Study Guide

Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride

By William Goldman

Prince Humperdinck

If you need to associate Prince Humperdinck with a basic human trait, then that trait is definitely insecurity. The guy is so obsessed with proving himself that he builds a giant Zoo of Death where he can hunt deadly animals all day and reassure himself that he's a brave and strong man. When we first meet Humperdinck, we're told:

He walked like a crab, side to side, and probably if he had wanted to be a ballet dancer, he would have been doomed to a miserable life of endless frustration. (2.5)

In other words, Humperdinck is a really thick dude and not very graceful. Luckily for him he has no interest in ballet—instead, his brutish body fits his brutish ways.

If you wanted to compare Humperdinck to an animal (other than a crab), you'd be good to start with hound dog, since once the guy gets on the scent of something, he'll pursue it until he's practically dead. No, really. Check it out:

Once he was determined, once he had focused on an object, the Prince was relentless. He never tired, never wavered, neither ate nor slept. It was death chess and he was international grand master. (2.7)

Humperdinck is so obsessed with his interests, in fact, that he thinks of marriage as a huge nuisance in his life. When he learns that his father will soon die, his first thought is even, "'Drat! […] That means I shall have to get married'" (2.22). Seriously, there's nothing this guy cares about other than pursuing his hobbies and reassuring himself that he's always in control. Not even, say, his father's death.

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