Check out these things that may have slipped by you while reading Harry Potter!
Mirror of Erised: Erised is “desire” spelled backward, or how it would appear in a mirror. Also, the inscription reads “Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi,” which, read in a mirror, reads, “I show not your face but your heart’s desire.”
They could hear footsteps, Filch running as fast as he could towards Peeves’ shouts.
“Oh, move over,” Hermione snarled. She grabbed Harry’s wand, tapped the lock and whispered, “Alohomora!” The lock clicked and the door swung open – they piled through it, shut it quickly and pressed their ears against it, listening. “Which way did they go, Peeves?” Filch was saying. “Quick, tell me.” “Say ‘please.'” “Don’t mess with me, Peeves, now where did they go?” “Shan’t say nothing if you don’t say please,” said Peeves in his annoying singsong voice.
Then, as you know, they turn around to face Fluffy, who is glaring at them and about to attack. They were inside that room for quite a while listening to Peeves and Filch before they turned around to see Fluffy. Why didn’t Fluffy attack as soon as they entered the room? Possibly because of Peeves’ singsong voice, which might have started putting Fluffy to sleep. Fluffy didn’t start baring his teeth until after Filch and Peeves had left.
Professor Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin. It happened very suddenly. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell’s turban straight into Harry’s eyes – and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harry’s forehead.
That sharp burst of pain did not come from Snape, but from Quirrell’s turban, where Voldemort was “hiding.” It should have been obvious after finishing the book, but for many of us, it wasn’t!
After the students finish their exams and are lounging around by the lake, Harry gazes at an owl flying toward the school with a letter in its mouth. The letter that owl was carrying was the “urgent letter from the Ministry” that lured Dumbledore away from the school.
“Harry didn’t see how he could – yet he sometimes had the horrible feeling that Snape could read minds.”
As we find out later in the series, Severus Snape was a master at Legilimency and Occlumency. So yes! He can read minds and may have known that they had the stone.
When Harry first meets Snape, Snape asks Harry: “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” Asphodel is a type of lily meaning “my regrets follow you to the grave.” Wormwood means “absence” and symbolizes bitter sorrow. It is possible that he is basically saying “I bitterly regret Lily’s death.”
We’ve known ever since Sorcerer’s Stone that Harry was going to be replaced as Seeker! At the beginning of the chapter right after Harry catches the Snitch in his mouth, Draco is making fun of Harry and saying how a “wide-mouthed tree frog is going to replace Harry as Seeker” next. This didn’t exactly come true, but in Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge (the wide-mouthed tree frog – check all the toad references about her) bans him from the team, essentially replacing him with Ginny!
Dudley’s friend, Piers Polkiss, shares his initials with Peter Pettigrew. Both are likened to rats. Piers is described as “a scrawny boy with a face like a rat” and Peter, an Animagus with the ability
to turn into a rat, also had “something of the rat linger[ing] around his pointed nose and his very small, watery eyes.”
In Borgin and Burkes: “Harry looked quickly around and spotted a large black cabinet to his left…”
This is the same vanishing cabinet Draco uses to allow Death Eaters into Hogwarts in Half-Blood Prince. In Half-Blood Prince, it also says that while looking for a place to hide the Half-Blood Prince’s potion book from Snape, Harry took a left at the broken Vanishing Cabinet.
“Can I have that?” interrupted Draco, pointing at the withered hand on its cushion. “Ah, the Hand of Glory!” said Mr. Borgin, abandoning Mr. Malfoy’s list and scurrying over to Draco.”
Again, Draco uses the Hand of Glory in Half-Blood Prince.
“Draco paused to examine a long coil of hangman’s rope and to read, smirking, the card propped on a magnificent necklace of opals, Caution: Do Not Touch. Cursed – Has Claimed the Lives of Nineteen Muggle Owners to Date.”
Yet again, Draco uses this cursed necklace in Half-Blood Prince. It is intended to be given to Dumbledore but attacks the messenger, Katie Bell.
