It’s been over a month since I last wrote here, and–not gonna lie–I sort of lost track of time. Last night (or early this morning, actually) I was studying for finals when it suddenly hit me that there was something else I was supposed to do. Then I remembered it was my turn to write about Harry Potter! I frantically tried to squeeze in my post between studying and finals, and it didn’t quite work out. Honestly, though, I’m glad because I wouldn’t have been able to do these chapters justice if I had tried to hurry this post. Now I’m finally home, I’m officially done with the semester, and I’ve got nothin’ but time.
(Also, I desperately need to catch up on all of your posts, fellow re-read writers! Which I will be doing over the next few days, so you’ll be seeing comments from me on older posts. Finals took over my life for a while, but now that they’re over I can spend time doing other things on the internet besides researching medieval feudalism and Python scripts! Yay!)
CHAPTER 30: THE PENSIEVE
This is the chapter in which Harry discovers a bowl filled with silvery stuff that allows him to see inside Dumbledore’s mind. This is also the bajillionth instance in which I found myself thinking, “Huh, that would be really useful… Why doesn’t magic exist?!” Not only is the Pensieve a cool idea, but it’s also really helpful as a literary device because it allows J.K. Rowling to give us insight into impactful story events without losing Harry’s point of view or making us suffer through an infodump. As usual, I am in awe of J.K. Rowling’s brain. I wish I had access to her Pensieve.
Through Dumbledore’s memory, we learn that: a) Ludo Bagman unknowingly gave information about the Ministry of Magic to a Death Eater named Augustus Rookwood, who worked in the Department of Mysteries, b) Snape was a Death Eater, and c) Neville’s parents were tortured to the point of insanity by Barty Crouch, Jr. and the Lestranges. For the first time, we see a real correlation between Harry and Neville. They both lost their parents due to tragic circumstances involving Voldemort either directly or indirectly. We don’t know yet just how significant the similarities between Harry and Neville are, but we can be sure that Harry feels a deep empathetic connection to Neville from this point forward. The purpose of Rowling’s exposition here is to establish sympathy for Neville–not just the sympathy we already feel for the poor, socially inept boy, but a larger, more significant sympathy that carries a weight of meaning. There is more to Neville Longbottom than it seems, and this chapter is when Rowling begins to scratch the surface.
After Dumbledore pulls Harry out of the Pensieve and explains to him what the heck just happened, they discuss Harry’s dream and Neville’s parents. Harry is surprised to learn that Dumbledore has been communicating with Sirius and thus already knows about the dream. He explains that Harry’s scar will hurt whenever Voldemort is nearby or feeling strong emotions, which is really going to suck later on. He also makes Harry promise to keep the truth about Neville’s parents to himself, as it’s Neville’s story to tell and not anyone else’s.
Dumbledore Witticism of the Day: “Curiosity is not a sin. But we should exercise caution with our curiosity… yes, indeed.”
Something I’ve wondered about here: the purpose of the Pensieve is to store excess memories in order to retain them and revisit them later. Presumably, there are numerous memories swirling around in Dumbledore’s Pensieve, so how is it that Harry happened to stumble into the exact memories that were relevant at the time? Did Dumbledore pull those memories to the surface of the Pensieve just before Harry arrived?
CHAPTER 31: THE THIRD TASK
Of course, Harry consults with Ron and Hermione almost immediately about the Pensieve. They’re soon distracted by Draco, however, who appears to be talking to something in his hand. Harry wonders if he’s using a walkie-talkie, but Hermione points out that electronic devices don’t work at Hogwarts.
While we’re on the subject of technology, I’ve always wondered about the use of computers in the wizarding world. Technology seems to be purely a Muggle invention, something that Muggles have developed to compensate for a lack of magic. In the wizarding world, magic can pretty much accomplish all of the things that technology does in ours. So, do wizards and witches use computers, or do they find them unnecessary and confusing? At one point in the series, Arthur Weasley marvels at airplanes, wondering how Muggles are able to keep them up without the use of magic. Are computers viewed in the same mysterious light? And what about the internet, which is at first glance as magical as the Floo Network or the wizarding world’s moving photographs? As far as we’re aware, there are no computers at Hogwarts. Of course, the books take place in the ’90s when computers weren’t as widely used in schools as they are now in our world, but their usage and popularity grew rapidly, and smartphones and laptops are now commonplace. Do modern wizards use them at all? Do they have a need for them? Thoughts?
