Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire (book)

When the Harry Potter series was released in the summer of 1997 in the U.K. with its first book Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K.), a new phenomenon in literature emerged. Once it reached the U.S. a year later and with two more acclaimed books to follow. While the follow-ups for Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban helped increase readers for J.K. Rowling’s series as it was growing internationally. It also meant that anticipation for the fourth novel, Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire would be huge. The book would finally be released in both the U.S. and the U.K. on July 8, 2000.

In Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, the story surrounds a legendary tournament that is revived for an inter-school competition where Hogwarts competes against two other magical schools. With a student from each school to compete each other, the magical Goblet of Fire suddenly selected Harry Potter as the fourth competitor leading to a large amount of suspicion. With Harry reluctantly competing with another Hogwarts student as well as the two other students they’re facing. Harry tries to find out who put his name in the Goblet while becoming aware about Lord Voldemort’s possible return where he would suddenly face the dark wizard in a climatic duel.

While the structure of the books often begins with Harry back at the home of his unloving, anti-magic relatives. The book instead, begins with a scene taking place many years ago when a man named Frank Bryce is accused of killing a family by the name of Riddle. Though never charged, he remains a suspect until one night when Bryce entered the Riddle home to hear a frail Lord Voldemort and his servant Wormtail talking about the Quidditch World Cup and their plans to capture Harry Potter. Suddenly, Bryce is shown as Voldemort kills him where miles away. Harry Potter wakes up with his scar throbbing in pain.

The story would then follow Harry as he goes to the Quidditch World cup with the Weasleys and Hermione Granger while writing a letter to his godfather Sirius Black, who is on the run for a crime he didn’t commit. While the events at the Quidditch World Cup started out fun, it later became chaotic when Death Eaters emerged to cause havoc while someone cast the Dark Mark with Harry’s wand. The incident involved a Ministry of Magic official named Barty Crouch who becomes suspicious over who cast the Dark Mark as he would sack his own house elf named Winky for what happened.

With Harry realizing all of this had to do with Voldemort, Harry realizes that something bigger is happening as he, Hermione, and Ron Weasley return to Hogwarts where the Triwizard Tournament is to be held. With an age restriction held for those who are under the age of 17, the students of Hogwarts await the arrival of the two other competing schools to attend. The first is Beauxbaton Academy from France and Durmstrang from Northern Europe. The latter of which features popular Bulgarian Quidditch seeker Viktor Krum who has an interest towards Hermione much to Ron’s dismay. At the same time, a new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher has arrived to the school in an old Auror named Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, an old friend of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

When the Goblet of Fire was to announce the names to compete in the tournament. The three are Viktor Krum, Cedric Diggory of the Hufflepuff House at Hogwarts, and Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons. Then a fourth named came out of the Goblet as it was Harry’s name. Controversy arose as Barty Crouch and Ludo Bagman, a former Quidditch player turned Ministry official, decided that Harry would compete under the rules of the tournament. The announcement of Harry’s name into the tournament would cause a brief rift between him and Ron as Harry not only had to endure the indifferent behavior of his classmates but also Draco Malfoy’s insults as well as the tabloid-inspired journalism of Daily Prophet writer Rita Skeeter.

Though Harry would eventually succeed in the tournament while helping Diggory in giving him information about the first task. Harry starts to figure out who put his name in the Goblet as he suspects Durmstrang headmaster Igor Karkaroff, a former Death Eater. While he, Ron, and Hermione try to uncover the truth with help from Moody and later, Sirius Black. Black would reveal a shocking story about Barty Crouch and his son, who was suspected as a Death Eater. When Harry finally competes in the third and final task, he is suddenly transported to graveyard with one of his competitors. There, Harry would not only see that person killed but also be a witness to Voldemort’s resurrection.

While the first three books were more character-driven stories that dwelled into dark themes. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire is more of a transitional book of what would come in the next three. It is the first book that isn’t just ambitious in its storytelling but would provide the groundwork for the epic-like storyline of those books that would follow. More importantly, the story would also unveil many ideas of what it was like back then when Voldemort was in power as well as the fear of his possible resurrection.

