Rapunzel

by

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

a comparison of the versions of 1812 and 1857

compiled and translated by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2000-2006

First edition, 1812

Final edition, 1857

Rapunzel

Rapunzel

Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who had long wished for a child but had never received one.

Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who had long, but to no avail, wished for a child.

Finally, however, the woman came to be with 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 fairy's garden that was filled with flowers and herbs of all kinds.

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.

No one dared enter this garden.

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 the most beautiful rapunzel in a bed.

One day the woman was standing at this window, and she saw a bed planted with the most beautiful rapunzel.

She longed for some, but not knowing how to get any, she became miserably ill.

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 why she was doing so poorly.

Her husband was frightened, and asked her, "What ails you, dear wife?"

"Oh, if I do not get some rapunzel from the garden behind our house, I shall surely die," she said.

"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, decided to get her some, whatever the cost.

The man, who loved her dearly, thought, "Before you let your wife die, you must get her some of the rapunzel, whatever the cost."

One evening he climbed over the high wall, hastily dug up a handful of rapunzel, and took it to his wife.

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 greedily.

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.

It tasted so very good to her that by the next day her desire for more had grown threefold.

The man saw that there would be no peace, so once again he climbed into the garden.

If she were to have any peace, the man would have to climb into the garden once again.

To his horror, the fairy was standing there.

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.

She scolded him fiercely for daring to enter and steal from her garden.

"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."

He excused himself as best he could with his wife's pregnancy, and how it would be dangerous to deny her anything.

"Oh," he answered, "Let mercy overrule justice. I came 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."

Finally the fairy spoke, "I will accept your excuse and even allow you to take as much rapunzel as you want, if you will give me the child that your wife is now carrying."

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.

In his fear the man agreed to everything.

When the woman gave birth, the fairy appeared, named the little girl Rapunzel, and took her away.

When the woman gave birth, the sorceress appeared, named the little girl Rapunzel, and took her away.

This Rapunzel became the most beautiful child under the sun, but when she was twelve years old, the fairy locked her in a high tower that had neither a door nor a stairway, but only a tiny little window at the very top.

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 fairy wanted to enter, she stood below and called out:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel!
Let down your hair to me.

When the sorceress wanted to enter, she stood below and called out:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.

Rapunzel had splendid hair, as fine as spun gold.

Rapunzel had splendid long hair, as fine as spun gold.

When the fairy called out, she untied it, wound it around a window hook, let it fall twenty yards to the ground, and the fairy climbed up it.

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.

One day a young prince came through the forest where the tower stood.

A few years later it happened that a king's son was riding through the forest.

He saw the beautiful Rapunzel standing at her window, heard her sing with her sweet voice, and fell in love with her.

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.

Because there was no door in the tower and no ladder was tall enough to reach her, he fell into despair.

The prince wanted to climb up to her, and looked for a door in the tower, but none was to be found.

He came to the forest every day, until once he saw the fairy, who said:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel!
Let down your hair.

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.

Then he knew which ladder would get him into the tower.

"If that is the ladder into the tower, then sometime I will try my luck."

He remembered the words that he would have to speak, and the next day, as soon as it was dark, he went to the tower and called upward:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel!
Let down your hair!

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.

She let her hair fall. He tied himself to it and was pulled up.

The hair fell down, and the prince climbed up.

At first Rapunzel was frightened, but soon she came to like the young king so well that she arranged for him to come every day and be pulled up. Thus they lived in joy and pleasure for a long time.

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 fairy did not discover what was happening until one day Rapunzel said to her, "Frau Gothel, tell me why it is that my clothes are all too tight. They no longer fit me."

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," said the fairy. "What am I hearing from you?" She immediately saw how she had been deceived and was terribly angry.

"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."

She took Rapunzel's beautiful hair, wrapped it a few times around her left hand, grasped a pair of scissors with her right hand, and snip snip, cut it off.

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.

Then she sent Rapunzel into a wilderness where she suffered greatly and where, after a time, she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.

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 fairy 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.

On the evening of the same day that she sent Rapunzel away, the fairy 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 was startled to find the fairy instead of his beloved Rapunzel.

The prince climbed up, but above, instead of his beloved Rapunzel, he found the sorceress, who peered at him with poisonous and evil looks.

"Do you know what, evil one?" cried the angry fairy. "You have lost Rapunzel forever."

"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, in his despair, threw himself from the tower.

The prince was overcome with grief, and in his despair he threw himself from the tower.

He escaped with his life, but he lost his eyesight in the fall.

He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell poked out his eyes.

Sorrowfully he wandered about in the forest weeping and, eating nothing but grass and roots.

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.

Some years later he happened into the wilderness where Rapunzel lived miserably with her children.

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 thought that her voice was familiar.

He heard a voice and thought it was familiar.

She recognized him instantly as well and threw her arms around his neck.

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.

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, Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales -- Grimms' Fairy Tales), 1st ed. (Berlin, 1812), v. 1, no. 12.
  • Source: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales -- Grimms' Fairy Tales), 7th ed. (Berlin, 1857), no. 12.



  • Summary of the differences
    between the Grimms' versions
    of 1812 and 1857

    Wilhelm Grimm was the principal editor of the Children's and Household Tales following their inititial publication. The most significant changes were made already in the second edition (1819), although Wilhelm continued to revise the stories until their final edition (1857).

    The first substantive alteration in the text of "Rapunzel" is transformation of the fairy into a more sinister sorceress. Further, Wilhelm made the tale more dramatic and gave it a more literary style by adding colorful adjectives and adverbs and supplementary supporting details. Indirect discourse was replaced by direct quotations.

    More significant than Wilhelm's additions are his deletions. The sexual nature of the prince's and Rapunzel's trysts was disguised. Alterations range from the subtle to the obvious.

    At the subtle end of the scale, the sentence "He ... was pulled up," with its potentially offensive double meaning was changed to "The prince climbed up." The simple and direct statement "Thus they lived in joy and pleasure for a long time" was replaced by a long, flowery passage that reveals but little about the couple's intimate relationship.

    At the obvious end of the scale, the naive Rapunzel's revelation to her guardian that her clothes no longer fit (because she is pregnant) was deleted, as was the statement that "she gave birth to twins," although the revised version does mention the twins at the story's end.



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    Revised January 20, 2012.