Howl's Moving Castle definitely does not present old age as something to be feared. Sophie may have her fair share of aches and pains, but she actually finds being old quite liberating: suddenly, she no longer feels the embarrassment or self-consciousness that cripples her as a younger woman. She can just let that stuff go and say exactly what she wants to.
Once Sophie loses some of her inhibitions, she has the time to learn to be more patient. By transforming Sophie into an old woman, the novel also gives her the opportunity to learn in a short time the wisdom that's supposed to come with a long life.
Questions About Old Age
When do we start to suspect that Sophie is enjoying her time as an old woman? What signs does the novel give that this change will be an opportunity for her?
When does Sophie's old age curse become a burden? What triggers her apparent frustration with the curse later on in the novel?
How do Sophie's physical changes affect her daily life? How must she adapt to the physical realities of old age, as well as to its emotional consequences?
Chew on This
Sophie's positive embrace of old age contrasts strongly with the Witch of the Waste's artificially maintained youth, suggesting that in Howl's Moving Castle embracing your circumstances is proof of moral fiber.
Sophie's return to youth by the end of Howl's Moving Castle undermines the positive light in which the novel represents her old age curse over the course of the book.