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Book Analysis of ”The Princess Bride ”by S. Morganstern/William Goldman

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In The Princess Bride, the narrative hook comes within the first few pages of the novel when we find out that Westley, Buttercup’s lover, will be going on a voyage to find his fortune. Buttercup tells him that she fears she will never see him again, enticing the reader. Soon after, Buttercup finds out that the Dread Pirate Roberts, who leaves no prisoners, took over Westley’s ship. She is devastated by this, and even more so by the fact that she must now marry Prince Humperdinck, whom she does not love.

The rising action begins as Vizzini and his two henchmen, Fezzik and Inigo kidnap Buttercup. A man in black soon comes to her rescue, outsmarting Vizzini’s crafty logic, Fezzik’s massive strength, and Inigo’s fencing skills in order to save her. Soon, it is revealed that the man in black is actually Westley.

The climax takes place when Westley is pronounced dead at the end of chapter six, making the reader believe that the ending of the story may not be a favorable one. The narrator, William Goldman, interrupts the story here and recounts how his father explained that Humperdinck kills Westley. This portion of the story is very intense because the reader already knows that Westley could overcome almost anything in the name of love for his Buttercup. The reader is left wondering if he could, perhaps, overcome death as well.

After Westley is pronounced dead, the action is still tense as Inigo and Fezzik go to Miracle Max to bring him back to live for his noble cause of true love. Though Max performs the miracle only to get revenge on Prince Humperdinck. Inigo, Fezzik, and the cadaverous Westley enter Humperdinck’s castle to stop the wedding. Basically, from Westley’s death onward throughout the book is the climax, and there is little to no falling action. At the end of the story, Buttercup and Westley are reunited and can finally be happily joined in marriage.

Each chapter in this novel builds upon the previous in a sequential order. They are structured quite uniquely, constantly being interrupted by the narrator/author William Goldman to tells the reader things that aren’t in the story that he’s narrating, but are in the novel.

The major conflict in The Princess Bride is the reuniting of Westley and Buttercup and all the obstacles they must face to make this novel the world’s greatest love story.

Buttercup is a very flat character. The only thing we ever see her do is dote over her darling Westley. Without him her motivation to live is virtually nil, though she always chooses life over death. She decided to enter into a loveless marriage to Prince Humperdinck rather than opt for death, and even jumps in shrieking eel-infested waters than have her throat slit by Vizzini. Buttercup is just a common girl who happens to be bold, passionate in her love for Westley, and remarkably beautiful.

Westley is somewhat of a round character. He does anything to please Buttercup, and his live revolves around her. He can duel better than Inigo, wrestle better than the giant Fezzik, and reason better than the cunning Vizzini. He could even live through death and intimidate the confident Prince Humperdinck. Westley is a perfectionist and is amazing in everything he does, pushing the story forward.

Inigo Montoya is round character, originally portrayed as one of the villains helping Vizzini kidnap Buttercup, but changes into a heroic character. Inigo is desperately in search for Count Rugen, the six-fingered man that killed his father. Inigo repeats his catch phrase ‘Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya; you killed my father, prepare to die,” in preparation to avenge his fathers death. He is a great swordsman, though when he came across the man in black, he was ultimately defeated.

Vizzini uses Fezzik as a puppet for criminal purposes because he is the strongest man alive. Though Fezzik tries hard to follow instructions, he has trouble remembering them, so Inigo often makes up rhymes that he can repeat to keep Vizzini’s rules straight. Fezzik is compassionate, extremely loyal to Inigo, and an excellent follower, since we are told many times that his only drive in life is not to be left alone.

Prince Humperdinck, the most powerful man in what would one day become Europe, represents everything ill tempered, undeserved, and dishonest in this novel. He uses Buttercup at his disposal in order to start a war for his own amusement. He is very impatient and overconfident, though he is extremely intimidated by Westley.

Of all of the characters in The Princess Bride, I sympathize with Buttercup the most. Her only motivation for live is her darling Westley, who is repeatedly taken away from her. She is forced into a loveless marriage when her true love is unknowingly to her being tortured by her soon to be husband.

