Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Good vs. Evil

Good vs. Evil

OLLIVANDER: I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr. Potter. It so happens that the Phoenix whose tail feather resides in your wand gave another feather. Just one other. It is curious that you should be destined for this wand when its brother gave you that scar.

HARRY: Who owned that wand?

OLLIVANDER: We do not speak his name. The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter. It's not always clear why, but I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you. After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things. Terrible, yes, but great.

Ollivander seems to be implying that good and evil are not so far apart here, or at least that they're connected in ways the Harry might not be entirely comfortable with.

HAGRID: First, and understand this Harry 'cause it's very important. Not all wizards are good. Some of them go bad. A few years ago there was one wizard who went as bad as you can go. His name was V--. His name was V--.

HARRY: Maybe if you wrote it down?

HAGRID: Nah, I can't spell it. All right, Voldemort.

It seems silly, but there's a literary precedent to this. In early Christian stories, calling the devil by name could summon him. In modern urban legends, we have the "Blood Mary" story, where you're not supposed to look in the mirror and say her name five times. Voldemort, like those other figures, is so evil that even breathing his name will get you into trouble.

HARRY: Me? Voldemort tried to kill...me?

HAGRID: Yes. That ain't no ordinary cut on your forehead, Harry. A mark like that only comes from being touched by a curse...and an evil curse at that.

The scar makes a potent symbol; not only of Harry's ability to survive a great evil, but the fact that survival doesn't leave you untouched, and that he'll see the price he paid every day when he looks in the mirror.

RON: There isn't a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin.

Just so we're clear here: the bad guys are all the ones over Slytherin House…or are they?

FIRENZE: It is a terrible crime to slay a unicorn. Drinking the blood of a unicorn will keep you alive even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something so pure that from the moment the blood touches your lips, you will have a half-life. A cursed life.

Evil comes with a great price, the same way that good does. Voldemort is evil because he's willing to pay it: the rewards for him are worth the horrible things he has to do.

HERMIONE: You mean, You-Know-Who's out there, right now, in the forest?

HARRY: But he's weak. He's living off the unicorns. Don't you see? We had it wrong. Snape doesn't want the stone for himself, he wants the stone for Voldemort. With the Elixir of Life, Voldemort will be strong again. He'll…he'll come back.

RON: But if he comes back, you don't think he'll try to kill you, do you?

HARRY: I think if he'd had the chance, he might have tried to kill me tonight.

And there's the sinister plot, in a nutshell. They may have some of the players wrong, but by understand the depths of Voldemort's evil, they understand just how dangerous he could be if he returned.

RON: Speak for yourself. All right there, Harry?

HARRY: My scar. It keeps burning.

HERMIONE: It's happened before.

HARRY: Not like this.

Harry's connected to Voldemort through the scar, which later movies delve into further. For now, it's enough to know that he's linked to his nemesis in some way, and that that connection won't be severed just because Harry doesn't want it.

HARRY: You? No. It can't be...Snape. He was the one…

QUIRRELL: Yes. He does seem the type, doesn't he? Next to me, who would suspect, p-p-poor s-stuttering Professor Quirrell?

HARRY: B-but, that day, during the Quidditch Match, Snape tried to kill me.

QUIRRELL: No, dear boy. I tried to kill you! And trust me, if Snape's cloak hadn't caught fire and broken my eye contact, I would have succeeded. Even with Snape muttering his little counter-curse.

HARRY: Snape was trying to...save me?

Good and evil aren't always what they appear to be. The jury's still out on Snape— he has seven more movies to show his true colors—but for now at least, he's a long way from the villain he appears to be.

VOLDEMORT: There is no good and evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.

No one ever thinks of themselves as evil, not even Voldemort…or whatever part of Voldemort is slithering around on the back of Quirrell's skull.

HARRY: How is it I got the stone, sir? One moment I was staring in the mirror and the next…

DUMBLEDORE: Ah, you see, only a person who wanted to find the stone, find it but not use it, would be able to get it. That is one of my more brilliant ideas. And between you and me, that is saying something.

A few interesting thoughts on power here. Voldemort thinks power is an end unto itself—which is a pretty apt summation of evil—while Harry knows that you can't use such power without become corrupt. Dumbledore is smart enough to know the difference…and protects the Stone with a clever riff of that distinction.

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