In the land of Florin, where The Princess Bride is set, there is a pretty big divide between the nobility and the commoners. It's so great, in fact, that Prince Humperdinck will avoid walking among commoners whenever he possibly can. That's why it's strange that he would actually decide to marry one of them, though then again, Buttercup is very beautiful.
Humperdinck isn't the only one too big for his britches based on his birth status, though, and Buttercup is initially blind to Westley's merits because he's a lowly farmhand. We also have our trusty band of outsiders—Fezzik, Inigo, and Vizzini—who eventually (okay, and only partially) form a motley crew of rebels with Westley.
In short, it isn't so much that society and class are major players in this book, as factors that subtly inform allegiances and alliances. In doing so, they also impact the plot.
Questions About Society and Class
- How does Count Rugen's status as a nobleman play into his murder of Domingo Montoya? Use specific evidence from the text to support your answer.
- What does Prince Humperdinck realize when he finds out that his father is going to die? How does he take the news?
- What part of Florin does Inigo retreat to after being beaten by Westley (a.k.a. the man in black)? What happens to this place while he's there?
- What kind of lifestyle do you think William Goldman has? What evidence do we have to suggest that he's well-off?
Chew on This
In The Princess Bride, people who step out of their social class usually pay the price. So everyone is better off if they just know their role.
In The Princess Bride, we learn that social class is basically just a corrupt idea meant to protect a bunch of cowards and villains (a.k.a. members of the upper classes).