Literature Study GuidesHarry Potter SeriesHarry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire Summary

Harry Potter (Series) | Study Guide

J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter (Series) | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire | Summary

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About the Title

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry's name mysteriously emerges from the Goblet of Fire, a magical object that chooses the competitors in the Triwizard Tournament and binds them in a magical contract to ensure they will participate.

Summary

Another Year Begins

At the Dursleys' Harry wakes, scar burning, from a nightmare in which Peter Pettigrew—called Wormtail—is with Lord Voldemort. At breakfast Harry learns he has been invited by the Weasley family to join them for the Quidditch World Cup. Clearly, he is thrilled to cut short his summer with the Dursleys.

At the Quidditch World Cup, a group of Voldemort supporters torment some innocent Muggles for fun, and someone conjures the "Dark Mark"—Voldemort's mark—in the sky. These events cause an early end to the festivities that typically surround the Quidditch World Cup.

The Triwizard Tournament

When the students arrive at Hogwarts, they find out the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher will be a former Auror (an anti-Dark Magic specialist) named Mad-Eye Moody. They also learn Hogwarts will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament. Students will come from two other magical schools, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, and stay at Hogwarts for several months. One champion from each school will compete in a series of challenges. Champions will be chosen by pulling their names from a magical object called the Goblet of Fire.

However, the Goblet of Fire chooses four champions, not three: Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons, Viktor Krum from Durmstrang, Cedric Diggory from Hogwarts, and also from Hogwarts, Harry Potter. No one, not even Dumbledore, has any idea how this has happened. Rita Skeeter, a pushy and dishonest journalist, sees an opportunity. Her melodramatic stories and nosy ways plague Harry throughout the challenges. Meanwhile, tensions arise between Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Ron is jealous of all the attention Harry is getting. Hermione begins a crusade for the rights of house-elves, which Ron finds ridiculous.

The first challenge pits each champion against a mother dragon protecting her eggs. Harry and Krum come out of this challenge tied for first place. A Yule Ball is planned as part of the Triwizard Tournament festivities, and Ron asks Hermione to go with him after unsuccessfully asking several other girls only to find she has already agreed to go with someone else (Viktor Krum).

With help from Moaning Myrtle and Dobby, Harry does some last-minute preparation for the second task, rescuing someone dear to them from the merpeople underwater, and manages to complete it. His accumulated score leaves him tied for first place with Cedric Diggory. Harry continues to have nightmares. In one Voldemort tortures Wormtail for a "blunder" with the "unforgivable" Cruciatus Curse. He falls onto the floor, his scar hurting, and wakes up sick and shivering. Harry decides to tell Dumbledore what he dreamed. While waiting in the headmaster's office, Harry accidentally enters one of Dumbledore's own memories, which the headmaster has been storing in a magical memory container called a Pensieve. In the memory, a wizard named Bartemius (Barty) Crouch sentences his own son, Barty Crouch Jr., to Azkaban for being a Death Eater. Dumbledore interrupts Harry's foray into the Pensieve, and Harry tells Dumbledore about his dream. Dumbledore theorizes Harry's "scar hurts both when Lord Voldemort is near [Harry], and when he is feeling a particularly strong surge of hatred."

An Unexpected Conclusion

The day of the third task arrives. One by one the champions enter a large outdoor maze in which they encounter various spells and magical creatures. In the center of the maze is a cup. Harry and Cedric reach the center of the maze at the same time. They decide they have tied and they will grab the cup at the same moment. The moment they touch it, however, it transports them to an overgrown graveyard. Suddenly Harry's scar hurts, and he hears a voice say, "Kill the spare." Then another voice speaks the unforgivable killing curse that killed Harry's parents: "Avada Kedavra!" Cedric falls to the ground, dead.

Harry sees he is near the grave of Tom Riddle, Voldemort's father. Wormtail approaches and conjures ropes that bind Harry. Then Wormtail casts a spell to combine the bones of Voldemort's father, Harry's blood, and Wormtail's own severed hand to give Voldemort back his body.

Voldemort summons his Death Eaters, who appear and pledge their loyalty. Then Voldemort demands to duel Harry. Both Voldemort and Harry cast spells, but the spells from their wands seem to meet in midair. Suddenly, the images of all those whom Voldemort has killed emerge from Voldemort's wand, including Harry's parents, who help Harry escape before they disappear. Harry learns later this effect, called Priori Incantatem, occurred because his and Voldemort's wands include a feather from the same phoenix. Harry arrives back on the grounds of Hogwarts with Cedric's corpse, and chaos ensues. Harry tells Dumbledore that Voldemort is back.

It turns out that Barty Crouch Jr. escaped from Azkaban and has been impersonating Mad-Eye Moody using Polyjuice Potion. He is the one who has manipulated the Triwizard Tournament to deliver Harry to Voldemort for the spell. Voldemort believes using Harry's blood makes him stronger against the magic Harry's mother gave Harry when she died for him. The real Mad-Eye is found locked in a chest, controlled by an Imperius Curse—another unforgivable curse.

After Harry recounts the events from the graveyard to Dumbledore, Cornelius Fudge arrives. The Minister of Magic is reluctant to admit Voldemort is back. Since Fudge refuses to take preventive measures, Dumbledore sets them in motion himself. Just before Harry goes back to the Dursleys, he gives Ron's brothers Fred and George the money he won in the Triwizard Tournament to use to start their magical joke shop.

