CHAPTER 8 – The Potions Master
Harry is still the centre of attraction at the school and now everybody
knows what he looks like after the banquet. However, his main problem and that of the other first year’s is navigating round the rambling school, which contains 142 staircases that seem to move when you’re not
watching, and ghosts and poltergeists that are intent on mischief-making.
Also, the caretaker Filch and his cat called Mrs. Norris are always on the
lookout for anyone who breaks the rules and they seem to be everywhere are once because they know all the secret passageways and shortcuts.
Harry soon realizes that he has a lot to learn, such as the movements in the
night sky which he studies every Wednesday at midnight with the aid of a telescope, strange plants and fungi, the history of magic which is the only class taught by a ghost Professor Binns, the use of charms, and
transfiguration, the latter being taught by Professor McGonagall, a very strict teacher, not one to cross. She is also the head of Harry’s house.
Hermione Granger is also in the same house as Harry and she was the only one
at the end of the transfiguration lesson who was able to turn her match into a needle. Harry meets Professor Quirrell again, who teaches defense against the dark arts.
Harry enjoys his work until the lesson on potions, which is taken by Professor Snape who is the head of Slytherin house, and it is a class where they share the lesson with the Slytherin pupils.
Every morning at breakfast in the great hall owls fly in through the open
windows bringing letters and packages for the boys. So far Hedwig had brought Harry nothing, which had not gone unnoticed.
Then one day, Harry receives a note from Hagrid inviting him for tea. This was for Friday right after his potions lesson. Harry was glad he had this to look forward to because he was victimized by Professor Snape in the class, who asked him questions that he clearly did not have the answers to, and he lost 2 points for his house. He now knew that Snape hated him, and Malfoy and his henchmen enjoyed seeing Harry squirm in the class.
Harry took Ron to visit Hagrid who had a big huge dog called Fang, but he was as friendly as his master.
Harry learns from Hagrid that the break-in at Gringotts took place on the same day that they were there. Harry considers that perhaps the robbers were looking for what Hagrid had collected, and he remembered Hagrid saying that there was only one place safer than Gringotts Bank, and that was Hogwarts School.
Important points of the plot are developed here.
We have the hatred between Snape and Harry, and we also have details concerning the robbery at Gringotts.
Evidently, Hagrid was sent to the high security vault to retrieve the small
package. He is obviously a trusted member of staff at the school, and highly thought of by the Headmaster.
Rowling is adept at creating atmosphere throughout the book.
The description of the school and Snape’s classroom is typical and instantly
provides the reader with a graphic picture of the scene.
“Potions lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was colder here than up in the main castle and would have been quite creepy enough without the pickled animals floating in glass jars all around the walls.”
Generally speaking, you have the feeling that the school and its inhabitants
are in a 50’s/60’s time-warp. You first get this feeling when you realize that the Hogwarts Express is a steam train.