Member Institution Access. Published by the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University Mountain West Poetry Series "The music here, combined with the familiar motifs which morph and enlarge under the spell of this poet , forge lines and images and narrative—both tantalizingly fragmented and satisfyingly complete—of genuine power.
The collection pairs story with song, specifics with innuendo, in such a compelling way that I dare anyone to read the first poem and put this book back down. This is something strange and new—and very exciting. Reading through the collection, I found myself noting the influence and color these poems lend to other poems grounded in meditations on more personal and local circumstances and consequences.
The more personal poems, however, present a struggle with artistry and responsibility that is all the more relatable for its directness. Poetry Foundation Reading List. Poetry Now podcast. Chicago Review of Books. The Rumpus. Download Attachments TOC and sample chapter. The Dursleys' trait of attempting to eliminate unpleasant truths by ignoring or denying them, which we see in this chapter, is not, it should be noted, restricted to Muggles.
We will see the same behaviour in the Wizarding world throughout Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix , where the Ministry of Magic will use the same technique to try to refute the return of Voldemort. It is interesting to note that Vernon's actions during this chapter and the next are a reasonable depiction of someone suffering a stress-related nervous breakdown.
Vernon has spent ten years trying to suppress the knowledge that Harry is a wizard, and now sees that effort crashing down around him as the letters from the Wizard world start appearing. And here, we see the author's sense of humour showing, as she has Vernon using a piece of fruitcake as a hammer, and has letters appear inside eggshells. The loud knocking continues outside the door. Vernon rushes in with a rifle as the door is smashed in. A huge man with a bearded face enters. He twists Uncle Vernon's gun barrel like a pretzel, sits down and wishes Harry happy birthday, then gives him a squashed cake.
The giant makes himself at home, starts a fire, and makes tea and cooks sausages. Hagrid is dismayed that the Dursleys revealed nothing to Harry about his past or about his parents, and furious that Harry was told that his mother and father died in a car crash. Hagrid explains that Harry is a wizard — a very famous wizard, in fact. He presents Harry his letter, now addressed to him at the shack. Hagrid sends an owl to Professor Dumbledore saying he found Harry and will be taking him to get his school supplies. Petunia begins ranting and Harry learns that she and Uncle Vernon have always known about his past.
Hagrid tells Harry about a Dark wizard named Voldemort though Hagrid seems to have enormous difficulty saying the name, apparently afraid , who ten years ago when Harry was only one-year-old tracked down and murdered Harry's parents, James and Lily Potter.
Be in touch with his spirit, not run from it. What seems a simple quest in Baghdad takes Stone into the heart of a chilling conspiracy, from violent Bosnia, through lightening-paced action in Iraq. He reached around her and grabbed the head, and nestled it against the silky fabric of her panties. Von Sydow imbues his fiendish character with the perfect mix of charm, erudition and menace. Harry sees his father and mother for the first time in the reflection of the Mirror of Erised and later receives a photo album from Hagrid that contains numerous photographs of both Lily and James Potter.
He also tried to kill Harry, but failed, and left Harry the scar on his forehead. When asked what happened to Voldemort, Hagrid tells Harry no one is certain, but something happened to him on the Hallowe'en night he tried to kill Harry that drove him into hiding. Harry questions whether he is really a wizard, but Hagrid asks whether he had ever made things happen when he was angry or scared. Harry remembers things he had done, most recently the boa constrictor, and smiles. Uncle Vernon interrupts, saying Harry is not attending a magic school.
Harry is angry that his aunt and uncle knew he was a wizard, as were his parents, and that they lied about how James and Lily died. Vernon refuses to pay, then insults Albus Dumbledore, calling him "some crackpot old fool". Hagrid, infuriated, uses his umbrella apparently containing his wand to give Dudley a pig's tail. The Dursleys scramble into the other room, terrified. Hagrid asks Harry to avoid mentioning to anyone at Hogwarts that he performed magic, as he is forbidden to use it, though he was allowed to use some only while on his mission to retrieve Harry.
Hagrid explains that he was expelled from Hogwarts during his third year, though he changes the subject when Harry questions him further.
It is late, and Hagrid says they have much to do the next day. At that they go to sleep, Hagrid on the couch, Harry under Hagrid's huge coat on the floor. Without realizing it, Harry has reached the most significant milestone in his life thus far: his 11th birthday. Hagrid's arrival on that day not only liberates Harry from his miserable existence, it has given him knowledge about himself that, though he may have realized later, he never had imagined before.
He is also empowered to stand up against the abusive Dursleys—forever altering their relationship; from here on, his life will never be the same. Now Harry is empowered to make choices that will determine his destiny. He alone decides whether to stay with the Dursleys or attend Hogwarts, leaving behind the Muggle world where he subconsciously felt he never belonged.
By choosing Hogwarts, Harry shows his budding maturity and independence, and also a new ability to chart his own life's course. Later in the series, Harry develops a reluctance to put his faith into the unknown, but this time he unhesitatingly believes this is his true path, and that nothing could be worse than what he already must endure.
He trusts Hagrid to lead him on those first tentative steps. Harry is livid that his aunt and uncle hid the truth, as adults often do to protect children, though the Dursleys' were entirely spurred by hate and resentment, rather than any attempt to shield a child from something unpleasant or hurtful. The obstinate Dursleys' refusal to allow Harry to attend Hogwarts is clearly intended to deny him what they know he wants most.
