Purple Prose + Writing

The Emotional Structure of Tangled: Part Two

This post is a continuation of Monday’s. I’m going to list the elements that make up each section of the act, and illustrate them with examples from the movie Tangled. Laura Pauling is also continuing her post on structure and Tangled.

(Warning: there are spoilers in this post)

Act Two—continued

(This is part two of the second act)

Pages 55 to 65:

• Emotional defeat

• Loss of faith

• Most vulnerable

• Bonding with co-protagonist (commitment)

• Emotional union

• Changes begin

• Growth is painful

With each conflict, Rapunzel and Flynn find out more about each other. For example, Flynn reveals his real name, and Rapunzel tells him her hair has magical properties (perfect timing for this revelation, which ends up saving their lives).

Each conflict supports the notion that the world is a scary place, just like “Mother” said.

Rapunzel realizes her growing feelings for Flynn. But Mother finds Rapunzel and tells her that he’s only interested in the crown (which Rapunzel has hidden). Once he gets it back, he’ll turn his back on her. Because Rapunzel and Flynn have revealed a lot about themselves to each other, they are both at their most vulnerable.

When Rapunzel refuses to go back home with her, Mother challenges Rapunzel to test Flynn’s feelings for her by giving him the crown and seeing if he sticks around.

Rapunzel and Flynn spend the afternoon together and their feelings for each other deepen. They go out on the water to watch the lanterns being released into the sky (naturally there’s a love song at this point to emphasize this).

Seeing the lanterns makes Rapunzel realize that the world is not how she originally thought. She isn’t scared anymore, and both her and Flynn realize their new dream—a life together.

Pages 65 to 70

• Deepest fears are tested

• Emotional set back

• Break up and give up

• Willing to lose

Rapunzel gives Flynn the crown. He leaves her for a moment to give it to the bad guys. He’s no longer interested in it. He wants to be with Rapunzel.

Flynn doesn’t return. Instead, the bad guys go over to where Rapunzel is waiting and point to him floating away on a sail boat. It looks like he’s leaving, when in reality, he’s tied up and unconscious.

Rapunzel believes he betrayed her trust in him, and returns with Mother to the tower, thus giving up her dream.

Pages 70 to 80

• Rebuild or die

• Higher purpose

• Alone again but aloneness is sad—no longer a comfort

Alone again, Rapunzel knows she can no longer be happy knowing about the beauty and good that’s out in the world.

She realizes that she’s the missing princess. She also realizes that she spent her life hiding from people who would use her for her power, when it was her “Mother” she should have been hiding from.

Pages 80 to 85

• Facing death

• Commit to love

• Faith defeat fear

• Climax

Flynn realizes Rapunzel is in danger. With the help of his ruffian friends, he escapes from prison (where he had ended up when he was captured by the palace guards) and races to the tower, only to find Rapunzel tied up. Mother stabs him as he climbs through the window.

Rapunzel makes a deal with her mother. If her mother lets Rapunzel save Flynn, she’s stop fighting against her and won’t try to get away.

Act Three: “Life as it was” (Pages 85 to 110)

• The climax

• Victory over the antagonist

• Physical euphoria

• The resolution

• Letting go of old self completely

• Embracing co-protagonist

• The emotional battle is finally won

• Honestly facing feelings

• Honesty creates trust

• Trust creates love

• Boy gets girl

Flynn cuts Rapunzel’s hair, knowing it means he’ll die. Anything to save Rapunzel. With her hair cut, the power will die.

With the restorative powers of the hair gone, Mother turns into an old hag (because she was hundreds of years old, as told in the prologue). The old hag dies.

Rapunzel attempts to save Flynn. She sings, trying to get her hair to save him, but he dies. But of course, this being a Disney movie, her tears have restorative powers and Flynn lives.

Rapunzel returns to her family—the king and queen—and the kingdom rejoices, and all the loose ends are tied up.


So, there you go, two different take on the movie Tangled, based on two different screenwriting books on story structure.

Emotional Structure also talks about the emotional journey of the story. Using Tangled as an example, I’ll be talking more about it in July.

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The Emotional Structure of Tangled: Part Two + Writing