Warning: Spoilers for the ‘Harry Potter’ series.
This is the second post in my ‘Reading Harry Potter’ series, and this time we’re talking about Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!
Check out my post on Philosopher’s Stone here if you missed it!
My Thoughts Whilst Rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Dursley update…
…they’re still hilariously awful!
Their rehearsal of the dinner party where Vernon is hoping to make a big sale of drills is pretty funny (as well as insanely cringey!), some of the finer moments including Dudley planning to tell the unfortunate Mr Mason ‘We had to write an essay about our hero at school, Mr Mason, and I wrote about you!’ Is Mr Mason a particularly famous builder or something?
- Yay, Dobby!
I had remembered that Dobby was introduced in Chamber of Secrets, but I’d totally forgotten the specifics of the smashed pudding etc.
Poor Dobby, though, having to keep punishing himself! I remembered him better from the later books when he’s a free elf, and I’d forgotten how badly treated he was by the Malfoys (not that you’re supposed to know they’re his masters yet!).
- I love the part where the Weasleys bust Harry out of the Dursleys’ house!
I love this classic bit of Harry Potter hijinks: Ron and the twins collecting Harry from the Dursley’s house in their dad’s flying car. It’s funny, but also tense, especially once Vernon gets wind of it and ends up hanging on to Harry’s ankle!
Not to mention how they have a furious Mrs Weasley to contend with when they get back! But how good of a friend is Ron really, to have done that, and risked his mother’s wrath?
- Meeting Mr Weasley.
I’ve always really liked Mr Weasley as a character, with his curiosity about everything Muggle related, and how docile he is in comparison to Mrs Weasley. His reaction to hearing about his teenage children taking his illegal flying car out to rescue Harry is priceless:
“Did you really? Did it go alright? I-I mean, that-that was very wrong boys – very wrong indeed…”
- Got to love how Ginny is so awkward and nervous around her future husband!
If only she knew she would one day be married to her crush!
- More subtle but hilarious touches from Rowling!
In my last reread post I said that I had forgotten how funny a writer Rowling is, and this book again made me think that! As well as the funny character banter, she just throws in funny little touches to the narration like ‘Ron’s old Shooting Star was often outstripped by passing butterflies’ when they’re playing Quiddich in the orchard.
- The introduction of Floo Powder!
It really does sound like an awful (but convenient!) way to travel! Plus I noticed it says Harry sees through various fireplaces before he comes out accidentally in Knockturn Alley…isn’t that kind of an invasion of privacy, being able to gawp into people’s living rooms on the way to your destination?
- The fateful moment when Lucius Malfoy slips the diary into Ginny’s books in Flourish and Blotts!
This is another one of those moments that you only recognise as significant upon rereading, other than it introducing Draco’s father, who is every bit as unpleasant as him.
I’d forgotten about Mr Weasley trying to fight him though, and I loved Fred and George egging him on, and Hermione’s parents being there, just looking awkward!
- Got to love how Harry and Ron technically abandon Mr and Mrs Weasley at the station when they can’t get through the barrier!
As much as I love this series, when reading it back as an adult, you do notice some huge failures of logic at times on the part of Harry and his friends. A major one in Chamber of Secrets being how Harry and Ron’s first reaction to being unable to get onto Platform 9 and 3/4 is to steal the Weasley family’s car…
I mean, why not just wait for Mr and Mrs Weasley to come back through, and tell them what’s happened? Then surely they could be sent to Hogwarts another way, or Mr Weasley could have taken them there himself. Or they could have sent an owl to Hogwarts as Professor McGonagall says when they arrive.
Not to mention the fact that they abandon Ron’s parents at the station! I mean, I know they’re wizards, but still! ‘Thanks for letting me stay all summer Mr and Mrs Weasley, but you can make your own way home!’
- Gilderoy Lockhart is another of Rowling’s wonderfully terrible inventions!
