Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rapunzel Wrap Up

Rapunzel Wrap Up

Okay, I need to write this before I get so caught up in NaNo that it falls completely by the wayside.

So. Rapunzel. Let’s go through the checklist point by point and see how the month’s novels stack up.

Explanation for the parents’ behavior. Specifically: Why was the husband so afraid of the witch? Why was the wife so insistent on that particular vegetable? Why did the father agree to hand over his child, and why didn’t the wife object really at all? And what happened to them after the witch took their child away?

Of the four novels, each had a different approach to the parents. Golden made the mother hard-hearted and shallow while finding a way to introduce the father in a different capacity. The mother agreed because she didn’t care, and the father had no say in the matter. And we’re told, once Rapunzel went with Melisande, the mother died, and the father followed.

In Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair, the parents were under an enchantment. The witch here is thoroughly evil, and she stole Rapunzel away forcefully, using magic in a deceitful way to get what she wanted. The didn’t object because they weren’t themselves, and in the end, Rapunzel is returned to them.

In Rapunzel’s Revenge, we have a similar situation. Mother Gothel is entirely cold-hearted, and she needed an heir, so she waited for one of her desperate workers to steal food and used it as an excuse to take their daughter. It was a forceful move that the parents had no say in. And again, Rapunzel is reunited with her mother in the end.

And finally, Zel. We honestly barely get a picture of Zel’s parents, but really, that’s okay because of the way the novel is structured. They aren’t relevant. As far as we know, they went on to have plenty more children. Although we are told that the father promised Zel away because it was that or his life.

Of the four, I think I like Golden’s treatment the best, if only because I like that the father at least remains present. I also like that sympathetic side of the witch and how she was willing to let him be a part of his daughter’s life in some capacity.

Exploration of Rapunzel’s childhood with Mother Gothel. What was her childhood like? What was her relationship with Mother Gothel like?

It’s interesting to me to see how Mother Gothel is treated in these novels. One paints her as the picture of all evil with no redeeming qualities whatsoever (The One with All the Hair). Another paints her as an evil, manipulative woman hidden under a veneer of cold aloofness (Rapunzel’s Revenge). Still another portrays her as mildly sympathetic, genuinely loving her adopted daughter, but still doing evil in the name of protection (Zel). And one alone paints her as genuinely sympathetic, as much a victim as Rapunzel and Rapunzel’s father (Golden).

I bring this up because how the novels treat Gothel directly influences Rapunzel’s childhood. I think I like the glimpse we get from Golden and Zel best, and again, it’s because I like that mix of villainy and a loving household that we don’t get from the others. I think the story is so much more powerful if that relationship is complicated and a little gray.

Explain the unexplained elements. How did Rapunzel’s hair grow long enough to hoist a full grown woman up a presumably tall tower, and how was Rapunzel able to stand having her head used as a ladder? Why did her tears heal the prince’s eyes? Could her tears heal other things? Has she always had this ability?            

For the hair, we’ve got ‘enchantment’ as the reason pretty much across the board, which is the reason that, when you think about it, really makes sense. As for how it affected her, in Golden and The One With All the Hair, Rue and Rapunzel couldn’t feel it, in Rapunzel’s Revenge, I don’t think anyone actually climbs the hair, but in Zel, we’re really given insight into what it would be like to suddenly have this weight literally on your shoulders, and how much it hurts to have a full person’s weight hanging from your head, and I appreciate that more than the others.

As for the tears, honestly, they weren’t used in half our novels (Golden, Rapunzel’s Revenge), and in Zel, the explanation is meh. But I really did like what The One with All the Hair did. This novel probably younged the story down more than any other, but they handled that element very well. I loved the “blindness” being like mine, and that she cured it by having his spare glasses. Honestly, though, my vote for this element goes to Tangled, which isn’t even technically in the running.

Wrap up the loose ends. There are a lot of them here. What happened to Rapunzel’s parents? What happened to Mother Gothel? Did the prince live in the wilderness with Rapunzel, or did he return to his kingdom to rule? What about the kids, folks? What about the kids? Oh, yeah, along with this – keep the pregnancy in or find a better way for Mother Gothel to discover Rapunzel’s secret.

With this one, I’m gonna talk about grit. This is a gritty story in its original incarnation. And that’s why I was a tad bit disappointed with this aspect of most of the adaptations. Rather than tackle the grit, most authors chose to work around it. And though they did better than the Grimm brothers, I have to hand this one to Napoli, because she went there. And she did it well.

So here’s where we stand. There was no novel this month that made me want to tear my hair out. I enjoyed all of them, which is rare. But my favorite has to be:

Zel by Donna Jo Napoli – Strongly recommended. I think she had the best handle on the story overall, and it felt like the original rather than a version of it with a gimmick.

Golden by Cameron Dokey – Strongly recommended. Yes, a gimmick, but one that worked really well, and this is my favorite Mother Gothel of the bunch.

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale – Recommended. This graphic novel is just a lot of fun, even if it does stray from the story a decent amount.

Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass – Recommended. It’s cute and it’s fluffy, but the way she worked it for a younger audience works, and it’s a fun read.

November’s fairy tale is nothing at all – I’m taking a month’s hiatus for National Novel Writing Month. So, see you in December with The Snow Queen!

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