Hero’s Journey in The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride, a novel of “True Love and High Adventure” by William Goldman, is a literary marvel that has etched its way into the shortlist of classical books. The story revolves around two star-crossed lovers, Westley and Buttercup, who are separated by pirates, a dream of moving to America, and a corrupt Prince Humperdinck. What happens? Westley comes in and saves Buttercup with the help of unlikely allies. As we analyze this further, is Westley really a hero; or is he saving Buttercup because she is the most beautiful woman in the world?
What if true heroism is found through other characteristics, like persistence, or courtesy? These new requisites for heroism point to a new character, Inigo Montoya, who is kind to everyone he meets, and is thorough and persistent in his trials. Although this is highly debatable, Inigo Montoya is the true hero of The Princess Bride. To begin with, the best way to see who is more heroic is from a perspective. Inigo Montoya’s intentions are to kill Count Rugen because he murdered his father, Domingo Montoya as explained in The Princess Bride, “The noble [Count Rugen] killed him then, with no warning; a flash of the nobleman’s sword and Domingo’s heart was torn to pieces” (Goldman 64). In the end, Inigo accomplishes his goal, killing Count Rugen.
This may seem like a happy ending to the subplot between the Count and Inigo, but Inigo accomplished the greater good by getting rid of Count Rugen forever, who was Prince Humperdinck’s minion, and a sadistic person who loved to inflict and study pain on innocent people. Westley, on the other hand, might seem like a hero. He outsmarted and killed the evil Sicilian, beat Inigo in a sword duel, and beat Fezzik in a fight. What’s more heroic than that? Just that the fact that he didn’t get rid of Prince Humperdinck. He left him in a chair for his henchmen to find and release him while he and Buttercup escaped. (Goldman 183) That is not a very heroic thing because he isn’t thinking about other people. Humperdinck’s plan was to kill Buttercup and wage war on Guilder. Now that she is gone, he could do that and hurt a lot of innocent people just because of his satisfaction of love. Westley would then be living like a king on his pirate ship, while Prince Humperdinck continues his evil. Happy ending or not, it is not very heroic. Inigo, on the other hand, killed the Count and got rid of a pain loving sadist, and saved who knows how many more test subjects for his evil pain machine. In addition, Inigo is more courteous and persistent than Westley. He is courteous because he is very fair with other people.
During the duel between him and Westley, he gives Westley a chance to get lifted onto the top of the cliff so he doesn’t have to painstakingly climb the next 40 feet. He also gives Westley a chance to recover after he is safely on top of the cliff. (Goldman 72). Inigo is also persistent because when he was young, his whole life was shattered before his eyes as his father was killed by the infamous Count Rugen, this sparked a major conflict between them, and Inigo had spent his whole life since, training to become a master at fencing so he could finally defeat the Count in honorable battle, and avenge his father. (Goldman 68). These both are great examples of characteristics in a real hero, because a true hero never gives up, and he is always courteous while doing the right thing while being a fair and honest being. Inigo helped Westley on the cliffs to make it a more fairer fight for him, and he never gave up on his course to avenge his father and eliminate Count Rugen. Furthermore, Inigo Montoya is a true hero because his timeline matches The Hero’s Journey.
The Hero’s Journey is a template for a common journey of a hero in his story, invented by Joseph Campbell. He researched and found a common frame for all tales in which a hero follows a sequence of events: The early childhood, where it explains the to-be-hero’s early life. It tells us whether or not he or she has a special ability that sets the hero apart from The call to adventure, where the hero accepts an adventure, which will change his life. This is a apex moment in the hero’s career. Crossing the threshold is when our hero crosses the boundary in which the normal world is all different, and there is no turning back. He or she must move forward with their adventure. Challenges; Here, our hero is greeted with a set of challenges. Our hero may have to choose between a life or death scenario to accomplish more. The mentor or the special weapon. Here, our hero meets unlikely allies and/or get a signature weapon or item they are known for. The return home. This is when our hero finishes his or her quest. They have mastered the unknown and will never be the same again. (Campbell) Considering these steps, Inigo’s life seeming reflect these steps, just like every hero’s life. Inigo’s early childhood was spent with his dad, Domingo Montoya, and what set him apart from everybody else was that he had potential to be a good fencer. Inigo’s call to adventure was when Count Rugen killed his father, and whether he wanted it or not, Yeste took him in. (Goldman 66).
Inigo crossed his threshold when he left Yeste, ready to pursue his life goal of learning to fence, and finding Count Rugen. Then sadly, his challenges started when he had a hard time finding the Count. He was the best sword fighwter in all lands, but he had shriveled into a drunk, and went into a depression. (Goldman 70). Then his unlikely mentor, Vizzini the evil Sicilian took him in and started a criminal organization. Inigo also used his special weapon, the six-fingered sword to do his work and to defeat all his enemies. Sadly, Inigo does not have a return home because the novel abruptly ends with Inigo, Westley, Buttercup, and Fezzik all fleeing from Prince Humperdinck. All in all, Inigo can be considered the true unsung hero of ‘The Princess Bride’ in many ways. But people may be wondering; so what?
Well, Inigo being the hero proves many things about The Princess Bride, and it’s connections to society. The author, William Goldman tries to tell us that heroes can be found in many different ways, just like an antihero. They don’t have to be the main character, and all you need is heroic qualities like Inigo Montoya.
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