Villain Spotlight: Prince Humperdinck
Greetings my traitorous friends, Lilith has hijacked the Villain Spotlight this week, bringing you two posts about The Princess Bride in one day. Today I want to spotlight Prince Humperdinck, a fellow treacherous scoundrel that we all love and admire. There are so many vile monsters we could talk about from this movie, including Vizzini, the albino torturer, and the infamous 6-fingered man. But Prince Humperdinck is probably the most wicked of them all.
Humperdinck is a classic conniving mastermind. He puts on a good royal show for the crowds and his people, but behind the scenes he is plotting a complicated scheme that will start a war. Ever the mayhem loving individual, many great villains try to or successfully start wars.
Humperdinck is set to inherit the throne from his dying father, and is initially given the option of marrying the princess from the lands of Guilder, though being as vain as he is malicious Humperdinck declines. He instead requests to marry a commoner, Buttercup, though her heart is still wishing her long lost love Westley returns.
Poor Buttercup is kidnapped before they can marry, but it soon is divulged that the kidnapping and events from then on were all masterminded by none other than our primary antagonist, Prince Humperdinck. His plan was to have Buttercup murdered on the shores of Guilder, thus inspiring a war between his nation and that of Guilder’s so that he might win more land. Power and control, ever the goal of so many villains.
And Humperdinck has even more traits making him a classic villain. In addition to trying to start wars and plotting to murder his fiancé, Humperdinck is a masterful liar. While he promises to let Westley live if Buttercup agrees to uphold their betrothel after they are reunited, he of course skillfully lies to her, and reveals another villainous trait: his admiration of torture. Of course it is the 6-fingered man who designed the torture device, but Humperdinck is the one strong enough to use it to its maximum capacity, effectively nearly killing Westley.
Another great thing about Humperdinck: he knows how to prioritize. Afterall, being a villain is not always the glamorous, torture filled days we all desire. Humperdinck acknowledges this in one of my favorite quotes in the whole movie:
“Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.”
After many plots of Humperdinck’s are foiled, he is ready to murder his new wife in cold blood. But alas, Westley and his friends are able to beat him yet again, this time undermining him with a weakness common amongst many villains: vanity and cowardice. Still, all things considered, Humperdinck is a pretty great villain, leaving us all with someone to look up to.
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