Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

by

J. K. Rowling

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Professor Quirrell Character Analysis

Professor Quirrell is an antagonist in the novel and the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. Quirrell is a young, stuttering professor whom Harry first meets in Diagon Alley. When Harry sees Quirrell at Hogwarts, the professor is sporting a new purple turban (under which readers ultimately learn is Voldemort’s face). Quirrell puts up a front as a nervous, rather ineffective teacher, but behind the scenes he is coldly calculating how to do Voldemort’s bidding. He is so effective at this ruse that Harry spends most of the novel believing that Professor Snape, who has a more threatening presence, is responsible for most of the things that Quirrell has done. By the end of the novel, it becomes clear that it was Quirrell who tried to rob Gringotts bank to get the Sorcerer’s Stone; Quirrell set a troll loose in the dungeon on Halloween; Quirrell jinxed Harry’s broom to try to kill him; and Quirrell was the one who tricked Hagrid into telling him how to get past the three-headed dog guarding the Stone. At the end of the novel Quirrell reveals his motivation, declaring that he has chosen to follow Voldemort because Voldemort showed him that there is no such thing as good and evil, only power. Thus, Quirrell becomes associated with greed and ambition, to the point that he is unable to touch Harry without being burned because Harry is marked by Lily’s love, humility, and sacrifice. This dichotomy puts Quirrell resoundingly on the side of evil, and his defeat is a great victory for Harry.

Professor Quirrell Quotes in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone quotes below are all either spoken by Professor Quirrell or refer to Professor Quirrell. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Magic, Difference, and Belonging Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scholastic edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone published in 1997.
Chapter 4 Quotes

“See, there was this wizard who went…bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse than worse. […] This wizard, about twenty years ago now, started lookin’ fer followers. Got ’em, too — some were afraid, some just wanted a bit o’ his power, ’cause he was gettin’ himself power, all right. Dark days, Harry.”

Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

“A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.”

Related Symbols: The Sorcerer’s Stone
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good.”

Related Symbols: The Sorcerer’s Stone
Page Number: 299
Explanation and Analysis:

“You see, only one who wanted to find the Stone — find it, but not use it — would be able to get it, otherwise they’d just see themselves making gold or drinking Elixir of Life.”

Page Number: 300
Explanation and Analysis:
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Professor Quirrell Character Timeline in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The timeline below shows where the character Professor Quirrell appears in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: Diagon Alley
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
...wanted to shake his hand. Harry doesn’t know what to say. Hagrid then notices Professor Quirrell, the Defense against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. He is very pale, has a... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Sorting Hat
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
...where the teachers are. Hagrid is there; Professor McGonagall is talking to Professor Dumbledore. Professor Quirrell, whom Harry met in the Leaky Cauldron and who is now sporting a purple turban,... (full context)
Magic, Difference, and Belonging Theme Icon
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
...and climb into bed. That night, Harry has a bizarre dream: “He was wearing Professor Quirrell’s turban, which kept talking to him, telling him he must transfer to Slytherin.” In his... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Potions Master
Magic, Difference, and Belonging Theme Icon
Harry looks forward to Quirrell’s class, but it turns out to be a bit of a joke. His room smells... (full context)
Chapter 10: Halloween
Rules and Rebellion Theme Icon
...and a feast are laid out for Halloween. But just as the banquet begins, Professor Quirrell sprints into the hall in terror, gasping that there’s a troll in the dungeon. Quirrell... (full context)
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
Rules and Rebellion Theme Icon
A moment later, Professor McGonagall, Snape, and Quirrell dash into the bathroom. McGonagall is livid, demanding to know what Harry, Ron, and Hermione... (full context)
Chapter 11: Quidditch
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
Rules and Rebellion Theme Icon
...the broom, Hermione races to the row of seats behind Snape, accidentally knocking over Professor Quirrell in the process. She crouches behind Snape and casts a spell to set his robes... (full context)
Chapter 13: Nicolas Flamel
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Rules and Rebellion Theme Icon
...broom and follows, climbing into a tree to watch. Snape is there, and so is Quirrell. Snape asks, threateningly, if Quirrell has found out how to get past Hagrid’s dog and... (full context)
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
...Harry breathlessly tells them that Snape’s trying to steal the Stone, and trying to force Quirrell to help him get to it. They worry that the feeble, stuttering Professor Quirrell is... (full context)
Chapter 14: Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Rules and Rebellion Theme Icon
...tell them, but he does tell them who is helping protect the Stone, including Dumbledore, Quirrell, and Snape. The students think to themselves that if Snape is helping to protect the... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Forbidden Forest
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Rules and Rebellion Theme Icon
About a week before exams, Harry hears Quirrell whimpering in a classroom as he walks down the hall. He thinks that someone is... (full context)
Rules and Rebellion Theme Icon
Harry tells Hermione and Ron what he heard, wondering if Snape convinced Quirrell to tell him how to get past his enchantment. Hermione says that they should go... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Man with Two Faces
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
...Harry is surprised to come face to face not with Snape or Voldemort, but with Quirrell. Quirrell, who is no longer stuttering and nervous, explains chillingly that he was the one... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Harry then realizes that the Mirror of Erised is behind Quirrell. Quirrell examines it, knowing that it must be the key to finding the Stone. In... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Harry realizes that his deepest desire at that moment is to find the Stone before Quirrell. Thus, if he looks in the Mirror of Erised, he should see himself finding it.... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Quirrell unbinds Harry and tells him to stand in front of the Mirror. When Harry sees... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Voldemort’s voice returns, demanding to see Harry face to face. Quirrell reaches up and undoes his purple turban, then turns around. At the back of his... (full context)
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
...in vain, commanding him again to hand over the Stone. Harry runs, screaming, “NEVER!” but Quirrell grabs him. But when he does so, pain shoots through Harry’s scar and Quirrell lets... (full context)
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Quirrell tries to grab Harry again, but his hands continue to blister, and he howls in... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
...of him. Dumbledore explains calmly that Harry’s been out cold for three days, and that Quirrell does not have the Stone. Dumbledore had arrived just in time to rescue Harry, after... (full context)
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Harry continues, wondering what happened to Voldemort. Dumbledore says that Quirrell has died, but Harry merely delayed Voldemort’s return to power. Harry then asks why Quirrell... (full context)
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
...tears when he sees Harry and apologizes, saying that it’s all his fault for telling Quirrell how to get past Fluffy. Harry comforts him, saying that Voldemort would have found a... (full context)