Grown-Up Lessons from YA Novels: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


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Nutshell: Think back to a time you were presented with two choices: one that appealed to you personally, and one you knew was the “right” decision. From birth we’re instilled with a rigid perception of right and wrong, a notion J.K. Rowling explores in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth installment in the series. Rowling directly addresses topics we can all relate to, namely the perils of growing up, taking responsibility, and acting ethically. Set in present day Britain, Harry is thrown into the perilous and exhilarating Triwizard tournament—a competition between four magical teens in which they are faced with tasks that challenge their cleverness and, more often, their integrity. Throughout the tournament, Harry struggles with the choice between, as Dumbledore puts it, “what is right and what is easy” as he navigates between the desire to win and inclination to put others before himself. Adapted into a film in 2005 (which would go on to become the eighth highest-grossing movie worldwide and our first introduction to teen vampire heartthrob, Robert Pattinson, who played Cedric, a fellow Triwizard contestant), we see examples of moral conflict as the focus on Harry behaving ethically in all matters is contradicted by him cheating at every turn: prohibited dragon previews and herb-stealing, to name two. Does this make Harry morally reprehensible? The story shows that the road to behaving honorably is never as simple as black and white. When a path is filled with temptation and conflict, good intentions go a long way.

Upshot: “What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.” — Robin Williams

Recommended Playlist:

“Right Kind of Wrong,” Leann Rimes

“Should I Stay or Should I Go?,” The Clash

“Strength, Courage & Wisdom,” India.Arie

“Fighter,” Christina Aguilera

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