Two of the best things in the world, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Harry Potter,” have a good deal in common. Other than the vast amount of space reserved in my brain for storing quotes and random facts from these two stories, both tales share many similar objects, plot devices, character attributes, and themes. Even though Python's “Holy Grail” is an exact historical representation of the Arthurian Grail legend, some might argue that the “Harry Potter” story is more reflective of the actual ancient texts than the 1974 film.
Harry has many things in common with King Arthur. Both characters were orphans raised with their cousins, and mentored by wise men with large beards. Neither knew of his importance until it was revealed to him by mystical, somewhat divine means, and both men fell in love with a woman named Ginerva. Certainly not least of all, a major ordeal in the lives of both Harry and King Arthur was the quest for a mystical cup-- The Holy Grail for Arthur, and the Triwizard Cup for Harry.
The Holy Grail, according to legend and “Indiana Jones,” is the cup that Jesus and his disciples drank from during the last supper. Later writings also tell that the cup was used to catch Jesus's blood while he was being crucified. While sometimes depicted as a rather fancy, jeweled chalice, it is much more likely that Jesus, the poor son of a carpenter, would have drunk from a simple wooden cup (Ford).
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” features two chalices, both of great import. The Goblet of Fire is a wooden cup that determines who will participate in the Triwizard Tournament. When Filch brings out the Goblet, it is stored in “a great wooden chest encrusted with jewels” (Rowling, 254). Sir Thomas Malory, author of Le Morte d'Arthur, “describes the Grail as being housed in a 'chest of gold and precious stones'” (Phyllis) Like the Holy Grail, the Goblet of fire has the mystical ability to determine who is “worthy,” and who is not. Sir Percival, for instance, was at first deemed unworthy of obtaining the Holy Grail due to his lack of inquiry regarding the wounded Fisher King. (Mahoney, 205)
The second rather important cup in the fourth “Harry Potter” novel is the Triwizard Cup. This is the Holy Grail of the Triwizard Tournament, and the object that all of the contestants are seeking. The Triwizard Cup fits the more traditional, somewhat less educated views of the Holy Grail—jeweled, flashy, made of a precious metal, and quite obviously worth a lot of money. It is interesting to note that when Harry and Cedric touch it, they are whisked away to the graveyard where Voldemort and Wormtail are plotting their nefarious deeds. Galahad, after seeing the Holy Grail, is also whisked away, except he goes to heaven, while Harry ends up getting tortured for a bit, and barely escapes with his life.
The Grail quest of Arthurian legend shares a few thematic similarities with the quest for the Triwizard Cup. According to the...