Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Analysis
My personal interpretation of JK Rowling's fourth book in the Harry Potter series.
This analysis will be defined by the following themes: (a) Community, (b) Empathy & Love, ( c ) Truth, (d) Good vs Evil, (e) Youth/ Coming of Age, (f) Abuse & Neglect, (g) Generally Problematic, (h) General Observations.
In an effort to make my unorganized thoughts more… well, organized; I have decided to separate each instance by theme. Instances where more than one theme are present will have the main theme cited and explained while the other themes will be listed in parenthesis.
Keep in mind, these are all examples based on my own interpretation and opinion. And while I do not support or condone the things that JK Rowling has said and done, I do believe that doesn’t make these books less enjoyable.
There are actually not many true instances of community in this installment, even though the purpose of the Triwizard Tournament is to expand young wizards’ communities and make connections. In fact, the first instance I have listed is in chapter 24, page 453.
“Living proof of what I’ve been telling you, Hagrid,” said Dumbledore, still looking carefully up at the ceiling. “I have shown you the letter from the countless parents who remember you from their own days here, telling me in no uncertain terms that if I sacked you, they would have something to say about it -”
So this is after Rita Skeeter has published the story about how Hagrid is half giant and his mother was never apprehended for allegedly being violent. Hagrid has hidden himself away out of shame and humiliation. I see this instance as a true sense of community since Hogwarts (for the most part) is as close-knit as it is for multiple people to express them being upset at the thought of Hagrid being fired. I would also consider this an example of Empathy & Love.
The next example of community, or rather a sense of ostracizing one would be chapter 28, page 563 when Hagrid tells the trio “The less you lot ‘ave ter do with these foreigners, the happier yeh’ll be. Yeh can’ trust any of ‘em.” This happens after Harry and Krum have a very brief conversation by the forest and Mr Crouch emerges from the trees. Hagrid, and honestly several other people judge this decision because they assume Krum would’ve cheated by harming Harry in some way. But Hagrid … your Joanne is showing and it’s not a cute look.
Shortly after that in chapter 30, pages 588 & 589 when Harry is looking through Dumbledore’s memories in the Pensieve he witnesses the questioning of Karkaroff while in Azkaban. “-and I regret now, very deeply, that I ever counted myself among them.” When he reveals that many followers of Voldemort didn’t reveal names or faces for the most part, Mr Crouch replies with “Yet you say you have some names for us?”
“I - I do” said Karkaroff breathlessly, “And these were important supporters, mark you.”
Death Eaters as a “community” if you could call it that, really isn’t much of one. Especially when you compare it to instances of coming together like with Hagrid’s example. I’d argue they’re not built on loyalty like Voldemort claims so much as they are on fear and power hunger. This scene is also an example of truth and good vs evil.
Later on, when the third task is going on, Harry and Cedric are fighting about who should take the cup. “We’ll take it at the same time. It’s still a Hogwarts victory. We’ll tie for it.”
Harry has spent most of this book having at least a little disdain for Cedric because of his relationship with Cho. The two had spent the last page or two arguing with each other over who deserved to win the tournament and be the true Hogwarts champion. In the end, Harry doesn’t see why there can’t be two winners and will bring the glory and pride to Hogwarts. Both boys are good people almost to a fault, it’s why they’ve been helping each other with the tasks for the entire book and are considerate of each other's want for the win.
EMPATHY & LOVE
In chapter 4, page 48 Harry is being picked up by the Weasley’s to spend the remaining two weeks of summer with them as well as watch the Quidditch world cup. While leaving with him, the Dursley’s do not so much as say goodbye and Arthur Weasley takes notice. “Harry said goodbye to you,” he said “Didn’t you hear him?” - “You aren’t going to see your nephew till next summer,” he said to Uncle Vernon in mild indignation. “Surely you’re going to say goodbye?” Uncle Vernon’s face worked furiously. The idea of being taught consideration by a man who had just blasted away half his living room wall seemed to be causing him intense suffering.”
