“…the witch took her to the middle of the forest and shut her up in a tower that had neither stairs nor door, but only a little window at the very top.” (p. 74) A feeling of suspense is instilled just by reading this single line in “Rapunzel” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Elements evoking emotion in a story, such as suspense, increase the degree of entertainment thereby enhancing quality and enjoyment factors. This story is both superficially entertaining and subconsciously intriguing. Exploring the symbolism of images such as the tower, the open window at the top of it and Rapunzel’s long hair will begin to satisfy this curiosity.
The image of a tall solid structure is introduced quite early in the story and repeated in two different forms. The first occurs at the beginning of the story in the form of a “high wall around the garden” (p.73), and the second, of course, as the tower which is home to the 12 year old Rapunzel. It is worth mentioning that the idea of a tower and window at the top are not unique to this story. In fact, they can be traced back to Greek Mythology and the story of Perseus. The excerpt
“…he locked Danae in a bronze tower so that she would never marry or have children. The tower had no doors, but it had one very small window. Danae was very sad, but one day a bright shower of gold came through the small window. A man appeared…”
(http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Heroes/Perseus/perseus.html) clearly proves this. Perhaps the Witch, who is characterized as the Godmother, also had the intention of preventing Rapunzel from marrying and having children. A Freudian would say this image is completely phallic whereby the tower symbolizes the (erect)...
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...hat follow. On a deeper level, however, Rapunzel successfully completes the transformation of girl to woman by the end of the story. She has become a wife and bears the child that was conceived in the space at the top of the tower, despite the attempt made by the Godmother to prevent this from happening. Therefore, subconsciously, the Grimms seem to be telling a story of the rite of passage, conception and the elements necessary to complete these events of transformation.
Perrault, Charles. "Puss in Boots." Folk & Fairy Tales Comp. Martin Hallett and Barbara Karasek. 2nd ed. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview, 1996. 94-97.
Monte, Christopher F. Beneath the Mask: An Introduction to the Theories of Personality. Fifth Edition. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. 1995. http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Heroes/Perseus/perseus.html
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