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Mother Gothel

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Mother Gothel

Background information

Character information

Other names

Mother (by Rapunzel and Cassandra)
Mama (by Cassandra when she was little)
Old lady
The witch
Mom (by Cassandra)

Likes

Her youth and beauty, making sarcastic comments, playing the victim, feigning affection, child abuse, mirrors, being complimented by men, getting her way

Dislikes

Aging, mumbling, sharing the flower's power, Rapunzel's defiance, Rapunzel taking too much time to pull her up to the tower, pouting, parenthood, household chores, not getting her way

Powers and abilities

Control over Rapunzel's magic hair via singing
Longevity

Paraphernalia

This woman, Mother Gothel, hoarded the flower's healing power and used it to keep herself young for hundreds of years! And all she had to do, was sing a special song.
―Flynn Rider's narration during the prologue

Mother Gothel is the main antagonist of Disney's 2010 animated feature film, Tangled. She is a wicked crone who retained youth for hundreds of years through the healing properties of a magic, golden flower. When the flower's powers are transferred to the hair of Rapunzel, Gothel kidnapped the princess and locked her away in a secluded tower, where she hoarded Rapunzel's healing magic. To keep the princess under her control, Gothel posed as Rapunzel's loving, albeit overprotective mother with a mission to protect her daughter from the "cruelty" of the outside world.

Background

Personality

Gothel presents herself with a theatrical flair, often flaunting her beauty and curvaceous appearance with much enthusiasm and dramatics. This ties into the fact that she is a phenomenal actress, dangerous manipulator, and is very intelligent, while it also indicates that in her actual life-time before discovering the flower, she was indeed an actual stage actress and performer before she retired to due to her aging. Aside from the magic golden flower Gothel selfishly uses to prolong her life, and her life alone, she lacks magical attributes, relying solely on her intellect to achieve her ambitions. She is also very possessive and selfish, evidenced by the fact that she had been hoarding the magical flower for hundreds of years all to herself which could have instead been a gift to share with other ailing beings of the world. Also, she never keeps her word when striking bargains, as proven with her when she made a deal with the Stabbington brothers to give them the chance of getting revenge on Flynn Rider and Rapunzel's gift to make themselves rich, only to betray them without keeping the latter half of her promise as she no longer needed them.

Gothel was a lazy mother, as evidenced by her treating her four-year-old daughter, Cassandra, as a maid by forcing her to do all household chores in their cottage by herself while Gothel spent all her time looking at herself at her magic mirrors and talking about the compliments she got by men, which also demonstrates her vanity.

Gothel was also negligent to her biological daughter, presumably having being an unintended result of an affair with an unknown man, Gothel often left her alone in their cottage to restore her youth with the flower, and gave her gifts only to keep her away from her , rather than by motherly affection, much like she later does with Rapunzel, and finally abandoning Cassandra to escape with the baby princess, not caring about leaving her in the hands of the palace guards.

Throughout the story, Gothel's goal is to keep Rapunzel in a hidden tower forever in order to take advantage of the healing powers within the lost princess's hair. To do so, she cleverly poses as a kind, yet overprotective mother figure, that simply hopes to keep her daughter away from the outside world which, according to her, is filled with people who would abuse Rapunzel's power (which makes her somewhat hypocritical since she is one of those people who is doing just that). However, she is still extremely abusive despite her caring façade; she constantly insults Rapunzel, purposely lowers her self-esteem, avoids familial contact with the princess, and riles up her anxiety with warnings of exaggerated dangers she could run into if she'd ever leave, all for her own selfish gain. Gothel is also known to victimize herself, blaming Rapunzel for any sort of conflict or unfortunate event that befalls their lives and relationship, be it an argument or even someone's death.

Despite all of this, Gothel has several methods of furthering Rapunzel's dependence and loyalty to her; These include making her favorite meals, gifting her with paint and other luxuries to keep her occupied within the tower, and most notably, posing as Rapunzel's only protector in a vicious and unforgiving world. This is all for a deeply selfish reason, however, and comes at the expense of Rapunzel's happiness and dreams of experiencing life outside the confines of her tower. The illustrations even state she implanted scary and corrupted views of Christmas in the girl.

