Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Chapter 1

By J.K. Rowling

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Chapter 1

The Riddle House

  • We start out in Little Hangleton, England.
  • This village was once the home of the Riddle family (a father, a mother, and their grownup son).
  • (For those you need a Harry Potter refresher, we discover that Voldemort's birth name was Tom Marvolo Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second book in the series.)
  • But the Riddles are long dead: all three of them were found murdered fifty years before.
  • There was not a mark on their bodies.
  • The prime suspect in the murder was the Riddles' gardener, Frank Bryce.
  • "[H]ardly anyone in Little Hangleton doubted that Frank Bryce had killed the Riddles" (1.18).
  • Even so, Frank "stubbornly repeated, again and again, that he was innocent, and that the only person he had seen near the house on the day of the Riddles' deaths had been a teenage boy" (1.19).
  • The police had no evidence that Frank killed the Riddles, so they to let him go.
  • But the villagers remained suspicious.
  • Fast forward to now.
  • Frank Bryce has remained the caretaker for the Riddle house for the past fifty years.
  • One August night, he wakes up and realizes something weird is going on up at the house.
  • Frank goes to investigate.
  • He hears two voices talking to one another.
  • One of them keeps addressing "My Lord" (1.83), while the other uses a peculiar, high, cold voice.
  • This second voice asks, "Where is Nagini?"
  • The voice continues, talking about things Frank Bryce has never heard of, such as "the Quidditch World Cup" (1.43) and the "Ministry of Magic" (1.45). Huh?
  • The voice is "determined" (1.47) that "it" (1.49) must be done with Harry Potter.
  • The first voice – Wormtail – protests that Harry Potter is well-guarded: "Laying hands on Harry Potter would be so difficult, he is so well-protected" (1.54).
  • (Wormtail is Peter Pettigrew, an old friend of James and Lily Potter's who betrayed them both to Voldemort. Pettigrew then framed Sirius Black for his murder, leaving Sirius in wizard prison for twelve years. Check out Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for more on Wormtail's tale.)
  • The second voice dismisses Wormtail's suspicions. He assumes that his "faithful servant" (1.65) will rejoin them to help when the time is right.
  • Wormtail gets jealous at the idea that he isn't the voice's most faithful servant.
  • Wormtail reminds the voice that Wormtail "was the one who found [him]. [Wormtail] brought [him] Bertha Jorkins" (1.68).
  • Frank becomes terrified overhearing all of this. He realizes that the voice "had killed a woman. He was talking about it without any kind of remorse – with amusement. [...] And he was planning more murders – this boy, Harry Potter, whoever he was – was in danger –" (1.78).
  • So, naturally, Frank wants to go find the police. Before he can make a move, though, Frank finds out who Nagini is: she's the second voice's large snake.
  • Nagini hisses to the second voice that, "there is an old Muggle standing right outside this room, listening to every word we say" (1.89).
  • (A Muggle, of course, is a non-magic user.)
  • Wormtail, "a short, balding man with graying hair, a pointed nose, and small watery eyes" (1.91) finds Frank waiting in the hallway.
  • And then the owner of the cold voice shows himself to Frank Bryce.
  • And Frank Bryce screams so loudly "that he never heard the words the thing in the chair spoke as it raised a wand" (1.106).
  • The thing in the chair kills Frank Bryce with a flash of green light.
  • Two hundred miles away, Harry Potter wakes up.

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