I cannot say this enough, but I have so much love for Arthur Weasley and the Weasley’s in general. They all have such a strong sense of family and what is right that it angers them that Harry gets treated the way that he does. It really highlights the difference in morals between the Dursley’s and the Weasley’s.
When Harry and Weasley’s are at the Quidditch World Cup, we do see Harry having what some would call empathy and others would call just being good (a good friend). In chapter 7, page 93 “Three pairs,” said Harry firmly to the wizard.
“No - don’t bother,” said Ron, going red. He was always touchy about the fact that Harry, who had inherited a small fortune from his parents, has much more than he did.
“You won’t be getting anything for Christmas” - “fair enough.”
Harry has shown before that he actually does try to help Ron and the other Weasley’s financially (even if it’s not much). They simply do not accept it (particularly Arthur and Molly). Harry also doesn’t make a big deal of getting things for Ron and usually doesn’t get anything too flashy and expensive to at least try to negate it affecting Ron negatively. This is also an example of Good vs Evil.
Back at Hogwarts, the trio learns that school uses house elves to work for the castle in chapter 9, page 125 (Also an example of Good vs Evil). “It’s people like you, Ron,” Hermione began hotly, “who prop up rotten and unjust systems, just because they’re too lazy to-”
Hermione is consistently a character with a strong moral compass and sense of empathy. It honestly confuses me how JKR admitted she was somewhat of a self insert. Because she doesn’t seem to carry this passion for injustice in real life. Also, in my opinion, it’s a shame that Hermione isn’t a person of color since she’s so aware of systemic oppression and understands it enough to advocate before anyone else does (in the case of House Elf freedom).
Several chapters later in chapter 14, page 220 somehow Barty Crouch Jr masquerading as Moody is a better teacher than Snape is in the three books thus far. “Apparently, Professor Sprout told Professor Moody I’m really good at Herbology,” Neville said. There was a faint note of pride in his voice that Harry had rarely heard there before. “He thought I’d like this.”
Barty Crouch Jr is a bad person, that’s not up for debate but he does seem to be a decent teacher. He actually supports students and makes Neville proud of his ability in Herbology, he feels validated and encouraged. Harry even compares it to something that Lupin would’ve done.
Much later in the story, the tournament is just about to start with the dragon task. Harry meets with Professor Mcgonagall in chapter 20, page 348 “You’re to go in here with the other champions,” said Professor Mcgonagall, in a rather shaky sort of voice, “and wait for your turn, Potter. Mr Bagman is in there … he’ll be telling you the - the procedure … good luck.”
Mcgonagall has been shown to care very deeply for her students, but especially Harry. Since she was one of the people that dropped him off at Privet Drive thirteen years prior, she is particularly worried about his well being in the tournament.
Four chapters later Rita Skeeter publishes the story about Hagrid being a half giant. On page 433, I really think Joanne should be taking her mild self insert’s words to heart. “I knew he couldn’t be pure giant because they’re about twenty feet tall. But honestly, all this hysteria about giants. They can’t all be horrible … it’s the same sort of prejudice that people have towards werewolves … it’s just bigotry, isn’t it.”
Lycanthropy (especially in the case of Remus Lupin) is an allegory for HIV/AIDS that was rampant at the turn of the century, when the series was set as well as when JKR was writing the books.
The fandom has agreed that Goblins are a Jewish caricature, one could argue that House Elves are a stand in for slaves (since they are constantly called that and refer to themselves as such), I would wager Giants are probably a caricature for black people specifically. They are said to be relentlessly violent amongst themselves and others, Hagrid says they don’t make the best parents as they lack the skills to care for others. You could also make the argument for them being indigneous for those reasons as well, now, I as an US citizen automatically think of the Indigenous people in the Americas. However the indigenous people of the UK would be the Celts who we do… see… kind of.
Starting out really early with this one is chapter 2, page 24 when Harry talks about how he’s conveniently forgotten to tell the Dursley’s that Sirius is not actually a murderer.
