The Mystery of the One Crazy Rhyme in ‘Mother Knows Best’

I’m not one to obsess over little details, am I? Oh, except for just about every movie I’ve ever written about on this website. Be that as it may, I can’t quite wrap my head around one particular rhyme in the movie Tangled. It comes from the song “Mother Knows Best,” which goes like this:

Did you catch the word that comes out of nowhere and connects to another word way after it? Let’s go through the lyrics to make it clear what I’m talking about:

You want to go outside? Oh, why, Rapunzel,
Look at you, as fragile as a flower.
Still a little sapling, just a sprout.
You know why we stay up in this tower.
(I know, but)
That’s right, to keep you safe and sound, dear

Guess I always knew this day was coming,
Knew that soon you’d want to leave the nest.
Soon, but not yet.
(But)
Shh, trust me, pet.
Mother knows best.

Mother knows best.
Listen to your mother.
It’s a scary world out there.

Mother knows best.
One way or another,
Something will go wrong, I swear.

Ruffians, thugs,
Poison ivy, quicksand,
Cannibals and snakes, the plague.
(No)

Yes.
(But)

Also large bugs,
Men with pointy teeth, and
Stop, no more, you’ll just upset me

Mother’s right here.
Mother will protect you.
Darling, here’s what I suggest:

Skip the drama,
Stay with mama.
Mother knows best.

Mother knows best.
Take it from your mumsy,
On your own, you won’t survive.

Sloppy, underdressed,
Immature, clumsy.
Please, they’ll eat you up alive.

Gullible, naïve,
Positively grubby,
Ditzy, and a bit, well, vague.

Plus, I believe,
Gettin’ kinda chubby.
I’m just saying ‘cause I wuv you.

Mother understands,
Mother’s here to help you.
All I have is one request.

Rapunzel?
(Yes?)
Don’t ever ask to leave this tower again.
(Yes, Mother)

Oh, I love you very much, dear.
(I love you more)
I love you most.

Don’t forget it.
You’ll regret it.
Mother knows best.

The lyricist decided to sneak in two rhyming words that are extremely far apart in the song – so far apart that it’s hard to even recognize them as a rhyme. “Plague” and “vague” match up perfectly, coming at the same point in the third proper stanza of each verse. But why?

Unlike Any Other Song

I can’t find any other instance of this kind of rhyming scheme in any of the other songs in Tangled. I know the “Mother Knows Best (Reprise)” is much shorter, but it doesn’t have any long-distance rhyme in it:

(I think he likes me)
Likes you?
Please, Rapunzel, that’s demented.

This is why you never should have left.
Dear, this whole romance that you’ve invented
Just proves you’re too naïve to be here.

Why would he like you, come on now, really?
Look at you, you think that he’s impressed?
Don’t be a dummy,
Come with mummy.
Mother…

(No)
No?
Oh, I see how it is.

Rapunzel knows best.
Rapunzel’s so mature now,
Such a clever grownup miss.

Rapunzel knows best.
Fine, if you’re so sure now,
Go ahead, then give him this.

This is why he’s here,
Don’t let him deceive you.
Give it to him, watch, you’ll see.

Trust me, my dear,
That’s how fast he’ll leave you.
I won’t say I told you so.

No, Rapunzel knows best.
So if he’s such a dreamboat,
Go and put him to the test.

If he’s lying,
Don’t come crying.
Mother knows best.

Looking for Meaning

I enjoy finding patterns in films, and this is one seemingly simple pattern that I can’t figure out. In the first verse, Mother Gothel is pointing out all of the dangers that Rapunzel is likely to find in the outside world, and in the second verse, she’s dressing down Rapunzel, telling her how unprepared she is for such an undertaking. It’s pure manipulation from beginning to end. The plague is the one danger that really startles Rapunzel the most. But calling Rapunzel vague in the next verse comes across as the gentlest of the insults she heaps upon her “daughter.” I can’t see much of a connection between the two except for the fact that they sound similar.

I’m probably trying to read more into this than is actually there. I don’t know if there’s any deeper meaning to find in this unusual rhyme. It’s just so deliberately placed and unnecessary to the rest of the song’s flow, which makes me feel like there’s something going on that I can’t quite put my finger on. Feel free to tell me if I’m foolish for either straining at a gnat or being oblivious to the obvious. All I know is that “Mother Knows Best” seems to know something it’s reluctant to divulge.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

The video clip is the copyright of its owner.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and four children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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