Category Archives: The Chamber of Secrets

Final Thoughts

New Harry Potter

Note from Ashley: My post about the Epilogue is still to come next week, which is why I’ve abstained from writing final notes, myself. I get an entire post to wax poetic about the end of this series and the end of this project, so it’s only fair everyone else gets a space, too.

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JENNIE

I’ve had so much fun with this, not only writing my own posts, but getting to read what everyone else thinks about Harry Potter (SPOILER ALERT: you all love it). I’ve enjoyed all the insights everyone has had that I’ve never, ever had in all of my rereads, and the discussions that followed, but my very most favorite thing was getting to see new GIFs I’d never seen before. You guys are good at GIFs, is what I’m saying.

Also, I can’t believe it’s over. Again. Sads. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to be over here in the corner, rereading all the books and pretending Harry Potter is never going to end ever ever. Continue reading

The Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 18: The Chamber of Seacrest

At the risk of beating a dead basilisk into the ground, I want to talk about why Chamber of Secrets is one of my least favorite books in the series. And, for the record, I agree with Jennie that saying that is like picking your least favorite kind of chocolate chip cookie. But in the cookie comparison, Chamber of Secrets is like a thin and crispy chocolate chip cookie that softens when you dunk it in a glass of milk. However, it’s definitely not the thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie that’s warm from the oven, where the middle is still a little gooey. Both are frickin’ amazing and both have their place in the cookie spectrum, but MOST of the time I’m going to pick the warm cookie.

This time around I tried to figure out why I feel that way. And I think it’s because I don’t get the same warm, gooey feelings about the new supporting characters (*cough* Dobby and Lockhart *cough*) in this book as I do in the others. I’ve softened towards the house elf and the egotist with time, but it’s not enough to endear me to this book forever. So there’s that. Okay, thanks for letting me sort that out in my head and take the cookie metaphor too far.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: DOBBY’S REWARD

So Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Lockhart find themselves in Professor McGonagall’s office, much to the relief of the Weasleys. I mean, they thought that their daughter was DEAD. That is horrifying. You know what else is horrifying? This picture that I saw on tumblr of The Chamber of Seacrest.

“One of my favorite things to cook is fondue. I’m Swiss. It’s a great social meal.” -Ryan Seacrest

“One of my favorite things to cook is fondue. I’m Swiss. It’s a great social meal.” -Ryan Seacrest

Harry recaps his adventure for the adults and Dumbledore gives us some interesting backstory about Voldemort. Mrs. Weasley asks about what Ginny had to do with the story. Ginny sputters out that she’s been writing in his diary all year. Mr. Weasley, who knows a thing or two about dark magic from his job, responds with, “Haven’t I taught you anything? What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain. Why didn’t you show the diary to me, or your mother? A suspicious object like that, it was clearly full of dark magic!”

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The Chamber of Secrets, Chapters 16-17: Snakes be Slytherin

Charlene mentioned that Chamber of Secrets is everyone’s least favorite Harry Potter book, which I would have completely agreed with before this reread. Now I’m not so sure. Ask me again when we’re done with all of them. Maybe I’ll still agree WHO KNOWS. I don’t have a time turner (spoiler alert) so I can’t say. I’m not sure WHY this one is my least favorite. I guess it’s just because one of them has to be. Honestly, picking a least favorite Harry Potter is kind of like picking your least favorite kind of chocolate chip cookie. I mean, they’re all delicious, right?

Maybe I’m a bit more lenient this time because this whole reread experiment has been so much fun. Also, it didn’t hurt that I got some action-packed chapters. Seriously, a lot happens. Like:

ALOTCHAPTER 16: THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

So, as we learned from Mr. Ron Weasley’s diary in the last post, Ron and Harry have discovered that Moaning Myrtle was the student who was killed when the Chamber of Secrets was opened fifty years prior. They haven’t yet talked to her about it, because as we ALSO learned in the last post, it’s really hard to sneak around Hogwarts when you have professors watching your every move.

Luckily, the mandrakes are ready, so Professor Sprout will soon be making them into a cure for the Petrified students. Ron’s psyched because that means Hermione will be awake soon, and she can, like always, just solve all of their problems for them. I’m terrified because these mandrakes have just grown from wee baby-like creatures into mature adults and now Professor Sprout is going to straight up sacrifice them just so a few kids can wake up from their long winter’s naps. One of the kids is Hermione, though, so I’ll allow it. You know. The mandrake murder.

