Losing Sight, Gaining Insight: Blindness and the Romantic Vision in Grimm’s “Rapunzel”

Anna Wing Bo TSO


In Brothers’ Grimm’s fairy tales, the motif of blindness occurs quite frequently, each time with a different symbolic meaning. In “Hansel and Gretel”, blindness is represented as a body deformity, an abject feature of the red-eyed, half-blind cannibalistic witch who lives in the candy house in the middle of the forest, while in “Cinderella”, blindness becomes more: a brutal punishment for wrongdoings, such as when: the wickedly unkind stepsisters’ eyes are pecked out by pigeons as they are on the way to the wedding of the Cinderella and her handsome prince. Yet, in “Rapunzel”, blindness is not meant to be an abject feature nor a direct punishment. Rather, it opens the door to the Romantic vision and spirit. Through studying the earlier versions of the Rapunzel story and the Grimm’s later version, this paper explores how blindness represents the limitations of logic and reason and, through embracing the beautiful power of the female sensibility, welcomes the rebirth of insight, faith and Romantic sentiments.


Anti-Enlightenment, Anti-Rationalism, Blindness, Brothers Grimm, Female Spirit, German Romanticism, Grimm’s Rapunzel

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.10n.3p.140


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