Princess Bride Re-Analysis

(PBR) analysis by Denise Bartolome

“Life is not fair…it’s just fairer than death”

It’s all about PAIN, a main theme in the novel.

Westley coming back to life after being fed the fantasmagoria concocted by Miracle Max and Valerie.


William Goldman supposedly came in contact with a writer named Edith Neisser. One day, while “sipping iced tea” she apparently told him that “life isn’t fair…we tell our children that it is, but it’s a terrible thing to do. It’s not only a lie, it’s a cruel lie. Life is not fair, and it never has been, and it’s never going to be” (p.217).

111 pages later, at one of the endings of the novel, Goldman writes about happy endings. Westley, Buttercup, Inigo, and Fezzik had ridden away on white horses. Goldman wrote that

“yes…they got away…But that doesn’t mean I think they had a happy ending either. Because, in my opinion anyway, they squabbled a lot, and Buttercup lost her looks eventually, and one day Fezzik lost a fight and some hotshot kid whipped Inigo with a sword and Westley was never able to really sleep sound because of Humperdinck maybe being on the trail.

I’m not trying to make this a downer, understand. I mean, I really do think that love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops. But I also have to say, for the upty-umpth time, that life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”

It seems pretty obvious but if you choose to read into it (which I did), this can be seen as a metaphor for happiness and sadness. Interesting turn of phrase since usually, phrases are meant to reveal something about life. Well, it still does but the metaphor comes from using the concept of life and death to reveal something about life’s happiness and life’s deep sadness. We see evidence of this in certain passages in the book. Each character, at some point, contemplates about what makes them happy and what makes them sad. And every time they talk about their deep pit of sad scenarios, death is recognized.

1. Buttercup would rather die than live without Westley.
2. Westley would rather die than live knowing that his love is marrying his murderer while he’s helpless (this was when Westley’s body was immobile).
3. Inigo Montoya would rather die than be defeated by the man who killed his father.
4. Fezzik is deathly afraid of being alone and especially is deathly afraid of losing Inigo, his life partner of rhymes.

It’s all about pain because there is pain involved in fear and the actual falling into a pit of depression. There’s an entire section starting on p.233 where The Count uses The Machine on Westley and “the science” of pain is revealed.

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One thought on ““Life is not fair…it’s just fairer than death”

  1. Pingback: Goldman’s trickery and what it means « Princess Bride Re-Analysis

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