Literally from his first appearance in Flourish and Blotts, Lockhart is an unbearably vain, vapid and idiotic character. I had forgotten just how narcissistic he is, from the quiz he sets them in his first lesson, which is all questions about his favourite colour, etc., to his telling all the other teachers how to do their job.
I especially like his ridiculous murmuring when Harry is doing detention with him – ‘celebrity is as celebrity does, remember that’ – and him making Harry assist him in acting out his books in class.
- The first use of the word ‘Mudblood’.
As I said in my last Harry Potter post, Rowling tackles some pretty serious issues in this series, despite it being primarily for children, and I like how she introduces prejudice as one of them in this book.
- Ron defending his future wife!
I love how, despite his constant bickering with Hermione throughout the early books, Ron immediately jumps to Hermione’s defence when Malfoy insults her…even if it does involve him accidentally hitting himself with his curse, and spending ages afterwards spewing slugs. So gross!
- ‘Come…come to me…let me rip you…let me tear you…let me kill you…’
How insanely terrifying is it really, what Harry starts to hear in the walls after the Chamber has been opened? Even now it gives me the creeps, and I remember being so freaked out by it as a kid!
- I really like the Deathday Party chapter!
I love Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday party as a scene! I like how in Harry Potter ghosts aren’t that creepy, and are just there, hanging about and having parties.
But poor Nick, not being able to join the Headless Hunt…although, to be fair, Sir Patrick does have a point. How is he supposed to take part in Horseback Head-Juggling and Head Polo if his head doesn’t properly detach?
- ‘The Chamber of Secrets has been opened, enemy of the heir, beware.’
Again, this is so chilling, especially having been daubed on the wall in blood! There’s definitely a strong horror side to this book, in my opinion (or as much horror as you can really have in a children’s series!).
- You really get to see a different side to Filch in this book, even if he’s still unpleasant!
From his insecurity about being a Squib, and people knowing he’s taking a Kwikspell course, to him crying over Mrs Norris’ attack, you really do see a softer side to him…shame he’s still awful!
- I love the part where Professor Binns relates the history of Hogwarts and its’ founders.
I think most Harry Potter fans are interested in any kind of backstory or history to do with the series, and I’ve always found the story of the four founders so interesting!
- I relate so hard to Ron’s fear of spiders!
Like literally, I am so terrified of spiders, so I’ve never related to Ron as much in my life as I do in this book.
- What is it with Harry being sabotaged when playing Quiddich?
It was Quirrell cursing his broom in Philosopher’s Stone, and in this book it’s Dobby’s rogue bludger. I had forgotten how many unfortunate incidences Harry has on the Quiddich pitch in these early books!
Lockhart strikes again though, by accidentally removing the bones in his arms, which is pretty gross!
- Harry learning he’s a Parselmouth.
I had forgotten just how horrified everyone is initially by Harry’s ability to talk to snakes when it comes out that he can during the Duelling Club! It’s kind of infuriating reading about Harry being treated how he is after that, with everyone thinking he’s the Heir of Slytherin, and the one who keeps attacking people.
- How bad is his luck though that he’s always first on the scene of the attacks?
The worst one being when he tells the Hufflepuffs in the library he is looking for Justin Finch-Fletchley, and then he finds him and Nearly Headless Nick petrified in the hallway immediately after…
You’ve got to love how Nick has to be wafted out of the area with a fan though!
- How bad of an idea does the Polyjuice Potion plan sound when Hermione initially proposes it?
As Ron says to Harry, ‘Have you ever heard of a plan where so many things could go wrong?’
- How does the whole Hogwarts laundry situation work? Why have I never wondered this before?
Hermione tells Harry and Ron that she has sneaked spare robes out of the laundry for when they become Crabbe and Goyle…how have I never wondered about some of the practicalities of Hogwarts before, like where the laundry is done, by who (maybe house elves?) and how? Like, surely they don’t have washing machines?
