- “You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I'm the bad guy.”
- ―Mother Gothel
Mother Gothel is a woman who poses as Rapunzel's motherly figure, and is responsible for kidnapping and locking her in a tower when she was a baby. Though she appears to be quite fond of the young princess, her refusal to communicate with Rapunzel along with her passive and demeaning comments toward her are anything but nurturing. Gothel's motivation for all of this is purely to keep herself from aging and prolong her life. Gothel is very vain, arrogant and makes multiple comments concerning her image. Gothel is pushed further and further into the role of villainess as Rapunzel grows close to Eugene (Flynn Rider), and begins to find out about her true identity. She proves her willingness to go to whatever lengths necessary to keep Rapunzel trapped and her healing powers safe during the film.
Gothel's burning desire to retain her youth for all eternity has notably driven the woman to complete madness, to the point where she was more than willing to devilishly force Rapunzel into slavery for the rest of her years, as opposed to taking the role of Rapunzel's mother, which would avoid conflict for the most part. Not only that, she was also driven to a murderous state, killing Eugene with no remorse, and shown to be perfectly fine with doing the same with whomever else may get in her way, much like other iconic Disney villains. She is very possessive and selfish, which can easily be seen through the fact that she has been hoarding a magical flower for at least four hundred years and her biggest nightmare was someone to find it. Despite her madness, Mother Gothel attempts to keep an elegant flair to her, often attempting to keep a poised demeanor when speaking with Rapunzel, despite the fury ranging inside. Nevertheless, it truly doesn't take much to infuriate Gothel, as shown several times during her interactions with Rapunzel at the start of the film.
Although Mother Gothel initially had taken the role of a "kindly mother figure" to Rapunzel after her kidnapping, she has shown to be emotionally abusive, constantly berating Rapunzel over her appearance and personality though she claims the insults are mere jests and harmless teasing. Even so, Rapunzel made it quite clear through facial expressions that the sarcastic quips were rather hurtful nonetheless. She's also shown to blame Rapunzel for any form of conflict that befalls their "humble" home in the tower, including arguments and, later seen in the climax, Eugene's death.
Also, she has a certain quality that other Disney Villains lacks. She watches only her own business and does not mind absolutely anyone until someone upsets her, jeopardizes her or takes away something important to her. When Gothel breaks into the castle, she shows no desire for revenge against the queen and king even though they are reason for the loss of her magic flower. Also, she has a surprising compromising gesture when she tries to cut and take only one strand of Rapunzel's magic hair and left the child untouched. She kidnaps Rapunzel only when she realizes that she has no other options to retain her immortality, although that does not excuse kidnapping. Despite her arrogance and narcissism, she accepts just the compliments she gives herself, ignoring the ones given by others.
She seems to be a misanthrope and has true hate for people because they took away the magic flower she wanted all to herself. She even advises Rapunzel to hate people, saying: "The world is dark, and selfish, and cruel. If it finds even the tiniest bit of sunlight... It destroys it."
Mumbling appears to be one of Gothel's personal, and rather intense, pet peeves, as seen when she twice scolds Rapunzel not to do so. This could be because she finds it very rude or she can barely understand people who do or both.
Without the healing and age-reversing power of the Golden Flower, Mother Gothel is a very elderly woman, looking between eighty and ninety years old, possibly older. Her sagging skin is covered in multiple wrinkles, noticeably on her hands, arms and face, and she bears many signs of old age. Her thin hair, while still having the curling locks of her youth, is dull, a combination of white and pale gray. Gothel's veins are especially prominent in her hands and wrists, like most elderly people, and she has several bumps and other marks on her face. Her nails are thin and look far from healthy-looking, and her face and body overall do not look full, like a younger person's. In her very first scene, the elderly Gothel wore a black dress, probably because black is a more suitable color for an older woman.
