I’m here in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado on vacation with my family! The condo we’re renting overlooks a beautiful, therapeutic-sounding mountain stream, and the check-in lady told us bears have been active lately. *makes note to lock the car*
Anyway, I’m here at the desk and listening to the water trickle down the smooth stones for one reason. I just finished J.K. Rowling’s fourth installment in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
The book had me on end throughout the whole seven hundred thirty-four pages. I will confess that it was a bit daunting getting past the first two hundred pages of introduction, but once that was complete, the book took off like a Nimbus 2000. I will also confess that I finished the book in about a month. I honestly thought it would take longer, but Rowling’s descriptions, plot twists, and intriguing new characters kept me hooked until the end.
That said, I am here to present my thoughts and ideas on the recurring themes and what stood out to me the most during my journey through Harry’s adventures at his fourth year of Hogwarts. While many Christians argue that literature and things of the sort are useless and vain, it would be petty to forget that those things show us truth, beauty, and meaning that we cannot find by doing other things. It is often through books that Christ shows us His truth. Nota bene, all truth is God’s truth.
Oh, and I would like to advise whoever has not read this book to not read this analysis/review since it will contain spoilers.
DO NOT KEEP READING – THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE.
Ok, if you keep reading, it is officially your fault.
Alright, let’s begin.
There were three themes that mainly stuck out to me during my time while reading The Goblet of Fire. For one thing, there was the theme of determination in the face of evil, there was the theme of selflessness and self-sacrifice, as seen in the person of Cedric Diggory, and finally, there was the theme of diversity as seen in the characters Winky, Dobby, Madame Maxime, Hagrid, and the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students.
- #1 – Determination in the face of evil
When I mean determination in the face of evil, I mean simply the will not to give in. Throughout the book, there was a sense of insistence to always cling to what was right and not succumb to the darkness. The first hint of this comes when Harry and his Gryffindor classmates have a lesson in Defense Against the Dark Arts with their newest professor, Mad-Eye Moody.
Moody teaches them a curse known as the “Imperius Curse” which puts anyone under a spell to make them do whatever the spell-caster wants. Moody curses all of the students, forcing them to try and break free of the curse. When finally, it is Harry’s turn, there is a different reaction.
“It was the most wonderful feeling. Harry felt a floating sensation as every thought and worry in his head was wiped gently away, leaving nothing but a vague, untraceable happiness. He stood there feeling immensely relaxed, only dimly aware of everyone watching him.
And then he heard Mad-Eye Moody’s voice, echoing in some distant chamber of his empty brain: Jump onto the desk…jump onto the desk….
Harry bent his knees obediently, preparing to spring.
Jump onto the desk….
Why, though? Another voice had awoken in the back of his brain.
Stupid thing to do, really, said the voice.
Jump onto the desk….
No, I don’t think I will, thanks, said the other voice, a little firmly…no, I don’t really want to….
The next thing Harry felt was considerable pain. He had both jumped and tried to prevent himself from jumping—the result was that he’d smashed headlong into the desk, knocking it over, and, by the feeling in his legs, fractured both his kneecaps.
‘Now, that’s more like it!” growled Moody’s voice, and suddenly, Harry felt the empty, echoing feeling in his head disappear.
– Chapter Fifteen, “Beauxbatons and Durmstrang”
The Imperius Curse in particular was what made me realize how big of a theme resistance to evil was in the book. Everything gets foggy in the mind, and suddenly all of one’s values go out the window, and you do whatever the evil wants you to do. It’s only when you hold on to what you know to be true that you can actually remember the difference between right and wrong.
The Imperius Curse actually reminded me of a verse in Romans 1 about the “debased mind.”
“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened…. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions…. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do things which are not fitting…”
– Romans 1:21, 26a, 28
According to Google’s definition, the word debased is an adjective meaning (and I quote) “reduced in quality or value.” When succumbing to the power of evil or the power of temptations, lusts, immorality, and sin, our minds become lesser in value. Determination against what is evil keeps our hearts steered toward what is godly and moral as opposed to not knowing which way is up and which is down.
Moody’s lesson in the Imperius Curse does just that. Harry understood that Moody’s voice and His own were two different things. To illustrate in our lives, our voice and God’s will. Our passions and our temptations and God’s truth.
- #2 – Selflessness
Throughout all of the Harry Potter books has run a stream of selflessness and self-sacrifice. However, in this book in particular, there is a thick presence of selfless behavior. Particularly, it is seen in the person of Cedric Diggory, the Hufflepuff champion chosen to represent Hogwarts in the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
According to the Sorting Hat in the first Harry Potter book, The Sorcerer’s Stone, Hufflepuff was for those who are loyal, hard-workers, honest, and just. As Hufflepuff’s poster boy, Cedric Diggory seems to fit the mold of a stereotypical Hufflepuff.
If you want to call him that.
