Inigo and Fezzik enter the Zoo of Death and are shocked to find that the door to it is unlocked. This is because Humperdinck created the door only as a false entrance, expecting that anyone who entered through it would not survive the horrible creatures inside. But Inigo and Fezzik know nothing of this—they simply assume the albino had made a mistake. Both men smell the strong odor of animals, and both are terrified at what they might find but comforted by the other's company. In this state, they descend down the five levels.
On level one, they pass swift animals in their cages-cheetahs and hummingbirds. This poses no problem.
On level two, they pass hippos and alligators in cages-still no problem.
On the staircase to level three, the door locks behind them and the lights go out. Both men are spooked, naturally, and this feeling escalates when they are confronted with an Arabian Garstini, the world's most lethal snake, which promptly wraps its coils around the two intruders. Fezzik gasps that the snake is too strong for him, and Inigo murmurs back, "I had such rhymes for you ." Fizzik is outraged at death getting in the way of these rhymes, so he fought away from the coils, killing the snake and saving them both, only to find out that Inigo had lied about the rhymes to save them both. This horrifies Fezzik. They cross, unharmed, through cages of poisonous snakes.
On the staircase to level four, they are mobbed by king bats, a life-long fear of Fezzik's. Inigo, remembering his training on uneven terrain, swishes his sword blindly above him, ridding them of the menacing winged swarm and saving both of their lives. Fezzik then forgives him for the lie on the previous staircase, and the two men rhyme jovially as they cross the fourth level, while passing a blood eagle and what appears to be a giant squid.
On the staircase to level four, they see no threats. Unknown to them, the world's most dangerous spider, the green speckled recluse, lives behind the doorknob to the fifth level. Fezzik panicked suddenly, charged through the door toward the bed where the dead Westley lay, and Inigo stepped on the spider as he followed his friend to examine the corpse.
Fezzik and Inigo carry Westley to Miracle Max, who worked for the king for many years but was eventually fired by Humperdinck. Max shoos them away angrily until they explain that the man is already dead; Max is good with the dead, so he agrees to take a look. He then darts off to tell Valerie, his wife who poses professionally as his witch, that two potential customers have arrived. She hopes that he will help them, but he comes up with excuses why he cannot. Valerie persuades Max to find out why they need the miracle, and using a bellows cram he pumps air into Westley and asks why he must live. Westley replies in a low, almost-dead voice, "Tr ooooo luv." When Max writes it off as "to bluff," Valerie runs into the room and rails against him, calling him a liar and explaining to Inigo and Fezzik how Humperdinck ruined Max's career. This segues off into Inigo's telling Max that bringing back Westley would cause Humperdinck great suffering. Max is delighted and agrees to do it.
William Goldman interrupts here to explain that he took out a section that would remind the readers too much of The Wizard of Oz. He also explains also that if Miracle Max and Valerie sound Jewish in character, then it is because they were.
As the miracle progresses and the wedding grows closer, Max produces a golf-ball sized lump of clay that is supposed to bring Westley back to life for an hour. Meanwhile, at the castle Humperdinck has summoned Yellin and asked for even higher security, due to further Guilderian threats. Yellin is overwhelmed, knows nothing of these threats, and so decides to resign. Humperdinck refuses to let him and confides the threats are really nothing but his own cover-up for murdering his wife and declaring war on Guilder. Yellin agrees to stick around. Back at Miracle Max's, Max has just realized that he made the pill to bring Westley to life for forty minutes, not the said hour.
By this time, Fezzik and Inigo are carrying Westley along the top of the castle wall. They slide the miracle pill into his mouth and instantly he begins to speak and threaten them, an auspicious beginning. He asks a battalion of questions, and Fezzik and Inigo answer as many as they can, explaining to him that with his brains, Fezzik's strength and Inigo's steel, they must break into the castle that is now guarded by a hundred men. Westley deems it impossible and prepares to return to death, but his comrades will not let him. Finally he schemes that with a wheelbarrow and a Holocaust cloak, they just might be able to figure something out. We switch to Buttercup, who is calmly at the altar ready to be rescued by Westley, and while outside the castle a Holocaust-cloak- clad Fezzik is on fire, claiming to be the Dread Pirate Roberts as he is being wheeled toward the guards, who all flee.
One can imagine this novel's plot being shaped like an "M". The plot coasts from deeply sad up high into excitement and promise, and then dips down to tragedy as soon as Westley is captured and killed. Then, it rises again afterward, to the high-spirited and somewhat humorous raid of the castle, to a strange and ambiguous final ending. In this chapter, the storyline is rising out of its median low, recovering from Westley's death, and allowing us to focus again on adventure, like inside the Zoo of Death, and on character quirks, like those of Max and Valerie. The tone speeds up here, resourcefulness rises again.
The jaunt through the Zoo of Death reinforces Inigo and Fezzik's dire need for each other and their jovial acceptance of this. They save each other's lives easily and willingly, forgive each other's sins and move on to the next level. Both have moments of panic, and both make it through alive. We see, however, that they do need a planner, since their deductions and schemes are not always the brightest. Once they have carried Westley to Miracle Max's house, it is fairly clear that he will come back to life.
Max and Valerie are an interesting addition to the story, perhaps because they represent what may become of Buttercup and Westley if they ever reunite and grow old together. Valerie has lost her hearing but still knows how to subtly coerce her husband into projects. Max distrusts everybody but prides himself on the talent of his younger life, and therefore is willing to take a chance with Westley to show off his still-impressive abilities with the dead. They are fantastically matched, ridiculous in their roles toward each other, imperfect but essentially happy—the way we expect that Buttercup and Westley to be.
William Goldman himself is growing cheerier in his comments by this chapter. He even notes in one of his interruptions, "You just know that the resurrection pill has got to work. You don't spend all this time with a nutty couple like Max and Valerie to have it fail." The basic order of the story resumes. Just as we knew that the sharks would not eat Buttercup, we know that Westley must live through this. Our faith returns that the The Princess Bride is a happy ending fairy tale, and it remains this way until the end. But before we could regain this confidence, William Goldman needed to shake us up. We may or may not have been taking the story seriously, so in the previous chapter he needed to reinforce to us several very serious values of his own about the world, fairness, writing, and death. In this chapter, he returns us to the optimism of the adventure we have been expecting.