“But their attitude had changed since they had found out that Harry had a dangerous murderer for a godfather - for Harry had conveniently forgotten to tell them that Sirius was innocent. You could also argue that this falls under Abuse and Neglect since Harry is operating out of … blackmail? In order to not be treated as badly as he had in the past.
Shortly after in chapter 7, page 93, Harry has made it to the Quidditch World Cup field. “-the Ministry seemed to have bowed to the inevitable and stopped fighting the signs of blatant magic now breaking out everywhere.”
So, witch hunts and witch trials are canon in the universe so I understand why they’d have to hide magic from the Muggles. HOWEVER, I do not understand how magic hadn’t gotten to a point that they could shield the entire field so that muggles don’t see, hear, or are able to interfere. I know they use powerful confusion charms for places like Hogwarts but… why not just do that? For not only the Quidditch field but surrounding areas.
In the first class with Moody which is in chapter 14, page 211 they are learning about the illegal curses.
“Now, according to the Ministry of Magic, I’m supposed to teach you counter curses and leave it at that. - How are you supposed to defend yourself against something you’ve never seen? A wizard who’s about to put an illegal curse on you isn’t going to tell you what he’s about to do.”
Even though we later learn that Moody isn’t actually Moody, Barty Crouch Jr does actually have a point. Not showing the students what exactly they’d be defending themselves against is like… showing kids how to add but not how to multiply.
At the very end of the story, after Harry comes back from the graveyard in chapter 36, page 704; Cornelius Fudge is either refusing to believe Voldemort has returned or literally just gaslighting a traumatized fourteen year old boy.
“You-know-who … returned? Preposterous. Come now, Dumbledore. - You are merely repeating the names of those who were acquitted of being Death Eaters thirteen years ago! - It seems to me that you are all determined to start a panic that will destabilize everything we have worked for these last thirteen years!”
I find that Fudge is doing exactly what politicians, specifically career politicians do when they get caught up in shit they don’t want to admit. Blame the people actually telling the truth for simply telling the truth because it’ll disrupt what they’ve built and inconvenience them… personally. Dumbledore actually catches onto this saying “You are blinded - by the love of the office, you hold, Cornelius.”
GOOD VS EVIL
A common troupe and theme in stories is the struggle between good and evil. And for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the first instance I find this (outright) is in chapter 21, page 380-381 when Dobby and Winky are explaining the house elves enslavement.
“Tis part of the house-elf’s enslavement, sir. We keeps their secrets and our silence, sir. We upholds the family’s honor, and we never speaks ill of them-”
“But you can say what you like about the Malfoy’s now?” Harry asked him, grinning.
“Dobby could tell Harry Potter that his old masters were-were bad dark wizards!”
I understand the parallels that JKR attempted to do between house elf enslavement and real life enslavement, particularly chattel slavery (of the Atlantic Slave Trade that was prevalent across Europe, the UK, and the US). Since house elves mostly do domestic work, rarely being seen if at all, almost never heard from other than to affirm orders. Tied in all together with the myth that they enjoy being enslaved and they even acknowledge that it is enslavement.
They keep their masters secrets and even after freedom have a hard time speaking ill of the people that gave them work to do thus fulfilling their “purpose.” I also just find this whole thing… weird because it’s a narrative that slaves want to be enslaved. It’s very morally wrong for a story that prides itself for being morally correct.
During the second task, Harry decides he should save both Ron and Danielle Delacour. Ultimately because he is simply a good person. In chapter 26, page 501 “He seized the little girl around the waist, grabbed the neck of Ron’s robes, and kicked off from the bottom.”
In a competition, it’s very easy to let it get to you and put your opponents at disadvantages and put yourself first. Even though Harry does do this because he takes the mermaids song literally and that the hostages would drown if no one saved them - I see this as the overwhelming good that is in Harry. Which opposes Voldemort’s overwhelming evil. It’s one of many examples.
In the last report Rita Skeeter publishes she exposes all of the “evil” that Harry is allegedly guilty of in chapter 31, page 612-613.
