HP Re-read: 1.14 Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback

As the chapter begins, our trio continue to check on Fluffy, the three-headed dog, and make sure he is still on the case, guarding the trap door. They fully believe that Snape is after the Sorcerer’s Stone, especially following the incident wherein they are convinced that Snape is threatening Quirrell for information. Because of this, they try their best to be friendly to Quirrell, from encouraging him every change they get to as far as Ron scolding other students for making fun of bumbling, stuttering professor.

They meet with Hagrid, once again, and continue to ask him about the Stone and what else is guarding it, aside from Fluffy. Hagrid is disturbed that they know about it, yet he agrees to tell them more information in private. In truth, Hagrid is preoccupied with caring after a baby dragon that he has won from a bet. Ron informs them that it is illegal to breed dragons.

Although this chapter is named after a dragon, it really is all about Hagrid; it lets us learn more about his character. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, as a whole, has this recurring theme of things are not always what they seem. In Hagrid’s case, he is this ginormous creature that appears monstrous to many but really has a heart of gold. A true gentle giant.

Hagrid is the first friend Harry has ever had. He almost felt like some sort of fairy godmother, introducing Harry to the Wizarding world, guiding him and telling him all about it. In other stories, Hagrid’s character would appear to be an impressive, wise bloke who will be Harry’s sort of like, mentor. Yet in this story, it’s a monstrous looking giant of a man with a long shaggy mane of hair and a wide tangled beard who really is the most kindhearted character of the series. Things are not always what they seem.

Hagrid’s generosity fully extends to animals. That is why it made me so happy when he is named professor for Care of Magical Creatures in the third book; no one else fits the bill.

Hagrid provides a vicious three-headed dog to Dumbledore to help guard the Stone. Despite its viciousness, he gives it a cutesy, adorable name and strongly insists you have to learn how to properly care for it and behave around it. His own pet dog, Fang, is a gigantic wolfhound that looks as though it could devour you in one bite yet only drools a lot (lol this image is so funny to me). He adopts a dragon’s egg in this chapter and we learn that he’s always wanted one. Because one of Ron’s brothers, Charlie, works with dragons, he informs them that dragons are highly dangerous and illegal, yet Hagrid treats the dragon’s egg like a precious baby.

Any other person would see Fluffy or Norbert and see them as the dangerous creatures that they are. Not Hagrid. He sees lonely, mistreated, misunderstood gentle beasts. He sees himself in the creatures that he care for.

Hagrid, for all his good intentions, often tends to only see the glass half full. He cares after a dragon’s egg yet has no idea on what to actually do with it, when, oh I don’t know, it grows to a fully grown fire-breathing beast. It’s only at the trio’s insistence that he realizes that maybe a dragon isn’t an ideal pet, despite the burns and bites he’s collected from it.

This shortcoming also extends to other areas. Hagrid fully believes that no teacher (or person of authority) would ever do something bad. He tends to look for the best in people. Although an admirable trait, it’s not always ideal.

Some notes:

  • Dittany is mentioned in this chapter. We know that will appear later on in the series.
  • The Norwegian Ridgeback itself. We know Harry will get (super) up close and personal with a fully grown one later on in the series.
  • Hagrid tells the trio that he “won” the dragon egg in a poker game from a stranger, who yes, just happens to be carrying a rare item.
  • It’s so hilarious that Hagrid insists to be identifies as the baby dragon’s “Mummy”
  • As Harry and Hermione meet up with Charlie (Ron can’t go as he is in the hospital wing after getting beaten by Norbert) to send Norbert off, Draco Malfoy, sees them and overhears everything. Filch catches them as they leave the Invisibility Cloak behind! Uh oh.

Stay tuned. In the next chapter, we are about to go into the Forbidden Forest.

 

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