Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapters 11-14
After almost 200 pages of lead up, Harry and the rest of Hogwarts students are finally settling into their new school year. These chapters consisted of the obligatory Hogwarts Express chapter, the start of term feast, and the rundown of each class they are taking. However this year is certainly going to be different now that Harry has finally learned about the big event that the older Weasleys, Malfoy, and Ludo Bagman kept teasing in the earlier chapters.
Mad Eye Moody
Though Dumbledore doesn’t know about Harry’s dream, he must be reading other signs that Voldemort is trying to gain power again. Maybe the return of his servant Wormtail is making him scared. Because this year he hired an ex-auror to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. We learn that an auror is a dark wizard catcher, kind of like a wizard FBI. Fighting so many dark wizards over the years has taken its toll on Mad Eye. He is a paranoid and very rough around the edges but he is still admired throughout much of the magical community for all that he did as an auror.
Since this is not a spoiler free blog we can go ahead and talk about the fact that the Moody we meet here is not in fact the real Moody. He is Barty Crouch Jr using polyjuice potion to turn into Moody, break into Hogwarts, and basically guide Harry throughout the entire book so that he ends up in the graveyard at the end. After their first lesson with fake Moody, many of the students think he is brilliant while others think him inappropriate. He starts the year by teaching them about the three Unforgivable Curses: the Cruciatus, Imperius, and Killing (Avada Kedavra) Curses. The Cruciatus Curse basically tortures people by making them feel crippling pain. The Imperius Curse is used to control people, forcing them to do things against their will. And obviously the Killing Curse kills. This is the first time we learn what spell Voldemort used to kill Harry’s parents, and attempt to kill him. Harry is the only person to have ever survived this curse.
Now “Moody” isn’t actually teaching them how to do the curses, but teaching them what they are and eventually he will teach them how to resist them (at least Cruciatus and Imperius, as it has been established there is no counter to the Killing Curse). What I am always curious about when reading this book is why Barty Crouch Jr would want to teach Harry how to resist these curses when that will only help him against Voldemort? He even goes out of his way to do it. They aren’t supposed to learn about them until their 6th year but Moody decided it was important for them to know now.
The Great Big Thing
We finally learn what the big event happening at Hogwarts this year – the Triwizard Tournament. A competition between the three biggest wizard schools in Europe: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang. Though it is still fairly vague as to what exactly this competition will consist of, it will take a very talented student to get through it. Only one per school is chosen and they are setting the minimum age requirement at 17. This competition used to happen regularly but there were too many casualties because the tasks are fairly dangerous so they stopped the competition all together. The best thing about this tidbit is that they didn’t stop the competition after one, or even two, students died, but just when the death toll got too high. However with the help of Barty Crouch and Ludo Bagman, they are trying again and this time there will be no deaths…at least not because of any of the tasks.
- Mad Eye is first mentioned when Amos Diggory calls on Arthur to tell him that Mad Eye called in an attack by his dust bins…
- This made me realize that Harry almost always meets or hears about the years Defense teacher before the official start of term. He met Quirrell in the Leaky Cauldron when he was getting his school supplies, he also met Lockhart in Diagon Alley while getting his books, Lupin he met on the train on his way to Hogwarts, he hears about Moody from Arthur, he will meet Umbridge in his trial in the next book, and he meets Slughorn (though not a Defense teacher, he plays a similar role) when Dumbledore goes to recruit him.
- Malfoy wishes he had gone to Durmstrang because they actually teach the dark arts there, not just defense. It is interesting that a wizard can choose to go to a school not in their home country but we never really hear of it actually happening.
- Harry starting to get butterflies whenever he sees Cho. Because she is pretty and plays Quidditch. Sigh.
- Dennis Creevey, Colin’s younger brother, arrives at Hogwarts and is just as enthusiastic.
- Hermione learns that house elves make the food at Hogwarts and S.P.E.W. begins.
- At least with the Triwizard Tournament, Quidditch is cancelled and we are spared any more Quidditch chapters this book.
- BLAST ENDED SKREWTS are here. This is one of my favorite side plots in any of the series. They are completely useless and will never feature as an important plot point but they are hilarious and watching them grow throughout the book and become even more ridiculous is just fantastic.
- Moody turns Malfoy into a ferret and gets in trouble with McGonagall. She tells him that they never use transfiguration as a punishment, a fact Dumbledore surely told him. Is this a thing that needed to be specified?
- Snape always hates the Defense teacher but he is actually afraid of Moody.
- Neville was very upset by the lesson on the Unforgivable Curses.
- Harry finally hears back from Sirius and he is returning.