Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone - Success and
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
Written by the Englishwoman.J. K. (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling (1965- ),
In America the book was called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
- First of the seven Harry Potter books (all made into films) which made Rowling the first ever billionaire
- In the Middle Ages European alchemists searched for a philosopher’s stone that would
turn cheaper metals into gold or silver.
- Made into a 2001 film starring Daniel Radcliffe as Harry (pictured right below).
Harry Potter, young boy and hero.
Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, his best friends.
Hagrid, giant groundkeeper at Hogwarts, a school of wizardry.
(Albert) Dumbledore, the head of Hogwarts.
Professor McGonagall, head of Gryffindor house.
Professor Snape, head of Slytherin house.
Professor Quirrell, teacher at Hogwarts.
Voldemort, an evil wizard and Harry’s arch enemy.
Muggle, ordinary person without innate magical powers (like Hermione)
Centaur, half-man (from the waist up), half-horse
Troll, a twelve foot mountain creature
Quidditch, an aerial ball game on flying broomsticks.
Dumbledore, Hagrid and Professor McGonagall from
Hogwarts School leave a note for the baby Harry Potter (born in late July
It tells him that he’s a great wizard and that Voldemort killed his parents on Halloween
1981, and tried to kill Harry, leaving him with a lightning scar on his forehead.
His horrible new parents (Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon) never give him
At midnight on his eleventh birthday, Hagrid arrives with an admissions letter for Hogwarts and
takes him to London, stopping for school supplies in the wizards’ high street in London, Diagon
Harry discovers he is famous and wealthy (after visiting the wizards’ bank, Gringotts). Hagrid
buys him an owl (Hedwig) for his birthday.
A month later he catches the train for Hogwarts at Kings Cross station in London on
platform 9¾ .He befriends two other first year students:
- Hermione Granger (a Muggle girl).
- Ron Weasley (from a poor wizard family).
They (pictured right in the 2001 film) are delighted when they join Gryffindor house (headed by Professor
McGonagall). Evil Professor Snape’s Slythrin house has the arrogant bully, Draco
Malfoy (who becomes Harry’s enemy).
Harry discovers a fierce three headed dog guarding a trapdoor in the forbidden third floor
corridor. Then on Halloween he and Ron rescue Hermione, trapped in the girl’s toilet with a
During Harry’s first Quidditch match, his broomstick suddenly goes out of control. Hermione
magically sets fire to Snape’s coat after seeing him mutter a curse in Harry’s direction (although actually he is
counteracting another teacher, Professor Quirrell’s evil spell). Harry regains control
of his broomstick and brilliantly wins the match.
Harry receives his father’s invisibility cloak for Christmas, using it to explore Hogwarts
late at night. He discovers the Mirror of Erised which shows the viewer’s deepest
desire. He sees his parents alive.
Harry, Ron and Hermione learn that the three headed dog is guarding the Philosopher’s
- turns any metal into gold.
- gives immortality (through its Elixir of Life) to its owner
(currently Dumbledore’s old partner, Nicholas Flamel).
As part of their punishment for helping Hagrid get rid of an illegal dragon, Harry, Ron and
Hermione have to go into the enchanted forest to investigate some recent killings of
unicorns. There Harry sees a hooded man drinking unicorn blood who tries to attack him. He is rescued by
Firenze, a centaur, who tells him that his attacker was Voldemort.
Harry decides he must find the Philosopher’s Stone before Voldemort after he discovers that he is trying to
steal it. He, Ron and Hermione get past the three headed guard dog and win a life threatening chess
game. Harry eventually finds Quirrell who says he must die.
An angry voice demands to speak to Harry. It is Voldemort, whose face is revealed on the back of
Quirrell’s head. Voldemort, living in Quirrell’s body, tells him to kill Harry, but Quirrell is
burned on contact with him. A fight follows and Harry passes out.
When Harry regains consciousness three days later, Dumbledore tells Harry that Quirrell and Voldemort couldn’t
touch him, because of his scar, the result of his mother’s sacrificial love. The Philosopher’s Stone has been
destroyed, so that it cannot be used for evil.
Harry, Ron and Hermione’s bravery against Voldemort helps Gryffindor win the House Cup.
