The Quidditch World Cup
Chapter 8 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Quidditch World Cup
Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, the Twins, Percy, Charlie, Bill, and Mr. Weasley head to the stadium. Their seats are in the highest box, which is empty except for Winky, a House-elf belonging to the Crouch family. Winky knows Dobby, and says he is having difficulty finding paid work. Winky is holding a seat for Mr. Crouch, though she is plainly afraid of heights.
People are filing into the Top Box: the Bulgarian dignitaries, the Minister for Magic, and finally Lucius Malfoy, his wife Narcissa, and their son Draco. Mr. Malfoy, who has recently made a large donation to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, is Cornelius Fudge's guest.
The team mascots perform. First up are the Bulgarians. Beautiful Veela, infinitely alluring women, dance on the pitch. Nearly every male is seized by a temptation to show off. Harry wants to do a swan dive from the Top Box. Luckily, Hermione and Mr. Weasley restrain him and Ron, who presumably has been inspired to an equivalent feat. Irish Leprechauns fly in next, showering the stands with gold coins. Ron grabs a fistful and gives them to Harry to pay for the Omnioculars.
The Irish and Bulgarian teams play. Viktor Krum, the Bulgarian Seeker, is one of Ron's heroes. The game's action is so fast that the announcer, Ludo Bagman, can barely keep up. Even Harry finds it difficult to follow the action with his Omnioculars. Krum beats the Irish Seeker to grab the Snitch, making the final score Ireland 170, Bulgaria 160. After the win, the Twins brace Ludo Bagman for their winnings.
Harry and Ron's budding sexuality is hinted at here when both become deeply affected by the beautiful and alluring Veela women. The two boys' initial interest in the opposite sex, as well as that of their Hogwarts peers, continually develops throughout the series with both humorous and poignant outcomes. Though both are now interested in girls, Harry and Ron have yet to learn the difference between true love and mere infatuation, or how jealousy and sexual politics further complicate relationships. And while Harry, Ron, and virtually every other male in the stands are deeply intoxicated by the seductive Veela, Harry is shocked when he later sees their true, unattractive appearance, as they reveal angular bird-like facial features and scaly wings when angered. Gradually, Harry is learning that outer beauty can mask an uglier reality.
Ron's insistence on paying Harry for the Omnioculars, even though Harry gave them as a gift, is a matter of deep pride to Ron, whose family can barely afford minimal necessities. Ron must often do without even the smallest luxuries or extras that most take for granted. Now he feels somewhat vindicated that, for once, he is able to pay his own way with the gold the Leprechauns tossed into the stands. But even though Ron is often resentful that he must frequently go without, it has shaped his character in a positive way. As Ron matures, he will never feel that life owes him anything; instead, he will accept that what he wants must be earned. This is a stark contrast to many Slytherins whose belief that they are entitled to whatever they desire is based solely on what they consider is their superior lineage, social rank, and wealth, rather than talent, ability, and hard work. Readers will recall that Draco Malfoy became the Slytherin Seeker (in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) only after his father, Lucius Malfoy, bought the team new broomsticks, and apparently not because Draco earned the position by his own abilities. And even though Draco is likely talented enough to have achieved this on his own, he opted for the easiest method to obtain what he wanted.
Readers might note Mr. Crouch's empty seat during the game, and should perhaps wonder where he is, what is keeping him away, and, if his absence was planned, why he had sent Winky to hold a seat for him.
- Why does Ron insist on paying Harry for the Omnioculars, even though Harry gave them as a gift?
- How did Harry's freeing Dobby from the Malfoys' service (in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) change Dobby's life, and is he better or worse off than before?
- Why are Harry, Ron, and many other males so affected by the Veela women?
- How are Fred and George able to correctly (and so precisely) predict the World Cup's final outcome?
- Being that Mr. Crouch is a Ministry official who is helping present the World Cup, why does his saved seat in the grandstand remain empty?
