"Rapunzel" (//; German pronunciation: [ʁaˈpʊnt͡səl]) 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. The Grimm Brothers' story is an adaptation of the fairy tale Persinette by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force originally published in 1698. Its plot has been used and parodied in various media and its best known line ("Rapunzel, Rapunzel, hair") is an idiom of popular culture.
Andrew Lang included it in The Red Fairy Book. 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 and the Disney movie Tangled.
Rapunzel's story has striking similarities to the 10th century AD Persian tale of Rudāba, included in the epic poem Shahnameh by Ferdowsi. Rudāba offers to let down her hair from her tower so that her lover Zāl can climb up to her. Some elements of the fairy tale might also have originally been based upon the tale of Saint Barbara, who was said to have been locked in a tower by her father.
A lonely couple, who want a child, live next to a walled garden belonging to an enchantress. The wife, experiencing the cravings associated with the arrival of her long-awaited pregnancy, notices a rapunzel plant (or, in some versions of the story, rampion), growing in the garden and longs for it, desperate to the point of death. On each of two nights, the husband breaks into the garden to gather some for her; on a third night, as he scales the wall to return home, the enchantress, Dame Gothel, catches him and accuses him of theft. He begs for mercy, and the old woman agrees to be lenient, on condition that the then-unborn child be surrendered to her at birth. Desperate, the man agrees. When the baby girl is born, the enchantress takes the child to raise as her own, and names the baby Rapunzel. Rapunzel grows up to be the most beautiful child in the world with long golden hair. When Rapunzel reaches her twelfth year, the enchantress shuts her away in a tower in the middle of the woods, with neither stairs nor a door, and only one room and one window. When the witch visits Rapunzel, she stands beneath the tower and calls out:
- "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair".
Upon hearing these words, Rapunzel would wrap her long, fair hair around a hook beside the window, dropping 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 rides through the forest and hears Rapunzel singing from the tower. Entranced by her ethereal voice, he searches for the girl and discovers the tower, but is naturally unable to enter. He returns often, listening to her beautiful singing, and one day sees Dame Gothel visit, and thus learns how to gain access to Rapunzel. When Dame Gothel is gone, he bids Rapunzel let her hair down. When she does so, he climbs up, makes her acquaintance, and eventually asks her to marry him. Rapunzel agrees.
Together they plan a means of escape, wherein he will come each night (thus avoiding the enchantress who visited her by day), and bring her silk, which Rapunzel will gradually weave into a ladder. Before the plan can come to fruition, however, Rapunzel foolishly gives the prince away. In the first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Rapunzel innocently says that her dress is getting tight around her belly (indicating pregnancy); in the second edition, she asks the witch (in a moment of forgetfulness) why it is easier for her to draw up the prince than her. In anger, Dame Gothel cuts short Rapunzel's braided hair and casts her out into the wilderness to fend for herself. When the prince calls that night, the enchantress lets the severed braids down to haul him up. To his horror, he finds himself staring at the witch instead of Rapunzel, who is nowhere to be found. When she tells him in anger that he will never see Rapunzel again, he leaps from the tower in despair and is blinded by the thorns below. In another version, the witch pushes him and he falls on the thorns, thus becoming blind.
For months, he wanders through the wastelands of the country and eventually comes to the wilderness where Rapunzel now lives with the twins she has given birth to, a boy and a girl. One day, as Rapunzel sings while she fetches water, the prince hears Rapunzel's voice again, and they are reunited. When they fall into each other's arms, her tears immediately restore his sight. The prince leads her and their children to his kingdom, where they live happily ever after.
In some versions of the story, Rapunzel's hair magically grows long and beautiful again, once the prince touched them.
In another version of the story, the story ends with the revelation that the witch had untied Rapunzel's braid after the prince leapt from the tower, and the braid slipped from her hands and landed far below, leaving her trapped in the tower.
The seemingly uneven bargain with which Rapunzel opens is a common trope in fairy tales which is replicated in Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack trades a cow for beans, and in Beauty and the Beast, Belle comes to the Beast in return for a rose. 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. Such desires for lettuce and like vegetables may indicate a need on her part for vitamins. From a scientific ethnobotanic interpretation the enchantress is rather obviously a witch or medicine woman, who had mastered the use and production of a plant or drug capable of saving Rapunzel's mother from complications of pregnancy. Ergotics, opioids or cannabis can be considered candidates in the original Persian or subsequent versions of the tale, by analogy to the problem of Delphos' Oracle.
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. A similar story was published in France 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.
Rapunzel is blonde in the original Brothers Grimm tale, so in every medium since she is featured with her long golden hair.
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.
In some newer versions Rapunzel is portrayed as a painter, such as the Barbie and Disney version.
In the novel Golden by Cameron Dokey, Rapunzel is given to the witch (named Melisande) as a result of a deal between her and Rapunzel's mother – if her mother cannot love Rapunzel no matter her appearance, she must surrender Rapunzel to the witch. Rapunzel is born bald without hope of ever growing hair, and is therefore given into the witch's care.
Grimm Fairy Tales comic series issue #19 is entitled Rapunzel. When Sela encounters a couple who makes their living hustling people out of their life savings, it's time for her to step in and teach them a lesson. The beautiful Rapunzel doesn't let her hair down just for any man; she lets it down for every man! And she's leading the love-struck fools directly into a horrible trap. But as the old saying goes 'Love is Blind' and sometimes the people you care about the most are the ones you can trust the least.
