Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Harry Potter Reread: Philosopher's Stone

 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Potter fever is ramping up this year thanks to two exciting new projects: the eighth story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will be debuting in London's West End on July 30 and the first in a new movie trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will hit theaters in November. In preparation, I decided to revisit my most beloved series and blog about it. (Besides, I don't really need an excuse to reread Harry Potter.)

Origin Story

A lot of people credit the Harry Potter series as the reason they fell in love with books and became avid readers. However, I was already a book nerd long before Harry Potter came along. But when I first read it, I knew it was special. I had never fell so completely in love with a fictional world before. Reading Harry Potter for the first time was like finding something I had always been searching for. And now whenever I reread the series, it feels like coming home. I first read Harry Potter when I was about 10 or 11. Now I'm in my mid-20s and the books still give me feels. 

I was first introduced to Harry Potter by my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Morgan. She read out loud to us a little bit every day. Before she read it, I had never heard of Harry Potter. The first time, she only read about one or two chapters but that was enough for me. I immediately went to my local book store and bought my own copy. (Or, rather, my mom bought it for me. Thanks Mom!) 

I devoured the first book, so when my teacher read it to us, I already knew what was going to happen. Mrs. Morgan was a great reader, though, so I still enjoyed it. Even after all these years, when I reread the book, I can still remember her tone and inflection during certain parts. I am forever so thankful to her for introducing me to Harry Potter. 


Things I Noticed This Time Around

-Harry is remarkably well-adjusted for a child who has been abused and neglected for nearly eleven years. So I had a thought: Harry's mother died to save him, an act of love so powerful that it gave him protection against Voldemort, and later, Professor Quirrell (working for Voldemort.) But did her sacrifice give him psychological protection as well? Was Harry subconsciously aware that he was loved? Did that make it somewhat easier to deal with the abuse? 

-The Dursleys have four bedrooms in their house and yet they make Harry sleep in the cupboard under the stairs for over a decade. I never really noticed how cruel and selfish that was. It's a really small detail but once I noticed it, it just made me hate the Dursleys even more. 

-Hagrid is so wonderful. I had always loved his character but I didn't really appreciate him that much until I noticed just how awful the Dursleys were. The very first thing that Hagrid does when he arrives to give Harry his letter is to feed him and make sure he is cared for. 

-How do the Dursleys get back to the shore if Harry and Hagrid took the boat?

-Peeves is such an asshole. I love him.

-The screaming book in the Restricted section - is it part of a spell that keeps unauthorized students from reading the restricted books? Because otherwise, why keep a book in a library that just screams at anyone who tries to read it? 

-When Snape confronts Quirrell in the forest, he says 'Students aren't supposed to know about the Philosopher's Stone, after all.' Presumably, these students are Harry, Ron, and Hermione. But how does he know that they know about the Stone? Is it because of Occlumency? I'm willing to bet that it is because there are several hints throughout the book that Snape is reading Harry's mind. 

Favorite Parts/Lines

-'It's lucky it's dark. I haven't blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs.' pg. 14

-The poem on the door of Gringotts bank. For some reason, it gives me goosebumps. Probably because it's so brilliantly written - and also because it's a little bit sinister.

-'So we've just got to try on the hat!' Ron whispered to Harry. 'I'll kill Fred, he was going on about wrestling a troll.' pg. 89

-When Harry sees his family for the first time in the Mirror of Erised, it makes me cry.

-Of course, one of my favorite chapters is Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback. I love dragons!

-'Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good.' pg. 216 (Excuse me while I sob all over the place.)

Final Thoughts

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as one of the earlier books in the series, feels the most like a traditional children's book. But it is so much more than that. This book always manages to make me laugh, cry, and wish, for the thousandth time, that I got my very own Hogwarts letter. 

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