Study Guide

Mrs. Pentstemmon in Howl's Moving Castle

By Diana Wynne Jones

Mrs. Pentstemmon

Mrs. Pentstemmon is Howl's old tutor. Our main impression of her is that she is grand. Her home is incredibly rich looking, and she lives in the wealthy capital town of Kingsbury. She is tall and elderly, but Sophie describes her gaze as "fierce" (12.30) and admits that speaking to Mrs. Pentstemmon on her own makes her deeply nervous.

While Mrs. Pentstemmon may be a fairly terrifying old woman, she is also a decent person. She tells Sophie that she is concerned about Howl's state of mind because he has made a contract with his fire demon (certainly a terrible idea) and could go evil as a result. While Mrs. Pentstemmon talks severely about all the moral consequences of Howl's contract, she also secretly inspects Sophie's curse (although, as Howl reports, she can't lift it because Sophie herself appears to be keeping it active). Mrs. Pentstemmon may be as tough as nails, but she's clearly a good person to have on your side.

The Witch of the Waste murders Mrs. Pentstemmon in cold blood. In fact, she's so completely uncaring about it that we get yet more evidence (as if we needed any more) that she's crazy evil. The Witch tells Sophie:

[Mrs. Pentstemmon] refused to tell me where someone was that I want to find. She said, "Over my dead body!" so I took her at her word. (13.47)

Blerg—Mrs. Pentstemmon is clearly grand enough and awesome enough that she deserves better than to have her last words mocked by her murderer.

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