As The Labyrinth starts, Sarah has the catchphrase, it’s not fair! Sarah learns her lesson when Hoggle repeats it:
“Them’s my rightful property! It’s not fair!”
“No, it isn’t. But that’s the way it is…”
But there’s another repeating phrase in The Labyrinth – piece of cake. This one get’s repeated by a few different characters throughout the movie.
Sarah first says it after solving the door riddle:
“I’ve figured it out. I couldn’t do it before. I think I’m getting smarter. Piece of cake!”
(Sarah then falls right into the helping hands hole, and into the oubliette.)
Later, Jareth says to Sarah “How are you enjoying my Labyrinth?” Sarah responds “it’s a piece of cake.”
Jareth then speeds up the Toby countdown, saying “The Labyrinth’s a piece of cake? Let’s see you deal with this slice.”
(The cleaners come along.)
When the gang arrives in the goblin city, Sarah says ”I think we’re going to make it.” Hobble replies “oh, piece of cake!”
(Then, a new squad of goblin soldiers attacks.)
Each time a character says this, things immediately get worse. Much like the “it’s not fair” line, there’s a lesson for Sarah here. Hoggle says earlier that “You know what your problem is? You take too much for granted.” Whenever someone assumes that things are going right, that life is simple, and that they know everything – the Labyrinth teaches them otherwise.
Among everything else, The Labyrinth is a pedagogical device. But it may be less sophisticated than that. The method that The Labyrinth teaches is through behavioral modification – it’s essentially Pavlovian.
When Sarah or another character does something wrong (like assume their superiority with a “piece of cake” comment) bad things start to happen. When Sarah does something right (learn a lesson about taking things for granted, or about how life isn’t fair) things start to go right.
Sarah’s growth and education isn’t so much about her learning the hows and whys of life, but being punished for wrong-thinking, and rewarded for right-thinking.
The end result is the same, Sarah conquers the Labyrinth and matures, but it’s unsettling to think that it’s not a product of her own will. Sarah’s lessons are imposed on her from the outside.