- "The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The Stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal."
- —An unknown book[src]
The Philosopher's Stone was an artificial, rufescent stone with magical properties. It could be used to create the Elixir of Life, which extended the drinker's lifespan, as well as transform any metal into pure gold. The Stone was created by the famed alchemist Nicolas Flamel.
During 1991-1992 school year Lord Voldemort made attempts to steal the Stone for his own purposes. The final and almost successful attempt broke out in a skirmish for possession of the Stone. Voldemort was foiled by eleven year old Harry Potter and his return to power was delayed.
The famed alchemist Nicolas Flamel created the only Philosopher's Stone which (in 1991) was known to exist. Flamel used the Elixir of Life made from the stone to extend his and his wife Perenelle's lifespan for over six centuries.
Protecting the Stone
In 1991 the Philosopher's Stone became the target of the Dark Wizard Lord Voldemort in his quest for the Elixir of Life in order to create a new body for his mangled soul after his failed attack on Godric's Hollow, though it is unknown how Voldemort learned of the stone. Voldemort used a human host, Quirinus Quirrell, to seek it out at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where it was being held. The stone was originally stored at Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Vault 713. However, possibly suspecting a threat, Albus Dumbledore had Rubeus Hagrid retrieve the stone the very morning of an attempted robbery.
After that, the Stone was placed in a special chamber and guarded by seven enchantments and creatures, provided by the professors at Hogwarts: Professor Sprout's web of Devil's Snare; flying keys, charmed by Filius Flitwick; a life-size board of Wizard's Chess, transfigured by Professor McGonagall; Professor Quirrell's mountain troll; Professor Snape's potion riddle; and the Mirror of Erised, placed there by Albus Dumbledore. Hagrid's massive three-headed dog, Fluffy, guarded the trap door through which the chamber lay. In order to keep them safe from Fluffy and the other obstacles, Dumbledore forbade the third-floor corridor to all students.
Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger suspected that the stone would be stolen. In overhearing out-of-context conversations, they believed the thief would be Hogwarts Potions Master Severus Snape.
Harry felt compelled to protect the stone and he and his friends, using intellectual power and heroism far exceeding their years, fought past the obstacles, until finally Harry was forced to face Quirrell and Lord Voldemort himself. In the final showdown, Quirrell lost his life, and Lord Voldemort lost his meagre hold on the physical world once again.
After securing the stone, Dumbledore and Flamel discussed its future, and agreed that it was best to destroy it. Flamel ensured he had enough remaining elixir to set his affairs in order before he and his wife would ultimately die, a fate with which they were quite content. According to Dumbledore, their deaths would be like "going to bed after a very, very long day", after living for over 600 years.
- "The Stone was not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you wanted, the two things most human beings would choose above all. The trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."
- —Albus Dumbledore regarding the true nature of the Philosopher's Stone[src]
After his failure, Voldemort correctly deduced that Dumbledore would destroy the stone to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands again. Voldemort had then given up on the stone and waited for another method to regenerate his body. He only wanted the stone to create a body for himself, and nothing more, as being dependent on the Elixir and Stone for his immortality is unacceptable.
The Stone is variously described as red and white in the many old texts in which it appears. These colours are important in most accounts of alchemy, and are often interpreted as having symbolic meaning.
Behind the scenes
- The Stone is known in the United States books and films as the Sorcerer's Stone (with the exception of The Tales of Beedle the Bard , where it is referenced as "the Philosopher's Stone"). This was so because American children were supposedly not as familiar with the real-world mythology surrounding the Philosopher's Stone and to enhance the connection of the first book with magic.
- Critics of the Deathly Hallows claim that Beedle was inspired to create the life-restoring Resurrection Stone from the life-extending Philosopher's Stone.
- Historically for Alchemists, the Philosopher's stone was a symbol of achieving perfection, a theme that is carried throughout the Harry Potter series as Harry goes through a "Refiner's Fire" or "Crucible", and becomes the man he is at the end of the series.
- According to a page in Advanced Potion-Making, "the Philosopher's Stone was believed to mystically amplify the user's knowledge of alchemy so much that anything was attainable."
- Five years after the stone's destruction, Harry suggested that if Voldemort was obsessed with immortality, he could either create or steal a Philosopher's Stone, implying that the one created by Flamel was not unique, nor is the method, or believing Voldemort is magically intelligent enough to duplicate the method.
- Though given that it was said that the stone was the only one of its kind Harry may have said it in the theoretical sense or simply forgot that only one Philosopher Stone ever existed.
- When Dumbledore's Army meets for the first time in the Hog's Head Inn, Neville Longbottom refers to it as the "Philological Stone" ("Sorcerous Stone" in the U.S. edition) when discussing Harry's past achievements.
- During Gilderoy Lockhart's studentship at Hogwarts, he would rant to anyone who would bother to listen about planning to achieve many impressive feats, one of which is to create a Philosopher's Stone before graduation; of course, he never did so.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Philosopher's Stone" at Pottermore
- ↑ http://www.mugglenet.com/viewer/?image_location=/movie7/books/page_advancedpotionmaking.jpg
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 16 (In The Hog's Head)
- ↑ Harry Potter Lexicon - Differences UK/US Editions
- ↑ Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Gilderoy Lockhart" at Pottermore