The primary reason I will always advocate this book series over the films is the amount of detail Rowling includes to flesh out her characters and her stories. From the minor characters that aren’t even mentioned in the films to the side adventures Harry, Ron and Hermione take somewhat regularly you’re missing out on so much if you’ve never read the books.
And the text books and books Hermione reads! OMG, so many are just throw away lines and titles but what I wouldn’t give to read An Appraisal of Magical Education in Europe or Hogwarts: A History or any of the others that are mentioned! I actually got super excited that she’d released Hogwarts: A History, but it’s actually Harry Potter: A History of Magic (Pottermore link). I guess I can’t really be mad, but fingers crossed it’s next!
This re-read, like all the others this summer, again emphasized how different it is to read the series after a few more years life experience. I really wish I would’ve written down my thoughts when I read them the first time in high school and college. I’m sure they are vastly different than the last time I wrote about it (July 2012) and this time.
By far the best part of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that was left out of the films was S.P.E.W. The Society for the Protection of Elfish Welfare which Hermione created after realizing how poorly house elves are treated in the Wizarding World. I will always find this hilarious because of Ron’s referencing it as “spew” and Hermione ALWAYS spelling it out. It just sums up their relationship so much more than anything else.
“‘And you think we want to walk around wearing badges saying ‘spew,’ do you?’ said Ron. ‘S-P-E-W!’ said Hermione hotly. ‘I was going to put Stop the Outrageous Abuse of Our Fellow Magical Creatures and Campaign for a Change in Their Legal Status — but it wouldn’t fit. So that’s the heading of our manifesto.'” (74)
“THE HOUSE-ELF LIBERATION FRONT” (121)
I think it also speaks to Hermione’s activism as a student and her core values. Add in that the U.K. will always be tied to student activism for me and it’s no wonder I find this to be one of the best exchanges through this book and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I know that’s not a universal experience, but attending grad school in Leeds and falling in with the political set has intricately tied these things together for me.
And PEEVES! How could they cut Peeves out of the films?
“Several times, Filch the caretaker had to extract Peeves from inside the armor, where he had taken to hiding, filling in the gaps in the songs with lyrics of his own invention, all of which were very rude.” (131)
What I noticed about the story this time was that it’s not as quite as bad as I thought it was when I read it between my first and this last time. The first time I read it I LOVED it. It had so much action, it gave us our first glance at the wider Wizarding World outside of the U.K., and obviously it had the culmination of the first three books of Voldemort’s attempt to return.
I also noted, as someone in the book said and for some reason I didn’t quote it, how strategic Dumbledore is. I mean we see the full genius of this in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but you really get a start of it here.
“And yet . . . and yet . . . Harry went restlessly back to the bed and sat down on it, running a finger over his scar again. It wasn’t the pain that bothered him; Harry was no stranger to pain and injury. He had lost all the bones from his right arm once and had them painfully regrown in a night. The same arm had been pierced by a venomous foot-long fang not long afterward. Only last year Harry had fallen fifty feet from an airborne broomstick. He was used to bizarre accidents and injuries; they were unavoidable if you attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and had a knack for attracting a lot of trouble.” (6)
Dumbledore has kept Remus Lupin and Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody in reserve for how many years? He’s waited until the perfect moment to bring them in. I don’t know if it’s clearly stated but I thin we can assume, because of the numerous jinx/curse allusions, that there have been 10 previous Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers with Quirrel being number 11 and Lockhart being number 12. Dumbledore strategically waited and put the two best options in when Harry Potter needed them most and Voldemort began gaining strength and followers. I would even argue that putting Severus Snape in as number 14 was also to Harry’s advantage, even if he despises Snape, Snape teaches him more than he can imagine.
I think we also get to see more of the incompetency of the adults in the Wizarding World. Thinking about who is in power now in the U.S. and U.K. I can’t really say that they’re that much more incompetent than these lots. It’s hard though because when I read these as a younger reader I was like oh that’s cool these kids get all this freedom and can do whatever they want and now I’m like why are these adults so wrapped up in their own idiocy that these children are able to do some of this dangerous shit. [Dumbledore would argue he “watches” but come on he’s pretty hands off.]
Recommendation: Keep going! It is well worth the read. This one and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were always a bit of a struggle in my numerous re-reads. They’re both good, but with these books nearly doubling from the first three they are definitely a slog.
