Study Guide

The Princess Bride Summary

The Princess Bride Summary

  

Our story starts with a story—told by an older gentleman with a voice we could listen to all day.

Or for the next 90 minutes, anyway.

The narrator, a kindly old grandfather, begins reading to his sick grandson a story about a young maid in a faraway land who falls for her farmhand. It's sweet, but to be fair, there doesn't appear to be anyone else around for miles, so it's not like there was much of a selection.

Anyway, the farmhand, Westley, goes off to make his fortune, but is reportedly killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, and after a short mourning period, Buttercup (that's the girl) agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck, even though she's really, really bummed about it.

Humperdinck, however, isn't the romantic type. Instead, he hires a short, squat man named Vizzini to kidnap and murder Buttercup, planning to blame a neighboring country so he can get a war goin'. Vizzini, with the help of Inigo, a Spanish swordsman, and Fezzik, a guy who makes Shaq look like a hobbit, successfully kidnaps Buttercup. But he and his men fall to the mysterious Man in Black, who rescues her. Inigo and Fezzik live to fight another day. Vizzini…not so much.

The Man in Black reveals to Buttercup that he's actually Westley (shocker), and the two head for the Fire Swamp in an attempt to shake Humperdinck and his search party. The two young lovers run into their share of trouble with some bursts of flame, quicksand, and a TMNT Splinter reject, but emerge on the other side of the swamp still very much alive. Unfortunately, Humperdinck's there waiting for them.

The prince promises Buttercup no harm will come to Westley, but integrity doesn't really run in this guy's family. He hands his captive off to his right-hand man, Count Rugen, who takes Westley into the "Pit of Despair" and hooks him up to "The Machine," which can painfully, very painfully, suck years of life out of a person. Sort of like living in Miami.

Meanwhile, Humperdinck goes to Plan B, and decides to off Buttercup himself on their wedding night. Buttercup apparently has similar plans, as she threatens to kill herself if Westley doesn't come for her. Not happy about this, Humperdinck runs into the Pit and turns the Machine all the way up to 50, killing Westley. Well…mostly killing him.

Inigo and Fezzik join forces to revive Westley, as they believe he's the only one who can get them inside the castle gates so Inigo can seek vengeance on Count Rugen, who murdered his father. They take him to Miracle Max, who (after some initial griping about the price) agrees to bring him back to life after it's revealed that there's a bit of "true love" at stake. It's nice any time a miracle worker shows he's got a heart of gold. (Although he did seem awfully excited that Westley's resurrection would mean bad things for his old boss. At least he's honest about his ulterior motives.)

Westley, Fezzik and Inigo storm the gates. Inigo finds Rugen and, after bleeding out from nearly every part of his body, somehow manages to best his nemesis and dispose of him. Hopefully Rugen took Inigo's advice and "prepared to die," even if we're not sure what that would look like.

Westley and Buttercup are reunited, and Humperdinck's tied up and left to live with his conscience, which we can't imagine is a pretty thing. The gang rides off into the sunset, although Inigo and Fezzik are considerate enough to leave the lovers a few seconds of sunset to make out by their lonesome.

The grandson has enjoyed the story—kissing parts notwithstanding—and asks his grandfather to come back the next day and read it to him again. Sheesh…how about a little variety, kid? What did Roald Dahl ever do to you?

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