Introduction of “Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, was first published in June 1997, and almost achieved instant success. It has been translated to over thirty languages. There has been made a movie upon the first book, and was released 19th November. The second movie is in the making. Harry Potter has won several awards, including triple “Smarties Gold Award Winner”
The famous author
Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born on 31st of July in 1965, in Bristol, England. When Rowling was five or six she remembers, she wrote as story about a rabbit called Rabbit. She had always been amazed by the unnatural, some of her memories pointing towards when her father read ”The Dream of Narnia” for her when she was ill. Not much later the family moved to Winterbourne, where she and her sister played with the children in the neighbourhood. There two of the children had the surname Potter, a name she remembers liking very much. Her name, pronounced “Rolling”, was mocked much by other children at school. At the age of nine, her family moved again, and this time they moved to Tutshill near Chepstow. She went to high school at Wyedean Comprehensive, where her favourite subject was English. Rowling took her degree in French at Exeter University and spent one year studying in Paris. As a postgraduate, she moved to London to work for Amnesty International. It was in 1990 on a train trip from Manchester to London, that she got the idea of a boy who was a wizard, but didn’t know it. “I was travelling on a train between Manchester an London” she recalls “and it just popped into my head. I spent four hours thinking about what Hogwarts would be like – the most interesting train journey I’ve ever taken. By the time I got off at King’s Cross many of the characters in the books had already been invented”. Joanne Rowling then moved to Portugal to teach English as a second language. She worked afternoons and evenings, leaving mornings free for writing. There she got married to a Portuguese TV journalist, who she later divorced. With an infant and a suitcase filled with Harry Potter notes and chapters, she settled in Edinburgh to be close to her sister and finish the book before looking for a job.
When miss Rowling finished her book and sent it to publishers, it was rejected several times before she found a London agent, Christopher Little, who sold the manuscript to Bloomsbury Children’s Books. Scholastic Press bought the American rights for $105,000.00. The advance for the American edition made it possible for Rowling to quit her job and write full-time. Rowling was working as a French teacher when she got to know that her book had been accepted for publication.
Summary of the story
The beginning of the book takes place in the morning in the dull lives of the Dursleys nearly 11 years earlier. But this day is not an ordinary. Not did the Dursleys know that after that day they would have one more family member. That night Harry Potter is left in front of their door with a letter explaining why he is here. Harry Potter grows up with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, his late mother’s sister, and his fat and plump cousin, Dudley. He is treated badly, poorly fed, has to wear Dudley’s old clothes, and he lives in a cupboard beneath the stairs.
Harry Potter doesn’t know who he is or who his parents were. His aunt told him that they died in a car-crash. A couple of days before Harry’s 11th birthday, he receives a letter without the sender’s name or address. Harry can’t think of anybody who would write to him, since he never ever had got a letter from anybody before. His uncle takes the letter from him and destroys it. But that didn’t help. The next days the house gets “showered” with letters from same sender, and Uncle Vernon goes mad and takes his family far away to some lonely outhouse on a rock far out at sea. Then exactly at the second he turns 11 years old, a giant bursts through the door of the outhouse. That’s when Hagrid, the giant, tells Harry his true identity. Harry Potter is a wizard. His parents, Lily and James Potter who were wizards as well, didn’t die in a car crash, but by the evil and monstrous Lord Voldemort. He is told he has been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and that he is famous and everybody in their world, not "muggles", which is the name magic people use for non-magic people, knows who he is.
Hagrid takes Harry shopping in Diagon Alley, where one can buy all the equipment one needs to practise magic. After that he travels to Hogwarts and makes some new friends, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger, but also some enemies, Draco Malfoy with his “gang”, Crabbe and Goyle. After arriving at Hogwarts the first-year students are sorted in “Houses”, which is their home when they are at Hogwarts, by a Sorting Hat. The four houses at Hogwarts are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin (Lord Voldemort went to Hogwarts in Slytherin). Harry is sorted into Gryffindor, even though the Sorting Hat thought Harry would do well in Slytherin, but Harry wishes for himself “not in Slytherin, not in Slytherin”, and the Sorting Hat puts him in Gryffindor.
Later they have a flying lesson (on broomsticks) where Harry’s talent on broomsticks comes forth, and he becomes the Seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. He is the youngest seeker in a century, and the only first-year student to play. He nearly died during a match, when the broom went amok and he nearly fell off. After this he, Ron and Hermoine do extraordinary and surprising things, not necessary positive things. Ron and Harry save Hermoine from an escaped troll, they lurk around the hallways after bedtime, which is totally forbidden, and can give consequences like loss pf points for the House-cup, detention and so on.
By some incidents Harry, Ron and Hermoine find out about the Philosopher’s stone, which produces elixir of life (which will extend your life) and turns any metal to gold. At first they suspect that Professor Snape, who doesn’t like Harry at all, is trying to get a hold of the stone for himself, but later suspect that Snape is trying to get the stone for Voldemort. A three-headed dog, named Fluffy, dark arts magic, logic, a mountain troll, flying ability and the mirror of Erised, guard the stone.
