The Triwizard Map
“Book Four’s a very very VERY important book. Something very important happens in Book Four. But also, it’s literally a central book. It’s almost the heart of the series, and it’s pivotal.” – J.K. Rowling
Upon a recent re-reading of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a small, seemingly insignificant description of a dragon caught my eye. It struck me as rather odd, as I know that J.K. Rowling does not put anything insignificant into her books. So I began to think of what this little tidbit could mean….
I came to the conclusion that the Triwizard Tournament is foreshadowing Harry’s encounters with Voldemort, and thus the rest of the books. To make one thing clear, I am not referring to Voldemort acting through someone else (as was the case with Quirrell) or acting through a memory made real (as was the case of Tom Riddle). I speak only of Voldemort in his “flesh, blood and bone” body as seen at the end of GoF.
And So It Begins
To complete and win his first task, Harry must best a dragon, the formidable Hungarian Horntail. When Harry follows Hagrid before the task, he “looked up, high above him, and saw the eyes of the black dragon, with vertical pupils like a cat’s” (326 GoF, American edition). While this means nothing by itself, compare it to Harry’s meeting with Voldemort in the graveyard. Voldemort had just been given his new body, and “caressed his own chest, his arms, his face; the red eyes, whose pupils were slits, like a cat’s, gleamed still more brightly through the darkness”(644 GoF). The resemblance of the dragon’s and Voldemort’s eyes is too similar to be a coincidence. JKR uses almost the exact wording to describe them, something that should not go unnoticed by the reader. Each figure also is dark, tall and out to get Harry.
Before Harry accomplishes the first task, though, he has to summon his broom. Although it took Harry a while to learn it, the charm Accio is one of the best charms Harry knows; it saved his life that night in the graveyard, bringing Harry back to Hogwarts. Accio aided Harry in both situations, allowing him to achieve the greater of both outcomes. Without it, well….
The Second Task
“Come seek us where our voices sound, We cannot sing above the ground, And while you’re searching, ponder this: We’ve taken what you’ll sorely miss, An hour long you’ll have to look, And to recover what we took, But past an hour – the prospect’s black, Too late, it’s gone, it won’t come back.” – (463 GoF)
The clues in the song of the Merpeople and the circumstances of the second task are very representative of the next time Harry faces Voldemort.
First, “what you’ll sorely miss” turns out to be Ron, Harry’s best friend at Hogwarts. However, Harry’s most meaningful relationship so far had been formed with a person not in Hogwarts – Sirius Black. Sirius and Ron are similar in many ways, from their flaming tempers to their loyalty to Harry. Harry would do almost anything to protect two of his best friends, and he does. He goes after Ron even when they are not speaking to each other, and Harry knowingly braves an encounter with Voldemort to rescue Sirius. And when Sirius dies, Harry is devastated. Secondly, “the prospect’s black, too late, it’s gone, it wont come back” struck me. There are plenty of other rhymes JKR could have used to end the poem, why did she choose “black”? It only just happens to be the last name of Harry’s godfather, who is killed in the next book. He’s not coming back.
Another point about the second task is the expression of Harry’s hero complex. As Harry pulls Ron out of the lake, Ron remarks, “I hope you didn’t waste time down there acting the hero” (503 GoF). The readers have well been aware of Harry’s weakness, his desire to put everything to rights. Unfortunately, Voldemort is aware of this as well, and uses this knowledge to his full advantage. Hermione, usually so supportive of Harry, deduces this fact, and is opposed to Harry’s plan to save Sirius. “Don’t you think you’ve got a bit of a – a – a – saving-people-thing?” (733 OotP). This weakness of Harry’s cost him both points in the Triwizard Tournament and his godfather’s life.
Two more interesting things to note about the second task are Sirius’ knife and the house elves. Harry wishes for the knife in the middle of the task, though he knows it can do him no good. The only reason I can think of for Harry’s wish is to bring Sirius into the picture. Without that comment, the second task would have remained Sirius-free. Additionally, house elves play a small role in the second task and the incident at the Ministry of Magic. Each elf has a crucial bit of information (or misinformation) to pass on.
Since sufficient similarities can be established between the Triwizard Tournament and each time Harry meets Voldemort, the third task can be used to predict the rest of the series.
First off, I think that Harry and Voldemort will not meet each other again until the final showdown. There are only three tasks in the Triwizard Tournament, thus Harry meets Voldemort three times. This is also nicely parallel to Harry’s parents, who “thrice defied” the Dark Lord. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I think, will be almost entirely devoted to the wizard war (which is symbolized by the maze).
The first obstacle Harry meets once he enters is a boggart, or rather a boggart masquerading as a Dementor. Boggarts pose Harry no problem, so it stands to reason that Harry will have to fight the Dementors. This is logical because the Dementors are now loyal to Voldemort, and Harry is most afraid of the Dementors. For Harry’s coming of age story to be complete, Harry needs to conquer his worst fear.
Harry next finds “an odd golden mist floating ahead of him;” when Harry steps into this mist, “the world turned upside down” (623 & 624 GoF). This passage leads me to believe that Harry is going to learn another piece of information that will, well, turn his world upside down (much like the news about his godfather did in PoA). Perhaps this news will have to do with his parents, perhaps it has something to do with the Half-Blood Prince, but whatever it is, Harry will have to work through his feelings on the issue to fight effectively in the war.
Deeper in the maze, Cedric is almost killed by Krum, who is under the Imperious Curse. Harry had previously thought that Krum was a decent guy. They got along and respected each other as competitors, even if they were not the best of friends. It seems to me that someone close to Harry will be cursed by one of Voldemort’s followers. This person doesn’t have to be someone that Harry particularly likes, but it will be someone that he trusts.
Before he can reach the center of the maze, Harry’s way is blocked by the Sphinx, who demands that he answer a riddle (hmm…Riddle…where have we heard that name before?). The most important part of the riddle is the end, which reads, “Now… answer me this, which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?” (629 GoF) My immediate thought when I read this was, “a Dementor!”. Of course I was wrong, but that answer seems to fit better with Ron, who has the fear of spiders. Kissing is what Dementors do best, and, well…. JKR said about Harry once in an interview, “He might well be receiving another kiss (or two) but I’m not saying who the kisser’s going to be…” (World Book Day chat). This leaves the options wide open for a Dementor.
Harry and Cedric have to fight off a giant spider before reaching the Triwizard cup. This spider may be representative of Aragog, especially since JKR said in an interview that he would be making an appearance in a future book. (Barnes and Noble online chat) Perhaps the spiders will have a role in the wizard war?
J.K. Rowling loves to leave little hints and foreshadowing in her books, making the books so much fun to read. These little tidbits provide readers with more information for theorizing. My examination of the Triwizard Tournament revealed close parallels between it and Harry’s encounters with Voldemort. Therefore, the third task can be used as a road map to predict the rest of the books.