Harry Potter/Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

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Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
First UK edition cover
Written by: J. K. Rowling
Central Theme:
Genre(s): Fantasy
Series: Harry Potter
Preceded by: Harry Potter/Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone
Followed by: Harry Potter/Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
First published: July 2, 1998
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The Wiki Rule: Harry Potter Wiki
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It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
Albus Dumbledore

Second book in the Harry Potter series. Published in 1998. The only parts which seem to have been absorbed by Popcultural Osmosis are Dobby warning Harry not to go to Hogwarts this year and that Flying Car. After all, they were prominently in the trailer for The Film of the Book.

The main plot involves the Chamber of Secrets, a hidden chamber within Hogwarts built by Salazar Slytherin. A big fan of Fantastic Racism, Slytherin built the Chamber to house a monster which can only be controlled by his heir and which is intended to attack all those Muggle-borns "unworthy to study magic". Now, someone has opened the Chamber, implying the Heir of Slytherin has returned to Hogwarts, but who is it?

You may have noticed this storyline has rather little to do with the overall Story Arc. Chamber is often accused of essentially being devoted to a Wacky Wayside Tribe for this reason. In reality, the book is just an Innocuously Important Episode, and introduces a major Chekhov's Gun among other bits of Foreshadowing for several later books, particularly The Half-Blood Prince.

