The Triwizard Tournament

chapter twelve of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

After a very wet trip up to Hogwarts, the school Sorting takes place, and the feast is served (though when Hermione learns it was cooked by house-elves, she refuses to eat). Afterward, Mad-Eye Moody makes a dramatic entrance, and Dumbledore explains that the Triwizard Tournament will be played at Hogwarts.

I Fell in the Lake, by MartinTenbones

“Wow!” said Dennis, as though nobody in their wildest dreams could hope for more than being thrown into a storm-tossed, fathoms-deep lake, and pushed out of it again by a giant sea monster.


Sorting Hat, by Gnatkip

Then a long tear near the brim opened wide like a mouth, and the hat broke into song:
“A thousand years or more ago,
When I was newly sewn,
There lived four wizards of renown,
Whose names are still well known:

(by Gnatkip)


Godric Gryffindor, by Leela Starsky

Bold Gryffindor, from wild moor,


Rowena Ravenclaw, by Leela Starsky

Fair Ravenclaw, from glen,


Helga Hufflepuff, by Leela Starsky

Sweet Hufflepuff, from valley broad,


Salazar Slytherin, by Leela Starsky

Shrewd Slytherin, from fen.”


Dumbledore, by glockgal

“So!” said Dumbledore, smiling around that them all. “Now that we are all fed and watered, I must once more ask for your attention, while I give out a few notices.”


Mad-Eye Moody, by Laurence Peguy

A man stood in the doorway, leaning upon a long staff, shrouded in a black traveling cloak.


about the chapter


There’s a beautiful story buried in this chapter, about the only character in the Harry Potter series who is fully named for a real-life person. The following is quoted from a November 6, 2000 article in a Canadian publication called Maclean’s:

In July, 1999… Harry-mania was already exploding in English-speaking countries. In Edinburgh, Rowling was hunkered down, refusing all media requests and most outside distractions, as she worked feverishly on the lengthy story that eventually became the 636-page Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And in Toronto, nine-year-old Natalie McDonald was dying. “She was obsessed with the Harry Potter books,” remembers family friend and political activist Annie Kidder. “They had been her respite from the hell of leukemia. And because I’m the sort of person who thinks there must be something I can do, I badgered Rowling’s publishers in London, sending them a letter and an e-mail and a fax for her.”
Passed on by the publishers, the letter arrived at Rowling’s Edinburgh home a day after the author had left for a holiday in Spain. “When I came back two weeks later and read it, I had a bad feeling I was too late,” Rowling told Maclean’s. “I tried to phone Annie but she wasn’t in, so I e-mailed both Natalie and her mother, Valerie — because Annie hadn’t told Valerie what she had done.” Rowling was right in her foreboding — the e-mails were received the day after Natalie died on Aug. 3.
“Jo’s e-mail was beautiful,” Kidder says. “She didn’t patronize Natalie, or tell her everything was OK; she addressed her as a human being who was going through a hard time. She talked about her books and her characters and which ones she liked best.” And most remarkably of all, Rowling freely shared the secrets of her fourth novel, details media and fans desperately sought for another 11 months.
The story might have ended there, but Valerie McDonald wrote back, in thanks. “That letter touched deep,” Rowling says slowly, trying to explain the esteem in which she holds Natalie’s mother. “I just knew, reading it, that if we had been two mothers waiting for our kids at the school gate we’d have been friends.” So a regular correspondence began, and an unexpected friendship — “the one moment of light in this whole horrible thing,” says Kidder — was cemented last summer when McDonald, her husband, Bruce Stratton, and their two daughters travelled to Britain to meet Rowling. But even before that, the author had quietly commemorated the reader she never met. On page 159 of Goblet of Fire, the famous sorting hat of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry sends first-year student Natalie McDonald — the only real person named in any of Rowling’s novels — to Harry’s own Gryffindor house.

I can think of no better reason to name a character. Thanks, Jo, for all the little things you’ve done, along with the big ones.

Something You May Not Have Noticed

One reason I’ve always found Slytherin house interesting is because virtually all the information we get about the house is through extremely biased sources. The books are predominantly written from Harry’s perspective, of course, and Dumbledore and Hagrid were both Gryffindors themselves. The Sorting Hat also tends not to portray Slytherin in a very flattering light – but we already know that Salazar Slytherin and Godric Gryffindor had a huge falling-out, and here the Sorting Hat confesses it was once Gryffindor’s own hat. Slytherin house and its founder have had their problems, to be sure, but it also wouldn’t be unreasonable for them to feel they’ve been unfairly portrayed.

