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

In the third part of the fifth chapter of The Princess Bride, we learn how heartbreaking Fezzik’s past has been, and Westley faces off against the remaining two foes. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Princess Bride.


You know, there’s obviously no way that Morgenstern could have ever known that his story would be adapted into a film. So I find it to be a touching and poetic idea that André the Giant eventually got the role because there’s this heartbreaking symmetry to the fact that he shares so many things with the fictional background of the character he portrayed. I don’t follow it much anymore, but I grew up watching professional wrestling. It’s one of those things I loved at first, then fought against because I thought it wasn’t cool, then I tried to intellectualize it, and then I just stopped trying to fight the fact that it really was a lot of fun! But I was most certainly in the period of my life where I adored wrestling when I first watched The Princess Bride, so it’s easy to imagine how attached I became to Fezzik and André the Giant. I can now see why that man was cast, and why I was so obsessed with him: we were both shamed for showing emotions.

I’ve talked about this in different reviews both on Mark Reads and Mark Watches. During Mark Reads Harry Potter in particular, I admitted that I had been conditioned not to cry because my parents believed it wasn’t masculine. Like, I know that sounds extremely ridiculous and I’m sure you read that sentence and just went, “What???” I get that! I mean, it’s fucking absurd. My father was Japanese and Hawaiian, and the culture he was raised in made him believe that one should be quiet and not talk about upsetting things. He lived like that until the day he passed away, and it’s a reason why I was never as close to him as I would have liked. My mother, on the other hand, was far more strict than my father was about the same thing. God, I remember when she’d hit me, I’d cry because that hurt me, and she’d hit me again for crying. It was like Abuse-ception or something. I AM ALLOWED TO JOKE ABOUT MY ABUSE BECAUSE IT MAKES ME HAPPY.

But that’s honestly how my childhood was like! I have always been an extremely sensitive and emotional person. Like, okay, I am going to have to compare myself to Hermione again, but I cried when I did not get an A on a test or a project or an essay. Like, almost every single time until I was fifteen. To be fair to myself, I also lived in ABJECT FEAR that any sign of failure would upset my mother, but I also held myself to such ludicrous standards that I took these things very, very personally. I wanted so badly to please the people around me, hoping for the slightest bit of affirmation and affection, that I would become grossly upset if I thought I’d done something to prevent this.

I realize I’m talking about something that’s fairly traumatic in a lighthearted way, but I think I feel more comfortable than ever talking about what happened to me growing up. I like providing this sort of context because I want to show y’all why I love reading, and why I love fictional worlds. You know, it’s this life-changing, heart-stopping, joy-inducing thing to read something and suddenly feel like you’re not the only person in the world who felt that thing you thought had never been felt before. How does it happen? How could this writer who has never met you know you so completely and wholly? That’s not to say that it’s the only reason I like reading, and I hope I’ve demonstrated that I enjoy many other things about books. Like moral ambiguity. Or plot twists. Or shit getting real. Or every goddamn second of His Dark Materials or thinking about different ways to alter the mythology of potato babies. There’s a mythology now. What is happening to my life?

Again, as I said in yesterday’s review, I don’t think that movie could quite provide the same context as this book does for Fezzik’s character. Here we have a man who grew up feeling so alone and different for something he had no control of. People used him. They underestimated him. They used his body against him. They hated him, despised him, called him names, and they booed him. HOW COULD YOU BOO FEZZIK??? And throughout all of this, he never once developed the desire for revenge or violence. He just wanted to be loved. Like, not only is that a super perfect flawless metaphor for my whole life, it’s just fantastic writing.

help me.

It’s still a bit odd to me that I’m finding so much to write about a book where I know 90% of the plot. That gives me hope that I can do both The X-Files and LOST for Mark Watches in the future. Actually, what am I saying? I could prepare entire COURSES around both of those shows. WHO WANTS TO COME TO MARK DOES STUFF UNIVERSITY. I can’t guarantee cohesive lectures, but there will be a lot of shitty drawings of characters and angry rants about geography and butts.

Anyway, hello. Let’s sob over this:

The point was that Fezzik was alone.

In the loneliest place in the world.

Just sitting there on a rock watching the circus pull away.

Let me spit some realness at you: I was recently asked what my number one fear is, and I immediately replied with, “Dying forgotten and alone.” So yeah, Fezzik knows all of my special tragic gay pain. Thank you.

I don’t really have much commentary on Fezzik and Westley fighting beyond the fact that it’s totally fascinating to me that Fezzik’s eventual weakness is the fact that he forgot how to fight alone. This giant of a man was so used to loneliness that he surrounded himself with people and fought groups often. Like Inigo, that action was his downfall, and that’s why Westley is able to take him down.

Vizzini. Oh god, Wallace Shawn, bless your heart. There was no better person suited to be this character, and even as I read through the entire logic battle between him and Westley, it was all in his voice. (Actually, it’s very easy to slip into all of their voices while reading this book, and I actually don’t mind it at all. This cast is pretty much flawless as far as I’m concerned.) Again, the theme of all three confrontations is that some critical behavioral flaw is what undoes each person. In this case, once it’s revealed that Westley had poisoned both glasses of wine, you can see Vizzini’s error: he assumed that Westley was telling the truth. Vizzini was so eager to prove that he was the most cunning man alive that he didn’t even question the set-up. Also, it’s kind of comforting that Westley allows Vizzini to die laughing, isn’t it?

I never had a chance before to really think about the way that Westley treats Buttercup once he… kidnaps her? Frees her? Whatever, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Westley is extremely harsh with Buttercup, and I’m thinking that it’s perhaps a way to find out more information. Is she truly in love? Is he doing the right thing by saving her? I think it’s telling that it’s only after she tells him that she only loved once in her life that he chooses to say something that would identify who he really is to her. Was that why he waited? Was he testing her? You know, I think I might have just forgotten part of the movie. I just remembered that it was eels in the film and not sharks.

Oh god, more Humperdinck and Rugen next. THIS IS SO FUN.

Mark Links Stuff

– My eBook adaptations of reviews I’ve posted are on sale at MarkDoesStuff.comHarry PotterTwilight, 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 FranciscoLos AngelesSan DiegoLas VegasPhoenixTucsonEl PasoAlbuquerqueDenverSalt Lake CityBoiseSpokanePortlandSeattleVancouver B.CI 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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