Rereading Harry Potter | The Philosopher’s Stone: ‘Harry – yer a wizard’

I reread Harry Potter a few months ago and I have finally gotten round to writing down my thoughts. It’s been about 10 years since I read the series last

DumbledoreRereading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is an experience that is much like finding an old, comfortable chair to sit in. Although not my introduction to the Harry Potter world (I started with book 3), it’s one that I did reread in childhood and remember vividly. One of my favourite things when rereading it is catching all of the little clues and hints Rowling drops towards future plotlines. In this book, there’s the mention of Hagrid borrowing the magic motorbike from ‘Young Sirus Black’, hints from Dumbledore about Harry’s future and the implication that Snape might be able to read minds. This is why I love rereading books; one of my favourite things is the dramatic irony you have from the perspective of an all-knowing reader.

This is a fun book that’s clearly aimed at children. It’s an adventure story and although it takes longer than I remembered to actually get to Hogwarts, once we are there we get thrown a lot of action. From finding Fluffy to being punished in the Forbidden Forest, we skip right past Christmas and the climax of the book happens very quickly. The mystery of the Philosopher’s Stone is a great one, and one that has spanned centuries and legends (it might even be recognisable) – it’s one that has a lore behind it so is easy to fit into this world. One of my favourite parts of this book is the challenges that the trio have to pass in order to get to the Philosopher’s Stone – the Devil’s Snare, the keys, the chess game and the potions. It’s really reminiscent of the kind of trials ancient Greeks demi-gods had to go through. It feels challenging enough for the characters to get past, but obviously doable with their unique strengths (this is for a younger audience after all).

One thing I didn’t pick up on when reading as a childand have been aware of in later years is how abusive Harry’s family are. I think I was aware of it in an abstract sort of fairytale-esque way in which parents are often cruel (see: the evil stepmother trope) but reading it as an adult I really appreciated the kind of situation and upbringing he has. This made the Mirror of Erised scene that much more heartbreaking to read. It also establishes Harry’s character really well.

Something I really enjoyed about this book and something that gets a little bit lost when you think of the larger picture and the films is that this book (and the rest in the series) aren’t just about the adventure but about friendships too. One of my favourite parts is when Hermione becomes Harry and Ron’s friend following the troll incident. I love seeing Hermione go from an annoying rule-following know-it-all to genuinely loosening up. It also solidifies the golden trio very early on in the series.

Philosopher's Stone CoverIf you have never read Harry Potter, this book might feel underwhelming. With the journey to Hogwarts taking a bit longer, the school year takes a hit and the ending is wrapped up fairly quickly with an antagonist that disappears. It does have the magic of discovering Hogwarts and that Harry is a wizard. The third-person narrative that is filtered through the lens of Harry works fantastically throughout the series as he is the outsider, like us, and he appreciates how cool being a wizard is. (This book also establishes that muggle parents can have magical children and if that doesn’t captivate every child under 11, I don’t know what will.) At the end of the day, this is a children’s book primarly and a solid one at that.

2 thoughts on “Rereading Harry Potter | The Philosopher’s Stone: ‘Harry – yer a wizard’

  1. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on Harry Potter. I have also recently re-read the first book after many years and I agree when you say it is “primarily a children’s book”. This never hit me as hard before but now re-reading it I see how every chapter is designed not to bore children and capture their attention – and that is why the events just move at the speed of light in the story. I also falsely remembered much description, but there was not much at all. The thing I love in the first two HP books is that they are “cosy” and are happening just within the castle. This has so much charm in comparison to stepping into the wider world in the rest of the series.


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