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Harry - yer a wizard.—Rubeus Hagrid
The first book in the Harry Potter series pu blished in Britain on June 30, 1997. The Film of the Book was released in 2001, starting a movie franchise. Since First Installment Wins, the plot of this book will be much more familiar to non-fans than any of the others.
Harry thinks he's a normal kid, living a sucky life with the Dursleys, his social-climbing Muggle Foster Parents who hate him and all that he represents. On his eleventh birthday, Gentle Giant Hagrid shows up and tells Harry not only that he's a wizard, but a wizarding celebrity due to having survived an attack by Lord Voldemort ten years ago, somehow rendering the evil wizard MIA. It's then off to Hogwarts, where Harry befriends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, forming the iconic Power Trio. The three begin to suspect that someone is planning to steal the mystical stone of the title, which could be used to restore Voldemort to full power.
Retitled Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone in the United States because the American publisher worried that kids would think a book with "philosopher" in the title would be boring. Of course, this was before Harry Potter was the reliable franchise it is now.
Tropes exclusive to this book or at least especially prominent:
- Above Good and Evil: Voldemort. "There is no Good or Evil, only Power and those too weak to seek it."
- Accidental Athlete: How Harry gets on the Quidditch team.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: The American title was changed from Philosopher's Stone to Sorcerer's Stone.
- All Just a Dream: Harry initially believes this about Hagrid and his revelations when he wakes up the morning after meeting him.
- A Minor Kidroduction: the book starts with Harry being left to the Dursleys as a Door Step Baby. The second chapter skips forward ten years to the preteen Harry we'll follow for the rest of the novel.
- Animal Eyes: Quidditch referee and flight instructor Madame Hooch, who is said to have hawk eyes.
- Apologetic Attacker: Hermione, when body-binding Neville.
- Apathy Killed the Cat: Rowling attempts to avert this by having Harry tune out whenever theory comes up in classes, at least until the sixth and seventh books.
- Asleep for Days: During his encounter with Quirrell at the end of the book, Harry falls unconscious and wakes up in the hospital wing three days later.
- Berserk Button: Hagrid:"NEVER -- INSULT -- ALBUS -- DUMBLEDORE -- IN -- FRONT -- OF -- ME!"
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Chekhov's Gun: The whole series gets its own page.
- Cultural Translation: Changing the title from Philosopher's Stone to Sorcerer's Stone is not strictly an example of this, as the words "philosopher" and "sorcerer" don't mean anything different in the US than they do in the UK. The thinking was that the word "philosopher" would evoke "serious impenetrable text" rather than the intended "magical adventure".
- Department of Redundancy Department:
While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt Petunia. He liked to complain about things: people at work, Harry, the council, Harry, the bank, and Harry were just a few of his favourite subjects.
Vernon: Get the mail, Dudley.
Dudley: Make Harry get it.
Vernon: Get the mail, Harry.
Harry: Make Dudley get it.
Vernon: Poke him with your Smelting stick, Dudley.
- Deus Ex Machina: A rare instance where this is pulled off convincingly and smoothly. Since Harry's mother died to save him, her love had a lasting effect on him that gave him some limited protection against cruel and loveless people like Quirrel, as Dumbledore explains. It's forgivable because The Power of Love was meant to be symbolic and double as a moral message.
- Die or Fly: Neville Longbottom.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: "Who would suspect poor, p-p-p-pathetic Professor Quirrel?"
- Door Step Baby: Harry is this to the Dursleys.
- Double Edged Answer: About the Mirror of Erised.
Harry: It shows us what we want... whatever we want.
Dumbledore: Yes... And no. It shows us nothing more or less, than the deepest and most desperate desire of our hearts.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Among other things, this is the only book that deviates from Harry's third-person-limited POV after the opening chapter. During the troll scene, we're briefly in Ron's head as he decides to do Wingardium Leviosa, and when Harry's broomstick is acting up during the Quidditch match, we stay on the ground with Ron, Hermione and Hagrid.
- The attempt to kill Harry by knocking him off his broom mid-Quidditch match is hard to take seriously after reading the following books, in which Harry gets successfully knocked out-mid-flight several times and securing his landing is always rather trivial. For those keeping count, that means Cormac McLaggen came closer to killing Harry than Quirrell did.
- Some of Mc Gonagall's early behavior, such as reading a map in cat form openly enough for Vernon to see her doing so is very uncharacteristic for her in later books.
- Easing Into the Adventure:
- Harry even suggests that Dumbledore wanted to give them something easy to begin with.
- This carries over into the first-year Gryffindor class schedule; They have Friday afternoons off.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: "If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love."
- Evil Teacher: At first you think it's Snape, but it's actually Quirrell.
- Face Palm of Doom: How Harry defeats Quirrel.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Harry and Ron become friends with Hermione after they fight a mountain troll together.
