Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Major Events/Cedric's Death

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event
Cedric's Death
Location Graveyard, Little Hangleton
Time Period Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, late June
Important Characters Harry Potter, Voldemort, Death Eaters

Overview[edit]

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

At the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Lord Voldemort orders Wormtail to kill Cedric in a cemetery.

Event Details[edit]

Because they helped each other during the Triwizard Tournament's Third Task, Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory agree to grasp the Triwizard Cup together. They are unaware the cup is actually a Portkey, and it transports them to a rundown graveyard with an ancient manor house in the distance. Harry recognizes the Riddle family name on the gravestones; Cedric suggests keeping their wands at the ready. As a hunched figure carrying something resembling a bundled infant approaches, Harry's scar begins burning. A high voice commands, "Kill the spare." The figure, who Harry soon recognizes as Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew) utters "Avada Kedavra", the killing curse. Cedric instantly falls dead, while Harry is incapacitated by his scar's searing pain.

After a ritual restores Lord Voldemort's full human form, he engages Harry in a deadly duel. As they cast spells simultaneously, their wands' streams interlock, creating a Priori Incantatem effect. Because their wands are "brothers" that share the same magical core (tail feathers from Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes), they will never battle properly against one another. Harry forces the stream back into Voldemort's wand, causing it to disgorge its previous victims' "echoes." Cedric's image emerges first, asking Harry to return his body to his parents. Bertha Jorkins and an old Muggle that Harry does not recognize also appear. Lastly are Harry's parents, James and Lily. The echoes momentarily shield Harry as he breaks the wands' connection, reclaims the Triwizard Cup, and is whisked back to Hogwarts with Cedric's body.

Notable Consequences[edit]

Cedric's murder seriously impacts the school's morale, it being the first time many students have experienced a peer's death. Cho Chang, Cedric's girlfriend, is deeply affected by his loss; her possibly neurotic need to learn everything she can about the circumstances surrounding his death eventually leads her to connect romantically with Harry. However, her continuing grief throughout the next book casts a pall over that relationship, eventually dooming it.

Harry is also affected by Cedric's death, and has nightmares over the following summer. Harry cannot help feeling that Cedric's death is at least partly his fault; his assuming responsibility will result in his partially closing himself off to friends and other Hogwarts students. It will also make him reluctant to accept his share of the Triwizard prize. This reluctance will be increased when Cedric's parents also refuse to accept even Cedric's share of the prize. Harry will choose to give the entire prize to Fred and George, to set up their joke shop. Some of Fred and George's products will play roles in later books as well.

Cedric's death, and the way that the Ministry spins it as being carelessness on Cedric's part, angers Harry and will lead to several confrontations between him and Professor Umbridge, the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher who was placed in the school by the Ministry, in the next book. While this is a very minor subplot in the next book, it is perhaps worth mentioning that the true story of Cedric's death is revealed in the Quibbler in early March, following an interview with Harry; and is finally publicly acknowledged by the Ministry following the battle in the Ministry, when Cornelius Fudge and several Ministry employees see Voldemort physically present in the Ministry Atrium. As denying Voldemort's return is no longer possible, the Ministry elects to accept and publish Harry's full story.

Finally, as he has now seen death at first hand, Harry will be able to perceive that the horseless carriages that carry the Hogwarts students to and from the train station at each end of the school year are pulled by scary-looking animals. Harry will remain unsure of what these animals are, and whether they are light or dark magic, until Hagrid introduces the class to the herd. It is only at this point that Harry learns that these are Thestrals, and that they are harmless for all their evil appearance.

Analysis[edit]

One thing that strikes the reader about Cedric's death is how casual it seems to be. Got two boys where you expected one? Kill the spare. Cedric's death serves to highlight Voldemort's casual inhumanity, his disregard for the value of human life other than his own. It also displays Wormtail's weak personality, in that he is clearly willing to take Cedric's life without question or cavil on the orders of Voldemort. If it is necessary, this is proof that what Harry is set up against is true evil, and confirms for us that Harry is on the right side. In an earlier book, Professor Quirrell had told us that Voldemort taught him that there was no good or evil, only power; this one episode seems to show that there is in fact evil, and that it is embodied in Voldemort and his followers.

When the spirit echoes appear from Voldemort's wand, they emerge in the reverse order that they were murdered. Cedric appears first because he was the most recently killed. As a side note, it has been mentioned that the order of Harry's parents emerging from Voldemort's wand was accidentally reversed by the author; James was killed first and so should have emerged from Voldemort's wand after Lily, who actually appears after James in many editions of the book. The author has stated that this was an uncaught editing mistake, made under the effects of time pressure and sleep deprivation. No mention has been made of whether it will be corrected in later editions, as other mistakes have been.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

  1. Why does Voldemort have Cedric killed?
  2. How is Cedric killed and who kills him?
  3. What is the Ministry of Magic's official stance regarding Cedric's death? Why?
  4. What eventually prompts the Ministry of Magic to acknowledge how Cedric actually died?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Cedric's death is a very small part of a larger event, the Duel at the Cemetery, and barely merits notice on its own. However, as we can see in the Notable Consequences, there are effects that are directly related to Cedric's death, and so a separate section is merited.

To a casual reader, actually, Cedric's death may seem to have little to do with advancing the plot. To this reader, the main effect of disposing of Cedric so lightly is to clear the way for Cho and Harry to start a relationship in the next book. Why this should be done is not immediately obvious, as the relationship is doomed, and in any event has little to do with the main story in any event; why should we, after all, waste time reading about Harry and Cho when there is Voldemort out there to be defeated? Against this, we must mention that it is a strength of this work that Harry is someone that we empathize with, that we actually care about, and a large part of that is our sharing the triumphs and defeats of his life, whether they be against the central evil, or simply to do with everyday living. Many readers will have been refused, as Harry was in this book, on first approaching the object of their desire, and it is reassuring to us to see, not only that Harry succeeds eventually in hooking up with Cho, but also that he learns of his mistake in so doing, and is not fatally wounded in that discovery.