This chapter adds more depth to the Wizarding World. It introduces the reader to the concept of money in the Wizarding World. It also introduces the Ministry of Magic as the governing body of the Wizarding World. In the films, Harry left that same night with Hagrid and apparently didn’t return to the Dursley’s before the end of the school year. There’s also no mention of where he spent the night before going to Diagon Alley with Hagrid.
Harry awakens the next morning, still in the hut, thinking it’s been a dream. Then he sees Hagrid and hears an owl tapping at the window. The owl delivers a newspaper and Harry has to rummage through Hagrid’s coat for the coins to pay him. It then dawns on Harry that he doesn’t have money to pay for anything, and Hagrid has said he needs to buy things for school.
Hagrid tells him about Gringotts, the bank run by goblins. Although Hagrid tells Harry he flew to the hut on the island, they leave the island in the boat Uncle Vernon hired (the Dursley’s have locked themselves in the other room and are now stranded). Hagrid does use a bit of magic, so he doesn’t have to actually row the boat.
As they travel back to land, Hagrid gives a bit of an overview about how well-protected Gringotts is from being robbed, In addition to the goblins, there are all kinds of spells and enchantments used to protect its valuable contents. Hagrid reads the newspaper he received, The Daily Prophet, and remarks about the Ministry of Magic.
“There’s a Ministry of Magic?” Harry asked, before he could stop himself.
“’Course,” said Hagrid. “They wanted Dumbledore fer Minister, o’ course, but he’d never leave Hogwarts, so old Cornelius Fudge got the job. Bungler if ever there was one. So he pelts Dumbledore with owls every morning, askin’ fer advice.”
This quote foreshadows a lot in future books where Cornelius Fudge feels threatened by Dumbledore and the power he has.
“But what does a Ministry of Magic do?”
“Well, their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that there’s still witches an’ wizards up an’ down the country.”
“Why? Blimey, Harry, everyone’d be wantin’ magic solutions to their problems. Nah, we’re best left alone.”
There you have it – why the two worlds are separate. I suspect there’s more to it in history – the burning of witches at the stake comes to mind – but this is a simple answer to a complex issue.
The two of them walk through the town to the train station, and Hagrid draws a lot of attention along the way, while he marvels at muggle things like parking meters. They take the train to London and it’s amusing to watch Hagrid take in the muggle world and try to function in it, completely oblivious to the attention he’s drawing. When they arrive at the Leaky Cauldron, it looks like a dingy pub to Harry, who has the distinct impression that only he and Hagrid can see it.
When they enter the Leaky Cauldron, Harry has his first indication that he’s a celebrity of sorts in the Wizarding World, although he still doesn’t understand why.
The film does a great job representing the description of Diagon Alley in the book as Harry takes it in for the first time. The two make their way to Gringotts.
Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.
I really like the quote on the door of Gringotts. The films do a terrific job depicting Gringotts as well.
It’s interesting to note Harry’s thoughts when he sees the money in the vault that his parents have left him. Immediately he knows the Dursleys don’t know about it because of how much they complained about what he cost them when he was living with them.
While Harry is getting his robes, he first meets Draco Malfoy, even though he doesn’t know who he is just yet. His thoughts are that Draco reminds him of Dudley.
Anyway, what does he know about it, some o’ the best I ever saw were the only ones with magic in ‘em in a long line o’ Muggles — look at yer mum! Look what she had fer a sister!”
Harry asks Hagrid about things Draco brought up that Harry doesn’t know about, including Quidditch, the Houses at Hogwarts, and wizarding genealogy.
“I was trying to find out how to curse Dudley.”
“I’m not sayin’ that’s not a good idea, but yer not ter use magic in the Muggle world except in very special circumstances,” said Hagrid. “An’ anyway, yeh couldn’ work any of them curses yet, yeh’ll need a lot more study before yeh get ter that level.”
Here Harry is a typical eleven-year-old boy, thinking about magic as a way to get back at his cousin for their ongoing rivalry. As juvenile as Hagrid appears at times, he knows that’s generally a bad idea and cautions Harry against it. Hagrid does buy Harry an owl for his birthday (Hedwig) but how he comes by it is slightly different than depicted in the film. The film is also pretty faithful to Harry’s experience at Ollivander’s Wand Shop. Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 BC – that raises all kinds of possibilities, doesn’t it?
The scene of Hagrid and Harry leaving Diagon Alley, The Leaky Cauldron, and making their way on the Underground to Paddington Station is left out of the film. Harry goes back to the Dursleys until it’s time to leave for Hogwarts. It could have been fun to see how the muggle world reacts to them, but so much of the Wizarding World is set up in this first film. Unsure of whether or not it would be a success, cuts had to be made somewhere. I think the movie did a good job interpreting this Chapter and giving viewers the first glimpse of the Wizarding World, hidden in plain sight.
Previous chapter (link): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone Chapter 4: The Keeper of the Keys