In The Princess Bride, the narrator introduces this story as his favorite childhood book, and proceeds to retell it in a third person storytelling manner. He makes frequent interjections in the first person, commenting on the content and style of the writing. Written in two voices makes the novel more interesting, the first being William Goldman writing the novel as S. Morganstern, and the send being the more personal voice of William Goldman writing as himself, being the narrator/editor.

Whether while writing as S. Morganstern of as himself, William Goldman writes with a certain ironic and self-deprecating and affectionate humor. He acknowledges the shortcomings of the characters in The Princess Bride and the ways in which the story itself cannot match the standards of any ordinary genre, while marveling in its eccentricities all the while. This story is the type that can be adored by anyone, young or old.

There are many incidents in this novel that can be interpreted as symbols. I believe the most important symbol is that of the way time is measured and the use of statistics within The Princess Bride. We are told this story takes place before Europe but after blue jeans, which is obviously a time that didn’t exist. Also, Goldman measures time by the creations of inventions that do not exist, or, according to him, no longer exist. To Goldman, this story is as real as he is and just as important and even though it is obvious that in our world it could never have taken place, it DID occur in his world.

The interruptions of the narrator/author represent literary freedom and his ability to bring whatever he thinks into the text itself. Goldman’s interruptions also allows us to know what will happen before it happens. Because there are supposedly parts of the books that are not important enough to make the ‘good parts’ and were cut, these interruptions demonstrate the necessity to view a text as something pliable, rather that a stoic piece of work.

Each of the main characters in The Princess Bride is the best at something: Inigo, steel; Fezzik, strength; Vizzini, wits; Buttercup, beauty; Humperdinck, hunting; Westley, surviving. These superior qualities add humor to the novel by making their weaknesses and flaws even funnier and more endearing.

Another symbol in The Princess Bride is the parodying of the typical picturesque storybook tale. Not only does this make it more interesting, but also it serves the purpose to show us that this is the most interesting story to ever exist.

There is so much irony in this novel that it is all over looked. In order to make the story move forward, all the obstacles must be conquered. They all are in impossible ways. The most obvious irony in the story is the purpose of the characters life. Buttercup and Westley have no purpose or motivation other than to love each other. Numerous hurdles block their path, but all are conquered with leaps and bounds, even the impossible death. Inigo Montoya’s purpose is to avenge his fathers’ death. He spends his entire life doing so, and finally after he has killed the Count, he has no purpose in life. Inigo even states that he has been in the revenge business for so long, he knows no other business. Each characters purpose is their ONLY purpose, and without it, they are nothing.

There are two main themes in the novel The Princess Bride. By making so making so many references to his editor and publisher within the story, Goldman demonstrates the structure of the literary industry and manages to set himself apart from it by illustrating his own enthusiasm for the literature itself. In his “good parts” edition, Goldman makes a point to cut what bores him, leave what entertains him, and create what is missing. He takes full liberty with the text and encourages the reader to do the same. By setting himself as the editor rather than the author, he is able to show us the impact this story made on him as a child. Through retelling it the way he heard it, he emphasizes reading as an invitation to make your own world out of a text, never drawing a line between what is real and not. Goldman’s style and tone is in direct opposition to the structure and seriousness of the literature industry of which he is a part.

The second theme is the arbitrariness of time, history, and love, which could also be interpreted as a symbol. The Princess Bride is a story of fantasy, and all stories of fantasy require a certain suspension of belief. William Goldman addresses these ideas about fantasy and mocks it, giving strange and parodied reasons for events, interrupting the text to assure us that something bad will not (or will) happen. He measures time by arbitrary inventions, avoiding the cliché “once upon a time.” He defies the standards of simple characters or a simple ending, but he still involves super-human strength, miracles, and love that can overcome death. The tendency of his characters to speak too much, rather than in clipped phrases, as well as his own tendency to interrupt the text perhaps too much, lends very little to the mystery to the story. We know the characters backgrounds, awkward phrases, and motivations. This makes it impossible to reduce any of them or the text itself to the simplicity of the ordinary child’s fairytale. This is an all-ages story of fantasy.

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