Even though the Dursleys detest Harry's presence, and his departure would alleviate much unwanted responsibility for his care, they want to keep him at home purely to be spiteful, though Petunia may have an additional reason. This time, however, the choice is Harry's alone, and he opts to leave the Muggle world and the Dursleys behind, though we expect he will periodically revisit Privet Drive, at vacations and other times when the school is closed, until he reaches adulthood.
As an astonished Harry learns about his true past and how his parents actually died, we learn more about what happened the night Lord Voldemort came to Godric's Hollow. We sense the dread most wizards feel for Voldemort, or even the terror his name alone evokes, despite his being defeated ten years before.
This lingering apprehension seems to indicate that the Wizarding world may still be uncertain that Voldemort is truly dead and whether he can or will return. Harry lacks this fear, perhaps because he was never conditioned to it like other Wizards have been over the years. Instead, he comes to consider Voldemort as his foe, but not an invincible one.
A central theme to these books is prejudice, divisiveness, and fear of the unknown. This chapter, particularly Petunia's tirade, shows a biased view from the Muggle side of the Muggle-Magic divide toward anything that is seemingly strange or different. The Dursleys' behaviour is also a classic example showing how human ignorance and fear tend to go hand-in-hand.
In a vicious circle, their ignorance perpetually causes them to be frightened by magic, while that fear prevents them from developing a better understanding of it. In contrast, Harry's willingness to accept his magical nature when the evidence is presented, as well as his intuitiveness regarding his abilities, clearly indicates his open-minded intelligence. This chapter briefly mentions Hagrid's expulsion from Hogwarts, which is an important plot element in the next book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Hagrid's fear to speak Voldemort's name aloud will be echoed throughout the series, with people referring to him as, "the Dark Lord," "you-know-who", "he who must not be named", as well as other variants. This dread, though constant, is greatly reinforced in the seventh book when Voldemort places a taboo on his name, such that anyone uttering it is immediately detected and subjected to reprisals. The taboo is generally aimed at those fighting him, as they are among the few who dare speak his name, and most specifically at Harry Potter, who has become public enemy number one under Voldemort's new regime.
While only speculated, it is possible that a similar taboo could have existed during Voldemort's initial reign, and that it engendered a fear of his name among the Wizarding populace. By contrast, Harry is also known by a different moniker, "the Boy Who Lived" and later, "the Chosen One" , though none in the Wizarding world fear using his real name. Petunia's tirade is meant to show how Muggles' fear and disdain what they are unable to fully understand. While this becomes a recurring theme in the series, Petunia's reaction is actually motivated by jealousy that her sister, Lily, was a witch, while she is not.
After Lily received her Hogwarts letter, Petunia also desperately wanted to attend, but lacking any magical ability, she was forced to remain behind in the Muggle world. To console herself, she became convinced that Lily was a freak, and that the Wizarding world and anything or anyone tied to it, is "abnormal", and she resolved to be as opposite from that as possible; she has since inflicted her bitter resentment and animosity onto Harry, and her refusal to allow her nephew to attend Hogwarts is a feeble attempt to deny him what she was unable to have.
Fortunately, it is Harry's decision alone as to whether or not he will attend the school. By learning his own true nature, Harry has taken the first step on the path leading to his eventual destiny. He will continue on it throughout the series, with some occasional setbacks. Harry awakens to an owl furiously pecking at Hagrid 's coat, demanding payment for the newspaper it just delivered. Hagrid sleepily tells Harry to give the owl five Knuts , the odd-looking bronze coins stuffed inside the coat's pocket.
Harry places the coins inside a small sack tied to the owl's leg and it flies off. Soon after, Harry and Hagrid set off for London, using the same boat Vernon hired to get to the island. Muggles non-magical folk stare at Hagrid, scrambling to let him and Harry pass. Riding the Underground to central London, Harry and Hagrid finally arrive at an establishment called the Leaky Cauldron. Harry notices that Muggles seem oblivious to the pub in-between two other businesses. Harry suspects that only Hagrid and himself can see it. Upon entering the dark and rather shabby pub, Harry is greeted enthusiastically by its excited patrons.
Hagrid introduces Harry to Quirrell , the new Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor, who appears timid and nervous. Harry and Hagrid exit into a small courtyard behind the Leaky Cauldron. While Harry reflects on peoples' reaction to him, Hagrid taps the wall bricks with his umbrella; a hole appears, growing bigger and bigger, forming an archway.
They enter into Diagon Alley , the wizard commerce district. Harry and Hagrid walk past the many magic shops and down the street to Gringotts , the wizard bank.
At Gringotts, Hagrid produces a vault key, and a note authorizing him to enter another vault on Dumbledore's behalf. After a high-speed cart ride with Griphook the Goblin making Hagrid queasy , they reach Harry's vault, which is filled with wizard money galleons, sickles, and knuts. Hagrid helps Harry draw enough for school supplies and expenses, and educates him on the wizard monetary system.
