What is a stereotypical female character?
“Stereotypical” signifies a typical, socially defined character, acting out only her assigned gender role, or class role, or economic role. Rapunzel is stereotypical in that she is a young woman limited in her options, imprisoned through the efforts of a domineering father who sees his role as a hegemony figure over his daughter’s welfare; Rapunzel is depicted only as a potential mate for some royal, privileged male. In the movie and in the original Grimm tale, she has no other personality traits—she is simply beautiful and imprisoned, the stereotypical condition of all young girls (and the Brothers Grimm were not psychologically sophisticated in their character depictions). Long hair, here exaggerated, represents her attractiveness and her escape—she will “let down her hair” to the first obviously proper eligible candidate for her affection; long hair is, even today, an outward sign of sexual attractiveness (a long history of this synecdoche, from the Greeks through Shakespeare’s Ophelia through Hollywood’s Veronica Lake and on). If the movie departs at all from this scenario, it would not be a Disney product.