Opening 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.”
Closing Line: “As Hagrid had said, what would come, would come . . . and he would have to meet it when it did.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)
Additional Quotes from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
“As for informing the headmaster, Harry had no idea where Dumbledore went during the summer holidays. He amused himself for a moment, picturing Dumbledore, with his long silver beard, full-length wizard’s robes, and pointed hat, stretched out on a beach somewhere, rubbing suntan lotion onto his long crooked nose.” (7)
“If they say yes, send Pig back with your answer pronto, and we’ll come and get you at five o’clock on Sunday. If they say no, send Pig back pronto and we’ll come and get you at five o’clock on Sunday anyway.” (12)
“It was only just dawning on Harry how many witches and wizards there must be in the world; he had never really thought much about those in other countries.” (27)
“Here and there adult wizards and witches were emerging from their tents and starting to cook breakfast. Some, with furtive looks around them, conjured fires with their wands; others were striking matches with dubious looks on their faces, as though sure this couldn’t work. Three African wizards sat in serious conversation, all of them wearing long white robes and roasting what looked like a rabbit on a bright purple fire, while a group of middle-aged American witches sat gossiping happily beneath a spangled banner stretched between their tents that read: THE SALEM WITCHES’ INSTITUTE. Harry caught snatches of conversation in strange languages from the inside of tents they passed, and though he couldn’t understand a word, the tone of every single voice was excited.” (27)
“Harry laughed but didn’t voice the amazement he felt at hearing about other Wizarding schools. He supposed, now that he saw representatives of so many nationalities in the campsite, that he had been stupid never to realize that Hogwarts couldn’t be the only one.” (28)
“There was a pause in which Hermione beamed at the pair of them, and Harry sat, torn between exasperation at Hermione and amusement at the look on Ron’s face.” (75)
“He was very fond of his wand, and as far as he was concerned its relation to Voldemort’s wand was something it couldn’t help — rather as he couldn’t help being related to Aunt Petunia.” (103)
“Rita Skeeter had reported him saying an awful lot of things that he couldn’t remember ever saying in his life, let alone in that broom cupboard.” (105)
“There was much less laughter and a lot more hanging around in the library when Hermione was your best friend.” (105)
“Somehow, the knowledge that he would rather be here and facing a dragon than back on Privet Drive with Dudley was good to know; it made him feel slightly calmer.” (113)
“And he went back over to Ron, feeling that this ball was a lot more trouble than it was worth, and hoping very much that Padma Patil’s nose was dead center.” (134)
“‘There you go, Harry!’ Ron shouted over the noise. ‘You weren’t being thick after all — you were showing moral fiber!'” (168)
“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” (174)
“‘Curiosity is not a sin,’ he said. ‘But we should exercise caution with our curiosity…yes, indeed…'” (199)
“Dumbledore invoked an ancient magic, to ensure the boy’s protection as long as he is in his relations’ care. Not even I can touch him there…” (218)
“At that moment, Harry fully understood for the first time why people said Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort had ever feared. The look upon Dumbledore’s face as he stared down at the unconscious form of Mad-Eye Moody was more terrible than Harry could have ever imagined. There was no benign smile upon Dumbledore’s face, no twinkle in the eyes behind the spectacles. There was cold fury in every line of the ancient face; a sense of power radiated from Dumbledore as though he were giving off burning heat.” (225)
“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” (230)
“Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had always thought of Fudge as a kindly figure, a little blustering, a little pompous, but essentially good-natured. But now a short, angry wizard stood before him, refusing, point-blank, to accept the prospect of disruption in his comfortable and ordered world — to believe that Voldemort could have risen.” (234)
“You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!” (235)
“Mrs. Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother. The full weight of everything he had seen that night seemed to fall in upon him as Mrs. Weasley held him to her. His mother’s face, his father’s voice, the sight of Cedric, dead on the ground all started spinning in his head until he could hardly bear it, until he was screwing up his face against the howl of misery fighting to get out of him.” (237)
“‘No good sittin’ worryin’ abou’ it,’ he said. ‘What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.'” (238)
“It is my belief, however, that the truth is generally preferable to lies, and that any attempt to pretend that Cedric died as the result of an accident, or some sort of blunder of his own, is an insult to his memory.” (239)
“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” (240)
“Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.” (240)