With the power of the Golden Flower, Mother Gothel reverts to her youthful appearance. Her skin is flawless, smooth, and a shade of very pale ivory, lacking freckles. She is a tall, slender woman, looking to be in her early thirties or at least late twenties. Gothel is a beautiful woman, with large, gray eyes, framed by black eyelashes and eyelids that have brown eye shadow. Her cheeks are dusted with blush, probably to warm up her pale skin tone. Her black hair falls past her shoulders, and is very thick and curly, with two or three curls hanging over her forehead. While Gothel appears to be a young woman, she (possibly) does carry one sign of her true age: the color of her nails. Her nails are a dark, brownish-gray, which could be a sign of her age, since nail polish hadn't been invented in the time of when Tangled is set. She wears diamond-shaped golden earrings, and a flattering crimson-red dress, which has a faint dappled pattern with a gold trim. It has matching sash with gold buckle, and she wears brown shoes. Whenever Gothel leaves the tower, she brings a hooded black cloak.
The effects of the magic that keeps Gothel young soon wears off - she needs to replenish it very often, otherwise her aging will return, shown when her hair shows graying and she forms dark eyebags and wrinkles. The aging returns daily, it appears - Gothel left the tower on Rapunzel's birthday, with the magic in full effect, based on her entirely youthful look. However, less than a day later, in the "Mother Knows Best (Reprise)", Gothel's black hair already possesses gray streaks, and her skin isn't as smooth as before.
As an elderly woman near the end of her life, Gothel is the single witness of a drop of pure sunlight falling to the ground, creating a magical flower with healing abilities. When Gothel sings to the flower and strokes its petals, she becomes younger and beautiful. She is determined to keep this secret from the rest of the world and hides the flower to keep herself beautiful and young forever. Hundreds of years pass, and in that time, a kingdom prospers nearby. Sadly, the young queen falls deathly ill while pregnant, and the entire kingdom searches for a cure: the magic flower.
A guard manages to find the flower and Gothel is powerless to stop him. After drinking a broth made from the flower, the queen is cured and the flower's abilities are given to her unborn child, a girl named Rapunzel. In the dead of night, Gothel breaks into the castle and uses Rapunzel's long golden hair to replenish herself. When she tries to cut some of the hair for herself, however, it turns brown and the healing powers are destroyed. The king and queen awaken as Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel and disappears into the night. She isolates the princess in a tower hidden in a forest far away from the rest of the world and raises her as her own daughter. Gothel refuses to let Rapunzel go outside, telling her the world is a dangerous place where selfish people would try to hurt her and use her gift for themselves. Rapunzel, however, sees some special floating lights every year on her birthday (really floating lanterns the king and queen set free to remember their lost daughter) and wants to find out what they are.
Raising the Lost Princess
Eighteen years later, Mother Gothel is still as manipulative and "overprotective" as ever. She constantly uses subtle jabs, over-the-top guilt trips, and refrains of "Mother Knows Best" to keep Rapunzel from leaving the tower. Subsequently, Gothel leaves the tower once more, and during her absence, the home is invaded by an "on-the-run thief", who Rapunzel manages to knock unconscious and hide in the closet.
When Gothel returns, Rapunzel pushes her with requests to leave the tower (hoping to use the unconscious Flynn as proof that she can handle herself in the world). However, before she is given the chance, Gothel finally snaps and cruelly barks, "You are not leaving this tower, EVER!". Rejected, Rapunzel changes the subject to focus on her oncoming birthday, and asks Gothel for paint for her room made from white seashells as a birthday gift, which will require a three-day journey. Confident that Rapunzel is safe, an initially hesitant Gothel agrees.
The Search for Rapunzel
While on her way, Gothel comes across Maximus, who is now without a rider and still searching for Flynn. Realizing that means that his rider is in the forest and can discover Rapunzel, Gothel hurries back to the tower and calls for Rapunzel to let down her hair. Desperate when she hears no reply, Gothel reopens a previously sealed entrance to the tower and enters the room. She is terrified to find no one there, but discovers Flynn's satchel with the stolen tiara and a wanted poster. Thinking he kidnapped Rapunzel, Gothel gets a dagger and begins her search for him.
