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Howl’s Moving Castle

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on 1 December 2013

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Transcript of Howl’s Moving Castle

A presentation by Group 6
Literature Studies Class

Plot summary


The sky strolling – first meeting of Sophie and Howl

Plot Summary

1. Sophie, an 18-year-old hatter, encounters a mysterious powerful wizard named Howl while being on the way to her younger sister. This makes Sophie become the Witch of the Waste’s target as she has pursued Howl for quite a long time.

Consequently, the Witch comes to the hat store and curses Sophie by transforming her into a ninety-year-old woman.

2. On her way to look for the cure, Sophie finds a living scarecrow, who takes her to Howl’s moving castle. She meets the fire demon Calcifer.

Sophie agrees to help Calcifer free from the house, in exchange, he will help break her curse. When Howl appears, Sophie announces that she is the cleaning lady hired by Calcifer.

3. Howl is forced to go to the palace and fight in the war. He sends Sophie to the palace as his mother.

Here, Sophie meets the Witch of the Waste again and watches her being punished by Suliman, the King’s magic advisor. Suliman warns that Howl will be in the same situation if he refuses to contribute to the war.

Howl rescues Sophie, bringing along the Witch of the Waste, who has become harmless after the punishment.

4. Sophie discovers that Howl transforms into a bird-like creature to interfere in the war and it makes him difficult to return to human form. She claims her love for Howl and vows to help him.

5. The city suffers bombardment, the castle is found out by Suliman’s henchmen. Howl decides not to run away anymore and interfere with the war.

Sophie finds out the connection between Calcifer and Howl. She brings Howl’s heart which is inside Calcifer back to Howl, returning him to life and freeing Calcifer.

Sophie, Howl and others live happily in a new moving castle.


Before: 18-year-old girl, with a responsible but shy manner and a bit of inferiority complex of her appearance and life.

1. Sophie Hatter

Sophie plays the role of a care-giver and has the power of changing every one else’s life in the film, particularly, Howl. Her love turns Howl into a mature man; he stops running away and take responsibility to protect his loved ones.

1. Sophie Hatter

Before: a mysterious, flirtatious wizard as he charms Sophie; a bit of a narcissist with abundant care for appearance; despite being a pacifist inside, he cares little and cannot face his responsibility.

After: more natural and open up to the point of returning to his old self (depicted by his original hair color ), willing to act responsibly to protect Sophie and his “family”

2. Wizard Howl

When Howl feels lost and hopeless the bird creature he becomes looks more frightening and even slightly sickly.

When Howl has gained confidence and feels courageous, his bird self appears more heroic, proud, and healthy.

2. Wizard Howl

4. Calcifer

3. Witch of the Waste

3. Other Characters

6. Turnip Head

5. Markl

After: a 90-year-old lady (on the outside),free from self prejudice, confident, determined and loving – an evidence of self-transformation for the better.
1. Time: an ambiguous European waterfront town; the architecture and clothing look reminiscent of an early 1900s backdrop.

2. Place:
2.1 Ingary Kingdom, whose capital is Kingsbury; south-western wilderness of this country is called the Waste


2.2. The Moving Castle:

- Plays a large part in the movie, both in terms of physical setting and symbolic function.
- Has four doors leading to four different places, implied by the color.

3. Social Environment:
Advanced technology, e.g. the planes used in the war.
Presence of magic.

The Physical Transformations:
It is visible that every character undergoes by a physical as well as metaphorical reshaping.
1.1. Sophie and her aging journey:
Under the spell of the witch, Sophie is turned into a 90-year-old lady. BUT, she doesn’t stay the same through the movie.


What are the reasons?
Her affection towards Howl: whenever she is beside him, or when she speaks positively and defends Howl, without realizing, she ages back to her own appearance.

Her journey of gaining self-confidence:
At first, Sophie is a young lady who is lack of self-confidence. She describes herself as plain.
After being cursed, her look changes according to her feelings of outward appearances and her self-awareness. When Howl admits that she is beautiful, her doubt has taken hold so tightly, that she reverts all the way back to her 90-year-old appearance.

In the end, when she reunites Howl with his heart (freeing Calcifer, and breaking his spell connecting him to Howl), she is freed from being ruled by vanity, or feelings of outward appearances.
What is implied here is that appearance has been overrated. One is not valued by her looks but her heart and actions. Just be brave to be yourself – you are the most beautiful person in the world.

1.2. Howl’s bird form:
- The longer Howl stays in the bird form the greater the chances are that he will forget who he truly is and be imprisoned in the bird form, implying the importance of knowing yourself and your limit.
- As a pacifist, Hayao Miyazaki chooses this bird form for Howl to fight in the war – a symbol of peace and disdain for senseless war.

2. The moving castle:
“Man build house and woman make it home.”

First, the castle was totally a mess. It’s a single man house built up just to be a shelter.
At the end of the movie, the castle turns to a much prettier well organized place. It is now a home for a family.

Howl's Moving Castle explores several themes common to literature, which include the three we want to emphasize the most: goodness, meaning of life and the injustice of wars.
2. Being old is not a terrible and unappealing fate: which is portrayed through the existence of Sophie.
Sophie, the elder, embarks on an adventure that takes her into a world far beyond anything she could have imagined before.
When she sleeps, she is young; but while she is working to save Howl, hers is a face of embodied wisdom, showing the marks of experience. 

3. An anti-war message:
The most toxic thing of all is war itself with destructive battles going on in the air and on the land. Howl is transformed into a great birdlike warrior as he tries to put an end to conflict.

Goodness, selfishness, and folly: depicted through a mystical appreciation of our connections with others. No one can be cast out of our hearts.

For example, the elderly Sophie volunteers to look after the vanquished Witch of the Waste, the same one who put her under a spell.

The Soundtrack, composed by Joe Hisaishi

The Novel, written by Diana Wynne Jones
in 1986

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Nguyen Thu Trang - Plot
Vu Minh Chau – Characters
Duong Thi Phuong Anh - Settings
Le Nguyen Ngoc Tram – Symbols
Nguyen Viet Ha – Themes

The End.
Thank you for listening!
Full transcript