were once a man and a woman who had long in vain wished for a child.
At length the woman hoped that God was about to grant her desire.
These people had a little window at the back of their house from which
a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most beautiful
flowers and herbs.
It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared
go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had great power
and was dreaded by all the world.
One day the woman was standing by this window and looking down into the
garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful
rampion (rapunzel), and it looked so fresh and green that she longed
for it, and had the greatest desire to eat some.
This desire increased every day, and as she knew that she could not get
any of it, she quite pined away, and looked pale and miserable. Then
her husband was alarmed, and asked, "What aileth thee, dear wife?"
"Ah," she replied, "if I can't get some of the rampion, which is in the
garden behind our house, to eat, I shall die."
The man, who loved her, thought, "Sooner than let thy wife die, bring
her some of the rampion thyself, let it cost thee what it will."
In the twilight of evening, he clambered down over the wall into the
garden of the enchantress, hastily clutched a handful of rampion, and
took it to his wife.
She at once made herself a salad of it, and ate it with much relish.
She, however, liked it so much so very much, that the next day she
longed for it three times as much as before.
If he was to have any rest, her husband must once more descend into the
In the gloom of evening, therefore, he let himself down again; but when
he had clambered down the wall he was terribly afraid, for he saw the
enchantress standing before him.
"How canst thou dare," said she with angry look, "to descend into my
garden and steal my rampion like a thief? Thou shalt suffer for it!"
"Ah," answered he, "let mercy take the place of justice, I only made up
my mind to do it out of necessity.
My wife saw your rampion 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 be softened, and said to him,
"If the case be as thou sayest, I will allow thee to take away with
thee as much rampion as thou wilt, only I make one condition, thou must
give me the child which thy wife will bring into the world; it shall be
well treated, and I will care for it like a mother."
The man in his terror consented to everything, and when the woman was
brought to bed, the enchantress appeared at once, gave the child the
name of Rapunzel, and took it away with her.
grew into the most beautiful child
beneath the sun.
When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower,
which lay in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but quite at
the top was a little window.
When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath this,
magnificent long hair, fine as spun
gold, and when she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened
her braided tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window
above, and then the hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress
climbed up by it.
Let down thy hair to me."
a year or two, it came to pass that the
King's son rode through the forest and went by the tower.
Then he heard a song, which was so charming that he stood still and
This was Rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her
sweet voice resound.
The King's son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of
the tower, but none was to be found.
He rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that
every day he went out into the forest and listened to it.
Once when he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw that an
enchantress came there, and he heard how she cried,
let down the braids of her hair, and
the enchantress climbed up to her. "If that is the ladder by which one
mounts, I will for once try my fortune," said he, and the next day when
it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried,
Let down thy hair."
hair fell down and the King's son
Let down thy hair."
first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a
man such as her eyes had never yet beheld, came to her; but the King's
son began to talk to her quite like a friend, and told her that his
heart had been so stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he had
been forced to see her.
Rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked
her if she would take him for her husband, and she saw that he was
young and handsome, she thought, "He will love me more than old Dame
Gothel does;" and she said yes, and laid her hand in his.
She said, "I will willingly go away with thee, but I do not know how to
Bring with thee a skein of silk every time that thou comest, and I will
weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready I will descend, and thou
wilt take me on thy horse."
They agreed that until that time he should come to her every evening,
for the old woman came by day.
The enchantress remarked nothing of this, until once Rapunzel said to
her, "Tell me, Dame Gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier
for me to draw up than the young King's son he is with me in a
"Ah! thou wicked child," cried the enchantress, "What do I hear thee
say! I thought I had separated thee from all the world, and yet thou
hast deceived me!"
In her anger she clutched Rapunzel's beautiful tresses, wrapped them
twice round her left hand, seized a pair of scissors with the right,
and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the lovely braids lay on the
And she was so pitiless that she took poor Rapunzel into a desert where
she had to live in great grief and misery.
the same day, however, that she cast out
Rapunzel, the enchantress in the evening fastened the braids of hair
which she had cut off to the hook of the window, and when the King's
son came and cried,
she let the
Let down thy hair,"
The King's son ascended, but he did not find his dearest Rapunzel
above, but the enchantress, who gazed at him with wicked and venomous
"Aha!" she cried mockingly, "Thou wouldst fetch thy dearest, but the
beautiful bird sits no longer singing in the nest; the cat has got it,
and will scratch out thy eyes as well.
Rapunzel is lost to thee; thou wilt never see her more." The King's son
was beside himself with pain, and in his despair he leapt down from the
He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell, pierced
Then he wandered quite blind about the forest, ate nothing but roots
and berries, and did nothing but lament and weep over the loss of his
Thus he roamed about in misery for some years, and at length came to
the desert where Rapunzel, with the twins to which she had given birth,
a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness.
He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards
it, and when he approached, Rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck and
Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear again, and he
could see with them as before.
He led her to his kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they
lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented.
Rapunzel, Campanula rapunculus (rampion), a
congener of the common harebell.
It has a long white spindle-shaped root which is eaten raw like a
radish, and has a pleasant sweet flavour.
Its leaves and young shoots are also used in salads and so are the
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Household
Tales, trans. Margaret Hunt
(London: George Bell, 1884), 1:50-54.