As I’m sure many of you know, The Princess Bride is one of the greatest movies ever made. There’s love, sword fighting, giants, a little Fred Savage and Miracle Max. But there’s one thing that’s always bothered me about the movie. When Westley is posing as the Dread Pirate Roberts and Buttercup says, “I have loved more deeply than a killer like yourself could ever dream” Westley raises his fist as though to strike Buttercup. He says, “that was a warning, Highness. Next time my hand flies on its own. Where I come from, there are penalties when a woman lies,” yet two seconds later he’s all “aaas yooou wiiissh” as he tumbles down the hillside (after Buttercup pushes him) and she’s all, “Oh my sweet Westley what have I done?” Now, if my boyfriend (ex-boyfriend, love of my life etc) tried to hit me there’s no way I’d jump down a steep hill after him. He’d be lucky if he ever heard from me again.
Yet, abuse is an ever-present (horrible) occurrence. According to a recent study, “on the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.” The phenomenon is even more common amongst young, white couples.
Until recently, I thought domestic abuse was largely a thing of the past, or (please don’t hate me) something that occurred in poorer, less educated families. Yet many of the women interviewed in the article are intelligent and hold advanced degrees. At the risk of sounding like I’m blaming the victim, I agree with those experts who believe part of the problem stems from women’s general increase in power in our society. Is women’s power a bad thing? Absolutely not. It only causes harm when we, as women, become too confident in our power and are unable to ask for help. Which seems like a general trend. I know that I hate asking for help or showing signs of “weakness,” but we have to realize that some situations shouldn’t be dealt with individually. As the saying goes, “it takes a village.”
I don’t want to say abuse was ever acceptable, but it definitely isn’t now. Yet, Westley’s almost abuse isn’t the only thing that relates to today’s (scary) romantic world. Humperdink marries, or at least plans on marrying Buttercup, in order to kill her. His hope is that her death will cause a war between two countries. I’m assuming he hoped for increased land or riches or something although the outcome is never specified. Yet, I highly doubt that Gabe Watson or Shrien Dewani were planning on starting a war when they killed their wives shortly after the wedding.
This terrifies me. Especially since I like to think I’m strong and smart etc, but I’ve never been in that situation. How do I really know how I would respond? Add to that, I tend to like the “bad boys,” at least in literature. As if the fear of rejection, STDs and other intensely scary dating and relationship worries weren’t enough, we now have to think about abuse, or worse, death.
While the Westley character never really appealed to me (when Buttercup is about to kill herself, why does he think a comment on the perfectness of her boobs is appropriate?), I want to find mine. I want to have the kiss that ranks in the top four in the history of the world. But, now I’m afraid that I’ll be too afraid to find him, or that when I do, I’ll be too afraid to make that leap of faith.