Life at Hogwarts

In light of her newfound knowledge that the Hogwarts kitchen is staffed by house-elves, Hermione might want to consider some of the other things around Hogwarts that she’s always taken for granted. For instance, she once grabbed a set of spare robes out of “the laundry” – but who is it that’s most likely doing the laundry? And how did the students’ trunks get from the train up to the proper rooms? Now that I think of it, between the overlarge feast and the hundreds of sets of belongings that must be brought to the castle while the feast goes on (not to mention placing warming pans in all the beds), the night students arrive is a very busy one indeed for the house-elves.


The students’ knowledge of the Triwizard Tournament seems spotty, at best. Fred Weasley knows enough about it to exclaim loudly as soon as he hears the phrase, but not enough to know how the champions are chosen (even though this seems to be a fairly major part of the event’s history). And Hermione doesn’t even seem to have heard of the tournament, or at least know that people have died in it in the past – and wouldn’t she have come across something about it while reading Hogwarts, a History?

The Final Word

“I have been known to write on all sorts of weird things when I didn’t have a notepad with me. The names of the Hogwarts Houses were created on the back of an aeroplane sick bag. Yes, it was empty.”–J.K. Rowling, Spring 1999

30 Responses to “The Triwizard Tournament”

  1. Maybe Hermione did know about a tournament in the history of Hogwarts, but not what it was called. Since we heard from the house-elves-debacle that “Hogwarts a Hostory” is pretty biased and cencored, my guess is that it wouldn’t tell much about a contest which let students die. Another ugly fact that would have been sweeped under the carpet, I think.

  2. Rowena Ravenclaw looks like Brooke Shields!

  3. I think she does too Meredith. She is also missing the diadem while the sword, the cup, and the locket are all will thier respective owners.

  4. The diadem is missing because these were drawn in between HBP and DH, so we sadly didn’t yet know what her object would be.

  5. That’s what I thought, but when did we find out about the cup in HP6?
    And I was never able to picture the scene where Dennis Creevey wears Hagrid’s coat. MartinTenbones just did it for me & now it’s even better..

  6. The cup and the locket were both in HP6 in Hepzibah Smith’s house – one of the memories Harry visited with Dumbledore (chapter 20, maybe? Or 17? I don’t have it in front of me).

  7. Leela Starsky’s paintings are awesome, really really beautiful and life-like. Match my views of the Founders as well.

  8. I agree. Very fine and characterful portraits.

  9. MartinTenbones picture of Dennis Creevy is wonderful, and exactly how I pictured him at the sorting!

  10. The four founders’ portraits are absolutely BEAUTIFUL, I love them!

  11. such a lovely story, i’ve read about Natalie McDonald before and it still made me cry

  12. I’m with jess on this one: that story brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. JKR truly has a loving heart.

  13. I think the best description of Slytherin I’ve heard was from a fan-fic, where the Sorting Hat described how all of the Hogwarts founders contributed to their ultimate doom. “…and Slytherin fell nicely on the sword that he created.”

    Call it a hunch, but the utter about face Slytherin and Gryffindor’s relationship takes makes me think something tragic happened. Perhaps a favorite student or a family member was hurt or killed by angry Muggles, and what was a minor point of contention became a matter of revenge for Slytherin; that’d certainly explain the sudden, extreme measures he took like the creation of the Chamber of Secrets, and changing his House’s focus from ambition and drive to purity of blood-ignoring the potential in muggleborns isn’t very, well, politically astute at all. Defying a friend who’s grieving for a loved one is, in a Neville sort of way, very brave too, while we’re at it: It takes a strange sort of courage to tell a friend that they are going down a long, dark road.

    Ultimately, I kind of wish we got to see the fall of the Hogwarts dream for ourselves, but you could say that with a lot of recurring themes in the book.

  14. I always thought it was interesting how both Denis and Collin Creevy are wizards even though they are muggle born. Is it common for siblings to carry the “wizard gene”? Maybe not since we know about Lily and Petunia. Was it just a coincidence? On that note, how does a muggle born become a wizard? What in them makes them different? the wizard gene?

