Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Book 4- Some thoughts 1
We've begun the story. Established the area of conflict. Established the major characters. The story is going ahead full steam.
In HP 4, Rowling takes a bit of a detour in the first few chapters, and treats us to a normal event in the wizarding world. A full scale, international sports meet: the Quidditch World Cup. Complete with a look behind the organizing scenes with the good, the bad and the ugly of bureaucracy, and an acid tongued (acid quilled) reporter.
Which leads us up to a sudden shock when things turn hostile unexpectedly. In a way, this mirrors the sudden turn of events in the last few chapters, when Harry is transported to Little Hangleton bang in the middle of a tournament.
After going the detective fiction and thriller way in books 2 & 3, HP 4 becomes a school story again, sandwiched between the aforementioned dark parts. We have classes, Harry and Ron breaking a few rules, comic relief by the Weasley twins, one-upman-ships between different students, various classes, arguments, triumphs and trials.
A few things to mention:
Ron has to confront his monsters of jealousy as far as Harry is concerned, something that he never masters completely, and which plays a large role in the last book. There are also the yet unspoken feelings between him and Hermione that give rise to many misunderstandings.
The thread about discrimination and exploitation is picked up again. Hermione's championing for the rights of house elves leads her to start S.P.E.W., which has only 3 members- the trio. This disregard for the house-elves' feelings, wants, likes and dislikes; the generally held belief (even by the better people among the magical brethren) that 'they are happy with their lot' is somehow reminiscent of discrimination on the basis of gender. This is also somehow linked to the 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned' attitude of Kreacher in the next book towards Sirius.
Being honourable: a British behaviour code where there is always fair play is highlighted in HP 4. It was expected, of course, as this is a book mostly about sports and tournaments. Cricket is supposed to be gentleman's game, and a real gentleman would rather give up an advantage than behave in an unfair manner. So also in the book. Harry is always given an advantage over the other contestants for whatever reasons, but he refuses to use it to his sole advantage. As Ron puts it- "You weren't being thick at after all- you were showing moral fibre!"
This characteristic, however, leads to the completely avoidable tragedy of Cedric Diggory's death. If Harry hadn't tried to be fair and encouraged Cedric to get hold of the Triwizard Cup along with him, he wouldn't have been killed senselessly.