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The Princess Bride

Chapter Five

Summary Chapter Five

The man in black unties Buttercup and releases her blindfold, explaining that in fact both cups were poisoned because he had made himself immune to iocane powder. Buttercup is quite frightened, begs him to release her, and ultimately is forced to run with him along the Guilder terrain. Soon Humperdinck's armada approaches, and the man in black questions Buttercup about his hunting techniques, then about the coming marriage. He accuses her of frigidity and inability to love, and she glowers at him and pushes him into the adjacent ravine. As he falls, his voice carries up to her ears, a faint, "As you wish," and of course she then realizes that the man in black is in fact Westley, so she throws herself down after him.

Here the narrative focuses on Humperdinck. Humperdinck arrives at Guilder and recreates the battles of steel, strength, and smarts from just tracks, scents, and remnants—demonstrating his incredible hunting prowess. He continues following tracks and understands that his princess bride has been led by her kidnapper onto the ravine floor, which leads dead into the Fire Swamp, a frightening place.

The narrative switches back to the lovers, Westley and Buttercup. "S. Morgenstern" steps in to say that he feels unfair giving a descriptive account of the reunion between Westley and Buttercup, and William Goldman then steps in, saying how unfair he finds this. He proceeds to explain that he wrote his own reunion scene but his editor refused to let it in the book, and he gives a New York address and encourages readers to write in to request it. We are told that there were tears, embraces, and soon an argument during the reunion, but this is all the eavesdropping we are allowed. Buttercup and Westley enter the Fire Swamp and quickly encounter its three terrors. The flame bursts are a cinch. The Snow Sand almost drowns Buttercup, but Westley rescues her. The Rodents of Unusual Size attack them but are quickly burnt to a crisp when Westley rolls them into a flame burst.

During these adventures, Westley explains how he lived through the Dread Pirate Roberts attack. He survived because he asked for his life and proved his usefulness to Roberts, so that finally the pirate retired and turned the ship and name over to him. The name was quite an important inheritance—we learn that it has been passed from man to man over the past fifteen years to inspire the necessary fear in the plundered ships. The lovers finally exit the forest, but instead of having a clear path to Westley's pirate ship, they are met by Humperdinck and his cronies, who demand that they surrender. Buttercup quickly agrees after making Humperdinck promise not to hurt Westley. She chooses life without love over death with love, leaving Westley to Count Rugen's evil devices and disposal.

Analysis

This long chapter possesses a more epic nature than any of the others. All the basic elements are here: the princess is saved from a loveless marriage by a band of murderous kidnappers, then saved from the kidnappers by the love of her life. The savior is godlike in his abilities to best the best in each field of heroism: leaned skill, strength, intelligence, and everything seems fine until the loveless husband reappears to claim his wife. This is when the heroine slips, choosing life over love. This chapter contains the bulk of the book's adventure, as well as important notes on the histories of the main male characters.

We learn the full dynamic among Vizzini, Fezzik and Inigo, and the histories of the latter two characters give us insight into the reason beneath this dynamic. Vizzini is calculating and heartless and rather pitiful; Fezzik is laden with self-doubt and a certain awkward fear; Inigo is quiet, pensive, fair. Together they stand as allegories, each the best in the world at his specific skill, posing a daunting obstacle course for Westley, who bests them all, showing himself to be a truly remarkable individual. We now know why Buttercup loves him.