“Get back Witch!”: A mini character study in The Princess Bride


  • Inigo Montoya: “Who are you?”
  • Man in Black: “No one of consequence.”

A crone, or a hag, is a recurrent figure in literature. She is that ugly woman in a fairy-tale that is often connected to things that are mystical and unearthly, those dark and sinister things. Interestingly, what can easily be over looked with this archetypal figure is that she is a wise woman!

In Rob Reiner’s 1987 film The Princess Bride we see 2 crones, and we see them at key points in the storyline. Both crones, Buttercup’s Hag and Valerie, act as a catalyst when they enter the story by bending the flow of events around them.



Buttercup’s hag has stringy shoulder length grey hair that lays around her angry ancient face. There is a strength to her features, something brawny and powerful. She wears her age in the lines of her face and she uses those lines to present displeasure and indignation. “Boo! Boo! So bow to the Queen of Rubbish, the Queen of Putrescence. The Queen of Garbage, for that’s what she is! Boo! Boo! Boo!” (The Princess Bride) The skin of her face is blotched with flat brown spots of age. She has a witch’s mark, or a mole, high on her cheek bone as well as wiry unkempt eye-brows that make her face appear as if it might take to flight. She is a fascinating character..

Anyway, this dream-walking crone comes to Buttercup when Buttercup is trapped in her own “Pit of Despair” pining for Westley and the loss of him again. The crone challenges her, “Your true love lives. And you marry another.” (The Princess Bride) Buttercup was standing at a fork in the crossroads and when she wakes we all know what path she chooses after a little help from a wise woman.

Margery Eileen Mason: September 27, 1913 – January 26, 2014, Actress, writer, & theatre manager

Valerie: “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife, but after what you just said I’m not even sure I want to be that anymore!” (The Princess Bride)

The witch Valerie, or Miracle Max’s wife, is a tiny ancient thing that is scary in a cute way. She has stringy fly away white hair that is receding giving her a large weathered forehead. Her skin is greyish-white and she is gaunt. She has a classic witch nose that is flat, long, and hooked at the end. There is a fierceness to her that comes through in her spirit and her speed. She is relentless.

Valerie: “What Humperdink? [She begins chasing Max around.] Humperdink ooo-oo-. Humperdink.” (image from

Valerie enters the story to challenge the path of Buttercup and Westley’s love story itself. She challenges her husband and in doing so draws out key points that otherwise might have gone unspoken. “True love, life expiring and you don’t have the decency to say why you won’t help!” The rest of the storyline is history…

Carol Kane played Valerie.


What would the story have been like without those wise women? Would Buttercup have married Humperdink and died pining the loss of Westley, and never voiced her words about true love? Would Miracle Max have turned Inigo away without providing them with the “miracle” that gave them the belief that they could storm and take the castle? Would Westley have died?

Note on the title: The quote, “Get back witch” is from the scene with Miracle Max and Valerie where she goes on to say, “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife…” (The Princess Bride).
This post was created in response to The Princess Bride Linkup Party hosted by

By Shari Marshall – 2016

2 thoughts on ““Get back Witch!”: A mini character study in The Princess Bride

  1. This is interesting. I never considered the timing of these two characters before, or made the wise woman connection. Now I want to rewatch the movie and think about this. This was a great addition to the #PrincessBrideParty.

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  2. Far and away one of my FAVORITE movies!! I know most of the lines, by heart! Both witches/wise women are so very important to the story, and truly lovely characters if one looks beyond the haggard appearances – they are there to help guide the hearts… Max needed guidance to admit Westley’s utterance had nothing to do with a game of poker, and Buttercup needed guidance in seeing Humperdink for what he truly was.
    Comes as quite a lesson; maybe we should listen to those wise ol’ owls instead of dismissing them because they may not be so appealing on the outside… hmmm

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