Fairy Tale Tuesdays – Rapunzel

Fairy Tale Tuesdays

Please excuse me for missing last week!

This week is a classic – Rapunzel! A well-known story, I will recite it anyway.  Again, I go by the Grimm Brothers, and here is my summary:

Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who had long tried for a child, with no luck.  After much time, the woman at last became pregnant and the couple was very happy.  They lived in a small cottage, and out their back window they could see a beautiful garden.  This garden was surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to enter it because the garden belonged to an enchantress.

One day, the woman was looking out the window and spied some rampion (rapunzel) which looked so fresh and green and delicious that the woman longed for it.  She craved the rampion greatly, with increasing desire every day.  So much was her desire, that she began to pale and pine away.  Her husband was alarmed and worried at the change and asked, “What is the matter?”

“I need some rampion, which I can see growing in the garden behind our house.  If I do not have some, I think I shall die.”  She said it with such conviction, that her husband, who loved her, decided to take the risk. In the evening, he climbed over the wall into the garden.  There, he gathered some rampion and clambered back over the wall without ever seeing the enchantress.

The woman was very delighted with her rampion and immediately made a salad and ate it.  Her desire then for rampion only increased, and the very next day she longed for it much more than before.  Her husband, alarmed, decided to once more go into the garden.

This time, as he descending over the wall, the was confronted by the enchantress.

“How dare you enter my garden and steal my rampion? You will suffer for it!” cried the enchantress.

“Please,” he begged, “have mercy!  It was for my beloved wife, who is with our first child, that I dared to enter your garden.  She had such desire for your rampion that she felt she should die without it!”

“Very well,” said the enchantress, mollified, “If this is the case, then I will allow you to take as much rampion as you like.  There is one condition. You must give me the child when it is born.  Do not fear, for it shall be well treated and I will care for it like a mother.”

The man was terrified and agreed to everything.  He returned with the rampion to his wife, which satisfied her desire.  When the child was born, the enchantress came and took the baby girl away at once, naming her ‘Rapunzel’.

The enchantress cared for Rapunzel, who grew to be a beautiful girl with magnificent long golden hair.  When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut Rapunzel into a tower to hide her away from the world.  The tower had no stairs nor a door, but at the top was a little window.  When the enchantress wished to go in, she would stand below and cry,

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair to me.”

Rapunzel would then unfasten her beautiful braided hair, wind them around a hook above the window, and lower her tresses for the enchantress to climb up.

Years passed, and Rapunzel remained in her tower.  One day, a King’s son rode through the forest near the tower.  As he passed by, he heard a sweet song that was so charming it stopped him in his tracks.  Rapunzel was singing in her tower, to pass the time she spent alone.  The prince looked for a door but found none.  He rode home, but could not get the singing out of his mind.  Every day, he went into the forest and listened to it.  One day, when he was sitting behind a tree, he saw the enchantress come.  He heard her cry,

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair to me.”

The prince watched as the enchantress climbed up Rapunzel’s beautiful golden hair. He vowed to himself to try himself, and the next evening he returned.  The prince went to the base of the tower and called,

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair to me.”

At once, Rapunzel released her tresses, and the prince climbed up.

Rapunzel was very surprised and frightened to see a man at her window, but the prince began to talk to her like a friend.  He explained that his heart had been stirred by her song, and that he had listened for days and had to meet her.  Rapunzel lost her fear, and when the prince asked her if she would have him for a husband, she consented.

“I will gladly go away with you, but I don’t know how to get down,” she said. “Bring a skein of silk with you when you come, and I will make a ladder.  When the ladder is ready, I will come down and you can take me on your horse.”

They agreed that the prince should come to visit in the evening, because the enchantress came during the day.  Every evening the prince visited, and the old woman was none the wiser.

One day, when the enchantress came to visit, Rapunzel unthinkingly complained, “how are you so much heavier and slower for me to draw up than the prince?”

“You wicked child,” exclaimed the enchantress, “I thought to protect you from the world and you have deceived me!” The enchantress was furious, and took hold of Rapunzel’s hair.  She hacked the beautiful tresses off and cast poor Rapunzel out into a desert.  Rapunzel there lived in grief and misery.

In the meantime, the enchantress fastened the length of hair she had cut from Rapunzel’s head onto the hoot.  That evening, the prince came and cried, as was customary,

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair.”

The enchantress then let the hair down.  The prince climbed up, and was surprised to find the enchantress who gazed at him with fury.

“You come looking for your dearest Rapunzel,” the enchantress mocked, “but the bird is no longer in the nest! The cat has got it, and will scratch your eyes out as well!  Rapunzel is lost to you, and you will never see her again!”

The prince, mad with pain and grief, jumped out the window of the tower, landing in a bush of thorns.  The thorns pierced his eyes, blinding him.  The prince then wandered through the forest, living on roots and berries, lamenting over the loss of his dearest Rapunzel.  He roamed about for some years and at last came to the desert where Rapunzel now resided.

Rapunzel had given birth to twins, a boy and a girl, and the little family barely scraped by.  As the prince shuffled, he hear a familiar voice that drew him near.  Rapunzel recognized him, despite his tattered clothes, beard, and pierced eyes.  With a glad cry, she embraced him and wept with joy for finding him again.  Two of her tears splashed his eyes, and at once his eyes grew clear again and he could see.

The two rejoiced, and the prince led her and their children back to his kingdom where they were joyfully received.  They lived happily ever after.

I do like this tale, but am glad for some of the more modern retellings, like Disney’s Tangled, where Rapunzel is more kick-ass, and there is more of a basis for their relationship than her singing and beauty.

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