“Pareseltongue, the ability to converse with snakes, has long been considered a Dark Art. - Personally, I would be highly suspicious of anybody who could converse with snakes, as serpents are often associated with evildoers.” Similarly, “anyone who seeks out the company of such vicious creatures as werewolves and giants would appear to have a fondness for violence.”
Again with the common serpent symbolism which can represent Christian symbolism since the serpent is the one who tempted Eve in the garden and is seen as cunning and devious. Often used as a symbol for the devil. It can also be seen as an allegory for the Irish, since many believe that Saint Patrick didn’t actually drive snakes (as in the animal) but Pagans out of Ireland. England has seen the Irish as less than desirable, loud, obnoxious, and I would argue at some points evil. The second does tie into the first since England has an official church and was heavily influenced by the catholic church at one point.
Rita also makes the “argument” that associating with the outcasts and undesirables of the wizarding world automatically makes you amoral and being guilty by association.
YOUTH & COMING OF AGE
After Harry’s name is announced by the Goblet of Fire, Ron is… not happy in chapter 17, page 287.
“It’s okay, you know, you can tell me the truth,” he said “if you don’t want anyone else to know, fine, but I don’t why you’re bothering to lie, you didn’t get into trouble for it, did you?”
Another common troupe in young adult fiction is jealousy, and Ron being jealous of Harry isn’t new, but what is new is Ron being very obviously rude about it.
After the Yule Ball, the trio are chatting in the common room in chapter 23, page 422-423.
“Obvious isn’t it? He’s Karkaroff’s student, isn’t he? He knows who you hang out with … he’s just trying to get closer to Harry - get inside information on him - or get near enough to jinx him-”
“Ron,” said Harry quietly, “I haven’t got a problem with Hermione coming with Krum -” But Ron ignored Harry too.”
Once again, Ron is filling a jealous troupe in the coming of age story. He won’t or can’t admit that he likes Hermione in a romantic capacity and is using what he deems to be logical leaps to lash out at her for it.
Almost immediately after arriving in the graveyard both a display of evil and a very traumatic turning point for Harry occur in chapter 32, page 638.
“Kill the spare” - Cedric was lying spread-eagled on the ground beside him. He was dead.”
This exact moment, Cedric’s death is what I consider to be the tonal shift in the entire series, not just this installment. In previous books, the stories were more magical adventures and the only people that died were villains. Whereas from here on out, innocent people die and the adventures aren’t really adventures… they’re evading certain death and tonally darker.
ABUSE & NEGLECT
Right in chapter 2, page 19 starting the story outside of Harry’s vision “Asleep was the way Harry liked the Dursleys best; it wasn’t as though they were ever any help to him awake. - They were Muggles who hated and despised magic in any form, which meant that Harry was about as welcome in their house as dry rot. - They knew perfectly well that, as an underage wizard, Harry wasn’t allowed to use magic outside of Hogwarts, but they were still apt to blame him for anything that went wrong about the house.”
You would think that after thirteen years with the kid they’d come to like him just a little bit but no, he gets blamed for things he can’t possibly be responsible for.
Also, just a weird thing I think, but why are students banned from using magic outside of school? At least let them practice the stuff they’ve already learned, at least that would make sense.
Shortly thereafter Harry internally monologues about how the Dursley’s approach Dudley’s performance in school in chapter 3, page 26-27.
“Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had managed to find excuses for his bad marks as usual. - Uncle Vernon maintained that ‘he didn’t want some swotty little nancy boy for a son anyway.’ They also skated over the accusations of bullying in the report - ‘he’s a boisterous little boy, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly!’ Aunt Petunia had said tearfully.
While it’s not directed towards Harry, I would call stunting your child’s grasp on education , responsibility, and emotional maturity at least a little neglectful. They also see and hear their child bully Harry but I guess because they view him as second class and unworthy of affection, it doesn’t count.
Much later in the story, the stories about Harry are being published which irks Snape in chapter 27, page 515.
“Harry didn’t answer. He knew Snape was trying to provoke him; he had done this before. No doubt he was hoping for an excuse to take a round fifty points from Gryffindor before the end of the class.”
