Did Mother Gothel actually love Rapunzel?
A lot would say she did.
I say no.
Mother Gothel had one motive: keep the flower close to her. Now, why on earth did she need that flower? Was it because she wanted to use it for good, or was she just really desiring to live another day? That is one question I can't answer. But I do know that she when she found that flower, she was hell bent on keeping it.
When it was found by the soldiers of the Kingdom of Corona, she knew she needed that flower back. Unfortunately, the flower was made into a broth and given to the Queen. What was she going to do now?
Mother Gothel must have guessed that the newborn baby to the Royal Couple, with her flowing blond hair, had that flower within her. Right? Well, she was right, as we know. She got into the castle, found the baby, and with one snip, found out she was going to have to take the baby.
Did she love Rapunzel then? No. The only reason she took Rapunzel was for her hair for her healing capabilities. Who resorts to kidnapping a Princess to keep a magical flower that has been keeping a woman alive for hundreds of years? That desire to keep living another day must have been S-T-R-O-N-G!
18 years pass. In those 18 years, Rapunzel's hair grows to 70 feet long. Rapunzel also is told many lies. She reads only three books. She becomes a wonderful artist.
Gothel? She has to get creative with her lies. "Ruffians, thugs, poison ivy, quicksand, cannibals, and snakes. The plague." Rapunzel isn't allowed outside of her tower because of her hair. Because everyone is searching for it and would use it to their advantage. "Mother told me that when I was younger, some people cut it and it turned brown. It loses its power." Some people cut it some people were just so desperate for Rapunzel's hair.
"The world is dark, and selfish, and cruel. If it finds even the slightest ray of sunshine, it destroys it."
Lie after lie.
If Gothel must lie to keep Rapunzel in the tower, is that love?
Consider what she did to Eugene. Tricking him into his own death sentence, caught by the guards red-handed with the crown. And then the brothers they ended up in jail.
Not only did Gothel hurt Rapunzel by lying that Eugene himself was the one to up and leave, trading Rapunzel's hair for the crown, but she also hurt Eugene in the process. Just by ending up in jail.
Gothel made one flaw though. It wasn't that she let Rapunzel out into town to collect all the snippets that would lead to her realization of Lost Princess, but it was her cry of "Where will you go? He won't be there for you!" She didn't even need to tell Rapunzel that Eugene was going to hang. But she let it slip. Maybe the thinking was that Rapunzel would have nowhere else to go if she found out Eugene would be dead before she could get there.
But by the time Rapunzel learns that it wasn't Eugene's fault, that he is going to hang, she knows one thing: Everything Gothel has EVER told her is a lie. If ands or buts, all of it was lies.
Was it love? No. Hurt your "daughter" so much you lie to her and then send the one person she truly cares about to the gallows? What love is that?
The last and final thing that seals the deal for no love is
tying up your "daughter" when she says she will never let you use her hair again. Not just TYING her up, but chaining her and gagging her. Gothel didn't need Rapunzel running off to save Eugene. Gothel NEEDED Rapunzel. She needed that flower. And she was going to keep it with nothing stopping her.
She just didn't think about the fact that Eugene would escape.
Now, did she want Eugene dead in the end anyway? Absolutely. Her first act would have been lunging out at him and stabbing him in the first place. The Stabs coming out of the snuggly duckingly hatch? Yeah. Clues ya in. Then she got a better plan a plan that didn't make her look like the murderer. Even if Flynn Rider was wanted dead or alive. She sent him down river in a ship by the hands of the Stabs and he was caught with the crown. Instant death sentence.
But Eugene got out. And up until the second he calls up to Rapunzel, Gothel thinks she is home free.
"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!"
In that instant, Rapunzel is probably screaming for Eugene to leave. Because there is one thing Gothel holds that no one else can take from her a knife. She takes Rapunzel's hair after some quick adjustments in the room and throws it out the window. She then hides, waiting for the thief to climb. She would just have to take care of him herself.
And Rapunzel saw this. She knew it. And it terrified her.
Did Gothel love Rapunzel? No. She was in it for the hair. She would do everything even murder a helpless boy to keep that flower. Even torture her "daughter" to no end by watching helplessly as the one she loved died in agony. Get her out of that tower and somewhere else, the body of a thief on the floor, never to be found.
Eugene made only one mistake: finding that tower. He sealed his fate by finding that tower by accident. Just by walking into that cave and into the clearing. He was destined to die from that point on. Who knew, right?
Now, Rapunzel, she did love Gothel. It was evident when Gothel turned grey and aged instantly after Rapunzel's magical locks turned to brown. Eugene saved Rapunzel, but at the cost of both Gothel and himself. He didn't know it would turn Gothel into dust. Rapunzel reached for Gothel as she fell out the window, already turning into dust. Rapunzel would never have been able to stop that. She loved Gothel because Gothel took care of her, even after every lie, every trick, and even after stabbing and murdering the one she loved.
Had it not been for that tear, Eugene would never have come back to the living.
Gothel didn't love Rapunzel because she was in it for the flower from day one. Tricks and lies. Maybe some truth in there, but what relationship can be love if it is upheld by lies, an attempt to keep a young girl locked away in a tower forever?
You can take it or leave it. I believe Gothel didn't love Rapunzel. Maybe there was a tiny bit, but who would go to that great of lengths, even murder, to keep magical hair? It was never about Rapunzel, as Gothel tried tricking Rapunzel into thinking. It was about the hair. It was about that flower. Because Gothel owned it. And she wasn't letting some Queen and some Princess keep it from her.