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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Summary and Analysis of Chapters 1-3

Summary

Chapter 1: The Worst Birthday

An argument breaks out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive. Mr. Vernon Dursley woke up early at the hooting of Hedwig, his nephew Harry Potter’s pet owl. Mr. Dursley yells at Harry that if he can’t control his owl, she will have to go. Harry explains that Hedwig is bored and asks to let her fly outside at night. Uncle Vernon refuses, implying that something bad would happen if Hedwig were let out, exchanging looks with his wife Petunia. Their argument is interrupted by a belch from Dudley, the Dursley’s massive son, who is being overstuffed with bacon by his mother. When Dudley asks Harry to pass the frying pan, and Harry replies “You’ve forgotten the magic word,” meaning please, the Durselys overreact in fear. Uncle Vernon has forbidden the use of the word “magic” in his house, calling it Harry’s “abnormality.”

Harry is a wizard, home for the summer holidays after his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Dursleys are unhappy to have him back. Harry is also miserable. He misses Hogwarts terribly. Uncle Vernon has locked up all of Harry’s magical supplies in a cupboard under the stairs. The Durselys don’t care if Harry is prepared for his return to school in the fall. They are what wizards call Muggles, meaning that they have no magical blood, and are ashamed to have a wizard in the family. Uncle Vernon padlocked Hedwig in her cage to stop her from carrying messages to Harry’s friends.

Harry was left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before, at the age of one, after surviving a curse from the greatest Dark sorcerer of all time: Lord Voldemort. Harry’s parents died in the attack, but he escaped with only a lightning scar on his forehead. When Voldemort failed to kill Harry, his own powers were destroyed. Harry’s mother’s sister Petunia Dursley raised Harry along with her husband, Vernon. Harry kept making odd things happen without meaning to. He didn’t know why, because his aunt and uncle hid his magical nature from him, along with the circumstances of his parents’ death. Then, a year ago, Hogwarts wrote to Harry, and the truth came out. He started wizard school, where he was famous for having defeated Voldemort.

The Dursleys have forgotten that today is Harry’s twelfth birthday. Uncle Vernon is focused on making possibly the largest deal of his career at a dinner party at their house that evening with Mr. Mason, a wealthy potential client. He tells Harry to stay in his bedroom that night, making no noise. Harry goes outside to keep out of his aunt’s way as she prepares for the party. He sings “Happy Birthday” to himself and feels terribly lonely. He misses his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, who haven’t written to him all summer. Harry has been tempted to use magic to unlock Hedwig’s cage so he can send letters to his friends. But he knows that he would get in trouble because underage wizards are not allowed to use magic outside of school. Harry thinks of his previous year at Hogwarts, when he narrowly escaped Lord Voldemort again. Voldemort was a ruin of his former self, but still determined to gain power, and terrifying.

As Harry stares at the garden hedge, he finds that it’s staring back at him, with two enormous eyes. Dudley interrupts the moment to taunt Harry about his lonely birthday. In return, Harry claims to be planning to set the hedge on fire. Dudley is frightened but points out Harry’s powerlessness: his father has threatened to throw Harry out of the house, and Harry has nowhere else to go. When Harry pretends to cast a spell, Dudley tells on him, and Harry is punished with yard work, and no food until it is completed. Harry thinks of the contrast between his fame at Hogwarts and his mistreatment at the Dursleys. He enters the kitchen exhausted, smelling roast pork in the oven, and seeing Aunt Petunia’s elaborate pudding. She feeds him a small amount of bread and cheese and sends him upstairs. Uncle Vernon warns him again not to make a sound that night. When Harry turns to collapse on his bed he finds someone sitting on it.

