Re-Reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapters 17-21

Chapter 17 – The Four Champions

  • All we know about why Harry has to compete in the Tournament is that there’s a “binding magical contract” – it really should be explained what the consequences of breaking this contract are. If Harry just tried to stay in his room right before a task, would some magical force direct him down to the spot like a puppet?
  • Moody/Crouch is really clever here: he partly tells the truth about how Harry’s name got into the Goblet, while giving a completely different but believable motivation from the actual one, and deflecting suspicion away from himself.
  • I find it strange that Harry, in this situation he doesn’t want to be in, doesn’t say very much and lets the adults talk amongst themselves. It probably wouldn’t make much difference if he did say anything, but still. Perhaps he’s still in shock: when he’s heading back up to Gryffindor Tower, the prose does a good job of emphasising his bewildered train of thought, and then how isolated from everybody around him he’s already become.
  • I have to admit, I don’t like reading this section: not because it’s poorly written, but because it’s so painful to see Harry’s relationship with one of his best friends falling apart for a period. For something like this to happen shows, more than anything else, that things are really bad.

Chapter 18 – The Weighing of the Wands

  • I really like how considerate Hermione is at the start of the chapter, anticipating that Harry will want to be away from the other students and bringing him breakfast.
  • There’s an essay on The Sugar Quill which argues that Hermione is wrong about Ron: he’s not jealous of Harry, he genuinely does think that Harry put his name in the Goblet and didn’t include Ron in his plan. It’s certainly a good argument: after all, Ron has never created the impression in the past that he’s jealous of Harry, despite what Hermione thinks.
  • While the way Ron is treating Harry certainly isn’t nice, it’s going both ways as Harry feels the ball is in Ron’s court and doesn’t want to talk to him. Classic teenagers.
  • Yet Ron certainly hasn’t gone all bad, despite what certain fanfiction writers would like to think: it’s noted that when Malfoy shows off his ‘Potter Stinks’ badges, “he wasn’t laughing, but he wasn’t sticking up for Harry either” and he quickly goes to support Hermione after the scuffle that follows.
  • Snape looking at Hermione’s enlarged teeth and saying, “I see no difference” – that is seriously mean.
  • Since Harry doesn’t interact directly with Fleur and Krum very much, we have to get a feel for their characters through what he sees them doing. In this chapter, Fleur repeatedly throws back her head at the prospect of having her photo taken, gives Cedric a smile, and looks patronisingly at Harry when he tries to clean his wand. Krum appears very introverted – one could imagine that, rather like Harry, he doesn’t get that much pleasure from being a celebrity.

Chapter 19 – The Hungarian Horntail

  • It’s interesting to note Harry’s emphasis on the qualities as a friend that Ron possesses and Hermione doesn’t: “There was much less laughter, and a lot more hanging around in the library when Hermione was your best friend.” It shows very well why, through the course of the books, Harry needs the two of them equally. Also, when Harry has his face-to-face with Sirius later in the chapter, he begins by unloading everything that’s been troubling him, which would imply that anything Hermione’s been saying to try and help him hasn’t worked.
  • The brief paragraph where Harry imagines what would be happening if he hadn’t been entered in the tournament is quite sad: he would love to have a normal life, but it just keeps eluding him.
  • I like how this universe divides dragons into different species with different species: even on the cover of the book, the Hungarian Horntail looks slender-bodied and less generic than it does in the movie.
  • Sirius’s talk with Harry serves to remind us that Voldemort must be involved with these events in some way, as well as going over the strange occurrences that won’t really make sense until the very end. As with red herrings in previous books, his interpretation of the disturbance at Moody’s house – that somebody wanted to stop him getting to Hogwarts so he wouldn’t be watching over them – is incorrect but does make sense.
  • Ron’s behaviour when he comes downstairs and interrupts Harry’s conversation with Sirius is telling. He starts saying to Harry, “I just wondered where you…” and it’s only when Harry continues to be angry with him that he responds in kind. The fact that he was concerned about where Harry might be does suggest he’s feeling conflicted and isn’t enjoying this separation himself.

Chapter 20 – The First Task

  • It’s when a character is really pushed out of their comfort zone, as Harry is here, that you often get the best study of who they are. Harry briefly considers running away but decides Hogwarts is still preferable to the Dursleys; he elects to tell Cedric about the dragons to make things fair; and he’s perplexed when Cedric has to ask why Harry has told him. It’s somewhat reassuring to see that Cedric, Fleur and Krum appear nervous as well.
  • More clever manipulation from Moody/Crouch, as he guides Harry to the solution while making it all seem perfectly natural, and without just outright telling him what to do.
  • I like the emphasis on just how stressful the waiting is for Harry, more so than the task itself – it’s like an exam or a job interview for us Muggles.
  • The fact that Ron almost laughs at Harry’s comment in Divination gives another indication that he’s softening. Presumably, when he sees just how easily Harry could get killed in the first task, the truth just sinks in.
  • The first task itself is quite brief (it’s understandable why it gets drawn out in the movie), but still manages to be as exciting as a battle with a dragon should be.
  • We never get an indication of how many points Fleur got in the first task (as we don’t find out her points total before the third one) – I’d like to know if she beat Cedric (he got 38, Harry and Krum got 40).
  • “There were fingernail marks on (Hermione’s) face from where she had been clutching it in fear” – I love little details like that.

Chapter 21 – The House-Elf Liberation Front

  • After all the stress Harry’s gone through since his name came out of the Goblet, it’s nice to have a lighter chapter which is really just our three protagonists doing their thing.
  • We see Harry feeling proud of himself (he gives Sirius a full account of the task) and being more accepting of praise – while this is quite a change from before the task, it feels understandable when a character’s accomplished something significant, even if they weren’t looking forward to it.
  • I like how we get a proper look at house elf mindsets here (Winky’s continued loyalty to Crouch, and the other elves’ reaction to Dobby wanting to be paid), and I’d like to know how Dumbledore’s feelings about house-elf enslavement compare with Hermione’s. From both this book and the next, we know that he feels strongly about treating elves with respect, but we don’t know whether he considers the whole system to be wrong, like the use of Dementors to guard Azkaban.

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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