Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


LACS: German Studies

First Advisor

Julia Assaiante


The Rapunzel tale (ATU: 310: “The Maiden in the Tower”) has entertained the minds of adults and children alike for more than 350 years, with adaptations of this tale weaving throughout history from Italian, French, and German storytellers, and throughout modern times as well, from female poets and American animation studios. Rapunzel has a rich and variegated history, with one of the earliest known, written versions of the tale being Petrosinella (1634) by Giambattista Basile. Inspired by this Italian tale is the French Persinette (1698) by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force, which itself led to Friedrich Schulzs Rapunzel (1790), the German translation of this tale that inspired the famous adaptation of the tale written by the Brothers Grimm, first in 1812, and then again in edited form in 1857. Though its original form is not German, the Rapunzel tale gained its greatest popularity through the German version told by Brothers Grimm in their Children’s and Household Tales. The Grimm version surely provided “[seed] for the future,” as most modern versions of the tale are not a retelling of the most recent adaptation, but specifically of the Grimms’ Rapunzel. Examples include Anne Sexton’s poem Rapunzel (1972), and Disney Studios’ animated film Tangled (2010). An analysis of these adaptations, with the specific attention to the details associated with the female body—which ones are kept and which ones are edited out—throughout the different tales, tells a story of its own. The treatment of her body in these tales strips Rapunzel of her agency, and traps her in a cage made by others. A cage she has yet to escape from, even in some of the more modern retellings of the tale. This consistency in the treatment of Rapunzels body reveals and upholds the desire to silence and control women that has existed throughout history, and even persists into modern times.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford, CT for the degree of Bachelor of Science in German Studies.