One chapter would introduce three dark curses that would play a part into the rest of the series known as the Unforgivable Curses. The first is an Imperius Curse that allows a wizard/witch to control its victim. The second is the Cruciatus Curse, a curse that tortures its victim. The third and last is the Killing Curse known as Avada Kedavra which kills its victim as Harry is the only person to survive that curse. The person that would introduce the curses to its student is Mad-Eye Moody. A deranged man who had seen his share of battles and dark magic as he becomes an unlikely ally of Harry to help him with his Triwizard tasks as well as helping the trio with their investigation about who put Harry’s name. Yet, like previous Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers before him, there is something that isn’t right that is unveiled towards the end of the book.

Moody isn’t just one of the new characters that would be given a chance to get a lot of story time. Other new characters get a chance to be profiled like Viktor Krum, Fleur Delacour, Beauxbatons headmistress Madame Maxime, Igor Karkaroff, Barty Crouch, Ludo Bagman, and Rita Skeeter. The last of which, is a woman who thrives on creating exaggerating stories. Many of which would later impact not just Harry’s persona but also in trying to create a rift with the trio when Hermione is seen with Krum. Even as her style of journalism would become the basis of the political corruption and biased-news stories that would be an important theme for the next book.

Minor characters like Cedric Diggory and Cho Chang would also be given more of a profile, the latter of which is Harry’s first crush as she is later to be revealed as Diggory’s girlfriend. There’s also more stories about two of Harry’s teachers that are revealed in both Hagrid and Professor Snape. Hagrid is revealed to be a half-giant at which, Skeeter’s profile on the teacher has earned him lots of insults from various people until Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore convince him to ignore those comments. Then there’s Snape, another of Harry’s nemesis who is also revealed to be a former Death Eater but what is more surprising is that he then joined Dumbledore as a spy where Harry would ask Dumbledore about Snape. The only answer Dumbledore would give Harry about Snape is “that is a matter between Professor Snape and myself”.

While the book would have a lot of time delving into Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and various other major characters. Two other minor characters get a chance to be shown more in Ginny Weasley and Neville Longbottom. The latter of which, would be revealed into why he lives with his grandmother as Dumbledore tells Harry about what happened to Neville’s parents. The increased profile for Ginny and Neville would really serve as a precursor for their characters as they would later become major characters in the books to follow.

The book also has a subplot relating to house-elves as Dobby, from Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets, returns to the series as he works with other house-elves at Hogwarts giving hope to Hermione’s cause for house-elves rights. Dobby would also be instrumental into helping Harry with the Triwizard tournament as well as providing Harry food that he needed to be sent to Sirius, as he hides in a cave near the school. Winky meanwhile, would also be instrumental into the story as she would provide more stories about Barty Crouch as well as the secret she’s carrying relating to the Crouch family.

While Hermione’s house-elf protests along with a small subplot about Fred and George Weasley trying to blackmail Ludo Bagman over money for their joke shop are among part of the story. The climax of the book is Harry’s confrontation with Voldemort as Harry is surrounded by Voldemort’s Death Eaters that includes Lucius Malfoy. Though Harry was able to survive the battle and escape Voldemort, it is during his capture where Harry would lose his innocence once Wormtail takes Harry’s blood and puts into a large pot as Harry’s blood would live inside Voldemort.

While a lot of mysteries would be unveiled on who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire and why did all of this happen. Many readers would think that would be the end of the story. Instead, it would the book’s penultimate chapter entitled Parting of the Ways that would set the course for the next book. It is in that chapter where readers would finally see what kind of person that Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge is as he and Dumbledore would have a falling out over what had happened Fudge refuses to listen to the truth. Even as Snape tries to intervene and reveal the faded dark mark on his arm as evidence of Voldemort’s return. With Fudge refusing to believe everyone, Dumbledore would turn to the people in the room for help as Sirius Black would finally reveal himself to Molly Weasley and his longtime adversary in Snape as Dumbledore gives orders on what to do while making Snape and Sirius shake hands, much to their reluctance.

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire is definitely a magnificent book that not only gives readers a much broader look into the magical world but also the idea of what it would’ve been like when Voldemort was in power. It also the book where we readers would find more shift and developments into many of the characters in the book, including Harry. While the dark tone, the small level of violence, and the world of biased-journalism and political themes would be overwhelming for younger readers. It is a book that will definitely appeal to adults as it steps into strong themes that are relevant with the real world. In the end, Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire is a wondrous book that sets the transition for all of the pre-adult themes to come.

© thevoid99 2010

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