This seems like a pretty awful thing to do, but does she ever come to value Rapunzel for Rapunzel and not just as an antidote to age?
If you’ve seen the whole movie, you’d probably be anxious to say no, but perhaps the matter deserves some thought first.
Let’s face it, Mother Gothel is not the nicest or most selfless of characters. That being said, maybe she does love Rapunzel – as much as she could be expected to. Doesn’t she want to make Rapunzel’s favorite for dinner? Doesn’t she agree to go on a three-day trip in order to get her birthday present? Doesn’t she claim to have Rapunzel’s best interests at heart?
Now we have to figure out if she really did have the best of intentions for Rapunzel. One clue is she says, “I love you very much, dear,” and she seems to have sympathy for Rapunzel when Rapunzel agrees to stay in the tower. However, Mother Gothel declares that Rapunzel has to stay in the tower and must never ask to leave again – because she doesn’t want to loose Rapunzel, or because she doesn’t want to loose Rapunzel’s hair? Could it possibly be because she thinks Rapunzel will get hurt and have her heart broken?
“I’ll be back in a bit, my flower!” “You know I hate leaving you alone after a fight, dear, especially when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.” (not exact quotes) After we have been introduced to Rapunzel as a teenager, we meet Mother Gothel, and her words here to Rapunzel are a clue as well. “Rapunzel, Mother’s feeling a little run down. Would you sing for me, dear? Then we’ll talk.” She appears more interested in her own concerns than she is in Rapunzel’s.
The concluding proof is her reaction to Rapunzel’s revelation that she is the lost princess, and also that she keeps Rapunzel from Eugene – even to the point where she must mortally wound Eugene. It is obvious that this life that Rapunzel had discovered – her royalty and her love – are right for Rapunzel. Mother Gothel’s only reason for her actions is her selfishness. This becomes quite obvious in this last scene with Mother Gothel.
So if you thought that Mother Gothel’s interest in Rapunzel was of selfishness, you were probably right. It’s hard to say whether Mother Gothel wasn’t otherwise attached to Rapunzel, but it should be safe to say that this deeper feeling is lacking considerably.
As a side note, Rapunzel still loves her “mother”, in some fashion – Mother Gothel fell out the window, but not without horror and worry from Rapunzel.