Posts Tagged ‘The Inklings’

(The month being April, by the way…)

…the gossip in the shop was suddenly all about Lettie. Cesari’s, it seemed, was packed with gentlemen from morning to night, each one buying quantities of cakes… She had had ten proposals of marriage[.]

In a recent email (to which I haven’t yet replied, but then it’s only been a month or so, which for me is quick work), my friend Caudex raised the question of the Inglish population’s magic-user to non-magic-user ratio. (“Magic-user” being DWJ’s rather more neutral term than “witch” or “wizard” for persons with magic ability, although she uses those terms as well. But, this not being a lawblog, we aren’t going to discuss The Old Testament vs. Harry Potter, which was a frivolous lawsuit anyway. For now just take my word for it: DWJ writes in the tradition of the Inklings, for whom magic is a metaphor for many qualities, mostly positive ones.)

On thinking it over, I believe that if everybody in Ingary were a magic-user just by wanting to be, there would be no need for magical “practices” such as Mrs. Fairfax’s, nor for the King to keep a Royal Wizard — the ominously absent Suliman — on staff. And though there is no school like Hogwarts that we know of, there is a least one character who makes her living by tutoring young people with nascent magical power.

So if you were to ask them, I’d imagine the Mayor, the hat shop ladies, Fanny and her late husband and her three girls, and even poor Jane Farrier, would all identify themselves as non-magic-users. They all seem comfortable with this reality, although the Mayor is worried about Wizard Howl’s castle. If the Mayor were to call on the King for help, as he had talked of doing, what sort of help could the King provide? Magical, military, or both? Suliman’s disappearance, however, has peeled off at least one layer of aid and protection. Along with some individual souls here and there, the entire realm is in danger.

But that’s getting ahead of myself.

Lettie is so popular so suddenly that it’s the talk of the town, and this is in spite of her being widely considered a beauty going in. Seldom does anyone, no matter how personable and winsome, gets ten marriage proposals in a little over a month. And although Lettie is a well-brought-up girl from a nice family and her suitors, ranging from the Mayor’s son to the street-sweeper, are the salt of the Inglish earth, the whole thing seems odd, as though some sort of manipulation from on high were going on. Or if not manipulation, then magic.

Love and romance are so often compared to magic, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a natural metaphor, and none the worse for constant use. I can think a half-dozen popular songs to that effect without even lifting a brain cell.

If love is like magic, then is magic like love? When you’re in love it’s all one. And there certainly seems to be black magic at work whenever love goes wrong. Howl’s Moving Castle is going to explore the power of love and the magic of attraction from all angles, not only the happy and good but the dark and dangerous as well.

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