The Triwizard Tournament
Chapter 12 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Triwizard Tournament
Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the other returning students are greeted at the Entrance Hall with water balloons courtesy of Peeves, until he is sent away by Professor McGonagall. As they enter the Great Hall, they are met by Colin Creevey, who excitedly tells Harry that his brother Dennis is starting his first year at Hogwarts. Harry wonders if brothers and sisters are always sorted into the same House, like the Weasleys, but Hermione points out that Parvati Patil is a Gryffindor, while her twin sister, Padma, was sorted into Ravenclaw.
Harry notices empty chairs at the head table while Hermione wonders who is teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, as it seems there is no teacher for that subject. Harry notices Hagrid taking his place at Head Table as the First Years enter and the Sorting ceremony commences. Nearly Headless Nick informs Harry and Ron that Peeves, upset he was not invited to the feast, was wreaking havoc in the kitchens, disrupting the House-elves. Hermione, distraught that over one hundred Hogwarts House-elves provide for the residents' needs, refuses to eat, claiming slave labour produced the feast.
After the feast, Professor Dumbledore has several announcements. First, the inter-house Quidditch championship is canceled. He is interrupted by the arrival of a man with a prosthetic leg, a magical false eye, and a badly damaged face. Professor Dumbledore introduces him as Professor Moody, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry guesses this may be the same "Mad-Eye" Moody that Mr. Weasley bailed out that morning. Harry and Ron notice that he only drinks from a hip flask. Dumbledore now announces that Hogwarts is hosting the inter-school Triwizard Tournament. A one thousand Galleon prize will be awarded to the winner. Dumbledore's warning that only students 17 years and older can enter causes Fred and George to protest; they do not turn 17 until April and want to enter. Dumbledore goes on to say that representatives from the competing Beauxbatons and Durmstrang schools are arriving shortly and will stay at Hogwarts during the Tournament.
Heading to their dormitory, Fred and George are already plotting ways to bypass the age rule and enter the competition, assuming the judges will fail to notice if they take an Aging Potion. Harry, dreaming about the Tournament, imagines himself as the champion, admired by Cho Chang.
Ever since entering the Wizarding world, Harry has been subject to unexpected events. When he was prematurely extricated from the unpleasant Dursley household this summer, he anticipated an enjoyable time with the Weasleys and Hermione at the Quidditch World Cup before returning to Hogwarts' familiar and comfortable routine. Since departing Privet Drive, however, life has been anything but peaceful, starting with the rioting at the World Cup. Even returning to Hogwarts will be different this year, with the Triwizard Tournament and foreign students spending the academic year at the school. The Tournament is creating much excitement and anticipation, however, and it is an opportunity for one student to win glory and a substantial prize. And though Harry is underage, usually prefers to avoid putting additional attention on himself, and does not need the prize money, he is, nonetheless, intrigued by the prospect of competing in such a difficult challenge and being proclaimed a hero. Even though Harry is already famous and considered a "hero" in the Wizarding world, he seems to feel that this title was bestowed by fate, rather than by his own deliberate actions or design; Harry was a mere infant when Voldemort met his demise, and Harry remembers little about that night's events. And though he has since confronted Voldemort, the general Wizarding community is either unaware or simply refuses to believe that the Dark Lord is still present, in some sense. The Tournament would provide an opportunity to achieve glory and renown on his own terms, and there would be no lingering doubts or unanswered questions after its conclusion. Harry also considers the Tournament as an opportunity to impress Cho Chang, his first major crush. Adding to this, not only is Harry barred from entering the Tournament, he must also cope with Quidditch being canceled. Quidditch is an activity Harry dearly loves and one that provides a means to reduce his stress and excess energy, as well as earning him recognition; it is also an interest he shares with Cho Chang, the Ravenclaw Seeker.
We can guess that Dumbledore was probably instrumental in reviving the long-suspended (and very dangerous) Triwizard Tournament, as he probably has a specific purpose in mind. Hagrid had earlier expressed a belief that Voldemort was "too mean to die", and we suspect that Dumbledore shares this opinion, particularly as he had accepted Harry's description of Voldemort riding the back of Professor Quirrell in the first book. With Voldemort apparently regaining strength and possibly re-organizing his Death Eaters, Dumbledore knows it is imperative that the differing Wizarding populations unite in order to fight the Dark Lord. Like the Quidditch World Cup, bringing students together in a long-term competition is an opportunity to create lasting ties and friendships, as well as build strong international cooperation.
Hermione's determination to free House-elves shows little sign of abating. Though her intention is noble, refusing to eat meals prepared at Hogwarts seems a childish and ineffective way to achieve her objective. Hermione will need a more concrete and organized method to promote her cause.
