Classification :: Σ3567&@
Role :: Lone Wolf (autonomous villain)
Motivation :: insanity/psychology (fear of aging/dying), lifestyle (dependence on flower), desperation (imminent death), personal/material gain (complete control of the flower’s power)
Bonus :: family ties (Rapunzel), name (Gothel)
not cruel—it’s worth noting that her original plan was not to kidnap Rapunzel, but merely take all that she needed to stay young; she isn’t hurtful for the sake of causing pain, but her ends justify her means
selfish—also, her biggest fear was sharing any of Rapunzel’s power with anyone, which says a lot about her
manipulative—her entire persuasive arsenal is used to convince Rapunzel that she’s not strong or smart or pretty enough to make it outside her tower, and it works
mean—suggesting that Rapunzel is not a strong, confident, beautiful young lady is just unkind; admittedly, Rapunzel’s low self-esteem is part of what keeps her monopoly on Rapunzel’s hair
intelligent—she can follow Rapunzel across the country and make tactical decisions about her next move, which sounds pretty intelligent to me
threatening—sometimes she draws a knife on a guy because she doesn’t have time to play the sexy wench
bargaining—other times she manipulates henchmen into joining her using her voice and the promise of her own daughter; she reads people very well
driven—Gothel repeatedly shows there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for youth and beauty; I don’t know how she knocked out those two henchmen, but obviously she packed some power in that punch
helpless—without Rapunzel’s power, she can’t stop aging, and we see that in the end, she doesn’t have much self-esteem either; without her youth, she is nothing
mostly dead—although she’s the only Disney villain to die a natural death, I think she will end up having a longer lasting impact on Rapunzel than any other villain does on any other princess; instead of a whirlwind week where everything goes wrong, this is a relationship of put-downs and servitude that lasted eighteen years!
(So, let’s all just take a moment and be grateful that even though Eugene has his faults, he is definitely not the kind of guy who is going to belittle or objectify Rapunzel and will probably be a vital component in empowering and encouraging her after so many years of psychological damage.)
scale the attachment—I have to imagine that after eighteen years Mother Gothel would have some affection for Rapunzel and even enjoy her maternal role. However, as much as she likes Rapunzel, her number one priority is and always shall be her youth and beauty. The end.
study manipulation—it’s a kid’s movie, so they don’t over-emphasize it too much, but Mother Gothel studies people like books and has a great power over them because of it. Whether it’s psychological sucker-punches to Rapunzel’s self-esteem or using a knife or her body or bribery or whatever, she knows exactly how to get what she wants depending on who she needs to get it from.
fine, now I’m the bad guy—as I mentioned, Mother Gothel isn’t unnecessarily cruel. Her ends always justify her means, but she doesn’t make Rapunzel’s life miserable. She could have raised her in an underwater grotto where she had no friends and no hope; however, until Rapunzel really showed signs of rebellion she was content to give Rapunzel freedom and kindness. Only when Rapunzel herself was getting in the way of Gothel’s youth and beauty did she finally become cruel and physically hurtful to her charge.
Also, can we just have a shout-out for Donna Murphy’s singing? BECAUSE IT IS GREAT THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW. (Fun story: My parents and I watched this movie on our last vacation (all of my younger sisters didn’t want to) and I was able to give them a short bio of each of the three main characters’ actors as well as the full bridge of “I’ve Got a Dream” despite only just hearing the song for the first time in months during the movie. My parents I think were a little impressed and a little bewildered.)
So, as a villain song I love “Mother Knows Best,” to be honest, I really, really adore the reprise because she’s just so much more emotional and manipulative and it feels evil more than anything and ohoho, it is just mastery.