After another cart ride, Hagrid removes the sole item inside vault , a small grubby parcel. Hagrid asks Harry to say nothing to anyone about this package. Back on the surface, Hagrid helps Harry buy school supplies. In Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions shop, Harry meets another first-year Hogwarts student, a snobbish boy who espouses allowing only the finer Wizarding families to attend Hogwarts. Before introductions are exchanged, Harry leaves to buy books, a telescope, and a cauldron. For his birthday, Hagrid buys him a snowy owl that Harry names Hedwig. Finally, they stop at Ollivander's to purchase a wand.
Ollivander, who remembers every wand he has ever sold, says Harry will know when he finds the right one. After trying out many wands, Harry picks up one made from holly; sparks flare from its tip—this is Harry's wand. Ollivander says it is brother to the wand that gave Harry his scar. Each wand's core contains one of only two tail-feathers ever donated by a particular Phoenix. Just as Hagrid carried Harry to the Muggle world on a flying motorbike, now the gentle giant whisks him away, first by boat, then by underground rail to Diagon Alley in central London.
Transportation vehicles, particularly trains, become important symbols running throughout the series. The Hogwarts Express, the train that Harry will soon ride to Hogwarts for the first time, is the means that continually shuttles him back-and-forth between the Magical and Muggle worlds, at least until he is an adult.
It is rarely a smooth ride between these two realms. Other magically enhanced vehicles will come to represent Harry's escape from danger or turmoil, and his growing independence, as well as his overall journey through the series.
The parallel Wizarding society that we and Harry are introduced to seems to share more similarities than differences with the Muggle world Harry is about to leave behind. Magic alone is apparently inadequate to provide for all wizards' needs, and they therefore have their own highly-organized commerce and social infrastructure that includes a bank, retail shops, government, penal system, mass media, an educational institution, and so on.
Wizards actually seem to function much as Muggles—they have jobs to earn a living, buy what they need from stores, marry and raise families, and celebrate the same traditions and holidays, such as Christmas, Hallowe'en, Easter, etc. Harry quickly encounters a more negative similarity, however, when he meets Draco Malfoy, the snobbish boy in the shop, who soon becomes Harry's primary nemesis, just as Dudley is in the Muggle world, and who represents the deep class divisions and prejudices within wizard society. This becomes a major theme in the series.
Even Draco's name portends this unpleasant relationship: Draco is, of course, Latin for "dragon" and Malfoy can loosely be translated as "bad faith" in French. What is quite different from Muggles, apart from magic, is the mythic beings inhabiting this clandestine world. This is our first intimation that these mythological creatures may have a real, parallel existence. Wizards have secretly co-existed alongside the Muggle world for centuries.
To reflect this side-by-side and occasionally intersecting existence with humans, the author has cleverly named the wizard business district Diagon Alley diagonally. Its seedy, dark underbelly is Knockturn Alley nocturnally , where many Dark wizards ply their trade or otherwise engage in unsavory or illegal activities. These dark and light areas come to represent themes of good and evil that permeate the series.
And as secret as the wizard world is kept, some Muggles, such as the Grangers, need to know that it exists, while a few even marry into it, sometimes unknowingly; it is revealed later in the series that the incumbent British prime ministers communicate as needed with the Ministry of Magic , the wizard government. It should also be assumed that wizard banking must somehow be connected to human commerce so that Muggle parents can exchange their British currency for wizard galleons and sickles to buy their magical offspring basic Wizarding necessities. Fortunately, Harry has no need to exchange currency—his parents have left him a small fortune stored in Gringotts Bank.
This, combined with his magical talent and celebrity, will make for a potent combination that aids Harry throughout the series. Harry, however, remains generally unaffected by wealth and fame, caring little for material possessions and shunning the spotlight; he will, however, be able to use his new-found inheritance to bolster his independence, provide all his own needs, and further distance himself from the Dursleys' control, though, unfortunately, he must remain bound to them until he is a legal adult. Harry is amazed by Diagon Alley, but also that everyone knows who he is and that he is so readily accepted and respected by other wizards.
He has been famous almost since birth, an apparent hero to an entire population, though unaware of why, or even of his own fame. Having been treated his entire life as if he barely existed, Harry's reaction to this attention is mostly astonishment at being acknowledged, and embarrassment, feeling he has done nothing special to deserve the adulation. To readers, who still lack any knowledge of why Harry is so famous, his being treated as a "hero" may seem premature, but this label might actually presage future events, as well as designating what he may or may not have already accomplished.
We will also contrast Harry's behavior with another character who constantly thrives on and seeks out fame in the next book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Harry remains curious regarding what Hagrid removed from vault While it is unknown yet what the packet contains, there are clues that it must be valuable. Hagrid's behavior suggests this, with the deliberate care and secrecy he shows when retrieving the package, and by his asking Harry to mention nothing about what he has seen.
Also, there being nothing else inside other than the packet, indicates it is probably a high-security vault protecting only that one item. Storing nothing else in it prevents anyone from having a reason, other than this particular object, to access the vault.
Any break-in attempt would reveal what a thief was after. As Harry learns about the wizarding world, so too does he discover more about his parents, his own past, and his relationship to Voldemort. Harry's wand plays an integral part in this relationship. A wand is a wizard's most important possession; without it, it is nearly impossible to perform magic.
