Tangled’s Problematic Mother-Daughter Relationship

Disney’s 2010 animated film, Tangled, is one of my favourite movies ever. I can easily watch it every weekend. I love Rapunzel and can identify with her on so many levels. I think Flynn Rider is a hottie, especially when he forgets about smouldering and shows his more sensitive side. Plus Pascal and Maximus are two of my favourite sidekicks. And, let’s not forget about that amazing score and soundtrack. I even listen to it in my car on the way to work some days.

But, I have a major issue with Rapunzel’s relationship with Mother Gothel.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, go do so now, because SPOILER ALERT coming in …

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Rapunzel shows no remorse whatsoever when Mother Gothel dies.

Okay, I get it. Their relationship is incredibly dysfunctional. Gothel is her kidnapper, for heaven’s sake. BUT – Rapunzel only finds this out at the very end. For 90% of the film, Rapunzel believes Gothel to be her real mother. Yes, a manipulative narcissistic one who points out every real and fictitious flaw Rapunzel may have (seriously, why the girl doesn’t have major self-esteem issues is beyond me), but her mother nonetheless.

We see real affection for the girl as Gothel raises her from infancy, tender moments where they brush Rapunzel’s ridiculously long hair together. They even have the cutest ritual I’ve ever seen between mother and child onscreen:

GOTHEL: I love you very much, dear.

RAPUNZEL: I love you more.

GOTHEL: I love you most.

Even if you consider the fact that Gothel might actually only be referring to Rapunzel’s ability to keep her young here, to Rapunzel this is a loving exchange, and one that she has taken part in all her life.

So to me, watching the only mother you’ve ever known turn to dust before your eyes (even if you recently found out that she had stolen you as a baby) without so much as a pang of dismay, seems just a little callous.

Even if said mother had just stabbed your first ever boyfriend.

What do you think? Does Mother Gothel deserve at least a tear or two from Rapunzel, or is the teenager right in pushing all childhood affection aside so easily?

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