Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Quotes and Analysis

I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr. Potter. Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather--just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother--why, its brother gave you that scar...Curious indeed how these things happen. The wand chooses the wizard, remember..."

Mr. Ollivander, Page 85

This quotation occurs early in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," during Harry's first trip to Diagon Alley with Hagrid. Although Harry has only just learned of his magical abilities, he is almost immediately connected to Lord Voldemort through the twin phoenix feathers. Harry's existence as a wizard and his relationship to Voldemort are both deeply-rooted aspects of his character. At this point in the text, Harry is unaware of the extent of his connection with Voldemort, but Rowling highlights this relationship as early as possible in order to color Harry's behavior throughout the rest of the book. Mr. Ollivander's assertion that the "wand chooses the wizard" is also significant in terms of the theme of choice that Rowling expresses in the novel: Harry's wand chooses him in the same way that he can choose which direction his life as a wizard will go.

Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign...to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection foever. It is in your very skin.

Professor Dumbledore, Page 299

This quotation appears near the end of the book, after Harry has faced Voldemort and Professor Quirrell in the dungeons beneath Hogwarts. For the first time in the narrative, Rowling explains the reason why Harry was able to survive Voldemort's killing curse after he killed both of his parents. Lily Potter's decision to sacrifice herself for her infant son created an ancient form of protection over Harry that Voldemort had not accounted for and resulted in him nearly destroying himself. Voldemort is incapable of understanding love, and, despite the many similarities between Harry and Voldemort, it is this inability that truly distinguishes from the two. While Harry is able to be a loyal friend and depend upon Hermione and Ron, Voldemort is alone, forever isolated by his refusal to acknowledge the power of love. The power of love alone is not enough to defeat Voldemort completely, but it does give Harry a kind of power that Voldemort can never hope to grasp.

Not Slytherin, eh?...Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that--no? Well, if you're sure--better by GRYFFINDOR!

The Sorting Hat, Page 121

This passage occurs during the Sorting at Hogwarts, just after Harry has arrived to school on the Hogwarts Express. Although Harry does not know much about Slytherin House, he has already decided that he does not want to be a member of the same dormitory that housed Voldemort and many other dark wizards. The Sorting Hat recognizes that Harry has many qualities that would be prized in Slytherin House and seems to be leaning in that direction until Harry demands to be placed in any other house. The other first-year students at Hogwarts merely put on the Sorting Hat and wait to be placed in one of the four houses. Yet Harry refuses to take a passive position when it comes to the course of his life. His view of Slytherin House may be prejudiced, but he still makes an active choice in determining where he will be placed. It is this choice that establishes Harry's bravery and determination as a character, as well as introducing a major theme of the novel: choice. Without Harry's decision NOT to be sorted into Slytherin House, the entire course of the book and his development as a wizard would have been changed, and perhaps Harry would have followed in Voldemort's footsteps after all.

I met him when I traveled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it...

Professor Quirrell, Page 291

This passage occurs when Harry comes face to face with Professor Quirrell (and Voldemort) in the dungeons of Hogwarts. Harry finally begins to understand Voldemort's power to corrupt and the fine line between good and evil in the wizarding world. Professor Quirrell began as a "good" wizard but, after meeting Voldemort in Albania, developed a skewed perception of morality based entirely on power and those who are strong enough to seize it. Even though he tries to kill Harry, Professor Quirrell is still a somewhat sympathetic character because of the extent of control that Voldemort has over him. Quirrell's obedience to Voldemort is based on fear and personal weakness rather than loyalty or love: Rowling suggests that resisting Voldemort and his seductive power requires far more personal strength than many wizards possess.

Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.

Professor Dumbledore, Page 298

Professor Dumbledore is one of the few characters in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone who calls Voldemort by his actual name, rather than "the Dark Lord," "Who-Know-Who," or "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." When Harry uses Voldemort's name, he does so in large part because of his sheltered upbringing in the Muggle world. By living with the Dursleys in Little Whinging, Harry was not exposed to the emotions and fears that were associated with Voldemort, even after his disappearence. Ron Weasley, on the other hand, was brought up in a world that was still terrified by the memory of Voldemort and his tyrannical actions. If Voldemort is called by his proper name, Dumbledore asserts, he does not become elevated to the status of a sort of mythical boogie-man. He is a dark wizard but not a god, and the use of euphemisms will only help him to continue his reign of terror over the witches and wizards of Britain.

You couldn't find two people who are less like us. And they've got this son--I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!...These people will never understand him! He'll be famous--a legend--I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future--there will be books written about Harry--every child in our world will know his name!

