Sorry for the delay between the first post about Tangled and this one. Spoilerfest!
The Sun’s Gift
As I mentioned in part one, I have a healthy amount of respect for the backstory of the movie. The changes they made from the original tale left them a lot of room to maneuver while keeping the core story elements intact, if not strengthening them. However, it raises moral conundrums which are never addressed in the movie.
In narrating the backstory, Flynn at one point calls the flower which sprang from the fallen drop of sun “the sun’s gift.” Since the flower “had the ability to heal the sick and injured,” there’s a clear implication that the flower could have and probably should have been shared, used for the good of many. Instead, Mother Gothel “hoarded its healing power and used it to keep herself young for hundreds of years.” Flynn’s mild condemnation for her selfishness seems only natural.
However, in trying to save his pregnant queen, Rapunzel’s father acted no better than did Mother Gothel. He sent his men out to find the flower and upon doing so, they uprooted it and took it back to the king. He then picked the bloom off the stem and use it entire to heal his wife. Gothel may have been keeping the flower hidden and using it only for herself, but at least she didn’t destroy it the first time she used it. It’s possible that the king tried and failed to figure out how to use the flower without destroying it, but it sure looks like he just did the expedient thing and turned it into broth.
A few questions:
- As long as the flower existed, there was a chance that Gothel could experience something to make her change her ways (unlikely as that seems), so was the king more immoral than she?
- Was the king justified in making a single use of the flower to save his wife and child when so many others could have been helped by its power?
- Supposedly the king and queen were good rulers at both the beginning and end of the story; why didn’t they seem to be burdened later by having made the decision to one-shot the sun’s gift for selfish reasons?
Now, as it turns out, even though the flower was destroyed, the sun’s gift remained active, embodied in Rapunzel’s hair. Mother Gothel stole it once again, of course. She took advantage of the impressionable nature of children to convince Rapunzel that she must remain hidden from the world.
As such, Rapunzel’s limited use of the power of her hair may be excusable. Mother Gothel certainly built her manipulations on a grain of wisdom; of course there would be people in the world who would harm Rapunzel because of her hair. Furthermore, in her naiveté she might not truly understand the depth of human suffering that exists and how she might be able to ease it. Throughout the film, the only thing she even had the opportunity to heal was Flynn’s hand, which means she never had a reason to reassess the morality of keeping the power of her hair secret.
On a non-moral note, how did the king hear about the flower in the first place? If, as the introduction implies, Mother Gothel found the flower fairly quickly after it bloomed and hid it without moving it, then how did anyone else find out about its existence? The woman proves herself ruthless later in the movie, and I doubt she would have allowed anyone who found out about the flower to live. Granted, her methods may have allowed for someone to stumble across the flower and start spreading rumors about a magical, golden flower before she got to them, but how would they have known about its healing properties? What would they have known about its healing properties?
Part three should come along after a shorter break than did part two. Edit: I am a liar. It took forever. But it does exist now.