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RAPUNZEL STUDY QUESTIONS
What is the plot and setting of the story?
Who did the garden behind the house belonged to?
What did the Witch learn by the end of the play?
What did Rapunzel learn?
Look up the word “Villain” in the dictionary.
Was there a villain in this story? Who was it? Did the villain win out?
What surprised you the most in the play?
The Prince went through a couple severe changes. What were these changes?
What is the moral of the story?
Rapunzel
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who had long, but to no avail, wished for
a child. Finally the woman came to believe that the good Lord would fulfill her wish.
Through the small rear window of these people’s house they could see into a splendid
garden that was filled with the most beautiful flowers and herbs. The garden was
surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared enter, because it belonged to a sorceress who
possessed great power and was feared by everyone.
One day the woman was standing at this window, and she saw a bed planted with the most
beautiful rapunzel. It looked so fresh and green that she longed for some. It was her
greatest desire to eat some of the rapunzel. This desire increased with every day, and not
knowing how to get any, she became miserably ill.
Her husband was frightened, and asked her, “What ails you, dear wife?”
“Oh,” she answered, ” if I do not get some rapunzel from the garden behind our house, I
shall die.”
The man, who loved her dearly, thought, “Before you let your wife die, you must get her
some of the rapunzel, whatever the cost.”
So just as it was getting dark he climbed over the high wall into the sorceress’s garden,
hastily dug up a handful of rapunzel, and took it to his wife. She immediately made a salad
from it, which she devoured eagerly. It tasted so very good to her that by the next day her
desire for more had grown threefold. If she were to have any peace, the man would have to
climb into the garden once again. Thus he set forth once again just as it was getting dark.
But no sooner than he had climbed over the wall than, to his horror, he saw the sorceress
standing there before him.
“How can you dare,” she asked with an angry look, “to climb into my garden and like a thief
to steal my rapunzel? You will pay for this.”
“Oh,” he answered, “Let mercy overrule justice. I cam to do this out of necessity. My wife
saw your rapunzel from our window, and such a longing came over her, that she would die,
if she did not get some to eat.”
The sorceress’s anger abated somewhat, and she said, “If things are as you say, I will allow
you to take as much rapunzel as you want. But under one condition: You must give me the
child that your wife will bring to the world. It will do well, and I will take care of it like a
mother.”
In his fear the man agreed to everything.
When the woman gave birth, the sorceress appeared, named the little girl Rapunzel, and
took her away. Rapunzel became the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was
twelve years old, the fairy locked her in a tower that stood in a forest and that had neither a
door nor a stairway, but only a tiny little window at the very top.
When the sorceress wanted to enter, she stood below and called out:
Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.
Rapunzel had splendid long hair, as fine as spun gold. When she heard the sorceress’s
voice, she untied her braids, wound them around a window hook, let her hair fall twenty
yards to the ground, and the sorceress climbed up it.
A few years later it happened that a king’s son was riding through the forest. As he
approached the tower he heard a song so beautiful that he stopped to listen. It was
Rapunzel, who was passing the time by singing with her sweet voice. The prince wanted to
climb up to her, and looked for a door in the tower, but none was to be found.
He rode home, but the song had so touched his heart that he returned to the forest every
day and listened to it. One time, as he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw the
sorceress approach, and heard her say:
Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair.
Then Rapunzel let down her strands of hair, and the sorceress climbed up them to her.
“If that is the ladder into the tower, then sometime I will try my luck.”
And the next day, just as it was beginning to get dark, he went to the tower and called out:
Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair.
The hair fell down, and the prince climbed up.
At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man such as she had never seen before
came in to her. However, the prince began talking to her in a very friendly manner, telling
her that his heart had been so touched by her singing that he could have no peace until he
had seen her in person. Then Rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she would
take him as her husband, she thought, “He would rather have me than would old Frau
Gothel.” She said yes and placed her hand into his. She said, “I would go with you gladly,
but I do not know how to get down. Every time that you come, bring a strand of silk, from
which I will weave a ladder. When it is finished I will climb down, and you can take me
away on your horse. They arranged that he would come to her every evening, for the old
woman came by day.
The sorceress did not notice what was happening until one day Rapunzel said to her, “Frau
Gothel, tell me why it is that you are more difficult to pull up than is the young prince, who
will be arriving any moment now?”
