old woman came by day.

The enchantress remarked nothing of this, until once Rapunzel said to her, "Tell me, Dame Gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier for me to draw up than the young King's son—he is with me in a moment."

"Ah! you wicked child," cried the enchantress, "what do I hear you say! I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me!"

In her anger she clutched Rapunzel's beautiful tresses, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of scissors with the right, and snip, snip, they were cut off, and the lovely braids lay on the ground. And she was so pitiless that she took poor Rapunzel into a desert, where she had to live in great grief and misery.

On the same day, however, that she cast out Rapunzel, the enchantress in the evening fastened the braids of hair which she had cut off to the hook of the window, and when the King's son came and cried,

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair,"

she let the hair down. The King's son ascended, but he did not find his dearest Rapunzel above, but the enchantress, who gazed at him with wicked and venomous looks.

"Aha!" she cried mockingly. "You would fetch your dearest, but the beautiful bird sits no longer singing in the nest; the cat has got it, and will scratch out your eyes as well. Rapunzel is lost to you; you will never see her more."

The King's son was beside himself with pain, and in his despair he leapt down from the tower. He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell pierced his eyes. Then he wandered quite blind about the forest, ate nothing but roots and berries, and did nothing but lament and weep over the loss of his dearest wife.

Thus he roamed about I in misery for some years, and at length came to the desert where Rapunzel lived in wretchedness. He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards it, and when he approached, Rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes, and they grew clear again, and he could see with them as before. He led her to his kingdom, where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun




  1. A German fairy tale.
  2. The main character of that story, a girl imprisoned in a tower who lets down her long hair for a rescuer to climb.


External links




  1. corn salad (Valerianella locusta)
  2. rampion (Campanula rapunculus)
  3. spiked rampion (Phyteuma spicata)



  • Feldsalat m
  • Vogerlsalat m (Austrian dialect)
  • Nüsslisalat m (Swiss dialect)


  • Rapunzel-Glockenblume f


  • Ährige Teufelskralle f

Proper noun

Rapunzel f

  1. the main person of a fairy tale.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address