- Fluffy the Terrible:
- Fluffy, of course.
- Plus Norbert the dragon.
- Flying Broomstick: Harry gets a particularly nice one.
- One of the first things Harry learns about the wizarding world is that it's dangerous to mess with goblins and flat-out mad to try and rob Gringotts. Then Book 7 rolls around...
- The high-security vaults are guarded by dragons.
- Hagrid with Harry on Sirius Black's flying motorcycle.
- Harry claiming that Voldemort will turn Hogwarts into a school for the Dark Arts.
- In terms of foreshadowing strictly inside the plot of Book 1 itself, when Hagrid explains the professors who arranged for the traps to protect the Mirror of Erised, and likewise the Sorcerer's stone, Quirrel is among those listed. Later, when they are proceeding through the traps to get to the Sorcerer's Stone to prevent who they think is Snape from getting it, they enter Quirrel's trap room and discover a knocked out Troll, which gives away an early clue that Quirrel was the one who released a troll into the castle on Halloween, and that it is in fact Quirrel, not Snape, who was searching for the Sorcerer's Stone.
- Forgot I Could Fly: "HAVE YOU GONE MAD? ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"
- Friendless Background: Harry, Ron and Hermione.
- Generation Xerox: The departure for Hogwarts. In this book, Ginny is shown crying about how she has to wait to go to Hogwarts and wants to go now as she sees her brothers off at the train station. In Deathly Hallows, her and Harry's daughter, Lily, is shown doing the exact same thing when she sees her brothers off to Hogwarts.
- Historical Domain Character:
- Nicolas Flamel, believe it or not.
- Also some other names from the chocolate frogs cards.
- Idiot Ball: McGonagall's summarily dismissing Harry's concerns about the Stone. Even if his concerns were far-fetched, the fact that eleven-year-olds knew about a top secret item should have alerted her to the presence of a major security leak, and the possibility that someone else could have learned about the item. At the very least, she should have demanded to find out everything they knew, and where they learned it.
- Innocuously Important Episode: On first reading, about half the chapters appear to be self-contained bits of either character development (the troll attack, the Mirror of Erised) or just some fluffy fun (Hagrid and Norbert). All of them suddenly become important during the climax, and a few even show up again later in the series.
- Invisibility Cloak
- Ironic Echo: When Hermione mentions that she has no fire to use on the Devil's Snare, Ron shouts at her, "Are you mad? Are you a witch or not?" Hermione repeats this line to him, with the word 'wizard' in place of 'witch' in Book 7.
- Kill It with Fire: The Devil's Snare plant.
- Life Drinker: Lord Voldemort in stays alive by drinking unicorn blood.
- Lighter and Softer: By far compared to the rest of the series. It starts getting Darker and Edgier beginning with the very next book.
- Loose Lips: Trust Rubeus Hagrid with your life, trust him with your loved ones' lives, hell, trust him with underage children, but for goodness sake, don't trust him with your secrets.
- Lotus Eater Machine: The Mirror of Erised. Reading its name -- or better yet, the entire inscription -- backwards is a dead giveaway.
- Sdrawkcab Name: The Mirror of Erised. Along with it's inscription:
Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi aka: I show not your face but your heart's desire.
- MacGuffin: The titular stone.
- MacGuffin Guardian: Fluffy.
- Market-Based Title
- Master Actor: Quirrel.
- Melancholy Moon
- Moral Guardians:
- While the series wouldn't bring them out in full force until later, they would end up using bits from this book, besides the use of magic, to denounce it. Some more ridiculous than others.
- The line "There is no good or evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it" is called "standard Witchcraft, and standard Illuminist doctrine"; we're told that "since a child's inherent nature is evil, he will find such philosophy more appealing than the Gospel of Jesus Christ". Ignored is the fact that the character putting this "philosophy" forward is the villain.And starting from the point that a child's nature is inherently evil.
- When students are paired off to practice levitation, "Harry's partner was Seamus Finnigan (which was a relief, because Neville had been trying to catch his eye)" -- to Cutting Edge, an eleven-year-old boy's not wanting to be paired off for a laboratory-style class with the school klutz is a suggestion of homosexuality.
- "Harry was eleven (11) when he was admitted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The number eleven is considered sacred to the occultist, as it is the first primary number." Er, no, the first prime number is TWO. Followed by y'know, three, five and seven. Which makes eleven the FIFTH prime number and HOLY SHIT! FIVE IS THE FIRST PRIME NUMBER! SATAN! Not to mention the fact that all English children start Secondary School at that age.
- Motor Mouth: This is what Hermione has in her first appearance.
