I re-read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last month, and there were many things that stood out to me as very timely in the wake of the election. (Just to be clear, in case my readers are of differing opinions, I view the election of a man who consistently spews racist, sexist, hateful rhetoric, and who has shown a willingness to protect and preserve his own ego and assets but not our national security interests or constitutional integrity, as a very negative event that will harmfully impact much if not all of our citizenry, and which I am committed to mitigating and resisting in every way that I can.)
Oh, and also, this post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
- As Hermione reminds Ron, the Triwizard Tournament that includes students from Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang is about fostering good international wizarding relations, the importance of which are re-iterated by Dumbledore in his final speech of the year to all the students, when he tells them, despite the Ministry of Magic’s wishing to deny or suppress the truth, that Cedric was killed by Voldemort. This whole passage feels totally applicable to our current situation. Remember Cedric. Remember Cedric. Remember Cedric.
“I say to you all, once again–in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.
It is my belief–and never have I so hoped that I am mistaken–that we are all facing dark and difficult times. Some of you in this Hall have already suffered directly at the hands of Lord Voldemort. Many of your families have been torn asunder. A week ago, a student was taken from our midst.
Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”
- Mad-Eye Moody’s lessons in Defense Against the Dark Arts class also seem especially apt, although it’s a bit ironic since as it turns out it’s really polyjuiced Barty Crouch Jr. instructing the class repeatedly on the need for “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!”Also, the section in chapter 15 when they practice resisting the Imperious curse sounded this time to me like a metaphor for resisting ‘fake news’, propaganda, or a confirmation-bias echo-chamber. As I’ve written previously, it’s easier to believe or obey unquestionably than to critically analyze and fact-check everything, just as Harry feels blissfully warm and comfortable if he gives in to the curse that allows another wizard to control his actions, instead of putting in the effort to resist. Also, he has to practice–he’s only able to resist Voldemort’s imperius curse in the graveyard because he’s had practice resisting. So we can’t wait for the critical moment to employ critical analysis of our media intake; we need CONSTANT VIGILANCE!
Harry moved forward into the middle of the classroom, into the space that Moody had cleared of desks. Moody raised his wand, pointed it at Harry, and said, “Imperio!”
It was the most wonderful feeling. Harry felt a floating sensation as every thought and worry in his head was wiped gently away, leaving nothing but a vague, untraceable happiness. He stood there feeling immensely relaxed, only dimly aware of everyone watching him.
And then he heard Mad-Eye Moody’s voice, echoing in some distant chamber of his empty brain: Jump onto the desk…jump onto the desk…
Harry bent his knees obediently, preparing to spring.
Jump onto the desk…
Why, though? Another voice had awoken in the back of his brain. Stupid thing to do, really, said the voice.
Jump onto the desk…
No, I don’t think I will, thanks, said the other voice, a little more firmly…no, I don’t really want to…
The next thing Harry felt was considerable pain. He had both jumped and tried to prevent himself from jumping–the result was that he’d smashed headlong into the desk, knocking it over, and, by the feeling in his legs, fractured both his kneecaps.
“Now, that’s more like it!” growled Moody’s voice, and suddenly, Harry felt the empty, echoing feeling in his head disappear. He remembered exactly what was happening, and the pain in his knees seemed to double.
“Look at that, you lot…Potter fought! He fought it, and he damn near beat it! We’ll try that again, Potter, and the rest of you, pay attention–watch his eyes, that’s where you see it–very good, Potter, very good indeed! They’ll have trouble controlling you!“
- When Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge denies vehemently Harry’s testimony that the Dark Lord has returned, he attacks Harry’s character, he says this is all an attempt to “destabilize” the Ministry, he says he’s not willing to risk losing his own position of power by implementing Dumbledore’s suggestions to “take necessary measures” to prevent Voldemort from rising to absolute power. 🙃
Other things that I noticed on this re-read unrelated to the current political climate include:
- Poor Hufflepuffs! The text bluntly states that “Hufflepuff House very rarely got any glory, and that Cedric was one of the few who had ever given them any, having beaten Gryffindor once at Quidditch.” But then Cedric takes a Ravenclaw to the Yule Ball! There wasn’t another Hufflepuff cool enough to promenade into the ballroom on Cedric’s arm? Poor, poor, glory-less Hufflepuff.
- I was blissfully re-reading along and then I got to first task of the tournament, and remembered how that scene now SUPPOSEDLY has a canonical Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tie-in. Which I then tried very hard to ignore/forget. For reasons that deserve their own post, I suppose…but then I’d have to spend more time thinking about it in order to write about it…😒
- Hermione is RUTHLESS! She keeps a grown woman in bug form trapped in an unbreakable jar for months just to blackmail her! Not that Rita Skeeter should have been allowed to go unchecked in her snooping around Hogwarts for scandals (wiki-leaking?), but I just found this observation particularly ironic because I recently read “Harry Potter and the Greatest Virtue” by Jenna St. Hilaire in Harry Potter for Nerds: Essays for Fans, Academics, and Lit Geeks which categorized her as “the always compassionate Hermione.” Also, this gives me an idea for a Harry Potter craft–putting a little fake beetle with distinct antennae markings in one of those tiny bottles. I wonder if somebody on Etsy has already beaten me to it.