Howl Jenkins Pendragon (ハウル・ジェンキンス・ペンドラゴン, Hauru Jenkinsu Pendoragons) is a powerful wizard living in the land of Ingary. Originally Howell Jenkins of Wales, he was part of a loose fraternity of wizards on Earth. He made his way through a magical portal to Ingary, where he became known and respected as one of the most powerful wizards there was. He owns a moving castle, and spreads rumors about himself to retain his privacy, opting to be alone and hiding from all conflict.
Early LifeHowell Jenkins was born to an ordinary family in modern-day Wales. However, he himself was anything but ordinary. Gifted with a natural talent for magic, he began studying it. Even in college, he wrote his thesis on magical spells and charms, and joined a group of other gifted magicians on Earth.
In Wales, Howell had a habit of going out with girls and then jilting them. In an attempt to hide from three angry rugby players whose sister he had jilted, he cast a spell that opened a portal to another land, Ingary, where he moved almost permanently. Still young, he took up tutelage under Mrs. Pentstemmon (or Madame Suliman in the movie). He became her last pupil, and one of her favorites (and best). His natural gift for magic showed, and he was quite powerful. He was in the same league as the Witch of the Waste. Howl is a wizard in the land of Ingary and he has several names; he is known as Wizard Howl in Market Chipping, "Wizard Pendragon" in the capital Kingsbury, and "Jenkin the Sorcerer" in lower-class Porthaven.
One night on the Porthaven Marshes, Howl caught a Falling Star named Calcifer and made a contract with him. He gave his heart to the creature, binding them together, and allowing Calcifer to live for he felt sorry for him, while boosting his own magical power. After doing so, Howl quit his apprenticeship and became a hermit. He dyed his hair and spent all his money on make-up and clothing, and spent his days wooing young ladies until they fell in love with him, and then jilted them. During this time, Howl found Michael Fisher sleeping on his doorstep, and invited him in. Howl was impressed by Calcifer's reaction to Michael. Though he never explicitly told Michael he could stay, Howl allowed him to live in the castle, eventually making him his apprentice. Also during this time, Howl courted and then dumped the Witch of the Waste, who put a curse on him. Howl occasionally did work for the King's army, but avoided contact with them as much as possible.
It is during one of his outings to find a young woman that he first meets Sophie. Howl first meets Sophie on May Day in Market Chipping before the Witch of The Waste casts an aging spell on her. Days later he returns to the Castle and is surprised to find an old woman cooking bacon on Calcifer. Despite Michael and Calcifer's complaints, he allows Sophie to clean the castle, though he stops her from cleaning his room. Although he has been gathering clues about Suliman's disappearance, Howl is concerned the King wants him to find Prince Justin. He gets Sophie to pretend to be his mother but the king is more impressed than annoyed, and hires him as Royal Wizard. The very same day, Mrs Pentstemmon is killed by the Witch of the Waste. Howl is grieved and vows to attend Mrs Pentstemmon's funeral no matter what.
Howl battles with the Witch of the Waste after attending Mrs Penstemmon's funeral. Now that the Witch knows he lives in Porthaven, he decides to move the castle to escape. Taking Michael and Sophie's wishes into consideration, he takes the hat shop in Market Chipping so Michael stays close to Martha (his love interest), and orders Calcifer to find a nice house with lots of flowers for Sophie. Howl helps in the shop and discovers the dog is a bespelled human. When Sophie admits that she knew about it he is furious with her. He restores the bespelled human to his human form and suspects he is made of Wizard Suliman and Prince Justin's body parts. Howl is stunned and terrified at this realization; he was counting on Wizard Suliman being alive.
On the night before Midsummer's Day, Howl goes to Wales for a Rugby League Reunion and gets himself drunk out of fear. He uses Sophie to get information out of him, which Sophie is later furious about. On Midsummer's Day, Howl arranges for Sophie's family to visit, to keep Sophie out of trouble. When Sophie falls into the Witch's trap, he goes into the Waste to rescue her. There, he finds the Witch and the scarecrow battling, and Howl kills the Witch. After hearing that the Witch's fire-demon has entered the Castle and touched the guitar, Howl raises a wind to bring himself and Sophie back to the Castle quickly to apprehend the demon. On the way, he finally explains his motives to Sophie.
His honesty seals his fate and in the Castle the Witch's fire demon, in the shape of Howl's nephew's English teacher, gets hold of Calcifer and squeezes the heart Howl had given Calcifer to keep him alive. Howl collapses but Sophie saves him by giving him his heart back. After breaking Howl's and Calcifer's contract, Calcifer breaks the spell on Sophie and Sophie returns to her true age. Howl destroys the Witch's fire demon, which restores Suliman and Prince Justin to their true forms, and asks Sophie to marry him.
The movie adaptation by Hayao Miyazaki has significant differences to the novel, the first being that the story takes place during a war which heavily influences the plot direction, even though the main focus is Sophie and her adventure. Sophie meets Howl for the first time when he rescues her from soldiers who are harassing her by calling her 'Sweetheart' and apologizing for being late and saying he was looking 'everywhere' for her. He further casts a spell on them which forces them to march off. Howl then escorts Sophie to her younger sister Lettie's bakery, being followed by The Witch of the Waste's henchmen, he flies into the air, landing on the roof of the bakery.
