Seven Things: Harry Potter and the Philosoper’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone needs no introduction. So it’s not going to get one. There are however a few odd things about it that I wanted to discuss here.

Here are seven things about Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Why Seven?

Seven is a good number. It’s the only number that is also the name of a Star Trek character. Well there was One – but you wouldn’t come to a page titled one thing would you?

One

Harry has no muggle friends

Rowling states that because Dudley hates Harry, and has a group of bully friends, no one else at the school is prepared to be friends with him.

This to me seems unbelievable. How could a group of bullies be so pervasive at a school and it not be noticed? Wouldn’t the Dursley’s be receiving letters every other week? I’m not sure that Vernon or Petunia would care that Dudley was a bully but they might care that he was caught!

I’m bothered by Harry having no friends because I was bullied at school. It was never as bad as someone pinning my arms behind my back but I was quite miserable. I still had friends and was able to mostly enjoy school. Of course for Harry we’re talking about Primary School. My memories of primary school are a little vague but the high school bulling I still remember.

For American readers high school is quite different in the UK. It starts at age 12 and runs till 18.

I suppose there mightn’t have been room to introduce another character – but having a muggle touchstone for Harry might have been an interesting device rather than only having the Dursley’s.

Two

The Dursley’s are a little too cartoony

The Dursley’s are essentially abusive. They treat Harry very badly and I don’t recall any reason given why they didn’t put him up for adoption. I suppose there is the possibility that they feel some warped sense of duty even though they hate Harry’s parents. This, and some of the other points on this list, are included in this Cinema Sins Video.

Three

Hogwarts is a death trap

Okay maybe that’s a little overstated but it does seem like a dangerous place. The students are told not to go to certain parts of the school but the staircases move, at random apparently, meaning that they can accidentally find themselves in the wrong place. And that’s not even mentioning the other dangers that show themselves as the series progresses.

Four

Slytherin is evil

The comment <no witch or wizard bad not Slytherin> doesn’t bother me so much. Its like the statement ‘All thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs.’ However there also seems to be the assumption that being in Slytherin makes you a bad person.

In fact Slytherin is in general ostracised. This is shown predominantly in the film when all the other houses celebrate when Slytherin looses the house cup.

Although I partly understand this. I’m from Wales and a lot of Welsh people will tell you that they support two sports teams: Wales and whoever is playing England.

It would’ve been nice to have seen evidence of ‘good’ Slytherin students. Maybe a friend for the trio to show how those qualities could be used for good.

Five

Hogwarts has a class system

I’m not sure there is much to add other than what is in this SuperCarlinBrothers video. In primary school we had houses but they were done alphabetically. The main reason for them was for sports days and eisteddfods – basically it was an easy way of dividing the pupils up for teams.

As said in the video in Hogwarts it is problematic because the children are effectively instructed not to mix with people who are different.

Six

Technology vs. Magic

Magic in Harry Potter can do many wonderful things. Apparently pens and paper are not one of them. There is a reason why we no longer use quills and ink. This is seen (Can you say seen for a book?) throughout where, if not using magic, the technology that is used is very old fashioned.

Discovering the identity of Nicolas Flamel is an important plot point. I couldn’t help thinking how easy it would have been in our world. Just Google it.

Of course the book is set before Google existed. (How did we cope?)  Nevertheless given what magic can do I’m a bit surprised there isn’t a magical equivalent of a computer.

Seven

Keeping magic a secret

J.K Rowling has said that were a muggle to stumble on to Hogwarts they would see an abandoned castle. That’s fine but what do the muggle families tell the authorities.

Hermione’s parents are muggles. Before she got her letter she surely would have been set to go to a normal high school. When she was shown to be a witch that changed. What did her parents say to the school? What did Hermione tell her friends?

Hermione’s parents seem to know about magic. There must be many other muggles who do too. It would have been interesting to see more of how the secret is maintained when many must know about it.

***

Some people think that a critique like this means hatred. Well I don’t hate the Harry Potter series. I think they are very enjoyable and well written and I am going to read the rest of the series over the next few months. Critiquing is something that I, and I’m sure many others, find enjoyable. Its interesting to notice the outright goofs and speculate on the unanswered questions.

I was nine when the first Harry Potter book was released. Although I didn’t become aware of them till later.

It was quite special when awaiting the release of the next book. I particularly remember the release of The Order of the Phenox. Children today will be able to read them all back to back. And some how, doing it that way, makes it feel as though… well… as though the magic is gone.

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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