The Potions Master
Synopsis by William Silvester
Notes and links by Steve Vander Ark and Michele L. Worley
US hardcover edition: pages 131 - 142
UK hardcover edition: pages 98 - 106
UK paperback edition: pages 144 - 156
Timeframe: Monday 2 September - Friday 6 September,
In which Harry is pointed out and stared at by everyone in the school
as he starts his first day of classes and meets his teachers,
visits Hagrid, and learns about the Gringotts break-in.
Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:
The main events of this chapter - apart from an overview of Harry's
first week of classes - are Harry's first Potions lesson (and as part of
that, his first real introduction to Snape) and tea with Hagrid, when Harry
introduces his first two friends to each other.
Whispers followed Harry from the moment he left his dormitory the next day.
Harry wished they wouldn't, because he was trying to concentrate on
finding his way to classes.
There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts...
the marble staircase leading up from the Entrance Hall
the two staircases (boys' and girls') in Gryffindor Tower
(presumably) two staircases in Ravenclaw Tower
(presumably) two staircases in the Slytherin dormitories
(presumably) two staircases in the Hufflepuff dormitories
the Headmaster's staircase
the spiral staircase leading up to Trelawney's classroom at the top of
wide, sweeping [staircases]; narrow, rickety ones; some that led
somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway
up that you had to remember to jump.
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
"Anyway - sorry, got to go - there's
McLaggen coming for a
talk about Quidditch,"
said Harry hurriedly, and he
dashed sideways through a door pretending to be solid wall...
It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed
to move around a lot.
Filch found them trying to force their way through a door which
unluckily turned out to be the entrance to the out-of-bounds
corridor on the third floor.
...they were rescued by Professor Quirrell, who was passing.
it was the dearest ambition of many to give
Mrs. Norris a good
They had to study the night skies through their telescopes every Wednesday
at midnight and learn the names of different stars and the movements of
Three times a week they went out
to the greenhouses behind the castle to study Herbology...
Easily the most boring lesson was History of Magic,
which was the only class taught by a ghost.
Emeric the Evil and
Uric the Oddball
Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher,
was a tiny little wizard who had to stand on a pile of books to see over
his desk. At the start of their first lesson he took the register...
Professor McGonagall was again different.
Harry had been quite right to think she wasn't a teacher to cross. Strict
and clever, she gave them a talking-to the moment they had sat down in
her first class.
"Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic
you will learn at Hogwarts," she said.
they were each given a match and started trying to turn it into a needle.
By the end of the lesson, only
Hermione Granger had
made any difference to her match; Professor McGonagall
showed the class how it had gone all silver and pointy.
The class everyone had really been looking forward to was
Defence Against the Dark Arts, but Professor Quirrell's lessons
turned out to be a bit of a joke.
His classroom smelled strongly of garlic, which everyone said was to
ward off a vampire he'd met in Romania and was afraid would be
coming back to get him one of these days.
His turban, he told them, had been given to him by an African prince
as a thank-you for getting rid of a troublesome zombie, but they weren't
sure they believed this story. For one thing, when Seamus Finnegan asked
eagerly to hear how Quirrell had fought off the zombie, Quirrell went
pink and started talking about the weather...
...for another, they had noticed that a funny smell hung around the turban...
...and the Weasley twins insisted that it was stuffed full of garlic too,
so that Quirrell was protected wherever he went.
Harry was very relieved to find
out that he wasn't miles behind everyone else. Lots of people had come
from Muggle families and, like him, hadn't had any idea that they were
witches and wizards. There was so much to learn that even people like
Ron didn't have much of a head start.
Friday was an important day for Harry and Ron. They finally managed to
find their way to the Great Hall for breakfast without getting lost once.
"Double Potions with the Slytherins," said Ron. "Snape's
Head of Slytherin House. They say he always favours them - we'll be able
to see if it's true."
"Wish McGonagall favoured us," said Harry. Professor McGonagall
was head of Gryffindor house, but it hadn't stopped her from giving them
a huge pile of homework the day before.
"Ah, yes," he said softly, "Harry Potter. Our new -
A bezoar is
a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most
clearing the spilled potion away with one wave of his wand
an enormous black
"How's yer brother Charlie?
Ron. "I liked him a lot -
great with animals."
...the break-in at Gringotts on 31 July...
that Gringotts break-in happened on my birthday!
Characters introduced in this chapter:
Characters returning in this chapter:
de Mimsy-Porpington, Sir Nicholas
(unnamed) remaining first-year Slytherins in Potions
Characters mentioned in this chapter:
Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:
Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:
Exceptional character moments:
Binns, who evidently reads from
his notes without interacting with his students (as will be demonstrated
more clearly during Harry's second year).
to demonstrate her intelligence in Potions class, once challenged by
Snape's opening speech.
Snape, who are both noted
for being able to keep order without effort.
Snape, who appears to have a
genuine passion for Potions, and who is definitely an expert. (Only a
true expert could so easily diagnose exactly where a student must have
gone wrong to get a given result, as Snape did with Neville's first
attempt at a potion.)
Links and Resources:
"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making,"
he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every
word - like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class
silent without effort. "As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many
of you will hardly believe this is magic. 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..."
This chapter begins on 2 September, which is the first day of classes,
and ends on Friday of the same week.
takes the Hogwarts Express for the first time; the Sorting.
Astronomy lesson at midnight
2nd afternoon period free
Potions (both morning periods)
3 p.m. tea with Hagrid