Gothel's burning desire to retain her youth for all eternity has notably driven the woman to complete madness, to the point where she was more than willing to force Rapunzel into slavery for the rest of her years, as opposed to taking the role of Rapunzel's mother, which would have avoided conflict for the most part. Not only that, she was also driven to a murderous state, evidenced by her immediate decision to kill Flynn Rider, upon deducing he somehow led to Rapunzel's eventual leave from the tower.

She seems to be a misanthrope and has true hate for people because they took away the magic flower she wanted all to herself, even though it could help the sickness of others. She even advises Rapunzel to hate people, saying; "the world is dark, and selfish, and cruel. If it finds even the tiniest bit of sunlight, it destroys it".

Physical appearance

Without the healing and age-reversing power of the Golden Flower, Mother Gothel is a very elderly woman. Her sagging skin is covered in multiple wrinkles and marks, noticeably on her hands, arms, and face, and she bears many signs of old age. Her thinning hair, while still possessing curls, is dull and has lost its volume, a combination of white and pale gray. Gothel's veins are especially prominent in her hands and wrists, like most elderly people, and she has several bumps and other marks on her face. Her nails are thin and look far from healthy-looking, and her face and body overall do not look full, like younger people. In her very first scene, she wore a black dress and red cloak, probably because black is a more suitable color for older people.

With the flower's power in effect, Mother Gothel reverts to her youthful appearance. She is rather voluptuous with a curvaceous figure, and she is a tall, slender woman. Her skin is flawless, smooth, and a shade of very pale ivory. She has large gray eyes, and her eyelids have brown eye shadow. Her cheeks are dusted with blush, probably to warm up her pale skin tone. Her curly, black hair falls past her shoulders, and is rather thick and glossy, with three curls hanging over her forehead.

She wears a flattering although outdated, crimson-red Renaissance-era dress with a faintly dappled pattern, gold trim, elbow length sleeves with extended hems, a hem-line that reaches her feet, brown high-heel boots, and a matching belt- like sash with a gold buckle, along with gold, diamond-shaped earrings. Whenever she leaves the tower, she brings a dark green hooded cloak, especially to hide her face when the hair's power is low.

The effects of the magic that keep Mother Gothel young wears off in short time, so she needs to replenish it very often, otherwise, her aging will return, shown when her hair starts turning gray, and she forms dark eye bags and wrinkles. The aging returns daily, it appears - she left the tower on Rapunzel's birthday, with the magic in full effect, based on her entirely youthful look. However, less than a day later, in the "Mother Knows Best (Reprise)", her black hair already possesses gray streaks, and her skin isn't as smooth as before. When Rapunzel's hair is cut off, its healing powers are gone, and when she touches the cut hair, all the centuries rush back into Gothel at once, rendering her to nothing but dust within a minute.

Appearances

Tangled

As an elderly woman near the end of her life, Mother Gothel is the single witness of a drop of pure sunlight falling to the ground, creating a magical flower with healing abilities. When she sings to it and strokes its petals, she becomes younger and beautiful. Determined to keep herself beautiful and young forever, Gothel selfishly hoards the flower's power while keeping its gift a secret from the rest of the world. Centuries pass, and in that time, a kingdom prospers nearby. Its queen falls deathly ill while pregnant, and the entire kingdom searches for a cure: the fabled magic flower. Upon finding it, the king's guards uproot the plant and use it to create a tea that cures the queen, much to Gothel's dismay. The flower's abilities, meanwhile, are passed onto the Queen's child, Rapunzel. In the dead of night, Mother Gothel breaks into the castle and uses Rapunzel's long golden hair to replenish herself. When she tries to cut some of the hair for herself, however, it turns brown and the healing powers are destroyed. Desperate, Mother Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel and disappears into the night. She isolates the princess in a tower hidden in a forest far away from the rest of the kingdom, and raises her as her own daughter and taughts her the healing incantation. Mother Gothel refuses to let Rapunzel go outside, telling her the world is a dangerous place where selfish people would try to hurt her and use her gift for themselves.

