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MonkeyNotes-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

Hogwarts

During Scholastic’s February 3 rd , 2000 interview, Rowling described Hogwarts in her own words: “a huge, rambling, quite scary-looking castle, with a jumble of towers and battlements. Like the Weasleys’ house, it isn't a building that Muggles could build, because it is supported by magic.”

“Logically it [Hogwarts] had to be set in a secluded place, and pretty soon I settled on Scotland in my mind. I think it was in subconscious tribute to where my parents had married. People keep saying they know what I based Hogwarts on--but they’re all wrong. I have never seen a castle anywhere that looks the way I imagine Hogwarts.” (Conversations, 38)

Name Origins - “Hogwarts” is a kind of flower. Rowling explained the origins in an SMH interview: “Ideas come from all sorts of places and sometimes I don't realise where I got them from. A friend from London recently asked me if I remembered when we first saw Hogwarts. I had no idea what she was talking about until she recalled the day we went to Kew Gardens and saw those lilies that were called Hogwarts. I'd seen them seven years before and they'd bubbled around in my memory. When Hogwarts occurred to me as a name for the school, I had no idea where it came from.”

Wizarding World / Muggle World Dichotomy

In a Scholastic interview, Rowling described the relationship between the Muggle and Wizarding worlds: “Uneasy co- existence! Harry discovers that life in the magical world mirrors, to a great extent, life in the Muggle world. We are all human. There's still bigotry and small-mindedness, unfortunately.”


“ ‘But what does a Ministry of Magic do?” ‘Well, their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that there’s still witches an’ wizards up an’ down the country.’ ‘Why?’

Why? Blimey, Harry, everone’d be wantin’ magic solutions to their problems. Nah, we’re best left alone.’ ”

This exchange between Harry and Hagrid (from Chapter Four) illustrates the relationship between the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. As Hagrid said, Wizards go out of their way to make sure that Muggles don’t realize that Wizards exist. Wizards use memory charms, invisibility charms (on Hogwarts, for example), and laws on the public use of magic in order to keep Muggles in the dark.

The separation between the Muggle and Wizarding worlds allows the story to be less complicated because the story can take place in an isolated fantasy world rather than having to interact with the real world.

Name Origins - The word “Muggle” comes from the English word mug, which means fool.

Was Harry Born in 1981?

In Book 2 (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Nearly Headless Nick celebrates his 500 th Deathday. The icing on his cake says that he died on October 31 st , 1492. Therefore the Deathday party is taking place on October 31 st , 1992. By that logic, Harry started at Hogwarts in September 1991 and was born in 1981. So this book starts out on November 1 st (All Saints Day), 1981--the day after Voldemort’s Halloween attack on Harry and his family.

The School Year: Harry’s Birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and Exams All four Harry Potter books are marked by the landmark dates of Dudley’s Birthday, Harry’s Birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and Exams.

The Sorcerer’s Stone starts off with Dudley’s birthday and Harry’s discovery of his magical powers.

Next, Harry’s birthday marks his induction into the Wizarding world at the hands of Hagrid. At this point the story shifts from a tale of Harry’s misery with the Dursleys to a tale about Harry’s exploring Hogwarts and the world of Wizarding at large.

On Halloween the stakes get higher when a troll is released into the school and almost kills Hermione. At this point the book’s focus shifts from Harry’s exploration of Hogwarts and the Wizarding world to Harry’s interest in the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Christmas marks a temporary high point in Harry’s life at Hogwarts: Harry receives his father’s cloak as a gift, sees his family in the Mirror of Esired, finds out that Flamel is the maker of the Sorcerer’s Stone, defeats Hufflepuff in Quidditch, and figures out that it’s Snape who’s trying to steal the Stone and that Quirrell is the Stone’s last hope. However, shortly after Christmas Harry experiences a fall and much difficulty.

Exams mark the absolute low point for Harry: the Gryffindors are mad at him for having lost points for sneaking out and, more importantly, Harry realizes he has only once chance left to save the Stone.

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