Home > Lists > The Princess Scale 1: Buttercup

The Princess Scale 1: Buttercup

My next list, I believe, will be a survey of fictional princesses. Because, see, on the one hand, I don’t like the whole princess thing, what with this and this and this.

On the other hand, I do like a lot of the books and movies and comics that feature princesses. So what I’m going to do every now and then is feature a princess character and rate her according to how well she refutes the princess stereotypes I dislike. Let’s do one now to explore how the system works.

Princess Buttercup of Hammersmith
Fictional source: The Princess Bride (novel and movie)

The first question is, is she really a princess? The daughter of a reigning king or queen, who officially holds the title of “princess”? See, if she’s just some girl, then who cares if she explodes the stereotype? It’s not meant to apply to her anyway. In Buttercup’s case, she’s a farm girl who has a BS title bestowed upon her so she can marry Prince Humperdinck. No points there.

Second. Is she beautiful? If she’s just normal beautiful, then that’s neutral; so many fictional characters are. That would be no points. But Buttercup is described by Goldman, or Morgenstern, as the most beautiful woman in the world, so she gets a minus 1.

Third. Does she do anything useful or awesome in the story? Quite the opposite! She screws everything up. She lets Vizzini capture her, she pushes Westley down the hill, she catches fire in the Fire Swamp, she sells Westley out to Humperdinck and later almost spills the beans to Humperdinck about how weak Westley is. I don’t know why Westley puts up with her. Another minus 1.

Fourth. Does she have any actual skills? I guess she must be good for something around the farm. She can ride; that’s one thing. But nothing ever comes of any of those skills so I’m going to say no she doesn’t; -1 points again.

Fifth. Does she avoid being the love interest of some male major character? She does not; in fact, she’s the love interest of the hero, so that’s -1 again. However, she is herself the main character of the story, arguably, so that gets cancelled out by a +1, for a zero overall in this category.

Sixth. Does she have anything else going on, not already touched on, that’s worth taking into account? Not that I can think of.

Overall Score: -3

So it seems to me that Buttercup is part of the problem and not part of the solution. All she’s got going for her is her looks, and that’s no way to live. Our next candidate, whoever it turns out to be, has an easy bar to clear.

If anyone has any ideas for how to refine the scoring, feel free to let me know in the comments.

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