Estimated Age: 400+
Premiered in: Tangled (2010)
Voiced By: Donna Murphy
Let me make one thing perfectly clear about Mother Gothel. I loathe her. I loathe her with such a passion that I must do everything I can in my power to prevent myself from ranting on all the reasons as to why though I will at least touch on a few major points. That being said, let’s start out with something I’m sure a lot of people have been wondering about. Gothel’s age, while not outright stated, is hinted to be somewhere over four hundred years due mostly to the clue provided by her dress, which is established as being from the Renaissance Period that is, in turn, four centuries prior to the time period of Tangled. In point of fact the film’s makers have stated that it takes place somewhere around the 1780’s.
As to how Mother Gothel has attained such longevity, it comes down to this particular flower that had been grown from a single drop of sunlight fallen to the earth. This flower possessed remarkable healing abilities, enough to even turn back the hands of time, but could only use them when a particular song was song to it. That makes for an interesting image really, imagining Gothel just squatting there in front of the thing for years on end trying to get the bloody thing to heal her of her old age.
What’s rather strange about it though is that Mother Gothel is never shown doing anything with her immortality. She can’t really live in any one town for long because questions would soon arise due to her agelessness and she can’t go too far away from flower (or Rapunzel) as she’s reached a point where she literally ages several years within the span of a day. If she truly lives in the tower for most of her life, which isn’t too hard to believe as it was likely built way before Rapunzel was taken to it, what did Gothel ever try to do with her immortality? She didn’t try to make herself rich by way buying and selling antiquities throughout the centuries, she didn’t try and better herself in some fashion via learning new skills or perfecting old ones, and she especially didn’t care to do anything for her home or herself as the tower had only the bare essentials of living and she kept the same clothes from her original time period. I hate to say, I really do, but I’ve seen vampires make better use of their immortality than Gothel.
Of course, even the best kept secrets get out and despite all of her precautions, word of the healing flower had reached royal ears and the king had a search for the flower made for his then pregnant, and dreadfully sick, wife. Through circumstances of magic, Rapunzel was born with a head of golden hair, which mirrored the flower’s abilities but if the hair should be cut then the power would disappear entirely. Thus, Gothel was left with no other choice then to kidnap Rapunzel and lock her away in a tower for the rest of her days.
Here’s where we get to my main beef with Gothel. We see that Rapunzel is living a dire, if not torturously boring, existence in the tower where she is allowed all of three books and the entirety of the interior to paint. Three books. That she has read over and over since she first learned to read. Never mind that she is allowed to do only certain things to such a degree that she is literally a master of rather odd tricks of the trade, such as ventriloquism, or has an overabundance of her work, like candles. I understand that Gothel would seek not to inspire Rapunzel to leave the tower but for goodness sake, she could have at least provided more for Rapunzel in that regard. Her interactions with Rapunzel though are far worse as she constantly praises her own beauty whilst belittling Rapunzel’s own, calling her jibes as mere jests despite how hurtful they are for Rapunzel to hear.
I will admit, there have been Disney Villains that I’ve not liked. Ones whom I had hoped to meet their proper comeuppance at the end of the film. Until Gothel, there had never been a Disney Villain whom I had hoped that said comeuppance would arrive in the form of Death nor have I ever wanted for it to occur so readily that I was all but chanting it throughout every scene the hag was in. I suppose that I hate Gothel for the same reasons that I hate Lady Tremaine, for the reason that they are cruel to those whom would otherwise be their children. The difference between them however is that Tremaine makes it no secret that she does not truly love Cinderella while Gothel lies through her freaking teeth in that whenever she utters the words, her eyes always, always, stray to Rapunzel’s hair.
As far as minions go… I suppose one could argue that she had employed the Stabbington Brothers for her little ploy in getting Rapunzel to willingly return to her. Yet with that reasoning, the two come off more as hired thugs than actual minions, especially when one takes into consideration that Gothel betrayed them both without delivering on her end of the bargain.
In the end, Gothel dies in perhaps the most justifying, and disturbing, death of any Disney Villain to date. In a bid to make certain that Eugene doesn’t follow them, she stabs him but allows for Rapunzel to try and heal him. This plan, and her life are swiftly ruined when Eugene uses the last of his strength to cut off Rapunzel’s hair, which not only swiftly turns back to its natural brown but also reverts Gothel back to her proper age. Ironically though, she is tripped out of the tower by Pascal, Rapunzel’s pet chameleon, via the cut hair but she dies way before she makes the hit to the ground by way of aging so swiftly that… Well…
Nothing but dust remained…
Not quite as satisfying an end as I would have liked but she got exactly what she deserved in the end.