Mark Reads ‘The Princess Bride’: Five (Part II)

In the second part of the fifth chapter of The Princess Bride, INIGO BACKSTORY OH MY GOD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Princess Bride.


Somehow, the history of how Inigo Montoya became Inigo Montoya is a million times more depressing in this book. The sheer brutality of how his heart is broken is just so much more apparent to me than it ever was. Again, it could just be my memory failing me, as it’s been so long since I last watched The Princess Bride. Still, Morgenstern’s writing is so haunting to me because he knows how to convey these huge concepts in such choppy prose. If I can relate this to a project I’m doing over on Mark Watches, I find that despair and grief is so much more damning and horrifying when it’s paired with joy. I think it’s one of the reasons that I’m so emotionally drained sometimes after watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Joss Whedon specifically sets up these huge emotional moments full of excitement and hope, and then he tears them apart in extremely horrific ways. I know it’s a cheesy saying to state that you can’t appreciate joy without darkness, but I think it works in this setting. There is just so much happiness in little Inigo’s life, and that’s why it hurts so much when his father is murdered by the six-fingered man.

I’m entranced by Morgenstern’s dialogue, too. Of course, it’s realistic that every character ever would be witty and funny all of the time, but this is a stylistic choice that I’m completely on board with. I don’t want to give the impression that this film is perfect, but I found that I liked Juno a great deal because of the dialogue. Of course it’s unrealistic, but it’s a conscious choice of the writer to do that. I could understand someone being turned off by the dialogue in that film, just like I get that for some people, none of this is funny. (I get it, but I don’t truly understand it because HOW COULD YOU DISLIKE YESTE AND DOMINGO’S ARGUMENTS? They are so adorable and precious.) Plus, this is a satire. It’s clearly not real, just as Florin or Guilder isn’t a real place. Morgenstern invented them, so why can’t he invent a rhythm and pace by which all of the characters speak?

Even if we examine Domingo’s monologue after the six-fingered man shows Domingo why he needs him to craft a sword, we can see how intentional this all is. Never before had Domingo spoken so much and with such veracity. That’s the brilliance of what Morgenstern has created: we can tell in just a few pages that Inigo’s father is a many of few words and quick to the point. So something must be up if he suddenly launches into an excited spiel about the challenges of making a sword for a six-fingered man. This is a life-changing opportunity for him, a chance to become an artist in his mind. It’s why it’s the only he doesn’t outright refuse an offer.

It’s also fantastic to read how Morgenstern portrays the process. I think any of us who consider ourselves creative in any sense can relate to how frustrating it is to try to create something. I certainly struggle with it on a daily basis. Is that a good sentence? Does it make sense? Sometimes I write things I think are garbage, but others find to be my best work. It’s in my nature to doubt myself constantly, but when I’m trying to be creative, it always seem worse than any other time. But it’s the nature of putting yourself into something in such a way, because no matter what the end product is, it’s yours. You created it and made it, and now the rest of the world might see it, and they’ll judge it, and they’ll think things about you and you can’t control any of it and oh my god it is one of the most terrifying things in the world.

But shit, it’s so worth it to me.

Inigo’s backstory is just so gut-wrenching to me, and it’s so easy to see that dedicated, obsessive man in that ten-year-old version of him. Here’s a kid who watches his father die, and his first reaction is to challenge this giant man to a duel. And it’s not at all ironic, by the way. His father died telling the six-fingered man he pitied his ignorance. It’s as if Inigo’s father set a standard for his child, intentional or not, and now Inigo believes he must live by the same standard. It’s what motivates Inigo’s entire life! (It also sets up a BEAUTIFUL parallel to Westley’s journey, too. OH GOD. Plus, there’s this brilliant use of the relationship between a father and son in the book and in the commentary. Oh god, layers on layers on layers of perfection.)

I think Inigo’s story is made all the more satisfying because Morgenstern deliberately twists the trope of the scorned or betrayed hero who becomes perfect in order to enact revenge. That’s not to say Inigo isn’t talented or one of the best swordsmen in the world. He’s fantastic, but Morgenstern foreshadows his eventual defeat at the hands of Westley during the scene where Inigo returns to Yeste to ask if he’s ready to find the six-fingered man and avenge his father. I read this scene as suggesting that while Inigo was good, he was inherently flawed. He wasn’t quite a master because of the way his rage interfered with his possible concentration. I think that’s why Westley ends up overpowering him. Westley’s love is more powerful than Inigo’s rage, and it allows him to get the upper hand.

Oh god, their sword fight is every bit as lovely and exciting as it is in the movie, maybe even more so. I know their dialogue beforehand is quite humorous, but I adore the subtext of Inigo experiencing happiness from finding a suitable person to fence with. It’s the first time in his life that he feels like all the training he’s done has a point. What’s the point of being so proficient if nothing challenges you anymore?

I’m going to end this here as the narrative switches from Inigo to Fezzik, and we’ll do Fezzik’s entire section until the moment when Westley finally says AS YOU WISH. Oh god, I am overwhelmed by Fezzik and Westley emotions and I haven’t even read the rest of the chapter. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy on this site. IT SHALL NEVER BE RUINED.

Mark Links Stuff

– By request, I’ve now put up a Donate button in the sidebar. It costs about $250 a month to keep my sites online (HOSTING Y’ALL IS EXPENSIVE), so if you are ever feeling charitable, you’re welcome to pitch in!
– My eBook adaptations of reviews I’ve posted are on sale at 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!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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