Breaking Sophie’s spell Sep07

Breaking Sophie’s spell...

How much of our identity is made up of what other people think it should be? At the beginning of Howl’s Moving Castle (and here I’ll note that I’m writing about the book. As much as I love the movie, the book just goes into more depth), Sophie Hatter seems to be fine with basing her identity on what society says. She lives in the land of Ingary where, as the eldest of three sisters, she is destined to live a mediocre life because everyone knows that only the youngest go on to fame and fortune. After her father dies, the burden of raising three daughters and running a hat shop is too much for her step-mother, Fanny. The youngest daughter, Martha, who is obviously going to make something of herself, is shipped off to apprentice with Mrs Fairfax, a talented witch, so that she can have “witchcraft and rich friends to help her” (13). The second youngest, Lettie, goes to apprentice at the famous Cesari’s bakery, where she will probably find a husband and have a comfortable life. Sophie is to remain in the shop making hats. She’s okay with it because that’s just the way it is. Her old-woman skin becomes her armour. Except, she gets stuck. Sophie wants to go out into the world and do something interesting, but she can never find the time, or the energy, or the motivation. She believes the lie that society has told her—that she’s supposed to be a failure—and it debilitates her. Because of this she doesn’t realize her potential, doesn’t see the power that she has inside her. While working in the hat shop, Sophie starts talking to the hats. “You have mysterious allure,” she tells one. “You are going to have to...