Giving myself all the high fives so still being on track with my Remembrall Readathon! It’s fantastic that these early Harry Potter books are so short. I like being able to fly through them in two to three days. I know that won’t be the case for the later books so I’m treasuring it while I can.
After I finish Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I’m planning to take a brief break to read a non-HP book. I don’t want to burn out on the series. On top of that, I *may* have signed up for the Classic Film Book Challenge. We’ll see how big of a mistake that was as the summer goes on.
Like I said last time, this post will be full of spoilers for the entire series so beware!
The Chamber of Secrets has never been my favorite Harry Potter novel. It’s a little too similar to The Sorcerer’s Stone for my taste, and a great chunk of it is a review of what happened in Book One. (The story doesn’t even get started until 90 pages in!) Basically, my feelings toward CoS boil down to the fact that, while there is stuff to appreciate in it, there’s just not quite enough newness to make it a thrilling reread.
Out of all the Harry Potter novels, there is only one I’m looking forward to rereading less than this one, and that book is The Goblet of Fire.
Not All Slytherins
Okay, one of the major issues brought up in Chamber of Secrets is House Pride/Bias. We all know that there is too much divisiveness among the Houses in Hogwarts, but in some cases, House bias gets really ugly in this book–particularly when it begins to associate being evil with being sorted into Slytherin.
There’s that quote about how all evil Wizards come from Slytherin, but that quote doesn’t imply that all wizards in Slytherin are evil. Unfortunately, The Chamber of Secrets doesn’t present it that way. All of the Slytherins we’ve met up until this point have been bigoted, mean, and ruthless. According to Pottermore Wiki, a Slytherin’s traits are cunning, ambitious, creative, and resourceful so I think it’s too simplistic to represent them all as being villainous. None of Slytherin’s traits necessarily indicate evilness or bigotedness or meanness. Also, just because a House was established by Salazar Slytherin (a not so nice Parseltongue) doesn’t mean that after hundreds of years it can’t move beyond his personal beliefs.
I don’t think Rowling ever really moves beyond the Slytherins are bad representation. I find it frustrating that only Slytherins are presented as being evil. This isn’t just because I was sorted into Slytherin. I think it’s a weakness in the series because it oversimplifies people as being either destined for evil or good.
This is obviously a big topic, but I want to wait until later in the series to really sort out (haha) how I feel about the Hogwarts Houses and sorting process.
Harry and the Horcrux
One of the things I was most looking forward to in rereading The Chamber of Secrets was getting to see the first Horcrux again. Last time I reread this book, I wasn’t thinking too much about the fact that Harry and the journal both possess a portion of Voldemort’s soul. When you do think about that aspect of the story, things get pretty creepy. I mean, just read this quote:
And while Harry was sure he had never heard the name T. M. Riddle before, it still seemed to mean something to him, almost as though Riddle was a friend he’d had when he was very small, and had half-forgotten. Pgs. 233-234
If that doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will. There’s also the hints in this novel about Parseltongue, Harry worrying about being sorted into Slytherin, and the similarities between himself and Voldemort. Obviously, without Books 6 & 7, it’d be difficult to guess the meaning of these hints, but knowing how the story ends up, they’re a little disturbing.
This is the last time for a while that we see Harry interacting with another piece of Voldemort’s soul, but I think it’s just fascinating to see the endgame of the series being built up so early on. J. K. Rowling had a plan from the beginning. I love seeing the pieces of it fall into place.
The Chamber of Secrets still isn’t one of my favorite Harry Potter novels, but it gave me a lot of food for thought. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for inter-House issues as the series progresses, and I have to say that I’m quite looking forward to Lupin showing up in Book Three.
Curiosities and Quandaries for Further Investigation
- Dobby says things were worse for House Elves and non-human creatures in Voldemort’s day. Exactly how much worse could they be?
- If you got turned into a humanoid cat like Hermione, wouldn’t you, at least, have a little bit of fun with it?
- What exactly is the Sorting Hat? Is it just a charmed object or does it have a consciousness of its own? When it comes to sorting, is it limited by the strictures of the Founders? Why was it given power over the sword of Gryffindor?
Which House have you been sorted into?