Sunday, June 29, 2014

An American reading the British editions: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

(SPOILER ALERT: I’m sharing details of the Harry Potter series in this post, and in every post on the last Sunday of the month for the next three months. Just so you know!)

This is a blog series about an American girl reading the Harry Potter British editions. Read my reviews of the first three books to catch up: Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban! Now to the book at the very middle of the series…

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

First Line: “The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it ‘the Riddle House’, even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there.”

British vs. American English: I’ve been overseas so there are some things I read in these versions and don’t even recognize as different. Like car park vs. parking lot or jumper vs. sweater. But here are a few differences that popped out to me. 

(British edition word/phrase = interpretation/definition)
gaol = jail

cottoning on = catching on

plus-fours = a pair of trousers that extend four inches past the knee
chivvied = to move by small maneuvers

kip = sleep
prat = fool

quailing = losing heart; shrinking


Laugh-Worthy Moment: “They all stood there, in a tight circle, as a chill breeze swept over the hilltop. Nobody spoke. It suddenly occurred to Harry how odd this would look if a Muggle were to walk up here now… nine people, two grown men, clutching this manky old boot in semi-darkness, waiting…” (page 69)

Cry-Worthy Moment: When Harry returns from the graveyard with Cedric’s body, and there’s shouting and crying and chaos and feels. (page 582-584)

Notable Quote: “… How could they have believed I would not rise again? They, who know the steps I took, long ago, to guard myself against mortal death.” –Voldemort (page 562)

Last Line:  “As Hagrid had said, what would come, would come… and he would have to meet it when it did.”


This is the first book in the Harry Potter series that begins with a chapter where Harry isn’t present. Chapter One takes place at the Riddle House, where Voldemort and Wormtail are camped. It’s told from the point of view of the gardener, Frank, but at the end, Harry wakes with the scene in his mind as he had just dreamt it. Even though that chapter opened the main mystery of Goblet of Fire, it also begged the question: How can Harry dream what’s really happening to Voldemort?

Goblet of Fire is the first giant-sized volume (which also happens to have the first in-depth mention of giants) which is great for intricacy and subplots. While there is the main Triwizard Tournament/ Who’s trying to kill Harry this year? plot, there are also many subplots that are strung through the book. Some of them start and end with Goblet of Fire, some of them start but don’t end with Goblet of Fire and some of them started before Goblet of Fire and continue through it. This is one of JK Rowling’s greatest feats: being able to weave together the numerous subplots along with the overarching series plot and the major plot line for each book. Not just being able to do it, of course, but doing it well, with just the right amount of mystery and detail. Some of the subplots that line the pages of Goblet of Fire include: Fred and George’s joke shop and blackmailing, Rita Skeeter’s sneaking and stories, Dobby and Winky’s employment at Hogwarts, Mr. Crouch’s madness and secrets, Hagrid’s ancestry and the beginnings of romance (Harry/Cho, Cedric/Cho, Hermione/Krum, Hermione/Ron).

At the end of Goblet of Fire, the thing which we have been dreading (but didn’t know we were dreading until it happens) happens. Voldemort returns. Harry witnesses his rebirthing, his re-assembly of the Death Eaters and participates in duel with Voldemort before escaping back to Hogwarts. If Voldemort hadn’t used and played with Harry, then Harry wouldn’t have survived the night. But Voldemort wanted Harry to die grandly and make it into a spectacle with his Death Eaters watching and Harry with his wand in hand. The moment Wormtail gives Harry his wand, he gives him means to escape. Voldemort proved himself vindictive, powerful and evil but not adaptable. Priori Incantatem proved a surprise that Voldemort was unable to recover from before Harry had reached Cedric’s body, summoned the Triwizard Cup and transported back to Hogwarts. I’m sure Voldemort’s anger after Harry disappeared was menacing. Also, I’m sure there are plenty of things (including the notable quote above) that Voldemort wouldn’t have said in front of Harry if he knew Harry was going to survive the night.

One of the most powerful chapters I’ve read so far is Chapter Thirty-Six: The Parting of the Ways. After Harry recounts what happened in the graveyard for Dumbledore, he is taken to the hospital for some well-deserved rest. However, he’s awoken by Fudge and McGonagall fighting in the hallway because the Dementor’s Kiss was performed on Barty Crouch Jr. and his testimony was lost. Somehow Dumbledore’s word that Voldemort has returned, even seconded by McGonagall and Snape, isn’t good enough for Fudge. He’s in denial and refuses to take any of Dumbledore’s sage advice about removing the dementors from Azkaban or sending an envoy to the giants. So it’s a good thing that Dumbledore’s willing to do what he can on his own. He sends Bill and Sirius to inform their allies and gives Hagrid and Snape special, mysterious missions. Dumbledore’s control of the situation is fierce and inspiring. It shows that when people believe in someone (two someones actually—Dumbledore and Harry), they will rally around them in support and allegiance. As Hagrid says in the last chapter: “Great man, Dumbledore. S’long as we’ve got him, I’m not too worried” (page 623).

Next up month: The allies come together and Harry experiences a little teen angst in the Order of the Phoenix.

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