Hallowe'en

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Chapter 10 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Hallowe'en← Chapter 9 | Chapter 11 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The next morning, Harry receives a long, thin package in the morning post. The attached note warns him against opening it at the table, that it is a broom, and is signed "Professor M. McGonagall." Malfoy, already dismayed that Harry and Ron apparently escaped his plan to have them expelled, arranges to find out what is in the package. Discovering it is a broomstick, he informs Professor Flitwick, but is further dismayed that not only does the staff know the rule prohibiting first-years to have broomsticks has been waived for Harry, but that they have given their approval.

That evening, Harry heads to the Quidditch pitch to meet Oliver Wood. Oliver explains the game's rules and does some basic practice with Harry. After this, Oliver has the team practicing three evenings a week.

On Hallowe'en, Professor Flitwick decides the class is ready to practice the floating spell (Wingardium Leviosa) that they have been learning. Hermione annoys Ron by correcting how he enunciates the incantation; then, challenged by Ron to demonstrate it, is the first to successfully levitate her feather. Ron later tells Harry that Hermione is unbearable, which is why she has no friends. Hermione, overhearing this, runs crying into the girls' bathroom.

During the Hallowe'en feast, Professor Quirrell bursts into the Great Hall, hysterically shouting that a Mountain Troll is loose in the dungeons. As students are shepherded back to their common rooms, Harry and Ron remember that Hermione is still in the bathroom, and dart off to warn her about the Troll. On the way, they see Professor Snape apparently heading to the forbidden third floor corridor. Harry and Ron, seeing the troll approaching, lock it into a room, only to discover they have locked it in the girl's bathroom with Hermione. They dash in to rescue Hermione, and the Troll attacks the Trio. Frightened, Ron yells out the first spell that comes to his head, Wingardium Leviosa. The Troll's club floats into the air, then crashes down on its head, rendering the creature unconscious. Upon the teachers' arrival, Hermione lies to Professor McGonagall to protect Harry and Ron, saying it was her idea to try to defeat the Troll, and that Harry and Ron arrived just in time to save her. Professor McGonagall reprimands Hermione and deducts five points from Gryffindor, but awards Harry and Ron five points apiece for defeating the Troll. From here on, Hermione is Harry's and Ron's friend.

Analysis[edit]

Harry receives great joy from his flying ability. That he has received a world-class racing broom, which we see him put so lightly through its paces, is very heartening for him. Flying and Quidditch are quickly becoming his centering point; he can retreat to the air or the pitch when things become too confusing or stressful to bear.

Hermione's personality begins to change in this chapter, and we see her transforming into a more sympathetic character whereas, previously, she was an annoying, two-dimensional goody-two-shoes grind who seemed on target to become yet another Harry nemesis. Another character could have allowed Harry and Ron to be punished when they were actually trying to help, but Hermione immediately steps in to protect them by assuming the blame, lying to Professor McGonagall. Slowly, she is learning that sometimes rules must be broken in order to make things right; we can see there is hope for her. Harry and Ron are so surprised by Hermione's generous act that they immediately lose their past animosity for her. This is also the first time the three work together and successfully combine their skills, indicating how powerful and vital this friendship will become in the greater story. The "Trio" has been born.

Once again, Harry has broken the rules, believing it is justified—to save Hermione. However, even though he and Ron only wanted to warn Hermione, their good intentions overruled their logic and judgment when, rather than inform a teacher or a prefect that a student is in danger, they instead take it upon themselves to alert Hermione about the Troll. The situation turns far more serious than they anticipated when, running headlong into the creature, they are forced to subdue it; Ron, despite his lagging confidence in his own abilities, shows budding magical talent and quick thinking here when he conjures the charm (and remembers how to pronounce it correctly) to disarm and disable the Troll.

McGonagall once again rewards Harry (and Ron) for his actions, which may reinforce his future decisions to disregard rules. To readers, with the full picture in front of them, McGonagall punishing Hermione, who is quite plainly the innocent party, seems unfair; but we must recall that the only information McGonagall has is what Hermione has told her, that she had deliberately tried to take on the troll by herself.

Harry, meanwhile, is even more suspicious about Snape after glimpsing him sneaking away, and suspects that he set the Troll loose, probably as a diversion so he could enter the forbidden corridor. That Snape is later seen limping could be evidence that the three-headed dog blocked him from entering the corridor. Considering the many magical charms and spells in place to secure Hogwarts castle, it is indeed questionable as to just how a Troll could have penetrated those protective barriers, making it seem unlikely that it merely wandered in. The Troll not only reinforces the notion that the Wizard world is a dangerous place and is filled with fearsome creatures, but that Hogwarts itself is vulnerable; this may foreshadow more sinister threats invading the castle later in the series.

