Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Summary

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a young adult novel by J.K. Rowling. On his eleventh birthday, orphan Harry Potter receives an acceptance letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he learns about magic and his own past.

  • Harry lives with his aunt and uncle. Harry's parents were killed by the evil wizard Voldemort when he was an infant.

  • At Hogwarts, Harry quickly befriends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, and makes an enemy of Draco Malfoy.

  • Harry encounters Voldemort, who is working with one of his professors. With the help of his friends, Harry defeats Voldemort and the professor.

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Last Updated on May 14, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 389

At the beginning of the novel, Harry Potter is living in a cupboard under the stairs, suffering appalling maltreatment at the hands of the Dursley family, to whose care he was confided as an infant following the death of his parents; his mother was Mrs. Dursley’s sister. On his eleventh birthday, however, it is revealed to him, despite the Dursleys’ best efforts, that he has inherited magical abilities and is scheduled for education in wizardry at Hogwarts Academy, a key pillar of the British magical community, which lives in strict covert isolation from untalented “muggles.” This message is delivered by the intimidating Hagrid, who lives on the school grounds on the edge of a Forbidden Forest. Hagrid, who is fascinated by all manner of magical creatures, becomes Harry’s first fast friend.

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Having obtained essential equipment from the magical mall in Diagon Alley, Harry catches the Hogwarts Express from platform nine and three-quarters at King’s Cross Station and is carried away to his new life. He finds that his reputation has preceded him to Hogwarts. While still preconscious in his cradle, he survived a magical assault by the infamous dark wizard Voldemort (whose name is so terrible in its effects that only Harry and Hogwarts’ headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, dare pronounce it), deflecting a killing spell back upon its sender and reducing Voldemort to helplessness. Despite the resentment generated by this reputation among the children of Voldemort’s former sympathizers—including fellow pupil Draco Malfoy and the disciplinarian teacher Severus Snape—Harry finds life at Hogwarts idyllic and makes two more firm friends in the bookish Hermione Granger and the hapless but willing Ron Weasley.

Initially, the only strong evidence of Harry’s talent is provided on the sports field, where he becomes an expert player of quidditch, a game played on flying broomsticks. Voldemort, however, is in hiding at Hogwarts, beginning to recover his powers and enthusiastic to get rid of his nemesis. Voldemort also wants to get hold of the philosopher’s stone, which was entrusted by the famous alchemist Nicholas Flamel to Dumbledore. With the aid of Hermione and Ron, and encouragement from Dumbledore and Hagrid, Harry contrives to thwart Voldemort’s ambition in a tense climax, but he realizes that he is engaged in a contest that is likely to be long and desperate.

Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 528

The first of the "Harry Potter" books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone introduces readers to Harry Potter on the cusp of his eleventh birthday. Born to a well-respected and much-loved witch and wizard, Harry Potter was orphaned as a baby and left to be taken care of by his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon Dursley, along with their son Dudley.

Harry bears the scars of his parents' fate and his orphaned status both literally and figuratively. The evil wizard Voldemort ("He Who Shall Not Be Named") killed Harry's parents but could not vanquish their son. As a result of the battle, Harry wears a curious, lightning-shaped scar on his forehead—a scar that burns when Harry is in danger or when he wakes up from a repeating nightmare of infant memory. Nevertheless, being the son of a successful magic couple and defeating an evil wizard as a one-year-old babe is not without benefits. Harry Potter is renowned in the magic world, a child hero. But he is a child hero unaware. In their wisdom, Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall leave Harry on the Durlsey's doorstep. The Dursleys are staunch and proud Muggles, non-magic people who live in a flat, gray, and oppressively over-systematized and inconvenient world—the world of present-day Great Britain.

Harry is perceived as a burden and potential embarrassment to the Dursleys. He is told that his parents were killed in a car accident, never shown any photographs of them, and kept ignorant of the magic world and his own possible place in it. Harry Potter cannot explain how he was able to jump on top of the school building when being chased by bullies, nor how he dissolved the glass front of a snake's habitat and conversed with the boa constrictor during Dudley Dursley's birthday outing to the zoo. Indeed, these are the very things that leave him friendless, isolated, and very unheroic in his own (and everyone else's) eyes.

The first ten years of Harry's life bear a resemblance to Wart's, the young King Arthur's, childhood as depicted in T. H. White's The Once and Future King. Where White's long-bearded Merlin gives the Wart in fosterage, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Rowling's Professor Dumbledore farms Harry out to distant relatives. Where White's young Arthur is treated as a second- class son compared to the up-and-coming Sir Kay, Rowling's child hero is abused and maligned by his aunt and uncle and their spoiled, ridiculous son Dudley. Where White's protagonist is unwittingly trained for kingship by Merlin before he stumbles across the sword in the stone and his heroic self, Rowling's title character is eventually relieved of his unhappy Muggle upbringing by Professor Dumbledore's letter of acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Noble parentage and inherent heroism are revealed and Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone takes off into a description of the non-Muggle world, the wonderful landscape and lifestyle of Hogwarts school, and the firstyear student adventures of Harry and his new friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Together, they embark on a quest for the Sorcerer's Stone, a magical stone that, as they discover, is hidden deep within Hogwarts.

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