Move over, Maleficent: why we love Mother Gothel

When Andy (@pewterwolf13) kindly invited us to be part of this Disney Villain Blog Tour, we immediately decided to write about Tangled. We love it even more than Frozen (if that’s possible). It’s a refreshing take on the Rapunzel story, with a zingy, upbeat musical score and fantastic characters.

Rapunzel is – almost literally – a ray of sunshine: her rejuvenating powers come from a drop of sunlight which turned into a magical flower. But mixed into the sweetness and saccharine is strength, determination and resilience. She’s a girl who knows how to handle a frying pan.

And then there’s Finn, the thief who risks his life to save her. We like him because he’s loyal and self-sacrificing. Oh, and he does a pretty good line in smoulder…  *swoon*

However, our real favourite is the villain of the story. Mother Gothel is based on the witch from the original Rapunzel tale, but her character is substantially more developed. Yes, she’s a sorceress, but Gothel is also strong, ambitious, clever, resourceful and scheming. And it’s those character traits, as much as her magical abilities, that keep her one-step ahead of everyone else.

Whilst others villains rely on dark magic to get what they want, Gothel uses her wits, cunning and persuasion. Emotional manipulation is her weapon of choice, and it’s that feature that makes her malevolence so very realistic, and so very, very scary.

And it’s so much less painful!

So, in this version of Rapunzel, Gothel has a bit of a mirror-mirror complex. She’s a handsome woman who happens to be a few hundred years old. Her good looks are down to Rapunzel’s rejuvenating powers: no need for an expensive anti-ageing regime when you can just brush your daughter’s hair! It beats shelling out for botox on a regular basis…

The only problem: Rapunzel is really the kidnapped daughter of the King and Queen. Gothel has imprisoned Rapunzel in a high tower, segregated from the rest of humanity. To be fair to Gothel, she was happy enough getting her hit of eternal youth from the original magic flower until Rapunzel’s dad took the ENTIRE PLANT.

Yeah, we’d have been pretty ticked off too.

But Rapunzel’s life isn’t all bad. Gothel provides plenty of paint and canvases, makes her favourite foods and generally takes care of her. She also teaches her adopted daughter the art of sarcasm:

Mother Gothel: Look in that mirror. I see a strong, confident, beautiful young lady.

[Rapunzel smiles.]

Mother Gothel: Oh look, you’re here too!

Gothel delivers the most mean-spirited lines in an incredibly upbeat and perky way. This makes her way more fun than either the hideously shallow Cruella de Vil or Cinderella’s viciously uptight step-mother.

Pictured: LOSERS





Of course, Gothel eventually shows her true colours. When Rapunzel discovers the truth about her parentage, Gothel attacks her and stabs Finn. However, sadly – ahem, we mean fortunately – Gothel gets her comeuppance. Finn cuts off Rapunzel’s hair and Gothel rapidly reverts to her true, extremely ancient, self. She falls out of the tower window and plunges to her death.

Whilst channelling the Emperor from Star Wars: brave fashion choice

We guess she deserves it. For a mother figure, she is kind of demented… but we still like her. We based our baddie Gwydion in ‘The Witch’s Kiss’ on Maleficient, but we’re working on another idea that might just channel Mother Gothel!



2 thoughts on “Move over, Maleficent: why we love Mother Gothel

  • Amy

    I’m a huge Mother Gothel fan too! ‘Mother Knows Best’ is one of the best Disney villains songs ever (2nd only to ‘Be Prepared’) and she’s just so sinister. Great post! Amy x

    • Katharine

      Thank so much Amy! It is great song. Have to say we also love ‘Let It Go’ despite the fact that it’s been kind of over-exposed… 🙂


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