• Rapunzel — An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm’s Fairy Tales

    by  • 12 March 2013 • Children's Books, Steiner-Waldorf Education • 0 Comments


    Once there was a man and a woman who longed for a child. They waited many years, and eventually the woman found she was pregnant with a baby. At the back of their house was a little window from which they could see a splendid garden full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. The garden was surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had great power and everyone lived in fear of her.

    One day, the pregnant woman was standing by this window looking down into the garden, and she saw a flowerbed planted with a beautiful plant, a kind of rampion called “rapunzel”. It looked so fresh and green that she desperately wanted to eat some. This desire increased every day. She grew weak, and began to look pale and miserable. She said to her husband. “If I can’t eat some of the rapunzel growing in the garden behind our house, I shall die.”

    The man loved her, and decided he must bring her some of the plant, no matter what the consequences. At twilight, he clambered over the high wall into the garden of the enchantress, hastily picked a handful of rapunzel, and took it to his wife. Straightaway she made a salad from it, and ate it greedily. It tasted so delicious that the next day she longed for it three times as much as before. In the gloom of evening, her husband let himself down again into the garden.

    But, turning from the wall, he was terribly afraid, for the angry enchantress was standing before him. She said, “How dare you climb into my garden and steal my rapunzel? You shall suffer for this!”

    “Please,” he answered, “be merciful. My wife saw your rapunzel from the window, and felt such a longing for it that she would have died if she had not got some to eat.”

    Then the enchantress allowed her anger to soften, and said to him: “I will let you take the rapunzel, but I make one condition: you must give me your child when it is born. It shall be well treated; I will care for it like a mother.”

    In his terror, the man consented to everything.

    When the baby was born, the enchantress appeared at once. She gave the child the name of Rapunzel, and took her away.


    Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful girl under the sun. When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her up in a tower deep in a forest. It had no door and no stairs. Right at the top was a little window. When the enchantress wanted to get in, she stood below the window and cried,

    “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.”

    Rapunzel had magnificent long, long hair, fine as spun gold. When she heard the voice of the enchantress, she unwound her braids and looped her hair over a hook above the window. It hung all the way to the ground, and the enchantress climbed up it.

    Rapunzel had lived in the tower for four years when the King’s son happened to ride close by through the forest one day. He heard a song that was so charming he stopped to listen. It was Rapunzel, passing the time in her solitude by letting her sweet voice sing out. The King’s son looked for a door to the tower, but could not find one. The singing touched his heart and he stayed to listen.

    From behind a tree, he saw the enchantress arrive and cry: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.” Rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the enchantress climbed up.

    “If that is the ladder, I too will try,” said the King’s son.

    Next day when it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.”

    Immediately the hair fell down and the King’s son climbed up.

    At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened by a man she had never seen before stepping through her window, but the King’s son spoke to her like a friend, and told her that his heart had been stirred by her singing. Rapunzel lost her fear. She saw that he was young and handsome. When he asked if she would marry him, she said yes, and laid her hand in his.

    “I want to go away with you, but I can’t get down. Bring some silk thread every time you come, and I will weave a ladder with it. Then we will ride away together on your horse.” They agreed that until that time he should come every evening, for the old enchantress always came in the day.

    RapunzelThe enchantress knew nothing of this, until one day Rapunzel asked her, “Why is it that you are so much heavier for me to pull up the tower than the King’s son?”

    “Ah! You wicked child!” cried the enchantress. “What do I hear you say? I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me!”

    In her anger she clutched Rapunzel’s beautiful braids, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of scissors with the right, and snip, snip, she cut them off! Then she took poor Rapunzel into a desert and left her there, sad and miserable.

    The enchantress fastened the cut-off braids of hair to the hook over the window. When the King’s son came and cried, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,” she dropped them down the tower. The King’s son climbed up, but instead of meeting with his dearest Rapunzel, he found the wicked and venomous enchantress.

    “Aha!” she cried mockingly, “You’ve come to fetch your dearest, but the beautiful bird no longer sits singing in the nest. The cat has got it, and will scratch out your eyes as well. You will never see Rapunzel again.”

    The King’s son was beside himself with sorrow. In his despair he leapt down from the tower. He escaped with his life, but he fell into thorns, which pierced his eyes. He wandered quite blind through the forest, eating nothing but roots and berries, weeping over the loss of his dearest Rapunzel.

    He roamed in misery like this for years, until finally he came to the desert where sad Rapunzel lived. He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards it, and Rapunzel recognised him and fell on his neck and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear again, and he could see once more. He led her to his kingdom, where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented.

    Rapunzel-detailThis version of ‘Rapunzel’ is taken from An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, a collection of thirty much-loved stories sumptuously illustrated by Daniela Drescher.


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