Our Legends & Lore this week features the story of Rapunzel. Classic retellings of this tale were originally adapted from what experts believe to be stories that date back as long ago as the 11th century! We decided it would be worthwhile to explore the original story we all know and love, which also happened to inspire a room at Ravenwood Castle.
Nowadays Rapunzel is most frequently associated with Disney’s popular film Tangled, but it was originally a German fairy tale that was first published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 as part of the Children’s and Household Tales collection. This would later be known as Grimms’ Fairy Tales. The retelling was inspired by the story written by Friedrich Schulz in the late 1700s which was in turn a translation of Persinette written by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force, dating back to the late 1600s! While many variations of the story of Rapunzel are out there in books, musicals, and movies, today we will focus on the Grimm retelling.
A man and a woman had longed for a child. As luck would have it, the woman soon became pregnant with a child and along with this, became ravenous for rapunzel (a species of bellflower) she saw in a neighboring garden. She fell ill at the very thought and told her husband that she would simply die if she couldn’t have any. Being the loving guy he was, he hopped the fence, and snatched up some of the rapunzel for his wife. Unfortunately, once would not be enough, and it is said that after indulging in the salad she created with her stolen rapunzel, her desire for such tripled the next day. To keep the peace, the man was going to have to jump the fence again and venture back into the garden.
On his second journey, the man was caught by the sorceress whose garden he broke into. While begging for mercy, she found a place in her heart to give it to him – with a price, of course. The caveat to his freedom and the endless supply of rapunzel his wife craved would be handing over their child. Desperately, he agreed. The girl was born, and the sorceress swept her up and (quite ironically) dubbed her Rapunzel.
A beautiful girl Rapunzel was indeed – so beautiful that at the age of 12 the sorceress thought it best to lock her up in a tower in the middle of the woods with no doors… only a small window at the top from which Rapunzel could gaze out into the world. Rapunzel had long, beautiful, golden locks and as the story would have it, this was the way that the sorceress would climb up to see her. At the bottom of the tower she would yell the famous line: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!”
As luck would have it (again) a prince was riding his horse in the forest when he heard Rapunzel singing in her tower. He was instantly enamored. He did not see a door but happened to see the sorceress cry out to Rapunzel and there he learned the magic words. At dusk, he went to the tower and called out those words and lo and behold, Rapunzel’s hair fell for him to climb. At first, she was frightened, but once he asked for her hand in marriage, they devised a plan. He would bring Rapunzel strands of silk that she would weave into a ladder so she could escape the tower, allowing them to ride off into the sunset.
Unfortunately, Rapunzel blew their cover and the sorceress was wrought with anger. In her rage, she wrapped her arms around Rapunzel’s hair and *snip* – there went her golden locks as well as her chance at escaping with the prince. The sorceress sent Rapunzel out into the wilderness and beguiled the prince by using her hair to fool him into thinking Rapunzel was still in the tower. Distraught and angry, the prince threw himself out of the window once he found that his wife was gone. While death did not become him, he did land on a thorny bush, causing him to lose his eyesight.
While he wandered miserably around the woods for years, eating nothing but grass and roots, he one day heard the voice of his beloved wife. He followed the sound of her voice and found her in the woods, raising their children. Rapunzel tearfully rejoiced and when two of her tears fell into the prince’s eyes, his vision was restored. He whisked her away to the kingdom where they lived peacefully away from the sorceress and the tower.
One of the most interesting things I found in my journey to learn more about Rapunzel was the differences between the first interpretation of the story versus what was in their final publication of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. In the first, the evil sorceress was simply referred to as a fairy – quite a different situation to envision! To take a deeper look yourself, click here to directly compare the two!
If you’re itching to feel like Rapunzel herself, book yourself a stay in our Rapunzel’s Tower! This large third-floor suite has a queen bed and sitting area by a fireplace – perfect for late-night gaming or a coffee in the morning. As the highest point at Ravenwood, we are sure you’ll enjoy the view!