The Goblet of Fire is the book that changes everything. Before, the books were light-hearted romp. Now, it began to get darker. The first “on-screen” death.
New characters continue to be introduced. In fact, it seemed as if Rowling was introducing at least one new character each book. But this time, we’re introduced to quite a few who have considerable impact on the story as a whole: Rita Skeeter, Viktor Krum, and Mad-Eye Moody. (for those of you who say “What about Cedric?”, he was introduced in the previous book. This is just where he becomes a more important character. He’s more what you call an “Chekov’s Gunman”)
I’m convinced Rita Skeeter was created as a stab at those who were making outlandish claims against the series. Like them, Rita is prone to write lies in her articles, rather than actually researching the events. This has dire consequences in the later books as her articles become accepted as gospel by the masses.
Viktor Krum is one of the contestants in the Triwizard Tournament, which is the central focus of the story. The Triwizard Tournament is an event in which three wizards from the top three schools in the Wizard World are given a series of tasks to test their abilities. This is a formula that has been used several times, most notably in the story of the Greek demigod Heracles, who had to complete twelve labors as penance. We meet Viktor before the tournament when he competes in the Quidditch World Cup at the beginning. There is much suspicion of him because his school, Durmstrang, is well-known for its prowess in the Dark Arts, but the reader quickly learns he’s not to be feared. He even has a brief fling with Hermione.
Finally, we have Mad-Eye Moody. Moody is the most famous Auror, which means it’s his job to track down dark wizards. So naturally, he’s paranoid. He becomes the newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and is immediately attacked by the book’s secondary villain, Barty Crouch Jr. Barty then impersonates him with the help of a Polyjuice Potion.
Following Cedric Diggory, Harry is entered in the tournament because Voldemort enchants the Goblet of Fire. (By the way, Cedric is named after Cedric Diggory in The Magician’s Nephew, the sixth book in CS Lewis’s Magician’s Nephew.) Draco is enraged that Harry is picked and starts a campaign, making students wear buttons showing their support for Cedric rather than Harry. In spite of this, Harry and Cedric actually work together to achieve their goal, but this costs Cedric’s life. I have to admit, I was floored when I saw Cedric die.
So, what lessons are in this story? I think the biggest lesson is when Dumbledore tells Harry “We must face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Why is it the detractors completely miss this wonderful line? Many times in our lives, the right move is often the hardest to discern.
Another lesson is when Hermione starts a campaign to liberate house-elves. Harry and Ron reluctantly help her and receive scorn from their peers, but they stick with her out of loyalty. This shows that we should continue to support just causes, even if we are mocked or misjudged by peers.
The Goblet of Fire is my all-time favorite book in the series. It shows that Rowling is willing to take chances and give children a dark story.