Chapter seven, The Sorting Hat, begins Professor McGonagall making her grand entrance in front of the first years.
McGonagall leads the students across the entrance hall to the doors of the great hall and it is there where she explains that they are about to be sorted into their houses. She goes on to say that The Sorting is an important ceremony because the students within their houses are like second families.
After leaving the students to mull the information over Harry and Ron speculate as to whether the test will be painful, given that Fred had previous told this to Ron.
It is while they are occupied that the reader is introduced, as is the first years, to the many ghosts of Hogwarts, including the first mention of a very underrated character, Peeves.
As the wonderment of the ghosts run down McGonagall comes back and tells them to follow her to the Great Hall where they see all the other students and teachers.
Once the first year students have reached the front of the hall McGonagall pulls out a stool and an old wizarding hat. The hat, seemingly a inanimate object, begins to sing a song about how each student is to put the hat atop their head in order to be sorted.
Hermione is one of the first to be sorted into Gryffindor house, as is Neville. Malfoy is then put into Slytherin.
It is then Harry’s turn to be sorted, and he thinks, as the hat is on his head, that he does not want to be put into Slytherin. The hat takes this into consideration and puts him in Gryffindor. Following this, Ron is also put into Slytherin and the banquet is served.
While the Gryffindor table eats they converse with Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost, and talks go from families to studying and subjects to teachers.
Dumbledore concludes the meal with a speech saying no one is allowed on the grounds, they should not use magic anywhere except for the common rooms and classrooms, and they are not permitted to the third floor corridor.
As the students leave the Great Hall they run into Peeves, the poltergeist, and after painstakingly getting around him they are led into the Gryffindor dormitory.
Harry and Ron head off to bed, only for Harry to have a terrible dream about Quirrell trying to put him into Slytherin.
As with the last chapter, three illustrations come to mind when thinking of Chapter Seven, The Sorting Hat.
First, I fell head over heels in love with Kay’s depiction of Nearly Headless Nick. I may have thought my favourite illustration was the black and white page dedicated to Hogwarts, but this one takes the cake.
The other two notable illustrations in this chapter included the two page spread showing the various ghosts of Hogwarts. It is interesting to see how Kay chose to represent each ghost’s personality in just one simple image. The other illustration was the Sorting Hat atop Harry’s head. Although, on a side note, if anyone tried to put a hat like that on my head, I would be terrified…
Who could write a review on Chapter Seven of The Philosopher’s Stone without choosing the Sorting Hat as their favourite character. To us humans a hat is just that, but to the world of wizards the Sorting Hat is a sassy tool used to place young witches and wizards into their respective Hogwarts houses.
‘Not Slytherin, eh?’ said the small voice. ‘Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that — no? Well, if you’re sure — better be GRYFFINDOR!’
This particular quote stood out for me because it is the first time Harry is able to express his thoughts and feelings and actually have another person, or hat in this case, listen to him and allow him to make his own decision.
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