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Warning: spoiler information ahead. “He watched an owl flutter towards the school across the bright blue sky, a note clamped in its mouth.” Harry founds out minutes later that this owl was delivering a forged note to Dumbledore requesting his help in London. Quirrell sent it to get Dumbledore out of his way for the night.
The fact that Hagrid revealed the secret to subduing Fluffy while drinking ties into his name, which comes from the word hagridden, or hung over.
Fluffy in Greek mythology: “She [the Muse Calliope] had a mortal son named Orpheus, and he sang almost as beautifully as the Muses themselves... His voice rang so pure and true that the fiercest warriors put down their swords and savage beasts lay spellbound at his feet... [After losing his wife to a snake bite] Orpheus wandered about searching for an entrance to Hades... His silvery voice floated down through the dark [of Hades] like a gentle summer breeze and its magic moved the iron gates of Hades. They sprang open and let him in, and Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog, lay down at his feet and let him pass.” (D’Aulaires, 102)
“We want to see professor Dumbledore,’ said Hermione. Rather bravely, Harry and Ron thought.” Hermione’s speaking out to Professor McGonagall is another part of Hermione’s transformation from a teacher’s pet to a brave and independent individual. Her transformation is also apparent in her risking expulsion to help Harry get to the Stone later that evening.
Notice that the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort will occur at night. Harry’s previous encounter with Voldemort, in the Forbidden Forest, also occurred at night.
Neville’s standing up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione signifies his transformation. Although he is getting in Harry’s way, he has good intentions.
Petrificus Totalus combines the Latin word “petrificare” (to make into stone) with “totalis,” Latin for entire.
The trio get through the obstacles using each person’s strengths: Hermione’s logic, book smarts, and flame summoning (which will be expanded upon in book two), Harry’s quick thinking and Quidditch skills, and Ron’s chess abilities and selflessness.
Warning: spoiler information ahead. Harry also carries on without Ron during climax of the climax of Chamber of Secrets. The climax of Chamber of Secrets also takes place under the school.
As Hermione pointed out, one teacher designed each obstacle: Hagrid (groundskeeper): Fluffy Sprout (Herbology): Devil’s Snare Flitwick (Charms): Flying Keys McGonagall (Transfiguration): Giant Chess Match Quirrell (Defense Against the Dark Arts): Troll Snape (Potions): Anti-fire potion logic problem Dumbledore (Headmaster): Mirror of Erised
The Potion Riddle works out like this: P W
BF/PBF/PP W PF BF (black fire potion) is in the smallest vial; one of the Ws (wine) is the largest vial. The idea of the smallest vial holding the right potion is reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in which the Holy Grail is the humblest looking cup of those Indy must choose from. The smallest vial is the most important--Rowling is coming back to the “appearances are deceiving” theme.
Hermione’s statement that friendship and bravery are more important than books and cleverness is the climax of her transformation from a bookworm to an adventuress.
This chapter’s ending is a cliffhanger: “There was already someone there--but it wasn’t Snape. It wasn’t even Voldemort.” So who was it? Rowling uses your own curiosity to force you to read on.