Staying At The Castle

“Are we a family?”

– Markl

“Yes, we’re family.”

– Sophie

Markl and Turnip have small roles within throughout Howl’s Moving Castle but their identities go through transformations just as their bodies do the same thing. Albeit the two characters being very different, there is the one thing they have in common, a mutual love for Sophie, which transforms them the most.

Markl and Turnip

Markl

“I love you, Sophie. Please stay.”

– Markl

Markl01Markl is a young boy who is an apprentice to Howl. He appears to be in charge of the two shops that Howl owns, dealing with day-to-day business functions and basic spells. He seems to have learned to be serious in his dealing with customers and knows what can andMarkl03 can’t be done around the house like getting Calcifer to cooperate. He is a curt, straight forward, mannerless, messy child. He devours his food, has messy hair that goes everywhere as well has a messy room, and tells Sophie to stop messing around with the door. None-the-less, Sophie’s appearance has a great influence on Markl. He becomes polite, helpful, happy, carefree child.

Markl02As a wizard’s apprentice, Markl has the ability to do magic. He places a cape on and is able to change his appearance to an old man with a large grey beard. He only takes on this identity when going outside of the castle in town or dealing with the public. This identity of Markl’s is gruff, grumpy and a bit cynical. When shopping with Sophie, he says he doesn’t Markl04like potatoes or fish. This gruffness and the old man appearance disappear as soon as Markl’s hood comes off and he returns to a normal young boy.

Markl becomes attached to Sophie and Heen (Suliman’s spy dog) which makes him happier and act more like the child that he is. In the end, he has a family that love him that has made all the difference to his identity.

Markl05Through the family unit, Markl is able to define his identity and express himself in a more childlike manner. Even with his cape on and his old man appearance, he tells Sophie he loves her and doesn’t want her to leave. His persona’s identity is pushed aside for his identity to reveal itself to its fullest extent. Therefore, Markl’s identity is defined and changed by the appearance of Sophie who takes care of him like a son.

 

Turnip/Turnip-Head

“You may be a turnip, but you’re a good turnip.”

– Sophie

Turnip01Turnip is completely defined by his actions as he is unable to speak. He is a scarecrow with a turnip for a head. Sophie and Markl aren’t sure what he is but speculate he might be a demon but Howl who must have heard of Turnip looking after Sophie says, “So you’re Turnip. You’re under quite a spell too. Seems everyone in our little family is complicated.” Turnip is under a spell which has turned him into a scarecrow.

Turnip03Turnip helps around the castle, hopping up and down to move; he does laundry with Sophie, gets her shawl when it flies away, brings her an umbrella when she is out in the rain crying, runs around with Markl, helps find things, picks up the Witch, and looks after Markl when Sophie falls out of the falling apart house. He saves everyone from falling off the cliff Turnip04by using the post that keeps him up as a kind of brake but ends up losing most of it. Sophie kisses him in thanks for saving them and Turnip transforms into a prince.

Turnip is a prince from another kingdom but “a cruel spell turned me into a scarecrow” and as the Witch reveals, “A spell that only your beloved’s kiss could break.” Sophie is the young prince’s beloved but he comes to terms that she is in love with Howl. He leaves to stop the war but will return once again.

Turnip05Turnip’s transformation into a prince at the end is out of a fairy tale. To western audiences, the theme is one we are familiar with. A prince cursed into an ugly creature/shape must be kissed by his true love to break the spell. Yet Turnip could only be returned to a prince by his beloved’s kiss not true love’s kiss. Thus, for Turnip, Sophie is his dearly loved person but knows that “a fickle heart is the only constant in this world”Turnip06 meaning that now that he has returned to his human form and Sophie has chosen Howl, he will move on and find love elsewhere, even though he wishes to return to his new unroyal family.

Turnip and the prince’s identity is one of loyalty and understanding. His transformation at the end, changes his identity from a silenced scarecrow who could only communicate how he felt through actions to an eloquent, handsome prince who knew the inevitability of the world when it comes to unrequited love.

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