This was definitely a crossroads books so to speak in the series. I guess one of the final chapters, The Parting of the Ways, really shows that. But I am talking more than just the turn it takes between two people who should be on the same side in the novels.
I think that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the bridge between the light and the dark in the series. This book is where you really get a sense of foreboding and you just know that with Lord Voldemort rising again that a war is about to break out in the Wizarding World. Although Harry has always been a little more mature than others his age, I think this is the point where he is really forced to grow even more. Granted, we all know that the Order of the Phoenix is basically angsty Harry, but I will get to that in my next post. The first two things I want to address in this book deal with characters and the last one is about a glaring error in what should be (and is) an emotional moment in the book.
I am going to start with one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the book that you do not really realize until you finish reading the novel. I am, of course, referring to the first Defence Against the Dark Arts class of the year where Professor Moody has the three spiders and demonstrates the Unforgivable Curses for the class of fourth years. The Imperius Curse is kind of “scary”, I suppose, because you would lose your ability to think for yourself and the person casting it could force you to do anything. I know many may consider the Killing Curse to be sad because that is how Harry’s mother and father died, but that is not the heartbreaking part.
In this scene, Neville is forced to witness the Cruiciatus Curse—the Torture Curse—which is how his parents, Alice and Frank Longbottom, suffered shortly after Lord Voldemort fell. As we learn later, his parents are in the long term (read: permanent) ward at St Mungo’s Hospital and they do not really know who Neville is. They were tortured into insanity.
Sometimes I do not know what would be worse: to be in Harry’s position or in Neville’s (or their parents’). I mean, it would obviously be terrible to be dead and not watch your child grow up, but would it not be equally (or more) sad to be alive but not really know what is going on? Alternatively, in the case of Harry and Neville, would it hurt less to have lost your parents at a young age and not remember them, or have them be in a long-term ward and be unaware of who you are? I honestly have no idea how to answer these questions.
But back to the scene…the first time I read this book when I was young, I had no idea just how heartbreaking this scene was. Not only do we learn that this was the curse used to torture Neville’s parents…but Professor Moody at the time was an imposter. His real identity? Barty Crouch Jr., one of the Death Eaters who tortured Neville’s parents. Neville is in the same room as one of the people who took his parents from him and he did not know. He was trusting, to an extent, in Moody. I do not know that everyone will feel that this situation is heartbreaking, but to me it is. Neville is a sweetheart and it hurts knowing all of this background. If I were him, I guarantee that I would have wanted some form of revenge in that moment.
The second character I want to write about here is Cedric Diggory. I know that most of Gryffindor house in the beginning does not see Cedric as smart or worthy of glory through the Triwizard Tournament. I understand supporting Harry after he is selected, but why be almost cruel about how they speak about Cedric before the champion was even selected? This mindset extends to readers, in no small part due to the perspective that other characters have of Cedric and his house. They might also dislike him because he got Cho where Harry did not, but he was also the one who asked first! I think that Cedric is quite kind, clearly exhibited in how he tries to get his friends and others to stop wearing the “Potter Sucks” badges. He was also incredibly brave, and by all evidence supplied in the novels, Cedric seemed like an amazing friend to have. I believe it is also worth mentioning that in Prisoner of Azkaban, Cedric wanted a rematch because of what happened with Harry and the Dementors. He knows that, in some respect, it was not quite fair what happened during the match. Fairness is one of the major traits of Hufflepuff house. Not to say that the other houses are not fair per say, but it is not one of the defining elements.
I realize that ending the book with his death involved in Lord Voldemort’s return was a good way to end this book and open the Second Wizarding War. This does not make it any less sad for readers, Harry, Hufflepuff house, and especially Cedric’s parents. I cannot imagine having to bury a child. Parents should not have to outlive their children.
There is something I want to say about Hufflepuff, but I know that it is in a later novel where what I want to say really comes out, so I need to save the bulk of it. I will try, however, to talk about a little bit here. It becomes clearer in this book that Hufflepuff house hardly ever gets glory. They are, by all accounts, the ones who simply put their noses to the ground and get their work done. They do not go looking for as much glory…or maybe they do, but the other houses always overshadow them. Gryffindors—at their extreme—are quite reckless and are home to some show-offs. Slytherins are known for ambition (also Dark wizards, though other houses have them). Ravenclaws are always perpetuated as the smartest.
I think that there is something to be said about how, out of everyone at Hogwarts who entered the tournament, it was Cedric who was chosen as the champion. I am not 100% sure what that is just yet, but there is something there.
There is one last thing that I want to address for this book, though it is in a slightly different vein than previous topics of interest to me. Here, rather, I want to actually point out a mistake in my edition that I never really noticed when I was young. I say my edition because I do own an early version of the novel and I believe that the publisher corrected it later on.
I will draw your attention to the scene now:
“The smoky shadow of a tall man with untidy hair fell to the ground as Bertha had done, straightened up, and looked at him … and Harry, his arms shaking madly now, looked back into the ghostly face of his father. ‘Your mother’s coming …’ he said quietly. ‘She wants to see you … it will be all right … hold on …’ And she came … first her head, then her body … a young woman with long hair, the smoky, shadowy form of Lily Potter blossomed from the end of Voldemort’s wand, fell to the ground, and straightened like her husband.” – Chapter 34: Priori Incantatem, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Can you spot it?
I do not blame you if you did not spot it, since I did not notice for the longest time. Think about the order: James appeared before Lily did. But the reverse spell effect was supposed to do an exact reversal of the last spells Lord Voldemort’s wand cast: Wormtail’s hand, torturing, Cedric’s murder, then Frank Bryce’s, then Bertha Jorkins’, before going all the back to Lily and then James. That is the issue: Lily died after James, so she should have appeared before him during this scene. James told her to take Harry and run while he held Voldemort off. I know they did not make it, but the point is that Lord Voldemort had to go through James and murder him first. This mistake, although it does mess up the reverse spell effect, does not ruin the scene in the slightest. I love the introduction that James gives to Lily’s entrance. In my opinion, it was very sweet. I do not go looking for flaws, especially in the Harry Potter novels, but I think that it is somewhat comforting to know that anyone can make a mistake…even J.K. Rowling, whom I consider an amazing writer and one of my favourite authors.
I am going to end this post by mentioning a few administrative things. First, I have actually eliminated another house from my process of figuring out which one I truly belong in, but I will reveal that in the next post, simply so that I can draw everything out until my final post and do the “reveal” then (provided I have it all figure out between the final two. Second, I am trying to figure out a nice notification system for new posts outside of following me on WordPress. I do have a Twitter account where I do post a link, but I am thinking some email notification might be nice. I will make a separate post when I have it figured out. Look forward to a full administrative-type post. I have some exciting things coming in the next few months for this blog and I want to share them with everyone!