About the Book

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

By j.k. rowling.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is one of the most popular children's books ever written. It is a story about the triumph of love and bravery over evil.

Mohandas Alva

Written by Mohandas Alva

M.A. Degree in English Literature from Manipal University, India.

‘ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ‘ is a very engaging read for children and adults alike. Since it is the first book in this series, we are introduced to an entirely new world in this book. The world of magic slowly builds itself as we read through the book. The genius of this book is using the protagonist Harry’s discovery of this world to parallel the readers’.

Furthermore, despite several hardships and literally being an orphan who never knew love, Harry still recognizes love and affection when he sees it. While this book is memorable for a plethora of reasons, some elements of Rowling’s writing triumph as winners.

Discovering the Story World and Magic as a Metaphor

J. K. Rowling does a great job writing this story with an omniscient third-person narrative but still keeping the narrator wherever Harry is for a major part of this book. This makes the reader’s fascination and interest in the world of magic as new and real as Harry’s. We are introduced to several facts and significant peculiarities of the world of magic, all of which seem very consistently developed, adding authenticity to it. 

While there are a lot of similarities between the real world and the world of magic, the differences are usually peculiar and downright funny at times. Platform nine and three-quarters, running through a brick wall, ghosts roaming freely and talking to living people, and many other peculiarities add to the charm of creating an interesting story world. One could go on to theorize that calling non-magic people muggles and portraying the Dursleys as ordinary people who hate things like magic has a metaphorical purpose. 

It furthers the cause and appeals to the readers to be more imaginative and creative. Magic is a metaphor for imagination in this case. The Dursleys are scared of anything out of the ordinary. They spend their entire day doing mundane tasks they assign meaning to and criticize almost anything and anyone that doesn’t fit their design.

On the contrary, Harry, despite being ill-treated and not loved by the Dursleys, has a flair for imagination and creativity. It didn’t take very long for him to get used to the wizarding ways, and he very clearly had the potential to do great things after all. This book is, in its essence, an inspiration for readers to make dreams come true and bravely follow their dreams despite obstacles. It is an apt narrative for children who, at their age, tend to discover new things and ideas to develop. 

Good vs Evil and Heroism

The trope of a savior standing up to the tyrant is not new. However, ‘ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ‘ being a children’s book, delves into this slowly. When Harry is unaware of magic and thinks that his parents died in an accident, he is a normal child with very little to think about good, evil, and the need for heroism.

However, once he is informed of the actual circumstances of his parents’ death and after discovering magic, he gains new insights, and his worldview significantly changes. His sense of responsibility and the need to stop Voldemort at any cost from getting to the Philosopher’s Stone set the path for his heroism. This transition happens slowly, yet it feels very natural. He doesn’t know what he will do if he faces Voldemort. Despite this naive understanding of the consequences, he still chooses to face Voldemort. 

This portrayal of heroism is quite commendable as it appeals to the very cause of wanting to stop the wrongdoing. The fact that an eleven-year-old boy and his two friends thwart a feared dark wizard from stealing the Philosopher’s Stone in a school that has so many adults who are way more experienced and well-equipped to do it portrays heroism in its purest form. Heroism is more the choice to take action against evil than the ability to stop evil. This book does a good job illustrating this subtlety.

Sacrifice in Harry Potter

Sacrifice is an essential part of this novel. The story of ‘ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ‘ uses sacrifice to define both friendship and love. Harry’s parents die because they sacrifice themselves to protect Harry. Ron sacrifices himself while playing Wizard chess. Several people who fought in the war against Voldemort sacrificed themselves for the well-being of the collective community. 

The trope of sacrifice plays a major role in setting up differences in morality between the good and the evil. As Dumbledore points out to Harry, Voldemort does not understand love. The fact that Harry understands love and values it, sets a specific difference in the choices that Harry and Lord Voldemort make.

Harry is willing to sacrifice himself when he takes over the task of protecting the Philosopher’s Stone. On the contrary, Voldemort uses others for his selfish motives. This stark difference between willing to sacrifice oneself and using others as a shield to protect oneself makes all the difference and definitively separates good and evil in this book.

Why was Harry Potter banned?

Harry Potter was banned in a catholic school in Nashville, Tennessee, because of fear of evil spirits. Some other places have also banned Harry Potter books for similar religious fears. Some religious leaders were concerned that the spells and enchantments mentioned in the book were real and that they could summon evil spirits and dark magic.

Is  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone  worth reading for an adult?

