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|“||I really did try, Rapunzel. I tried to warn you what was out there. The world is dark and selfish and cruel. If it finds even the slightest ray of sunshine, it destroys it.||„|
|~ Mother Gothel rationalizes her abuse of Rapunzel|
|“||You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I'm the bad guy.||„|
|~ Mother Gothel reveals her true nature when she finds out about Rapunzel's act of leaving the tower.|
|“||Hopefully, that'll keep her out of my hair for a while. Lousy, little pest.||„|
|~ Gothel reveals her actual feelings for Cassandra.|
Madame Gothel, better known as Mother Gothel or also simply known as Gothel, is the overall secondary antagonist of Disney's Tangled animated franchise.
She is the main antagonist of Disney's 50th full-length animated feature film Tangled (which is based on the 1812 German fairytale Rapunzel by Brothers Grimm) and a posthumous antagonist in Tangled: The Series and its comic book series.
As her name suggests, she is Rapunzel's former foster mother-turned-first arch-nemesis who seeks to remain youthful and immortal by utilizing the magic hair of her "daughter". In Tangled: The Series, she was revealed to be Cassandra's biological mother. In Once Upon a Time, she is known in Hyperion Heights as Eloise Gardener.
Mother Gothel is a vain, self-centered, manipulative, sinister and shrewd woman who only cares about herself and her good looks, even willing to abandon her biological daughter Cassandra in favor of Rapunzel because of the latter's magic hair. While she pretends to be a caring and devoted mother, the fact that she calls Rapunzel "flower" and touches her blonde hair whenever she displays "affection" clearly shows what she truly cares about. Although she did take care of her when growing up and did gain her affection through treats, birthday gifts, and pretense of motherly love, she spent 18 years subtly maltreating Rapunzel, verbally and emotionally, to destroy her self-esteem and make her completely dependent and vulnerable on her.
Despite being older than the kingdom, Mother Gothel proves to be quite childish and entitled. She wants things to unfold following her design and gets very furious the second the situation starts escaping her. This shows prominently when her "sweet mother" act quickly slips away as Rapunzel expresses a desire to see the outside world. She loves to see herself in the mirror, reveling and flaunting in her beauty. Although she would rather regain Rapunzel's trust by making it seem like she was right, when she fully drops the act, she is not above assaulting and restraining her "daughter", and even stabbing her love interest in cold blood. Also, she never keeps her word when striking bargains and betrays her allies as soon as she stops needing them.
|“||Rapunzel! Let down your hair!||„|
|~ Mother Gothel|
Before the events in the film, an elderly lady named Madame Gothel hides a flower born from the sun's dew that keeps reverses her age whenever she sings to it. But someday, the flower is found and given to the queen so that she would not die in childbirth. All the magical flower's power is now in the queen's daughter, so Gothel abducted her and kept her in a hidden tower for 18 years, teaching the little girl to sing for her. Although she tried to cut a lock of Rapunzel's hair to stay young, once cut, it goes from golden blonde to dark brown and loses its power. She spent the following years raising Rapunzel as her daughter and causing her to fear the outside world, which she describes as frightening, dull, selfish, cruel, and unforgiving.
Once Rapunzel turned 18, she begs to see the floating lanterns on her birthday; however, Gothel refuses both musically and angrily. To trick her, Rapunzel asks for special paint for her birthday, a gift that would take three days to get. While reluctant, Gothel believes Rapunzel and sets off.
However, when she sees Maximus, one of the guards' horses, she worries that someone was searching for Rapunzel. When she arrives at the tower, she is horrified to find that Rapunzel was already gone. Believing that she was kidnapped, Gothel takes a sharp dagger from her drawer and sets out to find her. She passes by the Snuggly Duckling Inn and while paying attention to the thugs and Rapunzel sing, she realizes that no one kidnapped Rapunzel, but she left with a wanted criminal named Flynn Rider (Eugene) instead. Deeply outraged, when one of the men staggers outside and attempts to flirt with her, she threatens him with her dagger unless he tells her where they are.
When she finds their location, she runs into the Stabbington Brothers, Flynn's partners who he abandoned. She gives them the decision of receiving either the princess's tiara that he stole or revenge on Flynn. They unhesitatingly chose revenge. She encounters Rapunzel afterward, saying that Flynn's only with her for the tiara. Unfazed by Gothel's warning, Rapunzel agrees to put him to the test.
