The (not quite) Ultimate Disney Villain Countdown #4 — Mother Gothel

Vanity and emotional manipulation are the key traits of Mother Gothel, the primary villain in “Tangled”.  She shares some of the initial characteristics with our #5, Cruella de Vil, but takes them even further.  She is obsessively focused on her looks.  And while Cruella steals puppies, Mother Gothel steals a child to use for her own ends.  As that isn’t bad enough, she raises that child to be afraid of the outside world, unsure of herself, and convinced that Gothel is the only person who cares about her safety and well-being.  As evil goes this is up there.

Gothel never sees herself as a villain and she doesn’t really see Rapunzel as a person, referring to the girl as ‘my flower’.  The chaos and destruction that is created by the theft of a child doesn’t bother Gothel at all.  As long as she has what she wants, everything is fine.  When Rapunzel starts to question the life that she has led, Gothel goes to more and more elaborate measures to convince the girl that no one else truly wants her or could ever want her.  After Rapunzel realizes the truth, Gothel steps up to physical violence to control her.

Why is she on my list?  She is not the scariest or most powerful of the villains.  She is, however, one of the most realistic.  Disney spin notwithstanding, Gothel is a child abuser in no uncertain terms.  One might even make an argument for human trafficking.  She is an ultimate villain to me because she reflects many real life stories.  There are Mother Gothels in real life.  There are children being imprisoned, manipulated, and used.  They don’t all get rescued and returned to loving parents.  I see Mother Gothel and I remember those faceless children living horrendous lives and I am afraid.

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