Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Review

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is one of the most popular children’s books ever written. It is a story about the triumph of love and bravery over evil.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a very engaging read for children and adults alike. Since it is the first book in this series, we are introduced to an entirely new world in this book. The world of magic slowly builds itself as we read through the book. The genius of this book is using the protagonist Harry’s discovery of this world to parallel the readers’.

Furthermore, despite several hardships and literally being an orphan who never knew love, Harry still recognizes love and affection when he sees it. While this book is memorable for a plethora of reasons, some elements of Rowling’s writing triumph as winners.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Review


Discovering the Story World and Magic as a Metaphor

J. K. Rowling does a great job writing this story with an omniscient third-person narrative, but still keeping the narrator wherever Harry is for a major part of this book. This makes the reader’s fascination and interest in the world of magic as new and real as Harry’s. We are introduced to several facts and significant peculiarities of the world of magic, all of which seem very consistently developed, adding authenticity to it. 

While there are a lot of similarities between the real world and the world of magic, the differences are usually peculiar and downright funny at times. Platform nine and three quarters, running through a brick wall, ghosts roaming freely and talking to living people, and many other peculiarities add to the charm of creating an interesting story world. One could go on to theorize that calling non-magic people muggles and portraying the Dursleys as ordinary people who hate things like magic has a metaphorical purpose. 

It furthers the cause and appeals to the readers to be more imaginative and creative. Magic is a metaphor for imagination in this case. The Dursleys are scared of anything out of the ordinary. They spend their entire day doing mundane tasks they assign meaning to and criticize almost anything and anyone that doesn’t fit their design.

On the contrary, Harry, despite being ill-treated and not loved by the Dursleys, has a flair for imagination and creativity. It didn’t take very long for him to get used to the wizarding ways and he very clearly had the potential to do great things after all. This book is in its essence, an inspiration for readers to make dreams come true and bravely follow the dreams despite obstacles. It is an apt narrative for children who at their age, tend to discover new things and ideas to develop. 

Good vs Evil and Heroism

The trope of a savior standing up to the tyrant is not new. However, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone being a children’s book delves into this slowly. When Harry is unaware of magic and thinks that his parents died in an accident, he is a normal child with very little to think about good, evil, and the need for heroism.

However, once he is informed of the actual circumstances of his parents’ death, and after discovering magic, he gains new insights and his worldview significantly changes. His sense of responsibility and the need to stop Voldemort at any cost from getting to the Philosopher’s Stone set the path for his heroism. This transition happens slowly, yet it feels very natural. He doesn’t know what he will do if he faces Voldemort. Despite this naive understanding of consequences, he still chooses to face Voldemort. 

This portrayal of heroism is quite commendable as it appeals to the very cause of wanting to stop the wrongdoing. The fact that a eleven-year-old boy and his two friends thwart a feared dark wizard from stealing the Philosopher’s Stone in a school that has so many adults who are way more experienced and well equipped to do it, portrays heroism at its purest form. Heroism is more the choice to take action against evil than the ability to stop evil. This book does a good job illustrating this subtlety.

Sacrifice in Harry Potter

Sacrifice is an essential part of this novel. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone uses sacrifice to define both friendship and love. Harry’s parents die because they sacrifice themselves to protect Harry. Ron sacrifices himself while playing Wizard chess. Several people who fought in the war against Voldemort sacrificed themselves for the well-being of the collective community. 

The trope of sacrifice plays a major role in setting up differences in morality between the good and the evil. As Dumbledore points out to Harry, Voldemort does not understand love. The fact that Harry understands love and values it, sets a specific difference in choices that Harry and Lord Voldemort make.

Harry is willing to sacrifice himself when he takes over the task of protecting the Philosopher’s Stone. On the contrary, Voldemort uses others for his selfish motives. This stark difference between willing to sacrifice oneself and using others as a shield to protect oneself, makes all the difference and definitively separates good and evil in this book.

FAQs

Why was Harry Potter banned?

Harry Potter was banned in a catholic school in Nashville, Tennessee because of fear of evil spirits. Some other places have also banned Harry Potter books for similar religious fears. Some religious leaders were concerned that the spells and enchantments mentioned in the book were real and that they could summon evil spirits and dark magic.

Is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone worth reading for an adult?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is definitely worth reading for an adult. While it was written as a children’s book, it has outlived this label and there are people of all ages who not only read these books but also engage in community discussions and have fun playing games inspired by these books. Many people have found reading this book a very rewarding experience as is evident from the sales and fame this book has garnered across all demographics.

Should I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or watch the movie? 

While the movie is undoubtedly well made and a thrill to watch, the books are far more detailed and a very thrilling read. Most people who have both read the books and watched the movies always choose the former as a better experience. Furthermore, there are several interesting and amusing characters and scenes in the book that the movie couldn’t incorporate. So, one would be missing out on a lot if one doesn’t read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Review - A Thrilling Read
  • Story
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Writing Style
  • Dialogue
  • Conclusion
  • Lasting effect on the reader
4.5

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Book Review

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling is a thrilling read that hooks the reader from page one. Published in the year 1997, it is one of the highest grossing novels ever written. Some elements of the novel like its elaborate yet accessible world-building makes it a very entertaining read for children and adults alike. It follows the story of an orphan boy named Harry Potter who realizes he is a wizard and the rest of the book records his journey as a young wizard in Hogwarts, a school of magic. This book, and the series as a whole have been a definitive part of an entire generation’s childhood and have garnered very high praise as an entertaining read.

Pros

  • The plot is entertaining and is a very immersive read.
  • Has a lot of early lessons for children on morality.
  • The characters are well developed and the story world is well structured and interesting.

Cons

  • The writing style may be a bit rudimentary for adult avid readers.
  • Several instances of Deux Ex Machina make the protagonist’s position very safe and lacking any real danger.
  • Some mild instances of body shaming exist within the novel.
About Mohandas Alva
Mohandas graduated with a Master's degree in English literature. He is very passionate about deciphering the nature of language and its role as a sole medium of storytelling in literature. His interests sometimes digress from literature to philosophy and the sciences but eventually, the art and craft of narrating a significant story never fail to thrill him.
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