Gentlemanly Figureheads

Westley’s Guide to Manliness

Evening gents, it’s Max from The Young Gentleman’s Guide here! Today is the second article in our new series about how characters from movies and TV can teach us how to be men (name of which is TBD). So today, we’re going to take a look at one of my favorite movies, and my favorite character from said movie: Westley from The Princess Bride! Now, if you’ve never seen this movie, you absolutely should, it’s wonderful! At first glance, it may just seem like your typical fairy tale with the dashing hero, but there is so much more to it. It’s got just as much for kids as it does for adults, and just as much for girls as it does for boys. Not to mention that pretty much all the characters are just as wonderful, and today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the stereotypical dashing hero in the story, the young farmboy turned pirate, Westley, and how his actions throughout the movie can teach you young gents reading how to be better gentlemen. Now, I should’ve mentioned this with my last post about Ron Swanson, but I’ll just mention it here; not everything I say here is meant to be taken super seriously. This series is just for fun, and it would be smart to just take certain things I say in this and future posts like this with a grain of salt. So before this article turns into a full-length novel, let’s get started!

Two disclaimers: There may be some spoilers for The Princess Bride in this post, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you’ve been warned. Also, I do not own any of the images used in this post, and all the images used are from The Princess Bride.

1. He respects everyone he comes across

Obviously one of the most gentlemanly traits someone can have is respect, and Westley displays this trait in spades. I myself have a “live and let live” kind of nature; if you respect me, I’ll respect you, it’s that simple. And that perfectly describes Westley as well. He even holds most of his adversaries with the utmost respect, and will even compliment them (with the exception of Prince Humperdinck). For example, when Westley is engaged in a duel with Inigo Montoya near the beginning of the film, they hold a fairly friendly conversation, complimenting each other on their dueling styles and devotion to the art. And even when Westley bests Inigo and defeats him, Westley refuses to kill him, saying, and I quote, “I would sooner destroy a stained glass window than an artist like yourself.” And then, after knocking Inigo out, Westley tells him “Please understand I hold you in the highest respect.” That should just speak for itself. Later on, after besting Fezzik the giant, he doesn’t necessarily apologize for KO’ing him, but does wish that he sleeps well and dreams of large women. And when going up against Vizzini in his battle of wits, Westley even compliments him saying he has a “dizzying intellect.” So in short, whether they’re with him, or against him, Westley holds nothing but respect for almost everyone around him. If that doesn’t make him a true gentleman, I don’t know what does.

2. He’s a survivalist

I know I’ve been referencing this post a lot lately, but to those of you who read my post about my grandfather, you would know that he’s a true outdoorsman, and could essentially live off of the land if he so desired. While I can’t say the exact same thing about Westley, he still shows several times throughout The Princess Bride that he has impeccable situational awareness and can survive in several different environmental situations he comes across. When Vizzini cut the climbing rope while Westley was trying to climb the Cliffs of Insanity, not only was he able to grab onto the rocks before he fell, he was able to climb the rocks to a small extent. It may have taken significantly longer, but had Inigo not tossed down the remaining rope down to Westley to help him up, it’s my firm belief that Westley could have climbed up the cliffs by himself. Both Westley and Inigo were able to adapt their dueling techniques to the rocky terrain they were fighting on. That’s something that they specifically converse about during their duel.

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It also may have taken him a bit of time, but Westley was also able to learn the dangers and signals of said dangers in the fire swamp. He was even able to use those dangers to help defeat the R.O.U.S. that attacked him and Buttercup. When he heard the popping sounds that preceded the bursts of flames common in the fire swamp, Westley was able to roll the R.O.U.S. over to the flame burst in order to seriously injure it and kill it soon after. And f course, being a pirate, he also clearly knows his way around the seas and oceans, enough to the point where he was able to track and trail Vizzini and his crew in order to rescue Buttercup. It’s my belief that situational awareness and outdoor skills are some of the most important things for all gentlemen to know, and these are just two other things that Westley displays in spades.

3. He’s extremely devoted

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If there’s anything that can be learned about Westley after watching The Princess Bride, it’s that he loves Buttercup more than anything in the world, and will fight for her even to the point of death. Now, I’m not saying that you have to have a woman in your life to fight for to the point you’d be willing to die for her, but there should be something like that that any man should be devoted to. Whether it’s a woman, a family member, or even an idea or belief, having something to be devoted to is essentially another way of saying that you have something to live for. Even after being “mostly dead” for hours but being revived by Miracle Max, the first thing he’s able to say after Miracle Max asks him what’s worth living for, Wesley replies with just two words: “true love.” His love for Buttercup is what keeps him going, the reason he’s even alive. And as Inigo says later that very scene, “You can’t ask for a more noble cause than that.”

4. He can defend himself and others

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Now, if you’ve seen the movie or even just the thumbnail for this post, this should go without saying. This is pretty much the entire reason Westley even has a sword. The first time you see him use it, it is more or less for sport, but if the situation were to arise, he could draw his blade in order to fend off whatever he needs to. Soon after his duel with Inigo, Westley is scouting the nearby countryside and gets a rock thrown at him by Fezzik. What’s the first thing he does after Fezzik throws the rock at him? He draws his sword, preparing to fend off Fezzik. But it’s not about just defending himself. He also does what he can to defend and protect others. He does this several times with Buttercup, but he also does protect Inigo and his friends by drawing his sword against Prince Humperdinck near the end of the movie, despite how frail he was feeling. He can’t stand to see his true love and his friends in danger, and he does whatever he can to protect them.

So there it is! That’s just four (4) ways in which Westley, the humble farmboy turned pirate, is a true gentleman. His devotion to his love, his respect for all those around him, and his ability to defend himself and survive in almost any situation. Are there any other gentlemanly characters you’d like to see us talk about in the future, be sure to let us know in the comments! In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading today’s post. Please be sure to share the post, follow the blog, follow The Young Gentleman’s Guide on Facebook and Instagram, and support us on Patreon. And on that note, this is Max from The Young Gentleman’s Guide, and I’ll see you next time!


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