“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

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“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

Book Review of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

The fourth iteration in the Harry Potter series centers around a prestigious, but dark Triwizard Tournament

Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, begins with a single theme in mind: Tournaments. First, Harry is invited to the magical world’s finest sporting event, the Quiddith World Cup Final, by his friend Ron Weasley, whose father, Arthur Weasley, has been able to procure the best seats via his connections at the Ministry of Magic. Then, after Harry, Ron, and Hermione arrive at Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster of the school, announces that the historic Triwizard Tournament would be taking place at Hogwarts.

Of course, outside of school, the Wizarding world continues its day-to-day activities without knowledge of the whereabouts of the dark wizard, Lord Voldemort. For the most part, wizards and witches are blissfully oblivious to the fact that Voldemort is slowly growing stronger since his cowardly, yet loyal servant, Wormtail, has returned to him. Through Wormtail’s help, Voldemort, while still largely weakened, is able to start his bidding and perilous activities once more.

In reflecting on this fourth book, I got the sense that the entire book is all about events that were explicitly not supposed to take place. For starters, the Death Eaters were not supposed to carry out their attacks during the Quidditch World Cup. Harry Potter was not supposed to be the fourth (and under-age) entrant to the Triwizard Tournament. The tournament trophy should not have been a portkey that transported Harry and Cedric to Lord Voldemort’s remote location. Cedric should not have died the way he did in that graveyard (again, totally preventable if the trophy was not a portkey). And, finally, Harry Potter should not have been able to escape from the evil clutches of Lord Voldemort for the fourth time (when most others had not even managed a single escape).

But, in a unique way, all of those nots helped make this book an interesting dive into Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts. And, as a result, it made Harry physically, emotionally, and mentally stronger by the end of it. Having gone through the Triwizard Tournament and escaped Voldemort for the fourth time became the breeding grounds for the rock-solid self-belief and confidence that would come in handy in the last three books of the series. This was the book that allowed us readers to witness Harry’s transformation from a child to a teenaged young man.

The Funny Moments

Although we had to witness Harry go through some tough and heart-breaking losses in this book, throughout the sadness, there were some comical moments sprinkled in by J.K. Rowling. Of course, the Dursleys never fail to provide some funny times with their devious ways.

“They [the Dursleys] were Muggles who hated and despised magic in any form, which meant that Harry was about as welcome in their house as dry rot. They had explained away Harry’s long absences at Hogwarts over the last three years by telling everyone that he went to St. Brutus’s Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys.” — Page 19

As always, Harry’s cousin, Dudley, keeps blossoming. Not blossoming in terms of his character or his abilities, but in terms of his…um…excess poundage. Dudley had become so fat that his school nurse had written to Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia urging them to change Dudley’s diet. Why? Because if they didn’t, then they would have to face the fact that Dudley “had reached the size and weight of a young killer whale” (page 27).

The funniest moment in this whole fourth book came during the most unexpected time: Divination lessons with Professor Trelawney. Both Ron and Harry were getting irritated by Trelawney’s wild and unsupported claims that Harry would suffer various types of gory deaths in his near future. But, it was Ron and Harry’s classmate, Lavender Brown, who set up the best joke in the book.

“Oh Professor, look! I think I’ve got an unaspected planet! Oooh, which one’s that, Professor?”

“It is Uranus, my dear,” said Professor Trelawney, peering down at the chart.

“Can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?” said Ron.

Most unfortunately, Professor Trelawney heard him, and it was this, perhaps, that made her give them so much homework at the end of the class. (Pages 201–202)

Did J.K. just make a (dirty) ‘Uranus’ joke???

These Harry Potter series truly do reward re-readings!

The Subtle Nuances

There were a few subtle nuances in this fourth book in the series. The most subtle one was nestled inside a Harry, Ron, and Hermione conversation that the trio was conducting while onboard the Hogwarts Express taking them to Hogwarts. The conversation centered around Harry’s archnemesis at Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy.

“But I think Drumstrang must be somewhere in the far north,” said Hermione thoughtfully. “Somewhere very cold, because they’ve got furry capes as part of their uniforms.”

“Ah, think of the possibilities,” said Ron dreamily. “It would’ve been so easy to push Malfoy off a glacier and make it look like an accident….Shame his mother likes him….” (Page 167)

While pushing the treacherous Malfoy off a glacier does sound appealing, what caught my eye was the fact that Ron also noticed that Malfoy’s mother seemed to love her son. Of course, any mother would love her son (even a son as devious as Malfoy), but the reason this seemingly off-hand comment by Ron is so important is because Malfoy’s mother’s love for her son, Draco, is what allows her to save Harry’s life at the end of the seventh book when Harry “returns” from the dead and Voldemort asks Malfoy’s mother to check on Harry to see if he’s dead or alive.

The Insightful Ideas

If you have read any of my past three Harry Potter book reviews, you will know that this “insightful ideas” section of those past three reviews is full of Dumbledore’s wisdom. Well, in this fourth book, Dumbledore provides Hagrid with some much-needed advice. Hagrid, who has been miserable because of a dark and revolting Rita Skeeter Daily Prophet interview, has asked Dumbledore to accept his resignation. Dumbledore, in refusing Hagrid’s request, also leaves him with an excellent thought: “Really, Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time.”

Dumbledore understands (better than anyone) that trying to please everyone is a task of impossible undertaking — it simply is too draining to attempt doing. Instead, Dumbledore implores Hagrid (and all of us reading the books) to trust our instincts and put our faith towards the people we care about. Screw everybody else, their negative opinions shouldn’t hold any weight over us.

Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather also had a great quote when he and the trio (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) were discussing the recent behavior of Mr. Bartemius Crouch: “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

Finally, the last bit of Dumbledore’s wisdom that stood out to me had a profound impact on me given the events in our real world of the past few weeks. The sudden and mysterious death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the Baltimore police ignited many riots and discord throughout the nation (but, Baltimore in particular). At times of upheaval and societal uproar like this, I felt what Dumbledore had to say at the end of Goblet of Fire helps shed some light on how we can improve as a society.

“I say to you all, once again — in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” (Page 723)

 

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