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Book 1, Chapter 2: "The Vanishing Glass"

Some thoughts while reading the chapter:

"Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept." (pg. 19, US edition)
Taken out of context, that quote stands out to me as ridiculously cruel, not to mention probably illegal. It's interesting how JKR seems to overexaggerate the Durseleys in the first few books, then gradually shifts into a more complex treatment of their characters.
And here we have the first mention of spiders. They seem to come up a lot, and interestingly enough, don't bother Harry. Contrast this with Ron's extreme fear of them...

Harry has "knobbly knees." (pg. 20) :D

"The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning." (pg. 20)
We're introduced to Harry when he still likes his scar, likes probably the fact that it is the only thing in his life that makes him special. This seems to be Harry's attraction to it; his physical appearance is not described as anything special, and the way the Dursleys treat him certainly doesn't make him so.
So is his relevance only truly because of his scar? Even once he gets to the wizarding world? To a lot of people, it obviously is, but I'd argue that in the end, it's not his scar that saves the wizarding world, but his heart.

When Harry visits the zoo and is standing outside of the snake cage, the snake seems to recognize that Harry is a parselmouth even before Harry speaks to it. I think so because while he ignores Dudley when he stands in front of the cage, the snake immediately reacts to Harry.
When Harry was talks to the snake and the snake responds by showing Harry the sign, is Harry then speaking Parseltongue?


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Sep. 13th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
Wow, I totally missed this post, which, I guess doesn't matter much now that it's already September and dear keebler_elf528 posted this nearly four months ago. In any case...

The characterisation of the Dursleys is a really pivotal point to consider overlooking the entire Harry Potter series. I love how Rowling goes from giving them a very one-dimensional outlook through the first two or three books, and then eventually goes on to fill them out later on. They do seem overly cruel in the beginning of the series, I agree, and reminds me a lot of other works like Jane Eyre, in which the main character is introduced to us in a miserable state of being. Maybe it's a way for authors to make readers sympathise with the characters from early on, and thus developing a character-reader bond?

Spiders seem to be a motif in HP. There are the ones in the cupboard, as mentioned; later on, acromantulas are introduced in the form of Aragog and become important in Chamber of Secrets. Do spiders traditionally symbolise anything? That might be an interesting point to look into.

Nice insights into the scar. I'll have to keep a close eye out for exactly when Harry's feelings for his scar shifts, and in what way.

Is parseltongue somehow physically recognisable? Or does it give off a magical aura? Hmm... The technicalities behind it aren't well explained as far as I remember. The fact that Harry never gains complete control over it the way Voldemort does may suggest something about it. Is it a skill that needs to be honed, like any of the other magical arts? Or is it a natural, given talent, with varying degrees of competency?

So many questions, so little time :D
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