Meanwhile, Ginny is spending her time freaking the fuck out and trying to tell Harry and Ron something REALLY IMPORTANT, but stupid Percy shows up and scares her off. Percy’s embarrassed about something, but as it’s unrelated to the Chamber of Secrets, we don’t really care. Ginny probably just walked in on him playing with his wand.

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The Chamber of Secrets, Chapters 14-15: This Ain’t Charlotte’s Web

Most of these two chapters — which I assigned to myself at random, by the way — consist of Harry and Ron trying to wrap their heads around all the stuff that is happening*. And since these also happen to be the chapters where all the remaining pieces of the plot fall into place (right before the denouement, where we learn how all of those pieces fit together), that means a TON of stuff happens. Way more stuff, in fact, than I was expecting, having seen the movie a million times (in the movie, these two chapters are essentially boiled down to two sequences).

*Hagrid’s word, not mine. Hilariously.

It’s really interesting for me to read these books with the intention of writing about them. Normally, I just let myself get lost in the story, turn my brain off, and enjoy the ride. I must have read this book at least ten times (probably quite a bit more than that, actually), and during all those reads, I never once stopped to think of these chapters and how they fit into the rest of the book structurally. Perspective is weird, you guys.

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c14--cornelius-fudgeCHAPTER 14: CORNELIUS FUDGE

Where last we left off, Harry had just learned via magical fuckery that Hagrid was supposedly the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets, that the monster inside was large and had lots of legs, and that he had been expelled for his troubles. Also, importantly, that Riddle seemed only to turn him in when he realized that Hogwarts would be closed if the attacks weren’t stopped.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend the first part of this chapter trying to come to grips with this new and extremely disturbing information, trying to rationalize the Petrifying and kiiling of Muggle-borns with the image of their large but kindhearted friend. I don’t have very vivid memories of reading this book for the first time, but I do remember the feeling of physical dread I got at the possibility that Hagrid had even been remotely involved in something so awful. It just didn’t feel . . . right. And the trio seem to feel the same way. After talking it over with the Hogwarts Speculation Club (thanks for that, Kevin), they reach a sort of understanding. Hagrid, obviously, is NOT the Heir of Slytherin, but instead, seems to have been drawn to the monster for the same reason that he’s drawn to ANY monster, and danger (and the death of a student) followed in his wake. Harry speculates:

“And if, as a boy, Hagrid had heard that a monster was hidden somewhere in the castle, Harry was sure he’d have gone to any lengths for a glimpse of it. He’d probably thought it was a shame that the monster had been cooped up so long, and thought it deserved the chance to stretch its many legs . . . “

This is the only explanation they can wrap their heads around. It is unfathomable to them that someone so inherently kind could ever be wrapped up in such nasty business on anything more than an incidental basis. They feel it in their guts that something just isn’t right with their explanation (and the whole crappy situation), but it’s the best one they’ve got. They also make two questionable decisions: not to tell anyone else of their discovery (in order to protect Hagrid), and not to confront Hagrid unless and until there are any more attacks. (In Ron’s words, “That’d be a cheerful visit . . . Hello, Hagrid. Tell us, have you been setting anything mad and hairy loose in the castle lately?”)

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The Chamber of Secrets, Chapters 12-13: Riddle Me This

I have a confession to make. I am currently reading books three through seven for only the second time. Horrifying, I know, I have not reread the Harry Potter series in its entirety. Needless to say, it’s consuming my life. During my first go-through I would set aside an entire day to go from cover to cover, stopping only for bathroom and food breaks. Unfortunately, this time around I’m finding the binge method to be a little less feasible. There are many things that get in the way, like work, my increased need for sleep in my old age, house chores, and a Potter-naïve husband that has only seen the movies and tolerated my reading him The Sorcerer’s Stone a few years ago (I promise you he does have some good qualities). All of these are very unfortunate but necessary things in life, despite my newly rekindled obsession.

I’m sort of a sentimental person, relishing in the “firsts” during the re-read: the first time Ron and Hermione met, the first time Harry plays Quidditch, the first time we meet Hedwig. So, when I was given an extra segment to cover, imagine my delight when I’m given a chapter on introducing polyjuice potion and Tom Riddle. Polyjuice potion is up there with “wingardium leviosa” in classic Harry Potter magic, used throughout the series in incredibly important plot moments (i.e. Mad-Eye Moody, multiple Harrys). And because we already know about it, these moments always make sense and never feel contrived. Rowling is an absolute genius when hiding little Easter eggs like these. And then, there’s our introduction to Tom Marvolo Riddle, the man Lord Voldemort once was. Rowling knows she can’t have a believable and truly frightening villain without a past, and this is our first hint at it. Continue reading

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