Search Menu


Chapter 4

Chapter 4


But yeh must know about yer mom and dad. . . . I mean, they’re famous. You’re famous.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

The thump is heard again. A giant smashes down the door. Uncle Vernon threatens the giant with a gun, but the giant takes the gun and ties it into a knot. The giant presents Harry with a chocolate birthday cake and introduces himself as Hagrid, the “Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.” Hagrid is disturbed to find out that the Dursleys have never told Harry what Hogwarts is. Vernon tries to stop Hagrid from telling Harry about Hogwarts, but to no avail. Hagrid tells Harry that Harry is a wizard and presents him with a letter of acceptance to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Vernon protests that he will not allow Harry to attend Hogwarts. Hagrid explains to Harry that the Dursleys have been lying all along about how the boy’s parents died. Harry learns that they did not die in a car crash, as he had always thought, but were killed by the evil wizard Voldemort. Harry does not believe he could be a wizard, but then he realizes that the incident with the boa constrictor was an act of wizardry. With Uncle Vernon protesting, Hagrid takes Harry from the shack.


The arrival of Harry’s birthday coincides with Hagrid’s revelation of who Harry is, further suggesting that Harry must mature into his new identity. The time may be coming when Harry actually becomes a young Mr. H. Potter, as the letters refer to him, who lives his own life and is capable of making his own way. Even the chocolate cake that Hagrid brings for his birthday shows that, for the first time, Harry is no longer dependent on the Dursleys to feed him. His departure from home at the end of Chapter 4 is symbolic of this maturation. Harry can begin to imagine a future life of adult self-reliance, and we see that the story is perhaps a tale about growing up.

The dramatic conflict in the shack between Mr. Dursley and Hagrid sharply illustrates the contrast between the world of wizards and the world of ordinary Muggles. These two worlds are each represented by authority figures, and we see how Mr. Dursley’s frantic obstinacy is very different from Hagrid’s confident power. Mr. Dursley clings to his dominant role in the family with a pathetic desperation, but we see that Harry, like any boy in his right mind, prefers to associate with the dynamic and direct Hagrid. The flimsy social world represented by the Dursley family is crashing down, and we see a more appealing world of power and charisma emerging as an alternative. This opposition between Mr. Dursley and Hagrid can hardly be called a power struggle, as Hagrid is so easily the victor in the standoff between the two men. When he effortlessly bends Dursley’s gun, we see that there can be no real contest between them. What is also interesting about the opposition between Muggles and wizards is that the Dursleys are aware of the two worlds the whole time. Rowling could have made the Dursleys oblivious of wizardry until Hagrid’s arrival; instead, she has them live in denial for ten years. Their denial is intriguing because it suggests that normal people repress difficult or potentially embarrassing facts in order to make their lives seem more normal.

Test Your Understanding with the Chapter 4 Quiz

Take a quiz on this section
Test Your Understanding with the Chapter 4 Quiz



After Hagrid smashes down the door of their vacation shack, what does Vernon Dursley threaten him with?
A knife
A gun
Test Your Understanding with the Chapter 4 Quiz

Chapter 4 QUIZ

Test Your Understanding with the Chapter 4 Quiz

More Help

Previous Next
Sorting Hat

by singdiva1994, January 31, 2013

The Sorting Hat is a symbol of free will. The Sorting Hat places one into the house one wants and therefore you can choose to be good (Gryffindor) or evil (Slytherin).


20 out of 76 people found this helpful

helpful hint!! (for new readers)

by aulfingers123, November 21, 2013

If you have not seen Harry Potter movies. YOU SHOULD!! Seeing these movies gives you a good idea of whats happening and while your are reading you can see and imagine all that happens clearer. To those who do not like to read, (Why?!?!?!) look at the movies they give out very important info and all the answers to your reports in 2 hours!! For those WHO DO READ!!, enjoy the book and have FUN!



11 out of 21 people found this helpful

Making it simple

by sarahangel778, March 01, 2014

I think the rule breaking can be interpreted as Harry not being perfect however he is making the choice to do a bad thing for a good reason. I think a common theme throughout the books is that there is no purely good and purely evil, it is not our inherent characteristic, however it is our choices, this is demonstrated with Dumbledore, James Potter and Snape. In contrast, bad decisions are represented by Malfoy and Wormtail.


2 out of 4 people found this helpful

See all 17 readers' notes   →