Prince Humperdinck

Prince Humperdinck

Prince Humperdinck is the villain of William Goldman's 1973 comic adventure novel, "The Princess Bride". In Rob Reiner's 1987 film adaptation, he is portrayed by Chris Sarandon.

Humperdinck is the prince of the fictional kingdom of Florin. While a peerless hunter, beneath his cold, mighty demeanor he is actually a vain, selfish coward.

He plans to marry Buttercup, the story's heroine, ostensibly so he can inherit the throne from his senile father and father an heir. He has hidden plans, however; he hires the criminals Vizzini, Íñigo Montoya, and Fezzik to kidnap and kill her, hoping to implicate the rival nation of Guilder in her death so he can start a war. Her true love Westley (disguised as the Dread Pirate Roberts) defeats his assassins and saves her, however. After tracking them through the Fire Swamp, he reclaims Buttercup and throws Westley into the Pit of Despair, his secret dungeon, to be tortured by Count Rugen, his second-in-command. When Buttercup threatens suicide if she is not reunited with Westley, Humperdinck pretends to respect her wishes and send for his rival's return, confident that the other man will be dead long before the wedding.

When Humperdinck accidentally reveals that he didn't send for Westley, Buttercup loses her temper and calls him a coward. Enraged, he descends into the Pit, where Rugen has Westley attached to a machine that drains years of life away, and turns it to "maximium", killing him.

He forces Buttercup to marry him later that night, planning to strangle her and blame it on Guilder. He is thwarted by Westley, who returned to life with help from Fezzik, Íñigo and Miracle Max, the king's former "Miracle Man," who had been fired by Humperdinck. Westley challenges him to a duel, even though Westley can barely stand due to the aftereffects of being resurrected. Humperdinck is unaware of Westley's condition and agrees to duel him "to the death!" But Westley warns him that it will be "to the pain" instead, and explains what this means: he will not kill Humperdinck but leave him hideously deformed. Westley describes in detail what he will do to Humperdinck once the prince is at his mercy. Terrified, Humperdick surrenders, and is left tied to a chair in the honeymoon suite of his own castle as Westley escapes with his bride.

References

William Goldman, "The Princess Bride" (1973).


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