When Harry, Ron, and Hermione are trying to figure out what Tom Riddle did to get a trophy with his name on it: “Could’ve been anything,” said Ron. “Maybe he got thirty OWLs or saved a teacher from the giant squid. Maybe he murdered Myrtle; that would’ve done everyone a favor…” Of course, Tom Riddle did kill Moaning Myrtle.
Dumbledore’s office door has a griffin door-knocker… “Griffin-Door,” get it? Could this have been Godric Gryffindor’s office? Or is this because Dumbledore himself was a Gryffindor?
The Basilisk comes out of the mouth of the statue of Salazar Slytherin in the Chamber of Secrets, and the Dark Mark is a serpent coming out of the mouth of a skull.
When Harry gets in trouble with Filch for tracking mud into the school, it is Nearly Headless Nick who saves him by encouraging Peeves to drop a cabinet on the floors above. It is very possible that this is the same cabinet Draco repairs and uses to allow Death Eaters into Hogwarts in Half-Blood Prince.
When Harry and Hermione are using the Time-Turner, Rowling writes in extremely subtle things that occurred the first time around, such as Harry and Hermione having to hide in a closet from themselves.
Chapter 11, “The Firebolt”: “GET-HIM-OUT-OF-HERE!” Ron bellowed as Crookshanks’s claws ripped his pajamas and
Scabbers attempted a wild escape over his shoulder. Ron seized Scabbers by the tail and aimed a misjudged kick at Crookshanks that hit the trunk at the end of Harry’s bed, knocking it over and causing Ron to hop up and down, howling with pain. Crookshank’s fur suddenly stood on the end. A shrill, tinny whistling was filling the room. The Pocket Sneakoscope had become dislodged from Uncle Vernon’s old socks and was whirling and gleaming on the floor.”
At first, we think that it was Crookshanks that made the Sneakoscope whistle. But later on in the story, we find out that Peter Pettigrew (a.k.a. Scabbers) was causing it as he attempted to escape off of Ron’s shoulder.
Sirius Black slashed the Fat Lady’s portrait with a knife. Later, he stood over Ron “holding a knife.” Could this be the same knife that Sirius gives Harry as a present in Order of the Phoenix?
After Harry sends the food package off to Sirius, he sees an eagle owl with a note in its mouth soar past Hagrid’s cabin toward the castle. That eagle owl was carrying Voldemort’s order to Barty Crouch, Jr. that he should stop Barty Crouch, Sr., who had escaped, at all costs.
Should I go and get someone?” said Harry. “Madam Pomfrey?” “No,” said Dumbledore swiftly. “Stay here.” He raised his wand into the air and pointed it in the direction of Hagrid’s cabin. Harry saw something silvery dart out of it and streak away through the trees like a ghostly bird.
And then a couple of paragraphs down:
The sound of thunderous footfalls reached them, and Hagrid came panting into sight with Fang at his heels. He was carrying his crossbow.
Dumbledore sent a Patronus, a phoenix, and this is the way that the Order communicates with each other.
Hermione pounds up beetles in Potions class while wondering how Rita Skeeter knew that Viktor Krum had asked her to visit him over the summer.
Ron and Harry sit making up predictions for Trelawney’s class. If you read the book enough times, you start to realize that the predictions are more like foreshadowings. Ron suggests to Harry that he should write down that Harry gets stabbed in the back by someone he thought was a friend. That comes true when Ron gets mad at Harry for becoming a champion. Then, Ron says that he’ll come off worse in a fight. Later, Hermione and Ron fight about the Yule Ball, and Harry thought that Hermione had gotten the point much better than Ron had. Harry said that Ron would lose a treasured possession, and the gold he gave to Harry for the Omnioculars disappeared. Later, Hermione came up after Harry and Ron were finishing their predictions and observes that Ron seems to be drowning twice. For the second Triwizard task, Ron and Hermione are placed at the bottom of the lake, and Harry thinks that they’ll drown if he doesn’t get them out.
Harry and Cedric take a Portkey into the graveyard, where there is a large yew tree near Tom Riddle, Sr.’s grave. When Harry gets his first wand in Sorcerer’s Stone, Ollivander reveals to Harry that Voldemort’s wand is made of yew.
