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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published in 2000, and is the fourth and middle book of the Harry Potter series. It is considered the turning point in the series, as the reader finds a more grown up Harry and much more serious tone in the book. The Goblet of Fire is the central book in the Harry Potter series, as the Quest for the Holy Grail is a central theme in Arthurian literature. This is one of the many similarities found between the fourth Harry Potter book and the Arthurian legend. There are also many similarities in story line between the two stories. These similarities are shown consistently throughout the book, and are important to the story as a whole because it allows readers a more in-depth understanding to the story itself. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a significant book in the Harry Potter series that has many similarities to the quest of the Holy Grail of the Arthurian legend.
The Triwizard Tournament and the Quest for the Holy Grail have many similarities that are strung together. The Triwizard Tournament is a magical competition held between the three largest wizarding schools in Europe: Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons. One “champion” is chosen to represent each school, and they compete against each other in a series of three tasks. In the end, the true winner and the one who is “worthy” receives the Triwizard cup, 1,000 galleons, and eternal glory. This is similar to the Quest for the Holy Grail, which is an expedition for the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper, and was also used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect Jesus’ blood at the cross. The Holy Grail was lost, but it was prophesized that a descendant of St. Joseph would one day rediscover the Grail. This knight would be named the best knight in the land, and be bestowed with the honor of eternal glory. Each quest ended with glories many sought after, but were only given to those “worthy” of the rewards. Before the quests began though, the champions of each own had to first be chosen.
The Triwizard tournament began with the Goblet of Fire, which is a simple wooden cup that is stored in “a great wooden chest encrusted with jewels” (254). The Goblet chooses the champions by spitting out their names in a rush of red flames. Cedric Diggory is chosen at the Hogwarts champion, Fleur Delacour as Beauxbatons, and Viktor Krum as Durmstrang champion. Once the champions name has been chosen, there is no turning back. This becomes problematic for Harry Potter, when his name is mysteriously chosen as a champion. He is forced to participate, and Harry begins his quest alongside three others for the Triwizard cup. Likewise, the Quest for the Holy Grail began with a cup. There are a multitude of stories depicting different Holy Grails, but in some, the Holy Grail was believed to be a simple wooden cup that was housed in a chest of gold and precious stones. The connection between the Goblet of Fire and the Holy Grail goes beyond signifying the start of the quest. They are both magical objects that seem to have a mind of their own. The Goblet of Fire is able to identify who is worthy of being a champion, just as the Grail only reveals itself to a worthy knight. In the old Arthurian legend of the quest, all of the knights of Camelot met at the round table, and were joined by Sir Galahad, Lancelot’s son. As Sir Galahad took his seat, an image of the Holy Grail appeared floating over the table, signifying the beginning of the quest for the Grail. Sir Galahad, Sir Bors, and Sir Perceval set out on their quest for eternal glory.
The tasks of the Triwizard tournament were considered to be taxing, dangerous, and could only be completed by those who were extremely gifted wizards. Likewise, the Holy Grail could only be sought out and found by a knight unlike any other. The first task of the Triwizard tournament, the champions have to rescue a golden egg from a mother dragon armed only with their wand. They are awarded points for how quickly and effectively they can compete the task. Defeating a dragon is extremely difficult, which can be shown in Arthurian Legend because a knight is considered great if he defeats a dragon. Furthermore, dragons are prominent themes of the Arthurian Era, and King Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon’s name derives from the word “dragon.” After some incredibly quick thinking, Harry Potter summons his broomstick, and is able to successfully retrieve the egg from the dragon, completing the first task. Harry’s chosen method of defeating the dragon was a broomstick, which is important because Harry is an amazing seeker in the game of Quidditch. A seeker’s goal is to catch a small golden snitch (a ball with wings). The golden snitch is seen a parallel to the Sorcerer’s stone, which is furthermore a parallel to the Holy Grail because the Sorcerer’s Stone and the Holy Grail are believed to give eternal life to the carrier. Harry is usually on his broomstick seeking the golden snitch, but during the first task Harry is seeking the golden egg, which can then be said to be a parallel to the golden snitch, thus the Sorcerer’s Stone/Holy Grail.
In the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, each champion has to rescue the person most important to him or her. Harry sets out on his quest to rescue Ron Weasley, his best friend. On his journey, he has to fight grindylows and merpeople, but eventually reaches Ron, only to find that Fleur’s sister still remained with no savior in sight. Harry displays chivalry similar to that of King Arthur and his knight’s, and unnecessarily rescues Fleur’s sister. In the third and final task, Harry and the other champions must wander through a maze while fighting a collection of creatures. This was Harry’s final quest, and in the end of the maze, the champion who find’s the Triwizard cup is the champion. Harry’s story has finally caught back up with Sir Galahad and his knights, as they were now on their final pathway to the finding the winning cup. At this point, the Triwizard cup can be seen as a “second” Holy Grail. After battling creatures such as sphinxes, acromantulas, blast-ended screwts, and a boggart, Harry reaches the middle of the maze and finds the Triwizard Cup in all of its glory. Harry and the other Hogwart’s champion, Cedric Diggory, reach the Cup at the same time, and decide to share the winnings. However, when they went to grab the Triwizard Cup, it transported them to a graveyard where Harry watched the rebirth of Voldemort. The Cup appeared to be a portkey, transporting them from one place to another. This is similar to the finale of the quest for the Holy Grail. When Sir Galahad arrives at the Grail Chapel, he allowed entry and was able to retrieve the great cup. Upon touching the Holy Grail, Sir Galahad is ascended into Heaven. Harry witnessed the rebirth of Voldemort, which is significant because it can be seen as his next life of fighting the villain. This is parallel to Sir Galahad being lifted into heaven with the Grail, into his next life of eternal glory.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Quest for the Holy Grail have many similarities that can lead to a greater understanding of each story. J.K. Rowling used the Holy Grail story throughout the fourth book to add a greater in depth understanding of the story. Harry is believed to be worthy of the Cup, just as Sir Galahad was, but they both have to fight long and hard to reach the main goal. The Triwizard Tournament as a whole is a quest, but each task is it’s own micro task. This shows that while one quest can end, there will always be another quest to be completed.
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