Iocane Powder, and Other Life Lessons

For the first time in far too many years, I am watching the ultimate Fairy Tale movie. The fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

And despite the ages past since my last encounter with it, I find that most of the story has remained vibrant in my memory. I can still quote along with most of the dialogue.

What I had forgotten is how much this movie impacted my formation. So many important lessons can be summed up in The Princess Bride!

For instance:

  • Masks . . . . . “they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”

The Dread Pirate Roberts is and always will be my standard for male attire.

Before Spiderman, Batman, or  . . . . anyone else who wears a mask entered into my sphere of knowledge, this man made them fashionable. I will always love masks. 


Yes. I AM inconceivably attractive.

  • “Inconceivable!”

This word in incredibly useful. I recommend working it into every essay, exam and conversation. Ever. The possibilities of fun are innumerable. Or rather, inconceivable.


  • “Do you by any chance have six fingers on your right hand?” “Do you always begin conversations this way?”

Conversational skills are important. And having a standard opening gambit can stand you in good stead for the rest of your days. Particularly one as fraught with potential as this one.


  • “Get used to disappointment.” “Okay”

Stoicism comes in many forms. When the forms are as awesome at fencing as Inigo and the Dread Pirate Roberts, I would let them win.


  • “Let’s kill each other like civilized people.”

Wise advice for anyone in any position. Keep things civilized.


  • “Ever heard of Plato? Aristotle? Socrates?” “Yes.” “Morons!”

This point can also be known as,

“Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool. You would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me. But iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows! And Australia is entirely peopled with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.  And you must have suspected I would have known the powder’s origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me. You’ve beaten my giant, which means you’re exceptionally strong, so you could’ve put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you! But, you’ve also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me!”

Does one need any other introduction to Philosophy?


  • “Never go up against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line! AHAhaHAhA! AHAhaHA!”

Be careful of your word choice. If you say “death” when you should say “life”, well, you just lost your gamble. Your sneaky, childish gamble.

Also, beware of Sicilians.

  • “Life IS pain! Anyone who says differently is selling something!”

There are people who sell things. And for some reason, they try to convince you that whatever they sell will make life a happy, joyous, romp through flower fields.

But no product can do that. No thing can get you through the Fire Swamp. Only Westley can do that.


Ahem. MY eyes are kind of like the sea after a storm. Just saying . . .

  • “Eyes like the sea after a storm”

If you find some one with eyes like the sea after a storm, you are morally obligated to marry him or her. 


  • “Oh my sweet Westley! What have I done?”

It is never too late to throw one’s self done a hill in an effort to join one’s true love. But you only get full points for doing somersaults.


  • “Who says life is fair?”

This a sad truth. One that we need fairy tales to tell us. By means of making everything come out fair. An ideal world, the world as it should be. This is the beauty of fairy tales.


  • “Westley and I are joined by the bonds of love. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds. And you cannot break that, not with a thousand swords. And I say you are a coward, it is only because you are the slimiest weakling every to crawl the face of the earth!”

    Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!

True love will conquer all. This is not just a convention. This is poetry. This is truth. This truth is the source of all poetry.

And this is the most spunk that Buttercup shows for the entire movie. In fact, it is only here is where we start to like her again. Because, darn it, she needs to fight for her love. Love is worth fighting for! 


  • “Mawiage! That bwessed awANGEment! That DWEAM, wivIN, a DWEAM!”

Somehow, truths are still truths. Even when spoken in a silly voice. Sweet, impressive clergymen will usually be there, pointing the way. If only we would listen and not rush off to start a war.


  • “It’s possible, pig. I might be bluffing. It’s conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I’m only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. But, then again… perhaps I have the strength after all.”

Drop. Your. Sword.

When a man who is as passionate, intense, dedicated, and talented with words as Westley is tells you to drop your sword, do it. And then, if you are a woman, marry him.

  • As you wish.

This is was one of the sweetest declaration of love in all on cinema. Until I watched Shakespeare. But “as you wish” still has the ring total devotion and self-sacrificing love. It cements this relationship as one that, indeed, remains one of the of the top five love stories of all time.

If life is pain, than love is an even worse pain.

The kind that makes you do silly things, like polish saddles and split wood and fetch pitchers . . . . it yet it is one of the most beautiful things about being human.

Indeed, I am a saucy wench.


9 thoughts on “Iocane Powder, and Other Life Lessons

  1. EEEEEE! *fangirl dance of glee* Perfect!

    Also, “Do you always begin conversations this way?” is a nice comeback when people do ask you something quite strange.

  2. I remember the first time I saw “The Princess Bride.” My sister had raved about the movie. After watching it, I wondered what all the fuss was about–a nice way to pass some time, but certainly nothing that moved mountains or shook the earth. A few years passed and I had the opportunity to watch it again and this time I loved it. I can’t tell you how many of your examples above have worked their way into our family’s conversational repetoire. I think I may just have to pull it out and watch it again. It has been far too long since the last viewing!

    • It is amazing how much of this movie makes up my childhood. We didn’t even watch it that often, but we quoted it almost TOO much!

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