HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBERS OF SECRETS - HOW IT CAME INTO BEING?
After receiving huge appreciation from public and critics on the behalf of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K Rowling received an amount of eight thousand pounds to continue writing the second. Rowling was really afraid of meeting her fans expectations through the second part. In July 1998, the novel was published and received as much appreciation as the debut novel did. However, the first edition of this novel had a few errors including typos that were removed in reprinting. Despite all this, the novel was greatly loved by the audience.
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBERS OF SECRETS PLOT
While Harry’s stay at Dursley’s, he wondered why didn’t any of his friends wrote letters to him. On one fine evening, an elf named Dobby came to meet him in his room. He warned Harry to not return to Hogwarts or a calamity would fall upon the school. He also revealed that he was the one who stopped all the letters from reaching Harry. Dursley’s, on the other hand, didn't want Harry to leave for the school either. So they locked him up but Ron and his elder twin brothers rescued Harry in their flying car. Harry shopped for the school supplies along with Weasley’s where they all met the celebrity wizard Gilderoy Lockhart who announced that he will be the new Defense Against Dark Arts Teacher at Hogwarts. In the Diagon Alley, they also met snobbish Lucius Malfoy whom Harry saw slipping a book into Ginny Weasley’s belongings.
In Hogwarts, Harry started noticing strange voices and eventually saw a message written in blood on a wall. The message said, ‘Chambers of Secrets has been opened.’ Due to student’s curiosity, Professor Binns addressed everyone that a secret chamber was constructed by one of the originators, Salazar Slytherin of Hogwarts. Salazar put a deadly monster in the chamber that can only be controlled by one of his heirs. The monster attacked to purify Hogwarts of any dark magician. Harry and Ron suggested that the heir must be Malfoy, so the three friends plan to inquire him by making him drink the polyjuice potion. To make this potion they use one of the bathrooms haunted by Moaning Myrtle.
At school, Harry communicates with a snake and everybody starts believing he is the real heir of Salazar Slytherin. At the same time, the three friends also came to know that their suspicions about Malfoy were wrong and a girl died when the chambers were last opened almost fifty years ago. Harry then found an enchanted diary of a former student Tom Riddle from which he comes to know that fifty years later Hagrid was accused of opening the chambers. Before Harry and Ron could inquire him, Hermione was petrified and Hagrid was taken to Azkaban. Hagrid somehow told them to ‘follow the spiders’ before leaving for Azkaban. While following the spiders Harry and Ron reached the Forbidden Forest where they met Hagrid’s pet Aragog (a giant spider) who testified Hagrid’s innocence.
Harry and Ron then found a note written in Hermione’s writing that revealed the monster like a giant serpent named Basilisk who had the capability of killing anyone who looked directly into his eyes. Thus, the petrified students like Hermione looked at the serpent indirectly otherwise they would have been killed. The school soon learned that Ginny had been taken into the chambers, so, the faculty appointed Lockhart to bring her back. Harry and Ron luckily found out that Lockhart is a fraud and has plans of fleeing without helping Ginny because of that they planned to do something on their own.
Harry alone made his way into the chambers and learned about the secret of Tom Riddle's identity. It revealed to him that Tom Riddle is actually Voldemort and the real heir of Slytherin. Through a series of challenges, he killed Tom Riddle and Basilisk monster. Ginny was rescued too. Harry then realized that it was Lucius’s trick of putting Ginny into trouble by leaving the diary in her cauldron. He in return tricked him by freeing his elf slave Dobby. In the end, all the petrified victims healed, the whole school rejoiced and Hagrid was released from Azkaban as an innocent.
ANALYSIS IN TERMS OF SYMBOLS AND ALLEGORIES
a) Gryffindor’s Sword
During Harry’s fight with Tom Riddle and Basilisk monster, Fawkes—the phoenix brought Harry the sorting hat which produced the Gryffindor sword for him. The fact that only a Slytherin’s heir could open the chambers and control the monster according to his command versus only Harry’s ability to use the Gryffindor sword establishes a distinction between good versus evil. Harry, thus, stands on the side of good founders of Hogwarts, unlike Salazar Slytherin who chose an evil heir for him.
b) Tom Riddle’s Diary
The purpose behind introducing Tom Riddle’s diary was to provide an opportunity for Harry to interact with the younger Voldemort and compare himself to him. While this comparison, Harry comes to know that his biggest enemy has lots of similarities with him but his will to walk away and chose a different path despite all the similarities is what really defines him and helps him form his unique personality.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NOVEL’S ENDING
J.K Rowling constructed the plot by leaving a lot of mysteries that intrigues the reader to continue reading the novel. However, she doesn’t solve these mysteries soon and keep on building the suspense until the reader reaches the final chapters of the novel. The ending is most interesting where all the loose ends are tied up. Harry finally comes to know the younger Voldemort and what his life was like at Hogwarts. The conflict built in the novel regarding the chamber's monster is solved. Ginny, Hermione, and other petrified students heal and unite with their friends. Harry finally understands Lucius's trick of putting Ginny in danger by recalling an incident he saw at the beginning of the novel and uses that same trick to free Dobby. While everybody rejoiced at the dinner table, Dumbledore emphasized how choices define someone that ends a novel on a universal note.
Though most of the characters depicted in Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets are the same as compared to the first part except a few new like Gilderoy Lockhart, Dobby, and Tom Riddle.
1. Gilderoy Lockhart — A Depiction of Appearance Vs Reality
Lockhart represents the theme of appearance versus reality. In front of others he is a hero who performed a lot of marvellous adventures but in reality, he is more coward than his own students and failed to rescue Ginny. Through his character, the author has tried to deliver that what people like to show may not be always true.
2. Dobby — A Victim of Wizard’s Prejudices
Dobby is another new character through whom prejudices of the wizarding world are shown that they hold against other magical creatures. Dobby suffers at the hand of injustices by Malfoy family which represents that wizards have similar social problems like muggles.
3. Tom Riddle—A Foil Character Against Harry Potter
Last but not least, the character of Tom Riddle has been introduced to act as a foil against Harry Potter. Though both of them have many similarities, for example, growing up as an orphan, raised by muggles, academic intelligence and ability to talk with snakes but despite all these Harry chose to take a different instead of becoming a victim of his own lone life Riddle.
As soon as the novel was published, it got the top position in U.K Best Selling Novel's list and Rowling displaced great names like Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and Terry Pratchett. The novel also made Rowling win the British Book Awards for Children’s Book of the Year that also made her the first ever person to win it consecutively. It also won other awards like Nestle Smarties Prize. The American Library Association listed the novel among 2000 notable children books.
SOME FAMOUS QUOTES
I. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
II. When in doubt, go to the library.
III. You will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me.