Snape purposefully goads Harry (and probably other students) in order to not only publicly humiliate them, but to abuse his power as a teacher in order to take away points simply because he doesn’t personally like a student. Again, why would you decide teaching was what you should do since all you do is bully and berate students? In my opinion, it’s because he never got past his victim complex and didn’t emotionally mature past the age of maybe, fifteen.
GENERALLY PROBLEMATIC & OBSERVATIONS
I’ve decided to squish these two things together because they tend to be hand in hand. Mostly, because the things I find problematic are glance instances.
After Harry has given the background of the Dursley’s making excuses for their son he actually continues in chapter 3, page 27.
“-the fact remained that the school outfitters didn’t stock knickerbockers big enough for him anymore. - Simply refused to see: that far from needing extra nourishment, Dudley had reached roughly the size and weight of a young killer whale.”
Look, I know a lot of us like to think that these books are written in first person and narrated by Harry. But they aren’t, they’re written in third person omniscient so… y’all can try to blame the fat shaming (in literally every installment so far), mildly racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and weird narrative on the fact that the story is being told by a kid… but it isn’t.
Not only should Joanne not be fat shaming (I understand it from a descriptive perspective, but there are ways to do it without being an asshole about it), she definitely shouldn’t be fat shaming a literal child.
This was the speech given to tell the students about the Yule Ball in chapter 22, page 386. “The Yule Ball is approaching - a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament and an opportunity for us to socialize with our foreign guests.”
This is not the first time the word foreign has been thrown around to describe the people there for the tournament. It’s also been said solely by professors from Hogwarts - they could literally, just say guests. Saying foreign specifically does one or two things: exoticizes them or ostracizes them. Knowing Joanne...it’s probably both.
Remember how I revered Hermione for being empathetic and seeking justice because she has a strong moral compass? Okay so in chapter 23, page 404 Fleur has just passed her talking about how the food at Hogwarts is too heavy and that she wouldn’t be able to fit into her dress robes. Hermione responds “Oooh there’s a tragedy,” Hermione snapped as Fleur went out into the entrance hall. “She really thinks a lot of herself, that one, doesn't she?”
Literally a few pages ago she was a feminist icon and giving Ron shit for wanting to ask out “pretty” girls whose noses were center and standing up for Eloise Midgen who Ron basically called ugly.
This is what I find to be Joanne seeping into her pages, because remember, you can’t be considered pretty AND be respected AND be a feminist.
Down in the kitchen, the trio has met up with Dobby again in chapter 28, page 536.
“Winky is getting through six bottles a day now,” Dobby whispered to Harry.
“Well, it’s not strong, that stuff,” Harry said. But Dobby shook his head. “‘Tis strong for a house elf, sir.”
Wait a damn minute, are you trying to say that Butterbeer this entire time has been alcoholic? Why are they able to sell it to children? The drinking age in the UK is 18 (to be able to buy in stores or in pubs).
Chapter 30, page 590 when Harry was unknowingly looking through Dumbledore’s memories.
“Severus Snape was indeed a Death Eater. However, he rejoined our side before Lord Voldemort’s downfall and turned spy for us, at great personal risk. He is now no more a Death Eater than I am.”
Can Snape apologists stop now with this weird narrative that is Snape only joined the Death Eaters in order to be a double agent. Because that isn’t what happened. Snape was a wizard nazi all on his own and only became a double agent when it benefited him and things weren’t looking good for wizard Hitler and because the girl he was obsessed with was in danger.
Which he told Voldemort about the prophecy, so like, that is also technically his fault anyway.
While in the graveyard, Voldemort goes on a whole speech to his followers in front of Harry in chapter 33, page 650.
“They were faithful. They went to Azkaban rather than renounce me… when Azkaban is broken open, the Lestranges will be honored beyond their dreams.”
Voldemort to me sounds like one of those preachers that say the only people getting into Heaven are people that suffer for the cause and persecute other people because of scripture during this entire monologue.
Anyways… This was my interpretation of certain scenes from the fourth installment of Harry Potter.