In Kate Forsyth's Bitter Greens, a retelling of the Rapunzel tale, a little girl called Margherita, and renamed Petrosinella, has the red hair of eight other girls sewn onto her own fiery hair by the witch Selena Leonelli. She also features as one of the three main characters.
In the video game Medal of Honor: Frontline Rapunzel is referenced in the level Operation Rapunzel in which the player rescues a Dutch resistance member called Gerrit who was locked in a Dutch manor house by the Nazis.
Film adaptations 
An adaptation featuring Barbie, entitled Barbie as Rapunzel, was released in 2002. In this version, Rapunzel is not trapped inside her tower until she explores the outside world. Gothel also keeps Rapunzel in a tower not because of a vegetable but because she wants revenge on an old boyfriend. The main concept of hair in this version is also not extremely important. Rather, it focuses more on a magic paintbrush.
Disney released a 2010 version of the tale, Tangled, originally titled Rapunzel. In this version, Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore), while still innocent, is far more assertive in character and has magical hair, 70 feet (21 m) in length, that can be used to heal or restore youth in others (notably Mother Gothel, which is why she locked Rapunzel in the tower in the first place). To activate her golden hair's healing properties, Rapunzel must sing an incantation. As with many variations of the fairy tale, Rapunzel's tears are also shown to possess healing powers. One difference in this film is that Gothel is depicted as an old lady using Rapunzel's hair to restore her youth instead of her being an enchantress.
There was also an earlier animated film adaptation with Olivia Newton-John narrating the story. The major difference between the film and the Grimm tale is that instead of making the prince blind, the witch transforms him into a bird, possibly a reference to The Blue Bird, a French variant of the story.
A live action version was filmed for television as part of Shelley Duvall's series Faerie Tale Theatre, airing on Showtime. It aired on 5 February 1983. In it, the main character (played by Shelley Duvall) is taken from her parents by a witch (Gena Rowlands), and is brought up in an isolated tower that can only be accessed by climbing her unnaturally long hair. Jeff Bridges played the prince, and Roddy McDowall narrated.
A 1988 German film adaption, Rapunzel oder der Zauber der Tränen (meaning "Rapunzel or the Magic of Tears"), combines the story with the lesser known Grimm fairy tale Maid Maleen. After escaping the witch's tower, Rapunzel finds work as a kitchen maid in the prince's court, where she must contend with an evil princess who aims to marry her prince.
In Shrek the Third, Rapunzel is a character who is later revealed as the secondary antagonist, is shown to be the true love of the evil Prince Charming and helps to fool Princess Fiona and her group when they try to escape from Charming's wrath.
Name origin 
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, are candidates.
- 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. Etty's seed catalogue states Corn Salad (Verte de Cambrai) was in use by 1810.
- Campanula rapunculus is known as Rapunzel-Glockenblume in German, and as rampion in English 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. The herb catalogue Sand Mountain Herbs describes the root as extremely tasty, and the rosette leaves as edible, and that its blue bell-flowers appear in June or July.
- Phyteuma spicatum, known as Ährige Teufelskralle in German and as spiked rampion in English.
See also 
- Rapunzel syndrome
- Danae, daughter of King Acrisius and Queen Eurydice was shut up in a bronze tower or cave.
- Tangled, 2010 Disney film based on Rapunzel
- Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (1884) Household Tales (English translation by Margaretmm Hunt), "Rapunzel"
- Jack Zipes (1991) Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture, Viking, p. 794, ISBN 0670830534.
- D. L. Ashliman, "The Grimm Brothers' Children's and Household Tales"
- Andrew Lang, The Red Fairy Book, "Rapunzel"
- Rapunzal? iranian.com, 9 November 2009.
- A Day to Honor Saint Barbara. Folkstory.com (30 November 1997). Retrieved on 6 April 2013.
- Rapunzel. german.berkeley.edu, adapted from: Rinkes, Kathleen J. Translating Rapunzel; A very Long Process. 17 April 2001.
- Maria Tatar (1987) The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales, Princeton University Press, p. 18, ISBN 0-691-06722-8
- Maria Tatar (2004) The Annotated Brothers Grimm, W W Norton & Company Incorporated, p. 58 ISBN 0-393-05848-4.
- Jack Zipes (2001) The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, p. 474, ISBN 0-393-97636-X
- Heiner, Heidi Anne. "Annotated Rapunzel". surlalunefairytales.com.
- Tangled (2010). IMDb.com
- Kompetenzzentrum Trier :: Projekte. Germa83.uni-trier.de. Retrieved on 6 April 2013.
- Foto von Valerianella locusta, Echter Feldsalat: Blüte. Nafoku.de. Retrieved on 6 April 2013.
- Heritage, Unusual & Regional Vegetable Seeds for 2005, Thomas Etty Esq.
- GIF image. users.dircon.co.uk
- Order Rampion, Campanula rapunculus, Herb Seeds. Sandmountainherbs.com. Retrieved on 6 April 2013.
- Foto von Campanula rapunculus, Rapunzel-Glockenblume: Blüte. Nafoku.de. Retrieved on 6 April 2013.
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- D.L. Ashliman's Grimm Brothers website. The classification is based on Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson, The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography, (Helsinki, 1961).
- Translated comparison of 1812 and 1857 versions
- The Annotated Rapunzel with variants, illustrations and annotations