“The Keeper of the Keys”


The introduction of the character Hagrid and revelation that Harry Potter is a wizard are the central elements of chapter 4.  Hagrid is one of Harry’s closest protectors/benefactors though it is hinted in chapter 4 that he has a secret (regarding why he was himself expelled from Hogwarts). It is common for benefactors in bildungsromans to have secrets that revealed as the protagonist moves through his development. (As I mentioned in an earlier post, think Ms. Havisham or Mr. Magwitch from Great Expectations, or Betsey Trottwood from David Copperfield.)


In chapter 4, Rowling also continues the theme of Harry’s noncomformity vs the Dursley’s attempts to suppress his individuality. The Dursley’s are dead set against letting Harry Potter go to Hogwarts. Petunia gives the most obvious expression of this theme when she says, “I knew you’d be just as strange,just as-as-abnormal (as Harry’s mother)” (53). She has outright let slip the reason for her aversion to her nephew: He can’t be made to conform to muggle society.


In the rest of the chapter, Hagrid informs Harry about how his parents really died at the hands of Voldemort (more will be said of this later, especially as learn about and discuss more of the relationship between Harry and Voldemort) and faces off with the Dursley’s over whether he can attend Hogwarts. This scene brings to mind a similar scene in David Copperfield when Betsey Trottwood faces off with the awful and stern Murdstone’s over David Copperfield’s future. It is noteworthy that the protagonist of a bildungsroman often needs the protection of his or her benefactors to advance in development, although this is not always the case. As the chapter ends, Hagrid reveals that he has a secret that got him expelled from Hogwarts in his own youth. This will not be expounded upon until Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Click here to return to chapter 3

Click here to start from chapter 1

“The Keeper of…


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