Analysis

No Ordinary Scar

The fourth book of the Harry Potter series begins as Harry dreams of Voldemort committing murder. As he wakes, his scar burns. This dreaming is a connection between Harry and Voldemort that seems to deepen and become more important over the course of the book. This dream parallels another dream of this nature earlier in the series. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, just after being sorted into Gryffindor, Harry dreams he is wearing Professor Quirrell's turban, which "kept talking to him, telling him he must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his destiny." Clearly, this dream includes information Harry does not know consciously—that Quirrell is sharing a body with Voldemort—but it does not have the clarity of the dream of Voldemort killing the Muggle Frank Bryce. The implication is Harry's connection with Voldemort is becoming stronger. Dumbledore notes Harry's scar is somehow part of this connection; he says it is "no ordinary scar."

Friends and Family

Harry's relationships with his friends continue to be extremely important in this book. Although Ron is resentful of his friend's fame and celebrity status, the thing of value Harry must retrieve from the merpeople turns out to be Ron. Although Harry's godfather Sirius must stay in hiding, Harry does get to enjoy a few of the benefits of having a father figure who actually cares about him: Harry is allowed to go to Hogsmeade because Sirius, as his godfather, signs his permission form.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

In the second task, Harry rescues Ron from the merpeople, but he also rescues Fleur's sister when Fleur runs into some trouble under the water. Although Harry exceeds the time allotted, he receives bonus points for "showing moral fiber." His friends are a little skeptical, pointing out he should have trusted Dumbledore would not let anything actually happen to the participants. Ron admonishes him: "I hope you didn't waste time down there acting the hero!" Harry's desire to save others, while admirable, is impulsive and not always the best course of action. Impulsive actions are often uninformed, and can have unintended consequences. This kind of action will become important in the next book.

Developing Themes

This book continues to develop themes that began in the first three installments in the series. The theme of self-sacrifice versus self-preservation and the theme of death, resurrection, and immortality continue to develop as Voldemort is able to gain back his body, magically reconstructed from the bones of his father, the blood of his enemy (Harry), and the flesh of his servant, Wormtail. He requires others to make sacrifices so he can preserve his own life. It is important to note Voldemort has successfully returned not from beyond death, but from the brink of death. His is not a resurrection story. The distinction is important. According to Dumbledore, death is not something to be feared or avoided, but simply a transition. It is evil to seek to avoid death by forcing others to sacrifice their own life or health.

The theme of discrimination becomes centered on the efforts of Hermione to free the house-elves from their slavery. The issue proves to be complex. When Hermione learns house-elves work at Hogwarts, unpaid, she quite correctly perceives their state as one of oppression. However, complications arise as the other students, even Ron, do not see the harm in allowing the house-elves to continue to be exploited for the comfort of a household. They believe the house-elves prefer this life and even take pride in their work. Ron says, "Hermione—open your ears. They. Like. It. They like being enslaved!" Indeed, with the exception of Dobby, the house-elves they meet do not seem to want their freedom. Not only do humans believe house-elves are inherently subservient, but it seems many house-elves believe it as well. Winky, Dobby's friend, clearly desires nothing more than to be enslaved again, and she sees her freedom as a punishment for failing to perform her duties. House-elves have a deeply ingrained view they are inferior and humans are superior. This ingrained belief presents an obstacle to Hermione's goal of elf freedom.

The theme of fate and free will is developed in a fascinating contrast between planned and unplanned outcomes. Voldemort has an elaborate plan to make his return. It involves a large number of people and shows a meticulous attention to detail. Voldemort's choices seem to drive the plot. Voldemort's success at becoming embodied, and in subverting some of the protection of Harry's mother's charm, goes according to plan. The unplanned outcome is Priori Incantatem. This strange magic occurs because Harry's and Voldemort's wands contain a feather from the same phoenix. When Harry buys his wand, he is told by Mr. Ollivander, "The wand chooses the wizard." So not only is the Priori Incantatem effect unexpected, but it feels like the hand of fate.

Repeated Structures

In typical fashion the story follows the school calendar: summer with the Dursleys, Harry's birthday on July 31, going off to school, school holidays, a climax toward the end of the school year, and a conversation with Dumbledore, followed by a return home. This year, the school calendar itself is slightly different as a result of the Triwizard Tournament, and thus the year has additional events: the three tasks and the Yule Ball.

The magical object crucial to the book's climax is the Portkey. Rowling cleverly introduces Portkeys as part of the arrangements the wizarding community has made for transport to the Quidditch World Cup. Later, a Portkey is the means by which Harry gets whisked away from Hogwarts to the old graveyard where the bones of Tom Riddle lie. Additionally, the book introduces the Pensieve, a magical object that will become extremely important in the final two books of the series.

Furthermore, readers learn about the three Unforgivable Curses: the Cruciatus Curse, which inflicts pain; the Imperius Curse, which places people under another's complete control; and the killing curse, Avada Kedavra, which is revealed to be the curse that killed Harry's parents. These curses are important for understanding the history of resistance against Voldemort, and they give the characters a reasonable expectation of what will happen when Voldemort does actually return. On a personal level, knowing these three curses sheds light on the way Harry's parents died as well as how Neville came to be raised by his grandmother.

The conversation between Dumbledore and Harry gives Harry a chance to ask questions about what he experienced in the graveyard. Dumbledore explains the Priori Incantatem, "Reverse Spell effect," and reveals the phoenix feathers in both Harry's and Voldemort's wands come from Fawkes. Dumbledore also gives Harry the reassurance the young man needs: "You have shouldered a grown wizard's burden and found yourself equal to it."

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