HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE
ROWLING’S JOURNEY OF WRITING HER FIRST NOVEL
The idea of writing a book about an orphan in the form of Harry Potter series came to the mind of J.K Rowling while she was on a train from Manchester to London. The train was delayed by four hours and it gave Rowling ample time to fascinate about her story. As soon as she reached her apartment, she began writing the story on a typewriter. Five years later, in 1995, the novel was completed under the title Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and was presented to 12 different publishers. Sadly none of them accepted it and after two years struggle, the only editor willing to publish the novel was Barry Cunningham. Contrary to the expectations, the novel was hugely applauded among the audience as soon as it was published. In an auction, the book was sold to Scholastic Inc. in the US $105,000 that later on published the novel with little changes in the title as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE - PLOT
The plot opens up with an eleven-year-old incident when the wizards from all over the world celebrated the defeat of Voldemort at the hands of a little infant. Though Voldemort was successful in killing the parents—Mr and Mrs Potter but somehow the powers he used on their little baby Harry backfired on him and thus, he had to leave helplessly. Harry thus became known as the ‘boy-who-lived’ among all the wizards. This rejoicing of wizards however confused muggles like Dursley family who despite knowing that magical powers and wizards exist denied over what their eyes saw—a bunch of people in cloaks talking about Potters, flying owls and a cat reading newspaper. Mrs Dusley, a muggle was the sister of Harry’s mother but the whole Dursley family kept it a secret and told nobody around them. On this unusual night of rejoicing, Albus Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and Hagrid left baby Harry on the doorsteps of Dursely house—the only family Harry was left with. In the present time of the novel, that is set 11 years later to this incident, the Dursley family is introduced as mean, cruel people that who treat Harry worse than animals.
Harry Potter, crowded into the cupboard under the Dursleys' stairs. Credit to Jim Kay at www.jimkay.co.uk
They have allowed Harry a small little cupboard beneath stairs in their house where he lives at the expense of doing all home chores. The Dursley hid Harry's identity from him, telling that his parents died in a car crash. On Harry’s eleventh birthday, Hagrid—a huge intimidating groundskeeper of Hogwarts came to take Harry with him. He got really angry with Mr and Mrs Dursley’s lies that they had told Harry for all of his life. Hagrid revealed that Harry is a wizard and his combat with Voldemort as a child had made him famous in the wizard’s world. He also told that the scar he got on his face was Voldemort’s attempt to curse him. He informed Dursely’s that Harry’s magical life is waiting for him in Hogwarts and that he can’t live with them anymore. Hagrid then took Harry despite Dursley’s unwillingness to Diagon Alley to help him buy the required supplies for school. He then boarded him on a train to Hogwarts from a magical platform nine and three quarters.
On the train, he befriended Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley that remained his best friends throughout the Harry Potter series. Upon reaching Hogwarts all freshman students were sorted into groups according to their family background and their own nature. Harry, Hermione, and Ron were grouped in Gryffindor—a house known for its heroism and bravery while Malfoy a mean boy who always bullied Harry was placed in Slytherin—a house known for producing dark wizards. Harry enjoyed most of the time at Hogwarts except for Professor’s Snape class who had always been mean to him. During his stay at Hogwarts, Harry came to know about his hidden talent of flying on a broomstick and in a very short period of time he impressed everyone in the Quidditch Match. After winter break, the three friends learned about the secret of Nicholas Flamel—an alchemist who has a sorcerer's stone that can grant someone immortality. After their first year exams, they tried to retrieve the sorcerer's stone thinking that Professor Snape must be after it. They went through a series of challenges like making sleep the three-headed hound dog, catching a flying key and playing life and death game of magical chess. In the final chapters of the novel, Harry found out that Voldemort is living inside Professor Quirrell as a parasite. Though Voldemort tried to use Harry to gain sorcerer's stone they both had combat in which Voldemort was defeated and Harry blacked out. Upon gaining his conscience, Dumbledore told him that his mother's love saved him from Voldemort. The first year ended with the victory of Gryffindor and everyone headed back to their families. Harry, having no choice went to spend the summer with Dursleys.
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE - CHARACTERIZATION
With more than forty characters presented, the novel truly is a work of genius that can’t be paralleled with any other novel of this era. J.K Rowling is a literary genius to build up such a huge cast of characters in an intricate yet mind-blowing manner. The characters portrayed in the novel are typified where each one symbolizes for a type of quality. Harry, the protagonist of the story is the symbol of goodness, bravery, and chivalry and hence he was placed in Gryffindor. Voldemort, on the other hand, is a symbol of vice and maliciousness—a greedy wizard whose desire for power, wealth and immortality can never be satisfied. Similarly, the character of Hermione stands for wisdom and intelligence, while Harry's for loyalty and friendship.
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE - RECURRENT THEMES
Despite the fantastical world portrayed in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the themes that lie at the heart of the book are indeed very simple and universal. It not only provides children and adults with the privilege of taking aesthetic pleasures of an extraordinary magical world but also educates them at the same time with some basic morals of life. Some of the recurrent themes that are found not only the first but throughout the series include friendship, loyalty, family, supernatural, and differentiating between good and evil. Despite being an orphan, deprived of family love and a lone child, Harry found his solace and comfort in his friends Hermione and Ron. They became such a strength for him that with their support he passed all the challenges that finally enabled him to defeat Voldemort. While Voldemort was like an incarnation of all evil forces, Harry lied on the opposite side of the equation and won the hearts of a many in Hogwarts through his courage to stand up against the evil.
ANALYSIS IN TERMS OF SYMBOLS AND ALLEGORIES
J.K Rowling has beautifully constructed layers and layers of meanings within her book where each magical element symbolically stands for something else. Take, for instance, the example of magical wands. Each wizard or witch mentioned in the novel has their own magic wand and can only be used by them, thus, magic wands stand for the individual personality of a wizard. Here the wand acts as an extension of its owner’s self. This is the reason why Harry took so long to find a wand in Ollivander’s shop because none of them was going with his type of personality. Similarly, the Sorting Hat is yet another example of reflecting one’s personality. Harry and his fellow friends who were kind, chivalric and brave were placed in Gryffindor while ambitious students with a family history of becoming dark wizards were placed in Slytherin, for example, Malfoy. The sorcerer’s stone upon which the book is based is a legendary stone with the potential of converting any metal into gold and also acts as an Elixir of life that can grant anyone immortality. Thus, sorcerer’s stone depicts the two most basic human desires that are money and life. It must be noted that these are only a few examples taken out the book while there are several others too that makes the novel a masterpiece of this century.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone got way more appreciation than the publishers or even J.K Rowling herself had expected. It was not only acclaimed among the audience but the critics also praised it justly. The novel won a great number of awards, for instance, the Nestle Smarties Award that it got only five months after it came in the market. A year later, the novel got British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year and has remained the third best-selling single-volume book of all time. Tara L. Rivera is of the view that ‘Author J.K. Rowling has taken everyday situations such as going to school, playing sports, and doing homework and convincingly combined them with fantasy to create a world more accessible to tweens than J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy’
SOME FAMOUS QUOTES
- It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
- You might belong in Gryffindor, |Where to dwell the brave at heart, |Their daring, nerve, and chivalry| Set Gryffindors apart… (7.33)
- It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.