A Liminal Existence, Literally : A Deconstruction of Identity in Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Engelska

Abstract: This essay examines the inherent instability present in Diana Wynne Jones’ 1986 novel Howl’s Moving Castle. I suggest that in relying on the ambiguity of the story and the setting, Jones creates not only a more complex universe, but allows the characters to be multidimensional -- both literally and figuratively -- without having any stable selves. Using deconstruction as a (non-existent) foundation for my analysis, I contend that the strength of the story is in the looseness of it. Thus, by using a Derridean approach with added Cixousian feminist elements and a heap of Kristevian intertextuality, I further argue that Jones invites the reader to embrace the ambiguity of identity by closely analyzing the conflicting behaviours of the two main characters in the novel, Sophie Hatter and Wizard Howl. In conclusion, I argue that Diana Wynne Jones through subverting classic fairy tale tropes in an ingenious way, suggests that there is no such thing as a final finished growing person and that there is comfort to be found in embracing this incompleteness. 

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