Burning Questions: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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In which I ask the questions that keep me up at night…

I’ve read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at least 4 or 5 times, and now I’m listening to the audiobook. It’s my first time revisiting HP4 in a few years, and here’s what’s on my mind and making me lose sleep:


Apparently, the rules state that if your name comes out of the goblet, you must compete. Dumbledore says that Harry doesn’t have a choice, because it’s a binding magical contract.

Wait a sec — a magical contract?

Doesn’t a contract imply consent? You have to sign your name to a contract in order for it to be binding. You certainly have to enter into it knowingly and willingly.

The noun contract is defined as a written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law.

So if Harry’s name was submitted by someone else, shouldn’t the implied contract be null and void? After all, he didn’t put his name in the goblet. He did not agree. (He’s also underage, so he doesn’t meet the tournament requirements.) But really, most importantly, he was not a party to the terms and conditions.

What would happen if he refused to compete, or if Dumbledore refused to let him? Would he die? Would he be cursed? Would his hair fall out? What’s the consequence?


It’s easy, upon first read, to skim the fine print in order to get on with the story — and it’s a damned fine story. And sure, if Harry weren’t required to compete, then there wouldn’t be any plot to the book. (Imagine what a great 4th year Harry might have had if he’d just been sitting in the stands as a spectator, alongside Ron and Hermione.)

So why doesn’t Dumbledore find a way to get Harry out of the tournament, suspecting as he does that someone entered Harry in order to do him harm? Why is everyone willing to just accept the idea of a binding magical contract?

Seriously. I really want to know what would have happened if Harry just said no.

Anyone else losing sleep over this?

Just me?

13 thoughts on “Burning Questions: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    • Is that true? It’s been a few years for me… so right now, I’m just past the chapter where the champions are chosen and everyone is in shock, when Dumbledore questions Harry about whether he put his own name in. Snape makes nasty comments about Harry wanting attention, and Dumbledore points out that Harry must compete. If they have an ulterior motive, it must come later.

  1. I just read it, but I have no answers. It was my first full read-through of the book, though I have seen the movie, but not recently. And I too was kind of absently wondering the same thing. Poor Harry…everything bad happens to him.

    • How true. Everything happens to Harry — he never gets to just having a boring year as a regular kid at Hogwarts. It’s funny, as I was listening this time, I was wondering what it would be like to be Dean Thomas or Seamus Flannagan. They’re Harry’s roommates… but they never take part in any of the adventures!

      • Hogwarts does sound more exciting, I think, because we see it through the experiences of Harry, Hermione and Ron. I wonder if it would still be as exciting from Dean or Seamus’ point of view, just going to class, watching from a distance?

  2. Pingback: harry potter rewatch: part 4 – what the log had to say

  3. Pingback: harry potter rewatch: part 4 – what the log had to say

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