Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Friday, April 29, 2011

**If you haven’t read this book, just skip this review. I tried to avoid spoilers, but there is just too much to talk about.**

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by J.K. Rowling

The fourth book marks a drastic changing point in the series. Until this installment the seriousness of the situation with Voldemort wasn’t clear. Instead of opening the Goblet of Fire with Harry, Rowling chose to start with a much darker scene featuring Voldemort and the death of a muggle. We also learn about the three unforgiveable curses, find out Snape used to be a Death Eater and discover the fate of Neville’s parents. Death reaches the world of Hogwarts and the sense of foreboding at the end of the book is undeniable.

One thing that really stood out to me was the absence of parental figures for Harry. From the beginning of the book that’s a strong theme. Harry’s scar hurts and he wishes he had someone who could give him advice about it. Luckily he has Sirius now, but it’s not like they can chat casually every day. Dumbledore definitely fills a father-figure role for Harry on occasion, but again, there’s a distance between them.

In another scene the Triwizard Tournament champions are sent to a room to greet their families and Harry is shocked to discover Mrs. Weasley and Ron’s brother Bill have come as his “family” to support him. Imagine being a 14-year-old kid and not knowing if there’s anyone in the world who will show up on your family day at school. He’s lucky to have the Weasleys, but it’s still not quite the same. The theme of father/son relationships is continued through Barty Crouch and his father and Voldemort and his muggle father. Both of those characters are deeply affected by their relationship (or lack thereof) with their father.

A few things I'd forgotten about the fourth book:

1) Peeves was completely removed from the movies, but he makes an appearance in every single book.

2) Those awful Blast-Ended Skrewts. I can’t really imagine a worse creature to have to take care of.

3) I’d forgotten all about Ludo Bagman, his gambling problem and his shady past. It’s a great example of how “innocent” people can get involved with the wrong side. Imagine how many people did something like that with the Nazi party.

4) Hermione’s S.P.E.W. efforts, though well-meaning, become tiresome quickly. I definitely understand why they were cut from the movie. I do love the parts with Dobby though.

5) Sirius was corresponding with Dumbledore the whole time he was in hiding. Harry was so surprised to discover that, but it makes sense.

I really loved learning more about Dumbledore in this book. There’s one part in the book where he allows Harry to ask him questions and it’s such a great scene. It shows that he respects Harry and doesn’t just see him as a little kid. He also refuses to answer some things, but he does it in such a tactful way. He is wise enough to know who he can and can’t trust, but strong enough in his beliefs to maintain that trust even when others question it. We also saw his powerful side for the first time. Until now he was almost docile from Harry’s point of view. It was so important for him to understand that Dumbledore has incredible strength and power, he just chooses not to use it for evil.

“At that moment, Harry fully understood for the first time why people said Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort had ever feared. The look upon Dumbledore’s face as he stared down at the unconscious form of Mad-Eye Moody was more terrible than Harry could have ever imagined. There was no benign smile upon Dumbledore’s face, no twinkle in the eyes behind the spectacles. There was cold fury in every line of the ancient face; a sense of power radiated from Dumbledore as though he were giving off burning heat.”

Read for the Harry Potter Challenge hosted here.


Laura said...

I love the Harry Potter series! I've been hoping to reread the entire 7 volumes in order and this post definitely encouraged me to do so! I'd forgotten just how entertaining and absorbing the world of Hogwarts can be! Dumbledore is an amazingly drawn character and I'm glad you highlighted his role in this book!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I don't know that this one was my favorite, but it definitely when everything gets down to business. Did I tell you that the kids and I listened to the entire series over a period of a year (ending last summer) on audio. THAT was amazing.

Amanda said...

For me, I admit this is the most tiresome book in the series, but it does have its good moments!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Laura – I’m re-reading all 7 books before the movie comes out in July. I’m reading one each month and the hardest part so far has been stopping after one book and waiting until the next month to start another. Reading them slowly is making me appreciate them more though.

Sandy - I love the audio versions! I've listened to them all at different points, but would love to hear them back-to-back.

Amanda - For me, #5 was always the hardest, but maybe I'll think differenly this time (it's up next).

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

This one is still my favorite (the Tournament! Getting a glimpse of international magic school! The Yule Ball!).

Jeanne said...

Harry Potter is the ultimate trope at my house. My daughter based part of her character in the high school musical on one of the characters from a later book. She reads a lot of HP trivia on the internets, and says that Rowling's own favorite line is one in the last book involving Peeves.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Alexandra - I know, there are so many new, fun elements in this book. It just felt so different from the first 3, but in a good way.

Jeanne - I'll have to keep that thing about Rowling's fav line in mind when I read the 7th book in July. Peeves really is a fun character.

Enbrethiliel said...


I also became very tired, very fast, when it came to S.P.E.W. Hermione as the Muggle-born girl trying to launch a social revolution makes me think of all the non-Brits who are being especially vocal against the British monarchy now that it is so visible. There were obviously many things about the arrangement that Hermione didn't understand, including the feelings of the House Elves.

It gets kind of interesting, though, when we meet Kreacher, who openly hates her at the beginning. I think both Kreacher and Hermione get to develop from the experience of knowing each other, and that that's great!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Enbrethiliel - I never thought of it like that, but it really is similar. I did like the relationship between Kreacher and Hermione, they both challenged each other.

Mumsy said...

Haha, I know exactly which line Rowlings is referring to in the last book! It's my favorite too! I'm rereading Goblet of Fire now and I'm realizing that Moody probably speaks with a Scottish accent - I didn't see the movie, does he? - and I'm really enjoying the Tournament.

BookQuoter said...

You are really inspiring me to read them again. Someday. But for now, your reviews remind me of the books so nicely. Thanks.

BTW, I googled a 24/7 library that exists- JAIST University in Japan. How lucky are these students.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Mumsy - I don't remember if he had a Scottish accent or not in the movie, but I definitely pictured him differently.

BookQuoter - No way! They're so lucky.

Jillian said...

The Unforgivable Curses never fail to scare me for some reason. Oh and the Yule Ball was my "guilty pleasure" moment in the book for sure. I remember I kept reading those parts over and over again just for the sake of Ron&Hermione. I saw their 'love story' a mile away already from their bickering but my friends who were reading the books as well would never believe me.