Warning: Spoilers for the ‘Harry Potter’ series.
So the other day I did a post about how I was going to reread the Harry Potter series for the first time in years. In that post I promised updates after reading each book, so here is the first of many!
My Thoughts Whilst Rereading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- I had completely forgotten the bit before Dumbledore and co. arrive on Privet Drive!
I don’t know why, but I always remembered the book as starting with McGonagall sitting in cat form on Privet Drive when Dumbledore arrives and starts putting out the lights. I completely forgot about the almost Roald Dahl-esque introduction you get to the Dursleys first, with Vernon Dursley going about his daily life, but noticing some very strange things happening but trying to ignore them.
I just love how this is the opening to the most beloved series of the last 20-odd years (probably more!), and it’s just so quirky!
- The Dursleys are just such a wonderfully terrible invention!
I’d forgotten until this reread just how awful but entertaining the Dursleys are! They seem like a satirical take on the typical middle-class, appearance obsessed family, and I love details like Vernon’s lack of neck and baby Dudley throwing cereal at the wall.
- It’s weird reading about all the celebrating witches and wizards that Vernon Dursley is trying so hard to ignore.
Even though logically I knew Voldemort’s downfall would be cause for huge celebration in the wider Wizarding World, the event is so tied up with sadness and darkness for Harry, I had never considered other people’s reactions somehow. I had totally forgotten this part of the book!
- Dumbledore’s beard tucked into his belt…
I’d forgotten this is part of Rowling’s initial description of Dumbledore, and I’m glad I didn’t remember this in the later books…
As wonderfully whimsical as it makes him seem, I wouldn’t be able to take him seriously talking about Horcruxes later in the series if I’d been imagining him with his beard tucked into his belt!
- Sirius Black’s first mention!
Although I had remembered that Hagrid had borrowed the the flying motorbike off Sirius, I hadn’t realised he was actually mentioned as early as this!
- I love the absurd lengths Vernon Dursley goes to to stop the Hogwarts letters arriving!
I really love the touch of the letters always being addressed to exactly where Harry is – ‘the cupboard under the stairs,’ and ‘The Floor, Hut-On-The-Rock’ – and the crazy lengths the Dursleys go to to stop him getting them.
- ‘Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune.’
Hagrid is literally the best!
- Harry really does take it all in his stride!
I feel like I probably would have been a bit more surprised than this if an enormous man had turned up and told me I was a wizard (or a witch in my case!).
- I love the comical way Hagrid reacts to Muggle things!
‘He kept pointing at perfectly ordinary things like parking meters and saying loudly, ‘See that Harry? Things these Muggles dream up, eh?’’
- Quirrell’s first appearance.
I’d forgotten that Harry first meets Quirrell in the Leaky Cauldron… It’s so weird to see him come across as a harmless, nervous guy when you know he actually has Voldemort sticking out the back of his head (or does he at that point? Maybe that’s only after the failed Gringott’s robbery seen as there’s no mention of his turban!).
- I’ve always loved the whole Gringotts/Diagon Alley section as an introduction to the Wizarding World.
Reading this bit back, I can really see why this series captured the hearts of a generation of children. Rowling’s world is so wonderfully imaginative, and she describes it in such a beautiful way.
No wonder we were all hoping for a Hogwarts Letter when we were kids!
- I’d forgotten Malfoy’s first introduction was actually in the robe shop.
And he’s unpleasant right from the off, even when he’s supposedly being friendly!
- Ah, the beautiful moment when Hedwig comes into Harry’s life!
I’d totally forgotten she was a birthday present from Hagrid!
- Why didn’t Hagrid just tell Harry how to get on the platform?
I loved the way it introduces the Weasley family though!
- I love the Harry and Ron train bonding!
One of J.K. Rowling’s greatest strengths I’ve always thought is characterisation, and the way she builds relationships between characters, and you can definitely see that in action on this first Hogwarts Express journey!
I love Harry and Ron’s immediate friendship, and them getting to know each other on the train.
- Hermione’s introduction.
Ah, Hermione, what a huge bossy boots you were! I mean, she kind of remained that way throughout the books, but just like Ron and Harry, that’s what we came to love about her.
It’s definitely interesting to read back her first meeting of her future husband: ‘You’ve got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?’
- Poor Hufflepuff!
I’d always just thought of the whole ‘Hufflepuff are a bit crap’ stereotype as being subtext but I hadn’t realised that several people basically say that before the sorting ceremony.
Hagrid says in Diagon Alley ‘everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’ duffers’, and Malfoy says he’d leave if he ended up in Hufflepuff. Plus when Ron and Hermione are saying where they’d like to be sorted they both conspicuously leave out Hufflepuff… What on earth is wrong with being considered ‘nice’?
- ’Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!’
Again, thanks to his seriousness in later books I always forget how wonderfully weird Dumbledore is!
I had forgotten about the school song he makes them sing as well (which never appears again in the later books), and how everyone gets to pick their own tune. I especially love that the Weasley twins choose a funeral dirge that goes on way longer than anyone else’s!
