Harry Potter Anniversary Summer (Re-) Reading [IV] – The Goblet of Fire

Three things made me realize lately that I seem to be a bit over-read from HP…

  1. I try to get hold of objects like my first coffee in the morning which is just five centimetres out of reach by saying „Accio coffee“
  2. I wish I could master the spell STUPEFY to silence annoying persons like e.g. noisy visitors in my local library when I have just settled in a cosy nook with some book in front of me
  3. When I look at my undone ironing, the notion of a nice little house-elf seems pretty cool to me all of a sudden😉

The Goblet of Fire…where to start?
Well, first let me do a little comparison of the book and the movie again which this time gets quite annoying. The movie ignores the entire beginning of the book. Harry in the house of the Dursleys simply doesn’t take place. The same applies to the incident at the Quidditch World Cup. In the novel, the house-elf Winky is sitting in the Minister’s box where she allegedly has been told to save a seat for her master, the Ministry member Barty Crouch. Later you learn, however, that she accompanied Barty Crouch Jr on his day release from home where he had been locked up by his father.

Next missing piece in the movie: The wand story
Although it is Barty Crouch Jr who conjures the Dark Mark after the Quidditch World Cup in the movie as well as in the book, the film doesnt‘ say anything about the fact that it was done with Harry’s wand and that Winky is left behind to deal with the consequences.

That is only the beginning of so many scenes that have been left out in the movie. Even with the awareness that screen adaptations of books have to leave things out…when this fact results in not being able to understand the movie without having read the book, something went clearly wrong. The solution would have been so easy and has successfully worked for the last part of Harry Potter. You only would have had to have a good look at the books (Dear English speaking folks: Is this have-had combination working in English?). The first three parts of the series are approximately half the size of the following volumes which suggests the division of the screen versions from Book 4 on in two parts just as it was done in The Deathly Hallows.

But as there’s the proverbial no use crying over spilled milk, let’s go back to the book instead. The main event in The Goblet of Fire is the revival of a historical competition of Magic with a long tradition, the so-called Triwizard Tournament. Participants allowed are not only full-aged students of Hogwarts but also students from the schools Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. The only thing is, when the three champions have already been chosen (Cedric Diggory from Hufflepuff House for Hogwarts, Fleur Delacour for Beauxbatons and the admired Quidditch player Viktor Krum for Durmstrang), the Goblet of Fire additionally spits out Harry’s name.

Although under-age, Harry now has to compete against his rivals in the dangerous tasks going along with the Tournament. To the surprise of almost everyone, however, Harry each time closely manages to succeed. Not until later it becomes clear that he had a secret helper who had his own reasons for not only enrolling Harry in the competition but making sure that he comes out of it as the winner.

The „friendly“ assistant is no one other than Barty Crouch Jr again. Being a known Death Eater for which he was kept in the wizard prison Azkaban for many years until his flight, he acts on the orders of Voldemort who in this sequel seizes his chance to get hold of Harry. Disguised as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, the ex-Auror Alastor (Mad-Eye) Moody who he has locked up into an enchanted trunk, Barty Crouch Jr manages to fulfil his master’s orders.

In the same moment Harry touches the Triwizard Cup, he is transported to an old graveyard where Voldemort and Wormtail alias Peter Pettigrew who has joined his master again, are already waiting for him to use Harry for the physical rebirth of Tom Riddle. Bad news is that not only Harry ends up in this scene of mortal danger but also Cedric Diggory, his friendly schoolmate.This scene at the end of the book is so horrible and grave that even in the second reading I had to bite my teeth.

In a remarkable scene that bears a beautiful reference to Shakespeare’s Richard III, Harry manages to escape Voldemort in the end. When Voldemort’s Avada Kedavra curse simultaneously meets Harry’s defensive spell Expelliarmus, both of their wands connect which causes something that later is explained by Albus Dumbledore as the Priori Incantatem effect. In reverse order preceding spells come out of Voldemort’s wand, which in his case is murder, murder and again murder. Ghostlike visions of Cedric, an old man whom Voldemort killed and Harry’s mother and father emerge and encourage Harry to persevere until he can escape with the dead body of Cedric. In Richard III, there is a similar scene at the end. In the last night before the decisive Battle of Bosworth takes place, the villain Richard is forced to see every one of his victims in his sleep. They curse him and predict a bad outcome for the next day’s fight. His opponent, the Earl of Richmond, the later King Henry VII, is encouraged instead by the same ghosts.

Like Shakespeare’s play Richard III, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire eventually underlines the concept of eternal victory of good over evil, the motto that is so typical for fairy tales. But let us not be fooled, the fourth book of the Harry Potter series is definitely not an exclusive children’s book anymore. Voldemort not only gets closer and slowly turns into the evil fiend to be taken seriously who he was before his demise, but also Harry for the first time experiences tragic consequences from his stand against Tom Riddle. When the first three books are more intended for children, this one is the first sequel J. K. Rowling designated for adults as well and perhaps even more than for kids.

And finally I would like to draw attention to the attitude, the Ministry for Magic, in person Cornelius Fudge, takes up regarding the development of events. You know the three monkeys with their eyes, ears and mouths covered? Being too fearful to acknowledge that their worst fears became reality, they believe it is better to react as if nothing has happened at all. In the Minister’s case some well-considered anxieties about losing his office might be also part of the deal as Dumbledore takes into account. Interesting how this behaviour seems not that far away from how today’s politicians are conducting themselves from time to time. We will definitely see more of this and the subsequent consequences in the next book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

‚You fool!‘ Professor McGonagall cried. ‚Cedric Diggory! Mr Crouch! These deaths were not the random work of a lunatic!‘   ‚ I see no evidence to the contrary!‘ shouted Fudge, now matching her anger, his face purpling. ‚It seems to me that you are all determined to start  a panic that will destabilise everything we have worked for these last thirteen years!‘  Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had always thought of Fudge as a kindly figure, a little blustering, a little pompous, but essentially good-natured. But now a short, angry wizard stood before him, refusing, point-blank, to accept the prospect of disruption in his comfortable and ordered world – to believe that Voldemort could have risen. (p. 613)

(…)

‚You – you cannot be serious!‘ Fudge gasped, shaking his head, and retreating further from Dumbledore. ‚If the magical community got wind that I had approached the giants – people hate them, Dumbledore – end of my career -‚    ‚You are blinded,‘ said Dumbledore, his voice rising now, the aura of power around him palpable, his eyes blazing once more, ‚by the love of the office you hold, Cornelius! You place too much importance, and you always have done, on the so-called purity of blood! You fail to recognise that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be! Your Dementor has just destroyed the last remaining member of a pure-blood family as old as any – and see what that man chose to make of his life! I tell you now – take the steps I have suggested, and you will be remembered, in office or out, as one of the bravest and greatest Ministers for Magic we have ever known. Fail to act – and history will remember you as the man who stepped aside, and allowed Voldemort a second chance to destroy the world we have tried to rebuild!‘ (p. 614 f.)

Ich freue mich sehr über eure Gedanken und euer Feedback! :)

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