“You godless child,” cried the sorceress. “What am I hearing from you? I thought I had
removed you from the whole world, but you have deceived me nonetheless.”
In her anger she grabbed Rapunzel’s beautiful hair, wrapped it a few times around her left
hand, grasped a pair of scissors with her right hand, and snip snap, cut it off. And she was
so unmerciful that she took Rapunzel into a wilderness where she suffered greatly.
On the evening of the same day that she sent Rapunzel away, the sorceress tied the cut-off
hair to the hook at the top of the tower, and when the prince called out:
Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair.
she let down the hair.
The prince climbed up, but above, instead of his beloved Rapunzel, he found the sorceress,
who peered at him with poisonous and evil looks.
“Aha!” she cried scornfully. “You have come for your Mistress Darling, but that beautiful bird
is no longer sitting in her nest, nor is she singing any more. The cat got her, and will
scratch your eyes out as well. You have lost Rapunzel. You will never see her again.”
The prince was overcome with grief, and in his despair he threw himself from the tower. He
escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell poked out his eyes. Blind, he
wandered about in the forest, eating nothing but grass and roots, and doing nothing but
weeping and wailing over the loss of his beloved wife. Thus he wandered about miserably
for some years, finally happening into the wilderness where Rapunzel lived miserably with
the twins that she had given birth to.
He heard a voice and thought it was familiar. He advanced toward it, and as he
approached, Rapunzel recognized him, and crying, threw her arms around his neck. Two of
her tears fell into his eyes, and they became clear once again, and he could see as well as
before. He led her into his kingdom, where he was received with joy, and for a long time
they lived happily and satisfied.





Source: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Rapunzel, Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s
and Household Tales — Grimms’ Fairy Tales), 7th ed. (Berlin, 1857), no. 12.
Translated by D. L. Ashliman. © 2000-2006.
The German word “Rapunzel” is defined variously as “field salad,” “corn salad,” or
“lamb’s lettuce.”
Aarne-Thompson, type 310.
The Grimms’ immediate source of “Rapunzel” was a story published by Friedrich
Schultz (1762-1798) in his Kleine Romane, v. 5 (Leipzig, 1790), pp. 269-288. They
rightly saw in Schultz’s printed story a tale with a long and widespread oral tradition.
Household Tales, by Brothers Grimm
THE FISHERMAN AND HIS WIFE
There was once on a time a Fisherman who lived with his wife in a miserable hovel close
by the sea, and every day he went out fishing. And once as he was sitting with his rod,
looking at the clear water, his line suddenly went down, far down below, and when he
drew it up again he brought out a large Flounder. Then the Flounder said to him, “Hark,
you Fisherman, I pray you, let me live, I am no Flounder really, but an enchanted
prince. What good will it do you to kill me? I should not be good to eat, put me in the
water again, and let me go.” “Come,” said the Fisherman, “there is no need for so many
words about it —-a fish that can talk I should certainly let go, anyhow,” with that he put
him back again into the clear water, and the Flounder went to the bottom, leaving a long
streak of blood behind him. Then the Fisherman got up and went home to his wife in the
hovel.
“Husband,” said the woman, “have you caught nothing to-day?” “No,” said the man, “I
did catch a Flounder, who said he was an enchanted prince, so I let him go again.” “Did
you not wish for anything first?” said the woman. “No,” said the man; “what should I
wish for?” “Ah,” said the woman, “it is surely hard to have to live always in this dirty
hovel; you might have wished for a small cottage for us. Go back and call him. Tell him
we want to have a small cottage, he will certainly give us that.” “Ah,” said the man, “why
should I go there again?” “Why,” said the woman, “you did catch him, and you let him
go again; he is sure to do it. Go at once.” The man still did not quite like to go, but did
not like to oppose his wife, and went to the sea.
When he got there the sea was all green and yellow, and no longer so smooth; so he
stood still and said,
“Flounder, flounder in the sea, Come, I pray thee, here to me;
For my wife, good Ilsabil, Wills not as I’d have her will.”
Then the Flounder came swimming to him and said, “Well what does she want, then?”