‘ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ‘ is definitely worth reading for an adult. While it was written as a children’s book, it has outlived this label, and there are people of all ages who not only read these books but also engage in community discussions and have fun playing games inspired by these books. Many people have found reading this book a very rewarding experience, as is evident from the sales and fame this book has garnered across all demographics.

Should I read  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  or watch the movie? 

While the movie is undoubtedly well-made and a thrill to watch, the books are far more detailed and a very thrilling read. Most people who have both read the books and watched the movies always choose the former as a better experience. Furthermore, there are several interesting and amusing characters and scenes in the book that the movie couldn’t incorporate. So, one would be missing out on a lot if one doesn’t read ‘ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. ‘

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Review - A Thrilling Read

  • Writing Style
  • Lasting effect on the reader

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Book Review

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling is a thrilling read that hooks the reader from page one. Published in the year 1997, it is one of the highest grossing novels ever written. Some elements of the novel like its elaborate yet accessible world-building makes it a very entertaining read for children and adults alike. It follows the story of an orphan boy named Harry Potter who realizes he is a wizard and the rest of the book records his journey as a young wizard in Hogwarts, a school of magic. This book, and the series as a whole have been a definitive part of an entire generation’s childhood and have garnered very high praise as an entertaining read.

  • The plot is entertaining and is a very immersive read.
  • Has a lot of early lessons for children on morality.
  • The characters are well developed and the story world is well structured and interesting.
  • The writing style may be a bit rudimentary for adult avid readers.
  • Several instances of Deux Ex Machina make the protagonist’s position very safe and lacking any real danger.
  • Some mild instances of body shaming exist within the novel.

Mohandas Alva

About Mohandas Alva

Mohandas is very passionate about deciphering the nature of language and its role as a sole medium of storytelling in literature. His interests sometimes digress from literature to philosophy and the sciences but eventually, the art and craft of narrating a significant story never fail to thrill him.

Cite This Page

Alva, Mohandas " Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Review ⭐ " Book Analysis , https://bookanalysis.com/jk-rowling/harry-potter-and-the-philosophers-stone/review/ . Accessed 8 March 2024.

The Harry Potter section of Book Analysis analyzes and explorers the Harry Potter series. The characters, names, terminology, and all related indicia are trademarks of Warner Bros ©. The content on Book Analysis was created by Harry Potter fans, with the aim of providing a thorough in-depth analysis and commentary to complement and provide an additional perspective to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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             Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, written by J.K Rowling, is a fictional adventure story that takes place during the twenty-first century in England.              There are five main characters in this book. The first, Harry Potter, is an orphan that lives with his aunt and uncle who are "muggles." He is small and skinny for his age, probably because he sleeps in a dark cupboard under the staircase. The second character, Ron Weasley, is tall, thin, gangly, with freckles, big feet and hands, and a long nose. He becomes Harry's first best friend. The third character, Hermione Granger, has bushy brown hair, large front teeth. She is a bossy, know-it-all type of person. She also becomes Harry's best friend. The fourth character is Hagrid. He is almost twice the size of a normal human, and almost five times as wide. He also has wild tangles of bushy hair black hair and a beard that covers most of his face. The fifth character is Voldermort. He was the one who killed Harry's parents when Harry was a year old and has been hidden for ten years. He has red eyes and slits for his nose. .              The story begins on number four Privet Drive, where Mr. and Mrs. Dursley live. Harry Potter's parents have just been killed, and Albus Dumbledore is waiting for Hagrid to bring Harry. Reluctantly, the Dursleys take Harry since the Dursleys are the only family Harry has left. .              Then the story fast forwards ten years. Harry is sleeping under the staircase in a tiny cupboard while his cousin Dudley has two rooms- one where he sleeps and one where he keeps all his toys. .              One day a letter comes for Harry. Mr. Dursley throws it away which angers Harry because no one had ever written to him before. The next day the same thing happens. Mrs. Dursley boards up the mail slot, but then the letters just come through the chimney. Mr. Dursley decides to take the family to a hotel, and even there they can not escape the letters. Mr. Dursley decides to rent a boat where he thinks there is no possible way for the mail to reach him.

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This 7 book saga about a young wizard, written by a British author Joanne Rowling, has captivated both children and adults for years, making Harry Potter essay writing a frequent task in schools. The first book was published in 1997 and since that time people were mesmerized by the wizard's world and its many wonders. Harry Potter essays follow the story of a young boy Harry Potter. We accompany Harry and his friends throughout his education at Hogwarts and frequent confrontations with Lord Voldemort – an evil wizard who murdered Harry's parents. Essays on Harry Potter portray it as a coming-of-age story about love, friendship, loyalty, duty, and sacrifice that, once discovered, leaves you forever enchanted. Explore our Harry Potter essay samples below – we prepared comprehensive essay samples that analyze the world of Harry Potter. We can also help manage your mischief and write essays for you.

