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Rapunzel (Zelinsky)

Page history last edited by kyle reading 10 years, 5 months ago

 

   

 

| paul o. zelinsky |

 


 

[ plot summary ]

 

Paul O. Zelsinky has crafted a visual masterpiece in his telling of Rapunzel. Written and illustrated by Zelinsky himself, this Caldecott winner pieces together the most compelling elements and aspects from early French and Italian sources as well as the Brothers Grimm to tell the tale of the girl with the long hair trapped in a tower. This fairy tale, set in the lush landscape of the Italian countryside, begins with a couple who- though very much in love, cannot bear a child. Then, one spring, the tightening of her waistband introduces what is to be her first pregnancy. Perched by her window, she would longingly gaze into the beautiful enclosed garden of the sorceress next door during her term. Her yearning for the plentiful rapunzel turns to an intense craving, so much so that she feels she may die without its satisfaction. Her skin pale and wretched, she turns to her loving husband to sneak into the garden and retrieve the rapunzel. He does so twice, as the first only intensified her desire to have more of the herb. The second time, however, the sorceress catches him in the act and demands to have their newborn in exchange for his wife's life. As he could not bear to see his wife succumb to her addiction, he agrees and the sorceress retrieves the child following labor. The child, named Rapunzel with pale skin and an abundance of flowing red-gold hair, is well cared for by the sorceress who dotes on her every need. At the age of twelve, she leads her to the forest to live in a tower high above the trees to protect her innocence and beauty from the harsh world. The tower, though luxurious and comfortable for Rapunzel, can only be entered by the sorceress after she lets down her long locks of hair. To do so, she utters those famous words;

 

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair."

 

One day, a young prince becomes enchanted by Rapunzel's voice singing out the window. Though he could find no entrance, he waited and watched as the sorceress called up to Rapunzel and climbed up her trail of hair. After the sorceress has left, he does the same and soon finds himself face to face with the young girl who had captured his heart with only her voice. Like any classic fairy tale, the two fall in love and are married soon after. Every evening, the prince would return to the tower and reunite with his bride. All of this was unbeknownst to the sorceress until Rapunzel's waistline betrayed her, revealing a pregnancy that led the sorceress to kick Rapunzel out of the tower and banish her to the wilderness after cutting her hair. When the prince returned that evening, the sorceress let down Rapunzel's cut hair and watched as he fell from the tower after being struck with grief. Blinded by the fall, the prince stumbled through the wild for over a year until, one day, he heard a familiar voice- Rapunzel, and their two children. Embraced in each other's arms, it is Rapunzel's tears that revive the prince's sight who, conveniently, spots his kingdom in the distance. Together, they break free from their exile and live happily ever after.

 


 

[ textual elements ]

 

| setting |

 

Rapunzel takes place in the Italian countryside during the Italian Renaissance

 

| characters |

 

Rapunzel // The only character in the book to be given a name, Rapunzel exemplifies the innocence and beauty of youth. She is shown as naive and carefree, but is also resilient and independent through her ability to survive after being cast into exile whilst caring for two children. 

 

The Wife and Husband //  Never having been able to bear children, it is the gift of pregnancy that evolves to disaster through temptation, greed, and indulgence. The wife is typical of Renaissance women, very dependent on her husband and not strong on her own. She literally ails without the satisfaction of her craving for rapunzel, and puts it upon her husband to remedy the situation. The husband, who dotes excessively on his wife, agrees and breaks into the sorceress's garden. After Rapunzel's birth, they are never mentioned again.

 

The Sorceress // A new take on the sorceress gives us not an ugly witch who cruelly traps a young girl in a tower, but a mother figure who forcibly resists her child's growth to protect her from the harsh realities of heartbreak and loss of the world. Her dissapointment from being deceived by Rapunzel leads to her to angrily banish her to the wilderness. Like the parents, she is never mentioned again after this climax.

 

The Prince // Like most characters, he is not given a name but defined by his royalty. His entitlement to have what he wants leads him up into Rapunzel's tower, where he falls in love and marries her upon sight. Though blind, he wanders the wild aimlessly looking for his lost love and, in the end, is once again appeased.

 

[ themes ]

 

Greed and Lust // The most prominent theme in the book, greed and lust apply to almost all plot points. It is lust that leads to the pregnancy's of both the wife and Rapunzel, and the lust of the wife for the rapunzel in the sorceress's garden. The greed of the wife leads her husband into the garden twice, where the sorceress catches him and allows him to take the rapunzel in exchange for their child. So, it is the lust of the sorceress to have a child, and her greed to shield her to the world for herself when she locks her away in a tower. The entitled prince also falls at the hand of his lust, resulting in his blindness after he falls from the tower. In all situations, lust and greed are shown as damaging with heavy consequence.

 

Independence // Independence, and lack thereof, also plays a large part in Rapunzel. It is the independence of Rapunzel that leads her to commit to a secretive love affair with the prince and her ability to survive on her own with two children in the wild. On the other hand, it is the lack of independence of the wife that is the catalyst for the tale's events. For instance, she cannot go and get some rapunzel on her own to satisfy her craving so she makes her husband do it for her. Also, she is not able to stand on her own against her temptations and indulgences and, literally, begins to unravel without them.

 


 

[ artistic elements ] 

 

Zelinsky's stunning use of oil paintings emote a great warmth to the story. The italian countryside is a direct inspiration for the Italian Renaissance style of paintings with attention to details like the billowing of drapery or light falling on leaves. Drawing from the tale's european origins, the regal illustrations pay homage to the rich cultural heritage of Rapzunel. The use of serif font only serves to enhance the formal style, adding a layer of sophistication to the landscape of the book. The full page illustrations also imitate the length and majestic beauty of the long, sleek tower central to the story.

 


   

[ analysis and critique ]

 

Rapunzel was a great story, and for children growing up with fairy tales and epic adventures supplied by Disney, there's a certain sense of comfort and warmth in reading a charming story like Rapunzel. What I really liked about this particular version was that it combined the most compelling aspects of the original tale as well as the Brothers Grimm. The lessons of greed and temptation- and the consequences that may proceed them, are highly applicable to today's world. Like Rapunzel, society has been trapped high in it's beautiful tower of youth. But as we grow up, and as parts of the world trickle into our safeguard of a tower, that innocence is lost and the heavy hand of temptation comes along and smacks us across the face. It happened to Rapunzel, and it certainly happens to youth around the world constantly. The oil paintings employed by Zelinsky create a regal, renaissance world that seems right at home for the longstanding history of such a european tale. It's a story of love lost, love found, then lost again. What I especially found refreshing was the presentation of the sorceress. Instead of being a mean spirited and cold hearted witch, she's nothing more than a lonely old woman hardened by the judgement of the world. Even when she catches the husband, she doesn't just place a curse of him to take their child but merely strikes a deal to save his wife's life. Here, they all get what they want- for her, it's company. She almost relives her youth with Rapunzel, and in a way seeks to protect her from the rest of the world not to trap her but to save her heartbreak and disappointment. Instead of an imprisonment, the tower is also represented as a grand splendor, rich in both architecture and color. It's less prison, more palace. These refreshing takes on characters, plot points, and settings serve to create a lush environment full of multi-dimensional characters and life lessons. Well played, Zelinsky, well played.  

 


 

Citation

 

Zelinsky, Paul O. Rapunzel. New York, NY: Penguin Grou, Year of Publication.

 

 

References

Will need to look up format for the type of source used.

 

 

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