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"You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I'm the bad guy
~ Mother Gothel reveals her true colors

Mother Gothel (simply known as Gothel) is the main antagonist of Disney's 50th full-length animated feature film, Tangled. As her name suggests, she is Rapunzel's wicked adopted mother and an immortality-seeking sorceress.

She was voiced by Donna Murphy who originally played The Witch from Into the Woods

History

Before the events in the movie; an old woman named Mother Gothel hides a flower born from the sun's dew, that keeps her young whenever she sings to it. But one day the flower is found and given to the queen so she would not die in childbirth. All the magical flower's power is now in the queen's daughter, so Gothel abducted her and kept her in a hidden tower for eighteen years, making the little girl sing for her. Although she tried to cut a lock of Rapunzel's hair to stay young, once cut, it goes from golden blonde to dark brown and loses its power. She spent the following years raising Rapunzel as her daughter and causing her to fear the outside world, which she describes as scary, violent, selfish, cruel and unforgiving.

Once Rapunzel turned eighteen, she begs to see the floating lanterns on her birthday; however, Gothel refuses both musically and angrily. In order to trick her, Rapunzel asks for special paint for her birthday, a gift that would take three days to get. While reluctant, Gothel believes Rapunzel and sets off.

However, when she sees Maximus, the guards' horse, she worries that someone was searching for Rapunzel. When she arrives at the tower, she's frightened to find that Rapunzel was already gone. Believing she was kidnapped, Gothel takes a sharp dagger from her drawer and sets out to find her. She passes by the Snuggly Duckling Inn and while listening to the thugs and Rapunzel sing, she realizes that no one kidnapped Rapunzel, but she instead left with a wanted criminal named Flynn Rider (Eugene) Deeply furious, when one of the men staggers outside and attempts to flirt with her, she threatens him with her dagger unless he tells her where they are.

When she finds their location, she runs into the Stabbington Brothers, Flynn's partners whom he abandoned. She gives them the choice of receiving either the princess's tiara that he stole or revenge on Flynn. They unhesitatingly chose revenge. She then confronts Rapunzel, saying that Flynn's only with her for the tiara. Unfazed by Gothel's warning, Rapunzel agrees to put him to the test.

Soon, the Stabbington Brothers take the tiara and knock Flynn unconscious and tie him to a boat, making it look like he was abandoning Rapunzel. They try to kidnap her, but Gothel betrays them by knocking them unconscious and comforting a heartbroken Rapunzel. When they arrive home, Rapunzel has a sudden epiphany that she's the lost princess of the King and Queen and she realizes that Gothel was not her mother at all, but merely an evil schemer after the power of her hair.

The princess furiously confronts Gothel, refusing to let Gothel use her hair again. Enraged, Gothel gags Rapunzel and chains her to the wall. When Flynn enters the tower to try and save her, Gothel stabs him from behind. Rapunzel begs to heal him and says that if she lets her heal him, she will agree to stay at the tower captive forever. While reluctant, Mother Gothel agrees, but chains Flynn to the wall.

Rapunzel intended to heal him, but Flynn cuts her hair with a shard of glass from the broken mirror, partly as a sacrifice, and partly because Mother Gothel was too dangerous to be left alive. As Gothel screams in horror as her true age catches up with her, Pascal pulls the length of the cut hair, and Gothel trips over it, causing her to fall out of the tower window. As she falls, she crumbles into dust and by the time she hits the ground, all that remained of her was her cloak.

Personality

You want me to to be the bad guy?, fine, I'm the bad guy!
~ Mother Gothel reveals her true nature

While the character from the original fairy tale was a witch, Mother Gothel has no magic powers whatsoever, aside from the knowledge about the Magic Flower and how to use it. She is extremely vain, greedy, arrogant, diabolical, narcissistic, selfish, villainous, self-centered, manipulative, sanctimonious, and self-righteous, caring only about herself and her good looks, and acting as if she was the victim of Rapunzel's desire for freedom. While she pretends to be a caring and devoted mother, the fact that she calls Rapunzel "flower" and touches her hair whenever she displays "affection" clearly shows what she truly cares about. Although she did take care of her when growing up and did gain her affection through treats, birthday gifts and pretense of motherly love, she spent eighteen years subtly but viciously abusing Rapunzel, verbally and emotionally, to destroy her self-esteem and make her completely dependent and vulnerable on her.

Despite being older than the kingdom, Mother Gothel proves quite immature and entitled. She wants things to unfold following her design, and gets very angry the second the situation starts escaping her. This shows prominently when her "sweet mother" act quickly slips away as Rapunzel expresses desire to see the outside world. She loves to see herself in the mirror, reveling in her beauty. Although she would rather regain Rapunzel's trust by making it seem she was right, when she fully drops the act, she is not above assaulting and restraining her "daughter", and stabbing her love interest in cold blood. Also, she never keeps her word when striking bargains and betrays her allies as soon as she stops needing them.

Mother Gothel is a highly skilled and intelligent manipulator, able to make Rapunzel fear the outside world, and then by making her believe that her trust in other people was unfounded. She is very good in talking people into agreeing with her, convincing them of what she wants them to believe and lying efficiently. Finally, she displays no fear when confronted with people bigger and more imposing than her, and proves a very temperamental and dangerous fighter with a dagger in hand, though she would rather avoid direct confrontations, instead setting traps and taking foes by surprise.

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Trivia

  • Her original name was Madame Gothel.
  • She is very similar to the following villains:
    • Judge Claude Frollo from Disney's 1996 animated version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
      • Both have harbored their "children" for their own reasons, both have sang a song about why their kids can't leave their homes, both have tried to kill a friend of their kids, and both have died from falling.
      • There is a very heated debate among fans, about whether Mother Gothel cares for Rapunzel a bit (unlike Frollo who barely repressed his intense hatred toward Quasimodo) or was only pretending. Those who think she does argue that she did cook her favorite food and was willing to travel for three days for her birthday gift, things she would not have bothered to if she did not care at all. Those who think that she "cares" for Rapunzel strictly out of necessity argue that she could not gain her obedience only through emotional manipulation, and preferred that she would stay willingly. They state that she stopped searching for the birthday gift as soon as she realized people were searching for her, and that she did not hesitate to resort to violence when she had no other choice.
    • Margaret White from Stephen King's novel, Carrie. Both have isolated the protagonists from the real world and make them believe that everything outside of their home is corrupt and evil. They also lock them in closed spaces as punishment for disobeying them and both protagonists have escaped their homes and met a man they love and attend an event where they experience true happiness (Raspunzel went to the Festival of Lights while Carrie went to prom), right before both their boyfriends are killed (though Flynn somehow survived).
    • Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: They are obsessed with retaining their immortality and are incredibly vain, childish and immature. They are also the parent of the protagonist (Gothel is an adoptive parent, but still) and want their children to help them with their goals. They are also very manipulative and abusive to others.
  • Mother Gothel is very notable for representing an abusive parent accurately.
  • Gothel is basically the Disney version of Lamia from Stardust; they are witches who are obsessed with their beauty and will do anything to stay young and beautiful, even if it means killing others. They are also quite manipulative.

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