Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling - When the Quidditch World Cup is disrupted by Voldemort’s rampaging supporters and the terrifying Dark Mark appears against the night sky, it is obvious to Harry Potter that, far from weakening, Voldemort is getting stronger. Back at Hogwarts for the fourth year Harry is astonished to be chosen to represent the school in the Triwizard Tournament. The competition is dangerous, the tasks terrifying, and true courage is no guarantee of survival – especially with the Dark Lord’s forces on the rise …
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I said in my re-read of The Prisoner of Azkaban that it was my favourite of the first three, but when it comes to the last four, I find it really difficult to choose. From The Goblet of Fire onwards, the excitement, danger and darkness levels are really upped. I love The Goblet of Fire, I love the whole Triwizard Tournament, I love Moody, and I love the climax when Voldemort returns.
I don't know if it's because I'm older or because different things are important to me now, but there were certain elements of this book that affected me differently. I was in completely awe of Hermione, her disgust at how House Elves are treated and her determination to do something about it. She doesn't actually make any difference in this book, but she won't let anyone sway her in her beliefs or put her off from standing up for what she thinks is right and trying to do something about it. And she's only 14. She is opinionated and she isn't afraid to use her voice to fight against injustice, and that's just so incredible and awe-inspiring. I suppose this has more of an impact on me now as I'm a feminist, but I wish her actions were inspiring to me when I was younger. At the time, I just thought she was annoying whenever S.P.E.W. came up.
I also really loved how Dobby was demanding wages and time off - he might not have accepted much money or time off, but he wasn't going to work for nothing any more. He was proud to be a free elf, proud to wear clothes and actually earn money, despite other House Elves thinking him a disgrace. Dobby and Hermione are two tiny ripples in a vast ocean, but they could lead to waves of change, eventually. They really are people to admire, and to emulate. And I think the issue of House Elves rights in this book and the way Lupin is treated as a werewolf in Prisoner of Azkaban say a lot about how we as society are prejudiced and discriminate against those we consider "other". I'm enjoying seeing these different sides to the books now that I'm older and more educated on such things.
I was also more deeply affected by hearing what happened to Neville's parents and by Cedric Diggory's death. I think because we never really know Neville's parents and we don't get a huge amount of Cedric in this book, I never really warmed to these characters, so what happened to them never used to affect me. But now... again, I don't know if I've become more emotional as I've got older, or if the horrific events that have been happening in the world lately are affecting how I read, but I just found it so horrific.
"Kill the spare." Cedric dismissed, not even considered a person, just an inconvenience who shouldn't be there, and killed without a second thought. It was so needless. He died because he was there, not because Voldemort had any real issue with him, like he did Harry. Not that murdering Harry would have been justified, but at least Voldemort hates Harry for a reason. There was no hate for Cedric. He was just there. And then he wasn't.
And when Dumbledore explained to Harry exactly what had happened to the Longbottom's, I felt sick. Tortured to the point where their minds broke, just because the Death Eaters thought they knew where Voldemort was after attempting to murder Harry. This happening when Neville was just a year old. his parents no longer knowing who he is. It's absolutely heartbreaking. I was really, really upset by what happened to the Longbottom's and Cedric, and felt Harry's sadness as the book came to a close. And poor Harry with his guilt - Cedric was only there because he suggested they take the Triwizard Cup together. To have to live with that... I was also completely dumbstruck with how Cornelius Fudge reacted to the news that Voldemort was back; his complete refusal to believe it and his denial leading him to doing nothing. I was so angry, and so scared for the future - even though I've read the books before. I don't know, it was just a completely different experience for me. I was really emotional on finishing The Goblet of Fire.
As I said at the start, I really love Moody (despite him not actually being Moody but Barty Crouch Jr, but we'll ignore that as he was imitating Moody and he fooled most people, so he must have been pretty spot on). However, there was a lot less of him in this book than I remember there being. I finished the book feeling like I actually hadn't seen that much of him. It was strange, I felt quite disappointed, yet there was no less than there has been in my other re-reads.
I also really enjoyed Voldemort's explanation to the Death Eaters about how his rebirth. I loved the hints about the Horcruxes; his experiments with magic to reach immortality, how he had gone further than any wizard has previously is his search for it. It was a little... unnerving, really.
I really feel that I'm going to find the rest of these books much more disturbing, upsetting, scary and emotional than I have previously. I'm reading with a different perspective, as a person with more experience, more education, and a greater awareness of what's happening in the world, and this is obviously affecting how my reading experience and how I feel about these books. We all say how we wish we could relive our first ever reading of certain books, but with how I've been reading the books recently, it almost feels like I am reading them for the first time. There's so much more I'm seeing now than I ever did before.
Have you ever re-read a book years after first reading it and found yourself more powerfully affected the second time round?