Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Major Events/First Task

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event
Triwizard Tournament - The First Task
Location The Forbidden Forest
Time Period Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, November 24
Important Characters Harry Potter, Cedric Diggory, Viktor Krum, Fleur Delacour

Overview[edit]

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

The First Task of the Triwizard Tournament is to retrieve a golden egg from the nest of a dragon.

Event Details[edit]

The initial briefing for the First Task is done immediately after the selection of the Champions, on 31 October. This briefing is very sketchy, as the intent of the Task is in part 'designed to test your daring.' To that end, the judge who is doing the briefing of the candidates, Mr. Crouch, states that they will not know what they will be facing until the date of the Task.

Shortly before the Task, Hagrid asks Harry to come visit him, with his Invisibility Cloak. With an invisible Harry in tow, Hagrid collects Madame Maxime, the headmistress of Beauxbatons, and they walk around the edge of the Forbidden Forest to a spot where they can see a large corral. In the corral are four dragons. Harry watches as Hagrid talks with Charlie Weasley about what the dragons are for; apparently the Champions are expected to get past them or something. Charlie questions the wisdom of bringing Madame Maxime to see them; Hagrid brushes this off, saying that they are lovely, dragons.

Harry, having heard all he can stand, retreats; still invisible, he bumps into Professor Karkaroff, the headmaster of Durmstrang, who is also prowling around for a look at the dragons.

Harry returns to the Gryffindor common room, for a scheduled meeting with Sirius via the Floo network; Sirius has more important news to impart, and doesn't get around to telling Harry what to do about the dragons until the very end of the conversation. Before he can complete his sentence, however, they are interrupted by the arrival of Ron, and Sirius vanishes.

As Harry and Ron are currently at odds, it is Hermione who tries to help Harry find counter-dragon spells; but she will not allow him to skip classes while looking.

Harry believes that all the champions now know about the dragons except Cedric, and this does not seem fair to him. He engineers an opportunity to get Cedric on his own, and tells him about the dragons. However, he is overheard by Professor Moody, who sends Cedric off and steers Harry into his office. Harry expects to be told off or disqualified for cheating, but Moody tells him that cheating is almost a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament; then asks if Harry knows how he's going to get past the dragons. When Harry admits that he does not, Moody provides him with a pair of clues that tells Harry how to pass the dragon. Harry quickly enlists Hermione to teach him how to perform a Summoning spell.

The Task takes place on November 24 and is held in a specially prepared clearing in the Forbidden Forest. Before it begins, the champions enter a tent to prepare and be briefed. This task is extremely difficult and dangerous: each champion is to retrieve a golden egg from a dragon. Each has their own dragon, chosen by pulling out a miniature dragon model from a purple bag held by Ludo Bagman. Each miniature dragon is marked with a number, indicating the order in which the champions are to be summoned to the task.

Before the Task actually starts, Ludo takes Harry aside and asks if he had a plan. Ludo seems to be offering assistance to Harry; Harry doesn't quite know what to make of this, Ludo is, after all, one of the five judges. Ludo is called away by the whistle sounding for the first contestant before Harry has much time to wonder about his behaviour.

The task unfolds as follows:

  • Dragon # 1, Swedish Short-Snout (blue-gray) - Cedric Diggory (he transfigured a boulder into a Labrador dog, which diverted the attention of the dragon long enough to let him steal the egg)
  • Dragon # 2, Common Welsh Green - Fleur Delacour (attempted to charm her dragon into a trance. This worked, but the dragon snored, and the resulting flame set her robes alight)
  • Dragon # 3, Chinese Fireball (small) - Viktor Krum (used Conjunctivitus Curse but the dragon thrashed about in a rage and damaged other eggs)
  • Dragon # 4, Hungarian Horntail (the most dangerous) - Harry Potter (used Summoning Charm to call his Firebolt and ride on it, tempting the dragon to rise away from the golden egg. When the dragon had reared, leaving the eggs unguarded, he quickly scooped up the egg and finished the task with the highest points)

Points were based on speed, skill, and avoiding damage to other dragon eggs—Viktor lost points for this. At the end of this task, the points awarded were as follows:

  • Harry Potter, 40 points;
  • Viktor Krum, 40 points;
  • Cedric Diggory, 38 points;
  • Fleur Delacour, unknown.

Notable Consequences[edit]

The objective of the Task was to retrieve a golden egg from the dragons. After the Task has ended, Ludo Bagman informs the champions that the eggs can be opened, and each contains a clue that will be necessary for the Second Task. The Champions will be required to solve the riddle of the Egg before the Second Task, which will be taking place on 24 February.