- Muggle Security-Guards Are Useless: Not only is the guard at the train station justifiably ignorant of Platform 9 3/4, but he dismisses an eleven-year-old who's bewildered and alone as a "time waster". Isn't reuniting lost children with their escorts a part of his job?
- Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Fluffy was lulled to sleep with music.
- Mr. Exposition: Hagrid is essentially this because of how often he accidentally lets slip the crucial information that the protagonists and the audience need to know.
- My Parents Are Dead: This is the point at which Harry's first conversation with Draco goes from bad to worse. Harry also dismisses the possibilty that the Mirror of Erised is clairvoyant on this basis.
- Naive Newcomer: Harry, understandably much more so here than in later installments.
- Needle in a Stack of Needles: The flying key.
- Obfuscating Disability: Quirrel
- Only Smart People May Pass: Some of the obstacles the staff placed in front of the stone. They weren't all considerate enough to warn you in advance, however - if you don't already know how to deal with Devil's Snare, you have about ten seconds to figure it out before it crushes you. Snape's potions-in-bottles puzzle is the closest fit (although why he felt the riddle had to rhyme is anyone's guess). The only real aversion to this was Quirrel's obstacle, fighting a troll, which, luckily, the Trio didn't have to deal with (Again).
- Open Secret: Dumbledore assures Harry that his confrontation with the Big Bad is a complete secret, which naturally means the whole school knows.
- Our Goblins Are Different
- Philosopher's Stone: Of course.
- Please Keep Your Hat On: Professor Quirrel. Oh God.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: The obstacles protecting the Stone employ the use of each of the trio's strengths: Harry's flying skills, Ron's chess-playing skills, and Hermione's logic. Plus the troll that all three of them stopped earlier in the story, but which turned out to be Already Done For Them.
- Pre Meeting:
- Harry meets Draco Malfoy while shopping for robes before meeting him on the Hogwarts Express.
- He also meets Quirrel in the Leaky Caudron.
- Red Herring: Snape not only in this story, but he also turns out to be the ultimate one in the series.
- Right Behind Me: Happens to Ron when he's complaining about Hermione after the Charms lesson.
- Sadist Teacher: Snape, who is a complete Jerkass to most students (especially Harry) and is absurdly biased towards Slytherin House. However, he's a mere precursor to some genuinely evil Sadist Teachers introduced in Books 5 and 7.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Harry Potter gives a whole speech to this effect prior to the climax of the first book: "If Snape gets hold of the Stone, Voldemort's coming back! Haven't you heard what it was like when he was trying to take over? There won't be any Hogwarts to get expelled from! He'll flatten it, or turn it into a school for the Dark Arts! Losing points doesn't matter anymore, can't you see? D'you think he'll leave you and your families alone if Gryffindor wins the house cup?"
- Second Episode Morning: The morning after he learns the truth, Harry decides it must have been a dream before he opens his eyes. Then he finds himself still in the hut, with an owl tapping on the glass.
- Skewed Priorities: Hermione after their first run-in with Fluffy:
I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed -- or worse, expelled.
- Something We Forgot: Hurray, Harry and Hermione managed to get Norbert out of Hogwarts! Wait, where's Harry's Invisibility Cloak?
- Space Jews: The goblins.
- Stern Teacher: McGonagall and Madame Hooch instantly stand out as straight examples of this trope, as does Snape, although he's a borderline Sadist Teacher.
- Talk About the Weather: Quirrell starts muttering about the weather whenever someone asks him about his turban.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: At the end of the book, Dumbledore awards points to Gryffindor for Harry and company's heroic actions. Neville's acquired points are the smallest of the lot, but are mentioned last and put Gryffindor over the top to win the cup - thus earning him heaps of praise from the other students. Dumbledore could've gone in any order, really, but he almost assuredly proceeded this way to throw a bone to the often-abused Neville.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Hermione starts off as a well-meaning but often painfully lawful student, always mindful of the rules (no matter how ridiculous) and scornful of Harry and Ron for breaking them. Circumstances push her a bit in the direction of good as it becomes clear that quietly following the rules is not enough. The time Harry and Ron broke school rules in order to save her life from a troll probably helped lead her to that conclusion.
- Translation Convention: Harry's brief conversation with the snake is all written in English. Harry himself doesn't realize that he was speaking Parseltongue until the next book.
- Turn Out Like His Father: The Dursleys do not want him to follow in the path of his mother. Or his father, which is the same thing. Weird, liberal, and wizardy.
- Understatement: "Troll ... in the dungeons ... thought you ought to know."
- Wham! Line: "It was Quirrel."
- What Is Evil?: "There is no good and evil; there is only power, and those too weak to seek it."
- Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Voldemort claims Harry's parents died begging for mercy... and then, when Harry insists he's lying, casually admits he was making it up.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: Diagon Alley (for 'diagonally', reflecting its kinked medieval shape).