In the twelfth chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry’s mysterious Christmas gift enables him to find a secret of Hogwarts and confront his past. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to re-read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER TWELVE: THE MIRROR OF ERISED
It’s clear now that this is the start of Rowling’s ability to be both poetic and to crush our hearts ruthlessly. If anything, it’s also the first chapter in Sorcerer’s Stone that gives an idea just how heavy some of the themes in these books are going to be. She drops hints towards future archetypes regarding bullying, rejection, the loss of family, being differentâ€¦shit, a lot of what makes up the later books is right here. I know she hadn’t planned out all seven books right at the beginning, so some of this is just how it came about later, but there’s a nice synchronicity to the Harry Potter series that I’m just now beginning to appreciate.
The Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban.
THEY FUCKING KNEW.
Draco doesn’t play a large part in the story quite yet, but Rowling does make sure to introduce the idea that he is an entitled, spoiled, and worthless bully, the kind who is relentless in their pursuit of a victim. It’s almost impressive how he’s able to find nearly anything to use against Harry, even if it doesn’t necessarily have the effect he wants.
So Malfoy, jealous and angry, had gone back to taunting Harry about having no proper family.
THAT’S A PLEASANT IDEA. I know that it’s nearly impossible to avoid it, but I like that Rowling doesn’t ever hide the fact that Harry is alone here at Hogwarts. His aunt and uncle (as shown by their wonderful Christmas gift) don’t care about him, and he has no family to return to for the holiday. Yet I adore how excited he is for a Christmas away from the Dursleys; the magical world still holds the same amount of intrigue and joy to him, and even Malfoy’s teasing can’t change that. But that doesn’t mean Malfoy doesn’t upset Harry and Ron, and there’s yet another example of Snape enabling bullying of children he doesn’t like. Even when Hagrid insists that Malfoy insulted Ron’s family, he only takes points for Gryffindor.
Honestly, it makes me want to reach through the pages and slap Snape. Dude, GET OVER IT. You did not end up with Lily. I’m sorry, it sucks, but MOVE THE FUCK ON. At this point, Harry is ELEVEN YEARS OLD. You are letting Malfoy get away with some abusive bullshit because of something Harry had no part in. This is fucked up! Oh god, I am yelling at a fictional character. WILL THE SNAPEWIVES COME AFTER ME.
I forgot how often Hermione either goes to the library to figure things out, or sends Ron and Harry there. Look, the library was like my second home growing up, and I still harbor a deep, caring love for all libraries ever. Because where else can you go to solve mysteries that’s quite like going TO THE LIBRARY?
ilu fandom collisions
I also love that if I had taken five seconds to Google Nicholas Flamel’s name, I would have figured this out. WHERE’S YOUR GOOGLE, HERMIONE. Oh. Right. You can do magic. YOU WIN THIS ROUND.
Actually, everyone wins this next round, because I have since edited my bucket list to include “Experiencing a Hogwarts Christmas” in my top five. I love it. I love every detail. I’m a goddamn vegan, and the food descriptions that Rowling provides (throughout the series, really) just make me ridiculously hungry. I want to play wizard chess with Ron and have my pawns yell at me when I sacrifice them. I want a sweater from Mrs. Weasley that’s knitted in the worst color imaginable, and I would wear it for a week straight without the slightest sensation of irony. I want to awkwardly watch Hagrid get drunk and see Dumbledore put on a “flowered bonnet.” No, how the fuck did I miss this detail the first time around? HE’S WEARING A FLOWERED BONNET. This is what I imagine it looks like:
i mean that is factually correct right. that is canon. IT’S RIGHT THERE IN THE BOOK.
And after the greatest Christmas that Harry has ever had, Rowling allows us a bit of tension and a whole lot of sadness. Harry, shut off from the world for a decade of his life, has a natural inclination towards being curious, and we can see that when he realizes the invisibility cloak will allow him to explore Hogwarts freely. That’s not to say that anyone else wouldn’t do the same, because I sure as hell would. But you have to think of the context of Harry’s life up to this point, and how his guardians have essentially deprived him of everything that most other children get to go through. And I obviously can relate to that, having grown up with incredibly strict parents who also kept me in a bubble for a long time, and I know that I went through the same thing when I finally found freedom at sixteen. More than ever before, I wanted to experience everything, to know everything, to see everything, and to discover everything I’d missed. Harry not only has missed out on the idea of being magical, but he’s simply missed out on being a prying, inquisitive child.
So I really love reading his first trek out into Hogwarts, with all those confusing passages and hallways. I recall asking this during my initial read of the series, but I can’t remember if someone provided an actual answer, so I think I’ll ask again: Has anyone ever mapped Hogwarts? You know, based on what information Rowling has provided in the novels, I think it might be possible, but I also think it’s an ambitious idea because Hogwarts seems to be ever changing.
Anyway, that’s a side note. Harry’s search, which first takes him to the library and to a shrieking book, begins his tradition (later with Ron and Hermione) of constantly sneaking around the castle. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored by this concept because there’s probably nothing I’d love to do more if I was there.
Recently, a friend of mine asked what I would see if I looked into the Mirror of Erised, and as I read the section where Harry sees his family for the first time, I imagine mine wouldn’t be much different. Well, okay, I don’t mean that I would see Harry Potter’s family there. I mean that I desperately wish I had had a normal family with a normal, loving upbringing, and I think that I would see that, me surrounding by a complete family, with close friends nearby, my hand in the hand of someone I love and who loves me for who I am.
And yeah, THIS IS IN THE FIRST BOOK. The idea that the main character has never seen anyone he is related to is depressing as hell. He literally is seeing his parents for the first time, which means that the Dursleys HID ALL PHOTOS OF HARRY’S PARENTS FROM HIM. Good fucking god.
Of course, Ron’s vision in the mirror isn’t any less sad, and I still can’t get over how awesome this is for appearing in the very first book. These issues are not dealt with lightly, and when Harry returns to the mirror a third time and Dumbledore is there, it’s spelled out rather plainly for the reader: Ron and Harry have desperate desires in their hearts to feel welcomed and to belong. It’s also the start of Dumbledore’s interest in Harry, though of course he’s much more distant here in that room.
“I don’t need a cloak to become invisible,” said Dumbledore gently.
WHY DON’T YOU RUB IT IN MY FACE MORE, DUMBLEDORE. We are so oppressed because this world isn’t real.
“What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
“I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks.”
“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
I mean RIGHT. I just bought more socks yesterday! WE KNOW THE REAL TRUTH.
Homework assignment until tomorrow: Do you think Dumbledore’s vision in the Mirror of Erised ever change over the course of the books? DISCUSS.