When Fezzik and Inigo face Yellin, the only man left in front of the castle, he yields to them the gate key after being threatened with the possibility of having his arms torn off. From this point forward, we launch into a detailed countdown toward the wedding. At 5:30, Fezzik, Inigo and Westley enter the castle. They are instantly confronted by Count Rugen.
Meanwhile, the wedding is progressing slowly due to the old Archdean's pontifications on marriage. Humperdinck hurries him up, and at 5:31 he and Buttercup are wed.
At 5:34 Inigo makes his long-rehearsed speech to Rugen: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Rugen turns and flees.
At 5:46 Buttercup is left along in the prince's chamber, and she walks toward his wall of weaponry in search of a proper tool for suicide.
Inigo follows Rugen, at 5:37 needing Fezzik's assistance, but this requires leaving Westley alone. Inigo follows Rugen through the coridors.
At 5:48, Buttercup is halted in her suicide attempt by realizing that her Westley was lying on the bed next to her, and she is overjoyed.
Back at 5:41, Rugen flings a Florinese dagger into Inigo's stomach.
At 5:50 in the prince's room, Humperdinck enters, dives for his weapons and cries out, "To the death!" only to be countered by Westley saying, "To the pain."
At 5:42 Inigo prepares to die and apologizes to his father, who bursts into his mind and forces him to continue fighting. Inigo wrenches the knife from his bleeding stomach and pursues Rugen with an even intensified vengeance. Finally, Inigo cuts Rugen, corners him and kills him. At 5:50, he has at last taken his revenge.
Meanwhile at 5:52, Westley is explaining to Humperdinck the meaning of "To the pain," saying that if they duel and Westley wins, he will keep the prince alive, only after slicing off his wrists and ankles and nose and eyes. He will leave the ears, so that he can hear all the cries of fear at his hideousness. Having thoroughly startled Humperdinck, Westley demands him to drop his sword, and he does. Buttercup ties him up, and around this time Inigo enters, and Fezzik calls from out the window that he has found four white horses in the prince's stable so that the four of them can ride away together. But once out the window Yellin and his Brute Squad confront them. To everybody's surprise, Buttercup rescues them all by demanding as Queen that they all run inside and tend to Humperdinck's safety, and so they do.
They ride away to freedom, and Buttercup and Westley promise to outlive each other, and William Goldman ends the book. He comments that when his father read it like this, it always seemed to have ended suddenly. Only now does he read S. Morgenstern's actual ending, in which Inigo's wound reopens, Westley relapsed, Fezzik took a wrong turn and Buttercup's horse threw a shoe, while the prince's horses followed in pursuit. William Goldman enters the text here again, saying that he personally believes that they all got away, lived with squabbles and dilemmas, but mostly happily ever after. He repeats again that life is not fair, but it is fairer than death.
Two things that distinguish this chapter are time fragmentations and the loosely interpreted ending. In addressing the former, we must note that Chapter eight is divided into many fragments, each labeled with its exact time of occurrence, each following one of the four main good characters and eventually zeroing in on all of them, when they come together at the end. Everything is timed, and we move back and forth between minutes; we know that Buttercup and Westley reunite at 5:48, and we learn about this before finding that Inigo is wounded by a Florinese dagger at 5:41. Time is made into a mosaic throughout this chapter, lending a sense of urgency to the events occurring, and especially making us aware that Westley's resurrection pill is about to expire.
Goldman's detail and precision during this chapter makes us aware of the expedient resourcefulness of the characters and the essentially perfect timing of the castle break-in. It also makes the ending unrealistic, as William Goldman points out to us. This is important for the same reason that this story always juxtaposes romance and mythology and beautiful timing with mundane imperfection: to show that even in a perfect tale of heroism, nothing can be justifiably predicted. Even if Inigo, Fezzik, Westley and Buttercup make the escape of a lifetime, this does not guarantee that all will end well. Once again William Goldman teaches his readers to expect to be surprised.
The ending William's father read to him involves a simple "happily ever after," but he tells us that the original Morgenstern story does not. Things go wrong and the ending remains unconcluded, leaving it to us, the reader, to bring these characters to life and decide what to do with them. William Goldman decides that the characters do live for quite some time, quite happily. Of course aging and losing their hearing and getting into arguments, but on the whole, redeeming all the work they went through in the book to achieve some greater ending joy.
In the introduction, William Goldman challenged his readers by saying that whatever we do with this book will be of more than passing interest. He returns to this here, giving us the ending the way he wants it to it to end. We must be aware during this last bit of what he is telling us: this ending is not correct, but rather his interpretation of S. Morgenstern's work. Knowing what we do, that S. Morgenstern is William Goldman, leaves us to speculate on the nature of the book as a whole. We have to consider Goldman's reasons for creating a text within a text, and furthermore the reason for directly challenging and changing that aforementioned text. This is the major aspect of The Princess Bride, and the question that William Goldman leaves us to decide for ourselves.