- How did Peeves not end up being in the films (or was he and I just don’t remember)? He’s hilarious!
’Ickle firsties! What fun!’
- How incredibly useless is the Rememberall really?
I generally just assume I’ve forgotten something, I don’t need to be told that…I need to be told what exactly I’ve forgotten!
- I love the introduction to life at Hogwarts!
I think this is the bit where as kids, we all wished we got to go to wizard school. As hard as the lessons sound, and as unpleasant as Snape is, doesn’t Transfiguration and Potions sound so much more interesting than Maths and Geography?
- The Midnight Duel.
I always totally forget about the Midnight Duel being the way in which they first discover Fluffy on the third floor corridor. It’s always begged the question though, of why that door could be opened by a simple unlocking charm in a school full of witches and wizards!
- The Quiddich explanation.
Can you remember back to a time when we didn’t know about Quiddich? When you look back at the rules you realise it’s actually an overly complicated game, but we love it anyway!
- The Invisibility Cloak.
Yay for the invisibility cloak! What would they have done without it, considering the number of night time adventure they end up going on throughout the books!
- The Weasley twins are just my favourite!
Literally every part they’re in is so funny! I love them coming in in their initialled jumpers at Christmas:
’”You haven’t got a letter on yours. I suppose she thinks you don’t forget your name. But we’re not stupid – we know we’re called Gred and Forge.”’
- How profound is the whole Mirror of Erised thing for a children’s book?
This book was written as a children’s book before Rowling or anyone knew it would be such a huge success across all age groups, so I love how it includes some really profound and emotional moments like Harry discovering the Mirror of Erised and seeing his parents.
I love when books don’t wrap kids up in cotton wool, or treat them like idiots, and I don’t think Rowling has ever shied away from including themes like grief and loneliness in her books.
Plus Dumbledore’s quote of ‘it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live’ is one of my favourites from the book!
- Hagrid and Norbert.
I love Hagrid treating a vicious little baby dragon like a baby!
- Whose idea was it to send kids into a dangerous forest as punishment?
And not only that, but split them up into groups that didn’t include an adult?
You’ve got to love Malfoy insisting on having Fang though, and then being told that the enormous dog is a coward!
- It doesn’t say much for the Hogwarts security measures when three first years pass through them so easily!
Fluffy, the Devil’s Snare, the keys, the chess, the troll and the potion…none of it seems to give Harry, Ron and Hermione too much trouble (well…aside from Ron getting knocked out, but as he says, it’s the only way!)!
- The Quirrell reveal!
This takes me back to how incredibly shocked I was when I first read this book that the culprit was really Quirrell and not Snape (ah, the early days when we thought Snape was just a straight-up bad guy!). Not as surprised and horrified as I remember being when he took off the turban…it’s actually so disturbing when you think about it!
- I have to agree with Dumbledore: getting the stone out of the Mirror of Erised was actually pretty genius!
The idea of only being able to take it if you didn’t want to use it is probably the only security measure they actually needed. I mean, why would anyone attempt to steal something they didn’t want?
Although that actually means that Harry put the stone in danger by trying to stop Quirrell taking it…if he hadn’t had been there he would have had no way of getting it.
- Again with the profound thing…
Dumbledore explaining about Lily’s sacrifice saving Harry is such an emotional moment in the book…you get a real sense of sadness that he never got to truly know his mother, but he knows that he was loved so much.
Even in this first book I’m getting all the feels! I’m seriously going to be a weepy mess by the time I make it to Deathly Hallows!
My Overall Thoughts:
- I’d forgotten how incredibly funny Rowling’s writing is.
Maybe because the later, much darker books have stuck better in my mind, I’d forgotten just how funny these books are.
From the character banter to the funny little narrative asides, I found myself smiling so much when reading this book!
- How did Dumbledore feel throughout this book?
Being reminded of Dumbledore’s initial depiction in this book made me wonder how much he knew about things that were to come, and how he felt about it.
Despite him being a great and powerful wizard, he very much comes across as someone’s whimsical grandpa in this book, which I loved. But did he know then about Harry being a Horcrux? He must surely have known about the prophecy? He says himself at the end that Voldemort will try over and over to return, so he must have known that his rise would be inevitable, and that Harry would be the key to stopping him once and for all.
So how did he feel, knowing he would spend the next few years leading Harry along like a lamb to the slaughter?
- This book is AMAZING!!!
I had kind of wondered if nostalgia had always coloured my perception of the Harry Potter books, and the Philosopher’s Stone in particular, but I can now confirm, having read it as an adult, it’s still amazing. Even as the shortest book, and the one Rowling wrote with the least experience, it still stands up as a wonderfully warm, funny and heart-warming book, and it’s easy to see how the world fell in love with this series.
Look out for my upcoming Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets post!
So what are some of your favourite moments from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Have you reread any of the Harry Potter books recently?