Castle in the Air
It is a year later, and Sophie and Howl have married, and are expecting a child. While working on a divining spell for the King, Howl discovers that a djinn is going to steal the moving castle. He sends Michael and the new apprentice away, and wants to send Sophie away as well but she refuses to go. They argue about that, and while they are arguing the djinn arrives. Howl turns Sophie into a cat, and she is thrown out of the Castle. He tells Calcifer to save himself because the djinn is too strong for either of them. Howl is still in the Castle when the djinn comes, and Howl is turned into a genie by the djinn.
Howl is cursed so that he is unable to tell anyone that he is under a spell and no one is able to recognise him. Both Howl and Calcifer at some point find themselves in the hands of Abdullah, a carpet merchant, who has also lost his true love to the djinns. Howl is forced to grant a wish each day to Abdullah, although Howl uses his powers to cause as much trouble for Abdullah as possible. He later encounters the cat Sophie, who is named Midnight by Abdullah's companion the soldier, and finds that she has given birth to Morgan, who is a kitten. When Morgan is turned back into a baby, the Genie takes him to the castle in the air so he can keep an eye on him. Once the djinns are defeated, the Genie is turned back into Howl and he is reunited with Sophie, Morgan and Calcifer.
Appearance and PersonalityIn the movie adaptation, Howl has shoulder-length straight light blonde hair, light blue eyes, and a pale complexion. He is tall and slender. Later on in the movie, Sophie Hatter cleans his bathroom and switches some hair potions, leaving Howl's formerly blonde hair a ginger color, which later turns a raven black colour. Howl is not very happy with this, and reacts by calling the shadows of darkness and covering himself with a see-through green slime in a particularly humorous scene.
In the book of Howl's Moving Castle, Howl has "marble like" green eyes and it is unclear what his natural hair colour is. According to Calcifer, Howl is "very vain, for a plain looking man with mud-colored hair."He uses charms and make up to make himself more attractive, as well as having a naturally engaging personality. Michael and Calcifer insist that the day Howl forgets to spend less than an hour in the bathroom is the day he is truly in love, a prediction which later turns out to be true. Howl wears flamboyant and fancy suits, claiming to Michael that "No one's going to employ a wizard if he looks like he can't make money at the trade" (although Sophie voices suspicions that really, he just likes clothes). The suit he wears most often is silver and blue though he later changes to his more favoured grey and scarlet one, later disguised as a black suit, when Howl goes into mourning for his tutor, Mrs Pentstemmon. Originally, it was just flashy, until Sophie accidentally darned magic into the seams by talking life into it, saying "[the suit is] built to pull in the girls."
Howl's hair is dyed occasionally, as he doesn't see why "people put so much value in things being natural". At the beginning of the book it is blonde, then a pinkish red color (this happened by accident, Sophie moved around his potions in the bathroom) and finally bluish-black, a color most people agree looks best on him, as it goes with his "glass green eyes". When Howl gets his heart back, his eyes become much less marble-like and more real looking.
Howl has a kind, generous personality. He allowed Michael and Sophie to live with him, and is very forgiving of their mistakes. He also gave Calcifer his heart when Calcifer was a dying falling star. His good traits, however, are masked by his more negative traits, as well as deliberate "blackening of his name", so very few people know of them. He hates to quarrel, and will "slither out" of situations he doesn't want to be in. He hates to be pinned down to anything, and is quite cowardly.
In addition to this, Howl has a somewhat child-like attitude, begging for attention and even throwing a tantrum. Despite his attention-seeking, self-absorbed nature, he's quite kind - or rather, is not wicked; "I'm too patient and too polite," as he put it.
The only way he can make himself do something brave is to tell himself he is running away. He also lies a lot, and likes to tease Sophie, though subtly. A good example of this is when he is pretending to be in love with Lettie to get information on Sophie, and he constantly goes on about her to make Sophie feel jealous. Howl's worst, or at least most troublesome trait, is his courting. He cannot rest until he has made a girl love him and becomes quite insensible, but once she loves him he swiftly forgets her.
This practice is where Howl got his reputation for eating hearts, as that is what rejected girls' angry aunts call it when they come looking for Howl. This practice also is why the Witch of the Waste cursed Howl, as she was jilted by him as well. Howl is very insensible with money, overcharging the rich and undercharging the poor, as well as spending too much too often. It is suspected that, when Howl gave Calcifer his heart, he lost some of his humanity. This is suggested by the progression of the Witch of the Waste, who had her fire demon for much longer than Howl. It is also suggested by Madam Pentstemmon, when she tells Sophie that Howl is "going to the bad."
Howl is a very talented wizard, and is also quite good at slithering out of things he does not wish to do - a talent he cultivated through his sister's unwitting aid - and can change into different animals (he's seen as a cat, a dog and an unidentified monster). In the movie, he is able to transform in to a large beast with black feathers and seemly various stages of transformation. He uses this power to fly to the battlefield and fight as well as to escape from enemies.
At one point in the movie, he 'zooms in', on a battleship when him and Sophie are in his garden, he passes walkways, slips past several henchmen, and goes to the heart of the airship where he unplugs several cables that stop all but one wing from working. But this magic seems to transform him into the beast:
- Sophie: What did you do?
- Howl: Just messed with it, it won't crash though.
Sophie sees that his finger nails have elongated into claws, and his forearm is starting to grow black feathers.