Chapter 6 – The Portkey
- In this chapter, Mr Weasley addresses the problem of how you handle getting thousands of wizards from all over the world into Britain without the Muggles noticing. The wizarding world may be hidden away from the Muggle one, but it’s not hard to accept that sometimes wizards want to have big events and gatherings too. And the story manages to make it work, while still being imperfect and requiring a lot of effort.
- And Cedric Diggory unexpectedly reappears after only being around briefly in Prisoner of Azkaban. When reading these books for the first time, I certainly wasn’t necessarily expecting to see Cedric again after that book, or even for him to have a big role in the rest of this one – but it’s good to see him introduced early on, and to be reminded of the kind of person he is, as he remains modest and embarrassed in the face of his father’s bragging. Though with hindsight, you can look at how Amos talks about Cedric’s future grandchildren and Apparition test, and talk it as foreshadowing that something bad’s going to happen to him.
Chapter 7 – Bagman and Crouch
- Goblet of Fire isn’t just a bigger book in terms of actual size; it abruptly expands the size of the magical universe by giving us our first proper look at foreign wizards. A lot of this chapter is just an entertaining spectacle of interesting and amusing images, from the conspicuous slip-ups with various tents, to old Archie in his nightgown, enjoying the breeze around his privates.
- And as the chapter title indicates, we are introduced to Ludo Bagman and Barty Crouch, both of whom are striking characters in how prominent their character traits are made and how well they contrast each other: Bagman is casual, likeable and charismatic (masking what we’ll learn about him at the end without contradicting it), and wears bright robes; while Crouch is uptight, unsmiling and professional, and could easily pass for a smart Muggle in appearance.
- Obviously, Rowling has already incorporated many elements traditionally associated with magical stories into her universe, from wizards flying on broomsticks to the pointed hats of Hogwarts uniforms – and it’s briefly done again brilliantly here, with the talk of trading flying carpets, and their potential marketability as a “family vehicle”.
Chapter 8 – The Quidditch World Cup
- The Quidditch World Cup final itself is another wonderful spectacle, as we get to see Quidditch played to professional standard for the only time in the books. Following my previous comments about how dirty the Slytherins play Quidditch, I think I should forgive them, as the international teams are just as bad!
- I wonder if the character of Viktor Krum – an international sporting superstar, still in his teens – was inspired at all by the English footballer Michael Owen. This book was published only two years after Owen became a national hero at the 1998 World Cup, at the age of just 18: he even got his own TV series, Hero to Zero, playing a poster of himself that comes to life to inspire a young football fan. Unfortunately, Owen was plagued by injuries and went downhill too soon, whereas Krum (according to Pottermore) remains fit enough to come out of retirement and appear in another World Cup two decades later.
Chapter 9 – The Dark Mark
- All that fun was too good to last, it seems. This chapter gives a sudden tone shift – with the appearance of the Death Eaters and the Dark Mark – and reminds us of the darkness that is still present in the background, waiting to rear its head. Seeing the Death Eaters toying with the Roberts family is pretty horrible, and it’s hard for a more moral mindset to understand why this is fun or why they’re willing to do it at such a public event.
- Hermione starts thinking about the house elves’ lot in life for the first time – as with Harry when he met Dobby in Chamber of Secrets, she’s really just applying what she’s been taught as a Muggle about the morality of slavery, without being influenced by wizard culture’s acceptance of the situation.
- Many things in this chapter are part of the central drawn-out mystery that, a lot of the time, we don’t even realise is there at all. Suspicious things happen – from Winky moving “as though someone invisible was trying to hold her back”, to Mr Crouch investigating the spot where Winky was found despite being told there was nothing there – and they go by so quickly that we don’t ponder on them. There’s even “a group of goblins, who were cackling over a sack of gold they had undoubtedly won betting on the match” – it isn’t until much later we can connect them with Bagman turning up looking “white and strained”.
- It’s interesting to see Crouch’s behaviour in the scene where Winky is found – his lack of pity towards her, and his anger at the slightest suggested association between him and the Dark Arts: we get an idea of his character even though we don’t know even half of the whole story yet.
Chapter 10 – Mayhem at the Ministry
- Again, there’s not much to this chapter. We do get an early introduction for another important character, Rita Skeeter; and it’s notable how, after discussing Voldemort for a bit, Harry’s next action is to avoid dwelling on the subject, and go to play Quidditch to distract himself. He can’t ignore the issue, but he really doesn’t want to keep thinking about it.