“Ah,” said the man, “I did catch you, and my wife says I really ought to have wished for
something. She does not like to live in a wretched hovel any longer. She would like to
have a cottage.” “Go, then,” said the Flounder, “she has it already.”
When the man went home, his wife was no longer in the hovel, but instead of it there
stood a small cottage, and she was sitting on a bench before the door. Then she took him
by the hand and said to him, “Just come inside, look, now isn’t this a great deal better?”
So they went in, and there was a small porch, and a pretty little parlor and bedroom, and
a kitchen and pantry, with the best of furniture, and fitted up with the most beautiful
things made of tin and brass, whatsoever was wanted. And behind the cottage there was
a small yard, with hens and ducks, and a little garden with flowers and fruit. “Look,”
said the wife, “is not that nice!” “Yes,” said the husband, “and so we must always think
it, — now we will live quite contented.” “We will think about that,” said the wife. With
that they ate something and went to bed.
Everything went well for a week or a fortnight, and then the woman said, “Hark you,
husband, this cottage is far too small for us, and the garden and yard are little; the
Flounder might just as well have given us a larger house. I should like to live in a great
stone castle; go to the Flounder, and tell him to give us a castle.” “Ah, wife,” said the
man, “the cottage is quite good enough; why should we live in a castle?” “What!” said the
woman; “just go there, the Flounder can always do that.” “No, wife,” said the man, “the
Flounder has just given us the cottage, I do not like to go back so soon, it might make
him angry.” “Go,” said the woman, “he can do it quite easily, and will be glad to do it;
just you go to him.”
The man’s heart grew heavy, and he would not go. He said to himself, “It is not right,”
and yet he went. And when he came to the sea the water was quite purple and dark-blue,
and grey and thick, and no longer so green and yellow, but it was still quiet. And he
stood there and said —“Flounder, flounder in the sea, Come, I pray thee, here to me;
For my wife, good Ilsabil, Wills not as I’d have her will.”
“Well, what does she want, then?” said the Flounder. “Alas,” said the man, half scared,
“she wants to live in a great stone castle.” “Go to it, then, she is standing before the
door,” said the Flounder.
Then the man went away, intending to go home, but when he got there, he found a great
stone palace, and his wife was just standing on the steps going in, and she took him by
the hand and said, “Come in.” So he went in with her, and in the castle was a great hall
paved with marble, and many servants, who flung wide the doors; And the walls were all
bright with beautiful hangings, and in the rooms were chairs and tables of pure gold,
and crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and all the rooms and bed-rooms had
carpets, and food and wine of the very best were standing on all the tables, so that they
nearly broke down beneath it. Behind the house, too, there was a great court-yard, with
stables for horses and cows, and the very best of carriages; there was a magnificent large
garden, too, with the most beautiful flowers and fruit-trees, and a park quite half a mile
long, in which were stags, deer, and hares, and everything that could be desired.
“Come,” said the woman, “isn’t that beautiful?” “Yes, indeed,” said the man, “now let it
be; and we will live in this beautiful castle and be content.” “We will consider about
that,” said the woman, “and sleep upon it;” thereupon they went to bed.
Next morning the wife awoke first, and it was just daybreak, and from her bed she saw
the beautiful country lying before her. Her husband was still stretching himself, so she
poked him in the side with her elbow, and said, “Get up, husband, and just peep out of
the window. Look you, couldn’t we be the King over all that land? Go to the Flounder,
we will be the King.” “Ah, wife,” said the man, “why should we be King? I do not want to
be King.” “Well,” said the wife, “if you won’t be King, I will; go to the Flounder, for I will
be King.” “Ah, wife,” said the man, “why do you want to be King? I do not like to say that
to him.” “Why not?” said the woman; “go to him this instant; I must be King!” So the
man went, and was quite unhappy because his wife wished to be King. “It is not right; it
is not right,” thought he. He did not wish to go, but yet he went.
And when he came to the sea, it was quite dark-grey, and the water heaved up from
below, and smelt putrid. Then he went and stood by it, and said,
“Flounder, flounder in the sea, Come, I pray thee, here to me;
For my wife, good Ilsabil, Wills not as I’d have her will”
“Well, what does she want, then?” said the Flounder. “Alas,” said the man, “she wants to
be King.” “Go to her; she is King already.”
