Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone deals with the journey of Harry Potter from a boy who lives in a cupboard to the boy who is known to every person in the wizarding world. Illustrating every character’s similar journey throughout the book is something Rowling does quite well. Her narrative style itself is quite engaging. But by giving the characters some very distinctive quotes to tell them apart, Rowling excels in building some very lovable characters and a very immersive text – something that a children’s book must-have.
Courage and Bravery
It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.
These lines are uttered by Professor Dumbledore in the last chapter. During the end of the year feast, Dumbledore is in the middle of awarding house points to Harry, Hermione, and Ron and it eventually ends up as a tie between Gryffindor and Slytherin houses. Finally, he utters these lines and awards Neville Longbottom 10 points for standing up to Harry, Ron, and Hermoine when they were trying to break school rules.
This is one of the most significant quotes in the book as it tackles the very nature of bravery which is something Gryffindor house is known for. Neville, who has been bullied and pushed around by elders all his life, becomes the hero who gets Gryffindor the House Cup.
Dumbledore acknowledges the subtlety of standing up to one’s friends to protect our innate belief of what is right. Children need to understand at an early age that the world is not ‘black and white’ and that sometimes, our very friends, who we think are good people, might be making mistakes. It is commendable to show them the right way than to accept what they do as the right thing. After all, it is easy to stand up to someone who we know is clearly in the wrong. But it takes a great deal of internal debate and moral fiber to stand up to someone whom we fear losing, like our friends.
Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.
These lines are also spoken by Professor Dumbledore, in the last chapter of the book. Harry and Professor Dumbledore are discussing the events of Voldemort and Quirrell being defeated at the hands of Harry and his friends. When Harry refers to Voldemort as ‘You know who’, Dumbledore says this in return.
These lines work strongly for the book in several layers. Firstly, it illustrates how closely Dumbledore tutors Harry which becomes essential in the later books. Dumbledore teaches Harry how to tackle his fears and tells him to be brave.
Secondly, this line outlines a very essential trait of fear itself. Fear stems from our belief that what we fear is bound to cause us inconvenience or danger. We usually fear something before we encounter it. So, what we usually fear is its name or our understanding of what it might be. It is this uncertainty that forces us to fear something. When we do encounter it, it may even cease to be dangerous at all. Even in this case, Harry did fear Voldemort, but clearly, he defeated Voldemort and therefore is stronger. Dumbledore is subtly hinting at this nature of fear and is training Harry to become a braver person.
There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.
These lines are quoted by the narrator at the end of the tenth chapter of the book immediately after Harry, Ron and Hermione save each other from a mountain troll. Before this event, Harry and Ron were friends, but Hermione was just their classmate, and Ron had made fun of her for acting like a know-it-all. However, this moment cements their friendship which spans across the seven books. This moment is crucial in the book also because they make their first strong assumption as to why the troll came in and who might be responsible for stealing the Philosopher’s Stone.
These lines illustrate the circumstances of a strong friendship. Despite not being close at all, and having resented each other before this event, Harry and Ron become friends with Hermione. This event brings them together because it is such a ‘specific’ circumstance to experience with someone else.
Like these lines illustrate, friendship is a beautiful connection between people who have been through a situation together. Situations like these create strong memories and a connection coupled with a feeling of relatability with each other. Furthermore, these lines define exactly why Harry, Ron, and Hermione are friends – together, they have a knack to spot trouble and triumph over it with their collective abilities as we see throughout the series.
Power and Evil
There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.
These lines are spoken by Professor Quirrell which are in turn what Lord Voldemort preached to him. He tells this to Harry amidst their battle in the last chapter of the book.
This quote is very significant for this book and the rest of the series because J.K. Rowling sheds light on the thought process of the antagonist Lord Voldemort through these lines. By examining these words, it becomes clear that Voldemort is the way he is because he sees power as the most meaningful aspect of life. This shows that he is not just an evil being with no meaning. Instead, he is the extremity of any possible person if they were to abandon everything else that is beautiful in this world, solely to fulfill their immense greed for power and control.
It also contrasts Harry’s character and precisely sheds light on how enjoyable life can still be without seeking absolute power. Finally, it also shows exactly why Harry would never fall for Voldemort’s justification of there being no good and evil. Harry doesn’t seek power, he merely seeks closure and love.
Mentorship and Wisdom
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
These lines are spoken by Professor Dumbledore in Chapter 12 when he is talking to Harry about the Mirror of Erised. After Harry finds out that the mirror shows his parents, he sits in front of it every day. When Dumbledore notices this, he tells Harry that the mirror shows our deepest desires and then says these lines.
This quote is one of the most philosophical ones in this book. It tackles several aspects of the human condition and acknowledges how much we are driven by dreams, illusions and desires and fail to usually see reality as it is.
In Harry’s case, he has been brought up all his life without knowing his parents, so this huge desire to see them makes him want it to be true. However, Dumbledore cautions him of the consequences and teaches him that one mustn’t use dreams as an alternative to living.
This quote also illustrates the beginning of a long mentor-protégé relationship between Dumbledore and Harry. This conversation both helps Harry dwell in reality thereby appreciating it, and eventually helps him defeat Lord Voldemort when he gets the Philosopher’s stone out of the mirror of Erised.
Eccentricity and Mystery
Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
Eccentricity and mystery play an important role throughout this book. With magic as its key premise, this book merely shows the surface of the magical world with the reader wanting to dig deeper. This utterance by Albus Dumbledore occurs in the seventh chapter at the school reopening feast. Immediately after he says these words, food appears on the plates laid at the table.
There have been several theories about what these words could mean. One of the most popular theories is that those are the names of the four house elves responsible for sending food to each house table.
However, it works like a literary device that illustrates how eccentric someone as genius as Dumbledore can be. It could also be interpreted as a situation which small children wouldn’t easily understand but are fascinated by – like adulthood. There are things in this world that children’s minds simply cannot comprehend. But it doesn’t stop them from getting fascinated by what they see.
Magic itself is mysterious and eccentric and yet people are fascinated by it and want to see more. Dumbledore, to an extent in Harry’s mind, stands for all that is fascinating to know about magic. It might have to do with Dumbledore’s reputation as the wisest yet oddly eccentric wizard built by Hagrid, Ron, and several others as they met Harry.
This also includes the fact that Harry knows Voldemort is only scared of Dumbledore. It allows him to trust Dumbledore and have faith in him, eventually learning a lot about magic from him. These eccentricities further incite curiosity in both the readers and Harry to explore the character of Dumbledore.
How does the first Harry Potter book start?
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the series, starts with the lines – “Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” The book starts from the perspective of common people like the Dursleys who do not understand magic and then slowly introduces the magical world.
What is the full name of Dumbledore?
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is the full name of Albus Dumbledore. Percival is his father’s name. He is usually referred to as Headmaster, or in some cases, Professor Dumbledore. Some friends or people who are close to him refer to him as Albus or even Dumbledore.
Did Snape know that Voldemort was in Quirrell’s head?
No, Snape didn’t know that Voldemort was in Quirrell’s head, under the turban. However, Snape kept a very close eye on Quirrell probably on Dumbledore’s orders. He constantly threatened Quirrell to give away his plan, and also tried to save Harry by reciting counter hexes for Quirrell’s hexing of Harry’s broom during the Quidditch match.