Cindy Bennet is the author of Rapunzel Untangled.
My first exposure to Rapunzel was as a girl when I saw an animated version. I clearly remember
being drawn in by the idea of this girl who was locked in the tower by the witch and kept there
until the Prince found her, and used her really long hair to climb up to her. I also liked the idea
of it being her tears that eventually saved the blinded Prince. I really wish I could find that
particular version now.
The Grimm Brothers version published in 1812 is probably the most well know but it wasn’t the
first. There were a few different, earlier versions that the Grimm Brothers took their plot from,
even as early as the 10th century. The most surprising thing I found was that in most of the
early versions, Rapunzel comes out of the tower pregnant. What? I had no idea before I began
researching. Even in the Grimm Brothers version, Rapunzel has given birth to twins when the
Prince finally finds her.
Below are some of the plot points from the early versions that I either kept or changed:
- Names: Obviously I kept Rapunzel, and I kept Gothel, the witch and mother figure who
drives the story as much as Rapunzel does. The Prince is never named in the more
common variants so I gave him the name of Fane, and took away his royalty.
- The Tower: My Rapunzel’s tower is one built onto a mansion by the slightly unhinged
Gothel (whose house is based on the actual Winchester Mansion) rather than as a
stand-alone, middle-of-nowhere tower that’s inaccessible. Hers is accessible through a
normal doorway, though it’s always kept locked—from the outside.
- Hair: Rapunzel’s hair is almost always as much of a character as Rapunzel is. To me it
was a no-brainer that she had to have the excessively long hair, while still trying to keep
it vaguely realistic (no 70’ long hair here!). I know people who have fast growing hair, so
I decided that if someone with that kind of hair went nearly eighteen years without cutting
it (and without damaging it with flat irons, blow dryers, hair dye, etc.) that she could
feasibly have 15’ of hair.
- Escape: Rapunzel’s story is as much about her escape as it is a love story between
her and the Prince. I just needed to come up with a different way for her to escape.
Enter Facebook. I wanted Rapunzel to be fairly naïve when it came to technology, but
just savvy enough to figure it out to meet her “prince” Fane. Through him she begins
to discover her world is very different than she’s been told which leads to her eventual
- The Ending: I’m going to try not to spoil the story here other than to say that the
traditional Rapunzel story has the Prince blinded by thorns when the witch throws him
from the tower. He’s later cured by Rapunzel’s tears. No thorns or blindness for Fane,
though there’s definitely a similarity between his fate and the Prince’s.
Rapunzel Untangled is darker than the Disney version, and incorporates some of the shadier
elements from some of the other stories, so I’ll warn you it has some scary moments. I hope you
enjoy reading this modern day Rapunzel tale.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Cindy! You can check out more fairy tale posts by clicking Project: Fairy Tale’s button below. You can also see more stops by clicking Rapunzel Untangled’s button.