Before readers of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire return to the familiar setting of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they are first given a glimpse of the gray areas to which the fourth Harry Potter book expands: the boundary worlds that span the nonmagic Muggle world and the magic world. True to her talent for providing examples and provoking comparative thinking by describing the parallels between the Muggle and the magic, Rowling shows us both of these boundary worlds in the first ten chapters (158 pages) of her mammoth 37-chapter (734-page) novel.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire opens in the village of Little Hangleton—a conservative Muggle town in rural England. We learn that the infamous villain of the Harry Potter books, Lord Voldemort ("He Who Shall Not Be Named"), is hiding out, regaining strength, and planning his return to power. Rowling distances her readers from this active threat by describing it as a dream: "Harry lay flat on his back, breathing hard as though he had been running. He had awoken from a vivid dream with his hands pressed over his face. The old scar on his forehead, which was shaped like a bolt of lightning, was burning beneath his fingers as though someone had just pressed a white hot wire to his skin." But readers well acquainted with Rowling's series know that Harry Potter's burning scar is no dreamy matter—it hurts when Voldemort is nearby or feeling particularly hateful towards Harry. The threat is real and the distance between our hero and the villain is not so great as we would like to believe. In the meantime, the reader must expect that Voldemort's appearance in the Muggle world is a matter of much concern. The well-intentioned witches and wizards (primarily those working in the various departments at the Ministry of Magic) are devoted to making sure that the magic world does not intrude upon, or interfere with, the Muggle world. Rowling describes this from Harry's Muggle-raised, but magic-informed, perspective in the opening chapters of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: the Ministry covers up the (seemingly foolish) claims of inappropriate and dangerous goings-on in the village of Little Hangleton. Here, Rowling's penchant for parallel and oppositional description is exercised. The Ministry cover-up is told from the perspective of Harry, the young initiate, and from the vantage point of a new setting, the Quidditch World Cup, in chapters 2-9 of Rowling's text.
Chapters 2-9 showcase J. K. Rowling's gift for ingenious, imaginative detail, allowing her to describe once again the magic world that delights both her youngest and her oldest readers. Harry and his good friend Hermione Granger (Muggle-born and -raised), and their magic-born friend Ron Weasley (along with the Weasley family), use a portkey to travel to the Quidditch World Cup—an amusing parallel to World Cup Soccer. The Cup matches are held on a deserted moor ("it's very difficult for a large number of wizards to congregate without attracting Muggle attention"). Their portkey ("unobtrusive things . . . [that] Muggles . . . just think is litter," and one of "two hundred portkeys placed at strategic points around Britain") is a "moldy looking old boot" located at the top of Stoatshead Hill. While on Stoatshead Hill, Harry and his friends meet Amos Diggory and his son Cedric, a Hogwarts schoolmate. Once transported to the moor, they are in greater company, and only some of that company is familiar (Ministry friends and colleagues, school chums, famous figures in the magic world).
Able to slip comfortably past the campsite director ("Mr. Roberts's eyes slid out of focus, his brows unknitted, and a look of dreamy unconcern fell over his face. Harry recognized the symptoms of one who had just had his memory modified"), Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley family set up camp. Their camping accommodations look rather cramped and apparently substandard, but are appropriate because they do not call attention to...
(The entire section is 3,424 words.)