Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Chapter 1: The Riddle House
- Something that I think Rowling is rather good at is how precise she describes the inner workings of a small town or a village. How everybody knows each other, and how everybody knows something about the other, and how they live on rumours and gossip. The only other chapter so far we had that wasn’t told from Harry’s perspective was the first chapter of the first book, The Boy Who Lived. Both are told from a Muggle perspective, and both deal with the way people react to something they don’t understand. Uncle Vernon reacted with hatred and prejudice, the same way the villagers did towards Frank, and that is perhaps the biggest difference between the two chapters, because it associates Frank rather with Harry, both outcasts in their homes (Little Hangleton and Privet Drive), and of course both victims of Voldemort.
- “The police had never read an odder report. A team of doctors had examined the bodies, and had concluded that none of the Riddles had been poisoned, stabbed, shot, strangled, suffocated or (as far as they could tell) harmed at all. In fact, the report continued, in a tone of unmistakable bewilderment, the Riddles all appeared to be in perfect health – apart from the fact that they were all dead. The doctors did note (as though determined to find something wrong with the bodies) that each of the Riddles had a look of terror upon his or her face – but as the frustrated police said, whoever heard of three people being frightened to death?” – And this leads to the question how exactly does the Killing Curse kill people? Does it stop their hearts? Does it stop all kind of activity in your body at once, leaving the body in some sort of shock? And what about other curses or spells that could kill someone? Curses that might actually stop your heart, that suffocate you or strangle you or drown you? Are those unforgiveable as well? Avada Kedavra is known as the Killing Curse, but there is more than one way to kill a person for sure. And how come you can’t trace at least the Unforgiveable Curses?
- Isn’t it interesting that Voldemort refers to Peter as Wormtail, the name given to him by his friends, the ones who he betrayed? Is it to mock him? And even Harry later only refers to him as Wormtail, never Peter (though he never thinks of Sirius as Padfoot or Lupin as Moony). It dehumanizes him in a way, only using the name associated to his rat-form. And both Voldemort and Harry (and later Snape) refer to him like this, all of who have reasons to hate him. Harry (and Snape) for betraying Harry’s parents which led to their death. Voldemort for Peter abandoning him, for the disgust he barely hides, and that currently Voldemort depends on Peter nursing him. They deny to recognize him as the person he once was, but only see him as the rat he is now.
- I do wonder if Wormtail’s suggestion to fulfil the plan without Harry was born out of regret over what he had done to the Potters, or if maybe he feared the life debt between him and Harry could complicate things. Or perhaps Voldemort was right that he only searched for a chance to leave.
- The relationship between Voldemort and Wormtail is so interesting though. Wormtail returned out of fear and because he had nowhere else to turn to, and he still fears his old master, despite Voldemort’s current state. And Voldemort knows how dependent on Wormtail he is, how utterly vulnerable he is. His power is based on his strength, and right now he doesn’t have any. He is barely alive. So really I think that is the main reason Voldemort hates Wormtail, because he had seen him at his most vulnerable.
- “‘Wormtail, I need somebody with brains, somebody whose loyalty has never wavered, and you, unfortunately, fulfil neither requirement.’” – That is somehow the story of Wormtail though, that nobody ever treated him as an equal, not his friends, not his master, not his fellow Death Eaters. They all look down to him, and it made him to the person he is.
- There is a lot to be said about the treatment of Bertha Jorkins. Wormtail suggests that they could have used a Memory Charm on her, thinking it would draw to much attention if she just went missing. And yet their plan still succeeds because nobody at the Ministry cared enough about her to properly investigate her disappearance.
- “‘What’s that you’re calling me?’ said Frank defiantly, for now that he was inside the room, now that the time had come for some sort of action, he felt braver; it had always been so in the war.” – I think Frank deserves a bit more appreciation. Even if he hadn’t faced the most dangerous wizard of all time he probably knew he was in trouble. He suspected the two man to be criminals, he reveals that he overheard them admitting murder, and he knows he can’t run away, because of his leg and his age. And yet he stands up to them, yet he is brave.
- “‘But I am not a man, Muggle,’ said the cold voice, barely audible now over the crackling of the flames. ‘I am much, much more than a man.” – I think it is right that Voldemort is no longer a man, but rather that he is less than a man, barely even human. But to Voldemort his lack of humanity is perhaps what he thinks makes him great, makes him so much more than any common human, and in the end it will be his downfall.