Ollivander tells Harry that the wand chooses the wizard, and a unique bond is indeed created between it and its owner; this ability to choose the wizard indicates wands may be somewhat sentient. The wood type and the core material apparently also play a part in this bonding process. Harry's wand, for example, is holly, a wood traditionally thought to repel evil, while a Phoenix is associated with purity and resurrection. Harry learns that the wand destined to be his has a connection with Voldemort's wand; this seems to disturb him somewhat, as he shivers when Ollivander tells him that the core of his new wand and the core of Voldemort's wand came from the same phoenix.
This fact tells the reader that there is a present connection between Harry and Voldemort, not just a past connection, and may foreshadow Harry's destiny. It also represents the darker, sinister side to what had initially seemed to readers like a magical paradise; the wizarding world actually may be far more dangerous than the unhappy Muggle one Harry is leaving behind. The "small, grubby parcel" that Hagrid removes from the vault is the titular Philosopher's Stone US: Sorcerer's Stone , which will be central to this book's plot. Harry, with his limited classical education, is unable to understand why this Stone is so prized, but a classmate, Hermione Granger , will explain it to him.
Hagrid marvels at the things Muggles have come up with in order to live without magic. The reader who is paying attention will note that with a very few exceptions indoor plumbing, for example, and artificial illumination in some cases , the Wizarding world is not using any technology at all more recent than the invention of the printing press.
It is uncertain why wizards have chosen to keep these older ways of doing things. Hermione later comments that the magical field around Hogwarts is so strong that technology simply doesn't work; this cannot be the reason that Wizarding households avoid technology, because technology still works perfectly around strong wizards like Harry and Hermione in their Muggle homes.
It is possible that wizards feel that magic is more reliable than technology, or, especially in a certain segment of the wizard population, it may be a point of pride to avoid anything Muggle-made. Harry's humility is shown here. While this character trait continually serves him well, it becomes masked by his unique position as "the Boy Who Lived". Harry will thwart Voldemort repeatedly, until gradually, he comes to believe that only he can accomplish certain feats regarding the Dark Lord. Close examination will reveal that while he somewhat accepts his designation as a hero, he never capitalizes on his status; rather, it becomes an increasing obligation and burden.
Late in the series, the Ministry of Magic publicly begins calling him The Chosen One, as it attempts to exploit him in a weak and misguided effort to show the public they are actually doing "something" to fight Voldemort. Despite being thrust into the limelight in this manner, Harry avoids exploiting his fame for personal gain, instead shunning it to continue the near-impossible mission fate has tasked him with, lending further evidence that he is destined to become the classic hero.
It is mentioned that Ollivander's window display contains only a single wand on a cushion. We discover later, notably in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that Voldemort has been hunting artifacts belonging to the four Hogwarts Founders to make into Horcruxes. It has been speculated that the wand in Ollivander's window might be Rowena Ravenclaw's. While this may seem related to Ollivander's disappearance in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince , the lost Ravenclaw artifact, a Diadem tiara , was actually found and made into a Horcrux by Voldemort, many years before he encountered Harry.
Griphook, the Goblin, and Mr. Ollivander, the wand maker, are introduced here. Both will play significant roles in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Ollivander's claim that "The wand chooses the Wizard" is a key plot point in the larger story, and particularly significant in book 7. It is possible that Harry's wand, related to the one the Dark Lord owns, chose him because it recognized Voldemort's soul shard that Harry carries within him, though no-one, not even Voldemort, knows it exists.
Harry and Voldemort's wands are considered "brothers" even though they are different woods. According to the author , Harry's wand is holly, a wood traditionally believed to repel evil. Voldemort's wand is yew, a long-lived tree that also represents death and resurrection. What bonds them are their identical magical cores: Phoenix tail feathers. A Phoenix is a mythical bird that repeatedly dies by bursting into flames, then is reborn from its own ashes.
Harry will learn that the particular Phoenix who donated only these two feathers is Fawkes , Dumbledore's animal familiar. Fawkes saves Harry's life in the next book, and also heals his wound in book 4. The provenance of the magical core within his wand becomes vitally important in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Back at the Dursleys' , Harry must wait out the month before leaving for Hogwarts.
Uncle Vernon agrees to take him to London only because Dudley also has an appointment with a surgeon to have his pig's tail removed. Spotting another apparent wizard family, Harry tags along to the Hogwarts Express platform. This family, who recognize him, are the Weasleys , and Harry meets three of the four Weasley children currently attending Hogwarts: Fred, George , and Ron , also a first-year, who shares a compartment with Harry.
Percy Weasley is a Prefect and so rides in the prefects' compartment. Ron tells him about Chocolate Frogs, and the enclosed Famous Wizard cards in each package; Harry gets Albus Dumbledore 's card, among others. Ron also mentions that there was a break-in at Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Diagon Alley ; Harry is interested after his own recent trip there.
During the train ride, various other students stop by the compartment to introduce themselves to the famous Harry Potter. A shy boy named Neville Longbottom comes by, searching for his toad, Trevor ; Hermione Granger , a rather bossy girl, arrives shortly after, helping Neville search for Trevor. She appears disdainful when Ron's attempt to cast a spell fails, causing the two boys to take a dislike to her. Malfoy attempts to coerce Harry into an alliance; that fails, partially because Malfoy bad-mouths the Weasley family, who are poor.
The three try to steal the snacks Harry bought, but Scabbers , Ron's pet rat, stops them by attacking Goyle. Finally, Hermione returns, saying the train is about to arrive at Hogwarts, and they should change into their school robes. At Hogsmeade Station , Hagrid appears and shepherds the first-years to small boats that carry the students across the lake to Hogwarts castle.
