Have you ever had an epiphany? Maybe you suddenly realized that it really does hurt when you put your hand on the hotplate, or that leaning too far to one side in a canoe is likely to end in disaster. Or perhaps you've had an epiphany like Ebenezer Scrooge, who had a harrowing nightmare in which he was visited by a number of ghosts and woke up with not only a deep understanding of the meaning of Christmas but with a whole new lease on life. Epiphanies come in all shapes and sizes. What they have in common is this: an epiphany is a moment of clarity when we see things as they really are. Something clicks and we wonder how we didn’t see it before.
The 2010 film Tangled presents us with a character very much in need of an epiphany. Based off the classic fairy tale Rapunzel, this version has the princess Rapunzel kidnapped as a young child and imprisoned in a tower by the old woman Gothel. Rapunzel grows up there, all the while totally unaware that she’s a princess. She believes Gothel is her mother. She trusts her captor wholeheartedly, never suspecting her sinister motives. Meanwhile Rapunzel's real parents, the king and queen, continue to mourn her disappearance. It’s only after a trip out of the tower that Rapunzel finally sees the light.
Which brings us to Flynn Rider. While Rapunzel is unaware of her origins and is largely oblivious to what goes on in the world beyond her tower, Flynn seems to understand the world pretty well and his place in it. Flynn’s escapades as a thief take him anywhere and everywhere, including over palace rooftops. When we first meet him at the beginning of the film it seems Flynn may have found his ticket to a life of ease and comfort. Rapunzel’s crown sits on a pedestal in the palace surrounded by armed guards. The crown is covered in jewels and has remained long untouched these many years. So naturally Flynn takes it for himself, with no concern about how the loss of the last remaining token of Rapunzel's memory might affect the king and queen. Nor does he bat an eye when he betrays his partners in crime, the Stabbington brothers, leaving them to the palace guards while he makes off with the crown. Flynn clearly prefers working alone. And better to betray others first before they have the chance to do it to you.
David Raphael Hilder
Join the conversation as we explore the best of classic fantasy literature and beyond.