Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Chapter Eight
And we’re back! For those who only come for these recaps and confused by the delay, I had a whoooole lot of recapping projects on the go (Doctor Who, Riverdale, American Horror Story, Vikings) and something needed to slow down for a little bit, so Harry Potter took the hit. But I’m clambering back on the Griffin again right here and now, and I’m very excited to plunge headfirst into another chapter of my odd psychosexual obsession with Hagrid. I mean, the book. The book. Yeah, we’ll go with that (#BaeOfGiants2K18).
We left off last time with the Sorting Hat placing Harry in Gryffindor, and Harry retreating to the dorm room for his first night in Hogwarts. The next day, he leaves the common room to dozens of whispers about his presence at the school:
“People lining up outside classrooms stood on tiptoe to get a look at him, or doubled back to pass him in the corridors again, staring. Harry wished they wouldn’t, because he was trying to concentrate on finding his way to classes.”
This was exactly what my first three weeks at university were like. At least as I remember it. I was also drunk a lot of that time, so don’t quote me on that. Harry struggles to navigate around the weird world of Hogwarts
“Then there were doors that wouldn’t open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that weren’t really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending.”
Tag yourself, I’m the solid wall just pretending (vaginismus banter). Harry and Ron manage to piss off Filch, and we finally get to meet my bitch and queen Mrs Norris the authoritarian cat, though JK just can’t let her entrance slide without remarking that “it was the dearest ambition of many to give Mrs. Norris a good kick”. Bitch, my cat threw up on the bed while I was in it when I was hungover once and I love her more than life itself. None of these people appreciate cats. Team Voldemort, at this point, to be honest.
This chapter is really just a quick introduction to what’s going on in and around Hogwarts – the classes they’re taking, where they attend them, and which teachers are thinly-veiled butch greenhouse lesbians (“they went out to the greenhouses behind the castle to study Herbology, with a dumpy little witch called Professor Sprout, where they learned how to take care of all the strange plants and fungi”). It’s honestly some pretty fucking crisp scene-setting, and I can still remember reading this for the first time and just feeling that thundering urge to be there, attending those classes with them. Even History of Magic. Especially History of Magic. McGonagall is impressed with Hermione’s talents in transfiguration, giving her a “rare smile”, because QUEENS respect QUEENS.
Harry recieves his first owl-letter, and honestly I’m chucking it in its entirety because it made me spontaneously start ovulating:
I know you get Friday afternoons off, so would you like to come and have a cup of tea with me around three?
I want to hear all about your first week. Send us an answer back with Hedwig.
MY FUCKING PRINCE. This honestly nearly made me cry. Need to get me a giant like that.
Harry has his first Potions lesson with professor Snape, which is really the point of this chapter:
“I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses. . . I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach. ”
Did you hear that all in Alan Rickman’s voice? Me neither. Anyway, this is the beginning of Snape’s arc, so that renders it one of the most interesting parts of the story so far and allows me to get on my Snape soapbox (Snapebox?) for the first time in these recaps.
Snape becomes such a fascinating character in so many ways over the course of the series, but really, this is still a guy who abuses a kid who’s grown up around more than a decade of familial abuse from his family because this kid’s Mum didn’t want him to get in and about her. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s one of JK’s best achievements in terms of character development, but I’m also not on the “Snape was good all along!!!” train, because he’s a shit to Harry in these opening scenes (sneering at his fame, mocking him in front of the class, blaming him for an accident Neville has that results in Neville getting lightly poisoned) and there is honestly no good reason for it beyond sheer vindictiveness. Harry is a child, a fucking child. These aren’t the actions of a good person.
Ron accompanies Harry to visit Hagrid for the first time, where my husband is hanging out with his dog and his baked goods and his tea (you think I’m joking about this crush, but I can assure you, I’m really not, and it’s a little sad). Harry asks Hagrid about Snape, but he avoids his questions, suggesting that there’s something else to Snape’s dislike of Harry than he is revealing. In all fairness, how do you tell an eleven-year-old that a grown man hates you because your dad was a cunt and his mum wouldn’t give him hers? (sorry that was extremely crude) Hagrid’s in an unwinnable situation here, which could be swiftly avoided if Snape could sort his repressed shit out already.
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.