Tropes used in Harry Potter/Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets include:
  • Are You Sure You Can Drive This Thing? "No, but we're far too anxious to consider another plan."
  • Artistic License Animal Care: The kids feed a dog fudge. (Then again, he's a wizard's dog.)
    • And then again, dogs can actually consume LIMITED amounts of sweets over a period of time without ill effects.
      • It isn't the sugar so much as the chocolate, which is deadly to dogs (just 2 ounces of baking chocolate is a lethal dose in most cases).
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults
  • Bigger Bad: Salazar Slytherin was the guy who built the Chamber of Secrets and put the Basilisk there in the first place, but he's been dead for nearly a thousand years when the story begins.
  • Blank Book: Riddle's diary. At first.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: The Expelliarmus spell, which Harry learns in this book.
  • Break the Haughty: Lucius avoids prison time but suffers several blows to his ego. A twelve-year-old both stops his plan and tricks him into freeing Dobby, who takes the first opportunity to pay Lucius back for years of abuse by effortlessly blasting him down a flight of stairs.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Percy. Now that you're not 12, give this passage a close read.
    • Averted, in that we find out what he was actually doing - making out with his girlfriend, who he hadn't told anyone about.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While not as tense and brooding as the later books, Chamber of Secrets presents a huge leap in violence from the first book. More importantly, though, it introduces elements that are flat-out horror and can be argued not to have been surpassed even in the later books. Harry hearing the Basilisk's macabre ramblings while the monster stalks the piping system and the sinister, hostile message in blood aren't even the only examples.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The whole series gets its own page.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Harry having to answer Lockhart's fanmail as detention.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Harry and Ron use Polyjuice Potion to pretend to be Crabbe and Goyle, but their infiltration of Slytherin House is stymied by the fact that they don't know how to get in to Slytherin's chambers. They ask a passing student, but she's from Ravenclaw. Fortunately, Crabbe and Goyle are so dim that they're not really acting out of character.
  • The Dandy: Gilderoy Lockhart.
  • Dead Guy, Junior: Tom Marvolo Riddle, named for his father and his maternal grandfather. Or for both grandfathers, considering that "Tom" is usually short for "Thomas."
  • Diary: Tom Riddle's.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Nearly Headless Nick died in 1492 judging by his deathday cake, however, he is described as wearing an Elizabethan ruff which didn't come into fashion until about ninety years after Nick is supposed to have died.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Harry and Ron when they steal Mr. Weasley's Flying Car. Granted, they're twelve years old at the time. Lampshaded by McGonagall when she points out other, more reasonable, things they could have done to get to Hogwarts, and Harry reluctantly admits to himself that stealing a car was pretty stupid.
    • Then again, Fridge Logic kicks in when you realize that it would've been almost as odd for an Owl to fly off from a train station and back. Not as freaky as a flying car, but still odd for Muggle standards.
      • And Dobby had no trouble intercepting Ron's and Hermione's owls to Harry; he could have intercepted Hedwig too.
  • Disappointed in You: Dumbledore and McGonagall to Harry after he flies the car to Hogwarts.
  • Disney Death: Ginny Weasley gets one in the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Harry has to save Ginny by going into a chamber of secrets and fighting a giant snake that belongs to a very weird, much older guy that's been corrupting Ginny for the whole book. With a legendary sword that holds strange powers. Uh-huh.
  • Do Wrong Right: Arthur Weasley is far more pleased than his wife when his sons steal his flying car and use it to pick up Harry.
  • Enemy Within/The Killer in Me: Poor Ginny.
  • Eureka Moment: Harry deduces that Lucius Malfoy was the one who set the whole plot in motion when he saw Malfoy arrive with Dobby, the elf that warned Harry in the first place.
    • Hermione has one when she realises what the monster of Slytherin is, but doesn't get to tell anyone else. Harry gets the moment secondhand when he reads her note later.
  • Eye Scream: Fawkes vs. the Basilisk, to give Harry a fighting chance against the latter. He can’t do anything about the toxic venom though.
    • Also a book the Ministry had confiscated, mentioned in Ron's response to Harry asking him how a book could possibly be dangerous: it burned out its reader's eyes.
  • Face Palm: Flitwick does one with both hands after Lockhart suggests students visit him for advice on Entrancing Enchantments.
  • Faux Symbolism: According to The Other Wiki, several Christians -- those who don't think that these books teach Satanism -- compare the climax to John Bunyan's The Pilgrims Progress, a pinnacle of Christian literature.
    • In his relationship with Ginny, it's easy to see Tom Riddle as a kind of metaphorical Internet predator. J. K. Rowling herself acknowledged in an interview on the DVD of the movie that the diary is really a lot like an Internet chat room, but said she hadn't been in one at the time she wrote it so it's just a coincidence.
