Howl's Moving Castle portrays a lot of different kinds of family. On the blood side, we've got the Hatters (a.k.a. Fanny, Sophie, Lettie, and Martha) and also Howl with his sister Megan and her husband and children. And drama is in no shortage amongst these families. Whether Martha is telling Sophie that Fanny is taking advantage of her work or Megan is hollering at Howl, there's never a dull plot moment when blood relatives are involved.
But we also see chosen families, families comprised of characters who have decided to stick together. Here we can think of Howl and Michael, whom he adopted when no one else would let him in, or Lettie and Mrs. Fairfax. And we can add Calcifer and Sophie into Howl and Michael's familial mix, too. While things can certainly get complicated amongst the chosen families as well (let's not forget that Calcifer and Howl are bound by a life-or-death contract), we also see how rich and meaningful these relationships can be.
In short, there's no perfect family in Howl's Moving Castle, but what emerges is a sense that while family may take a ton of hard work to build and maintain, it's important work to undertake in the long run.
Questions About Family
- How does magic affect familial relationships in Howl's Moving Castle? Are these influences positive, negative, or somewhere in between?
- How does Sophie's family life set her up for the adventures of the rest of the novel? What do Sophie's relationships with the other Hatters look like by the end of the book?
- Who in this book seems set to get married? How does Howl's Moving Castle represent marriage?
Chew on This
While Jones emphasizes the strains that can appear in sibling and parent-child relationships in Howl's Moving Castle, the institution of marriage seems like a totally positive one in this book.
Jones presents both blood families and families of choice as positive networks of support in this novel, emphasizing that the form of the family is less important than the bonds amongst a family's members.