In the Tangled movie, Mother Gothel - naturally - doesn't let Rapunzel out of the tower, for fear of losing her "flower".
But, for the majority of the time that Rapunzel spent in the tower (disregarding what happened at the end of Tangled, where Gothel kinda goes, it can be argued, insane out of desperation), Gothel tried (or at least kept a pretense of trying) to keep Rapunzel happy. For instance, getting the paints, and books, and presumably sewing supplies and stuff. She's got a nice bed. She's not kept in a bare tower with bread and water, but instead actually has a rather luxurious existence.
The thing that most makes me ask this, though, is that Gothel traveled for three days straight - went three days without the magic hair - to get something that Rapunzel wanted. This doesn't really seem like typical Disney villain behavior, to say the least.
But does Gothel actually care about Rapunzel as a person, or does she just want to minimize the number of escape attempts?