Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 677
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is J. K. Rowling's fourth Harry Potter book in what is expected to be a series of seven. Like the books before it (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire opens during Harry's summer vacation from school. After the first few chapters, the reader returns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with Harry and his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. It is at Hogwarts that the main action of the novel takes place. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire describes Harry's, Ron's, and Hermione's fourth year at Hogwarts, and by now we are not surprised to find it framed by the end of summer at the beginning of the novel and by the beginning of summer at the end of the novel. It is also not a surprise that, despite these frames, the bulk of the novel is devoted almost entirely to an academic setting.
And yet, there is a disappointment that familiarity can sometimes bring to readers desirous of new material and technique. Indeed, of Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, noted horror novelist Stephen King writes: "[We] may be a little tired of discovering Harry at home with his horrible aunt and uncle (plus his even more horrible cousin, Dudley, whose favorite PlayStation game is Mega-Mutilation Part 3), but once Harry has attended the obligatory Quidditch match and returned to Hogwarts, the tale picks up speed." While King has a point regarding the redundancy of the novel's frames, he is right in suggesting that "the tale picks up speed," for Rowling cannot be described as lacking in innovation(however loyal she is to the traditions of the fantasy genre). In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Rowling borrows the innovation of human development to keep her work strong. Earlier Harry Potter books use the Muggle (nonmagic) world as a backdrop for the magical world and a springboard for understanding and evaluating Hogwarts as a fantastic, parallel sociopolitical system. But this measure is no longer sufficient. Like the child-hero Harry (now 14 years old), the reader of J. K. Rowling's series craves to know more about the larger adult world that Harry will soon be entering.
For both protagonist and audience, and in keeping with classic British fantasy for young adults (especially the fantasy of C. S. Lewis), this larger world is the world of civil service and old school ties. It is the world of the Ministry of Magic and of adult characters more steeped in the recent history of the magic world—and all the policies, preferences, and politics that adult worlds involve. Happily, Rowling does not skimp on her description of the adult world, nor does she undermine the playful humor offset by wisdom with which she shapes the Harry Potter books. Wisely, rather than forcing Harry and the reader to enter into and successfully negotiate the adult magic world, as soon as the academic year begins, Rowling brings the adult magic world to Hogwarts, to Harry, and to us via the Triwizard Tournament. As Headmaster Albus Dumbledore explains:
The Triwizard Tournament was first established some seven hundred years ago as a friendly competition between the three largest European schools of Wizardry: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang. A champion was selected to represent each school, and the three champions competed in three magical tasks. . . . There have been several attempts over the centuries to reinstate the tournament . . . none of which has been very successful. However, our own departments of International Magic Cooperation and Magical Games and Sports have decided the time is ripe for another attempt.
With the Triwizard Tournament comes the adult magic world (yet another challenge for Harry, who, despite being underage, is chosen as a competitor), the usual adjustments of a 14-year-old boy (namely friendship, romance, and puberty), and the political intrigues and devastating gravity surrounding the evil Lord Voldemort's use of the Triwizard Tournament to "rebirth" himself.
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