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The “Harry Potter” Movie vs. Book Comparison Essay

Nowadays, more and more films are being made based on the books’ plots. The trend to make movies according to popular books has developed tremendously with the launch of such film projects as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. It is known that if the viewer first watches a movie and then reads the book it is based on, it will be very difficult to eliminate the images that the director, according to his vision, reflected in the film. One’s imagination ceases to work, and reading is reduced to the reproduction in the mind of already assimilated images. At the same time, one of the most important tasks of literature is to develop the imagination. The reader must do the work of visually recreating the images the author describes. For my essay, I chose the movie and the book Harry Potter, which differ in many aspects, such as the plot, the details of the narrative, and the representation of the main characters.

The movie Harry Potter is a great illustration of the book. All the actors are perfectly chosen, and the main characters have the same characteristics as the author of the book wrote about. The plot twists and turns are mostly consistent with the source material. The boy’s story, life journey, and experiences are described in the original version. He also goes to a wizarding school and finds friends and enemies. Harry develops his abilities, gets into difficult situations, and gets out of them with agility. Furthermore, the author and director of the book describe him as a brave, kind, and courageous boy.

Although the idea and the main points are the same, there was much controversy. Readers and viewers had a completely different understanding of the story because “Harry Potter” is full of screaming inconsistencies. The first difference in the plot is that the movie omits the entire first chapter of the book when wizards around the world meet and raise their glasses to the surviving boy. Instead, the movie shows Professor Albus Dumbledore and Professor Minerva McGonagall meeting, and then the events of Harry’s hapless relatives begin to unfold.

The next difference concerning this aspect is that the movie omitted important details about the creation of the Marauder’s Map. However, the book does say that Tail (Peter Pettigrew), working for the Dark Lord, was the Keeper of the Potter Mystery (Kostelej and Bagić 19). After all, he was one of those who had a hand in creating the magical thing. It was through him that Voldemort found James and Lily that ill-fated night and Sirius had nothing to do with it. Another difference is that the professor effortlessly shakes his hand when Harry meets Professor Quirrell in Diagon Alley in the first book (Kostelej and Bagić 19). However, he politely refuses to make contact with Harry in the movie. This is troubling, for he could only burn his palms if Voldemort had already taken possession of his flesh (Kostelej and Bagić 28). Furthermore, that happened after the Philosopher’s Stone was discovered.

The next aspect of comparison are the details of the narrative. Harry’s farewell to Dudley looks dramatic in the book, and the reader even begins to feel compassion for the boy raised by such stingy and arrogant parents. On the other hand, the film deprived the audience of this emotion, thus distorting the relationship between the boys. The next difference is that the books explore the story of Tom Riddle becoming the ruthless Voldemort in much greater depth. According to the movie version, the dark lord is just an orphan with a penchant for evil.

Nevertheless, the novels show that his fate is incredibly complicated and creepy. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Albus Dumbledore showed Harry a memory of the Mrax family. In the flashback, Potter saw the home of Marvolo Mrax, Voldemort’s grandfather (Kostelej and Bagić 25). The Mraxes lived poor, having used up their wealth over several generations. However, the most important detail readers learned was that Tom Riddle’s father was under the influence of a love potion, so the future dark lord lost his capacity for love at birth. Marvolo Mrax’s hut later became where Voldemort hid one of his Horcruxes, which Dumbledore found a few years later (Kostelej and Bagić 20). These details change the villain’s perception, which is impossible to achieve based on the movie.

The third aspect of comparison is the representation of the characters. Several times in the film, the audience hears phrases indicating incredible heredity; it is claimed that Harry has his mother’s eyes. Rowling rewarded Lily with a green shade of eyes if we believed the manuscripts. However, the screen shows Harry as a blue-eyed boy, which may mislead people who have read the book. Another difference is that some of Dobby’s merits were attributed to Neville in the movie. For example, the house elf was the one who got the gill for Harry during the Tournament of Three Wizards. However, the film’s writer let his classmate do it, and the same thing happened with the Room of Requirement.

