In the eighth and final chapter of The Princess Bride, things go exactly as planned. By “exactly as planned,” I mean “horribly wrong and weird.” Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish The Princess Bride.
Well, that didn’t end like I expected. I actually kind of like both the brevity and intensity of this final chapter. I sort of feel like the movie took a more humorous route with the ending, though I’m not complaining. In general, I think the film is far more whimsical of a story than this is. I’m not just talking about the Zoo of Death, though that’s a large part of it. The mental image of Inigo holding his insides with his fist is RIDICULOUSLY DISTURBING. But I also think the tone of the end of Morgenstern’s story isn’t as victorious as the movie, though I admit I could just be remembering this completely wrong. I WILL CONCEDE THIS FACT.
Still, this all feels quite satisfying to read. It’s nice that Morgenstern brings back the use of exact time to structure the narrative at this point because it creates this sense of hopelessness. We know Westley only has a limited amount of time before the effects of the pill wear off, and we also know that there’s only so much time before Buttercup is actually married to Humperdinck. On top of that, the scenes we get of Inigo, Westley, and Fizzik all happen after Morgenstern tells us that Buttercup got married at 5:31, so I imagine if you were reading this for the first time, everything would seem kind of hopeless. Count Rugen confronts the trio three minutes after Buttercup is married. How are they going to pull this off???
By being flawless. Can we talk about pretty much my favorite moment of the film?
“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
And in reply, the Count did a genuinely remarkable and unexpected thing: he turned and ran.
I mean, clearly he knows he is fucked, right?
Morgenstern really does resolve the two main conflicts he introduced in this book in the most poetic way imaginable. I think it would have been quite unsatisfying if Inigo faced Rugen and did not get to hold him accountable. First of all, the persistent message he repeats has this really unsettling effect on the scene. (I am thinking of a certain scene that’s kind of similar in A Storm of Swords right now. Oh god, ROT13 CONVERSATION IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE.) The fact that Inigo is basically bleeding to death makes it far more disturbing than I expected, but it’s the fact that his father basically motivates him through some sort of internal dialogue that gives this scene so much power. It’s incredibly fitting that Inigo returns the exact same wounds that Rugen inflicted on him during the course of his life, ending with an attempt to remove his heart.
Truthfully, I think this was one of the first revenge narratives I ever encountered in my life, and it was just so wonderful to me to watch. God, could you imagine how much more I would have liked it with the full context of Inigo’s backstory in my mind? And that’s not an insult on the movie, for the record, but I really love having that sort of context in characters. It makes Inigo seem both more complex and more sad to me. The movie never really conveys how desperate Inigo has been to avenge his father’s death; here, Inigo’s victory isn’t as straightforward as the movie makes it out to be.
It’s also fitting that Westley’s victory is one of bravery, but not the physical kind. We already know that if he was in full health, Westley could have easily taken down Humperdinck. But even if he wasn’t practically paralyzed, I don’t think he would have done that. I think he would have found a way to talk Humperdinck into giving up purely out of shame. Throughout all of this, Westley’s conflict with the Prince was never a physical one. Their fight, especially after what happened in the Zoo of Death, was one of shame. That’s what the Prince wanted to instill in Westley. He wanted to make Westley feel shame and worthlessness, to take away any shred of hope left in his body. Yes, there’s a very clear reason why Westley can’t challenge Humperdinck to an actual dual, but the reason he goes after him in the way that he does is to ensure that there will never be another happy, proud day in his life. He stole joy from Buttercup, from Westley, from Inigo, from Vizzini, and from Fezzik, and even if Westley doesn’t know all of this, he still wants to make sure that this man suffers the worst pain of all: complete and utter rejection.
Are you at all surprised that I like this?
I always liked that the ending just happened. It wasn’t dragged out, and you could imagine what these characters might do now that they were free of Humperdinck. So I am sure you can guess I was fairly surprised by the revelation that Morgenstern added to the ending. Fezzik did just happen to find the perfect horses for them, and they did ride off victorious, but here, everything that could possibly go wrong with each of them does and then Morgenstern ends the book on a cliffhanger that is never resolved ever. Which… is that some form of satire, too? Is he trying to comment on what we expect from a romance story or a fantasy epic? Is this some subtle jab at our desires as readers Did he want to upset us so we would never feel good about this book ever again? Why will none of these questions ever be answered? S. Morgenstern loves pain, doesn’t he? OH SHIT IS HE COUNT RUGEN???
Okay, tomorrow, let’s discover what the hell Buttercup’s baby is.
Mark Links Stuff
- My eBook adaptations of reviews I’ve posted are on sale at MarkDoesStuff.com. Harry Potter, Twilight, and Firefly books are priced from $2.99 to $3.99 a piece, and are available in ePub (iBook, iPod, iPad, Nook), Kindle, and PDF files.
- I now have a Lulu storefront, where you can purchase physical copies of all of my previously released books, including a full Mark Reads Twilight book that includes all four sets of Twilight reviews.
- I am going on tour in the following cities this month (click the name for the Facebook RSVP page): San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake City, Boise, Spokane, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. I still need venues/spaces in San Diego, Salt Lake City, Spokane, and Portland. Even if it’s your house, I don’t care. I’ll show up! Please let me know if you have any ideas. I can also be reached at markreadsandwatches [at] gmail [dot] com.
- I am presenting for three days at Ascendio 2012! Come hang out and have the best weekend ever in July!
- Mark Watches The Two Towers will happen most likely on Sunday at 1pm PDT, which is the same as this past weekend. Y’all better break the comment record again.
- I finish Mark Reads The Princess Bride on April 13th, and then Mark Reads Sandman begins on Monday, April 16th. I will split up reviews by issue, and I will be reading the extra books/volumes. IT SHALL BE GRAND.
- I’m on Twitter (@MarkDoesStuff) and I have a Facebook page y’all can Like and flail about on. Join me!
- This is my fifth consecutive year riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle! I’m aiming to raise $10,000 this year. For every $1,000 I raise, I will make a video live reading of a community-chosen fanfic. I am not bluffing. I will read as much of it as possible, and it will be beautiful. Help me out if you can!