Sunday, May 2, 2010

Book 25: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I intended originally to include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in only the list of other books I read this year, since there are already two other Harry related posts in the blog.  But then some friends pointed out that this weekend is the assumed commemoration of Voldemort's downfall,  and I had only about 70 pages left to finish the book so I decided to go for it.

Disclaimer now: If you've not read the HP series, there will be spoilers here.  If you've only seen the movies, there may be some things you didn't know. If you've not read the books or seen the movies, you should.  I'm also tackling this posting a little differently than most others. I'm just going to list some of the things I really like about this particular book.  For reference, I re-read GOF this time in the UK, hard-cover edition. 

Goblet of Fire was a game changer.  While the first three HP novels all had their share of darkness and danger, there was still a sense that they were primarily novels for adolescents and children.  Clocking in at over 600 pages (over 700 in the US Hardcover edition), GOF broke that mold immediately. This was the book that brought back Voldemort in the flesh (such as it was). More importantly, l the characters, and we the readers saw a loss of innocence.  We learned that JK Rowling would not be sparing us (and the characters) from the deaths of people who were fighting for the side of right or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Children, parents, heroes, friends- like in a real war, everyone was now fair game.

The hormones kicked in.  Harry has his first crush. Ron realizes he just might like Hermione as more than a friend, although he bungles that realization spectacularly.  Hermione snogs an international Quidditch hero. The subtlety with which Rowling presents all of this not only provides humor, but also takes the (older) readers back to that first awkward crush we all remember.  

Ron's struggle at being "just" the side-kick (at least in his mind), and his belief that he is somehow inferior to Harry is starkly explored in this novel.  And given the age of the characters, quite realistic.

Despite her admiration for rules and order, when Hermione Granger decides something is worth fighting for, she won't merely bend the rules, but completely obliterate them. Yes, she used a Time Turner in  Prisoner of Azkaban, but in GOF, she imprisons animagus Rita Skeeter in a jar to keep her from printing so many lies in the Daily Prophet.

Voldemort comes back, and nothing is going to be the same. We can see that old alliances will be reforming. And although it isn't detailed grotesquely, we begin to see the lengths that Voldemort and the Death Eaters will use as they create their new regime, not the least of which are torture and cold-blooded murder.  

Two of my favorite ideas from the whole series comes from this book:First is Dumbledore's belief that "Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open (p627)."  The second is that we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.  Although I am in by no means embroiled in the ultimate battle of good versus evil, I try to apply that sentiment to my own life. I try to do what I think is right because it is right, no matter whether it is easy.

So, forgive me this third Harry Potter related posting, but enjoy it in the spirit is intended: a celebration of the downfall of the Darkest Wizard of the ages.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! Very well said. Seeing all of the posts on Facebook and Twitter this weekend have me wanting to e-read the series yet again. :)