Harry's journey to a new life and an unknown future officially begins aboard the Hogwarts Express.
Although he is required to periodically return to the Dursleys' home until he is of legal age, Harry's emotional ties to his erstwhile family and the Muggle world are now forever severed; it is likely that Harry will rarely, if ever, completely re-enter his former Muggle life once he becomes an adult, permanently leaving it, and his family, behind. On the train, Harry makes many new friends, though most seem drawn by their curiosity to meet someone so famous, and likely leaving Harry a little uncomfortable that everyone already knows so much about him, while he knows nothing about them.
Ron and Harry, being the same age, immediately bond, and Ron, generally unimpressed by Harry's celebrity, provides information about wizards, while Harry is able to share much about Muggles. Harry, feeling insecure and stressed, confides in Ron his worries of being the worst in the class, but Ron helps ease his misgivings. Ron will continually guide Harry and later Hermione about general wizard society.
Harry is also reacquainted with Draco Malfoy, the snobbish boy from Diagon Alley, and meets his equally unpleasant companions, Crabbe and Goyle. By spurning Draco's offer of friendship—if it can be considered that—Harry becomes Draco's primary enemy at Hogwarts. Draco's condescending manner toward Ron and his family also gives us a closer glimpse into the lineage-related prejudice which plagues the Wizard world, and which Hagrid had mentioned in passing after Harry's encounter with Draco.
This apparent prejudice being introduced so early in the series suggests strongly that it may be a major factor in full story arc. Hermione Granger, making her first appearance in the series, is portrayed as a true grind—a girl whose "know-it-all" attitude is off-putting and will win her few—if any—friends, though she is likely far less confident than she hopes to appear.
Harry and Ron instantly dislike her, though not as they dislike the anti-Trio—Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle—who they immediately despise for good reason. Hermione's rigid, rule-abiding personality gradually mellows during the series; little do Harry and Ron realize how integral she will soon become to their lives, particularly Ron's. The characters' ongoing maturation, especially Hermione and Ron, and to a slightly lesser extent, Harry, significantly helps make the overall story so compelling and realistic.
And while Ron finds Hermione extremely annoying and about as opposite from his personality as anyone could be, he has little idea that he has just met his one true love; their road to romance will be difficult, however. Albus Dumbledore's "Famous Wizards" card is the key that provides a crucial clue to the riddle that needs to be solved during this book.
While much of what Harry reads on Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog card will prove important to this book, it becomes even more significant in book 7. In an almost stunning amount of interconnection between the first book and the last, we discover that Grindelwald , mentioned on Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog card, was an influence on the young Dumbledore, and has a pivotal, though not central, role in the series' final book.
It is a little curious as to just why Draco Malfoy attempted to befriend Harry. Draco is already well versed in his family's "pure-blood" ethos, and presumably knows that Lord Voldemort was somehow felled by the famous Harry Potter. Whatever Draco's true motive was, it is never revealed, though it is interesting to consider what might have transpired had Harry accepted Draco's offer of friendship, and whether this would have affected his decision not to be sorted into Slytherin.
Harry's interest in the break-in at Gringotts Bank may foreshadow the episode where he, Ron, and Hermione successfully break into that very bank in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , to steal one of Voldemort's Horcruxes that is stored in the Lestrange's vault. Also, Ron's beloved pet, Scabbers, will turn out to be something quite different than a mere rat, but readers should perhaps note here how he acts to prevent Draco and his companions from stealing Harry's and Ron's snacks.
Upon reaching the castle, Hagrid hands the new students over to Professor McGonagall. In an anteroom, the students nervously wait to be sorted into school Houses. The Ghosts passing through the anteroom make Harry even more nervous. Professor McGonagall then leads them into the Great Hall, and in turn, the Sorting Hat calls out which House each student is assigned to.
There are four Houses, each with specific characteristics. Slytherin is filled with ambitious, cunning witches and wizards; Ravenclaw is home to the most intelligent; Gryffindor houses only the brave; and Hufflepuff is where the most fair and honest go. It is Harry's turn, and he sits on the stool and the Sorting Hat is placed on his head; the Hat suggests quietly that Harry's intelligence, talent, and his urge to prove himself could make him great.
Ron and Hermione also are Sorted into Gryffindor, as well as: Neville , the boy who lost his toad; Seamus Finnigan ; and Dean Thomas , who is mentioned in the US editions as being a "tall, black boy," but is not described in the book's British editions. Draco Malfoy is sorted into Slytherin. Neville later tells Harry that his family had believed he had no magical power at all until he was able to survive being dropped out of a window. Professor Dumbledore then makes a few eccentric prefatory remarks, and the feast begins.
The older students know him better as Nearly Headless Nick, due to his partially severed neck that barely tethers his head to his body. As Harry scans the teacher's table, his scar throbs with pain when he sees Professor Snape , the Potions teacher, scrutinizing him. One additional Dumbledore announcement catches Harry's ear: "this year, the third floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death.
As Percy leads the first-year Gryffindors on a convoluted path through the castle's many corridors, the wall paintings' occupants comment on the passing students. Peeves , a Poltergeist, briefly harasses them. Eventually they reach the entrance to Gryffindor tower, guarded by a portrait of a fat lady. Percy gives the password " Caput Draconis " , and everyone heads into the common room and to their dormitories.
