Fiction: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling

This will probably be a difficult entry for me to write — and, for that matter, probably for you all to read. After all, Goblet of Fire is at least the second-longest book in the series, and a lot happens in it. Second of all, I am still deeply hurt over some omissions that were made in the movie, and as I realized while re-reading this, I am not over it yet. (I’ve only seen the movie once, it’s my least favorite movie out of the entire series, and yet still water runs deep in me about this.)

As I’ve done with the other titles, I’m not going to get too much into plot. If you haven’t read it and wish to remain spoiler-free, I’d suggest you turn away now, because shit goes down in this one. If you’ve read it, then you can understand how — in this instance only — I’m going to be like the movie and do some serious editing.

Let’s start with something that made me go “huh.” First, in the scene in the Riddle House, where Frank Bryce is watching Voldemort and Wormtail talk, Voldemort calls Wormtail ‘Wormtail.’ I can only assume that Wormtail asked Voldemort to call him that instead of ‘Pettigrew.’ Because otherwise, why would Voldie do that? Ooh — unless to try and tap into some guilt Pettigrew may have over being the betrayers of the Potters? To keep him in his place? I don’t know … to me, it seems slightly out of character for Voldemort, but I’m sure there’s a reason that I’m unaware of.

No matter how many times I read this book (this is at least the third time for me, and I’m sure I’ll reread the series again in a few years), I will always find myself reading quicker through the section where Ron and Harry are fighting. I praise Ms. Rowling for being able to write about a silly teenage fight between best friends with such pain and discomfort. I always feel my skin prickle when Ron and Harry fight — mainly because I have been there before. The awkwardness; the wanting to share something funny and/or awesome, but then remembering that you’re not talking to him/her. It is always so painful for me to read, and I end up speeding through that section until after the first task, when Ron tries to apologize to Harry but Harry won’t let him because he knows they were both being stupid. And then Hermione starting to cry and call them both idiots makes me smile, because I’ve been on that side of things too.

Cedric Diggory. Up until the last task (even knowing what was to come), I couldn’t help laughing over the passages where he is described. Yes, Cedric is a very sweet boy, and know I didn’t laugh as much before the movie was made, and I think I didn’t laugh that much even when I reread the series before Deathly Hallowswas released. But now that the guy who played Cedric is all over the tabloids for playing that stupid sparkling vampire (VAMPIRES DO NOT SPARKLE), I can’t help but snigger over these:

“Ah, now, this is one of mine, isn’t it?” said Mr. Ollivander, with much more enthusiasm, as Cedric handed over his wand. “Yes, I remember it well. Containing a single hair from the tail of a particularly fine male unicorn … must have been seventeen hands; nearly gored me with his horn after I plucked his tail. Twelve and a quarter inches … ash … pleasantly springy. It’s in fine condition. You treat it regularly?”

“Polished it last night,” said Cedric, grinning. [309]

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I just — *gasp* THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.

Completely forgetting about dinner, he walked slowly back up to Gryffindor Tower, Cho’s voice echoing in his ears with every step he took. “Cedric — Cedric Diggory.” He had been starting to quite like Cedric — prepared to overlook the fact that he had once beaten him at Quidditch, and was handsome, and popular, and nearly everyone’s favorite champion. Now he suddenly realized that Cedric was in fact a useless pretty boy who didn’t have enough brains to fill an eggcup. [397-398]

Having said all that and had that bit of fun, however, does not negate the seriousness of Cedric’s death. The speech that Dumbledore gives at the Leaving Feast is somber, full of portent, and yet, also hope. The first two times I read this, there were no tears. But I wholly admit that I got choked up at Dumbledore’s final paragraph for the first time on this read:

“Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.” [724]

Mad-Eye Moody is a special case (obviously). Because when I first read this, I thought Moody was awesome. For the first time, they had a teacher who was teaching them how to deflect curses, to actually defend oneself against the Dark Arts. I mean, yeah, Lupin was also an excellent teacher, and Harry uses his techniques against some creatures put in the maze, but Moody was kick-ass. He was kind to Neville*, he helped Harry and was encouraging in all of Harry’s endeavors, and he hated Snape.

When it’s revealed that he’s actually Barty Crouch Jr., it was a shock. It was something we were not expecting at all. And that, after the graveyard scene with Voldemort and his Death Eaters; that scene with Barty Crouch was one of the first to really drive home the idea that there are bad people everywhere.

*And here’s something I just thought of. Why was he being kind to Neville?! He was one of the Death Eaters who tortured his parents!! And this is one of the things that isn’t good about having a book so big. I mean, you see Moody being nice to Neville, and your heart warms. Then you hear that Barty Crouch Jr. was a Death Eater. Then you learn that Mad-Eye Moody is actually Barty Crouch Jr. Polyjuiced like, a frillion times over, and then when you write your review of Goblet of Fire, you go WAITAMINUTE. I mean, was it guilt over his part in the torturing? Was it something to throw everyone off the non-existant-at-the-time scent? What was his motivation in that scene!?