- I always liked getting to see the Slytherin common room in this book!
It sounds pretty bleak though, what with it being in a dungeon with ‘rough stone walls’ and with lamps hanging on chains, and carved chairs. I mean, do evil people not like comfort or something?
- Harry’s first look at Riddle’s diary.
I love how he is surprised that it doesn’t contain things like ‘Auntie Mabel’s birthday’ and ‘dentist, half past three’. Can you imagine Voldemort writing such things in his diary?
- How weird is it, that Harry is unknowingly carrying about a piece of Voldemort’s soul with him?
One of the weird things about reading back these early books, is knowing about things like Horcruxes, and that Harry is essentially carrying one around with him, not knowing what it is.
It’s also weird when Harry figures out how to use the diary and is taken into Riddle’s memories of not wanting to leave Hogwarts and go back to the orphanage at Christmas. In many ways they’re so alike…
- ‘Because that’s what Hermione does…when in doubt, go to the library.’
I actually have a t-shirt with this quote on it! I totally relate to Hermione’s love of libraries!
- Aragog is a terrible friend to Hagrid (and just generally terrifying!).
I love how Harry and Ron go to see Aragog to help Hagrid, and Aragog tells them what a great guy he is before trying to eat them!
I’ve always been so grossed out by the giant spider bit. It’s literally like my worst nightmare!
- Again with the bad logic!
Harry and Ron work out where the Chamber of Secrets is after Ginny is taken, but rather than informing an adult, or fully trained wizard/witch, they decide to go themselves…I mean, I know it works out, but it doesn’t seem like a great idea in retrospect, not when Ginny’s life depends on it.
I guess they take Lockhart, but only after he admits to being a fraud, and not actually a very good wizard, so he doesn’t seem like a great choice for back-up!
- Riddle’s mocking of Ginny…you really feel for her!
When Riddle is telling Harry what Ginny has been writing in the diary and confiding in him for months, you feel so bad for her! She’s always being teased by her brothers, and has to wear shabby, second-hand robes, and she thinks Harry will never like her…
You just want to tell her, ‘he will, Ginny! Don’t worry!’
- I remember what a huge revelation the anagram of ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle/I am Lord Voldemort’ was when I first read the book!
I just think that was one of Rowling’s clever touches to have his true name hidden in his adopted, and widely feared moniker.
- For a 12 year old, Harry really does make short work of the basilisk!
Harry doesn’t actually seem to have too much trouble killing the basilisk! Plus how did he know to stab the diary with the basilisk tooth?
- Memory-less Lockhart is hilarious!
‘Amazing, amazing! This is just like magic!’
- An early explanation of Harry being a Horcrux?
I had forgotten the specifics of Harry’s talk with Dumbledore when he returns from the Chamber of Secrets, and was surprised to find that he pretty much tells Harry that he has a piece of Lord Voldemort inside him!
He tells Harry that some of Voldemort’s powers passed to him on the night he tried to kill him (like the ability to speak to snakes), and Harry’s exact response is: ‘Voldemort put a bit of himself into me?’ How chilling is that, in light of the events of the final book?
- Dobby the free elf!
Harry tricking Lucius Malfoy into making Dobby a free elf is a nice uplifting ending to the book!
- This has never been my favourite Harry Potter book, but I really enjoyed rereading it!
I don’t know why, but this has always been one of my least favourite Harry Potter books, and I feel like that still stands.
I really did enjoy this reread though (and let’s face it, even one of my least favourite Harry Potter books is still better than most books!), and I noticed so many little things that I had forgotten. Rowling really filled in a lot of interesting backstory, and stuff that comes in useful in the rest of the series through this book, and you can see more signs of her setting up things for later books in this instalment.
Next up is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which is actually one of my favourite Harry Potter books, so look out for my next post!
So what are some of your favourite Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets moments? How does this rank for you in terms of your favourite/least favourite Harry Potter books?