When she comes across the Snuggly Duckling tavern, however, she overhears Rapunzel singing how happy she is now that she has left the tower. She spies Rapunzel and Flynn escaping through a hidden tunnel when the royal guards arrive and flirts with Shorty the Pub Thug before threatening him to find out where it leads.
After following Shorty's instructions to the end of the tunnel, Gothel soon comes across the Stabbington Brothers, who are out to get back at Flynn for betraying them. Using this to her advantage, Gothel gives them the crown but tells them she can offer them an even greater treasure, along with revenge on Flynn. That night, she talks to Rapunzel while Flynn is out getting firewood and tries to get her to return to the tower with her. Rapunzel refuses, wanting to continue her journey and admitting she has some feelings for Flynn. Gothel insists that Rapunzel is being naïve and the only reason why Flynn is with her is to get the crown, which she thrusts into Rapunzel's hands and orders her to give it to him as a test of his loyalty to her before vanishing.
Gothel Takes Charge
Gothel's plan is put into action while Flynn and Rapunzel are watching the lanterns the next evening. Rapunzel gives Flynn his satchel to show that she trusts him. But before they kiss, Flynn spies the Stabbington Brothers on the opposite shore and tells Rapunzel to wait as he goes to talk to them. Flynn tries to apologize and return the crown to them, but they reveal that they now know about Rapunzel's gift. The brothers find Rapunzel and tell her Flynn left with the crown and told them about her healing powers. Rapunzel refuses to believe them until they point out Flynn sailing away on a boat, ignoring Rapunzel's screams. Before the brothers can kidnap Rapunzel, Gothel betrays them so it appears she's rescuing her. She leads the heartbroken Rapunzel home and Flynn, who was knocked out and tied to the mast of the boat, is caught by the guards, who prepare to hang him the next morning.
The Final Confrontation
Back at home, Gothel reminds Rapunzel that the world is intolerant of joy and happiness, and will destroy any ray of sunshine it finds. After she goes to fix dinner, Rapunzel realizes that she is the princess who was stolen years ago from her home and confronts Gothel with the revelation, standing up to her for the first time. Gothel tries to calm Rapunzel by saying she only wanted to protect her, but angers Rapunzel further when she informs her on Flynn's sentence to be hung. Rapunzel insists she will never let Gothel use her hair again and pushes her towards a mirror, breaking it, before turning her back on her, inciting Gothel's rage. When Flynn escapes on Maximus and returns to the tower, he climbs up Rapunzel's hair only to find her chained and gagged. Gothel fatally stabs him from behind, blames Rapunzel for his fate, and prepares to take Rapunzel to a new hiding place. But Rapunzel fights back with all her might, much to Gothel's protests.
However, Rapunzel promises Gothel that she will go with her quietly and never resist her again if she is allowed to heal Flynn. Gothel agrees to this, but underestimates the thief's affection for Rapunzel. Choosing death over allowing Rapunzel to be trapped forever, Flynn cuts off all her hair with a shard of glass from the broken mirror before she can heal him. The healing power is gone forever, and a horrified Gothel watches as her true age begins to catch up with her. As she writhes around in panic and tries to hide her aging beneath her cloak, Pascal pulls the length of the cut hair and she trips over it, falling out of the tower window. When she hits the ground, she has turned to dust and only her cloak remains, enforcing the fact that she has died from old age.
Gothel is alluded to in the episode, The Curse of Princess Ivy; being compared to the titular villain by Rapunzel. Though her name was not mentioned, Rapunzel referred to her as an "evil woman pretending to be her mother".
Ghost of Christmas Past
Gothel appeared in illustrated flashbacks in the Christmas-centered story taking place after the events of the film.
