Study Guide

The Princess Bride Summary

By William Goldman

The Princess Bride Summary

Goldman opens the book by telling us about this awesome story his father used to read to him when he was just a kid. It was called The Princess Bride and it was by this guy named S. Morgenstern from a country named Florin. Goldman liked the book so much that he decides to give his own son, Jason, a copy on his tenth birthday. Jason barely gets through the first chapter, though, before giving up on the book.

When Goldman takes the time to look through the copy he's bought his son, he realizes that the story is nothing like the one his dad used to read him. It's only at this moment that he realizes how his dad must have skipped over the boring parts of the book, instead reading only the good parts. So Goldman sets out to create a new edition of the book with only the "good parts" left in it. It takes some convincing, but his publisher eventually agrees.

Now it's time for the actual story. Ahem. So there's this girl named Buttercup who lives on a farm. She is one of the most beautiful women in the world and she tends to spend most of her days bossing around a poor boy named Westley who works on her land. Eventually, though, Buttercup realizes that she's in love with Westley—and luckily for her, Westley feels the same way. But he still wants to travel to America and make his fortune before the two of them get married.

While he's gone, word gets back to Buttercup that Westley has ben killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, a mythical pirate who never leaves any survivors. Buttercup cries and vows never to love again. Tear.

Meanwhile, the prince of Florin, a guy named Humperdinck, hears about Buttercup's beauty and decides that he'd like to marry her. Since her heart is dead, Buttercup figures that Humperdinck will make as good a husband as anyone else, so the two get engaged. But of course it turns out that Westley isn't dead. He returns and enlists the help of a swordsman named Inigo and a giant named Fezzik to recapture Buttercup before it's too late. They eventually succeed and we expect them to live happily ever after.

But Goldman is a realist, so he reminds us that there's no such thing as happily-ever-after in real life. Instead, the truth is that Westley and Buttercup will continue to fight all the time about petty little stuff that married couples always fight about. But hey, at least they're together.

When all is said and done, Goldman tells us that it was years after publishing the original abridged Princess Bride that he found out about a sequel to it called Buttercup's Baby. It turns out that the publishing house wants Stephen King to do the new edition of this book, but Goldman meets with King and convinces him to let him (Goldman) have a go at the first chapter.

At the end of the book, we get a look at this chapter. It gives us some interesting background on Fezzik and Inigo, and it even ends with a literal cliffhanger involving Fezzik. But then Goldman just ends the book and promises to keep working on it. Instead of the end, then, this one's more like the end-ish.