Eighteen years after Rapunzel's abduction, Mother Gothel is still as manipulative and "overprotective" as ever. Since childhood, Rapunzel has witnessed "floating lights" covering the sky every year on her birthday (really floating lanterns the king and queen set free to remember their lost daughter) and wants to find out what they are. On the wake of her eighteenth birthday, she works up the courage to finally ask Mother Gothel permission to see the lights in person. Fearing that she may be losing control over her flower, Mother Gothel uses subtle jabs, over-the-top guilt trips, and refrains of "Mother Knows Best" to keep Rapunzel from leaving, before firmly, and darkly ordering Rapunzel to never ask to leave the tower, again. Heartbroken, Rapunzel accepts. Subsequently, Mother Gothel leaves the tower once more, and during her absence, their home is invaded by an "on-the-run thief", who Rapunzel manages to knock unconscious and hide in the closet. When Mother Gothel returns, Rapunzel pushes her with requests to leave the tower (hoping to use the unconscious Flynn as proof that she can handle herself in the outside world). Before she is given the chance, however, Mother Gothel angrily yells, "You are not leaving this tower, EVER!". Rejected, Rapunzel changes the subject to focus on her oncoming birthday and asks Mother Gothel for paint made from white seashells as a birthday gift, which will require a three-day journey. Confident that Rapunzel is safe, an initially hesitant Mother Gothel agrees.

While on her way, Mother Gothel is encountered by a palace horse, though without a rider. Upon realizing this, she fearfully assumes the royal guards may have found the whereabouts of Rapunzel and rushes back to the tower. There, she frantically calls for Rapunzel to let down her hair, but no response is given. Mother Gothel quickly uses the back passage to barge her way inside and begins a search throughout the tower. Unfortunately for her, Rapunzel is now here to be found. She instead finds a satchel and inside lies Rapunzel's crown from the kingdom. The sight brings a rush of a shock to Mother Gothel before a further investigation reveals a wanted poster with an illustration of the thief Flynn Rider. Mother Gothel deduces Flynn had some involvement with Rapunzel's disappearance, and leaves the tower to kill him, and reclaim her flower — dagger in hand and filled with bloodlust. When Mother Gothel comes across the Snuggly Duckling tavern, however, she overhears Rapunzel singing how happy she is now that she has left the tower. She spies Rapunzel and Flynn escaping through a hidden tunnel when the royal guards arrive and flirts with a Pub Thug before threatening him to find out where it leads.

After following Shorty's instructions to the end of the tunnel, Mother Gothel soon comes across the Stabbington Brothers, who are out to get back at Flynn for betraying them. Using this to her advantage, Gothel gives them the crown but tells them she can offer them an even greater treasure, along with revenge on Flynn. The offer entices them, and they officially join Mother Gothel's side as her accomplices. That night, Gothel finds Rapunzel and reveals herself while Flynn is out getting firewood. She goes for a direct approach in trying to bring Rapunzel back to the tower, but Rapunzel refuses, wanting to continue her journey and admitting she has some affection toward Flynn, believing them to be reciprocated. Mother Gothel insists that Rapunzel is being naïve and the only reason why Flynn is with her is to get the crown back, which she thrusts into Rapunzel's hands and orders her to give it to him as a test of his loyalty to her before vanishing. Though Rapunzel stands her ground, Mother Gothel's words are enough to bring doubt into her mind, successfully sparking her plot.

Mother Gothel's plan is put into action while Flynn and Rapunzel are watching the lanterns the next evening. Rapunzel gives Flynn his satchel to show that she trusts him. But before they kiss, Flynn spies the Stabbington Brothers on the opposite shore and tells Rapunzel to wait as he goes to talk to them. Flynn tries to apologize and return the crown to them, but they reveal that they now know about Rapunzel's powers. They find Rapunzel and tell her Flynn left with it and told them about her healing powers. She refuses to believe them until they point out Flynn sailing away on a boat, ignoring her screams. Before they can kidnap Rapunzel, Mother Gothel betrays them so to appear she's rescuing her. She leads the heartbroken Rapunzel home and Flynn, who was knocked out and tied to the mast of the boat, is caught by the guards, who prepare to hang him the next morning.

Back at home, Mother Gothel undoes Rapunzel's braid and 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. After she leaves Rapunzel's bedroom to fix dinner, she overhears assorted commotion coming from the room and heads up to check on Rapunzel. Before she can enter, she is confronted by Rapunzel, who has managed to somehow uncover the truth behind her upbringing, confidently announcing her realization that she's the lost princess and that Gothel isn't her real mother. Stunned, she 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 a now openly-sinister Mother Gothel retaliates.

