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Tangled: An In Depth Analysis of Mother Gothel Through the Eyes of a 4 Year Old

Posted by Rachel R. Vanderveen on Monday, June 11th, 2012 at 11:51pm.

Just kidding. This will not be in depth, nor a proper analysis. It will, however, be a moment of me talking about this odd little character in the colloquial disconjointed writing style that I always bring to my classy, high-brow, Calgary real estate blog.

I can’t say enough about how much I love the movie Tangled, and really anything else that John Lassiter sets his hand to. I’ve seen the flick probably at least a hundred times, and sometimes I still get belly laughs, and I don’t think I’ve made it even once through the king and queen scene without sobbing like a baby, a single restrained tear.

Here’s what got me thinking about Mother Gothel. Today we’re in the shower and Faithy’s got all her Rapunzel dolls in there. (Three, and they’re all Rapunzel. She doesn’t have any other characters). So she hands me one, and she wants me to be Rapunzel, and she wants to be Mother Gothel. Which is odd, I think, because what 4 year old girl wants to be the villain? She always wants to be the princess. So this is odd to me, but OK, I’ll bite. I take the doll, and we start playing with them in the water, but her dolly is being nice, and totally sweet.

“Faithy Bear,” I tell her. “Mother Gothel is mean. She’s a villain, and your dolly is being nice.”

“Oh yah,” She says, and she just goes right on being nice with the dolly.

This troubled me on so many levels, and I’ve been thinking of it for the rest of the whole day. Why doesn’t she see Mother Gothel for what she is? I can’t imagine her playing with Gaston, and playing him nice, or Ursula being sweet as pie. What is going on here?

See the thing with Tangled is that I don’t think kids pick up on how deviously manipulative and abusive Mother Gothel is. The character is woven so intricately that perhaps most kids don’t get that she is one of the most evil villains in Disney history. She is Disney’s first child-abuser. (At least I think she is. Correct me if I’m wrong). What makes her so dangerous and so evil is that she’s not overtly dark and sinister. In fact, we see the main character, Rapunzel, respects and cares for her quite a lot, and so the viewing children, I think, tend to see her as safe because our unassuming heroine treats her as such for the majority of the movie.

Even at the end, she is never trying to kill Rapunzel, as many other villains seek to do to the main character; she is only trying to repatriate Rapunzel to the tower, which many children saw as a happy place. There was dancing and swinging from hair in the tower. There were all kinds of fun activities that took place in the tower. So I think the young ones aren’t catching on that the tower was tantamount to a prison.

What's worse is that when I called her on it again, she said, "OK, but I want to be a nice Mother Gothel, not a mean Mother Gothel." FOR REAL!? My daughter wants Mother Gothel to be good, just as much as Rapunzel did?!?!

The character development in this movie is probably the very best I have ever seen in a children's film. It's pretty impressive!

Have any of you had a similar experience with this movie?

Rachel Vanderveen

The Vanderveen Team
Maxwell South Star Realty
Phone: 403.253.5678 Fax: 403.592.6736

4 Responses to "Tangled: An In Depth Analysis of Mother Gothel Through the Eyes of a 4 Year Old"

Kathleen Templeton-Bandola wrote: I agree with you, Rachel. A great movie on all fronts. The dynamic that you are speaking about is certainly child abuse but also shows how children will love their parents regardless of their faults. It is a bit sad that kids cannot set conditions on who they love to protect themselves. I think my Father was once married to Mother Gothel, but praise God, they divorced in 1987. She was abusive, too, in emotional ways and physical ways. Formerly, she was a blonde, but the personality is the same, exactly the same. Is it just me or does the reuniting of Rapunzle also seem like heaven, with her Heavenly Father crying tears of joy at her coming "home"?

Posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 at 10:03am.

Rachel R. Vanderveen wrote: Oh totally, and how about those tears as they mourn their daughter being lost for so many years!? It levels me every time. They don't say a word, and they don't have to. Their faces say it all.

Posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 at 10:35am.

Lindsay Adams wrote: This made me want to see the movie! I've never seen Tangled, now I must :)

Posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 at 3:50pm.

Kathleen Templeton-Bandola wrote: Yes, it is tear jerking .The part where they narrow in on the Father's eyes.....Mark cries every time, too. I wonder when they will make another one that we all love just as much? And the attitude of the is so clever! Lindsay, you must see it!

Posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 at 10:02pm.

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