Study Guide

The Princess Bride

by William Goldman

The Princess Bride Analysis

The Plot (Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The novel begins with an explanation of how the narrator came to abridge the book. His father had read The Princess Bride, by S. Morgenstern, to him when he had pneumonia as a child. Remembering the story fondly, the narrator was shocked that his own son hated it until he realized that his father had skipped the boring passages when reading it to him. The narrator edited the book, leaving only “the good parts” and adding comments in red type throughout. This process resulted in The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, the “Good Parts” Version, Abridged.

In this abridged form of an imaginary book, when Buttercup is eighteen years old (and not yet the most beautiful woman in the world), she suddenly notices the stable hand Westley, who has always responded to her orders with “As you wish.” They declare their love, and he leaves to earn his fortune. Buttercup soon learns that he has been killed by pirates and vows never to love again.

Evil Prince Humperdinck of Florin needs a wife and proposes to Buttercup because she is beautiful. Given a choice between marriage and death, Buttercup chooses marriage. Once the wedding is announced, she is kidnapped by men hired by the prince to kill her on the Florin/Guilder border. Humperdinck plans to blame the murder on Guilder, giving him a reason to invade that kingdom. The kidnappers, however, are followed by a man wearing a...

(The entire section is 578 words.)

The Princess Bride Form and Content (Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Buttercup, a beautiful milkmaid, falls in love with Westley, a farm boy, who sails away to seek his fortune. She sinks into grief when she hears that he has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never leaves survivors. When Humperdinck, the prince of Florin—who cares only for hunting but demands a good-looking bride to bear his children—orders Buttercup to marry him, she refuses, claiming that she will never love again. Because Humperdinck does not seek love and the alternative is death, however, they become engaged.

Before the wedding, Buttercup is kidnapped by Vizzini, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik, whom Humperdinck has paid to kill her and leave evidence that will incriminate the country of Guilder, Florin’s enemy, so that Humperdinck can declare war. Fezzik is a powerful giant, and Inigo is the best swordsman in the world, having spent twenty years becoming a master fencer in order to find and kill the six-fingered nobleman who murdered his father. They are pursued, however, by a man in black, who follows them up the Cliffs of Insanity and then bests Inigo in a swordfight, Fezzik in a wrestling match, and Vizzini in a battle of wits.

Buttercup is now in the power of the man in black, who insults her faithlessness and greed. When she pushes him down a ravine, she discovers that it is Westley, who was merely testing her love for him.

Humperdinck and the evil Count Rugen are hunting them, so Buttercup and Westley flee...

(The entire section is 510 words.)

The Princess Bride Techniques / Literary Precedents

The roots of the fairy tale stretch back to a time before literature, when storytelling was essentially an oral form. The theme of The...

(The entire section is 122 words.)

The Princess Bride Related Titles

The Silent Gondoliers (1983) is another example of Goldman's attempt to adapt traditional genres to modern form. The Princess...

(The entire section is 803 words.)

The Princess Bride Adaptations

Act II Communications Presentations of Nelson Entertainment released a film version of The Princess Bride in 1987. Goldman wrote the...

(The entire section is 100 words.)