Mother Gothel’s selfishness, deceit, and clever manipulation make her one of the scariest Disney antagonists, but one theory may change that.
Mother Gothel from the movie Tangled is one of the most severe characters in Disney movies, but a theory suggests that she may not have been the villain of Tangled after all. Gothel is seen as a strong Disney villain in part because she is not magically powerful. Instead, her villainy comes from her manipulation tactics and her gaslighting of Rapunzel. She’s a true-to-life villain, which makes her all the scarier, more so than an evil witch, like Maleficent, or a vengeful lion, like Scar.
Mother Gothel steals every scene she’s in by being the most bombastic person on screen. She moves with grace and class, but inside she hides her pure evil along with the secret that she stole Rapunzel from her parents as a small child so as to keep her youthful spell. However, a theory (via Reddit) claims that Gothel isn’t the true villain in Tangled.
The theory claims that it is actually the authorities, and in part the King and Queen, of Corona who are the real villains. Gothel had found the flower herself centuries before Corona’s kingdom was built up, and had harnessed its powers for many years peacefully. She hid the flower, but she never destroyed it. Yet, as soon as the Queen falls ill, authorities stalk and pillage the lands surrounding Corona, eventually finding the flower and simply taking it for themselves. They never question if it belongs to anyone, or think about how to conserve the flower to use as medicine in the future for others who fall ill. Thus, it is their actions that make them Tangled‘s real villains.
This theory actually stands up to some scrutiny. The King and Queen are largely portrayed in a sympathetic light after losing their daughter, apparently grieving ever since she was taken, but the selfishness of ripping up a flower that wasn’t theirs, and that could have been used to help countless people is undeniable. Thus, the theory states that Gothel taking in taking Rapunzel she is taking back what was taken from her.
This, though, is missing a lot of nuance surrounding the fact that, no matter the circumstances, Gothel did kidnap a young and innocent child. It wasn’t Rapunzel’s fault that the flower was taken, yet she suffers for it the most over the years under Gothel’s eye. Rapunzel’s dark Disney backstory shows how she was subject to gaslighting, taunts, and essentially treated as a servant to Gothel. Her iconic dress is also many sizes too small for her, which indicates that Gothel hasn’t bothered to sew or obtain new clothes that actually fit Rapunzel in years, but Gothel herself is dressed most glamorously.
Therefore, whilst it can be true that the authorities of Corona acted in similarly selfish ways, Gothel is still the true villain of Tangled. Her manipulation tactics, even hiring hitmen to deal with Flynn, show the extent of her cruelty. Her obsession lies not with Rapunzel, but merely with the gift she possesses. Even when Gothel is killed off, she dies clutching Rapunzel’s hair, which proves that was her only concern. She looks after Rapunzel as long as she is useful to her, which is ultimately the mark of a villain.
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