Thus, the book “Harry Potter” and its film adaptation have many differences, but there are also similarities. This can be frustrating and misleading for people who read the story in the book version first and then watch the movie. However, given that the book’s author and the film’s director are two different people, it can be understood that it is impossible to achieve a complete identity. People have different views and can implement ideas differently, which is a significant factor when comparing these narrative versions.

Kostelej, Martin, and Marina Bagić Babac. “Text Analysis Of The Harry Potter Book Series.” South Eastern European Journal of Communication 4.1 (2022): 17-30.

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IvyPanda. (2024, February 24). The "Harry Potter" Movie vs. Book Comparison. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-harry-potter-movie-vs-book-comparison/

"The "Harry Potter" Movie vs. Book Comparison." IvyPanda , 24 Feb. 2024, ivypanda.com/essays/the-harry-potter-movie-vs-book-comparison/.

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Harry Potter Book Review in 100 Words

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The 10 Worst Harry Potter Storylines, Ranked

We still can't get over all of those time travel plot holes.

The Harry Potter books are extensive, containing nearly 4224 pages worth of adventures for the reader to explore. While the novels provide plenty of room for storylines to grow and characters to develop, the Harry Potter movie adaptations clock in at only 19 hours and 39 minutes. This means that many scenes, details, and entire storylines the book series crafted had to either be truncated, depicted in a very different way, or replaced by entirely new plots in the films. Occasionally, this worked out for the better but, overall, it makes the films a much less rich experience, and one with some disappointing filler.

For the purposes of this list, we'll be looking at the weakest storylines in the Harry Potter movies. These plots are, by turns, boring and unnecessary, confusing and awkward. They weaken the overall viewing experience and, at times, leave those familiar with the books scratching their heads. In general, the Harry Potter movies do a fantastic job of translating the books' magic to the screen, but some of these storylines were truly bungled.

10 Barty Crouch Jr. Underutilized

Movie: 'harry potter and the goblet of fire'.

David Tennant appears in the fourth movie as the Death Eater Barty Crouch Jr., who masquerades as Mad-Eye Moody ( Brendan Gleeson ) to put Harry's ( Daniel Radcliffe ) name in the Goblet of Fire and eventually deliver him to Voldemort ( Ralph Fiennes ). However, the movie reveals very little about Crouch Jr., which is a pity since his story is interesting and well fleshed out in the books. The film tells us only that Crouch Jr. was imprisoned in Azkaban and later escaped.

It makes for a thin backstory that doesn't tell us very much about the character, especially one as important as this. By contrast, in the book, we learn that Crouch Jr. used a Polyjuice Potion to swap places with his mom so that she was imprisoned in his place. His freedom came at a high price though: his dad, Barty Crouch Sr. ( Roger Lloyd-Pack ) kept him under his control through the Imperius Curse. After Voldemort's return, Crouch Jr. frees himself from the spell by sheer willpower to join his master once again - not that we'd know any of these intriguing details from the movie.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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9 Wizengamot Trial

Movie: 'harry potter and the order of the phoenix'.

The fifth movie begins with a Dementor attack near the Dursleys' house, which Harry fends off with a Patronus Charm. For this, he is hauled before the Wizengamot, a tribunal that hears cases regarding magical offenses. The Ministry charges him with unlawful underage use of magic and attempts to have him expelled from Hogwarts. Narratively, this trial scene is meant to show the viewer that the Ministry is hostile towards Harry due to his claim that Voldemort is back. Secondarily, it introduces us to the loathsome Dolores Umbridge ( Imelda Staunton ), who plays a huge role in the rest of the movie.

However, on both counts, the scene is unnecessary. It also comes to nothing, as Dumbledore ( Michael Gambon ) quickly resolves the situation. All told, the trial is undramatic and a waste of precious time. It could have been replaced by so many superior plots in the book that were cut from the movie, like the visit to St. Mungo's Hospital, the Two-Way Mirror, Harry finding the locket at Grimauld Place, or Ron ( Ruper Grint ) and Hermione ( Emma Watson ) bonding over their shared prefect duties.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

8 dudley's lack of character development, movie: 'harry potter and the deathly hallows - part 1'.

The piggish, insolent Dudley Dursley ( Harry Melling ) is one of the most infuriating characters in all of Harry Potter . Endlessly selfish and prone to tantrums, he makes Harry's life a living hell for well over a decade. However, the books tell us that Dudley eventually matures somewhat and treats Harry with greater respect. They never become best friends or anything, but they remain in contact as adults, exchanging Christmas cards and the like. Dudley goes on to have two children, who presumably spend some time with Harry's kids as well.