Harry and Hermione's conversation regarding how siblings are sorted into their Houses, while unimportant to the overall plot, is interesting. The Patil sisters are identical twins, but the Sorting Hat obviously detected enough differences to sort them into different Houses. The same could be said about Fred and George who, despite their closeness, have many contrasts to their personalities. Fred is more aggressive and outgoing than George, who tends to be quieter and more cerebral, making him a possible candidate for Ravenclaw (if he were able to discipline himself academically). However, the Sorting Hat takes many factors into consideration when sorting new students, including, as we saw in Harry's case, an individual's own preference. It was Harry's strong desire to not be sorted into Slytherin that prompted the Sorting Hat to place him in Gryffindor. This could also be why Fred and George were both sorted into Gryffindor and the Patil twins were not. And while it would seem that, given her intellect, Hermione should have been placed in Ravenclaw, we have to assume that the Sorting Hat determined her to be better suited to Gryffindor in ways that readers may only now be beginning to see.
- Why might the Triwizard Tournament have been revived after so many years? Why was it disbanded, and has it changed?
- Can Hermione boycotting food prepared by Hogwarts House-elves help free them? Why or why not? What might be an alternative solution?
- Why might Harry, already considered a "hero" in the wizarding world, want to compete in the Triwizard Tournament? What reasons might he have for not wanting to enter, other than being underaged?
- Why might the Sorting Hat have placed the identical Patil twins into separate Houses, while Fred and George were both sorted into Gryffindor?
- What might Mad Eye Moody be drinking from his hip flask? Why does no one investigate or seem suspicious?
Once again, we touch on the Sorting Hat and the criteria for being sorted into the various Houses. Despite the Weasleys being traditionally sorted into Gryffindor, we learn that there is no intent to keep families together in the sorting, so Ron in particular must have entered Gryffindor on his own merits. However Ron, and also Neville Longbottom, both certainly noble, initially seem ill-suited to a House also known for bravery. The reader might believe that both would likely do better in Hufflepuff House. Each boy is generally more timid than courageous, and neither has yet demonstrated any outstanding magical ability; Neville, in fact, seems nearly incompetent in magic. Why then were they placed in Gryffindor? It is likely the Sorting Hat can detect deeply hidden and untapped qualities within students, even if they are not yet visible to the individual or to others. Neville has shown he was brave enough to object to and confront the Trio in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, while Ron has become increasingly courageous in each book, bravely following Harry into dangerous situations he would never have entered on his own. By the series end, each boy will prove himself a true Gryffindor and show that bravery comes in many forms. By overcoming their fears and inabilities, they help battle Voldemort, and both, mostly under Harry's tutelage, develop into strong, capable, and brave wizards.
One reason Harry wants to compete in the Triwizard Tournament is, if victorious, he will be proclaimed a hero as a result of his own efforts, without anyone doubting the outcome. Harry will get his wish to compete, but his "triumph" will be disputed and create even more doubts, controversy, and unanswered questions regarding Voldemort, Harry's unproven claims of the Dark Lord's return, and Dumbledore's support of that claim. Even Harry will deny he was victorious, though, despite public ridicule, he and Dumbledore both remain steadfast that Voldemort has returned.
We know that Dumbledore, by the end of the first book, was aware of the possibility that Voldemort could return; by the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he also knew the mechanism. While we can safely assume that Dumbledore knows that Voldemort has multiple Horcruxes hidden, he doesn't yet know how many, and is not yet certain enough of his ground to start searching; it is only just possible that the now-destroyed Diary was the only Horcrux, and Voldemort is now no more, but Dumbledore is aware of the disappearances of Frank Bryce and Bertha Jorkins, and sees in those disappearances the return of a pattern that preceded Voldemort's earlier ascension. It is possible that it was this belief that Voldemort was gaining power that spurred Dumbledore's championing of the return of the Triwizard Tournament. However, Dumbledore may, at this point, have been feeling uncertain of the timing of Voldemort's return and so may have postponed his planned attempts to recover and destroy Horcruxes. Using the Triwizard Tournament to improve the relationship among the three schools, though, would be beneficial even if Voldemort was not returning, and so is useful for Dumbledore to promote even with his doubts.
Winky's mistreatment at the World Cup has so stirred Hermione's outrage over the injustice meted out to House-elves that she will forever champion rights and ethical treatment for non-human magical creatures. It also becomes the foundation for S.P.E.W., the organization she will start.
- Harry's thoughts of Cho Chang in this chapter are obviously signs of a potential romantic relationship. The first signs were actually seen the previous year, though Harry did not recognize it then. The romance will make several false starts during this book, reach its peak in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and then promptly collapse.
- Hermione's efforts to release the house-elves from slavery, triggered largely by events in this and an earlier chapter, will result, in this book, in her discovery that Dobby and Winky have been employed by Professor Dumbledore and are working in the Hogwarts kitchens. She will, in the next book, resort to attempting to free the elves by arranging for them to receive clothing; this will result in the other elves shunning Gryffindor Tower and leaving Dobby to do all the cleaning and maintenance of that area. Dobby will, as a result, be able to give Harry the secret of entering the Room of Requirement.