At the end of the school last year I decided to fit in a short unit on the elements of fairy tales, but really it was just an excuse to show The Princess Bride to my freshmen. I wanted to introduce this lovely and funny movie to a new generation. They laughed at the giant Fezzik, cheered when Indigo finally found the six-fingered man, and repeated “As you wish” as Westley and Buttercup plummeted down the mountainside into the fire swamp.
After we watched the movie, I had a few girls ask, “Mrs. Mac, why didn’t Buttercup save herself? She could have just walked away from Prince Humperdinck. In fact, why did she even get involved with him in the first place?” Wow. I was so impressed. These young girls honestly questioned the entire fairy tale premise. “Why didn’t she save herself?” Most tales place innocent young women in precarious situations where only a prince will save them. If you look closely, these girls seem to have no common sense when it comes to danger. “Don’t take that apple from that hag, Snow White!” “Sleeping Beauty, stay away from all sharp objects!” “Ariel, don’t trust the sea witch!” It’s like scolding toddlers. All of them could have saved themselves if they had trusted their instincts.
I know many strong women who saved themselves. One tragically lost a child, but saved herself through her faith. Another found a better job after having her reputation smeared by a vindictive boss. Others escaped flawed marriages to find their true loves or created new lives out of the ashes of the old.
I saved myself twenty years ago when I walked away from a marriage that wasn’t working. I took my two small boys and made a life for us back in my hometown. I worked hard to eventually buy my first home that was filled with music and Legos and books and Hot Wheels. It was heaven.
Those young girls in my English classes know they have the strength to save themselves. They won’t depend on others to rescue them. As for Buttercup, well, I would like to believe that she, too, saved herself through true love’s kiss. You see, I may be a feminist, but I’m also a hopeless romantic when it comes to this...
“Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind."
“As you wish."