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Book Review: Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling

"Read ten thousand books, and your pen will be guided as if by God" is an ancient Chinese idiom. 

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is a timeless masterpiece that has enchanted readers of all ages since its publication. This debut novel introduces us to a world where magic is not just a concept but a way of life, blending the ordinary with the extraordinary in a seamless tapestry of wonder and adventure.

The primary location in the story is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, featuring four houses known as Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin, which were founded by the school's founders.

A life of adventure, choices, love, and sacrifice

The story begins with a miserable boy named Harry Potter, an orphan living with his neglectful aunt (Petunia), uncle (Vernon), and spoiled cousin (Dudley), in a non-magical world, commonly known as the Muggle community. They treat Harry terribly and have a strong disgust for the Wizarding World.

“There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.”

Before Harry turned eleven, he got lots of letters inviting him to Hogwarts, but his uncle stopped him from reading them and fibbed, saying they were gone. In an attempt to evade the letters, the Dursleys go to extreme lengths, moving from one location to another, even staying in a shack on a rock in the middle of the sea. 

However, the letters keep finding Harry, creating an air of suspense and anticipation. The tension builds as the letters become more persistent and unconventional in their delivery.

Finally, on the eve of Harry's eleventh birthday, the seemingly indestructible letters find him, and the door of the shack is knocked down by the imposing figure of Rubeus Hagrid, the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. Hagrid bursts in with the long-awaited letter for Harry, revealing his true identity as a wizard and extending an invitation to join the magical world. The next day, Hagrid took Harry into the magical world.

Hagrid takes Harry to Gringotts, the wizarding bank, to access his vault. The visit to the vault reveals the vast wealth left to Harry by his parents, emphasizing his status as a wizarding celebrity. 

After a month, Harry makes his way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the first time. On the train, Harry meets Ron Weasley, who is also a first-year student. The camaraderie between Harry and Ron begins to develop as they share stories and experiences. Ron introduces Harry to the wizarding world, explaining various aspects and traditions.

At Hogwarts, Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger accidentally discover a hidden room guarded by a three-headed dog. They realize it's safeguarding something valuable—the fabled Philosopher's Stone capable of reviving its possessor from death. Suspecting Severus Snape, the Potions Master, due to his injured leg, they believe he intends to steal it. To protect the Stone, the trio takes action. Despite facing numerous hurdles, Harry manages to enter the final chamber deep underground.

Harry stumbles upon the Mirror of Erised during a late-night visit to an unused classroom. The mirror is enchanted, and its purpose is to reveal the deepest, most heartfelt desires of the person looking into it. Harry, initially perplexed by the mirror, soon becomes entranced by what he sees in it. The mirror reflects an image of Harry with his deceased parents, James and Lily Potter. Overwhelmed by the sight of his family, Harry spends several nights returning to the mirror to experience the comforting vision.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are determined to protect the Philosopher's Stone from falling into the hands of Voldemort. They decide to take matters into their own hands and head to the third-floor corridor where the trapdoor is located. The trio encounters a series of magical obstacles guarding the trapdoor, each designed to test the skills and qualities of those attempting to reach the Stone. 

The trio discovers that Professor Quirrell is the one attempting to steal the Philosopher's Stone. He is working for Voldemort, who is revealed to be living on the back of Quirrell's head, hidden beneath a turban. Quirrell has been manipulated by Voldemort's influence, and he is determined to use the Stone to restore Voldemort to full power.

Harry, faced with the prospect of Voldemort's return, manages to grab the Philosopher's Stone before Quirrell can reach it. The touch of Harry's skin causes intense pain to Quirrell, preventing Voldemort from taking the Stone. Harry discovers that the reason he felt pain when he touched Quirrell was due to the protective power of his mother's sacrifice. When Lily Potter sacrificed herself to save Harry as a baby, her love created a magical protection that lingered in Harry's blood, causing pain to Voldemort when he tried to touch Harry. 

Here, Voldemort is the person who killed Harry's parents but didn't succeed in ending Harry's life, marking him with a unique lightning-shaped scar on his forehead. Afterward, Voldemort loses his own body and most of his powers, but he's still around and is set on regaining his strength by getting hold of the Philosopher's Stone. Finally, at the story's conclusion, Harry overcomes Quirrel and Voldemort.

Fascinating characters

The main characters are Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Professor Quirrel. Harry's courageous, with messy hair and round glasses framing his bright eyes. Ron, a red-haired boy from a modest family, is timid, kind, and afraid of spiders, but he's incredibly friendly to his pals.

Hermione Granger, a smart blonde girl, is a Muggle-born witch excelling in tests due to her hard work and love for reading. Sometimes, she can be bossy and intervenes in Harry and Ron's daring plans for their safety.

The main characters, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, are all close friends in the same Hogwarts house, while Professor Quirrel is their teacher, connecting them all in the story.

Apart from these, there are also other characters, like- Vernon, Petunia, Dudley, Rubeus Hagrid, Albus Dumbledore, etc. 

My Lessons From Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone

  • This is a classic story of a hero’s journey. Hero is called to a journey, but he can’t or doesn’t heed to it. A help arrives to help him embark on the journey. He meets his people. He hesitantly takes on the journey. He faces challenges and eventually manages to overcome them. The entire series is the chronicle of that journey. I’m currently reading the second book in the series. I will bring you what I learn from it as I finish reading it. 
  • Persevere through challenges and adversity, whether they come from external struggles or life's trials.
  • Standing up for yourself is tough but it’s rewarding.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.   
  • “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
  • It’s important to remain humble. 
  • Love conquers hate.
  • Friendship and loyalty beat wealth and status.
  • The importance of focusing on the present and not dwelling excessively on unattainable desires.

At its core, the novel explores universal themes of the hero's journey, friendship, bravery, and the choice between good and evil. Rowling's storytelling is infused with humor, heart, and a sense of wonder that transcends generations. The pacing is expertly executed, keeping readers engaged with a perfect balance of lighthearted moments and suspenseful twists.

At every turn, there's excitement, from facing trolls, and a three-headed dog, to Harry's confrontation with Lord Voldemort. I would recommend this book to everyone because it keeps you absorbed, making you never want to stop reading.

Ayrin Saleha Ria works at Future Startup as a full-time Research Associate. She has a background in Applied Sociology. Before joining the FS team, she worked and volunteered with a number of social organizations. As someone who comes from a social science background, she takes a deep interest in research around important social-economic challenges in our society. A voracious reader, Ayrin is passionate about working for the betterment of society, takes a deep interest in human society and behavioral science, and loves books.

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