In the story, it's revealed Gothel spent every Christmas season telling scary stories and using the holiday as a way of keeping Rapunzel from the world outside the tower. According to Rapunzel, Mother Gothel would sing and chant eerie "Christmas tunes" nonstop and told tales of Nicholas; a mythical man who (as the tale goes) would creep into the rooms of children on Christmas Eve to kidnap them.
The traumatic stories would continue through Rapunzel's teenage years, and stayed with the princess even after leaving the tower, as the story focuses on Eugene attempting to subdue Rapunzel's hatred for the holiday by showing her a real Christmas.
Mother Gothel is one of the villains brought back to life only to be imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost. She now serves as a teacher at Dragon Hall and has a daughter named Ginny Gothel.
While not appearing in any of the Disney theme parks around the world, Mother Gothel makes her only live appearance to date in the Disney On Ice show Dare to Dream, playing the same role from the original film.
Gothel is also set to appear in the upcoming, live, Tangled stage show aboard the Disney Cruise Line in 2015, marking her first appearance as a character within the Disney vacation chain (which includes theme parks and cruise lines).
- According to the makers of Tangled, Gothel's dress is from the Renaissance, which is 400 years before the time period of when the film takes place in 1780s. This was in an effort to emphasize how Gothel and Rapunzel don't match up and how long Gothel had been living.
- The directors of the film stated that Mother Gothel's wardrobe style is 500 years older than Rapunzel's wardrobe style, and Gothel is designed to be the opposite of Rapunzel, thus explaining her curly black hair (opposite of Rapunzel's straight blonde hair).
- Mother Gothel's voice was originally going to be done by Grey DeLisle.
- Mother Gothel is the second Disney villain to possess gray eyes, after Ursula.
- Mother Gothel's clothes at the beginning of the movie when she first finds the magic flower is a black dress and red cloak, the reverse of the clothes she wears for the rest of the film: a red dress and black cloak.
- Apart from the opening narration, Gothel is never referred to or addressed by her name in the movie.
- She is a very unique villain, demonstrating what appear to be some feelings for Rapunzel, making Rapunzel her favorite dinner, agreeing to go on a long trip to get seashells for a paint Rapunzel said she wanted for her birthday, and other things that made Rapunzel genuinely love her. But in the long run, she only cares about herself.
- Although she doesn't always look like it, Mother Gothel is the second oldest female Disney Villain (the first likely being Maleficent who possesses true immortality).
- Mother Gothel is the fifth female Disney villain of a Disney Princess movie, first being the Evil Queen from Disney's first feature (and first Princess movie) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, second the cruel stepmother Lady Tremaine of Cinderella, third the evil fairy Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty, and fourth Ursula the sea witch of Disney's The Little Mermaid.
- Mother Gothel has dark gray nails possibly the only sign of her true age as they did not have nail polish back then.
- She acts rather immature for how old she looks, let alone her actual age.
- Disney revealed she did not fall to her death, but died of old age, the first Disney villain to do so.
- It is unknown if she gave Rapunzel her name or if it was given by the king and queen.
- When Disney premiered Tangled on Disney Channel, Mother Gothel's cleavage was censored.
- Mother Gothel, in a sense, is essentially the complete opposite of Flynn Ryder. While Flynn Ryder is a thief like Gothel when she kidnapped Rapunzel, he truly cares for Rapunzel, not for her hair but herself, and thus is willing to sacrifice himself so she can be free. This shows that his love for Rapunzel is pure and selfless. Mother Gothel, on the other hand, only cared about Rapunzel for her hair, and as such she'll do anything to keep Rapunzel with her, even if it means psychologically destroying her life. This shows that Gothel's love for Rapunzel is corrupted, selfish, and twisted.
- Mother Gothel's motivation for her villainy is not power or revenge unlike most Disney villains. At the beginning of the film, she was willing to take only a lock of Rapunzel's hair in order to achieve her goals; the only reason she stole Rapunzel herself was because the magical hair lost its power once it was cut off. Gothel's wish to remain young is caused by her own vanity but her true motivation for keeping Rapunzel with her is her fear of death, which is a very normal and human fear.