Minerva McGonagall, Page 13

This quotation occurs early in the book, right after Harry's parents have been killed and Professor Dumbledore decides to leave Harry with his Muggle aunt and uncle. Professor's McGonagall's arguments against leaving Harry with the Dursleys--that they will never understand him and will overlook him in favor of spoiling Dudley--are actually some of the reasons that Professor Dumbledore uses to support his decision. Because of his wizarding background and status as "the boy-who-lived," Harry has no chance to live a normal life if he remains a presence in the magical world. Harry's life with the Dursleys will not be a happy one, but he will be protected from the facts of the wizarding world and his parents murder until he is old enough to understand what happened. Moreover, by leaving him with the Dursleys, Professor Dumbledore ensures that Harry will be modest and unspoiled, not brought up with the vision of himself as the god-like wizard who defeated Voldemort. By the time Harry becomes a student at Hogwarts, he is mature enough to deal with the wizarding world and the facts surrounding his parents' death without viewing himself in an idealize light.

Knew! Of course we knew! How could you not be, my dratted sister being what she was? Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to that--that school--and came home every vacation with her pockets full of frog spawn, turning teacups into rats. I was the only one who saw her for what she really was--a freak!

Petunia Dursley, Page 53

This quotation occurs shortly after Hagrid has told Harry about being a wizard. Up until this point in the novel, Rowling has presented Vernon and Petunia Dursley as the worse kind of Muggles: close-minded, ignorant, and unappreciative of people who are different or special. With this passage, it becomes clear that Vernon and Petunia are not as oblivious as it would seem: not only are they both aware of the wizarding world, but Petunia is particularly resentful of the magical school that turned her sister, Lily, into a "freak." With that in mind, Vernon and Petunia's attempts to smother Harry's magical instincts (albeit with neglect and cruelty) can be seen as misguided attempts protect Harry from himself and to cure him of his natural inclination to be a "freak" like his mother. This quotation proves that Professor Dumbledore's decision to leave Harry with the Dursleys was a sound one. Even though the Dursleys know of the wizarding world, they are so against it that Harry is brought up with no knowledge of his true background and is able to spend his childhood without being haunted by Voldemort.

It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, more desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.

Professor Dumbledore, Page 213

This passage occurs after Harry has become entranced with the Mirror of Erised. Professor Dumbledore attempts to explain how the mirror works but also to give Harry a warning about the dangers of desire. After seeing his parents in the mirror only once, Harry is already obsessed with the vision of his family and is preoccupied with thoughts of the mysterious mirror all day. Although Ron also sees his most earnest desires in the mirror--to finally escape from the shadow of his successful older brothers--he does not become as obsessed with it because his desires are not as deeply-rooted as Harry's desire to know his family. In this quotation, Professor Dumbledore outlines a choice for Harry: he can either spend his life looking backward, longing for a family that he is doomed never to know, or he can move forward and not allow his character to be wholly shaped by the murder of his parents. Significantly, this lesson about desire and choice is one that appears as the final challenge to find the Sorcerer's Stone. Professor Quirrell and Voldemort are unable to retrieve the Stone from within the Mirror of Erised because they both desire to use it. Yet, Harry, firm in the belief that desire translates into neither "knowledge or truth", is able to take the Stone from the Mirror and keep Voldemort from acheiving his twisted desires.

I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses...I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death--if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.

Professor Snape, Page 137

This passage occurs during Harry's first Potions class with Professor Snape. From his first introduction in the text, Professor Snape is presented in a malevolent light. Instead of serving as a supportive teacher who truly wants his students to understand the craft of potion-making, Professor Snape torments his students and seems to take real pleasure in making them uncomfortable or unhappy. Because of Professor Snape's malignant behavior, Harry readily believes that Snape is still loyal to Voldemort and intends to steal the Sorcerer's Stone; Harry is too blinded by his prejudice to realize that Professor Quirrell is actually the threat. Professor Snape's conflicting nature -- with elements of both good and bad intentions -- allows Rowling to characterize him as an expression of moral ambiguity in this and later books. The distinction between good and evil is not black and white, and, as Rowling demonstrates, a seemingly evil character such as Professor Snape is also capable of being inherently good.

Don't you understand? If Snape gets hold of the Stone, Voldemort's coming back! Haven't you heard what it was like when he was trying to take over? There won't be any Hogwarts to get expelled from! He'll flatten it, or turn it into a school for Dark Arts! Losing points doesn't matter anymore, can't you see? D'you think he'll leave you and your families alone if Gryffindor wins the house cup? If I get caught before I can get to the Stone, well, I'll have to go back to the Dursleys and wait for Voldemort to find me there, it's only dying a bit later than I would have, because I am never going over to the Dark Side! I'm going through that trapdoor tonight and nothing you two say is going to stop me! Voldemort killed my parents, remember?

Harry Potter, Page 270

This passage occurs when Harry is trying to convince Ron and Hermione that they need to break the school rules to try to protect the Sorcerer's Stone. Although Harry's information is inaccurate at this point in the novel -- he believes that Professor Snape is after the Stone rather than Professor Quirrell -- he already has grasped the importance of rebelling against rules in necessary situations. The rules at Hogwarts are meant to protect the students, but there is a larger threat that overshadows these rules, and Harry realizes that some rules need to be broken in favor of the bigger picture. Hermione is one example of a student who is so preoccupied with following Hogwarts rules that she is incapable of recognizing their insignificance. Because of Harry's tragic background and loss of his parents, he realizes that some things are more important than rules, and saving lives is one of them.