Dudley's transformation begins in the fifth book after Harry saves him from the Dementor attack. It's a touching detail that the movies neglect. It shows that Dudley is more complex than we're first led to believe and that he's also capable of change. Rather than being a stock character, he is three-dimensional and struggling with his own challenges. The last two movies relegate Dudley to the sidelines, obviously due to time constraints and the sheer amount of material they needed to get through.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

7 harry and cho's relationship.

Most of the Harry Potter books feature childhood crushes and teasing over who likes who, so it was a big deal when Harry had a crush of his own on Cho Chang ( Katie Leung ), the Ravenclaw student and talented Quidditch player. Unfortunately, as with many romances in the movies, it's not executed especially well. For one, Harry and Cho (and perhaps the actors too) lack chemistry. We never sense a real spark between them, and they don't seem to have much in common, other than a love for Quidditch.

We only get a handful of scenes with the two alone and none show any real closeness between them , even when they grieve together over Cedric Diggory ( Robert Pattinson ). Fundamentally, their relationship in the movies is underdeveloped and peters out without much explanation or resolution. Plus, the reason for their breakup in the movies is ridiculous: Cho rats out Dumbledore's Army, but only under duress. By contrast, their breakup in the books is far more interesting, with the two falling out over an argument when Harry senses that she is still in love with Cedric.

6 The Attack on the Burrow

Movie: 'harry potter and the half-blood prince'.

One of the lamest scenes invented for the sixth movie is the Death Eater attack on the Weasleys' family home, something which does not appear in the book. A crew of baddies, including Bellatrix Lestrange ( Helena Bonham Carter ) and Fenrir Greyback ( Dave Legendo ) show up, hellbent on capturing Harry. The characters wind up in a magical duel and parts of the Burrow are razed to the ground. Presumably, this scene was intended to add some action to the movie and highlight the rising danger of the Death Eaters.

However, it's all rather lackluster and does not move the story along. The Death Eaters get away without achieving anything, so the whole sequence is superfluous and doesn't leave any lasting impact on the heroes. It's also just not very exciting. Not to mention, action scenes are not the main thing fans love about Harry Potter anyway. Once again, this is a scene that could have and should have just been replaced by one from the books .

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

5 voldemort's underdeveloped backstory.

One of the highlights of the sixth book is the deep dive into Voldemort's origins. Harry and Dumbledore use the Pensieve to explore various memories of Tom Riddle as a boy, a teenager, and a young man. Many of the scenes are frightening, like the hints about what Tom did to some of the fellow children at his orphanage, as well as his murder of his father. More importantly, these details make Voldemort far more compelling and complex; turning him into a genuine character in his own right rather than simply an archetype of evil.

However, the movie barely scratches the surface of the Dark Lord's past. We get one terrific scene of Tom as a boy when Dumbledore visits him at the orphanage, plus a handful of exchanges between the teenage Tom and Professor Slughorn ( Jim Broadbent ). But the most dramatic moments are nixed altogether, which is a pity, especially since the movie includes disappointing invented scenes like the burrow attack.

4 Harry and Ginny's Relationship

Cho and Harry's relationship was a disappointment, but the romance between him and Ginny ( Bonnie Wright ) in the films is arguably even worse, especially since it's so much more important to the story. Rather than the slow buildup of the books, with Harry and Ginny first establishing a friendship, the movies rush their romance. It comes across as forced and inorganic, leading to several awkward and sometimes just plain weird scenes between the pair. Basically, they are shunted together by the dictates of the plot rather than a natural progression of interactions.

A related problem is Ginny's general lack of character development in the movies. In the books, she is fierce, loyal, and whip-smart, but in the films, her personality is a lot blander . It's hard to even say what Movie Ginny's defining traits are. Simply put, we don't really get much of a sense of who Ginny really is , making it hard to see what Harry finds so captivating about her.

3 Time Travel Plot Holes

Movie: 'harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban' & more.

Time travel plays a key role in the third film, with the heroes going back in time to try and save Sirius Black ( Gary Oldman ) and the Hippogriff Buckbeak. These scenes are done really well, and the closed-loop depiction of time travel is wonderful. But, as great as this sequence is, it's not worth all the problems it causes for the plot as a whole. After all, the introduction of time travel raises all sorts of questions. Why didn't the Death Eaters simply use one to go back and kill baby Harry? Why didn't the Order of the Phoenix use one to defeat Voldemort for good?