- What is Harry's reaction when he sees the Veelas' true appearance? What does that indicate about how beauty is so highly valued in most societies?
The gold Ron pays Harry for the Omnioculars with is actually Leprechaun gold, which, unnoticed by either Ron and Harry, soon vanishes. In Chapter 28, Ron becomes upset when he learns it disappeared, and angry that Harry never even noticed it was gone, showing, from Ron's perspective at least, how few concerns Harry seems to have regarding money while Ron has many. The Weasley family's strained financial situation is an ongoing embarrassment and hardship to Ron, especially when compared to Harry's affluence, though Harry spends relatively little on himself and collects few material possessions. Ron's comparisons are rather faulty, albeit all too human. While Harry has money, which he cares little about, he lacks the loving, supportive family life Ron takes for granted, and which Harry would probably gladly give up his fortune in exchange for.
Quidditch champion Viktor Krum is introduced here. Krum will take part in the upcoming Triwizard Tournament, and though Krum is Ron's "hero", Ron will feel quite differently about him in upcoming chapters, for reasons that he possibly doesn't completely understand himself.
Winky plays a large role in the next few chapters. Mr. Crouch has been hiding a secret, with Winky's active help, for some years, and that secret nearly escaped; the empty seat Winky had been saving had not been entirely empty. That near-getaway will result in Crouch dismissing Winky from his service. Winky's dismissal will actually prove instrumental in that secret's final and complete flight. Much of the book's remainder involves the aftermath of that escape.
Shortly Harry will realize that his wand is missing, stolen from him during the events of this chapter. Exactly when the theft occurred is unknown, but it may have happened during the Veela song; Harry would have been preoccupied then and would not have noticed his wand going missing. This relates to the secret Winky is hiding, mentioned in the previous paragraph.
The Veela episodes in this and the following chapters highlight Harry's and Ron's budding sexuality, as noted above. Ron will be more susceptible to the Veela's charms than Harry; this will also result in his becoming infatuated with Fleur Delacour, a character who is later revealed to be one-quarter Veela.
The series' strong writing is reflected in the realistic romantic entanglements our heroes experience. Ron, clearly less emotionally mature than either Harry or Hermione, has difficulty distinguishing love from infatuation, even after the effects of Fleur's close proximity are shaken off. Harry shows almost equal immaturity after a crush that ignites in this book blossoms into romance in the next; he becomes infatuated with Cho Chang, a relationship that will ultimately be doomed by Harry's youthful inexperience and his inability to comprehend Cho's fragile emotional state. Most readers have either undergone similar toils, or know someone who has. In a book or series that emphasizes adventure and conflict, it is easy to expect that romance and the characters' similar maturation will be secondary to the plot and only hinted at, rather than written about. To the author's great credit, she realizes just how central romance is to a young man's life, whether wizard or Muggle. By showing Harry's romantic life, along with Ron's and Hermione's, the author brings the characters properly alive, causing us to care about and relate to them even more.
Ludo Bagman's wagers have gone disastrously wrong, though like any good bookmaker he puts on a good face to placate his clients. He comments that the game's outcome was totally unexpected and one that will be talked about for years. That outcome seems to have been less surprising to the Twins, however, who precisely predict the game's winner and Krum's catching the Snitch. Finding himself deeply in the red, Ludo uses extreme measures to pay off the winning bettors. It is revealed in Chapter 37 that he pays the Twins with Leprechaun gold, which, as noted above, soon vanishes. He also owes a large sum to high-ranking Goblins. In the next chapter, as Harry wanders through the forest, he passes Goblins who are counting their gold and chuckling; this is presumably their winnings from Bagman. It turns out that Bagman's debt to the Goblins was also at least partially paid off in Leprechaun gold. Throughout the book, Bagman can often be seen negotiating with Goblins about this debt while also avoiding Fred and George, who are attempting to collect their winnings.