Kieran’s Letter Essay #9

Recently I have read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Now this story was incredibly hard to follow since so many things went on all at once, like talking fires, moving castles, blob men, wizards, witches, and doors that can take you to four different places. The book was never all that famous until 19 years later when Hayao Miyazaki in 2005 made a movie about it, and it is known to be one of his most popular movies. This book is very hard to follow but once you understand it you are mind blown.

The story is about a young woman named Sophie Hatter who has just entered adulthood, but is then misfortuned when the Witch of The Waste  casts a curse on her; transforming her into a woman in her 90’s. The only way she could possibly break this spell layin the ever-moving castle of Wizard Howl. The truth was, that Sophie was a stay at home person, but when I mean stay at home I mean that she has never really given herself the opportunity to do more than just make and sell hats. When she was cursed she realized that she did not have much time left in her life, so she decided to search for the cure not only outside of her house but outside of her hometown Ingary into the wastes. When she thought that she had found safety in the castle, she then realized that she was not safe around Howl since he used power from Witch Suliman to turn himself into a beast. The power he contained however he stole from Witch Suliman and she was trying to track him down with armies of millions of these creatures called blob men which also led to being a threat to Sophie. Eventually Howl’s ability to change back from a monster became weak until he used so much power trying to fight Suliman that he could not change himself back from his monstrosity. Sophie was then put under pressure to try to undo Howl’s power and break her own spell.

I like how Diana described Sophie even as a young woman to be more like an old woman who could not do much, and Sophie never went out of her comfort zone, but when she did to stand up against the Witch of The Waste she was out of luck.

The lady looked at the hat with contempt. “This one doesn’t do anything for anybody. You’re wasting my time, Miss Hatter.”

“Only because you came in and asked for hats,” Sophie said. “This is only a small shop in a small town, Madam. Why did you-” Behind the lady, the man gasped and seemed to be trying to signal warningly. “-bother to come in?” Sophie finished, wondering what was going on.

“I always bother when someone tries to set themselves up against the Witch of The Waste,” said the lady. “I’ve heard of you, miss Hatter, and I don’t care for your competition or your attitude. I came to put a stop to you. There.” She spread out her hand in a flinging motion toward Sophie’s face.

“You mean you’re the Witch of The Waste?” Sophie quavered. Her voice seemed to have gone strange with fear and astonishment.

“I am,” said the lady. “And let that teach you to meddle with things that belong to me.”

“I don’t think I did. There must be some mistake,” Sophie croaked. The man was now staring at her in utter horror, though she could not see why.

“No mistake, Miss Hatter,” said the Witch. “Come on Gaston.” She turned and swept to the shop door. While the man was humbly opening it for her, she turned back to Sophie. “By the way, you won’t be able to tell anyone you are under a spell, she said. The shop door tolled like a funeral bell as she left.

Sophie put her hands to her hands to her face, wondering what the man had stared at. She felt soft, leathery wrinkles. She looked at her hands. They were wrinkled too, and skinny, with large veins in the back and knuckles like knobs.

(Pages 34-35)

Even though Sophie spoke up at the wrong time, it did not keep her suffering in silence, instead she continued to speak up, and be braver with people like Howl, Calcifer, and Witch of the Waste. Like I said earlier she didn’t have much time left as an old woman, so was she going to spend it in silence? No, she wanted to give herself the freedom that she has deserved as a young lady.

My thoughts on this book are that it was given a lot of thought and a lot of imagination; A castle that can move from place to place, a door that can take you to many places, and a fire that can talk. This book has a fascinating story and it has also made me remember how much I enjoyed the movie when I first watched it so many years ago, therefore I would rate Howl’s Moving Castle a 9 out of 10.


Kieran Kelly

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