why would he like you, come on now, really!
look at you, you think that he’s impressed?
I think that it’s really important to remember that Rapunzel is a victim of serious emotional abuse at the hands of a highly manipulative, selfish woman. I’m not talking about the “did Gothel care about Rapunzel or not” debate; I’m talking about the consequences of Gothel’s treatment of Rapunzel. While Rapunzel is a fun, enthusiastic, talented character, I think her insecurities and self-doubt are just as important. A lot of those emotional issues are ones I identify with and see in myself; two decades of emotional abuse (in this case on the part of my biological mother) can do that to a person easily. The scars are real, and they’re deep, but they’re not visible.
Rapunzel spent eighteen years being condescended to, belittled, and manipulated by a woman who claimed to love her. She really believed that she wasn’t mature enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, to face the outside world, which Gothel only encouraged. When she dared to think Flynn/Eugene could love her, Gothel twisted the knife and made it look like he abandoned her. Even when she’s freed from Gothel’s abuse and reunited with her real parents, you can see how anxious she is: she may be the “lost princess,” but what if she isn’t good enough to be a princess? What if they’re disappointed?
In the past couple of weeks, my appreciation for and empathy with Rapunzel has been growing exponentially as I considered how she’s depicted as an abuse victim/survivor. Many people rightfully identify with Elsa’s mental and emotional struggles, but I wish more people would also acknowledge and appreciate the mental and emotional handicaps that Rapunzel has to overcome because of the abuse she’s suffered, even if it doesn’t always look like abuse. Emotional abuse rarely does, but cruel or belittling words can be just as damaging to a person as fists, especially if you grow up with it.