This story is based on a tale recorded by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Illustrated by: Thanh Nguyễn
One day, standing at her back window, the woman saw a bed planted with lush green plants of rapunzel. She longed to eat some. Each day, this desire grew. The woman fell ill.
“What ails you, dear wife?” asked her husband.
“I will die,” she answered. “Unless I get some rapunzel from the garden behind our house.”
In desperation, the man decided to fulfill her wish. As it grew dark, he scaled the wall and entered the sorceress’ garden. He quickly dug up some rapunzel and took it back to his sick wife. She devoured it eagerly.
The next day, she wanted more. Again, her husband climbed into the forbidden garden. But no sooner had he cleared the wall when, to his horror, he saw the sorceress looming over him. “How dare you?” she cried. “You will pay!”
The man begged for mercy. He explained how his wife would die if she couldn’t eat some rapunzel.
“If this is true, take as much rapunzel as you want,” said the sorceress. “But under one condition: You must give me the child your wife will bring to the world. I will care for it like a mother.”
After the woman gave birth, the sorceress reappeared. She took the little girl away and named her Rapunzel. Rapunzel became the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old, the sorceress locked her in a tower in a forest. It had neither a door nor a stairway, just a tiny little window at the very top.
When the sorceress wanted to enter, she stood below and called out:
Let down your hair!
Rapunzel had splendid long hair, as fine as spun gold. Hearing the sorceress’s voice, she untied her braids, wound them around a window hook and let her hair fall twenty yards to the ground. The sorceress climbed up.
Some years later a king’s son rode through the forest. As he approached the tower he heard Rapunzel singing. The prince wished to climb up to her, but couldn’t find a door.
Each day he returned to the forest to hear the girl sing. One time, as he stood behind a tree, he saw the sorceress approach, and heard her say:
Let down your hair.
He watched the sorceress climb up.
The next day, just as it was beginning to get dark, the prince went to the tower and called out:
Let down your hair.
The hair fell down, and the prince climbed up.
At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened to see a strange man. However, the prince reassured her, speaking of her touching singing. By the time he asked her to marry him, Rapunzel was convinced.
She said: “I would go with you gladly, but I do not know how to get down. Every time you come, bring a strand of silk so I can 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 return every evening, for the old sorceress came by day.
The sorceress did not notice what was happening until one day Rapunzel asked why she was heavier than the prince. The sorceress was livid. In fury, she grabbed Rapunzel’s beautiful hair and – snip snap – cut it off. She then dragged poor Rapunzel into the wilderness.
After leaving the girl in the wild, the sorceress tied her cut-off hair to the hook at the top of the tower. That evening, the prince called out:
Let down your hair.
The witch let down the hair.
Entering the tower, in place of his beloved Rapunzel, the prince found the sorceress. “Aha!” she cried scornfully. “You have lost Rapunzel. You will never see her again.”
Overcome with grief, the prince 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, weeping and wailing over his lost love. He wandered for years, finally stumbling into the wilderness where Rapunzel lived miserably with the twins she had borne.
He heard a familiar voice. As he approached, Rapunzel recognized him. Crying, she threw her arms around his neck. Two of her tears fell into his eyes, which became clear again. He could see as well as before! He led her to his kingdom, where they were met with great joy. They lived long and happy lives.