Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Chapter Seven
Hey hey hey! We’re back (on Bi Visibility Day, no less, so I have to post something) in the world of Harry Potter. I’ve starting recapping the new season of American Horror Story in between recaps, so if you’re in the mood for some more grown-up horror, you know where to go.
We left off last time with Harry arriving at Hogwarts for the first time, and this chapter, The Sorting Hat, sees his introduction to the school proper, courtesy of
power lesbian bottom deputy headmaster Professor McGonagall. She leads them into the Great Hall, where she gives them their video-game-helper-character-info-dump about the four Hogwarts houses and house points and the Sorting and, uh, everything JK couldn’t find a subtler place to exposite, I suppose. I’m not going to run through the four houses again here, but I would like to establish that I’m a Slytherin and I would never have had the nerve to ask to be put in Gryffindor like a real hero would because I am a pathetic fool in the face of authority.
Nobody really seems to know what kind of test is required to sort them into houses, which I find really weird because…surely this isn’t some big secret? I mean, some book, somewhere must have mentioned it, right? Apparently not, though, as even Hermione, our resident Bitch and Queen, doesn’t seem to have a clue:
“No one was talking much except Hermione Granger, who was whispering very fast about all the spells she’d learned and wondering which one she’d need.”
All of them, babe. All of them, if you’re going to carry your useless counterdudes through the rest of this series. When they enter the Great Hall, Hermione has obviously read enough to know about the minutiae of the fucking ceiling:
“He heard Hermione whisper, “Its bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts, A History.””
How does nobody know what the Sorting Hat is?! I’m getting hung up on this, I’m sorry. I know JK is just trying to build tension here, but it makes no decent sense that nobody close to Harry has a clue what the Hat is. Anyway, the students file into the hall, and the Hat is revealed, where it proceeds to do this whole fuckin’ freestyle about Hogwarts houses: Gryffindor (“daring, nerve, and chivalry”), Hufflepuff (“Just and loyal”), Ravenclaw (“wit and learning”), and, uh, that other one, I guess:
“Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.”
I’m not agreeing with the deranged fucks who claim that Slytherins are discriminated against (DO YOU HEAR THE WORDS YOU ARE MAKING ME TYPE), but they’re not even trying to cover up that Slytherins are the evil shits of the Hogwarts world. The Sorting Hat is out here straight dropping beat poetry about how ruthless they are. I love it. But then, I’m a Slytherin, so I’m probably into that masochistic, twisted shit.
The sorting begins, and of course Harry ends up in Gryffindor, as you well know. Sometimes, going through this book, the scenes are just so much a part of cultural meme now that I really feel like going through them again would just read as patronising, so we’re going to skip straight to Dumbledore trolling everyone with his opening remarks:
“Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!”
Shitposting at its finest. Harry talks with Nearly Headless Nick, the house ghost, before the food finally appears on the table:
“The Dursleys had never exactly starved Harry, but he’d never been allowed to eat as much as he liked. Dudley had always taken anything that Harry really wanted, even if It made him sick. Harry piled his plate with a bit of everything except the peppermints and began to eat. It was all delicious.”
I’m so fucking upset by this. Man, reading these books again has just been an exercise in underlining how much “profound childhood abuse” is a standard part of “kid’s genre fiction leading characters”. I want to punch middle-class England straight in the mouth right now, as retribution for this. Harry discusses magical history with the rest of the new Gryffindors, and Neville reveals some more chilling fucking family history because of course if he was a potential lead for this story he has to have been subjected to hellish abuse from his family as well:
” My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of me — he pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once, I nearly drowned — but nothing happened until I was eight.”
FUCKING HELL, LEAVE CHILDREN ALONE! In Rowling’s Britain, every fucking child needs to be rescued by Hagrid and taken bloody care of in the beautiful home that I’ll build with my giant bae. Anyway, Harry glances around the Great Hall, and lays eyes on Snape for the first time:
“It happened very suddenly. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell’s turban straight into Harry’s eyes — and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harry’s forehead.”
What’s “I wanna bang your mother” in sensory nerve response? Moving on. They finish dinner, and sing the school song, and Dumbledore has some more announcements:
“”And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death.””
Oh, sweet, oh, great. Nobody mentioned in this book so far (HAGRID ASIDE and even him really if we’re being honest) should be anywhere near children. Percy takes the first years to the common room, where Harry retreats to his bed and has a strange dream:
“He was wearing Professor Quirrell’s turban, which kept talking to him, telling him he must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his destiny. Harry told the turban he didn’t want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier and heavier; he tried to pull it off but it tightened painfully — and there was Malfoy, laughing at him as he struggled with it — then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape, whose laugh became high and cold — there was a burst of green light and Harry woke, sweating and shaking.”
Voldemort is in his head and I love it. Is this meant to imply that Voldemort wanted Harry in Slytherin so he could mold him into a subservient version of himself he could control and use as a sidekick? That’s a whole headcanon I want someone to write for me. Get on that, internet.
And that’s where we leave off for this chapter! Thanks for bearing with me over this break. If you enjoyed this recap and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon! You can also find more of my writing on my film site, No But Listen.
(header image courtesy of Buzzfeed)