During the night, Harry dreams about Quirrell's turban and Malfoy turning into Snape. By the next morning, Harry has forgotten the dream. Hogwarts castle and its four Houses, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, and Gryffindor are introduced; we are also served our first taste of the rather eccentric Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore who Harry thinks might be slightly mad , while Harry's scar may be acting as a barometer to the passing scene.
Harry's fame in the Wizarding world is also further shown through the other students' excited responses to his name being called out for Sorting. The Sorting ceremony is arguably the most important school rite that Hogwarts students participate in. It not only determines in which House they will spend their entire seven years at Hogwarts, but it reflects much about who they are and generally indicates what direction their lives may take. They will also be affected by others in their own House.
These affiliations will build life-long alliances, as well as create ongoing rivalries among the Houses, though these are generally friendly; there is, however, a particular competitiveness between Gryffindor and Slytherin, two Houses that will symbolize themes of good and evil in the series, and which path—light or dark—a character chooses to follow. All had varying talents and differing views, and students with similar characteristics to the founders are usually sorted into the House that best reflects those traits.
The Hat sees abilities in Harry—cleverness, determination, and ambition—that align with Slytherin, and could lead him to greatness, something no one has ever told Harry or that he considered about himself. Some students, like Harry, do appear to have traits suitable to more than one House, and the Sorting Hat mulls over where it should place him. Already dismayed by his connection to Voldemort , Harry immediately resists Slytherin, a House he knows is associated with Dark Wizards, as well as unpleasant students such as Draco Malfoy.
Although the Sorting Hat apparently favors putting Harry in Slytherin House, he is, of course, equally well suited to Gryffindor, which is noted for nobility and bravery, and, in many ways, seemingly opposite to Slytherin. Also, Harry's parents were both Gryffindors. Harry has certainly shown he is noble, and has already demonstrated much courage in his young life, first by standing up to the Dursleys, then by entering a strange, unknown world, and now, as he challenges the Sorting Hat. Rather than passively waiting for it to make its selection, he specifically requests not to be sorted into Slytherin.
Most students probably never question or oppose which House they are assigned, and though the Hat senses Harry's talents are suitable to Slytherin, it never forces a choice on him. Instead, it entices Harry by wondering where it should place him. Harry's request shows his growing ability to consider all options and make his own decisions based on that.
Even if fate has decreed that he is to one day challenge Voldemort, Harry possesses the power to affect that fate by his own design. This trait is re-emphasized in the next book and throughout the series. After some negotiating, the Hat places him in Gryffindor. It should be noted that Harry never actually requested to be in Gryffindor or the other Houses, rather he chose not to be sorted into Slytherin, a House that, to him, represents a dark path. Despite its dark reputation, Slytherin House is not inherently evil, nor are all its students so unpleasant as Draco Malfoy and his cronies.
However, that particular House does represent certain characteristics, such as ambition, power-hunger, shrewdness, slyness, etc. Like Harry, all Slytherins have a choice as to how they will utilize these traits and whether they will follow a light or dark path. Later in the series, a Slytherin character becomes Harry's ally. Dumbledore's stern warning that the third-floor corridor is off limits, in addition to the package Hagrid delivered, indicates that unusual, and possibly sinister, events may be unfolding at Hogwarts.
The break-in at Gringotts may be related, though Harry cannot be certain; it caught his attention purely because he had visited Gringotts a little over a month ago. Harry is beginning to tie these clues together, already suspecting that whatever Hagrid took from Gringotts is what is now being guarded on the third floor. The pain in Harry's scar when Professor Snape looks at him also convinces Harry that Snape is somehow connected to all this. Harry's keen observation and inquisitive nature are becoming apparent here, and throughout the series, he will continually need to piece information together to solve even bigger puzzles, often risking his life in the process.
However, his conclusions are sometimes wrong or will lead him in the wrong direction, while his immaturity, bias, and innate stubbornness often prevent him from considering more reasonable alternatives. Ideas are also presented on how the Wizarding realm differs from the Muggle world in which Harry had been trapped until now.
Understanding how Wizard society operates here is not only appropriate for Harry's age eleven , but also the details are presented in a comprehensible manner suitable for someone at that age level who is suddenly thrust into a magical world that they never knew existed. For instance, when the banquet food appears on the plates, Harry never considers who prepared it or how it got placed there. That curiosity and the resultant understanding comes in about another three years.
Harry's dream is foreshadowing this book's main plot line. The reader still knows too little to interpret this dream, but may understand that there is some connection between Quirrell's turban and the pain in Harry's scar. The byplay between Harry and the Sorting Hat becomes more germane in the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets , and later in illustrating the differences between Harry and Voldemort. While the Hat recognizes qualities in Harry that were unknowingly bestowed on him by a connection between him and Voldemort, it is ultimately Harry exercising his independent choice and free will that leads to him being assigned to Gryffindor.
It is interesting to consider whether or not the Sorting Hat would still have considered Slytherin for Harry if this connection between him and Voldemort had never existed. As noted in the above analysis, not all Slytherins are evil. And though Slughorn possesses many typical Slytherin traits, he always follows a light path, rejecting Voldemort's beliefs, and aligns himself with Dumbledore and Harry. It is learned later in the series that Sirius Black , Harry's godfather, was also sorted into Gryffindor, even though his family is primarily sorted into Slytherin House and some are or were affiliated with Lord Voldemort.
