Couple of the Week: Westley & Buttercup (The Princess Bride)
Who’s your romantic archetype?
I mean, who’s the couple you look to whenever you think about what romance really is? The pair that defined everything for you, from the time you were young. For me... True love, kisses, the progression of romantic relationships, daring quests, the struggle between good and evil, good writing, why you should never get in a land war in Asia… The Princess Bride played an enormous role in defining these things and more in the world of little Alli.
(Sorry for the list. But it was a necessary evil. I’ve noticed people can’t help but list things when they talk about The Princess Bride. Incidentally, it’s a book with many lists in it. And it’s a work of such scope, such a life-changing mix of good humor and wisdom, that it’s almost impossible to encapsulate without resorting to a list of its many components.)
Buttercup and Westley, the archetypal couple. They themselves are a parody of the “daring hero and beautiful princess” archetype, and yet – they’re so much more than that. They loom large in the imagination of anyone who’s ever seen the movie or read the book (YOU HAVE TO READ THE BOOK. DON’T ASK WHY. JUST DO IT, PREFERABLY RIGHT NOW OR MAYBE IN A FEW MINUTES IF YOU’RE CURRENTLY BUSY PERFORMING SURGERY OR HUNTING DOWN THE MAN WHO KILLED YOUR FATHER) as everything we secretly aspire to in our romantic relationships.
Westley is dashingly handsome, brave, and all around heroic. Even though he’s a mere hunky farm boy at the beginning of the story, his smarts and perseverance turn him into the ultimate catch. And even though she definitely doesn’t deserve him most of the time, who is he in love with eternally? Bratty Princess Buttercup, that’s who.
Only she isn’t bratty, after all. She learns, throughout the course of the tale, the meaning of true love. She is fearless and spunky and kind of dumb sometimes but she makes up for that, or at least I think she does, with the depth of her affections. Okay, so maybe she’s kind of a damsel in distress who skates by on hotness points, BUT IT’S FINE because being really, really good looking is sort of a talent.
The point is, Westley and Buttercup have something special. They must, right? Because they’ve stayed in my mind all this time as the couple to be.
In reality, it’s not them. As you can see from my description, it’s certainly not these characters themselves that captivated little me all those years ago. It’s not Westley and Buttercup – it’s their story. The adventure they have together.
I’ve always wanted my love story to be one of adventure – the romance is secondary, really. It’s a beautiful side effect of being on a crazy, fun, perilous, transformative journey with someone you find incredibly good looking. (Also you like what’s on the inside of them. No, not their organs. Their ~soul~. Or their brain, or personality, or whatever you want to call it.)
So this week, let’s stop looking for “the one,” and start looking for adventure. You never know; someday you might look at the person adventuring beside you, and realize every time they were saying “As you wish,” they really meant, “I f***ing love the sh** out of you.” <3