Sanitizing Rapunzel

Boston Globe critic Joanna Weiss posted an article yesterday about the trend towards kinder, gentler fairytales for children, and suggests that important messages are being lost in the translation. As an example, she describes the book that accompanied her 3-year-old daughter's plastic Rapunzel playset:
"[The] tale of a charmed girl named Rapunzel, who spent her days in the tower sewing dresses with a friend. She loved when the witch came to visit and teach songs, including one that made Rapunzel's hair grow longer. But tension arrived: One day, Rapunzel looked out the window and saw a fair in the village nearby. She wanted to go, but the witch was off tending to her garden and couldn't let her out. Fortunately, a prince riding by in his carriage called up to her, "Rapunzel! Why aren't you at the fair?"
I've always loved gory fairytales*, but I would have chosen something other than Rapunzel for this particular article. I mean, what "message" are we losing with a whitewashed Rapunzel--don't get captured as a baby by a wicked witch, because she'll be mean to your future boyfriends? Little Red Riding Hood, now--that had a nice, clear point to it (Be careful in the woods or you're gonna get eaten, kid!) that could easily be wiped out by over-zealous editing.

*In the version I read as a kid, Rapunzel ends up knocked up with twins, and the prince is blinded by thorns when he falls from her tower.
Posted by: Julianka


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