So I have a huge stack of books that I am yet to read… almost all of them I’m itching to get stuck into, having just finished Faery Tales by Carol Ann Duffy (an excellent collection of short fairytales, and not hard to see why she is the current Poet Laureate), but about this time every year I forgo the books all clamouring to be the next one I read, and re-read the Harry Potter series. They are by far my favourite books, for reasons I cannot entirely quantify or define, and for some reason as soon as we pass my birthday and hit mid-June, I get the urge to read them all again, and every time I enjoy them just as much, if not more so. I decided this year though, that I’d note down all the things I noticed or realised, now that I’m not focused on the main storyline- which I know better than probably my own life story! Below I’ve shared the things that I noticed or thought in the first book- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
2) Professor McGonagall is right when she tells Dumbledore that a note being left on the doorstep with baby Harry is not sufficient. Firstly, he has just apparently destroyed one of the darkest and most powerful wizards ever, who had a massive base of dedicated followers (most of whom we see in later books and inclined to despise and feel murderous towards Harry)- surely there would be a risk of one of them now trying to kill him in revenge for their masters downfall, and leaving Harry as a one year old, unguarded on a doorstep is not the safest plan. Secondly, even if there are magical enchantments and explanations for that oversight, surely there would be requisite paperwork (from the muggle world) in order to register Harry’s transfer to his Aunt and Uncle’s custody? Thirdly, and finally, bearing in mind that the note must also be breaking the news of Petunia’s sister’s death- surely a face to face meeting would be the least that would be required in order to hand Harry over and explain the situation fully?
3) When Harry is talking to the boa constrictor (rumoured to be Nagini) at the zoo on Dudley’s birthday, he must be speaking in parcel tongue. Obviously at the time we don’t know such a thing exists, it is only with hindsight that I realised he must have been unknowingly using his ability to communicate with the snake.
4) Whilst trying to evade the letters from Hogwarts that have started arriving, Vernon starts acting in a slightly deranged manner (Dudley even notes that he appears to have gone ‘mad’)- he then packs his family into the car, buys a gun and then ships them all off to a remote shack in the middle of nowhere. Surely this would cause some alarm bells or suspicion to the shop selling the gun?
5) Petunia says that Lily came home every summer ‘turning tea cups into rats’- was there no ‘no magic outside of school’ rule then?
6) Harry and Hagrid take the boat back to the shore in to go into London to buy Harry’s school supplies, how do the Dursley’s make it back to the mainland?
7) When Harry first meets Professor Quirrell in the Leaky Cauldron, there is no mention of him wearing a turban- Harry notices this when he sees him at school, so where is Voldemort then? *Update; having read to the end of the book, I’ve come back to this, as Quirrell in fact says that Voldemort decides he needs to keep a closer eye on him (implying, moves into his head) after he fails to steal the stone from Gringotts.*
8) Ollivander tells Harry than his father’s wand was one good for transfiguration- an early hint towards the fact that his father became an animagus.
9) Harry has no idea how to get onto Platform Nine and Three Quarters- presumably the other muggle-born students who have had no previous interaction with the magical world wouldn’t know this either. Surely they should have included instructions in the Hogwarts letter, otherwise there is the risk of guards repeatedly being asked about the platform and suspicions being raised?
10) Why are there no professors or other adults on the Hogwarts Express, to keep the students in order?
11) None of the first years appear to know how they are sorted into houses, presumably this is a well known fact within the Hogwarts previous students, and would most likely be mentioned in Hogwarts: A History- some of them (for example, Hermione who might be the only student to have read that book) should already know about the sorting hat.
12) How is ‘alohomora’ the only magical protection stopping the students coming face to face with Fluffy? The fact they’ve been told not to go there, means that inevitably students will probably be more like to try and get in there, and given how the staircases move about etc, it’s likely students could end up there by mistake- surely there should be more than an easily removed locking spell? For example, a suit of armor, or at the very least a sign to indicate that that is where they should be avoiding!!
13) Would Harry have been good at potions if it wasn’t Snape teaching?
14) When Harry and Ron went after the troll to save Hermione, couldn’t they have let of a flare or something to alert teachers to the fact that they’d found the troll and were about to be in danger?
15) How do you sneak a troll into Hogwarts???!!
16) Why does Hermione lie to Professor McGonagall about why they were in the bathroom? The truth- that she was upset and became trapped in the bathroom, and that Harry and Ron came to save her- is not all that different from the lie- that she went after the troll and became trapped in the bathroom, and that Harry and Ron came to save her- except possibly she wouldn’t have lost 5 house points.
17) After Harry’s broom tries to throw him off at the Quidditch match, is there no investigation into what happened? Surely the teachers would want to be sure that it wasn’t a malfunctioning broom and it is safe for him to ride in future. Dumbledore appears to be aware that it was an attempt to kill Harry though, so surely there should have been some sort of questioning etc try to establish who was behind it?
18) There should be a wizarding world internet, imagine how much quicker they’d have found out about the Philosopher’s Stone if they could have just googled Nicholas Flamel.
19) How was the stone protected before the Mirror of Erised was moved down?
20) At one point Harry has a horrible feeling that Snape can read minds- it later turns out he can.
21) After Griffindor beat Slytherin at Quidditch, Snape spits on the ground. How old is he??! Teenage boys spit, not adult professors!
23) The plan to get rid of Norbert was literally never going to work. Why did Hagrid allow Harry and Hermione to risk being expelled?
24) Hogwarts is protected by numerous charms etc to stop people just being able to wander in, yet Charlie’s friends are able to easily fly up to the astronomy tower.
25) Quirrell calls Voldemort by his name, rather than referring to him as the Dark Lord or his master, like the death eaters.