Poll: Is Rapunzel from Tangled a strong female character?

Matthew Jabour

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For me, the movie that resold me on the Disney Animated Canon was Tangled. Great humor, gorgeous visuals, and an engaging storyline. But what really sold me was the two main characters, and that's pretty unprecedented for a Disney film. Both of them are quite well-rounded, and seemed to behave like normal humans might - again, a first for the House of Mouse. But there's a question I've had nagging me for ages: Is Rapunzel a strong female character?

I liked her, of course, and she had many strong moments, but also many of the old cliché/stereotype moments that have plagued the Disney princesses since the beginning. And being a guy, I have no idea whether it all adds up in the black or not. So, what do you guys think, is she?
 

senordesol

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I've seen the movie twice and don't remember enough from her to really critique her character...which might be a critique in itself. Does she do anything particularly 'strong' or 'powerful'? I seem to remember her whacking a few guys with a frying pan...but did she do anything to (intentionally) resolve the plot?
 

Zhukov

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When people say "strong female character" (SFC? Is this an acronym yet?), do they mean a fictional female who is well characterized or do they mean a female character who exhibits strength of some kind?

I've never been entirely clear on that.

Anyway, if the former then kinda, if the latter then no, not really.

Than again, I'm hardly the target audience so I may well be talking out of my arse. Plus it's been a while since I saw it. Mostly I just remember laughing at the horse.
 

Little Woodsman

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Consider this about Rapunzel; she grew up knowing only one person, and that person continually lied to her, and did everything she could to shape Rapunzel's world view in such a way to bind Rapunzel to her more closely.

And yet when Rapunzel realized that *she* was the lost Princess, she immediately confronted Gothel about it. Which maybe wasn't the smartest thing to do, but took great strength of character. (And to anyone who thinks that she was dense for not realizing that she was the lost Princess right away, remember--she didn't even know there *was* a lost Princess until Flynn took her to the festival.)

She essentially sacrificed herself to save Flynn--agreeing for all intents and purposes to be Gothel's slave if Gothel would let her heal Flynn. Once again, great strength of character.

She endured her life of almost total isolation and came out of it a kind-hearted, mentally stable person.

There are more examples of her strength of character throughout the movie, but those are (arguably) the biggest.

Strong?
She's not just strong.
She's twisted blue steel and dynamite!
 

lucky_sharm

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Depends on your criteria.

Does she have agency?
Can she capably act on her own?
Is she proactive in the plot?
Are her motivations tied to another man or is she acting in her own interests?
Does she become a damsel in distress?
If she has a romantic partner, is she his equal?

Also does she ever end up in this scenario?
 

Dizchu

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Rapunzel was a badass in Tangled. She's resourceful, inquisitive, talented... she's also not a very submissive character (she doesn't get "rescued" from the tower, she shows a lot of assertiveness).

I think Tangled is great and it's a shame that Frozen has overshadowed it in popularity.
 

jklinders

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When you consider that she was basically a mentally and emotionally abused shut in for the entirety of her life every small amount of agency that she has is a goddam miracle.

Raised from babyhood to view the entire world with distrust and fear she still wanted to go out into it. When she did, her first encounters with it taught her conclusively that the world was not as dark or as evil as it was supposed to be. She did not retreat into her indoctrination until she was severely manipulated by Gothel. Even then she snapped out of it pretty damn fast when when she realized what that hag had truly done.

I agree with with Little Woodsman, strong does not even begin to describe it.
 

Casual Shinji

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Well, she wasn't the 'Look at me be all strong and independent' woman, so that's definately a plus. She was a pretty well rounded character I think, and that's really all any character needs to be. She had fears, she had wants, and the creators did a good job making us feel those fears and wants. You can feel one side of her is really scared to leave the tower and disobey her mother, because that's all she's ever known, while the other part of her just yearns to break free. There's a nice duality to her.

She obviously doesn't make much sense when you realize she's been locked up for the entire 18 years of her life, but that's Disney for ya. And I don't mind too much, I mean, it's not like I went into this movie wanting to see some crazed hermit girl. I do feel they made her disregard Mother Gothel a bit too easy when she realized who her real parents were. It would've felt more triumphant if there'd been more of a battle of wills before she finally stood up to Gothel. Also, notice how that confrontation is almost identical to the one between Quasimodo and Frolo in The Hunchback of the Notre Dame.

What I really like is how the relationship between her and Flynn is handled over the course of the movie. It's given some breathing room and time to develop, that by the time they're sitting together by the fire you really feel like there's a nice little bond there.

A great little movie with an almost perfect script.
 

VondeVon

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I think 'No, with some exceptions'.

She was raised by Gothel who, as we saw, was *very* fond of casual verbal abuse aimed at cutting the girl's self esteem down but played off as a joke.

Rapunzel had that ^ and naievity working against her. She was a weak person in general, gender irregardless. When faced with a tavern full of 'brutes', she'd have been messed up had the infinite power of Disney not stepped in to ensure they were all softies at heart just waiting for an awkward song to sway them to her side.

She was foolish, but unflinching in the need to whack a fool who intruded in her home. +1
She never seemed to notice the nastiness of her mother, nor stood up to her, except when standing up for 'her man'. -1
When trapped in a cave-in and desperately needing light, she didn't twig that her lifelong glowing hair might be an option. -1
She fell for Flynn, a slimeball-type 'charming guy' whose ulterior motives were so painfully obvious that I was cheering for Gothel to win. -1 for obliviousness (but again, being raised by only one human could reasonably stunt her ability to percieve deception in others).

So yeah. I think she was a weak person but might get better with time and some life experience. I don't think she is inherently weak.
 