So the man went, and when he came to the palace, the castle had become much larger,
and had a great tower and magnificent ornaments, and the sentinel was standing before
the door, and there were numbers of soldiers with kettle-drums and trumpets. And
when he went inside the house, everything was of real marble and gold, with velvet
covers and great golden tassels. Then the doors of the hall were opened, and there was
the court in all its splendour, and his wife was sitting on a high throne of gold and
diamonds, with a great crown of gold on her head, and a sceptre of pure gold and jewels
in her hand, and on both sides of her stood her maids-in-waiting in a row, each of them
always one head shorter than the last.
Then he went and stood before her, and said, “Ah, wife, and now you are King.” “Yes,”
said the woman, “now I am King.” So he stood and looked at her, and when he had
looked at her thus for some time, he said, “And now that you are King, let all else be,
now we will wish for nothing more.” “Nay, husband,” said the woman, quite anxiously,
“I find time pass very heavily, I can bear it no longer; go to the Flounder —-I am King,
but I must be Emperor, too.” “Alas, wife, why do you wish to be Emperor?” “Husband,”
said she, “go to the Flounder. I will be Emperor.” “Alas, wife,” said the man, “he cannot
make you Emperor; I may not say that to the fish. There is only one Emperor in the
land. An Emperor the Flounder cannot make you! I assure you he cannot.”
“What!” said the woman, “I am the King, and you are nothing but my husband; will you
go this moment? go at once! If he can make a King he can make an emperor. I will be
Emperor; go instantly.” So he was forced to go. As the man went, however, he was
troubled in mind, and thought to himself, “It will not end well; it will not end well!
Emperor is too shameless! The Flounder will at last be tired out.”
With that he reached the sea, and the sea was quite black and thick, and began to boil up
from below, so that it threw up bubbles, and such a sharp wind blew over it that it
curdled, and the man was afraid. Then he went and stood by it, and said,
“Flounder, flounder in the sea, Come, I pray thee, here to me;
For my wife, good Ilsabil, Wills not as I’d have her will.”
“Well, what does she want, then?” said the Flounder. “Alas, Flounder,” said he, “my wife
wants to be Emperor.” “Go to her,” said the Flounder; “she is Emperor already.”
So the man went, and when he got there the whole palace was made of polished marble
with alabaster figures and golden ornaments, and soldiers were marching before the
door blowing trumpets, and beating cymbals and drums; and in the house, barons, and
counts, and dukes were going about as servants. Then they opened the doors to him,
which were of pure gold. And when he entered, there sat his wife on a throne, which was
made of one piece of gold, and was quite two miles high; and she wore a great golden
crown that was three yards high, and set with diamonds and carbuncles, and in one
hand she had the sceptre, and in the other the imperial orb; and on both sides of her
stood the yeomen of the guard in two rows, each being smaller than the one before him,
from the biggest giant, who was two miles high, to the very smallest dwarf, just as big as
my little finger. And before it stood a number of princes and dukes.
Then the man went and stood among them, and said, “Wife, are you Emperor now?”
“Yes,” said she, “now I am Emperor.” Then he stood and looked at her well, and when he
had looked at her thus for some time, he said, “Ah, wife, be content, now that you are
Emperor.” “Husband,” said she, “why are you standing there? Now, I am Emperor, but I
will be Pope too; go to the Flounder.” “Alas, wife,” said the man, “what will you not wish
for? You cannot be Pope. There is but one in Christendom. He cannot make you Pope.”
“Husband,” said she, “I will be Pope; go immediately, I must be Pope this very day.”
“No, wife,” said the man, “I do not like to say that to him; that would not do, it is too
much; the Flounder can’t make you Pope.” “Husband,” said she, “what nonsense! If he
can make an emperor he can make a pope. Go to him directly. I am Emperor, and you
are nothing but my husband; will you go at once?”
Then he was afraid and went; but he was quite faint, and shivered and shook, and his
knees and legs trembled. And a high wind blew over the land, and the clouds flew, and
towards evening all grew dark, and the leaves fell from the trees, and the water rose and
roared as if it were boiling, and splashed upon the shore. And in the distance he saw
ships which were firing guns in their sore n …
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