Study Guide

The Princess Bride Cunning and Cleverness

By William Goldman

Cunning and Cleverness

The Duchess set about studying Annette and shortly found her adversary's tragic flaw. (1.1)

The Duchess isn't so fond of the fact that Annette is more beautiful than her, so she makes a point of studying Annette until she learns her greatest weakness—chocolate. From then on, it's easy for the Duchess to leave chocolate all around her castle until Annette gets fat and less attractive. (For the record, this is bad math: Size and beauty ain't got nothing to do with each other.)

"I said I would not hurt him. But I never for a moment said he would not suffer pain. You will do the actual tormenting." (5.1186)

Humperdinck might be Prince of Florin, but he's a king of double meanings. When he promised Buttercup that he wouldn't hurt Westley, he never promised that no one would hurt Westley. That's why he gets his buddy Count Rugen to do all the actual torturing.

He must have outplanned and outthought Vizzini and he will tell me how to break through the castle and kill the six-fingered beast. (6.379)

Inigo realizes that if Vizzini is dead from poison, the man in black must have somehow outsmarted him. And this is really impressive, considering that Vizzini is the cleverest man Inigo has ever met.

"I say this now, and live or die, it's up to you: Drop your sword!" (8.142)

Westley is still completely paralyzed (you know, from the whole being dead thing), but Humperdinck doesn't quite know that. So Westley's only chance is to threaten Humperdinck so vividly that Humperdinck surrenders before fighting. And guess what? It totally works.

"There are no words to contain all my wisdom. I am so cunning, crafty and clever, so filled with deceit, guile and chicanery, such a knave, so shrewd, cagey as well as calculating, a diabolical as I am vulpine, as tricky as I am trustworthy…" (5.844)

The Sicilian thinks pretty highly of his cleverness. And truth be told, he's actually a clever enough guy. But that doesn't stop him from getting tricked into drinking poison by Westley.

"Because I'm not left-handed either," said the man in black. (5.592)

Inigo has spent an entire duel fighting Westley with his left hand when he is not in fact left-handed. Little does he know, though, that Westley isn't left-handed, either. Now that's what you call the old double switcheroo.

"You only think I guessed wrong […] That's what's so funny. I switched glasses when your back was turned." (5.898)

Vizzini is pretty proud of himself for switching the two glasses of wine when Westley's back was turned. Little does he know that both glasses are poisoned, though, and that Westley has simply built up an immunity to the poison.

He was quite cheery until the iocane powder took effect. (5.901)

Right up until the end, Vizzini can't fathom (or conceive of) the idea that Westley has outsmarted him. The guy practically drops dead while laughing with triumph.

"They were both poisoned […] I've spent the past two years building up immunity to iocane powder." (5.907)

A-ha… Now we finally see what Westley's scheme with the iocane powder was all along. He always knew he'd win the battle of wits because it wasn't a battle of wits at all. It was rigged in his favor the whole time.

It was only when the giant got halfway down the incline that he suddenly, happily, burst into flame and continued his trip saying, "NO SURVIVORS, NO SURVIVORS!" in a manner that could only indicate deadly sincerity. (7.349)

Inigo, Westley, and Fezzik have no real way of getting into Humperdinck's castle with brute force, so instead they have to trick their way in. And they do this by putting Fezzik up on a wheelbarrow with a big cloak around him and lighting him on fire to scare the guards away. Once again, one of Westley's bluffs ends up working.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...