According to JK Rowling: "When we were editing 'Philosopher's Stone' my editor wanted me to cut the scene in which Harry, Ron, and Hermione fight the troll. Although I had accepted most of the smaller cuts he wanted me to make I argued hard for this one. Hermione, bless her, is so very annoying in the early part of 'Philosopher's Stone' that I really felt it needed something (literally) huge to bring her together with Harry and Ron." Reference

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Review[edit]

  1. Why was Harry given the broom? Who gave it to him?
  2. What does Draco do when he finds out about the broom?
  3. Why does Hermione become so upset that she hides in the girls' bathroom?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why is Harry allowed to have his own broom, even though it is against the rules?
  2. Is Harry ready to be the Gryffindor team's new Seeker? Give reasons both for and against.
  3. How could such a huge Mountain Troll have gotten onto the Hogwarts grounds and into the castle without being seen?
  4. Why does Hermione claim she went looking for the Troll? How does this change her relationship with Harry and Ron?
  5. Gives examples of how Harry, Ron, and Hermione were all responsible for defeating the Troll. Could any one of them done this alone? Explain.

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Harry becomes quite attached to his Nimbus broom, as it is among the first wizard-related objects he ever owns, and flying is not only what he is becoming best at, but it also gives him immense joy. A devastating moment in the third book is when his broom is destroyed by the Whomping Willow. Throughout the series, he will be periodically deprived of flight, causing him distress. We will see, in future chapters, that Harry places reliance on one magical artifact or another, rather than believing in his own strength as a wizard. In this and the next book, Harry will apparently come to believe that all his flying skill can be attributed to the broom, and destruction of the broom will leave him apparently thinking that he may never fly again. After Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry will similarly begin to believe that all his strength against Voldemort depends on his wand.

Hermione suddenly becomes more sympathetic and likable when, grateful that Harry and Ron saved her life, she lies solely to protect them, accepting the punishment on their behalf. This is a key hint showing how her caring and thoughtfulness becomes essential to the Trio's success across later years. The bond between the Trio, first formed here, is arguably the most important relationship in the entire story.

Although Harry suspects Snape set the Troll loose into the castle, it was actually Professor Quirrell, who wanted to sneak into the forbidden corridor and steal the Philosopher's Stone that can restore Voldemort's body. It will be learned that Quirrell provided a Troll as one of the dungeon security devices that protects the Stone. Quirrell later tells Harry that he has a particular talent with Trolls. Given Quirrell's known facility with these creatures, his panicked reaction at the feast must have seemed suspicious and out-of-character to Snape, who suspected Quirrell was creating a diversion so he could enter the third-floor corridor. Snape attempted to head him off, getting his leg bitten by "Fluffy," the three-headed dog, in the process. One must also assume that Dumbledore's suspicions were raised by this, as Dumbledore certainly knows Quirrell provided a Troll to defend the Stone. This perhaps explains why, in Snape's memories seven years later, we see Dumbledore suggesting that Snape keep an eye on Quirrell. We do not know if this memory was made before or after this chapter's events.

As formidable as Hogwarts always seems, the Troll in the castle is only the first time that we see the school's security being breached. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry's fugitive godfather, Sirius Black, slips into the castle at night, apparently through a hidden passageway, and ostensibly to attack Harry, but actually for another reason. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Death Eaters, aided by Draco Malfoy, are also able to secretly enter the castle through a Vanishing Cabinet connected to its twin in Borgin & Burkes, a shop in Knockturn Alley, resulting in a major battle between the invaders and the Hogwarts staff, Dumbledore's Army, and the Order of the Phoenix. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows there are two ways seen into the castle or its grounds. In addition to the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack which is first seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a new secret passageway is formed leading to Aberforth Dumbledore's establishment from the Room of Requirement, where the revived Dumbledore's Army has been hiding out. This is how the Trio, and later, Harry's allies, enter the castle shortly before the final battle with Voldemort. The One-Eyed Witch tunnel that Harry uses in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to sneak into Hogsmeade, will, by book 7, have been discovered and closed off. Also, Voldemort and his Death Eater army assault Hogwarts near the book's end. Though the faculty temporarily fend them off, the protective charms surrounding the castle are eventually broken by the enemy.