A Long Climb (For The Witch of the Waste)

“He who catches a falling star, oh, heartless man. Your heart shall be mine.”

– Witch of the Waste

Witch01The Witch of the Waste does not have a name but an epitaph for who she is. Her reputation as a witch proceeds who she is as an individual. She is a legend and a myth wrapped up in one but still real. The Witch’s only goal is to have Howl’s heart for herself. So when her blob henchmen chase after Howl and Sophie, she becomes jealous of Sophie. Her jealousy causes her to place a curse on Sophie to turn her old. The dramatic irony for the Witch is that she is in return turned old (which is actually her true age).

Witch02The Witch prizes her beauty, thinks she is superior to others and feels power and status is all that matters along with possessing the heart of Howl. The Witch has a very classic western “white” superior identity. Her desire to possess Howl’s heart is materialistic as she doesn’t seem to want it for the same reason’s Sophie does, love. Still she does admit Witch04that she is still in love but after states, “Men, why ever should we want them? But a young man’s heart is so delicious!…and so adorable too.” The Witch’s true intention with Howl’s heart is simply to possess the heart of a young man even if she had fallen in love with him at one time.

Witch03The Witch’s world starts to fall apart when she is summoned to see the King, believing that Suliman finally has need of her power. She states, “It’s been 50 years now, since they drove me out of here. I’ve been longing for this day ever since.” Still, being forced to climb up the steps of the palace has already started her to age, using Sophie’s cane to help her. Her appearance loses its prime and proper beautiful look to a sweating, hunched, woman. She takes a blow to her pride onto of her beauty when she has to admit to Sophie that she doesn’t know how to break the spell. When the audience finally sees her again, she has been turned into an old feeble woman.

Much like Howl, she had made a deal with a demon “who consumed her, body and soul, long, long ago.” This is why she has been returned to her proper age and stripped of her powers because of the bargain she made. The major difference between Howl and the Witch is that Howl had Sophie to save him where no one was able to save the Witch.

Witch05The Witch as an old woman finally enters into Howl’s home. She needs to be spoon fed by Sophie, and stares at Calcifer calling him a pretty fire continually. Her new state has made it appear as if she’s harmless and unable to do anything for herself. This is not entirely true as we see her realize Suliman has sent a peeping bug to spy on them but doesn’t realize that by giving it to Calcifer to eat that she’s made it easier for them to be found.

Upon learning of Calcifer having Howl’s heart, she grabs it, causing herself to light on fire. Witch06She holds it to herself even as she burns but saved by Sophie. She thinks Sophie is mean for trying to take Howl away from her; she just wanted his heart for herself. Finally, the Witch realizes how much Sophie wants Howl’s heart and why, telling her, “Oh, well, in that case, you’d better take good care of it.”

Witch07The Witch’s identity is changed in the slightest ways by being transformed into a harmless old woman. She is protective of Howl, just as Howl is protective of Sophie but for different reasons. The Witch doesn’t want Suliman to find Howl because she wants his heart and if Suliman found them then it wouldn’t be possible. She has lost her pride, her beauty, her powers and everything she prizes most inthe world. Despite it all, her goal never changes, until Sophie asks for it. She knows the power of love and allows for it to flourish. The Witch finally stops being someone to be feared (as Howl fears her) and someone who’s identity has changed after being forced to change by Suliman and with the influence of Sophie’s love for Howl. In the end, she gains a family, happiness and peace on Howl’s moving castle.Witch08

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