Shadows of the Future?
I am not a sports fan. Quidditch, for me, was the boring but necessary part of the Harry Potter books, the part that I usually skipped and skimmed to get to the “good stuff.” Then I joined a Leaky Lounge reading group for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and a thread that discussed the symbolism and foreshadowing that J.K. Rowling used to mirror the plot within the book fascinated me. After reading an intriguing essay in Scribbulus by Matilda, I was hooked! I began to enjoy looking for the hidden symbolism in the Quidditch matches and I couldn’t believe how much fun I had missed for all those years.
The Quidditch World Cup is a unique game within the books. It is the only non-Hogwarts match that we see, and its position within the fourth book gives it prominence. The fact that the winner is the acknowledged world champion leads me to believe that this game is more than it appears. I have explored this game with the idea that it could be foreshadowing the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort in the last book. Specifics are difficult to pin down because, well, the last book isn’t available for analysis. However, I think we can look at this match and draw some general conclusions.
The Bulgarian National Quidditch team brings a troupe of beautiful Veela as their support. This is Harry’s first experience with Veela, who have a natural ability to bewitch men. Harry describes his feelings in connection with the Veela: “Harry’s mind had gone completely and blissfully blank [...] wild, half-formed thoughts started chasing through Harry’s dazed mind.” 1 This sounds strikingly similar to the effects of an Imperius Curse: “It was the most wonderful feeling. Harry felt a floating sensation as every thought and worry in his head was wiped gently away, leaving nothing but a vague, untraceable happiness.” 2 The Veela appear to be beautiful women, until angered, and then their faces elongate into “sharp, cruel-beaked bird heads” 3 with wings bursting from their shoulders. This could symbolize Death Eaters hiding behind faces of respectability until called by their master. The Veela are involved in the game by distracting the referee. It is interesting to note that after the Quidditch Cup, when Fleur comes to Hogwarts, Harry does not seem to be affected by Veela, reflecting his ability to throw off the Imperius Curse.
The Irish National Quidditch team brings Leprechauns. The Leprechauns work as a team to form a shamrock in the sky, and the words “HA, HA, HA” and “HEE, HEE, HEE.” Leprechauns are associated with mischief and shamrocks represent luck, some of the same tools that Harry uses to win against Voldemort. One of Harry’s most useful possessions is the Marauder’s Map, which helps him to roam the halls of Hogwarts, and is cleared by the incantation “Mischief Managed.” As for luck, the most obvious example would be the lucky potion, Felix Felicis, which helped Harry discover the secret of the Horcruxes.
Also, the Leprechauns shower gold coins upon the crowd in the stadium. This could represent the peace and security that the wizard world experienced after Voldemort lost his powers. Now that he has returned, that peace and security, like the Leprechaun gold, has disappeared.
Who better to represent the Ministry of Magic than the preening referee showing off for the Veela? This shows that the Ministry is distracted from the real game, and concerning itself with the sideshow, not really accomplishing anything to stop Voldemort. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic, under Cornelius Fudge, refused to accept that Voldemort had returned, preferring to fight against Dumbledore instead. This cost Fudge his job, but his replacement, Rufus Scrimgeour, is also more concerned with appearances than effectively fighting Voldemort. Scrimgeour asks Harry to “be seen popping in and out of the Ministry from time to time […] that would give the right impression.” 4
The Irish work well as a team; in fact, their trio of Chasers is responsible for the win over the Bulgarians. They are good as a whole. I believe this foreshadows the teamwork between Harry’s friends as they chase down Horcruxes. Of course, on Harry’s team are Ron and Hermione, but could also include Ginny, Neville and Luna, with other members of the Order working together to support Harry.
The Bulgarians are only as good as their Seeker. Their Seeker is the best in the world, and the Beaters resort to foul play to try and disable the Irish. The Death Eaters scurried into hiding when Voldemort lost his power at Godric’s Hollow. They are incapable of making a move on their own, reflecting their “team’s” reliance on Voldemort. They often resort to banned Curses to accomplish their goal, the worst form of foul play, I expect we will see much more foul play in the seventh book as Voldemort finally has his “leg room.”