Lessons for success and ethics
1. Make the most of your potential
Harry (pictured right with Ron and Hermione) transforms himself into a hero through:
- continual self-improvement (even though he's already a fantastically gifted wizard
and Quidditch player)
2. Do good and defeat evil
Harry is determined to emulate his good parents and destroy their evil killer, Voldemort.
He has great courage and humility, despite his wealth and fame.
Dumbledore tells him that self-discipline (see point 3) and morality are vital
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we really are, far more than our abilities”,
Dumbledore advises in the Chamber of Secrets, the second Harry Potter book.
3. Control your desires
Dumbledore advises Harry not to look into the Mirror of Erised (desire backwards) to avoid being obsessed with
Voldemort cannot love because his soul is so consumed by the desire for
4. All you need is love
Harry is helped enormously by his friends at Hogwarts, and the Mirror of Erised shows how much he loves his dead
Love overcomes evil - Harry’s scar (resulting from his mother’s love) helps to defeat
Quirrell and Voldemort.
“If there is one thing that Voldemort cannot understand, it is love”, says Dumbledore.
5. Teamwork is vital
Harry couldn’t have defeated Voldemort without Ron and Hermione’s help, particularly in the
6. With power comes responsibility
Dumbledore (Richard Harris, pictured right in the film):
- only uses his power to do good (unlike Quirrell and Voldemort).
- destroys the Philosopher’s Stone so that it can’t be used for evil.
But Voldemort and Quirrell also show that power can be used for evil.
“There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it”, Professor
7. Be tough but tender
Dumbledore is a tough enforcer of the rules at Hogwarts.
But (like Professor McGonagall and Hagrid) he is also:
- extremely kind and empathetic towards Harry and the other
- prepared to bend the rules when necessary.
8. Never stop learning
Hermione (Emma Watson, pictured right below with Harry) improves more than anybody else, transforming
herself from a goody-goody show-off into a likeable and loyal friend to Harry and Ron.
She learns that:
- practicality is just as important as brains.
- people are more important than rules (lying to a teacher
to save Harry and Ron).
Harry is also constantly learning from:
- curiosity (leading to his discovery of the Philosopher’s Stone).
- other people’s wise advice (particularly Dumbledore’s).
9. Accept what you can’t change and change what you
- painfully accepts his parents’ death.
- rises to the challenge of his predestined battle with Voldemort.
- takes every opportunity to change and improve himself.
- accept the inevitability of
death and don't fear it.
10. You can’t trust everybody
Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane, pictured right in the film) believes that everybody is good and
can be trusted.
So he tells the villains about the three headed guard dog.
Dumbledore's best quotes (from
all the books)
Dumbledore on success
You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow
to be!, Goblet of Fire (Michael Gambon, pictured right in the film)
Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right,
Goblet of Fire
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,
Dumbledore on fear
Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself,
Understanding is the first step to
acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery, Goblet of
Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike, Order
of the Phoenix
Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living and, above all, those who live
without love, Deathly Hallows
Dumbledore on motivation
Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open,
Goblet of Fire
Dumbledore on leadership
It is a curious thing, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those
who have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that
they wear it well, Deathly Hallows
Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress?, Half-Blood Prince
Dumbledore on ethics
It was important... to fight and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then can evil be kept at bay though
never quite eradicated, Half-Blood Prince
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities, Chamber Of
The truth is generally preferable to lies, Goblet of Fire
The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing and therefore should be treated with great caution,
Dumbledore on planning
The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very
difficult business indeed, Prisoner of Azkaban
Dumbledore on age
Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth, Half-Blood Prince
Old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young, Order of the Phoenix
Dumbledore on happiness
Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light,
Prisoner of Azkaban
Humans do have a knack for choosing precisely those things which are worst for
them, Philosopher's Stone
Dumbledore on death
After all, to the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure, Philsopher's
You think the dead we love ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in
times of great trouble?, Prisoner of Azkaban
It’s the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing
more, Half-Blood Prince
Dumbledore on creativity
Curiosity is not a sin.... But we should exercise caution with our curiosity, Goblet of
Two literature websites to