And that leads me to Snape, and my first rant against the movie. Snape takes kind of a backseat in this entry in the series; J.K. Rowling is more interested in showing us the relationship Harry is building with Moody than reiterating the hate-hate relationship between Snape and Harry. And we see hints of weirdness in the couple of scenes between Snape and Karkaroff. But the biggest scene — the scene that made me sit up and pay attention all those years ago — that’s one of the scenes Mike Newell and Steve Kloves decide to cut out?

I’m talking, of course, about Snape revealing his Dark Mark to Fudge and Dumbledore, trying to convince Fudge that Voldie’s back on the job. And then, after Fudge storms out, Dumbledore sending Snape … well, we’re not exactly sure, but the insinuation is quite clear:

“Severus,” said Dumbledore, turning to Snape, “you know what I must ask you to do. If you are ready … if you are prepared …”

“I am,” said Snape.

He looked slightly paler than usual, and his cold, black eyes glittered strangely.

“Then good luck,” said Dumbledore, and he watched, with a trace of apprehension on his face, as Snape swept wordlessly after Sirius. [713]

Having seen Dumbledore’s Pensieve memory about the Death Eater trial, and also heard Dumbledore vouch for Snape, we’re left to believe that he’s being sent to spy on Voldemort for Dumbledore’s troops.

And I cannot tell you how many times I reread this paragraph, trying to suss out who Voldemort was speaking of:

“And here we have six missing Death Eaters … three dead in my service. One, too cowardly to return … he will pay. One, who I believe has left me forever … he will be killed, of course … and one, who remains my most faithful servant, and who has already reentered my service.”

The Death Eaters stirred, and Harry saw their eyes dart sideways at one another through their masks.

“He is at Hogwarts, that faithful servant, and it was through his efforts that our young friend arrived here tonight …” [651-652]

This bit of information, coupled with Dumbledore sending Snape out to be a spy, caused me and my sister to reinstigate the epic fight of Snape: Good or Evil?

Me: See?! Dumbledore is sending him to be a spy for Voldemort! He’s a good guy!
Missy: How do you know that he’s not going to spy on Dumbledore for Voldemort?
Me: Because Dumbledore vouched for him! Are you insinuating that Dumbledore’s faith is misplaced?
Missy: Voldemort said that his most faithful servant was at Hogwarts. Who works at Hogwarts? Oh, jeeze, let me think for a second, OH RIGHT SNAPE WORKS AT HOGWARTS.
Me: His most faithful servant was Crouch-as-Moody, because the servant was supposed to help Harry get to the graveyard.
Missy: How do you know that Snape wasn’t working with Crouch?
Me: What, Voldie’s going to kill Crouch because he thinks he’s left him forever? Come on!
Missy: His plan didn’t work! Harry escaped!
Me: Voldemort doesn’t know that at that point in his monologue!
Missy: SNAPE’S EVIL
Me: SNAPE’S NOT EVIL
Dad: Will you two nerds shut up? I’m trying to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark out here.

Why am I so pissed at the movie about leaving this scene out? It’s … it’s so important, that’s all! I mean, I can’t remember if we see the scene in the movie where Karkaroff names Snape as a Death Eater, but (at the time), I felt leaving the Dark Mark scene out at the end wouldn’t allow future filmmakers to truly explore the tensions of Snape’s character. Seeing as how I’m about five days away from seeing the last movie, my original opinion was wrong, but I’m still pissed off about it.

And that leads me to my final point: The Weasley Twins. Fred and George are easily some of my favorite secondary characters, and here’s where Newell and Kloves really failed me. I’m talking about the end. In the movie, Harry, Ron and Hermione stand on one of the turrets or whatever and watch the Beauxbatons carraige and the Durmstrang ship sail away from Hogwarts. Whereas in the book, we see this:

The twins turned. Harry pulled open his trunk and drew out his Triwizard winnings.

“Take it,” he said, and he thrust the sack into George’s hands.

“What?” said Fred, looking flabbergasted.

“Take it,” Harry repeated firmly. “I don’t want it.”

“You’re mental,” said George, trying to push it back at Harry.

“No, I’m not,” said Harry. “You take it, and get inventing. It’s for the joke shop.”

“He is mental,” Fred said in an almost awed voice.

“Listen,” said Harry firmly. “If you don’t take it, I’m throwing it down the drain. I don’t want it and I don’t need it. But I could do with a few laughs. We could all do with a few laughs. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to need them more than usual before long.” [733]

We could all do with a few laughs. More than anything, Fred and George show us the levity amongst the danger, the terrors, and the drama surrounding Harry at all times. And this moment, in the midst of Voldemort’s return and the brutal murder of a pureblood student for no reason by the Dark Lord’s hands, Harry knows exactly what someone would need: humor. He turns to his friend’s brothers and asks them to continue to be in charge of the humor. And what that does is reinstigate hope, that in the end of the War against Voldemort, there will be a cause and a method for laughter again.

And I think that would have been a better, more powerful ending.

Grade for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: 3.5 stars

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