Meanwhile, Flynn manages to escape the palace and journeys to rescue Rapunzel. When he arrives at the tower, he is fatally stabbed in the stomach by Mother Gothel. As Flynn starts to die from blood loss, Gothel begins to forcefully drag a shackled Rapunzel out of the tower, with intent on finding a new hideaway where Rapunzel will be forced into slavery. Desperate to save Flynn, Rapunzel promises to go with Mother Gothel quietly if she is allowed to heal him. Knowing Rapunzel never breaks a promise, Mother Gothel agrees. However, Flynn uses the opportunity to cut off most of Rapunzel's hair with a shard of glass before she can heal him, causing the hair to turn brown and lose its magic. With the source of her healing powers gone, a horrified Mother Gothel tries to salvage Rapunzel's hair and rapidly begins to age when doing so. In the midst of her hysteria, she fails to see Pascal pulling the length of Rapunzel's cut hair, which trips Gothel to fall out of the tower window. By the time Gothel's cloak finally hits the ground, only dust remains of her.

Tangled: Before Ever After

Six months after the events of Tangled, Rapunzel continues to reside in the palace with her real family. At the start of the movie, during the prologue, Gothel is mentioned and makes a cameo appearance in Rapunzel's paintings recounting the events that led to her return as a princess.

Gothel is also alluded to a few times throughout the events that unfold: when King Frederic and Queen Arianna discuss why the former is so overprotective of Rapunzel, he mentally flashes back to the night Gothel broke into the castle and kidnapped Rapunzel. Later, during the climax, the antagonistic Lady Caine warns Rapunzel that she has no idea who she's dealing with, to which Rapunzel retorts, "Believe me, I've dealt with much worse," a clear reference to Gothel.

Tangled: The Series

In the episode "What the Hair ?!", Gothel appears in a nightmare Rapunzel suffers from one night. After cruelly bragging about her supposed return, Gothel summons the thorn-like rocks that appeared on the night Rapunzel's hair mysteriously returned. Gothel takes notice of the hair and suggests that both she and Rapunzel return to the tower where the latter will be "safe". Rapunzel abruptly wakes from the nightmare, though it prompts her to learn more about her revived hair.

During the latter half of the first season (specifically in "The Alchemist Returns" and "Secret of the Sun Drop") King Frederic had been accused of mistreating Rapunzel in a manner eerily similar to Gothel, as he had been caught lying to Rapunzel and demeaning her by limiting her freedom.Rapunzel would eventually come to discover the difference between the two, however, as Frederic's actions were out of actual love, whereas Gothel's were out of pure selfishness.

Gothel is mentioned in the episode "Rapunzel: Day One" where Rapunzel has lost her memory temporally due to an argument with Cassandra. Due to memory loss, Rapunzel is scared that she had left the tower and that Gothel is looking for her. Rapunzel also mentioned everything that Gothel had told her to watch out for including roughians and the plague. In hopes to restore Rapunzel's memory, Cassandra promises to "take her back to her mom" (Gothel). However, Rapunzel's memory eventually returns and she and Cassandra make amends.

In "Rapunzel Topia", Rapunzel is thrust into a sleep-like state by Matthews, a subordinate of the evil demon, Zhan Tiri. In during which, she is trapped within her own dream. When Rapunzel tries to break free, Matthews turns her dream into a nightmare in, during which, he forces Rapunzel to relive the day in which she was nearly enslaved by Gothel. Rapunzel uses her imagination to overpower Matthews, and ends his stint as Gothel by smacking the latter with a frying pan. Upon doing so, Rapunzel remarks, "I've always wanted to do that!"

It was revealed in "Rapunzel's Return" that Gothel was Cassandra's biological mother. Despite their blood relation, Gothel cared more about maintaining her eternal youth to the point where she abandoned her for Rapunzel when she was only a little girl just to avoid being caught by the Royal Guard, leading to Cassandra's adoption by the Captain of the Guards and also leading Cassandra to betray Rapunzel.

In order to prevent Cassandra from making amends with Rapunzel in "A Tale of Two Sisters", Zhan Tiri lies about the princess's knowing that Gothel did in fact love Cassandra before sending her to their old cottage home