We do not know whether Sirius, who rejected his family's pure-blood beliefs and eventually became estranged from them, chose not to be placed in Slytherin, though we will learn that he stated a preference for Gryffindor before his own Sorting. It is possible that he, like Harry, refused the Sorting Hat's initial placement, but equally it is possible that the Hat placed him in Gryffindor of its own accord.
We are meant to believe that the exploding pain in Harry's scar is because Snape is staring at him. It is true that Snape is displeased to see him; at that distance, Snape can only see the resemblance between Harry and his father James. We learn later that James and Snape were in the same year at Hogwarts, and they were bitter antagonists. The pain in Harry's scar is because Voldemort, then riding on Quirrell's head, is either looking at Harry through Quirrell's turban, or is using Legilimency to observe the room, and has just detected Harry.
Harry's scar did not hurt when he first met Quirrell in the Leaky Cauldron, nor did Quirrell's skin burn when they shook hands there see The Man with Two Faces , because he was not wearing the turban at the time, and hence Voldemort was not possessing him from the back of his head. Quoting from the text, at the welcoming feast, "Harry spotted Quirrell, too, the nervous young man from from the Leaky Cauldron.
He was looking very peculiar in a large purple turban. This implies that this is the first time Harry has seen him wearing a turban. We will learn later that the same Gringotts vault that Hagrid removed the small parcel from is the one reported as being recently broken into, which of course only adds to the mystery.
We should note that Harry's visit to Gringotts is actually further in the past than it currently feels. It was on Harry's birthday, July 31, that Hagrid took Harry to Diagon Alley , and we read about the break-in at Gringotts on the Hogwarts Express, on September 1; the entire month of August falls between the two occurrences.
Harry's dream may actually foreshadow events in the entire series, rather than in just this book. It could also be an unconscious attempt by Voldemort to influence Harry's actions using Legilimency, as he will in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. While this is neither confirmed nor refuted by later events, it is unlikely that Voldemort was consciously using Legilimency; Voldemort started deliberately using Legilimency on Harry after he learned there was an existing connection at about Christmas in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
We do learn later in the series, however, that Harry gains the ability to tune into Voldemort's thoughts at will without the Dark Lord being aware. This may be an early incident where neither Harry nor Voldemort are aware it is happening. There is also half a timeline contradiction in this book. At Nearly Headless Nick's deathday party , commemorating the five-hundredth anniversary of his death, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets , his death is stated to have been on However, in this chapter, Nearly Headless Nick states that he has been dead for nearly years.
It is assumed that this is an error by the author, which was changed in later editions by having Nick say that he has been dead for nearly years. As mentioned in the Greater Picture section for that Deathday Party chapter, Nearly Headless Nick's death date can determine a timeline for the entire series, leading us to all the book's specific dates.
However, this timeline is not critical to this series plot or events, as it only affects the interactions between events in the books and the Muggle world, which are few. The other teachers' reaction to Dumbledore's announcing the School Song has led many fan sites to question whether its failure to appear in subsequent volumes was due to the teachers rebelling against it.
The author has said that "Dumbledore called for the school song when he was feeling particularly buoyant, but times are becoming ever darker in the Wizarding world. This also may be the reason that we so seldom are present at the Sorting, to keep the Hat's annual song from becoming tedious. Harry's first few days at Hogwarts are trying indeed, and the students constantly staring at him makes him nervous and uncomfortable.
The huge castle is convoluted, and Harry and Ron repeatedly get lost on their way to class, making them late, or they are caught as they are accidentally about to enter forbidden areas, putting them on their first day at Hogwarts on the caretaker, Argus Filch's bad side. And the lessons are difficult.
At breakfast on Friday, Harry receives his first owl post message, from Hagrid , inviting him to tea after class. Harry then attends his first Potions class with Professor Snape , a double-length class shared with Slytherin first-years. Class does not go well, with Snape singling Harry out, and ridiculing him for his limited magical knowledge. Snape, who apparently dislikes Harry's celebrity status, is continually harder on Harry than even the other Gryffindors in the class.
In particular, when Neville melts the cauldron he shares with Seamus , Snape unjustly holds Harry partly responsible and penalizes Gryffindor House one point. Hagrid refuses to discuss it, and Harry concludes that the burglarized vault was the same one Hagrid emptied during their trip to Diagon Alley.
Many Hogwarts teachers are introduced, at least those who become substantial characters in this and future books.
While most teachers are delighted to have Harry Potter in their classes, Snape, hardly impressed, singles out Harry to unfairly ridicule or reproach him. This becomes an ongoing occurrence throughout the series, and it appears here that Snape's behavior is fueled by his resentment over Harry's fame. This idea is reinforced in the next book, where Snape's negative reaction to a celebrity teacher is also seen.
Only later is it learned why Snape resents Harry so much, and their mutual animosity grows throughout the series. In Harry's conversation with Hagrid, we can see Harry's natural urge to understand and investigate, a quality that will equip him to solve with help the many mysteries put before him throughout his seven-year story. This innate curiosity may be leading him to the forbidden third-floor corridor, determined to discover what lies hidden within, though his attempt to open that door in this chapter is apparently purely accidental.
