Courtney M Eckhardt
cme at MIT.EDU
Sun Nov 21 23:05:23 EST 1999
So I finally got my own copy of Howl and reread it several times, and
I noticed something (this may be old news to some, but I hadn't seen
it cross the list before, so I thought I'd mention it).
In the beginning, Sopie has to bully Calcifer into bending down his
head so that she can cook for herself and Michael. In fact, Michael
admits that he can't eat hot food when Howl isn't there to cook it.
But after a bit, Calcifer begins to seem to consider her a friend, and
do things for her that a friend would do (like when she had to answer
the door for the Kingsbury callers and needed to give them spells), or
even to do huge favors for her, like the time the scarecrow came to
the moving castle door and she told him to make the castle move fast
enough to get away from it. Howl remarked quite strongly upon the
fact that Calcifer had totally tired himself out for her sake:
Howl swiveled round on his knees and and leveled his glass-marble eyes
at her. "What have you done *now*?" He went on staring while Sophie
explained. "A scarecrow?" he said. "Calcifer agreed to speed up the
castle because of a *scarecrow*? Dear Sophie, do please tell me how
you bully a fire demon into being that obliging. I'd dearly love to
"I didn't bully him," said Sopie. "It gave me a turn and he was sorry
"It gave her a turn and Calcifer was sorry for her," Howl repeated.
"My good Sophie, Calcifer is never sorry for anyone. Anyway, I hope
you enjoy raw onions and cold pie for your supper, becasue you've
almost put Calcifer out."
I would sumit that Calcifer is doing things like this because Howl has
come to care for Sophie and Calcifer has Howl's heart. Howl has a
hard time showing that he cares for her and possibly even realizing
that he cares for her, because he is quite literally heartless, but
Calcifer has his heart, so he acts on the way that Howl feels about
her! As the story goes on, Calcifer's attitude changes from jeering
antagonism to grudging respect to friendliness and then emotional
closeness, which parallels Sophie's change in attitude toward Howl and
the changes in attitude one can expect from Howl toward Sophie, since
by the end he loves her.
Maybe this isn't news to everyone else, but I thought I'd share it to
see if anyone had anything to add.
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