Casual Shinji

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VondeVon said:
When trapped in a cave-in and desperately needing light, she didn't twig that her lifelong glowing hair might be an option. -1
But... she did. That's how they escape. Sure, not instantly, but that's because she herself never used her hair except when Gothel asked her to, and never for the sake of illumination.
VondeVon said:
She never seemed to notice the nastiness of her mother, nor stood up to her, except when standing up for 'her man'. -1
Except for when she realizes Gothel isn't her real mother and has been feeding her lies about the world, at which point she decides to stand up to her and leave.
 

VondeVon

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Casual Shinji said:
VondeVon said:
When trapped in a cave-in and desperately needing light, she didn't twig that her lifelong glowing hair might be an option. -1
But... she did. That's how they escape. Sure, not instantly, but that's because she herself never used her hair except when Gothel asked her to, and never for the sake of illumination.
Flynn dives twice, injures his hand in front of Rapunzel (healing prompt), dives again.

Flynn: "It's no use, I can't see anything." (light prompt)

Rapunzel dives instead, being almost immediately hauled out by Flynn who ducks his head to hers and smooths her hair back like she's a dumb little kid.

Flynn: "There's no point, it's pitch black down there!"

Rapunzel: (Doesn't twig. Cries instead.) "This is all my fault. She was right. I never should have done this. I'm so so sorry Flynn." (more crying)

Flynn: ('Don't be sad' attempt at comfort) "My real name is Eugene."

Rapunzel: (Well because you shared a secret...) "I have magic hair that glows when I sing."

Flynn: ...."What?"

Both: (Gawk at how long it took her to twig that she could have lit up their escape attempts.)

Rapunzel: "I have... magic hair that glows when I sing!!" (By now water is to their chins and she only gets two lines out before it's over their heads.)
C'mon. She's a little thick. ;)

Casual Shinji said:
VondeVon said:
She never seemed to notice the nastiness of her mother, nor stood up to her, except when standing up for 'her man'. -1
Except for when she realizes Gothel isn't her real mother and has been feeding her lies about the world, at which point she decides to stand up to her and leave.
She yells at Gothel for not telling her she was the lost princess, sure. But she doesn't properly fight or rebel until Gothel tells her Flynn is to be hanged - and by implication, that Gothel was the one who made it so. If Gothel had been a little bit sharper (mentally), or the Disney Ending(tm) wasn't required... well, it's all speculative obviously, but I think Rapunzel could have been folded back into place with only minor manipulative effort.
 

Casual Shinji

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VondeVon said:
Casual Shinji said:
Except for when she realizes Gothel isn't her real mother and has been feeding her lies about the world, at which point she decides to stand up to her and leave.
She yells at Gothel for not telling her she was the lost princess, sure. But she doesn't properly fight or rebel until Gothel tells her Flynn is to be hanged - and by implication, that Gothel was the one who made it so. If Gothel had been a little bit sharper (mentally), or the Disney Ending(tm) wasn't required... well, it's all speculative obviously, but I think Rapunzel could have been folded back into place with only minor manipulative effort.
When Gothel tells her about Flynn it becomes clear to Rapunzel at what lengths her mother will go to keep her locked up. That's what makes her finally leave, not so much Flynn. Her arguement with Gothel isn't about 'Oh no, I gotta save Flynn' (which honestly, I don't know what the problem with that would've been), but 'You're the one who's been using me all along, there's a real family out there looking for me, I'm outta here.'

Yes, Gothel's manipulation should've been a bit stonger at that point, but Rapunzel's motivation for standing up for herself and leaving wasn't 'I got to be with my man, because without him I'm nothing'. The final ending isn't even really about her and Flynn, but about her being reunited with her real mother and father.
 

Scarim Coral

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I would say so given she had an isolated life until recent event. She venture out into the unkown, got some tough guys and a horse to be nice toward her, confronted her fak mother when she previously couldn't before and finally give up her long hair to saved the thief life.
 

EeveeElectro

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Little Woodsman said:
Consider this about Rapunzel; she grew up knowing only one person, and that person continually lied to her, and did everything she could to shape Rapunzel's world view in such a way to bind Rapunzel to her more closely.

And yet when Rapunzel realized that *she* was the lost Princess, she immediately confronted Gothel about it. Which maybe wasn't the smartest thing to do, but took great strength of character. (And to anyone who thinks that she was dense for not realizing that she was the lost Princess right away, remember--she didn't even know there *was* a lost Princess until Flynn took her to the festival.)

She essentially sacrificed herself to save Flynn--agreeing for all intents and purposes to be Gothel's slave if Gothel would let her heal Flynn. Once again, great strength of character.

She endured her life of almost total isolation and came out of it a kind-hearted, mentally stable person.

There are more examples of her strength of character throughout the movie, but those are (arguably) the biggest.

Strong?
She's not just strong.
She's twisted blue steel and dynamite!
Hell to the yeah! I was going to say something like this, thanks for saving me a bit of typing lol.

OT: If I was completely isolated I would actually go insane. She's very headstrong and tough and she didn't need a man to rescue her from the tower like in the fairy tale it's based upon. She even saves his ass a few times. The part where her moods are swinging between elated and hysterical when she touches the ground are hilarious and fairly accurate in terms of being a woman with moodswings.

She does appear weak and submissive at times. How she never left the tower on her own initiative and when she thought Flynn had fucked off with the tiara and she went back with Mother Gothel without a fight, I suppose she thought all hope had gone. A lot of people don't realise a well rounded character has to have moments of weakness if they want to come across like an actual, human woman.

She's a damn improvement on the old Rapunzel at least.