On page 11, Voldemort says to Wormtail – “I will allow you to perform a task for me [that] many of my followers would give their right hands to perform.” Later in the book, this proves true – Wormtail literally gives up his right hand. (Thanks to Kay.)
The number that Mr. Weasley punches into the telephone to get into the Ministry of Magic, 62442, spells “MAGIC” on the phone pad.
In Chapter 2, when Harry is trying to explain what has happened to Dudley, he mentions Dementors and we find out that Aunt Petunia knows what they are:
“And what the ruddy hell are Dementors?” [Uncle Vernon said.] “They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban,” said Aunt Petunia. Two seconds of ringing silence followed these words before Aunt Petunia clapped her hand over her mouth as though she had let slip a disgusting swear word. Uncle Vernon was goggling at her. Harry’s brain reeled. Mrs. Figg was one thing – but Aunt Petunia? “How d’you know that?” he asked her, astonished. Aunt Petunia looked quite appalled with herself. She glanced at Uncle Vernon in fearful apology, then lowered her hand slightly to reveal her horsy teeth. “I heard – that awful boy – telling her about them – years ago,” she said jerkily. “If you mean my mum and dad, why don’t you use their names?” said Harry loudly, but Aunt Petunia ignored him. She seemed horribly flustered.”
That “horrible boy” was not James Potter but, as we learn in Deathly Hallows, Severus Snape.
The seemingly random number of Sirius’s vault, 711, is also the number of the page on which Sirius falls through the veil in the UK edition of Order of the Phoenix.
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Lupin says, “So the Boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a Boggart looks like when he is alone…” Yet in Order of the Phoenix, “Moody’s electric-blue eye swiveled upward and stared fixedly through the ceiling of the kitchen…’Yeah, I see it… Yeah, it’s a Boggart…'” Moody may be seeing the Boggart in its natural form due to his special eye.
“Step over here,” said the wizard in a bored voice. Harry walked closer to him and the wizard held up a long golden rod, thin and flexible as a car aerial, and passed it up and down Harry’s front and back.
The thing that the guard uses to check Harry is a Secrecy Sensor.
“Warrington of the Slytherin Quidditch team reported to the hospital wing with a horrible skin complaint that made him look as though he had been coated in cornflakes.” (Chapter 30, “Grawp”)
Back in Chapter 6 (“The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black”), Sirius got “a bad bite from a silver snuffbox; within seconds, his bitten hand had developed an unpleasant crusty covering like a tough brown glove.” He (Sirius) then says that it must have been Wartcap powder. Fred and George then snuck the snuffbox of Wartcap powder. They may have later put it on Warrington, as his symptoms seem to be very similar to Sirius’s.
When Harry and company are visiting Mr. Weasley in St. Mungo’s, one of the portraits of old Healers misdiagnoses Ron’s freckles as Spattergroit. This same disease was used by Ron when he disguises the ghoul as himself in Deathly Hallows.
In Chapter 2, while explaining to Snape that Voldemort trusts her, Bellatrix says: “The Dark Lord has in the past entrusted me with his most precious…” She’s talking about the Horcrux (Hufflepuff’s Cup) stored in her Gringotts vault.
Mundungus Fletcher is described as having “short bandy legs” and “long, straggly ginger hair,” while Crookshanks is described as a “bandy-legged ginger cat.” In Prisoner of Azkaban, Crookshanks’s fur is described as “long.” Rowling has told us Crookshanks is not an Animagus, and we know that there is not an actual connection, but it is an interesting coincidence.
In Chapter 32, Ron, Harry, and Hermione are trying to get through the Whomping Willow, and Ron asks: “How – how’re we going to get in? I can – see the place – if we just had – Crookshanks again —” Hermione retorts with “Crookshanks? Are you a wizard or what!?”
