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Canon discussion / Harry Potter Lexicon Minute

Canon Thoughts: Goblet of Fire

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Canon Thoughts: Goblet of Fire

In my last canon thoughts podcast, I talked about the amazing third book in the Potter series, The Prisoner of Azkaban. Now we move on the book four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I’m always a bit surprised by how many people consider this to be their favorite Harry Potter book. It’s a bit of an oddball, stuck in the middle between the whimsical first three books and the darker, more mature last three. It starts with a murder in a creepy old house, meanders through a mishmash of revelations of the wider magical world, and ends with a horrific, disturbing graveyard scene and the fracturing of the Wizarding World between Dumbledore and his followers, and the Ministry and the wider magical population. Running through the whole book is a mystery for which the solution is similar to but nowhere near as clever as the mistaken identity mystery of book three.

I think that most people who call this book their favorite are actually thinking of the film version, which certainly is exciting and visually stunning. Watching the whole story race by in two and a half hours makes it easy to ignore the silliness of the plot because it’s just so much fun.

What silliness? Well, let’s think about it. The Triwizard Tournament has hard and fast rules, rules which cannot be broken on pain of death. One of the rules is that one champion is chosen from each of the three schools. So how can Harry be included when there already is a Hogwarts champion? If you say, well, the Goblet was fooled and rules broken by a sufficiently powerful wizard, then the rules could be UN-broken by a sufficiently powerful wizard, namely Dumbledore. Harry could easily be disqualified on a number of legalities: too young, no approved affiliated school, and so on. But still he’s forced to compete even though his name was put in illegally. That’s ridiculous.

And then there are the contests themselves. I mean, dragons are cool and exciting, that’s true. But staring at a lake for an hour with no clue what’s happening down below is not. Neither is staring at a maze. These contests are, not to put too fine a point on it, very boring. Why does everyone get all excited about the Tournament? And for that they gave up Quidditch for the whole year?

But the most glaring plot hole is this that Voldemort’s grand scheme for staging his resurrection is ridiculously over-complicated. Planting Barty Crouch Jr. at Hogwarts was clever, it’s true. Once that’s done, however, why wait until the final task of the Triwizard Tournament almost a year later to spring the trap? It would have been a very simple matter for Crouch to turn something of Harry’s into a Portkey (there is a spell for that, as we learn in book five) and have the boy transported to Little Hangleton. Harry’s broomstick would be an obvious choice, since he would be holding it out of the Quidditch pitch, outside the protections placed on Hogwarts. How do we know that the pitch is not protected? Because that’s where the maze was set up and the Triwizard Cup portkey worked just fine. Such a simple portkey could have been done within the first few weeks of school. No need for Crouch to maintain the elaborate charade of impersonating Moody for a whole school year. No need to delay Voldemort’s return.

So book four has massive plot problems. Why is it a fan favorite? I think it’s because we readers are immersed for almost eight hundred pages in the wonderful, glorious wizarding world. Along with Harry, our horizons are expanding and we are learning more and more. We get to experience the Quidditch World Cup. We meet a fascinating variety of people from Ministry employees to foreign witches and wizards. We learn about other wizarding schools and experience the heartbreaks and silliness of young romance. Rowling continues to draw is into her created world and never lets us down. More than ever, we want to live at Hogwarts and experience all of this for ourselves. As for the plot problems? Whatever. They’re easily ignored in the sheer delight of the Wizarding World.

So book four is far from perfect. After the detailed and intricate plotting of book three, it comes as a bit of a letdown. But let’s face it. Most of us never even noticed the plot holes until about the fifth read through, and even then we just didn’t care. Goblet of Fire is a fun, exciting book, one which takes us deep into the world of witches and wizards and leaves us all set up for darker things to come.

Commentary

Notes

In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.

Special thanks go to Felicia Cano who gave us permission to use her amazing artwork of Hermione reading a book for the logo, which was created by Kim B.

Check out the PodBean app here

And if you want to create a podcast of your own, check out PodBean's hosting service.

Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.

Special thanks go to Felicia Cano who gave us permission to use her amazing artwork of Hermione reading a book for the logo, which was created by Kim B.

Check out the PodBean app here

And if you want to create a podcast of your own, check out PodBean's hosting service.

Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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