      • Rowling has also said her inspiration was the fact that she found diaries to be really scary, as a person's deepest darkest secrets are hidden in them. So rather than the focus of the danger being on talking to strangers, it's more on playing with something you don't understand.
  • Feet of Clay: Gilderoy Lockhart.
  • Follow The Spiders
  • Foreshadowing: "Potter, you've got yourself a girlfriend!" More seriously, when Ginny decides to confess, who does she go to? One of her older brothers? One of the teachers? No. She goes to Harry.
    • In chapter 14 when second-years sign up for electives to take next year, it mentions Hermione signed up for every class offered. This becomes a key plot point in the next book.
    • "I would advise you not to shout at the Azkaban guards like that. They won't like it at all."
    • "Sir, why don't you apply for the Headmaster's job?" Malfoy to Snape.
    • The fact that the first half of the book is spent with the Trio trying to figure out whether or not Malfoy's up to something. Four years later, it's Harry by himself, because no one believes him. He was right this time.
    • "Maybe [Tom Riddle] murdered Myrtle; that would've done everyone a favor..." He did.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The reference to the Japanese golfer joke.
    • "My wand is a little overexcited."
  • Giant Spider: Aragog and his relatives.
  • Hammy Herald: Fred and George show their support for Harry not by squashing rumors about him, but rather by following him around crying "Make way for the heir of Slytherin! Seriously evil wizard coming through!"
  • Heartwarming Moments: Subverted in-universe. What McGonagall thinks is is a CMOH is just the first lie Harry could come up with so he and Ron wouldn't get in trouble. Ends up being relevant to the plot because actually following through on the lie leads them to figuring out the mystery.
  • Holding It for a Friend: Filch claims that the Kwikspell letter on his desk is for a friend so that Harry doesn't guess that he has no magic.
  • Hot for Teacher: Hermione's crush on Lockhart.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Dobby.
  • I Never Got Any Letters: In the first chapter, Harry is angry that his friends haven't written to him all summer. Then it's revealed that an elf has been intercepting their letters.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Dobby inadvertantly reveals that he has been stopping Harry's letters when he mentions that Harry's friends haven't written to him - which is something he shouldn't be aware of.
  • Informed Ability: In-universe: Lockhart completely fails to live up to any of his hype, as Harry and Ron are quick to point out...
  • Inept Mage: Gilderoy Lockhart.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: Some readers found the novel to be heavy in the padding department, particularly the Wacky Wayside Tribe aspect. But the novel is quietly setting up Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince.
  • Involuntary Group Split: Gilderoy Lockhart's wayward spell sets off an earthquake that separates Ron from Harry, so Harry has to go alone into the Chamber.
  • Irony: In retrospect, Ron trying to comfort Ginny after the attack on Mrs. Norris by telling her that "they'll catch the maniac who did it and have him out of here in no time." Assuming Ginny had begun to suspect herself at that point, this might also count as Oblivious Guilt Slinging. After all, at the end of the book, she was convinced that she was going to be expelled. Way to go, Ron.
    • When wondering what Tom Riddle got a Special Award for Service to the School for, Ron sarcastically suggests that maybe he killed Myrtle as "that would've done everyone a favor." Riddle did kill her and he got the award for successfully framing Hagrid as her murderer.
    • Another potential example: Hermione suggests that whoever flushed Riddle's diary may have been the culprit, trying to stop anyone from finding out details about the last time the Chamber was opened. It was the culprit (sort of), but they did it to stop the attacks.
    • Harry wonders if, due to his speaking Parsletongue, he's a distant relative of Salazar Slytherins. It turns out that, thru the Peverells, he is related to Voldemort, so he actually is, in some fashion, related to Slytherin.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Harry's Parseltongue.
  • Living Memory: The Diary of Tom Riddle.
  • Love Potion: Lockhart suggests students visit Snape for advice on brewing one. Snape doesn't appreciate it.
  • Magic Misfire: Everything cast with Ron's broken wand. This becomes important.
  • Mailer Daemon: Tom Riddle.
  • Malicious Slander: A good portion of the school believes that Harry is the Heir of Slytherin after the incident with the snake at the Dueling Club.
  • Milky White Eyes: Aragog.
  • Mind Rape: What Riddle's Diary did to Ginny.
  • Missed the Bus: Dobby blocks Harry's access to Platform 9 3/4, causing him and Ron to miss the Hogwarts Express and take alternative transport. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Motive Misidentification: While Tom certainly didn't mind using the Basilisk on Muggle-borns, he was less interested in "purging the school" and more in trying to bait Harry.
  • Narm: Invoked with the twins' valentine to Harry. Fred and George continually tease him with it and Peeves adds a dance routine.
  • Not Me This Time: Harry and Ron use Polyjuice potion to imitate Crabbe and Goyle, Draco Malfoy's two mooks, in the hopes of getting Draco to admit that he's the heir of Slytherin, and thus the cause of all the shenanigans happening at Hogwarts that year. Instead, they hear Draco ranting about how thrilled he is that it's happening and how he'd love to congratulate whoever is actually behind it.
  • Orifice Evacuation: Slug-puking spell.
  • Parody Magic Spell: Harry threatens Dudley with the words "Hocus pocus! Squiggly wiggly!"
