Harry Potter novels Summary
by J. K. Rowling

Start Your Free Trial

Download Harry Potter novels Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Harry Potter novels Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. There exists a magical world of carrier owls and robed witches and wizards, much unlike the Muggle, or nonmagical, world. A dark wizard, Lord Voldemort, has murdered Harry Potter’s parents, so the boy is left with the Dursleys, his Muggle aunt, uncle, and cousin. He is eleven years old when he learns that he is a wizard, but some of his peculiar abilities, such as communicating with snakes, had given him clues earlier that he is unusual.

Harry is invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His uncle tries to prevent his enrollment, but Harry is fetched by gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid, who takes him to London’s Diagon Alley for money and supplies (including his wand), and put on the train to Hogwarts. During the journey, Harry meets Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, soon to become his best friends. Ron recognizes Harry by a lightning-shaped scar on Harry’s forehead, the result of Voldemort’s attack.

At Hogwarts, children are sorted into four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Harry and his friends are sorted into Gryffindor, famed for its courage, while another new student, Draco Malfoy, is assigned to Slytherin. Headmaster Albus Dumbledore introduces the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quirrell.

Professors Minerva McGonagall (head of Gryffindor) allows Harry to play Quidditch, a game like aerial soccer on broomsticks, although first-year students are generally prohibited from playing the game. Severus Snape, the head of Slytherin, appears to despise Harry; in turn, Harry and Ron hate Snape. The friendship of Harry, Ron, and Hermione is cemented at Halloween, as they defeat a troll.

Harry and his friends discover a gigantic three-headed dog guarding a forbidden corridor. After they learn that the dog guards the Sorcerer’s Stone, which grants immortality to its owner, the three friends target Snape, who they surmise plans to steal it. They calm the dog with music and solve a series of challenges, before Harry confronts and defeats Quirrell, who hosts the weakened Voldemort in his body and who had been seeking the stone to resurrect his master. The stone is destroyed.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Dobby, a house elf, tries to prevent Harry’s return to Hogwarts because he fears danger. However, Harry does return, thanks to a flying car rigged by Ron’s father, Arthur, and driven by Ron. Ginny Weasley joins Ron and her brothers at Hogwarts. Narcissistic Gilderoy Lockhart, who writes fictionalized tales of his own adventures, is the teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts.

A rash of petrifications, including that of Hermione, raises suspicion that Harry has cursed the victims and that either he or Hagrid has opened the Chamber of Secrets. Harry learns the chamber was last opened fifty years before, a violation for which gamekeeper Hagrid had been expelled from the school. Many believe Harry to be the heir of Hogwarts cofounder Salazar Slytherin. Hagrid is arrested and then sends Ron and Harry into the forest to find a giant spider named Aragog, who reveals that Hagrid is innocent.

Harry also finds the diary of a former Hogwarts student, Tom Riddle, from fifty years before, and communicates with young Riddle by writing in the diary. A series of clues leads the boys to believe the Chamber holds a basilisk, a serpent that can kill with only its look.

Ginny Weasley disappears one day, and Harry and Ron descend through bathroom pipes into the Chamber to find her. Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes, brings Harry the sword of Godric Gryffindor and blinds the basilisk. Harry defeats the serpent and uses its fang to destroy the diary. He then saves Ginny and learns that the diary had bewitched her. He also confronts Riddle, who reveals himself as Voldemort. Meanwhile, Dobby, the house-elf, is freed, and the herbology teacher’s mandrakes cure the petrified victims.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban . Sirius Black is an...

(The entire section is 3,127 words.)