Meanwhile, Harry's first days at Hogwarts are somewhat stressful as he copes with a new environment, unwanted fame, and his discomfort over other students constantly staring at him. Overall, though, he is happy, and there is no other place he would rather be: hero-worship, unwelcome as it may be, is a form of acceptance, and is far better than what he receives at home.
In addition to adjusting to his new magical life and struggling a bit with his studies, he also learns more about wizard society as he becomes acquainted with his classmates. His initial impression may have been that all wizards were pretty much alike, though Draco Malfoy , in Diagon Alley , gave an early indication that at least some social differences exist. Harry quickly learns more about wizard backgrounds, and that some, like the Malfoys and the Weasleys, are pure blood, while others are half-bloods like Harry, whose father was a pure-blood Wizard while his mother was a Muggle-born witch like Hermione , with no magical family.
Seamus Finnigan is also considered a half-blood, with one magical parent his mother , and the other his father a Muggle. Neville Longbottom is pure-blood, though his family feared he had no magical ability whatsoever until the ability appeared later in his childhood. Even among pure-blood families there are class differences, as seen by how the Malfoys consider the Weasleys inferior because they are poor and have different views regarding Muggles and Muggle-born wizards.
At Hogwarts, all students are treated equally, regardless of what their individual backgrounds are, and they are supposed to be judged solely on talent and performance rather than their lineage and connections. There are, however, wizards, mostly Slytherins, that believe "pure" bloodlines are superior to mixed ones, and some, like the Malfoys, advocate that only the old, pure-blood wizard families should be allowed to attend Hogwarts and study magic. These prejudicial beliefs become an increasingly prominent theme throughout the series.
The exact date that Gringotts was broken into is also learned; the clipping on Hagrid's table states it occurred on 31 July, the same day Harry was in Diagon Alley. It is from this that Harry concludes that the thief was after Hagrid's "grubby little parcel". Snape's ongoing dislike for Harry is a main feature throughout the series. Harry's first-ever Potions class with Snape actually foreshadows events in the upcoming books. In his introduction, Snape says he can teach the students to, "brew fame, bottle fortune, and even stopper death. This scene's many connections, as described below, to later parts of the series, had led many fans to speculate, following the events in the sixth book's conclusion , that Dumbledore and Snape conspired to fake Dumbledore's death.
In fact, the potion mentioned had been used in that book, though we do not discover that until late in the final book ; Snape had prevented or delayed Dumbledore's death caused by his touching a cursed ring. The discussion of aconite or monkshood, and the associated Draught of Living Death, reappear in the sixth book, first when Professor Slughorn has Harry's class brew this potion, and possibly in the US edition only atop the Astronomy tower, when Dumbledore attempts to convince Draco to switch sides, and tells him that can make Draco and all his family appear to be dead.
The reader should note that there is no immediate connection to the Wolfsbane Potion that appears in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ; that is a completed potion, and apparently a complex one, while the Wolfsbane mentioned here is a potion ingredient. The Bezoar that Snape asks Harry to describe will play a small role in the fourth book , and a much larger one in the sixth book. In the book's British and Canadian versions, Snape's wording in the scene mentioned above, "and even stopper death," is somewhat ambiguous; some readers have suggested that it means placing death in a bottle.
This seems overly simplistic, as poisons are so common, both in the Muggle and Wizarding worlds, that they hardly merit mention. The more likely meaning is to prevent Death from acting, stoppering it inside a bottle. We briefly look back to the other two draughts that Snape mentions among the top achievements of Potioneering: a fame-potion does not appear to be mentioned in the series again unless, perhaps, that is one of Gilderoy Lockhart's unmentioned skills , but bottled fortune is an obvious reference to Felix Felicis , which again will play an important role in the sixth book.
One may wonder whether the author took her own hint from the first book, or consciously put bottled fortune in this scene, already knowing she would need it later. Harry and Ron constantly getting lost shows the castle's magical qualities and its overall enormity.
Hogwarts harbors countless secrets, many that become important later in the series. Because the castle is so confusing, Harry, Ron, Neville, and Hermione will later end up in the third floor corridor; escaping Filch, they enter that corridor by accident, and will thereby learn something very important to the overall story. Although Neville says his family believed he might have been a "Muggle", a more accurate description would be a "Squib. It will be learned later that Squibs are born into wizard families, but through some genetic quirk, lack any magical ability.
In addition to the pure-bloods, half-bloods, and Muggle-borns noted in the above "Analysis" section, Squibs are yet another, though tiny, division within that social order. They are polar opposite to Muggle-borns, born into a family that they are completely different from.
Unlike Muggle-borns, who are identified early on and brought into wizard society, Squibs are often treated as outcasts, and encouraged to integrate themselves into Muggle society. Having been raised in a purely magical household, however, a Squib would likely find it difficult to adapt to Muggle society, and have the additional burden of hiding their wizard affiliations. Readers also learn later that Mrs. Figg , Harry's odd Privet Drive neighbor, and Mr.
Filch, are both Squibs who function within the Wizarding world despite lacking magical powers. Neville's family employed extreme lengths to coax out any magical powers he might possess, most likely fearing the social stigma that having a Squib family member, particularly a pure-blood one, generates.