The Bulgarian Chasers only manage to score one goal. I believe this is foreshadowing Dumbeldore’s death, which gives a definite “score” to Voldemort’s team. In the game the score is described: “finally, Ivanova managed to break through their ranks; dodge the Keeper, Ryan; and score Bulgaria’s first goal.” 5 In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Snape is described as charging through a battle between Death Eaters and the Order, dodging the Order by going through a barrier they were unable to penetrate, and killing the headmaster.
I believe the fouls refer to those within the Order of the Phoenix who may suffer Unforgivable Curses at the hands of Death Eaters. The brutal play before the Bulgarian’s score could represent the battles in the Ministry of Magic and at Hogwarts before Dumbledore’s death. After the score, the author describes four fouls. The first foul, Harry didn’t see, he just heard the crowd react with a “scream of rage.” 6 The first Unforgivable Curse after Dumbledore’s death was a Cruciatus against Harry. Harry didn’t see it coming because the Death Eater that cast it was behind him. Snape ordered the Death Eater to release the curse, afterward Harry “uttered an inarticulate yell of rage.” 7 The last three fouls could be foreshadowing events in the last book. The next two fouls come as a pair, which makes me wonder about an attack on the Weasley twins. The last foul in the game is so brutal that it causes the crowd to roar disapproval and leap to their feet.
The game of Quidditch always comes down to the interaction between the two Seekers since they alone can catch the Snitch and end the game. In the context of the Quidditch World Cup, I believe Lynch represents Harry, and Krum represents Voldemort. The first major interplay between Lynch and Krum occurs with the Wronski Feint, a tactic used to divert the other Seeker. It is dangerous, and Krum is very good at it. In fact, Lynch gets hurt when he falls for it. This could foreshadow the Triwizard Cup as a Portkey, Voldemort feinting and Harry being tricked into falling for it. Harry gets hurt in the graveyard, just as Lynch gets “ploughed” on the field. I noticed the horror-struck look on Ginny’s face when Aidan Lynch hits the ground, a brilliant stroke of double foreshadowing by J.K. Rowling, as she gives us a hint of Ginny’s feelings for Harry’s safety.
Harry and Voldemort are the Seekers for their respective “teams” and they have clear goals for victory. Harry is seeking peace and security for the wizarding world and himself, while Voldemort is seeking power over both the wizarding world and death. Only Harry and Voldemort can end the war by beating one another in the final battle, but the Quidditch World Cup points out an interesting dilemma: catching the Snitch only ends the game; it does not necessarily win it. If my theory is correct, what is the Snitch that Voldemort may catch to end the war that still leaves Harry’s team victorious?
Ending the Game
The end of the Quidditch World Cup match is exciting enough to keep even Hermione on the edge of her seat. A Bludger from the Irish disables Krum. Lynch sees the Snitch and begins to dive. Krum sees this and knows that the game is over, but he wants to end it on his terms. He wants the personal victory of catching the Snitch while denying that same victory to Lynch. He chases Lynch down; Lynch ploughs into the ground and is seriously hurt, while Krum gets the Snitch.
I anticipate something similar at the end of the seventh book. I speculate that a battle scene will unfold where Harry identifies the last Horcrux and, believing Voldemort to be disabled by members of the Order, heads towards it as fast as he can. Voldemort realizes this and comes out of nowhere for a final showdown with Harry. Voldemort discovers that his Horcruxes are gone, his chance for winning is over, but he wants the personal satisfaction of killing Harry to prevent him from achieving the happiness and peace that he is seeking. Voldemort ends the game, but he doesn’t win.
Does Voldemort succeed in killing Harry? Does Harry sacrifice himself for the good of the team? Unfortunately, the author is much too clever to let us in on this aspect of the battle! I take comfort in noting that Lynch isn’t dead at the end of the Quidditch World Cup, just dazed, but we will have to see. After all, in Bagman’s words at the end of the chapter “They’ll be talking about this one for years … a really unexpected twist, that ….” 8
1. Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 103.
2. Ibid., 231.
3. Ibid., 111.
4. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 345.
5. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 108.
6. Ibid, 109.
7. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 603.
8. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 116.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000.
———. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.