  15. Joyce: I thought I read somewhere in a JKR interview that magic was a dominant gene and that “Muggles” who became wizards actually had a wizard relative *somewhere* up the line. I’m not huge into genetics (or mathematics) so I couldn’t tell you if this means the Collins boys or the Evans girls are the odd ones out.

  16. It would be kind of fun if Leela S. ever decided to amend Ravenclaw’s portrait to include the diadem.

  17. Hermione must have known about the tournament before Dumbledore mentioned it, because in chapter 15, she mentions how it was talked about in Hogwarts, a History when she tells them that the Heads of the schools are always judges. So I think she was just surprised by the fact that people had died in the tournament. Probably Hogwarts, a History didn’t mention that anyone had died.

  18. The Natalie McDonald story gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful thing for JKR to do.

    I loved the Founders’ portraits! Exactly how I’d pictured them too!

  19. had somone noticed that ravenclaw dosent drawd with tiara? but i know why is it – her daughter had stolen it, isn’t she?
    *sory for bad english*

  20. Actually, remus B., these portraits were drawn before book 7 came out, so we didn’t know yet that Ravenclaw’s object would be a diadem. :)

  21. A few little things that ive recently noticed. One, why don’t the professors perform the drying and warming spell on the cold first years like DD did for Harry in the 6th book in the cave? Or was that a particularly advanced spell?
    Also, Why were there sausages on the table for Moody to eat when the deserts had already come and gone? It says Moody brought a plate of them towards him. And not that he brought some with him.

  22. Ari, I would assume the professors weren’t about to take the time to dry off every single first year, and even then, it would seem unfair not to do it for the whole school, who are also pretty soaking wet. I think they felt it was better to leave them be to keep the night moving smoothly. And I think perhaps the food near the empty seat for Moody may have been left there since he was obviously late?

  23. I always wondered why Hermione was so surprised about the house-elves living at Hogwarts and being in charge of the kitchens and the cleaning.
    I assumed she should have come across this in Hogwarts: A History, especially since – as Nearly Headless Nick points out – there are about a hundred house-elves, and Hogwarts is the largest dwelling in Britain.

  24. glomegh, Hermione specifically says that house-elves are not mentioned in Hogwarts, A History. I think the idea is for this to reflect wizarding attitudes towards them – they aren’t considered important enough to merit a mention.

  25. Oops, you’re right Josie, it was just a few pages away. Thanks anyway.

  26. omg, slytherin is awesome! i love those pictures of the founders!

  27. I’ve sometimes wondered if Slytherin’s reputation produced a vicious circle that ensured more and more unpleasant members like Draco and Snape showing up in it. Most Dark wizards are bound to be cunning and ambitious, which means that most of them will be showing up in Slytherin. (Nor does it help that the Founder put a basilisk in the school.) Their reputation becomes enough of a reflection on Slytherin that wizards with some Slytherin qualities, like Harry, but who also have a conscience, don’t want to be in that house, so the Sorting Hat places them elswhere, while wizards with Slytherin-qualities but no conscience won’t mind being in it. So the proportion of future Dark wizards in Slytherin increases as its notoriety spreads – which, in turn, adds to its notoriety. What the house needs is a few students with the moral strength to keep their cleverness and ambition on the right path – and the courage to enter that house.

    (We know now from Rowling that one extremely famous wizard – so famous that the Muggle world’s heard of him long before the Harry Potter books came out – with a generally favorable reputation, *was* in Slytherin, though since he lived fifteen hundred years ago, and Hogwarts was apparently founded a thousand years ago, this might be another math slip on her part.

  28. I just can’t stop tearing up about the Natalie McDonald story. sniff…da*n. The pictures of the founders are pretty awesome though. I always wished that we could get some kinda stories about the founders. What they were really like, the actual reason between the fallout with Slytherin and Gryffindor, the choices they made, etc. I am SO curious.

  29. One thing I found interesting about this chapter was that the sorting hat belonged to Gryffyndor originally- so, of course it would make sense that the sword of Gryffyndor comes out of the sorting hat in book 2.

  30. I agree with Beard and Todd wholeheartedly. And Natalie McDonald’s story makes me tear up every time. I like to think she became best friends with Dennis.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: