"Do you promise not to hurt him?" That's Princess Buttercup from "The Princess Bride". One of my favorite movies and one of my favorite books (yes, I saw the movie first, yes, I think the book is better…we've talked about my
abiding love obsession with TPB before. In a pinch I'll watch or read either).
Princess Buttercup is one of my all-time favorite romance heroines, even though she's so not a 'today' heroine because she allowed too much to happen to her. When Westley was 'killed' she holed up in her room to cry and die. When Prince Humperdinck proposed she went along with him. She rode her horse and quietly lived in the castle - not asking for anything, not demanding anything. She didn't fight off Vizzini or the Giant or Inigo. She didn't even scream. Okay, if a 7-foot-giant was coming toward me I might not scream, either. She did jump into eel-infested waters...but then she gave up.
"Do you promise not to hurt him? If I return with you, will you promise not to hurt this man?"
When every other woman in her time would have stayed silent and allowed Westley and Humperdinck to fight for her...she spoke up. They were outnumbered. Westley would surely have been killed by one of Humperdinck's men. So she did what she could - she tried to get a promise from Humperdinck for her man, giving up her freedom in the process. It's a simple line, but a very powerful one, I think, from a heroine who truly had no power. Women in her time didn't vote. The had no jobs, at least the princesses didn't. And they certainly didn't have a choice in marriage and relationships. Still, she tried to do something. She tried to ensure Westley's freedom because the world without Westley in it was too dark. Even if they couldn't be together, she wanted to know that he lived. Somewhere.
Then there are the other things she does once she's found Westley alive and returned to the castle - she believes she has rescued him, and gets a promise from Humperdinck to send ships to find Westley (Humperdinck, of course, lies) and even threatens her own death. All for the love of a pirate ...
Of course she doesn't have to kill herself because Westley cheats death with the help of Miracle Max, Inigo and the Giant. He saves Buttercup, just as she has tried to save him.
I just have to sigh a little at that. Who is your favorite romance heroine?