Soon, the Stabbington Brothers take the tiara and knock Flynn unconscious and tie him to a boat, making it look like he was abandoning Rapunzel. They try to kidnap her, but Gothel double-crosses them by knocking them unconscious (deliberately making it look like she was rescuing her). She comforts the heartbroken Rapunzel home and leads her home.
Back at the tower, after undoing Rapunzel's braid, Gothel reminds her that the world is intolerant of joy and happiness, and will destroy any ray of sunshine it finds as the finishing touch of destroying the princess' glimmers of optimism. As Gothel leaves Rapunzel's bedroom to fix dinner, Rapunzel has an epiphany and slowly realizes that she's the lost princess and Gothel is nothing but a kidnapping fraud.
Rapunzel confronts Gothel confidently announcing her realization that she's the lost princess and that Gothel kidnapped her from the start. Stunned, Gothel nervously tries to suppress these revelations, but Rapunzel denies her words. With her patience wearing thin, Gothel desperately claims her actions were out of love, but her manipulations no longer have any effect on Rapunzel. Angered, Gothel has lied and imprisoned Rapunzel her whole life for her own gain, Rapunzel physically denies the abuse and proclaims Gothel will never again be allowed to use her hair's magic from that moment forward, just as Gothel breaks free only to shatter the mirror. With her mind made, Rapunzel starts to make her leave from the tower, but Gothel drops the charade and slowly and menacingly follows Rapunzel.
When Flynn enters the tower to try and save her, Gothel stabs him from behind and tries to take a shackled Rapunzel away by forcefully drag her out of the tower, with intent on finding a new hideaway where the latter will be forced into slavery, but Rapunzel begs to cure him and says that if she lets her cure him, she will agree to be her captive forever. While being hesitant, Mother Gothel agrees but chains Flynn to the wall.
Rapunzel intended to heal him, but Flynn cuts her hair with a shard of glass from the broken mirror, preferring to die saving Rapunzel than let her be enslaved by Gothel. Mother Gothel tries to salvage Rapunzel's cut hair but it turns brown and loses it's power. Gothel begins to age rapidly; she looks in her broken mirror and sees her youth disappear. Horrified, Gothel pulls her hood over her face and begins to stumble around, eventually tripping over some cut hair and falling out of the window. As Gothel plummets from the tower, her body turns to dust and by the time she hits the bottom, it is just her cloak left.
Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure
Mother Gothel appeared in the series as a posthumous antagonist. She is mainly alluded to throughout the series as a form of Rapunzel's PTSD, and it's implied that she is a disciple of the ancient demon Zhan Tiri, who like Gothel, sought the sundrop's power. She first appeared in the episode "What the Hair?!", where she appeared in a nightmare that Rapunzel was suffering after losing control of her newly grown hair. She reappeared again in the episode "Rapunzeltopia", where Tromus (a disciple of Zhan Tiri) takes on the form of Gothel to haunt Rapunzel in her dream, only for Rapunzel to thwart him by hitting him in the face with a pan.
It is later revealed in the third season that Gothel is the biological mother of Cassandra (the father's identity is never known, however). Despite their blood relation, Gothel cared more about maintaining her eternal youth, even going too far by deliberately abandoning Cassandra for Rapunzel just to avoid being caught by the Royal Guard, leading to Cassandra's adoption by the Captain of the Guards. This event is what drove an embittered Cassandra to develop a fit of certain jealousy towards Rapunzel, even betraying her by taking the Moon Stone for herself to become as powerful as Rapunzel.
She had a secret room with a copy of the Demanitus' scroll and magic mirrors playing what she recorded when someone touched them. One mirror showed Cassandra a scene where Gothel berated her for her loud sweeping, then another where she scolded Cassandra for not preparing dinner. The small mirror Zhan Tiri took showed Gothel and her daughter together when Gothel explained to Cassandra how to work a music box she had and to know she loved her, but the piece that Zhan Tiri removed revealed it was a distraction and Gothel never actually loved her daughter.
Cass eventually found out this and tried to make up for abandoning Rapunzel, but Zhan Tiri tricked her yet again. After Zhan Tiri absorbed the powers of both the Sundrop and Moonstone, she taunted Cass for suffering the same fate that her mother did: letting her ego be her downfall. However, Cass has had enough and aids Rapunzel in tricking Zhan Tiri infusing both stones, resulting in Zhan Tiri's death.
