“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I eagerly looked forward to reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets because I had always assumed that it was my second favourite after it’s mirror book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Turns out that that’s only half right. I much prefer the film to the book which is a rare instance. The film was able to capture the book in a way the writing could not as the writing had none of the upbeat feel the Philosopher’s Stone possessed. It was rather drab, but the film was able to make the story come alive by making the mystery more exciting and added far more action, particularly the meeting between Harry and young Lord Voldemort and the basilisk.
Having said that, there were a few things that I really enjoyed about the book:
- Arthur Weasley
I always thought that Arthur Weasley was so kind-hearted and respectful towards Muggles admiring them (well, us) for their ability to invent; in that regard, we are more advanced than wizarding folk… after all, they use candles and we use electricity for much-needed light. Compare Arthur Weasley to Hagrid’s prejudice against Muggles: “It’s your bad luck that you grew up in a family o’ the biggest Muggles I ever laid my eyes on.” (Hagrid to Harry in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone). Arthur Weasley doesn’t view Muggles in this light at all, his attitude towards Muggles is much more reverent.
But what I didn’t realise is that… Arthur Weasley is incredibly intelligent! He modifies the Ford Anglia to make it fly, more spacious and creates an invisibility booster should you wish to go unsuspected by Muggles. He is an inventor! Do you see where Fred and George get it from? I, personally, believe that it is Fred and George’s inventive, creative and entrepreneurial spirit that marks them as the most talented set of students in Harry’s generation and it seems they’ve inherited their gift of invention from papa Weasley.
Arthur Weasley is under-rated! And Hagrid? Over-rated. I’m liking him less and less in this reread. Harry and Ron would have been dead meat if it weren’t for the Ford Anglia and, therefore, Arthur Weasley. In a world of Hagrid’s, be an Arthur Weasley.
Arthur Weasley… you are a spice.
Poor Dobby. The treatment he received at the hands of the Malfoy’s is enough for me to believe that S.P.E.W was heavily needed, maybe not for the healthy, happy and well-treated house elves working at Hogwarts, but for house elves, like Dobby, who are at the receiving end of abuse. “Dobby was so shocked when he heard Harry Potter was back at Hogwarts, he let his master’s dinner burn! Such a flogging Dobby never had, sir…” Oh, don’t worry, I won’t show you any images of flogging, but I’m sure you know the pain Dobby would have experienced from such a violent action. It was interesting to note as well that house elves suffered more during Voldemort’s more successful years which is why Harry meant so much to Dobby.
Something that didn’t quite make sense was why Dobby didn’t go to Albus Dumbledore if he suspected a plot would take place in Hogwarts? That would have helped to ensure that other students wouldn’t come to harm, and notifying only Harry would have only ensured Harry’s safety. House elves are selectively loyal then which I found interesting, but we already know that from Kreacher, so I’m surprised by my own surprise.
- Gilderoy Lockhart
Say what you will about Gilderoy Lockhart, but he certainly brought the entertainment in this book. I kept waiting for his parts! He is a deluded, self-obsessed mess, but one heck of an entertaining, deluded, self-obsessed mess. He is great fun to watch from afar, not so much the kind of person you’d want around you.
Gilderoy Lockhart got right down to the nitty-gritty of the Dark Arts. He understood that to earn an education in Defence Against the Dark Arts that one must ask crucial questions like: What is Gilderoy Lockhart’s favourite colour? What is Gilderoy Lockhart’s secret ambition? You know, the stuff that you really need to know to be able to defend yourself against the likes of Death Eaters and dementors.
- All That Mystery
Of all the books in this series, I feel this one is the closest to resembling a mystery novel. I felt as if I was right there with Ron, Harry and Hermione as we try to find out who Slytherin’s heir is, what the monster that lives in the Chamber is, and why and how students (and Mrs Norris) were petrified. I felt that this book really highlighted the trio’s skillset and abilities: Hermione figuring out what the monster is and how it’s getting around the castle, Ron braving his fear of spiders to help Hermione and the other students who were petrified, and Harry’s ability to think on his feet by stabbing the diary with the basilisk fang.
It’s also the first time we’re introduced to a Horcrux (other than Harry, of course) and the power it holds over those who come into its possession. We, also, learn more about young Voldemort as a student and of his persuasive powers. It was weird to consider that Voldemort was charming, but, of course, it explained how he was able to amass so many followers. There was so much to learn about!
- The Ocassional Funny Parts
There were a few passages that had me chuckling (and slightly confused).
“Why not ask Professor Snape to show you how to whip up a Love Potion!” – Gilderoy Lockhart.
Snape was looking as though the first person to ask him for a Love Potion would be force-fed poison.
I can just imagine Snape’s face… although, that may also be just Snape’s normal face, I mean, Snape really did have a resting bitch face after all.
“I’ve looked forward to coming to Hogwarts ever since B-Bill came and n-now I’ll have to leave and – w-what’ll Mum and Dad say?” – Ginny Weasley.
You must be thinking: how is this funny? Well, according to HP Lexicon, Bill is ten years older than Ginny which means when Bill started Hogwarts at the age of 11, Ginny was 1. A lot of babies dream of food and anything but porridge and milk, some may even dream about walking, but Ginny Weasley? Ginny Weasley had set her sights on higher ambitions. Ginny Weasley, precocious and advanced, wanted to go to Hogwarts. Dream big, people!
SIDE NOTE: I loved fangirl Ginny, she was so adorable!
What are your thoughts on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? Which book in the Harry Potter series do you think is the most under-rated? What do you think of Hagrid telling Ron and Harry to “follow the spiders?” Let me know in the comments!
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