Major Themes of The Princess Bride
Many of the character’s actions are motivated by the power of true love. Westley survives the Dread Pirate Roberts and is revived by Miracle Max all thanks to his immense love for Buttercup. Buttercup is prepared to take her own life than forsake her love for Westley, and to escape with him she forsakes her submissive role to order the guards at florin castle as queen to stand down and make way for them.
Inigo’s pure love and sheer loyalty for his father motivate his thirst for revenge for all those years. And finally but also most comically the love and loyalty that exists between Fezzik and Inigo that leads to their miraculous reunion.
Arrogance and Cowardice
The demise of three of the main characters seems to be a product of sheer arrogance. Vizzini’s arrogance during his battle of wits against The Man in Black leads to his death. Count Rugen and Prince Humperdinck both share the same character flaw of cowardice that is masked by their arrogance and sadistic acts, in reality they are too cowardly to ever fight fair. In the face of conflict both Rugen and Humperdinck flee and forfeit unveiling their true essence.
Also a main theme, loyalty carries on as the common feature in numerous characters in the novel. Buttercup’s loyalty remains to Westley even when she agrees to marry Humperdinck, her heart remains loyal only to Westley.
Meanwhile Westley’s own loyalty is evident through his constant pursuit of Buttercup even after all this time he would happily risk his own life for her and respond to her every command with “ As you wish”. Inigo’s loyalty towards his father and his quest for revenge never ceases even after years, he relentlessly seeks to track down the object of his vengeance.
The Zoo of Death
The most striking reflection of Rugen and Humperdinck’s cowardice is the Zoo of Death. They assemble the deadliest beasts and torture them in order to mask their own cowardice. In fact, they are both unable to inflict any pain outside the Zoo of Death and when prompted in ways beyond their control they forfeit.
The biggest proof of that is Humperdinck’s refusal to fight Westley in fairness and instead places him in the fifth level of the zoo to be tortured by a machine rather than fight him man to man.