Friday, October 31, 2014

WBI: Prince Humperdinck

Mwahahahaha Happy Halloween to you!

And, to commemorate such a special day, we’ll be doing our first WBI analysis on (da-dadada-da-da!) Prince Humperdinck, from The Princess Bride. The movie. We’ll stick with one medium.

Photo Credit:
Florin’s own Prince Humperdinck is planning a war. With the king infirmed and neighboring lands ripe for attacking, Humperdinck and his closest advisor, Count Rugen, engages himself to the most beautiful woman in the world—already planning her demise. His bride-to-be, Buttercup, is captured by Humperdinck’s hit men, to be executed and left on the Guilder plains. However, Humperdinck’s plans are interrupted by an unruly pirate (Buttercup’s true love, Wesley) whom Humperdinck captures, tortures, and later executes. In light of the distraction, he plans to strangle Buttercup himself on their wedding night, but is ultimately bested by Wesley and left to face his own cowardice.

WBI Profile

Classification :: Δ1789&
Role :: prince of Florin, the main political entity ruling in the king’s old age
Goal :: start a war with Guilder (cause chaos, obtain personal, financial, and political gains therein)
Bonus :: familial ties (hereditary kingship)

A Study

handsome—okay, yes, it’s an opinion. But no scars, he’s not deformed, not ugly. We’ve come to expect ugly bad guys, so, to a degree, this is a “surprise.”

smart—not the brightest guy in the universe, of course, but he knows what he’s doing.

keeps his plot to himself—unlike other villains who have a problem keeping their business to themselves, Humperdinck keeps his plot between himself, the Albino, and Rugen. The end.

faithful employees—again, the Albino and Rugen. He hires people who he can trust. There’s no doubt of their loyalty, and in the end, it is the protagonists’ initiative, and not Humperdinck’s plan, that is his undoing.

manipulation—Humperdinck convinces honorable people to do dishonorable things by disguising the dishonor; he’s sneaky.

useful skill—there is no greater hunter than Humperdinck. This not only makes him a little more interesting, but it gives him something useful to do when Buttercup gets kidnapped; it adds dimension.

coward—ultimately Buttercup, who is not exactly muscular or threatening, ties Humperdinck to a chair and everyone else gets away. For someone so intelligent it seems a pathetic way to end.

big kid—I say that Humperdinck wants to start a war for personal, financial, and political gain, but that’s just the excuse he would give his advisors. He’s bored, and war is his game. It’s an effective character flaw, but it’s hard to respect someone who doesn’t respect his subjects.

Big Idea

What is certain is that if Wesley hadn’t been there, Humperdinck would have won. Humperdinck mastered going with the flow—when Buttercup didn’t die on cue, he made other plans. When Wesley got in the way, he killed him. In fact, if it weren’t for Miracles, it’s likely Humperdinck would have started the war he wanted.

What can we learn from him?

  • bad guys need to be a real threat—if we didn’t know that Humperdinck could and would do these terrible things, we wouldn’t fear him half as much
  • they can’t prepare for every eventuality—Humperdinck didn’t plan for Miracle Max, and likewise, somewhere and somehow there is a hole in the plan to exploit
  • select flaws are powerful—Humperdinck has done nasty things, but his bad side boils down to just a couple things; expanding two or three defining features and making them as despicable as can be can be more effective than sin after sin after sin against him
  • hobbies are made to be exploited—Humperdinck hunts for sport, but the personality of a hunter, especially as he tracks down Buttercup and Wesley, reveals his cruelty

And, to conclude, my favorite Humperdinck quote: “She is alive, or was an hour ago. If she is otherwise when I find her I shall be very put out.”

That’s a wrap! Future TPB ideas include Count Rugen, Inigo, Fezzik, and Wesley, but we’ll see where we go!

Well, what did you think? My WBI Posts are still works in progress, so if you have any suggestions on how to make them clearer or more useful to me, shoot me a comment or a message through my contact form! And, for the record, do you have any more thoughts on Prince Humperdinck?

Other Sources: Wikipedia, Wikipedia, SparkNotes, Princess Bride Wikia


This is Humperdinck's Venn Diagram, if you were curious.


  1. Wow, this is a super awesome analysis, even though I had to flip repeatedly through tabs to figure out what the classification was -- maybe on the next one just include the words below the symbols?

    But. Princess Bride. Eeeeek. I can't figure out which part of it I liked most, although I did name a bar in my novel after the shrieking eels. *awkward pause* Okay, sorry, I don't know why I said that. But I love this example, epic way to kick off the WBI Index series!

    P.S.: Love your sources. Wikipedia, twice.

    1. You're totally right, and I'm honestly still stuck in a rut figuring out how to use my putter-in-order without being super confusing for everyone... I'm thinking maybe sort of visual so that the symbols and the definitions are all in the same place, but I don't know how I'd get that accomplished. Blah. I'll do some thinking this month.

      XD That is the awesomest thing. I can't blame you at all for wanting to share, because Princess Bride references are the best way you can spend your time, am I right? But yes, I thought so too—why not start with one of the best?

      (Yeah, I don't really like typing out page names, but I got two from the same source, but I still don't really like typing out page names... and that was my compromise. LOL.)


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