DWJ: Howl's Moving Castle question

Venkarel venkarel.geo at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 8 13:28:24 EST 2002

--- Katarina Hjärpe <head_overheels at hotmail.com>

> >I'm not sure if I am just incredibly obtuse or not,
> but in the past i had
> >always interepreted that to mean she was blaming
> herself for having
> >created the charm in the suit, but on my last
> re-read it occurred to me
> >that she could be admitting her feelings about Howl
> here too--that she was
> >caught by the charms in the suit like many other
> women had been.
> >Thoughts?
> Oh, definitely. :-) That's the way I always read it.
> At this point, however, 
> she seems to think it's the *suit* that does it, and
> that's why she's 
> puzzled that the blue and silver worked, because she
> never put a spell on 
> that one. The rest of us, of course, know that it
> has nothing to do with the 
> suit. She just loves him anyway.

I think things came to a head when Miss Angorian first
stumbled into the castle.  Sophie hadn't appreciated
the way Howl was charming the ladies at the flower
shop, to the point where she was tired of seeming like
his "old mother" and ended up being Aunt Jenkins.  And
she knew she'd been feeling some kind of discontenment
and irritability since Howl started chasing Miss
Angorian--but it was probably when she kicked Miss
Angorian out the door that she realized she was
feeling jealousy.  Calcifer did make an arch remark
regarding the speed with which that was done.

Does she realize that *she's* the one who put the
charm on the suit?  Because she only knew about the
charm because it because Mrs. Penstemmon was clucking
in disapproval over Howl going around in a charmed
suit.  I rather think the reference to the blue and
silver suit also had to do with the very first time
she met Howl in Market Chipping during the May Day
festivities.  I think she was interested in him but
was feeling too dowdy and gawky to even want to
entertain the notion.  Imagine what would have
happened if she *had* let him buy her a drink?

> While we're on the topic: do you think Howl's heart
> fell in love with Sophie 
> before she put it back in his body for him to feel
> it? Because in the last 
> scene he doesn't act like someone who has just
> fallen in love with a woman; 
> he acts as if he's been in love quite some time. So
> I was thinking maybe his 
> heart fell in love and he justs didn't know it
> because it wasn't attached to 
> his body. And if this is so, would Calcifer know
> about the love or would 
> that be of no consequence for him?

One thing that keeps shocking me everytime I reread
the book is that Howl is always off chasing girls.  I
just don't think of him as the Lothario type; I keep
thinking that he must be terribly misunderstood.  Yes,
he's flaky and flashy and vain, but I don't see what
he'd want from the girls. Does this come from having
no heart or is he just making up for lost time? 
(Michael commented on how he was quite vain for a
plain man with mud-colored hair.)

I think he *has* been in love with her for some time. 
I reread the part where Sophie tries to spy on his
room and says  that "Tidying up is what I'm *here*
for!" and he gets angry about her penchant for
servitude.  We know that he knew she wasn't really an
old woman, so I think he was frustrated that she was
putting herself down.  When they were running to
rescue everyone from Miss Angorian, she was wailing
that she was a failure because she was the oldest, and
he said that was garbage.  It's thoughts like this
that trap her in the old woman form, which is just a
reflection of how she felt about herself.  Remember
May Day, when she wanted to enjoy the festivities like
a young woman, but realized that she felt small and
old instead, among the bustle and noise.  

The most telling point was on the last page when he
says: "I've been wondering all along if you would turn
out to be that lovely girl I met on May Day.  Why were
you so scared then?"  He's quite a lot more perceptive
than Sophie gives him credit for, for all his
failings.  I think he was attracted that girl back
then, and when he really got to know Sophie, living
with her, so to speak, he was hoping that they were
one and the same.


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