Chapter 2: Dobby’s Warning

Harry discovers a little creature with bat-like ears and large eyes sitting on his bed. He realizes that this must be who was watching him from the hedge that morning. Harry hears the Masons arriving downstairs. The creature slips off the bed, bows to Harry, and says that he has wanted to meet Harry Potter for a long time. He identifies himself as Dobby the house-elf and wears an old pillowcase. Harry tells Dobby that it’s not a great time for him to have a house-elf in his bedroom and asks why he is there. Then Harry asks Dobby to sit down, causing the house-elf to burst into very noisy tears, saying that he has never been asked to sit down by a wizard, like an equal. Harry tries to keep Dobby quiet while also being comforting. When Harry says “You can’t have met many decent wizards,” Dobby shakes his head, and then starts banging it on the window, repeating “Bad Dobby!” Hedwig wakes up with a screech. Dobby explains that he had to punish himself because he almost spoke ill of the wizard family he is bound to serve forever. Harry asks if the family knows he’s here. Dobby says no, and that he will have to shut his ears in the oven door for it, but they won’t notice because he has to punish himself constantly.

When Harry asks why Dobby doesn’t escape, Dobby explains that a house-elf must be set free. Harry realizes that Dobby has it much worse than him, and asks if he can help, which makes Dobby wail in gratitude loudly. Harry begs Dobby to be quiet. Dobby says that he has heard of Harry’s greatness but not of his goodness. Embarrassed, Harry replies that whatever he’s heard about Harry’s greatness is rubbish. Dobby is impressed that Harry is so humble and modest after defeating “He-who-must-not-be-named” (Voldemort) twice.

The house-elf says that he has come to protect Harry, to warn him that he must not go back to Hogwarts, where he is in mortal danger. Dobby’s warning upsets Harry because anticipating going to Hogwarts is all that’s keeping Harry hopeful as he endures his terrible life at the Dursleys’. Dobby argues with Harry, saying that he must stay where it’s safe—there’s a plot to make terrible things happen at Hogwarts this year. When Harry asks who’s plotting, Dobby bangs his head against the wall. Harry asks Dobby if this has anything to do with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Dobby shakes his head, while looking at Harry meaningfully, as if to give him a hint. Harry thinks that Hogwarts is protected from harm by Dumbledore, the headmaster and a great wizard. Dobby starts to refer to powers beyond any decent wizard’s ability to handle, then starts beating himself with Harry’s desk lamp, yelping loudly. Silence falls downstairs. When Harry hears Uncle Vernon come into the hall he stuffs Dobby into the closet. Uncle Vernon, angry that Harry has ruined the punchline of his Japanese golfer joke, threatens him: “One more sound and you’ll wish you’d never been born, boy!”

Letting Dobby out of the closet, Harry explains that this is why he has to go back to Hogwarts: it’s the only place he has any friends. Dobby says, “Friends who don’t even write to Harry Potter?” Harry discovers that Dobby has been stealing his letters, hoping that Harry wouldn’t want to go back to school if he thought his friends had forgotten him. Dobby pulls letters out of his pillowcase clothing from Ron, Hermione, and the Hogwarts gamekeeper, Hagrid. Harry tries to grab them. Dobby says that he will only give Harry the letters if he promises not to return to Hogwarts. When Harry refuses, Dobby sprints down the stairs.

Harry follows the elf soundlessly. He discovers him in the kitchen, crouched on top of a cupboard. Aunt Petunia’s elaborate pudding is floating in midair near the ceiling. Dobby is levitating the pudding through magic. Harry begs Dobby to put it down. The elf demands that Harry promise not to return to school. Harry says he can’t. With a tragic look, Dobby says he must do this for his own good. The pudding falls to the floor with a crash, shattering the dish and splattering the kitchen with cream. Dobby vanishes with the sound of a crack. There are screams from the dining room. Uncle Vernon discovers Harry in the kitchen covered with the remains of the pudding. Uncle Vernon tries to gloss the incident over with the Masons, calling Harry his “very disturbed” nephew. Vernon promises Harry that he will “flay him within an inch of his life” when the Masons leave, and hands him a mop.