We are told the Ministry closely controls the use of Time Turners because of their danger. But if they were willing to let Hermione use one just to attend multiple classes at once, why wouldn't they allow one to be used to surviving the world? Is Hermione's GPA more important than the fate of humanity? It seems J.K. Rowling realized the plot hole the Time Turner created, as she includes a scene in the fifth book where the Ministry's entire collection of devices is destroyed. This is too little too late, however, as the Time Turner had already made much of the series seem silly and trivial.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2 dumbledore and aberforth's underdeveloped backstories, movie: 'harry potter and the deathly hallows - part 2'.

For most of the series, Albus Dumbledore is so larger-than-life that he's more of a symbol than a real person. He's the wise old man, the benevolent mentor. However, part of the beauty of the Deathly Hallows book is that it reveals that Dumbledore is a flawed, complex human being like anyone else. In particular, it shows us this by exploring his tragic backstory, especially regarding his sister Ariana.

Ariana is tormented by Muggles and later killed in a three-way duel between Dumbledore, his brother Aberforth ( Ciarán Hinds), and Dumbledore's onetime friend and ally, Grindelwald. Wracked by guilt, this incident prompts Dumbledore to reassess his values and become the kind, goodhearted man we know and love. However, the movies barely touch on any of this. While the film does feature Aberforth, his part is greatly reduced and does not dig into the events that humanize Dumbledore so well. It's one of the most serious flaws of the Deathly Hallows movies.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

1 camping in the woods.

In Deathly Hallows - Part 1 , the golden trio camp out for several days in the Forest of Dean while hunting Horcruxes. Although it does eventually culminate in some interesting moments, like Ron destroying the locket and Snape ( Alan Rickman ) sending a silver doe Patronus to deliver Gryffindor's Sword, most of the sequence feels like an interminable slog. It's mostly boring, dry, and overlong. Even when there is drama, like Ron growing paranoid about Harry and Hermione's closeness, it feels forced and unnatural.

The camping sequence points to a deeper problem with the Deathly Hallows movies : we spend very little time at Hogwarts. The wonder and whimsy of the wizarding school was always the main appeal of the series. Its absence makes the Deathly Hallows movies far less enjoyable. Taking the characters (and, by extension, the viewer) away from Hogwarts was intentional. It's meant to highlight the stakes and show how far the wizarding world has fallen under Voldemort's power. But it still makes this stretch of the movie one of the least fun of the whole franchise.

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Reader's Digest

14 Hidden Messages in the Harry Potter Books You Never Noticed

The house colors represent the elements.

I n Harry Potter’s magical world, nothing is as it seemsand that goes for the books themselves. Master storyteller J.K. Rowling wove in all kinds of mysterious meanings, surreptitious signs, and cloaked clues that, when deciphered, illuminate the themes of the story.

For example, everyone knows that students are sorted into the four houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry based on their personalitiesbut did you know the house colors have a deeper meaning? “The four Hogwarts houses have a loose association with the four elements, and their colors were chosen accordingly,” Rowling wrote on the official Pottermore site. “Gryffindor (red and gold) is connected to fire; Slytherin (green and silver) to water; Hufflepuff (yellow and black, representing wheat and soil) to earth; and Ravenclaw (blue and bronze; sky and eagle feathers) to air.” For each book’s 20th anniversary, new U.K. editions are being released in all the house colors and crests, with special house-specific content inside. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the U.K. name for the first book in the series) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ‘ house editions are out now and available on Amazon; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban releases this month.

Harry has two contrasting father figures

Colors also come into play with orphaned Harry’s father figures in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone : Rubeus (or “red”) Hagrid and Albus (or “white”) Dumbledore. Rowling points out that red and white are complementary colors in the mystical science of alchemy, and represent different stages of spiritual transformation. “Where my two characters were concerned, I named them for the alchemical colors to convey their opposing but complementary natures: Red meaning passion (or emotion), white for asceticism; Hagrid being the earthy, warm, and physical man, lord of the forest; Dumbledore the spiritual theoretician, brilliant, idealized, and somewhat detached,” she wrote on Pottermore . “Each is a necessary counterpoint to the other as Harry seeks father figures in his new world.”

Names reveal whoor whatpeople really are

Several of Rowling’s characters’ names have hidden meaningsand in many cases, if you know what they are, you can uncover the plot. For example, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban , beloved teacher Remus Lupin is discovered to be a werewolf, and Harry’s godfather Sirius Black is revealed to transform into a dog. Remus’s name refers to the Roman myth of Romulus and Remus, two brothers who were raised by wolves; and Lupin comes from the Latin word “lupinus,” meaning “wolfish.” Sirius , on the other hand, is the name of the “dog star” in astronomy, part of the Canis (i.e., canine) Major constellation. Check out more surprising Harry Potter details you may have missed the first time you read the books .