This echoes Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapter 16: Harry, Ron, and Hermione are stuck in the Devil’s Snare. Harry shouts at Hermione to light a fire (to make it release them), and Hermione responds with, “Yes – of course – but there’s no wood!” Ron then screams, “Have you gone mad? Are you a witch or not?!”
The Marauders died in reverse order from the order they are listed on the map. The map order: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. Death order: James, Sirius, Peter, and Remus.
Voldemort, Dumbledore, Snape, Ollivander, Trelawney, Dobby, and goblins are all frequently described as having long fingers (Voldemort’s are described as “unnaturally” long). Could long fingers be a sign of magical power?
Argus Filch and Arabella Figg – they have the same initials, both are Squibs, and both love cats!
Harry seems to take his finals only every other year: he took them in his first year, Dumbledore cancelled finals for the whole school in his second year, he took them in his third year, he was exempt from finals as a Triwizard champion in his fourth year, he took OWLs in his fifth year, and in his sixth year all examinations are postponed. And, of course, in his seventh year, he did not attend Hogwarts.
Harry receives a few Christmas packages from the Dursleys while at Hogwarts. How do the Dursleys send Harry the packages? They refuse to have anything to do with magic and they hate owls… Maybe through Dumbledore? And since they normally don’t give Harry presents at Privet Drive, do they send the packages (such as they are) because Dumbledore suggests they do?
There are quite a few references to combinations of red and green: Gryffindor-red, Slytherin-green; Ron’s maroon (red) Weasley sweater and Harry’s green one; Dobby’s Christmas gift to Harry, a pair of socks – one red, with broomsticks, the other green with Snitches; in the Forbidden Forest, Harry and Draco are told by Hagrid to send green sparks up in the air if they find the unicorn, and red sparks if they are in danger; Voldemort’s eyes are red and Harry’s eyes are green; Lily was a redhead with green eyes; the Irish National Quidditch team wore green robes, and Bulgaria wore red; Ron’s dress robes were maroon and Harry’s were “bottle green;” Voldemort’s green Killing Curse and Harry’s red Disarming Spell that collided when they dueled.
Covers on the Harry Potter US editions seem to depict a character/creature who dies in the book: Sorcerer’s Stone shows a unicorn; Chamber of Secrets shows a snake (Basilisk?) and Fawkes (who dies and is reborn); Goblet of Fire shows Cedric; Order of the Phoenix shows Sirius; and Half-Blood Prince shows Dumbledore. Prisoner of Azkaban had no deaths but depicts Buckbeak, who was sentenced to death. Deathly Hallows shows both Harry (who “died”) and Voldemort.
It seems that many members of the Black family have been named after stars:
- Sirius – Called the “Dog Star,” it is the brightest star and is located in the constellation of Canis Major.
- Bellatrix – Often translated as “Female Warrior,” this is the third brightest star in the constellation of Orion.
- Regulus – The heart of the lion in the constellation Leo.
- Alphard – The only bright star in the constellation of Hydra, known as the “Solitary One.”
- Andromeda – “The Chained Maiden,” a constellation also containing the Andromeda galaxy.
A number of important and grim events happen on Halloween. Harry’s birthday is July 31, so theoretically he could have been conceived on Halloween. Also on the day, Harry’s parents were murdered by Voldemort, Quirrell let in the mountain troll, Nearly Headless Nick was killed, Mrs. Norris was petrified and the Chamber of Secrets was opened, Sirius Black slashes through the Fat Lady’s portrait, Harry is chosen by the Goblet of Fire, and Sibyll Trelawney made the prophecy about Harry and Lord Voldemort to Dumbledore.
In each book in Chapter 13, an evil character (or in Deathly Hallows‘ case, a Horcrux) is introduced or is central to the plot of the chapter.
There are many characters and locations with flowers in their names: Arabella Figg, Fleur Delacour, Lavender Brown, Lily Potter, Magnolia Crescent, Moaning Myrtle, Narcissa Malfoy, Poppy Pomfrey, Pansy Parkinson, Petunia Dursley, Privet Drive, Remus Lupin, Rose Weasley, Rose Zeller, Violet, and Wisteria Walk.