Books Magazine

Rapunzel Complex

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Hair and Fur - another theme that did little to inspire my blogging compadres, apparently No matter, I'm going to make this Saturday a 'Grimm Hair Day'.
I've always loved long hair - on women especially (though my own was well below shoulder-length for a few fashionably rebellious years in the 1970s) - and in my research for this post I stumbled across the curious phenomenon of 'real life Rapunzels', a discovery which I owe it to share with you.
I don't know if this fad has got anything to do with the Disneyfication of the Rapunzel tale (Tangled, 2010 and its sequel Tangled Ever After, 2012, neither of which animated films I have seen) or if it is just a fashion fixation catalysed by the ubiquity of social media platforms like Instagram. Most of the modern-day 'Rapunzels' appear to be Eastern European or Russian. Some, it seems, have achieved considerable fame (and fortune?) as a result of their extremely long (and let's be honest, ravishingly beautiful) hair. One even claims to have suffered from androgenetic alopecia as a teenager until working diligently with trichologists restored her crowning glory and led to a modelling contract with a well-known brand of shampoo. I would have thought such mane-maintenance would be pretty time-consuming, but apparently not. The secret? Wash your hair twice a week (adding a dash of olive oil) and eat a large spoonful of peanut butter a day.

Rapunzel Complex

a 'real life Rapunzel'

Of course, most of these girls only grow their hair down to their knees or ankles (which feat in itself can take up to thirteen years). That's about five feet of luscious hair. In the original (by the Brothers Grimm) Rapunzel's tresses were fully 'twenty ells' long - that's about thirty feet. For those of you not overly familiar with the old German tale, I reprise it briefly here in my own words. Are you sitting comfortably?
Rapunzel Retold (or Trouble With Rampion)
Far away and long ago in a princedom without compare lived a poor man and his wife in a village which possessed a walled garden. After many years of longing for a child their hopes appeared to be fulfilled when the wife fell pregnant. As often happens at such times, she became obsessed with cravings, one of which was for the rampion which grew in abundance in that walled garden. Her desire was so intense that she prevailed upon her husband to scale the wall and steal some rampion for her, which she made into a delicious salad and devoured in ecstasy. That experience only served to intensify her craving and she told her husband she must have more of the delicious rampion or she would go distracted and die. Fearing for his wife and unborn child, the man climbed once more into the walled garden again and set about stealing handfuls of the lovely rampion which grew there in abundance...
Rapunzel Complex

...only oops! this time he was caught in the act by the enchantress whose garden it was. She was angered to the point of wanting to exact the full weight of justice on the man for his wicked deed until he fell on her mercy and explained why he was purloining her salad plants. In short, a deal was struck (unlikely though this sounds). The enchantress told the man that rather than having him tried and condemned as a thief, she would give him permission to help himself to as much rampion as his wife desired until she came to term - in exchange for the baby when it was born. The deal was done; the wife's reaction not recorded.
On the day the baby was born the enchantress appeared to claim her due, promising the parents she would love and care for the little girl as if she were her own. The enchantress named the baby Rapunzel and was good to her word, cherishing the little girl as she grew...until she reached puberty when, for reasons best known to herself, the enchantress relocated Rapunzel to a tower in the middle of a forest and locked her in. The tower was of a peculiar construction, having no door (allegedly), only a window near the top, and Rapunzel lived in that room at the top with nothing to do all day but grow her hair and sing. Still, she was happy - oh, and beautiful of course - and the kind enchantress visited her regularly, access and egress being enabled by Rapunzels's long hair (thirty feet of it) which she twisted into a rope and lowered from the window for the enchantress to climb up and down.
Many moons came and went (about forty-seven if one bothered counting) and Rapunzel blossomed in her tower, growing luscious hair and singing cheerful tunes - until one day the handsomest prince came riding by, heard her and was smitten by that captivating voice. He circled the tower but could see no door to knock on. Hot damn! He was in the process of riding away when the enchantress arrived and he hid behind a helpful tree while she called out 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair' (only in long ago princedom language). The prince watched in amazement as a beauty appeared at the window and threw down her shining rope of living hair for the enchantress to clamber up.
That evening the prince returned to the tower and called out 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair' and the young lady complied, no questions asked. The young persons' attraction was almost immediate, mutual and passionate. The enchantress used to visit every day and so the prince took to visiting Rapunzel every evening (with eventual consequences as often transpires in such situations). After some weeks young couple were hatching plans for Rapunzel's escape and a happy-ever-after when one day she forgot herself and complained to the enchantress that she really tugged at Rapunzel's hair unlike the nimble prince. Oh no, undone! The enchantress flew into a rage of betrayal, hacked off Rapunzel's hair and banished the girl to a deserted region with immediate effect.
That night when the prince called, the enchantress hung down Rapunzel's severed rope of hair, the eager prince clambered up and horrors! came face to face with the enchantress who told him Rapunzel was lost to him and he would never see her again. In princely fear and anguish he jumped out of the high window and landed in a thorn-bush which blinded him in both eyes.
However, that's not the end (which would be too sad). After many a year of wandering about blind, moaning the loss of his love and living off berries and such, the prince came by chance to the deserted region where Rapunzel lived in wretched, unmarried motherhood with the prince's twin sons. As soon as she saw him she cried hot tears into his sad and lovely face, which tears miraculously restored him to perfect 20/20 vision - and so, hastening back to the palace the prince, his beautiful (but bobbed) Rapunzel and the two little princes lived happily for a mighty long time. The end.
Rapunzel Complex

Moving on (from the ridiculously sublime to the sublimely ridiculous?) here's a link to a comb-over comedy classic, the wonderful Gregor Fisher (as Rab C Nesbitt) in sixty seconds of one of my favorite TV adverts of all time, for Hamlet cigars: Photo Booth Advert
To finish with, a new poem that has little directly to do with hair or fur, but take it as an oblique commentary on 'real life' fairy stories.
By The By
You bought me a book
for my birthday,
the day you proposed.
Ten years later
we're both wedded and divorced
and I've just read it -
took a decade
for me to pick it up,
but I feel no remorse.
I was the sucker,
and you were the fucker
(of more than just me)
but let's leave it there
ambiguously. By the by,
the book's a disappointment too.
Thanks as ever for reading, S ;-) Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook


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