Lupin’s condition is a metaphor for HIV

Speaking of Lupin, Rowling revealed a deeper layer to his werewolf disease and the secrecy surrounding it. “Remus Lupin’s affliction was a conscious reference to blood-borne diseases such as the HIV infection, with the attendant stigma,” Rowling wrote on Pottermore . “The potion Snape brews him is akin to the antiretroviral that will keep him from developing the ‘full-blown’ version of his illness.” Unfortunately, the discrimination Lupin unfairly faces when his condition is made public is the reason he has to leave Hogwarts. “The sense of ‘apartness’ that the management of a chronic condition can impose on its sufferers was an important part of Lupin’s character,” Rowling wrote. In the Prisoner of Azkaban movie , the filmmakers wanted to present Lupin’s condition as an illness, so he appears pallid, unwell, and sad.

Names also reveal the characters’ true natures

Some characters’ names give readers clues to their hidden motivations and feelings. J.K. Rowling is proficient in French, and that shows in her naming of Draco Malfoy and Voldemort . In French, mal foi means “bad faith,” fitting for a character whose family follows the evil wizard He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Voldemort’s name comes from the French vol de mort , or “flight of death,” which makes sense as he fears dying and does everything in his power to gain immortality. Of course, as Chamber of Secrets reveals, “I am Lord Voldemort” is also an anagram of the Dark Lord’s original name, Tom Marvolo Riddle. Rowling assured fans she had no “anti-French feelings” in naming Voldemort. “I needed a name that evokes both power and exoticism,” she said while receiving the French Legion of Honor. (Fun fact: In accordance with French pronunciation, Rowling revealed the last “t” in Voldemort is silent, meaning we’ve been saying it wrong all these years.)

Hedwig symbolizes the comforts of childhood

Although Rowling herself hasn’t elaborated on the meaning behind Harry’s pet owl, the Catholic St. Hedwig had seven children and took care of orphans. Who does this sound like? Harry’s best friend Ron’s mother, Mrs. Weasley, mother of seven who sheltered Harry whenever he needed somewhere to go, sure fits the bill. Hedwig the owl likewise cared for Harry: In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix , he said she was “the only friend he had at number four, Privet Drive [his Muggle relatives’ home].” And perhaps that’s why fans were so saddened when she was killed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . “The loss of Hedwig represented a loss of innocence and security,” Rowling said . “Voldemort killing her marked the end of childhood.”

Dementors personify depression

The soul-stealing dementors, creatures that suck hope and happiness out of anyone they’re near, first appear in Prisoner of Azkaban . According to Rowling, they’re a physical manifestation of what it’s like to experience depression. “It’s so difficult to describe [depression] to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness,” Rowling said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey . “I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feelingthat really hollowed-out feeling. That’s what dementors are.” For Harry, dementors also cause him to relive the trauma of his mother’s death at the hands of Voldemort: When dementors are near, he hears her screams. If you just need to read something silly, check out these Harry Potter jokes .

Harry bears a resemblance to another “chosen one”

A sword with magical powers that only can be summoned by a special someonenope, we’re not talking about the legendary King Arthur’s Excalibur, but the sword of Gryffindor. If Harry’s sword bears resemblance to Excalibur, though, does that mean Harry is King Arthur ? Arthur, after all, was also an orphan from humble beginnings who was chosen to possess a powerful sword and become a leader. (Not to mention Dumbledore could be Arthur’s wizard mentor, Merlin, and Hogwarts could be Camelot.) “Gryffindor’s sword owes something to the legend of Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur, which in some legends must be drawn from a stone by the rightful king,” Rowling said on Pottermore . “The idea of fitness to carry the sword is echoed in the sword of Gryffindor’s return to worthy members of its true owner’s house.” Rowling included another intentional throwback to the Arthurian legend. “There is a further allusion to Excalibur emerging from the lake when Harry must dive into a frozen forest pool to retrieve the sword in Deathly Hallows ,” she says. “In other versions of the legend, Excalibur was given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake, and was returned to the lake when he died.”

