“It doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Chapter 11-13

The Mirror of Erised

In Chapter 12, Harry and Ron are staying at Hogwarts over Christmas. Harry is delighted to be spending the holidays away from the Dursleys and even more excited to find that he actually got presents for once. The most important gift is something that is passed down to him from his father, via an unknown source. It is an invisibility cloak which is going to be crucial for Harry’s rule breaking, and survival, throughout the series. But what he likes about it most is that it belonged to his dad. He has never had anything that belonged to his parents before and it makes him feel just a little closer.

While out of bed in the middle of the night, looking through the restricted section of the library for information on Nicolas Flamel, Harry has to hide from Filch and Snape and he happens upon the Mirror of Erised. It is a mirror that shows you your deepest desires. For Harry it is to be with his family. He comes back to see them two nights in a row and it temporarily makes him forget about finding out who Nicolas Flamel is or what Snape might be trying to steal. Harry’s true wish is not to avenge his family or save Hogwarts, but it is to have family and loved ones. But he can’t have his real family and as Dumbledore says “it doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live”. He can miss his family but spending too much time looking for ways to be with them will only make him forget what is real.

Ron also looks in the mirror but he doesn’t see family. He has a big, loving family. But he is so insecure about his position within that family that his greatest desire is to just live up to his older brothers. He feels that if he isn’t impressive, he won’t stand out. He wants his family to be proud of him. Little does Ron know now that he will achieve something much more important than any of his brothers.

The Sorcerer’s Stone

Throughout these chapters, the trio is becoming very invested in finding out what Fluffy is guarding. They are also convinced that Snape is trying to steal whatever it is. The naïveté that comes with their age is really apparent here. They see everything is black and white. Snape is without question the bad guy. Nothing bad can happen if Dumbledore is around. Harry is terrified of Snape being the referee for their quidditch match, because he thinks that Snape will try to kill him, but then is completely fine as soon as he finds out Dumbledore will be watching. As the series goes on they will develop more nuanced understanding of things, though Harry is always suspicious of Snape and ready to jump to the conclusion that Snape is behind everything. The others though kind of learn their lesson, and though never really like Snape, they aren’t as willing to believe that he is definitely bad.

Solving the mystery of what Fluffy is hiding comes just a little too easy to the trio. A lot of this book is just Harry randomly finding rooms while he is hiding from Filch or Snape that happen to give clues, or overhearing conversations. The rest they find out from Hagrid letting things slip or when Neville happens to give Harry a chocolate frog card. There isn’t really much work involved. But they finally figure out that Fluffy is guarding the Sorcerer’s Stone which was made by Nicolas Flamel, an alchemist that is now over 600 years old. It provides immortality and can transform metals into pure gold. So it can make you rich and immortal, makes sense it needs such heavy protection.

The Sorcerer’s Stone mystery is definitely my least favorite of the series, and this is definitely my least favorite book. The whole mystery feels thrown in for the sake of having one. It isn’t really important beyond this book whereas in all the others, the central plot results in something that is carried through in later books. Either through new characters, new information, or changes in the wizarding world. The stone is something that only Harry, Ron, and Hermione are interested in or even aware of. The rest of the school isn’t even really affected by it. When Harry ultimately saves the wizarding world from an immortal Voldemort at the end of the book, the rest of the school is barely aware of what happened. This book mostly functions to set the stage, but Rowling needed something to make it interesting on its own so this plot was thrown in.

Miscellaneous

  • We get our first Quidditch match which I generally just skip through because there is way too much detail about the game. The only thing that really makes these chapters bearable is Lee Jordan’s commentary, which was tragically left out of the movies. He is obviously biased and McGonagall has to constantly get on him, making you wonder why they let him do it at all.
  • Harry and Ron immediately start taking advantage of Hermione’s friendship. Getting help with their homework and her small jam jar fires. How did they function before her?
  • The one thing that Ron is superior to Hermione and Harry on is Wizard’s Chess.
  • Harry is surprised that he got presents from Hermione and Hagrid, does this mean that he didn’t get them anything?
  • During the Quidditch matches there are scenes of Ron and Hermione and the other Gryffindors in the stands, discussing the match and Harry’s broom troubles. But Harry wouldn’t be privy to these conversations because he is playing. It seemed weird considering that the book is from Harry’s perspective.

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