The three friends are convinced that it is Snape who is trying to get a hold of the stone. But when Harry manages to get closer to the stone, after putting Fluffy to sleep and getting past all the tests and traps that were guarding the stone, he comes to the mirror of Erised (desire). There he just cannot believe his eyes. Instead of Snape, Professor Quirrell is standing there trying to figure out what needs to be done to come past the mirror. It was Quirrell all along who had tried to kill Harry during a Quidditch match, and done all other suspicious things, even though it seemed like Snape all the time. Quirrell was the one trying to steal the stolen for Voldemort and now they were about to have a great duel where Harry alone was against Lord Voldemort and his servant Quirrell. Harry gets the stone and wins the duel, which does so that Voldemort leaves Quirrell’s body and vanishes.
Weeks later Harry wakes up in the hospital wing, surrounded by gifts and sweets. Professor Dumbledore comes and explains him how he managed to win over Voldemort and why Voldemort/Quirrell couldn’t touch him, since his skin blistered if touched.
The year at Hogwarts is finished, and Gryffindor wins the House-cup thanks to Harry and his friends. Harry doesn’t want to back to the Dursleys for the summer-holidays, since the students are forbidden to use magic outside the school. But of course, there is no harm in threatening him a little, is there?
The main characters
Harry Potter is the main character in this story. The book is about him at his first year at Hogwarts. In the beginning of the book he doesn’t know who he is or who his parents are. He lives with his late mother’s sister, Aunt Petunia, her husband and their son. Later he gets to know that he is a wizard and his parents were wizards as well. He is famous to all the wizards and witches, because he survived a deadly battle with the Great Lord Voldemort. Lord Voldemort killed Harry’s mother, Lily Potter, and father, James Potter. But because Harry was loved deeply by his mother he was protected from everything, which was evil. That was why Quirrell full of hatred, greed and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch him.
Dudley Dursley is Harry’s obnoxious and plump cousin. Harry thinks that Dudley looks like a pig with a wig. Dudley is a spoilt and violent boy. He gets everything he wants and doesn’t have to do anything for it. He likes punching Harry in the nose, which has caused Harry’s glasses to break in the middle, and eating. Dudley’s parents, Petunia and Vernon Dursley, are as obnoxious as Dudley. They treat Harry as if he didn’t exist.
Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger are Harry’s best friends. Throughout the book they stick together and help each other to the verge of death. Ron is the next youngest in his quite poor family. He wears his older brothers’ cloaks and gets their old stuff needed for Hogwarts. Hermoine is born in a muggle family. Both her parents are non-magic. She is very intelligent and knows a lot of magic compared to Harry and Ron. She sometimes feels that Ron and Harry are hopeless, but is ready to stake her life for them.
Draco Malfoy is, in Harry’s opinion, a meaner and crueler version of Dudley. He is stuck up and thinks he knows better than everybody. He provokes Harry in many ways, but the situations they end up in, only turn out for the better for Harry.
What does J. K. Rowling want to tell us?
Rowling entertains us with action filled experiences. She covers classic themes such as obedience to authority, non-racial intolerance, loyalty, friendship, competition, pride, tolerance, determination, challenges, teamwork, life-threatening struggles, consequences of behaviour and she creates an ending that will make you gasp in surprise during the final pages of the book.
Throughout most of the story the young heroes deal with a difficult puzzle to get the Sorcerer’s stone without any help whatsoever from adults. The Mirror of Erised (Desire) helps Harry to understand his internal conflict. The inscription around the top of the mirror translates: "I show not your face but your heart’s desire." Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, cautions Harry that the mirror "will give neither knowledge nor truth…." And he concludes, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
Some of the characters in the story are borrowed from Greek mythology like Hermione, some are given funny sounding names like Percy the Prefect, and others are given names that present insight into their character like Malfoy (the malevolent), Goyle (gargoyle) and Crabbe (the crab) his protectors. Truth is covered in mystery, yet is plainly obvious. We are introduced to characters that may or may not be what they seem. Fluffy is a three-headed monster. The sorting hat does sort and Voldemort is evil but Dumbledore is not dumb.
The evil Voldemort is difficult to defeat because he is hidden from sight in a most surprising place. Behind all the Zen-like Centaurs, trolls, unicorns, magic potions, spells, invisibility cloaks and assorted hocus-pocus, the story deals with some of the most important decisions we must all make during our lives. Should we be loyal to our flawed friends or should we befriend people who appear to have power? How valid are first impressions of others? What are the consequences of chasing great wealth and immortality? Should we always follow the rules and obey authority figures? What are the unwritten rules that affect our lives?
Like the Mirror of Erised and like much of what is true art, this book will bring forth different responses from different readers depending on their perspective. Some will get a philosophical message while others won’t get it at all. When I first read the book, I thought it was a nice book with much excitement, but for children. But after reading it again I felt that there is something deeper than that.
“Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone is a book I wouldn’t say no to reading again. Even though I have read it, I will read it again, just to notice details and hidden messages. It is has a very surprising ending. The ending came to me as a shock. How could it be Quirrell, and not Snape, who was trying to get the stone? Why was Snape trying to kill Harry then…and so on. A million question came to my head, but were all answered when Dumbledore talked to Harry in the hospital wing. While reading the book one has to use one’s imagination over the limit. The movie on the other hand, is like the book becoming alive. It has been filmed nearly exactly like the book describes. There are some things missing from time to time, and some characters missing as well, but I can with good conscience say, that the project of bringing Harry Potter to the movie screen is certainly a huge success.