The Theme of True Love in The Princess Bride

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Notably, the thematic narrative of true love in The Princess Bride needs to be critically analyzed. Evidently, the author of this novel, William Goldman, sought to depict true love as the main theme (Gale 38). It is not disputable that there are different instances where true love strikes the readers’ mind. In the book, Goldman uses true love to set the plot in motion.  The Buttercup and Westley act as the main characters on which the author illuminates the true love to the readers and the audiences.  After the two separated, Buttercup sworn that she would not love again, thus showing the level of love they shared (Gale 48). However, although the theme of true love is illustrated throughout the novel, this essay seeks to show that the friendship and love among the characters are filled with revenge, pain, and deception.

In The Princess Bride, revenge is one of the important motives for the actions of several characters (Gale 49). The love between buttercup and Westley is surrounded by vengeful attitudes and actions, which are used by the author to advance the interpretation of true love in the society. For example, Prince Humperdinck is depicted as an agent of revenge as is fueled by his inferiority complex towards Buttercup. Notably, Humperdinck subjects Westley to extreme torture as a way of revenging how Buttercup makes him feel inferior and shameful (Goldman 23).  However, in order to show the viewer why Buttercup admires his character, Westley did not revenge against Humperdinck. In this instance, Goldman seeks to illustrate through Humperdinck’s revenge that true love involves sacrifices.

On the other hand, true love is characterized by pain, which is also used by Goldman as tool for plot and character development. For example, Buttercup experiences pain when she believed that Westley was dead: this made her accept to marry Prince Humperdinck (Goldman 52). Additionally, this kind of pain would also make Buttercup to take the daily horse rides to the country, in order to escape and comfort herself. Notably, Goldman sought to illustrate the depth of emotional pain that Buttercup was experiencing (Gale 39). Further, the torture that Westley underwent through the Machine was a clear indication of the physical pain that he was prepared to take for the sake of true love. Westley also felt pain when he thought that Buttercup had betrayed him. Consequently, he decided to ensure that his identity was hidden from Buttercup for a long time.

Finally, the true love in the novel is filled with deception (Gale 71).  Evidently, it would be difficult for Goldman to portray revenge, pain, and love without including aspects of false lies and identities.  The relationship between Buttercup and Humperdinck is based on deception. For example, she pretended to love Humperdinck in order to save Westley from torture (Goldman 65). On the other hand, while Humperdinck falsely claims to be in love with Buttercup, he is trying to use this relationship in order to use her in framing Guilder for murder before starting a battle. 

The aim of this essay was to show that Goldman uses revenge, pain, and deception to advance the theme of true love in The Princess Bride. While it is undisputable that Westley and Buttercup were in true love, they underwent instances of pain, revenge, and personal sacrifices. Goldman’s main objective was to illustrate to the viewer that true love calls for more than personal interests.

Works Cited

Gale, Cengage L. Study Guide for William Goldman's "the Princess Bride.". Detroit: Gale,

Cengage Learning, n.d. Print.

Goldman, William. The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale

of True Love and High Adventure. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. Internet


September 25, 2023


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