Friday, March 14, 2014

A Closer Look At The Princess Bride

Here are some literary aspects of The Princess Bride that really stand out to me:

Creative Commons 2.0/Jake Bouma

1. Sentence Fragments

“All was gone. Hope? Gone. Future? Gone. All the driving forces of his life. Gone. Snuffed out. Beaten. Dead.” (271)

In this particular case, he is trying to display Inigo’s terrible hopelessness when he finds the man in black dead. The fragments supplement the desperation. There is no need for extra flowery language here. The emotion behind the words is more striking when it’s a skeleton.
2. Dialogue

This bit is a mixture of colloquialism and onomatopoeia. For instance, when a character’s jaw is broken and therefore wired shut, of course he will not be able to talk normally. No, instead he’ll say things like “Zz’z zzzzz zz zz zzzzzzzzz” (143). Or an old man who unintelligibly mumbles, “I’ve beee mumbbble mumbbble Humpmummmble engamumble” (71). Or a clergyman with a speech impediment? No problem. “wuv wiw fowwow you fowever” (301). It’s another wonderful aspect of hearing it read aloud or reading it on the page.

3. Playing with the Setting

Throughout the book, the reader is given hints about when this story took place. The thing is they don’t make sense. For instance, in the first chapter there are many parenthetical phrases that tell us things about the time: “(This was after mirrors.)” (36) or “(This was after Europe.)” (40) or even “(This was after taste too, but only just.)” (41). Those may make a little bit of sense, but I reveled in their strangeness. My favorite parenthetical interjections are: “(This was after stew, but so is everything. When the first man first clambered from the slime and made his first home on land, what he had for supper that first night was stew.)” (42) and “(This was after taxes. But everything is after taxes. Taxes were here even before stew.)” (44).

4. Narration Form

He uses figurative “middle men” to tell the story for him. They allow Goldman to add his own commentary whenever he wants, which enhances the novelty of the story. I've said this before, but my favorite insert that Goldman put in his book is directed to children:

“Look. (Grownups skip this paragraph.) I’m not about to tell you this book has a tragic ending, I already said in the first line how it was my favorite in all the world. But there’s a lot of bad stuff coming up, torture you’ve already been preparing for, but there’s worse. There’s death coming up. And you better understand this: some of the wrong people die. Be ready for it.” (210)

Goldman, William. The Princess Bride. New York: Random House, Inc., 2003. Print

1 comment:

  1. I really love the idea about playing with the setting. "But everything is after taxes." That one made me laugh, a quiet inner laugh since I am in the library, but a laugh all together.

    I think you have a strong paper here if you can show a strong connection between these ideas. /shrug But I am back to thinking about setting. And thinking of setting in AIW and how it seems to be ever changing.