As is usual in the Triwizard Tournament, the Champions did risk injury or death in the course of this challenge. Apparently at least three of the four Champions received some injury: Cedric was burned on one side when the dragon decided it wanted him rather than the Transfigured dog, Fleur was burned when the dragon she had Charmed to sleep belched a little fire as it snored, and Harry was slashed by one of the spikes on his dragon's tail as it tried to attack him.

Harry's coming out of this task tied for first place with Krum somewhat changed the dynamic within the Champions as well. Before, they had tended to dismiss him – as Fleur had said initially, "'E cannot compete. 'E is too young!" After his showing in the first Task, they see him as a true contender and worthy of notice.

Before this Task, Harry and Ron had been estranged; Ron was convinced, despite Harry saying otherwise, that Harry had put his own name into the Goblet, and was upset that he hadn't told Ron how he had done it. Believing that Harry had put his own name in, Ron was also convinced that Harry was lying to him. In this Task, Harry is in so much evident and immediate danger that Ron suddenly changes his mind, accepting that someone who wanted Harry dead had actually put Harry's name in for the Tournament; by the time Harry's scores are posted, they are fast friends again.

Much of the school shared Ron's opinion, in fact, believing that Harry had managed to make himself the fourth Triwizard champion because he wanted the associated fame or Galleons. Members of Slytherin house had, in fact, made a bit of an industry of taunting Harry about this. After this first Task, it was apparent that the life of a Champion would not be an easy one, and the animosity towards Harry from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff houses abated somewhat. Harry suspects that Cedric had instructed the other members of Hufflepuff house to lay off him because Harry had taken the time to tell Cedric about the dragons, but this is never confirmed.

Analysis[edit]

The First Task clearly is meant as an indication of the caliber of magic that will be required to complete the entire Tournament, and similarly an indication of the danger that the Champions will face. As such, it clearly must be dangerous but, we believe, controllable. Hermione had earlier mentioned that an earlier Tournament had resulted in injuries to three of the judges from a cockatrice that had gotten free. Earlier, when the Trio were researching the possibility of an appeal for Buckbeak, they had discovered that one of the few creatures that had avoided execution was a cockatrice, though they also found it was because nobody could execute it. This would indicate that the earlier iteration of the Tournament had become uncontrollably dangerous, possibly as the three schools, taking turns hosting the Tournament, vied with each other for ever more grandiose displays of magic. Dragons, though extremely dangerous, can be controlled, and although we don't see them, we have to assume that Charlie Weasley and his fellow dragon wranglers are just out of Harry's sight, prepared to rescue Harry should the need arise.

The reader does rather wonder why Harry bothers to face the dragon. He has been brought into this competition against his will, and he is not as prepared as any of the other Champions, all of whom are more advanced in their studies. It would have been simple enough for Harry to simply turn on his heel and walk out of the arena, saying that he had done the best he could do. However, against this we must mention that Harry has no small measure of pride, which was inflamed by Fleur's derisive comments on the night of the selection of the Champions, and feels that he must prove himself. It was mentioned elsewhere that Harry does not feel he merits the fame he received as The Boy Who Lived. His feeling of unworthiness has left him with a desire to prove himself, to show that, even though it was through no design of his that he defeated Voldemort, he is still wizard enough to deserve the spotlight that he unwillingly finds himself under. We are also privy to one of Harry's fantasies, of himself winning the Triwizard Tournament to Cho Chang's admiration; though he clearly dismisses this himself, it is still bound to be a factor in his choosing to continue to challenge the Tasks.

Questions[edit]

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

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Cedric discovers the clue in the Golden Egg that leads to the solution to the Second Task before Harry does. Having deciphered the clue, Cedric makes a point of passing a lead to the clue on to Harry just after the Yule Ball. Cedric does this because it is only fair – Harry told him about the dragons, it is only fair that he should return the favour.

In this task, we also see the beginnings of the attempts to have Harry win the Tournament. We see Mad-Eye Moody skillfully planting the idea of flying to capture the egg, and Ludo Bagman clumsily trying to assist Harry, and then blatantly giving him higher marks than any of the other judges. We will learn later that they each have their reasons to want Harry to win the Tournament, and of the two, Moody's motives are the more sinister. This is actually a nice piece of indirection on the part of the author. Bagman's attempts to influence the outcome of the tournament are so poorly executed that they take our attention away from Moody's more successful attempts. Moody has already made one attempt that will prove unsuccessful; in the first week of classes, Moody had given a book on magical Mediterranean water plants to Neville, in the expectation that Neville would provide information to Harry about Gillyweed, which is one way of completing the Second Task. When this fails, Moody will provide the same information via a different conduit.

It is, in fact, Moody's assistance in this first Task that provides Harry the impetus he needs to actually successfully enter the Tournament. The encouragement Moody provides, by suggesting a way Harry can use things he is good at to complete this Task, is sufficient to actually get Harry into the corral with the dragons, as it gives him some hope of getting out alive and with his adolescent pride intact.