This has been interpreted as overprotective behavior and is directly linked to being a parent. One cannot be overprotective of a child he or she does not have. It is only logical to conclude that the witch is to Rapunzel a sort of a stepmother; also, one could gather that the witch wanted Rapunzel not only to hurt and get back at the child's natural father, but for her own benefit. She has also been interpreted as a motherless child who steals someone else's offspring in order to fill the void in her own life. Consequently, the witch in Rapunzel cannot be seen as a purely evil character, a typical antagonist who seeks the destruction of the protagonist at all costs. Her refusal to accept the prince and to offer the young girl a chance to fall in love could be explained by maternal jealousy and overbearing parenting. Also, the reader needs to properly understand and interpret what the witch says when the prince comes to see Rapunzel not knowing she had been sent away by the witch. Her words, "Ah, ah! you thought to find your lady love, but the pretty bird has flown and its song is dumb; the cat caught it, and will scratch out your eyes too.
Rapunzel is lost to you for ever - you will never see her more," reflect a certain degree of jealousy and a different kind of evil compared to the witch in Hansel and Gretel, i.e. The witch in Rapunzel is more human and almost seems vindictive towards her daughter because of her own fate. In Rapunzel, the tower is a symbol of the kind of over-protectiveness that is characteristic to many parents even nowadays. Unlike the witch in Hansel and Gretel, the witch in Rapunzel is a complex character that could also be interpreted as a parent who means well as far as her child is concerned, but ends up making serious mistakes due to her inflexibility and ultimately, madness. In this sense, the witch in Rapunzel is more 'real' and more easily placed in real contexts and situations whereas the witch is Hansel and Gretel is an abstract notion, a character representing pure evil, which is why the witch is also the stepmother: evil remains the same irrespective of the form it takes.
The typical antagonist uses words, but especially supernatural powers to control, incarcerate, and destroy, intentionally for personal benefit. Their supernatural powers are also used for personal gain which eventually brings about these characters' damnation. In the case of Hansel and Gretel, the witch is stopped using its own means; the innocent children prevail and good is triumphant over the dark forces represented by the witch. The witch is evil in a way that is hard to understand and appears not to be founded on anything. In fact, she is the type of purely evil antagonist who needs no reason to be evil, and exists only because of this trait of character. She is a flat character; in fact, she is barely a character at all. Instead, she is a pretext used to launch the fight between good and evil, and an incarnation of any kind of evil existing in the world. On the other hand, the witch in Rapunzel is lonely. She is human-like and makes mistakes that are easily recognizable from the beginning of the tale. Her actions are supported by reasons even if they are neither right nor just. Nonetheless, they exist, and are the basis of her actions.
Fairy tales have ancient roots; the fact that they have been around for such a long time has resulted in a mixture of stability and change in the sense that the stories have been continuously updated, and the circumstances of their telling. However, they are easy to recognize as their meanings are always clear although they might also have deeper hidden meanings and offer a wide range of interpretations. The characters in fairy tales are usually stereotyped and, as I have pointed out above, the events follow a very clear pattern so the events are quite predictable. So, what is the appeal of fairy tales? I believe it is precisely this predictability of events that has perpetuated the tradition of the fairy tale. People have always enjoyed story telling; this practice has crossed all boundaries and has become common to all cultures, something which is still true today. Secondly, I think that the well-define, black and white characters are at the same time, the trademark, and the main appeal of these stories because people have always needed a clear distinction between good and bad, ugly and beautiful. These moral categories are hard to clearly define and limit in real life, but in fairy tales, things are much simpler in this respect. The case of the witch in Rapunzel is rare to say the least. In fairy tales, the witch is always bad, the prince is always good; there is always the clash between these two forces, and good always wins. Perhaps this is the main factor that could explain the appeal of fairy tales: unlike in real life, in fairy tales, good, beauty and love are always triumphant. And people need hope and happy endings, even if they come from a tale.
Davidson, Hilda Ellis; Anna Chaudhri, eds. A Companion to the Fairy Tale. Rochester, NY: D.S. Brewer, 2003. Questia. 27 Sept. 2007 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=106766030.
Propp, Vladimir. Morphology of the Folktale. 1928. 2nd ed. Trans. Lawrence Scott. Austin: U. Of Texas P, 1968.
Zipes, Jack, ed.. "Cross-Cultural Connections and the Contamination of the Classical Fairy Tale" in the Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm. New York: WW Norton & Co., 2001.