The Morals of the Story: 23 Life Lessons From “The Princess Bride”

TV & Movies |

The movie “The Princess Bride” is a cult classic made in 1987 and directed by Rob Reiner. It was arguably one of the best movies of the year, and some would say of the entire decade.

Who could forget Mandy Patinkin—in his self-professed favorite role of his entire career—as Inigo Montoya? Or Andre the Giant as the gentle thug Fezzik? Or Billy Crystal as Max the Miracle Man?

Cary Elwes and Robin Wright were also perfectly cast as Westley and Buttercup. Together, they added up to a magical romp of a movie.

As spot-on as the casting was, though, what made this delightful film into a cult classic was undoubtedly the exquisitely quotable quotes.

The genre of The Princess Bride is almost impossible to classify, but it does have elements of a classic fairy tale. Like any good fairy tale, “The Princess Bride” has a central moral: True Love Conquers All. 

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But on closer examination, we find that there were many mini-morals hidden in the dialogue of this classic film.

Let’s explore them, shall we?

1. Vizzini: “Inconceivable!”

Nothing is truly inconceivable. If we can dream it, we can do it (or die trying).

2. Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Never underestimate the value of a good dictionary.

3. Inigo: “I swear on the soul of my father...you will reach the top alive.”

a. There is still a place for honor in this world, even in the killing business.

b. Never pass up the chance to help a fellow human up a cliff.

4. Inigo: “I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you.”

Westley: “That does put a damper on our relationship.”

Good relationships require open and honest communication.

5. Inigo: “You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.”

The Man in Black: “You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.”

Who says competition can’t be civil?

6. Inigo: “I know something you don’t know...I am not left-handed.”

Man in Black: “There’s something I ought to tell you.”

Inigo: “Tell me.”

Man in Black: “I am not left-handed, either.”

Never stop developing your skills.

7. Man in Black: “Rest well and dream of large women.”

We may not all have the same taste, but you do you, dude.

8. Vizzini: “Finish him. Finish him your way.”

Fezzik: “Oh good, my way. Thank you Vizzini. What’s my way?”

Vizzini: “Pick up one of those rocks. Get behind a boulder. In a few minutes the man in black will come running around the bend. The minute his head is in view, hit it with the rock.”

Fezzik: “My way’s not very sportsman-like.”

It’s important to follow the rules. Even a hired thug should have a conscience.

9. Fezzik: “I just want you to feel you’re doing well. I hate for people to die embarrassed.”

Even those who are about to die appreciate a little kindness.

10. Vizzini: “You're trying to kidnap what I've rightfully stolen.”

So much for honor among thieves.

11. Vizzini: “Clearly, I can’t choose the wine that is in front of you...”

It’s not always clear which cup you should drink from, but eventually you must make a choice. Good luck with that!

12. Vizzini: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line... ha ha ha ha ha ha!” ....Thunk (falls down dead).

Arrogance rarely pays.

13. Westley: “You're that smart?”

Vizzini: “Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?”

Westley: “Yes.”

Vizzini: “Morons.”

See #12. Nobody likes a know-it-all.

14. Buttercup: “We'll never survive.”

Westley: “Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.”

One of the first rules of critical thinking: “Because that’s the way it’s always been done” is not a valid reason.

15. Buttercup: “What about the ROUS’s?”

Westley: “The rodents of unusual size? I don't believe they exist.”

• We all run into ROUS’s from time to time. The trick is to keep your wits (and a good support network) about you.

• Sometimes it’s not fake news.

16. Valerie: “Think it'll work?”

Max: “It'll take a miracle!”

Miracles don’t always have the results we are expecting. Careful what you wish for!

17. Prince Humperdinck: “Please consider me as an alternative to suicide.”

Every evil prince needs a good pick-up line.

18. Max: “He's only mostly dead. If he were all dead, there's only one thing you can do.”

Inigo: “And what's that?”

Max: “Go through his pockets and look for loose change.”

Never let an opportunity pass you by.

19. Fezzik: “You’ve been mostly dead all day.”

We all have days when we feel “mostly dead.” Sooner or later, we have to get moving. Even when we know we may not come out alive.

20. Westley: “Life is pain. Anyone who says different is trying to sell you something.”

Even if you’re a romantic at heart, it’s good to have a practical side.

21. Max: “Don't rush me sonny. You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.”

An oldie but goodie: Patience is a virtue.

22. Humperdinck: “First things first. To the death!”

Not all princes are good. Sometimes you meet a Humperdinck. You need to know when to let go.

And the most important lesson of all?

23. True Love can conquer all, but only if you’re willing to work for it. You may eventually get your happily ever after, but first you have to brave the Fire Swamp.

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Paula Clark

Writer

Paula lives in Maine with her significant other, Gary; their dog, Jackson; and their cat, Isabelle. She’s still waiting for the trickle-down effect to kick in, and she’s crazy about cheesy ‘80s movies...but shhhh! Don’t tell anyone!