In Other Media
Once Upon a Time
- Main article: Mother Gothel (Once Upon a Time)
Kingdom Hearts III
Mother Gothel appears in Kingdom Hearts III. Her role in the Kingdom of Corona world is pretty much the same as the film Tangled, with Marluxia's Nobodies taking the place of the Stabbington Brothers. After Rapunzel's hair was cut, and Gothel aged rapidly before her defeat in the movie, Marluxia turned her into a Heartless called the Grim Guardianess before her cloak hit the ground to battle Sora, Donald, and Goofy and the trio ended up slaying the beast.
Powers and Abilities
While the character from the original fairytale was a witch, Mother Gothel has no magic powers whatsoever, aside from the knowledge about the Magic Flower and how to use it.
However, Mother Gothel is a highly skilled and intelligent manipulator, able to make Rapunzel fear the outside world, and then by making her believe that her trust in other people was unfounded. She is very good at talking people into agreeing with her, convincing them of what she wants them to believe, and lying efficiently. Finally, she displays no fear when confronted with people bigger and more imposing than her, and proves a very temperamental and dangerous fighter with a dagger in hand, though she would rather avoid confrontations and prefers setting traps and taking foes by surprise.
- Mother Gothel is revealed to be the mother of Cassandra, whom she abandons.
- Mother Gothel's original name was Madame Gothel.
- Vanity is a recurring theme around Gothel, as shown by her constantly checking and admiring her reflection in the mirror which she later breaks. This vanity is ultimately her downfall in more ways than one; breaking a mirror is thought to bring bad luck, Flynn uses a shard of the mirror to cut Rapunzel's hair and it is the sight of her aging in the broken mirror that causes her to fall to her death when she is not looking where she's going.
- According to the makers of Tangled, Mother Gothel's dress is inspired by fashion coming from the Renaissance, an era 400 years older than the rest of the setting and characters in costume in the film, which was instead inspired by the 1780s. This is meant to emphasize Gothel's immense age.
- Interestingly, when Rapunzel's hair is cut off and she experiences the centuries of aging she'd avoided within a few seconds, all that remains behind is her cloak, implying her dress was similarly old and she had been using the hair's magic to let it stay together.
- Mother Gothel is very notable for representing an abusive parent accurately; her treatment of Rapunzel represents how abusive parents treat their kids in real life. This makes her one of the most realistic Disney Villains of all time.
- When Mother Gothel speaks to Rapunzel, she sometimes refers to herself as "your (Rapunzel's) mother", especially during the song "Mother Knows Best".
- Gothel's exotic appearance, whose beauty, dark curly hair, and voluptuous figure were deliberately designed to serve as a foil to Rapunzel's, was inspired by the appearance of her voice actress Donna Murphy, along with that of American singer Cher.
- In the Kingdom Hearts series, she is the second Disney villain to become a Heartless after her initial defeat in the film, followed by Scar, and the first to take on a new form.
- Mother Gothel and Zhan Tiri are the only villains in the Tangled franchise to succeed in murdering someone. However, the only murder Gothel committed was later undone.
- In Tangled: The Series, it is revealed, based on the silhouette in "Lost And Found" and many more times in the series, that Mother Gothel was once a pupil of Lord Demanitus before betraying him to serve Zhan Tiri; which would also explain how she knew the Healing Incantation.
- The main setting of Tangled is the fictional kingdom of Corona. Her voice actress, Donna Murphy was born in the Corona neighborhood of the borough of Queens in New York City.
- Gothel acts as a foil to Flynn Rider, as they both have known Rapunzel, as Flynn reluctantly helped Rapunzel escape from tower to see floating lanterns while Gothel keeps Rapunzel imprisoned in her tower so she can use her hair to become young forever. However, Flynn does care for Rapunzel (such as accompanying Rapunzel in a journey to see floating lanterns, become protective to Rapunzel, and sacrificing himself to save Rapunzel from Mother Gothel). On the other hand, Gothel refuses to change her ways out of her obsessive behavior and prefers to tie Rapunzel up in a chain to keep her imprisoned in her tower forever, making her hatred over Flynn Rider increase. Gothel serves as an example of what Flynn Rider would become if he had never been there with Rapunzel.