  • Pensieve Flashback: Although the actual Pensieve wasn't introduced until Goblet of Fire, Riddle's diary displays this here, two books earlier.
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: It's in this book that Malfoy introduces the anti-Muggle-born slur "mudblood".
  • Post-Mortem Comeback: The entire basis of the plot; Voldemort hid pieces of his memories in a book, who took the form of Tom Riddle, but it's inverted - Voldemort himself was already alive to begin with... somewhat.
  • Ransacked Room: Ginny ransacks Harry's dormitory in order to get Tom Riddle's diary back.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Harry gives one to the memory of Riddle, gloating over how his Muggle-born mother reduced Voldemort to almost nothing.
  • Red Herring: Ginny, Percy, Hagrid and Malfoy -- and Harry -- are all set up as possible Heirs of Slytherin, with Malfoy being the choice that's so obvious it's stupid, and Ginny, Percy and Hagrid all having Really Big Secrets that make them act suspicious.
    • Naturally, Malfoy is the one our heroes suspect and they spend half the book finding out that it isn't him. For example, Harry and Ron realize that the person who was in possession of Tom Riddle's Diary was a Gryffindor, meaning that it couldn't have been Malfoy.
    • Ginny turns out to have opened the Chamber of Secrets, but she wasn’t the heir. It was Tom Riddle who was possessing her this whole time.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Basilisk. Also the decoration of the Chamber of Secrets. Salazar must have been swapping design tips with Jafar.
  • Shout-Out: Fawkes is a fiery phoenix that dies in an explosion. Guy Fawkes, a real life person, tried to explode Parliament with gunpowder.
  • Shrine to Self: Lockhart's room is filled with pictures of himself. Since this is the wizarding world, they're all nearly as vain as he is and tend to nod along to whatever he's saying.
  • Shrinking Violet: Ginny, pretty much only in this book as she's hardly in the next two and in the fifth she's revealed to have Taken A Level In Badass.
  • Significant Anagram: Tom Marvolo Riddle <-> I am Lord Voldemort. Other languages revise the anagram to make sense in their tongues -- or change his birth-name.
  • Soul Jar: Tom Riddle's diary.
  • Spinning Out of Here: Travel by Floo sends the traveler spinning to their destination.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Ginny and Colin Creevy are this to Harry in this book.
  • Stop Helping Me!: Dobby. Harry actually asks him to never try and save his life again at the end.
  • Stronger with Age: The Basilisk
  • Ted Baxter: Gilderoy Lockhart.
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: Professor Binns is always calling students by the names of students of long ago.
  • Villain of the Week: Subverted. Up until the last couple of chapters it looks like the series will be heading this way, with the Big Bad Voldemort introduced in the first book and the mysterious Heir of Slytherin being the main villain in the second book. Near the end however it's revealed that not only is Voldemort the Heir of Slytherin, but a soul fragment of him has been driving the plot the entire time.. Starting with the third book, all of the main antagonists are explicitly linked to Voldemort.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Lucius Malfoy, who is a distinguished Ministry official despite being a former Death Eater.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Basilisk would die at the crowing of a rooster (presumably because it is hatched from a chicken's egg incubated by a toad). One wonders just how effective a weapon a Basilisk would be to a dark wizard in any other situation, given everyone knows this and roosters aren't exactly hard to come by.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Those poor mandrakes. Even though everything suggests that they are sapient, social lifeforms (they get "moody and secretive" in their adolescent phase, enjoy partying, and when they reach adulthood, start moving into each other's pots), nobody seems to think chopping a mandrake up for a potion is any different than chopping up a carrot.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough...? / Description Cut / Gilligan Cut: At the very end of Chapter 9, "The Writing On The Wall", Hermione comes up with the idea of using Polyjuice Potion to get information from Malfoy. However, the book with info on how to make it is in the Restricted Section of the library, and they need permission from a professor to take out the book, which would raise suspicion from any professor they ask.

"Oh, come on, no teacher's gonna fall for that!" said Ron, "they'd have to be really thick..." *end chapter*

  • start of next chapter* Since the disastrous episode with the pixies, Professor Lockhart had not brought live creatures to class...
  • Why Did It Have To Be Spiders: Poor, poor Ron.
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: Knockturn Alley, like its good counterpart Diagon Alley, is a punning name ("Nocturnally" or "Nocturne" Alley)
  • Wrote the Book: Inverted; even though Lockhart literally wrote the book on dealing with magical pests, that doesn't mean he has a clue about it.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Lucius Malfoy's plan has two possible outcomes: either Ginny is caught, thus disgracing Arthur Weasley and his Muggle Protection Act, or the culprit is not apprehended, and either kills every Muggle-born in the school or drives them all away. The former seems to be his preferred option, interestingly enough, but either would presumably satisfy him. Of course, his plan backfired worse than he could have possibly imagined, which we learn in Deathly Hallows.