Rita Skeeter is at it again, having written in the latest Daily Prophet that Harry fainted in Divination and appears to be mentally unstable, with a special contribution by Draco discussing Harry’s ability to speak Parseltongue. Harry wonders how Rita knew he fainted in class. A window was open, but Hermione states it’s too far up for anyone to eavesdrop. Then she has one of her lightbulb moments and runs off to the library, which is totally normal behavior for Hermione so Harry’s not really concerned about it.
On the morning of the third task, the Triwizard Champions and their families are all milling around in the Great Hall. Harry feels left out, so he starts to leave, until he discovers that Mrs. Weasley and Bill have arrived to support him. Harry spends his time leading up to the third task with his adopted mother and elder brother, who tell him that Percy has been called in for questioning in connection with suspicion surrounding Crouch, and Cornelius Fudge will be replacing Percy as a judge. They meet up with Ron and Hermione, and we discover that Mrs. Weasley believes at least some of what Rita Skeeter has been writing as she behaves coldly toward Hermione, assuming that she and Harry are actually dating. Harry quickly sets the record straight, though, and she warms up. Hermione has news for Harry and Ron, but it will have to wait until they have a chance to be alone, which won’t be for a while yet…
Then Rowling gets all mythological on us and sends our hapless hero into a labyrinth, complete with a riddling Sphinx. Harry finds navigating the maze surprisingly easy, which we’ll find out later was purposeful, but Cedric the Badass manages to make it to the end at the same time as Harry. Since the two of them have assisted each other throughout the Tournament, and since they both represent Hogwarts, they decide to share the victory. In a touching moment, they pick up the Triwizard Cup together, and once again, shit gets real.
CHAPTER 32: FLESH, BLOOD, AND BONE
Turns out, the Cup was a portkey, and Harry and Cedric are transported to a graveyard. As you may know from general entertainment consumption, good things rarely happen in graveyards. A figure approaches, carrying what appears to be a infant, and Harry’s scar sears with pain. He falls to the ground, weak, dropping his wand. An unfamiliar voice says, “Kill the spare,” and in one quick, unexpected second, Cedric is dead. Just like that. Death count: 1. Shock factor: 1,000.
I could say a lot about Cedric’s death here, about how it affected Harry, how it was tragic and completely unwarranted, how Cedric proved himself to be a Champion only to be rewarded with an undignified death… But it’s hard to get over the shock of Cedric’s murder, and it’s even harder to dwell on it because what follows is the most intense scene in the books thus far, and also perhaps the most important. Rowling doesn’t give us time to mourn. Not yet, because something really significant is about to happen. Voldemort is about to use Harry’s blood to resurrect himself, and in doing so, he will inadvertently create a blood tie with Harry that will lead to his downfall. At the end of it all, Harry will be saved yet again by his connection with Voldemort, which is cemented in this single, pivotal scene in chapter thirty-two of book four.
A man Harry recognizes as Wormtail ties him to a tombstone, which Harry notices reads Tom Riddle, and gags him. A disgusting, writhing thing that looks like a cross between a baby and a snake lies in a bundle next to him. Wormtail drops the thing into a cauldron. He chants, “Bone of the father, unknowingly given. You will renew your son!” Dust rises from the grave beneath Harry and enters the cauldron. “Flesh — of the servant — w-willingly given — you will revive — your master.” He cuts off his own hand, screaming, and drops it into the cauldron. “B-blood of the enemy… forcibly taken… you will… resurrect your foe.” Still crying from pain, he slices open Harry’s arm and collects his blood, then pours it into the cauldron.
Holy crap. The dark lord has risen.