What I Learned from Tangled

t1I hope to participate in the upcoming ubfriends book club. But in the meantime, maybe we can also have a movie club. The movie Tangled was the most significant movie that helped me make sense of my shepherd/sheep relationship at ubf. Here are my thoughts on the movie that visualizes one part of my life extremely well.

Leaving your family

The story in Tangled begins with Rapunzel being taken away from her family by Mother Gothel. The reason is because Mother Gothel realizes that Rapunzel has power to keep her young. It is the youth of Rapunzel that Mother Gothel desires. So Mother Gothel takes Rapunzel away from her parents. She gives Rapunzel a good life, but isolates her in a tall castle tower.

Forming a Co-dependent Relationship

As Rapunzel grows up, she receives many good gifts from Mother Gothel, who provides rather well for Rapunzel’s development. Rapunzel has many opportunities for learning, painting, sewing, crafting–all kinds of things. The only catch is Rapunzel must stay within the castle walls, never to venture outside. Rapunzel grows up into a teenager with a decently happy life and becomes trained in various arts–music, reading, etc. As she grows, a longing grows too. Rapunzel longs to know what the lights mean. She always has a faint vision of a light and loves to see the hundreds of lights that mysteriously show up on her birthday every year. She can see them from her window but knows not what they mean.

Over time, Rapunzel comes to depend on Mother Gothel. Mother Gothel comes to depend on Rapunzel. They need each other. The bond of co-dependency forms.

An Outside Visitor

A surly character named Flynn changes everything for Mother Gothel and Rapunzel when he happens upon Rapunzel’s castle by mistake. This outside visit leads Rapunzel on a wild adventure outside the castle. She struggles at first as to whether she should go or not. She feels loyal to Mother Gothel but the longing to know the meaning of the lights drives her onward to the outside world. To her surprise, she fares rather well in the “big bad world” outside her castle.

Mother Gothel’s Trick to get Rapunzel Back

Mother Gothel finds out Rapunzel talked to Flynn and ventured into the outside world. Mother Gothel fears losing her source of youth and goes after Rapunzel and Flynn. Mother Gothel tricks Rapunzel into thinking Mother Gothel is her true family and that Flynn abandoned her. In reality, Flynn was the honest one. Rapunzel falls for the trick and goes back to the castle, believing Mother Gothel really does know best.

Rapunzel Realizes Who She Is

This scene is most powerful and relevant. Rapunzel realizes she is the lost princess. The lights are for her, sent by her parents. She reconnects with her family. Love wins.

Mother Gothel: Rapunzel? Rapunzel, what’s going on up there? Are you all right?
Rapunzel: [whispers] I’m the lost princess.
Mother Gothel: [sighs] Please speak up, Rapunzel. You know how I hate the mumbling…
Rapunzel: [louder] I am the lost princess! Aren’t I?
[Mother Gothel stares in shock]
Rapunzel: Did I mumble, Mother? Or should I even call you that?
Mother Gothel: [pauses, then regains composure] Oh, Rapunzel, do you even hear yourself? Why would you ask such a ridiculous question?
Rapunzel: [pushes her away, angry and frightened] It was you! It was ALL you!
Mother Gothel: [coldly] Everything I did was to protect YOU.
[Rapunzel shoves past Gothel in disgust]
Mother Gothel: Rapunzel!
Rapunzel: I’ve spent my entire life hiding from people who would use me for my power…
Mother Gothel: Rapunzel!
Rapunzel: …when I should have been hiding – from YOU!
Mother Gothel: Where will you go? He won’t be there for you.
Rapunzel: What did you do to him?
Mother Gothel: That criminal is to be hanged for his crimes.
Rapunzel: [gasps] No…
Mother Gothel: Now, now, it’s all right. Listen to me. All of this is as it should be.
[She tries to touch Rapunzel, but Rapunzel grabs her wrist]
Rapunzel: No! You were wrong about the world. And you were wrong about ME! And I will NEVER let you use my hair again!
[Mother Gothel breaks free of Rapunzel’s grip, only to cause a nearby mirror to fall and smash. Rapunzel then turns to leave]
Mother Gothel: You want me to be the bad guy? Fine.
[advances toward Rapunzel threateningly]
Mother Gothel: Now I’m the bad guy.



  1. bekamartin

    This movie is my daughter Mary’s favorite movie because of the story of abuse and freedom from abuse. Now it is one of my favorite movies and that scene referenced by Brian above makes me cry and remember past conversations, but also leads me to thank God for delivering me and my family.

  2. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Thanks. What you shared fully resonates with me. It is very interesting.

    Initially, I had a confusing aversion to this movie. In particular, the scene where Rapunzel goes back and forth between joy and guilt after having left the tower was bothersome. She was confused by having the best day of her life because of disobeying her mother. As a parent, I guess I felt threatened by this and saw that it is a common theme that runs through the Pixar movies.

    I hated that I began to think about UBF in things such as movies, especially since I left, but they have been very helpful in processing what’s happened in my life and I’m thankful for ways in which I can think about my life and relationships with others in new and better ways. This is especially true about having a relationship with my children and in wanting them to be free, independent and happy.