MuggleNet Rereads “Goblet of Fire”

Welcome back to the “MuggleNet Rereads Harry Potter” series! We’ve already reread Sorcerer’s StoneChamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban. For further discussion of the series, check out our podcast, Alohomora! Now join us for the next installment: Goblet of Fire.

I don’t know about you, but I remember my friends and I skipping the first chapter of Goblet of Fire when we were kids because we found it boring. Upon a second look, however (I say “second”… more like thirtieth, but you get the idea), and in view of the later books, it seemed to be much more interesting to me… maybe it’s the context of knowing exactly where and what is going on, or maybe (and more likely) I wasn’t as eager to get straight to Harry and his friends. I could savor the small town of Little Hangleton, and I could see the seeds of themes that would rear their heads in Casual Vacancy and the Cormoran Strike series.


The Riddle House

This book had been problematic for me for a long time – I’m not sure why I didn’t like it as much as Prisoner, but reading it again, I was reminded how fantastic this book is. It’s the first real “break” from the more childish feel of the first three books, and its structure is one of the most pronounced, with the Triwizard Tournament splitting the book into four clear sections – the introduction and Harry’s name coming out of the Goblet and then the three tasks. It felt like the most cinematic of the books – with spectacular grandiose scenes that almost beg to be on an IMAX screen.

Apart from the bit in Prisoner when Sirius asks Harry to live with him, Goblet of Fire was the first time I had serious emotional reactions. The part when Ron and Harry stop speaking to each other was awful:

I just wondered where you —” Ron broke off, shrugging. “Nothing. I’m going back to bed.”
“Just thought you’d come nosing around, did you?” Harry shouted. He knew that Ron had no idea what he’d walked in on, knew he hadn’t done it on purpose, but he didn’t care — at this moment he hated everything about Ron, right down to the several inches of bare ankle showing beneath his pajama trousers. – Goblet of Fire

Even though Harry had been hated by the school in the second book, even though he had been spending more time with Hermione in the third – this was their first real fight, and it felt like the heartstrings of the book had been pulled out of place. It’s incredible that after reading this so many times, it still evokes such a visceral reaction.

I was so struck this time around by how young they are. The denouement was one of the most terrifying parts I’d ever read – I remember tears pouring out of my eyes in the playground as I read Voldemort playing his cat and mouse game with Harry – at that time I was nine. Now I’m 24, and Harry at 14 seems so incredibly young. I remember being incensed at Dumbledore for saying he loved Harry too much, and he was so young – because at the time I identified with Harry. I was sure that he WASN’T too young, and HOW COULD Dumbledore??? Now I suppose I identify with Dumbledore… which was an unexpected and somewhat worrying realization.

One of my favorite things about my old copy of Goblet is running my thumb along the pages – they’re so soft because they’ve been turned so often. I can see where I accidentally smeared it with vegemite and where I determinedly covered it in plastic after disaster struck my Chamber copy (reading in the bath is a dangerous activity).

What were your thoughts during the reread? What memories does your copy have in its pages? Let us know in the comments!