This is perhaps most notable in the punctuating words of the witch. "One midnight gone!" cries the witch at the mid-point of the first act, then sings "It's the last midnight," before she leaves the play. The return to the words and themes of the woods is the only constant of the play. This is because the play is about journeys, not about coming to some final moral conclusion. The woods, unlike the safety of the home, is unpredictable -- not even the witch knows that the spell she weaves to regain her beauty will deprive her of her magic, or that the golden floss first provided by the baker will come from her own beloved, adopted child Rapunzel.
Interestingly enough, Rapunzel is the one character who never says 'Into the Woods,' and when other characters provide often humorous reflections on what they have learned in the woods, such as Cinderella's maimed sisters note ruefully that "now we're really blind," Rapunzel merely sings meaningless notes. "I only did it because I loved you," says the witch when Rapunzel justly accuses her adoptive mother of overprotecting her in a tower. But unlike traditional fairy tales, in "Into the Woods," love is not enough -- the learning process, rather than the end 'learned' product or tale is what is important.
Unlike the baker's child, Rapunzel dies -- mad, depressed and angry about being unprepared for the woods of her married, childbearing life. The witch casts away the magic beans in the second act she fought so hard for in the first, when she realizes her powers and beauty are meaningless without something to care for in the form of her adopted daughter. The beans that were so important in the first act become meaningless to the witch, literally nothing just beans, even though they began the saga of the baker's childlessness in the first place, after his father stole them from the witch.
Rapunzel's failure to be equipped with the emotional and intellectual tools to learn from her mistakes is demonstrated in her physical removal from the action of the stage as well as her meaningless lyrics. However, the 'world above' does not signify merely one thing, for the play is more complex in its structure of meaning and its structure of staging. For instance, in the case of Jack, the world above transforms him, but when he is careless and tries to steal from it, it invades in terrible, booming form, as the giantess tries to avenge the demise of the giant at Jack's hands.
The fact that the giantess does so with some cause further points out the moral ambiguity of the second act -- there are no easy rights and wrongs. The main characters act badly or foolishly at times, as the baker's wife, singing, "I'm in the wrong story," as she enjoys Cinderella's Prince for a moment. Jack's pilferage brings death and destruction upon the innocent. No character acts correctly all of the time -- all of the characters merely try to learn from their mistakes and their hard-won…