So, I can clearly not choose the wine…

by | Mar 13, 2023 | Faith | 2 comments |

We would clearly not choose the snow that dusted the trees and shrubs here at Vanaprastha yesterday. That got me thinking about what we can and cannot choose. And the famous “choose” scene in the Princess Bride, about which I’ve written previously.

Westley, disguised as the Dread Pirate Roberts, has come to rescue his true love Princess Buttercup, who had been kidnapped by a band of thieves. In order to save her, he must defeat three men: the Giant in a test of strength, a swordsman in a test of strategic intelligence, and the thieves’ mastermind Vizzini in a battle of wits to the death. The three tests reminded me of Satan testing Jesus in the wilderness.

Having bested the giant and swordsman, Westley faces Vizzini, played by the incomparable Wallace Shawn. Vizzini pours two goblets of wine, which Westley takes behind his back and adds poison. After placing the goblets on the table, he rotates them in a shell game maneuver then puts one glass in front of Vizzini and the other in front of himself.

Westley says, “All right: where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right and who is dead.” Choose.

“But it’s so simple,” Vizzini says, “All I have to do is divine from what I know of you. Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet, or his enemy’s?” [Pause] “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’m 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.”

Vizzini’s self-exalted cleverness continues, as does Westley’s insistence: “Make your decision.” Choose. Eventually, Vizzini distracts Westley, switches the goblets without him seeing, and they drink. Vizzini laughs because he thinks he’s bested Westley. Then falls dead.

When the disguised Westley releases Buttercup from her blindfold and bindings, she glances at Vizzini and says, “To think — all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.” 

“They were both poisoned,” Westley replies. He had spent the last few years building up an immunity to the poison.

Westley put his life on the line, battling for Buttercup’s love, even to the death, all the while, hoping she would choose him. Like two of God’s greatest gifts to us, His love and our free will, which go hand in hand. We hear, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,” and then we are encouraged to use our freedom to choose the light as a response to God’s love.

If we choose the light, we can ask and it will be given, seek and find, knock and doors open.

Or as Wesley says to Buttercup, “As you wish.”

Linkup with Five Minute Friday:


  1. aschmeisser

    It could be this, it could be that,
    it could be good or awful news;
    so many ways to skin a cat,
    but late or sooner we must choose
    to drink the cup or quaff the can;
    vintage wine, generic beer?
    Choose the world, or Son of Man,
    choose what’s safe, or what you fear,
    for change will come of choosing Him,
    change to make you catch your breath,
    change that may turn sunshine grim
    on the way to dusty death.
    Hide if you must behind a blink,
    but know that you are on the brink.

    By skin a cat I of course mean operating a Caterpillar dozer. The other kinds of cats, the furry little claw-and-climb-the-curtains people, I dearly love.

    • Carole Duff

      Choose the world or Son of Man, but do not skin a furry cat. Love it!


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