Quotable Harry Potter #1

**May Contain Spoilers**

“Mr. And Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” — J.K. Rowling

Quote number one is the opening line from the first Harry Potter book, and I do love opening lines. Sometimes opening lines are unmemorable, they serve their purpose and get the story moving but that is all. Some opening lines become seared into literary history and are frequently quoted and recognized. (I am sure you an think of a few) Some lines strike you as amazing the first time you read them, some become more impressive as time goes on, or as the story unfolds.

The opening line of Harry Potter is like this for me. I don’t remember being awed and impressed by he opening the first time I read it. I don’t particularly remember thinking anything of it. Now I think it is brilliant.

The line sets up the story so well and yet, the main character is not mentioned. Further, Harry is not the main character of the entire first chapter, at least not on the surface. The first chapter of this Seven Book series focuses on the Dursleys. A family that, as we are told straight away, is proud of how normal they are. We will very soon discover, however, that normal cannot last long, if it ever existed in the first place. This sentence highlights the normalcy of a family who, if compared to the rest of the characters of the series, is actually extremely abnormal. To define normal, you need to have something to compare to. So perhaps the question we must ask is, “Normal? As compared to whom?”

The line also suggests an awareness of something not normal. Or, of a situation about to change. What would happen, we might ask, if something were to disrupt that foundation of normalcy? How might this ‘normal’ family react?

This opening line beautifully sets up a story whose protagonist is anything but normal, and will have adventures that are so far from normal they approach it from the other side.

Thoughts? I’d enjoy hearing them!

Keep Smiling!

3 thoughts on “Quotable Harry Potter #1

Add yours

  1. You’re right. The more you think about it the more you realize just how important it is to the story about to unfold. But the realization doesn’t come to you until much later in the story.

    One of my favourites is from Dickens A Christmas Carol. “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. This must be understood or nothing wonderful can come from the story I’m about to tell.” I don’t know if that’s more a quote from the movie or the book but I love it anyway.

    1. I think that line is in the first couple paragraphs of the book and the opening line is “Marley was dead: to begin with.” It’s the same general idea though and has the same effect. And the beginning of Christmas Carol has the advantage of being both memorable right from the start and gaining even more of an impact once you realize the implications later on.

      1. Yes. I was thinking that the book might be a tad different than the movie but I like the way the movie condensed a few threads into one for impact.

        I think Dickens would have approved the edit. 🙂

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