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MonkeyNotes-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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Notes

The Dursleys’ mantle shows the contrasting treatment Dudley and Harry receive. The mantelpiece is covered in photos of Dudley, but there’s none of Harry.

Harry’s dream of the motorcycle is the first of many of Harry’s dreams the reader will be privy too. As the book progresses, Harry’s dreams will focus more on the night of his parents’ death rather than the day after.

Rowling makes this sentence humorous by leaving the pertinent information until the end: “Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.”

The fact that Dudley receives a TV and a computer reflects Rowling’s disdain for society’s preference of watching television over reading and for over-reliance on technology. Note that Dudley does not get any books. Harry’s glasses reflect upon his love for reading.

Harry and Dudley are different not only in personality and the treatment they receive but also in appearance. Dudley’s blond hair and watery blue eyes are entirely unlike Harry’s untidy black hair and green eyes. More noticeable is the fact that Dudley is four times bigger than skinny little Harry.

Dudley’s demand for more presents reflects his growing up to be the perfect businessman, at least in Mr. Dursley’s eyes. Perhaps this is a commentary by Rowling on how greed is rewarded in today’s capitalist world.

Harry’s asking about his scar and the Durlseys' lying to him reflect the prince raised as pauper” theme. Harry is destined to be a hero among his kind, but he does not know it and is treated as worthless. Parallel characters include Luke of Star Wars and young Arthur of the King Arthur legends.

When Harry is too busy being glad he won’t have to spend time with Mrs. Figg to feel sorry for her broken leg, he seems more human as a character. As the book progresses, Harry becomes a more developed character as Rowling makes him easier to sympathize with by giving his personality both good and bad aspects. It’s hard to sympathize with a character that is perfect.


Mr. Dursley’s (note that now he’s called Uncle Vernon, reflecting Harry’s point of view) unbelievable callousness is evident when he objects to Aunt Petunia’s proposition that Harry be brought to the zoo and left in the car: “That car’s new, he’s not sitting in it alone.” The reader expects Vernon to object with something concerning Harry’s safety, but he’s actually more worried about a material possession than his nephew.

Harry’s memories of magical coincidences (his hair growing back, the shrinking sweater, the jump to the top of the school roof) foreshadow his future in wizardry. He cannot avoid his fate no matter how hard the Dursleys try to make him “normal.” This ties into the nature vs. nurture debate: how much of one’s personality comes from genetics and how much comes from the way one is raised? Despite Harry’s growing up among Muggles, he has magic in his blood.

Rowling uses foreshadowing again when she writes, “Harry felt, afterward, that he should have know it was all too good to last” right before the vanishing-glass scene.

Harry’s sympathy for the snake is evident in this line: “...no company except stupid people drumming their fingers on the glass trying to disturb it all day long. It was worse than having a cupboard as a bedroom, where the only visitor was Aunt Petunia hammering on the door to wake you up...” Harry and the snake are both mistreated, both are locked up in small quarters and summoned only when their “masters” need them to perform or work. Also like the snake, which was bred in the zoo and has never seen his native Brazil, Harry has never been to his “native land” among the wizards. You could say Harry is being raised in captivity by the Dursleys. Harry’s setting the snake free is parallel to the rebirth that Hogwarts provides for Harry.

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