The story begins with a couple without child who live beside a beautiful garden that belonged to a witch. The wife becomes pregnant with a child. However, she craves some of the rapunzel plant in the witch’s garden. The husband sneaked over to the garden to collect some of the plant for his wife the next two nights. On the third night, the husband is caught by the witch as he is attempting to scale the wall on his way back home. The witch known as “Dame Gothel” accuses the husband of theft. The husband begs the witch for mercy, so she agrees to let him take as much Rapunzel as he wishes, under one condition. The unborn child that belongs to him and his wife must be given to the witch at her birth. The husband was desperate and agreed to give his child to the witch.
When the baby was born, the witch took and raised the girl as her as her own. The witch named the girl Rapunzel. When the girl reached twelve years of age, the witch locked her in a tower deep in the woods. The tower had no doors or stairs, but only a simple one room space with a single window. Whenever the witch went into the woods to see Rapunzel, she stood at the base of the tower and said “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair”. Rapunzel then would let down her long hair for the witch to climb.
Then one day, a prince went riding through the forest and could hear Rapunzel singing from her tower. Enhanced by her beautiful voice, the Prince found the girl but was unable to get into the tower. After returning often to hear her sing, he saw the witch visiting Rapunzel and learned how to get to her.
Once the witch had gone, the Prince told Rapunzel to let down her hair. He climbed and met Rapunzel before asking her to become his wife. Rapunzel agreed and they planned to escape the tower. Before the plan could take place, Rapunzel accidentally gave away the prince's visits to the witch. In anger, the witch cut off Rapunzel’s long hair and threw her into the forest to fend for herself. When the Prince returned for the girl, he only found the witch in the tower. She told the Prince that he would never be able to see Rapunzel again. For months, the Prince wandered the country searching for the girl. One day, he heard her voice and they were united once again. The prince brings Rapunzel to the Kingdom where the two live happily ever after.
Repunzel is a German fairytale developed by the Brothers Grimm, and first published in the “Children’s and Household Tale’s” storybook in 1812. Although the story of Rapunzel is directly linked to the Grimms, this tale can be traced back to 1698 in the adaptation of the fairy tale “Persinette” written by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force. Rapunzel has since been featured in many books in various versions of the story, including Andrew Lang’s “The Red Fairy Book” and Ruth Manning-Sander’s “A Book of Witches”. In 1998, Paul O. Zelinsky published the Caldecott Medal-winning picture book of Rapunzel.
There are several variations to the story of Rapunzel. In the “Italian Folktales” book by Italo Calvion, a similar story is told about a princess that is imprisoned within a tower. In the “Canary Prince”, the imprisonment of a girl is caused by her stepmother’s jealously. In the German fairytale “Puddocky” a girl is caught stealing food by a witch. Similar to the story of “Puddocky”, the tale of “Prunella” also features a girl who steals food and is then captured by a witch. The stories “Snow-White-Fire-Red, and “Anthousa, Xanthousa, Chrisomalousa” tell the story through the eyes of the hero.
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- Short Stories: Here you will find the full fairytale of Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm.
- Comparison of Versions: A comparison of the 1812 and 1857 versions of the story, Rapunzel, can be found here.
- Rapunzel Annotations: Annotations can be found for parts one through seven for the story of Rapunzel.
- The Retelling of Rapunzel: Written by the Brothers Grimm, here you will find an in-depth retelling of the story Rapunzel by J. M. Kearns.
- History of Rapunzel: Learn about the history of Rapunzel and the various adaptations of the story.
- Paul O Zelinsky: Find information on the 1988 Caldecott-Medal winning version of Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky.
- Rapunzel Symbolism: Fans of the fairytale can learn about the symbolism behind the cutting of hair in the story of Rapunzel.
- Sneakaboos: Watch and listen to the story of Rapunzel with the words to the story at the bottom of the animation.
- Fairytale Kingdom: Scholastic Education provides a number of Rapunzel resources, including power points, printables, activities, and stories.
- DLTK’s Educational Activities: Here you will find a Rapunzel craft for kids to put together using a paper towel tube or milk carton.
- Red Fairy Book: Read the story of Rapunzel from the popular “Red Fairy Book” by Andrew Lang.
- Fairy Tale Resources: Find fairy tale resources, such as a theme chart, story map templates, and fairy tale pages.
- Modern Interpretations of Rapunzel: Here you will find literary books and forms of art that present a modern day look at the story of Rapunzel.