Bathrooms are another kind of “room of requirement”

Rowling hasn’t revealed exactly why this is, but bathrooms are really, really important to the Harry Potter books. Nearly everyone has a major scene taking place in the “loo,” as the British call it: the troll fight in Sorcerer’s Stone ; the home of ghost Moaning Myrtle and the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets ; Harry solving a Triwizard Tournament clue in a bathtub in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ; Harry’s wand battle with Draco in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince . Plus, one of the first hints of the hidden Room of Requirement , which changes to fit the seeker’s needs, is Dumbledore mentioning coming across a room full of chamber pots when he had to go the bathroom in Goblet of Fire . Perhaps this potty preoccupation exists because, before bathrooms, wizards apparently went wherever they pleased, cleaning it up with a flick of the wand. “Hogwarts didn’t always have bathrooms,” revealed Pottermore in a tweet that caused a fan frenzy. “Before adopting Muggle plumbing methods in the eighteenth century, witches and wizards simply relieved themselves wherever they stood, and vanished the evidence.”

Snape’s first words to Harry were about his mother

As Pottermore explains, the Harry Potter books often employ floriography, or conveying meaning through flowers, a pastime popular with the Victorians. So, the first words cold Professor Snape says to Harry in Sorcerer’s Stone ”What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”aren’t just a way to humiliate Harry by asking him about a potion he hasn’t learned yet. Asphodel is a type of lily and means “my regrets follow you to the grave”; wormwood is also associated with regret and bitterness. Snape, who was in love with Harry’s mother, Lily, is telling Harry he bitterly regrets her death. (By the way, the answer to the question is the Draught of Living Death, which Professor Slughorn’s class attempts to make in Half-Blood Prince .) Dive deeper into Snape’s first words to Harry here .

Seven is the most powerful number

In numerology, numbers have mystical meaning, as they do in Harry Potter . Lucky number seven, for example, pops up everywhere : seven Potter books, seven children in the Weasley family, seven players on a Quidditch team, seven years at Hogwarts, seven Horcruxes containing pieces of Voldemort’s soul, and more. In Hogwarts lore, a 13th-century witch named Bridget Wenlock was the first to discover the magical properties of seven. Another number that pops up often? The trinity, or number three: three Deathly Hallows, three unforgivable curses, the three-headed dog, three tasks and three schools in the Triwizard Tournament, and the core trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Wizards like Starbucks?

The books aren’t the only places secret messages turn up. Look closely in the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film , and you’ll see what looks like a Starbucks logo in the Black family tapestry at Sirius’s former home and current Order of the Phoenix safe house, 12 Grimmauld Place. (Check it out on the bottom left side of the tapestry in this photo on Pottermore.) Could the filmmakers be paying homage to the coffee shops where J.K. Rowling wrote the early books? In truth, Rowling favored Edinburgh’s The Elephant House, not Starbucks, as the spot to craft her tales. Perhaps the tapestry’s creators at graphic design firm MinaLima were just really in need of caffeine.

There’s a secret Daily Prophet character

The cheeky artists at MinaLima didn’t stop there: There’s subliminal advertising for a wizard perfume called Divine Magic in the Half-Blood Prince and Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies. But perhaps the designers’ boldest move is the creation of a whole new character who appears in the Daily Prophet and New York Ghost newspapers throughout the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies: a mischievous criminal called the Ginger Witch . Could this be a long-lost relative of the red-haired Weasley clan? According to MinaLima’s Eduardo Lima , she’s based on a friend of theirs named Debbie.

Mirrors are the window to the soul

Even in the Muggle world, mirrors seem enchanted, but they take on an even greater significance in the wizarding world, reflecting crucial truths about the characters. First in Sorcerer’s Stone , Harry becomes entranced by the image of himself with his parents in the Mirror of Erised (“desire” spelled backward). But the lesson the mirror represents, Rowling says , is that “life can pass you by while you are clinging on to a wish that can never be.” In Goblet of Fire , Harry comes across a Foe-Glass, which reveals your enemies. Then in Order of the Phoenix , Sirius gives Harry a two-way mirror for them to communicateonly to meet his own death soon after. But even after Harry shatters the mirror in frustration, he sees an eye staring back at him in a shard: Harry later discovers it’s Aberforth, Dumbledore’s brother, who helps him to safety using the mirror in Deathly Hallows . If you picked up on these meanings already, try our Harry Potter quiz that only diehard fans can ace .

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The post 14 Hidden Messages in the Harry Potter Books You Never Noticed appeared first on Reader's Digest .

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    Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, was given its name because it is part of the Great Dog constellation; this large star moves with the seasons and was used by the ancient Egyptians to set calendars. The name Black describes Sirius Black's dark hair and at times his dark humor. The name together is what he is as an animagus, a large black dog.