The difference between Diggory and most of the other students, is his selfless attitude and the way he always wants to help Harry along. Even when Harry’s name flies out of the goblet of fire unlawfully, Cedric doesn’t question him on the subject.
Harry and Cedric fly back and forth sharing valuable information with each other throughout the story, and even, in the end, as Harry is attacked by a giant spider, Cedric is there to help him. Victory is only a few yards from him, yet he decides instead to save Harry from the jaws of death. He then tells Harry to take the cup, and when Harry refuses, they do it together.
Ultimately, however, Cedric was killed by Lord Voldemort during the final few chapters of the book.
During the Priori Incatatem, the reaction occurring between Harry and Voldemort’s wands, the last five curses performed by Voldemort’s wand are temporarily exposed, and from his wand comes the people he killed with the killing curse, Avada Kedavra. The victims’ shadows appear from last to first, and as Cedric’s shadow appears, the first thing he says to Harry is not anything of pride, anger, or hatred. He says nothing about making his name great or tells him nothing about remembering him. He simply tells Harry to “hold on.” He only says one other thing to Harry before disappearing:
“‘Harry,’ whispered the figure of Cedric, ‘take my body back, will you? Take my body back to my parents….'”
– Chapter Thirty-four, “Priori Incantatem”
Cedric knew how much his parents loved him, and he only asked Harry to take his body back so that they could bury him properly. He never even mentioned himself in bringing his body back, only his parents.
While remembering Cedric during the end of year feast, Dumbledore commemorates him in front of the whole school:
“‘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.'”
– Chapter Thirty-seven, “The Beginning”
This also comes alongside the first point of determination in the face of evil. Deciding between what is right and what is easy. What feels good and what is true.
- #3 – Diversity
Throughout the course of the book, Rowling also hit pretty hard on the theme of diversity and inclusion. It was quite interesting to me as I observed how often this theme recurred in the book. I actually loved how it was portrayed, and I loved how beautiful Rowling portrayed it.
The theme was first obvious to me when Hermoine begins to see the life of slavery given to the house elves. They are given a little towel to wear, told to keep quite unless spoken to, and constantly bullied into whatever their masters tell them.
Then the theme is reiterated when Hagrid is persecuted for being a giant just because the giants of old were evil creatures. Despite everyone’s protests that Hagrid would never hurt a fly, Hagrid was still publicly demoralized by reporter Rita Skeeter for being a malevolent beast.
The theme once again comes around when the students from the other wizarding schools Beauxbatons and Durmstrang arrive at Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament. Fleur Delacour and Viktor Krum are scrutinized and considered enemies by many of the Hogwarts students…even Ron. When Hermoine goes to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum, Ron tells her she’s “fraternizing with the enemy.”
Throughout the story, everyone is reminded of the presence of people and beings different than themselves and of how beautiful it is that they are all able to share life together. Winky and Dobby, Madame Maxime, Fleur Delacour, Viktor Krum, and Igor Karkaroff were all new characters and distinctly different characters. Although Hagrid is included in the mix, he is still shown to readers in a new way: as a half giant.
In the end, Harry and his friends realized that differences could not stand in the way of their one mission in competing for the Triwizard cup and, ultimately, defeating the Dark Lord.
It reminds me of the early church in Acts 15:
“‘Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith….'”
– The Apostle Peter, from Acts 15:7b-9
And it also reminds me of Paul’s words in Galatians 3:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
– Galatians 3:28
Despite who we are or where we come from, we all strive toward the same goal: Heaven. Just as Harry and his friends were all striving toward victory (and, fundamentally, getting through another year at Hogwarts alive), we also are joined together by our Christian-ness and are heading steadily together toward the ultimate goal of our lives: unity with Jesus one day in Heaven.
I love finding similarities between the books I read and the truth of Christ. It’s awesome, isn’t it? I just love it, and that’s why I want to go to school for English Literature. Stories draw us closer to Christ even in ways you cannot see. My mom always says that you’ll never be the same person after you read a book.
Reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has shown me so many amazing things. First and foremost, the ability to resist the easy, and sometimes evil path and to choose what is right. One of the greatest qualities we can possess is selflessness, like the kind Cedric Diggory had towards Harry during the Triwizard Tournament. And lastly, we are to embrace all of our fellow humans with love and guide them toward the ultimate goal: running the race.
So, guys, I hope to do this for every book I read from now on. I really enjoyed writing this, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Feel free to comment below or to share this post. I look forward to writing more Book Spotlight posts in the future!
And remember, all stories, whether they’re from Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, J.K. Rowling, Steven Spielberg, or the Russo Brothers, are celebrations and expressions of our world’s internal struggles, searches, joys, and triumphs. While not all of them express the correct view, the ones that do can draw us closer to the One who gave us such creativity.
Stories are gifts, and let us remember that every good and perfect gift comes from our Father above…the Father of lights.