The Satirical Theme of The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

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Satire with a funny twist. In the novel The Princess Bride, William Goldman satirizes both fairy tales and the standard literary process through his characters and their actions. Westley, a poor farmer, falls in love with the far from perfect maiden, Buttercup, but has to sail away in order to find his fortunes. Years later, Buttercup, thinking that Westley abandoned her, is forcibly engaged to Prince Humperdinck, a cruel and calculating man. Vizzini, Fezzik, and Inigo, three mysterious kidnappers, abduct the princess in hopes of causing war between the great nations of Guilder and Florin. These events and characters mirror those in a common fairy tale, but with many twists to them. The author, William Goldman, uses both his role as the editor and writer to bring the fairy tale to new light, in order to ridicule the traditional literary structure. He is not actually editing his own novel, in fact he is intentionally including annotations that perhaps would normally be part of an editing process, but are included in The Princess Bride to mock tropes of other fairy tales and the literary process as a whole. Through the portrayal of his characters as archetypes and their flaws, in addition to his unorthodox writing style which allows his to annotate directly in the novel, Goldman satirizes both the literary process and the standard fairy tale.

Goldman parodies the traditional literary structure by acting as the editor, this allows him to purposely include annotations that mock tropes of the literary process. When the supposed author, S. Morgenstern, is about to explain how Buttercup becomes the princess of Florin, Goldman edits it all out calling it “105 pages where nothing happens” (94). Goldman’s supposed deletion of this large ...

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... typical archetype. These characters are obviously supposed to mirror the archetypes that are common in fairy tales, but their flaws are contradictions to the archetypes that they are supposed to represent; through this Goldman mocks typical and standard fairy tales.

Through his portrayal of characters and unorthodox style of writing throughout the fairy tale, Goldman pokes fun at the literary process and ordinary fairy tales. Through his fairy tale, The Princess Bride, Goldman ridicules numerous tropes of fairy tales and simultaneously critiques overdone expositions. Every character represents an archetype of a common fairy tale, but they all have glaring flaws that directly contradict how they are supposed to act. William Goldman sets forth his satirical theme that the literary industry’s rigid rules reflect its inability to adapt in an ever changing society.
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