No Place Like the Dursleys’: The Effect of Harry’s Harsh Childhood in ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’
In the Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone by J.K. Rowling, the protagonist, Harry Potter, lives through a terrible childhood where he is constantly bullied and insulted by the Dursleys. Even though Harry has an extended family, the Dursleys only provide him with the bare minimum. They are very selfish and treat Harry as a servant instead of a relative. However, due to Harry’s horrible circumstances, he slowly develops a trait that helps him become a hero. This trait is called being humble. He shows humility when he sacrifices and risks his own life to save others since he knows what it feels like to be bullied by Dudley. He is not ignorant about his parents’ fame. Lastly. he appreciates little things where other people think it is normal. In the story of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, having to deal with a terrible upbringing helps Harry develop a heroic trait, humility, which saves the wizarding world.
Because of the Dursleys’ torment towards Harry, he gets into risky situations that involve sacrificing himself to accomplish his tasks; this shows his humbleness. He does not think twice about the consequences of his actions. He does what he believes is the right choice without thinking of the safer option. For example, during a flying lesson, Neville accidentally breaks his wrist and Madam Hooch takes him to the hospital. When she leaves, Malfoy begins mocking Neville and picks up his Remembrall. Harry tells Malfoy to return the Remembrall, but he provokes Harry even more,'”Give it here,’ Harry called, ‘or I’ll knock you off that broom!'”(118). Harry is mad at this scene. He is emotional and irrational because he knows what it feels like to be bullied. Harry has been bullied by Dudley until Harry came to the wizarding world. He knows what it feels like when someone hurts and insults him. He is not craving personal glory; he wants to save Neville. This shows Harry’s humility. If he were ignorant, he would only care for his benefit. People would not appreciate him and would not be able to sacrifice himself since he would be selfish. Humility is an attribute that Harry develops from his difficult childhood; if he did not, he would not sacrifice himself for the greater good of others.
Harry once again shows his humility, after finding out Harry’s true identity. Rather than feeling excited, he feels uncomfortable. Harry states, ‘“Hagrid,’ he said quietly, ‘I think you must have made a mistake. I don’t think I can be a wizard”’(44). People know more about his family than himself. It is overwhelming for him. The reason is because he endured so many years with the harsh treatment from the Dursleys. It is hard for him to believe that he is an important person. They keep all the knowledge about Harry’s parents from him. They tell him that his parents died in a car crash. Because of this horrible treatment, Harry feels that he is unimportant. He also understands that he did not do anything to earn it; it is his parents’. Taking their fame does not feel right to Harry. This show his humility. If he is not humble, he would not do anything to achieve that fame. He would live off his parent’s fame and would not sacrifice himself to save others. Thus, he tries to prove himself that he should earn those admirations. These admirations will help Harry feel good about himself and would want him to achieve more goals. Harry’s humbleness will make him work harder towards his heroic goals to gain or accept the fame.
Since the Dursleys only provide Harry with the bare minimum, he appreciates the common things that he has never received. The Dursleys take every opportunity to insult Harry and show him no form of love. Therefore, because of the treatment he received, Harry is able to appreciate things that he never had before. This admiration is shown during Christmas,‘“Will you look at this? I’ve got some presents!’ [states Harry] ‘What did you expect, turnips?’ said Ron, turning to his own pile, which was a lot bigger than Harry’s”(159). Ron is unimpressed by the present he received. He always receives the same present during each Christmas to the point where it is ordinary for him. He wants something expensive or something new. He has more interests in Harry’s present, the fifty pence, which he never saw before. However, Harry’s reaction is the total opposite of Ron’s. Harry greatly appreciate receiving the gift that Ron’s mother gives him. It gives him a sense of belonging to the family and being loved. Also, he will know what or whom is important to his life so he can protect them and would not care if his life is in danger. Appreciation is another example of Harry showing his humbleness.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, due to Harry enduring many years of torture from the Dursleys, he develops the quality of being humble which becomes useful when accomplishing his goals. He shows this by being able to sacrifice himself. Since he was constantly bullied, he wishes someone would save him. That is why when he saw Malfoy is mocking Neville, he wants to fight for the injustice, even if it means risking himself. Being able to appreciate things where others cannot recognize and being hesitant to accept fame shows how humble he is. In other words, being able to take risks, not accepting his fame and appreciating things that one’s cannot recognize are examples of Harry’s humility that he acquires from his difficult childhood that becomes an essential part of his life.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The Sorcerer’s Stone – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.pdf, 1997
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In the Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone by J.K. Rowling, the protagonist, Harry Potter, lives through a terrible childhood where he is constantly bullied and insulted by the Dursleys. […]