- “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 is 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 so it is unknown if Gothel ever really cared about Rapunzel. 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 Flynn 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 (as seen in the climax) 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, the woman was also driven to a murderous state, killing Flynn 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.
Despite her madness, Mother Gothel attempts to keep an elegant flair to her, often attempting to keep a poised demeanor when speaking with Rapunzel and such, 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.
And although Mother Gothel initially had taken the role of a "kindly mother figure" to Rapunzel after her kidnapping, she has shown to be fairly abusive, constantly berating Rapunzel (usually over her appearance) though she tries to claim the insults as merely jests. Even so, Rapunzel made it quite clear through facial expressions that the sarcastic quips were rather hurtful, nonetheless.
Role in the film
As an elderly woman who is a witch 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 nearby kingdom prospers. Sadly, the young queen falls deathly ill while pregnant, and the entire kingdom searches for a cure. 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 little princess's room 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 the little princess. She isolates her in a hidden tower 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 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.
Eighteen years later, Mother Gothel is still as manipulative and over-protective 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. When Rapunzel pushes her with requests to leave the tower and see the lights she finally snaps and screams at her "You are not leaving this tower, EVER!!" when Rapunzel was really trying to tell her how she managed to capture Flynn Rider and was currently hiding him in the closet. Rapunzel promises to never ask about the lights again if Gothel will bring her back a special birthday present, a paint for her room made from white seashells, which will require a three-day journey. Confident that Rapunzel is safe, she agrees.
While on her way, Gothel comes across Maximus, who is now without a rider and still searching for Flynn. Realizing that a riderless horse could mean the discovery of 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 steals a dagger and begins his search for him. When she comes across the Snuggly Duckling tavern, however, she overhears Rapunzel singing how happy she is now that she is has left the tower. She spies Rapunzel and Flynn escaping through a hidden tunnel when the royal guards arrive and flirts with (then quickly threatens) Shorty the Pub Thug to find out where it leads.
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 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 before vanishing.
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.
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 her use her hair again and pushed her towards a mirror and broked it, 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 and prepares to take Rapunzel to a new hiding place, but Rapunzel fights back with all her might much to Gothel's protests. 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 on 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.
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. However, she is featured in a small amount of Disney Villains merchandise. And while not appearing in the show itself, Mother Gothel is portrayed by one of the two hosts of the live show version of Tangled at Disneyland's Fantasy Faire area.
- Gothel’s dress is from the Renaissance, which is 400 years before the time period of when the film takes place in the 1780s. This was in an effort to emphasis how Gothel and Rapunzel don’t match up and how long Gothel had been living.
- Mother Gothel's voice was originally going to done by Grey DeLisle.
- Mother Gothel is the second Disney villain to possess gray eyes, after Ursula.
- Mother Gothel is similar to Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame in several ways: they both lock the hero/heroine (Quasimodo and Rapunzel) away from the world, forbids them from interacting with society, lies to them and uses them for their own personal gain as well as not using any magic powers. However, Mother Gothel kidnapped Rapunzel whereas Frollo killed Quasimodo's mother and was forced by the Archdeacon to care for the child and raise him ever since, though Mother Gothel raised Rapunzel as her own daughter. Also, both tried to kill the love interest of the hero/heroine, as Mother Gothel fatally stabbed Eugene while Frollo tried to kill Esmeralda. Finally, both villains meet their deaths by falling from a great height, as Mother Gothel fell from the tower and disintegrates into dust before hitting the ground, while Frollo fell from the Notre Dame bell tower into a pool of molten lead.
- Mother Gothel's clothes at the beginning of the movie when she first finds the magic flower is black dress and red cloak, the reverse of the clothes she wears for the rest of the film: red dress and black cloak.
- Apart from the opening narration, Gothel is never referred to or addressed by her name in the movie.
- The directors of the film stated that Mother Gothel's wardrobe style is 400 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).
- 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 oldest Disney Villain (aside from Hades).
- Mother Gothel is also similar to Stromboli from Pinocchio, as both villains plan to keep the protagonists (Pinocchio and Rapunzel) locked away for their own selfish purposes and whenever the protagonists protest, they yell and shout at them. Also both of their names have originated from European countries (Stromboli is Italian and Gothel is German).
- Mother Gothel is the fifth female Disney villain of a Disney Princess movie, first being the 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 brown nails which seem to be painted in the movie.
- Disney revealed she did not fall to her death, but died of old age, the first Disney Villain to do so. Though that still makes her around the 9th Disney Villain to meet a demise through/during a fall.
- Although she died of old age, it is quite ironic how it was Rapunzel's hair, the thing which gives her youth and biological immortality, that caused her to fall from the tower, something which would likely have killed her even if she hadn't aged.
- 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.
| Tangled | Tangled (video game) | Tangled Ever After | A Poem Is... | Soundtrack | Little Golden Book | Sticker Book | Disney INFINITY
Characters: Rapunzel | Flynn Rider | Mother Gothel | Pascal | Maximus | The Stabbington Brothers | Hook Hand | Big Nose | Vladimir | Shorty | Ulf | Attila | Pub Thugs | Captain of the Guards | The King | The Queen | Four Sisters
Songs: When Will My Life Begin | Mother Knows Best | When Will My Life Begin (Reprise 2) | I've Got a Dream | Mother Knows Best (Reprise) | I See the Light | Healing Incantation | Something That I Want