An owl swoops through the dining room window and drops a letter on Mrs. Mason’s head, causing her to run screaming from the house. The letter is for Harry, from the Ministry of Magic. It notes that a Hoover Charm was used at his place of residence; that underage wizards are not permitted to use spells outside of school; that any magical activity risking notice by Muggles is a serious offense; and that any further spellwork will lead to his expulsion. Harry hadn’t told the Dursleys that he is not allowed to use magic outside of school. An enraged Uncle Vernon announces that he’s locking Harry in his room. He won’t permit Harry to go back to Hogwarts. And if Harry tries to use magic to escape, he will be expelled. The next day Vernon installs bars on Harry’s window, and a cat-flap through which to feed him. Harry stays locked up for three days, and has fallen into an uneasy sleep when he awakens to see his friend Ron Weasley’s face outside of his window.

Chapter 3: The Burrow

Ron along with his brothers, the twins Fred and George, arrive at Harry’s window in a car that their father enchanted so that it can fly. Ron was concerned that Harry hadn’t replied to his letters. He also learned from his dad that Harry had received an official warning for using magic in front of Muggles. Fred and George help Harry to escape using non-magical methods. Uncle Vernon tries to stop them by hanging on to Harry’s ankle, but fails. During the car flight to the Weasleys’ house, Harry tells his friends about Dobby’s warning and about the pudding disaster. When Fred and George wonder who holds a grudge against Harry, and might have sent Dobby, Ron answers that Draco Malfoy, another student at Hogwarts, hates him. The twins relate the rumor that Lucius Malfoy, Draco’s father, was a big supporter of Lord Voldemort. Ron also explains that he blamed Harry’s missing letters on Errol, their ancient messenger owl. So he asked his brother Percy to borrow his owl Hermes, but Percy refused. Percy Weasley is a prefect at Hogwarts. His brothers agree that he has been behaving oddly lately. Harry learns that Arthur Weasley works at the Ministry of Magic in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. Mr. Weasley doesn’t know that his sons have borrowed his enchanted car. They touch down at the Burrow, the Weasely’s house.

Harry finds the lopsided house held together by magic wonderful. Mrs. Weasley yells at her sons for stealing the car, pointing out that they could have died, been seen, or caused their father to lose his job. While angry at her sons, she feeds everyone a big breakfast. She is especially kind to Harry. Ginny Wesley appears briefly and then runs away. Ron says that Ginny has been talking about Harry all summer. Mrs. Weasley orders her sons to de-gnome the garden. Harry joins in out of curiosity. She consults a book by Gilderoy Lockhart on the subject, who Fred says she fancies. Ron teaches Harry how to swing the garden gnomes like a lasso to make them dizzy, and then throw them over the hedge. Harry is sympathetic to the gnomes, until one bites his finger. Ron says that the gnomes will be back because his dad is too soft with them. Mr. Weasley comes home from a long night of raids. Mrs. Weasly confronts him about the car, which he hadn’t told her he had enchanted. He wrote a law with a loophole in it to make the enchanted car technically legal, as long as he wasn’t intending to fly it. When Mr. Weasley learns that his sons flew his car to rescue Harry, he is eager to hear how it went. Then he falters when he sees that his wife is angry. Ron shows Harry his bedroom, nervous about his opinion. Harry says it’s the best house he’s ever been in.

Analysis

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in a series of seven. The first chapter reintroduces the protagonist, Harry Potter, and his world. We learn that Harry’s world is bifurcated into the magical, represented by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the mundane or “Muggle” world, represented by number four, Privet Drive. Harry’s status in these two places is starkly contrasting: in the wizarding world he is heralded for defeating Lord Voldemort, while in the Muggle world he is neglected and unloved.

Harry is prevented from bridging the gap between these two different identities by his complete powerlessness in his Muggle aunt and uncle’s home. He wants to communicate with his friends from school, but the Dursleys will not permit him to send messages via Hedwig, his pet owl. He knows that he can’t use magic to release Hedwig from her cage, as it is against Hogwarts rules for underage wizards to perform spells outside of school. The Ministry of Magic warns that “magical activity that risks notice by members of the non-magical community (Muggles) is a serious offense under section 13 of the International Confederation of Warlock’s Statute of Secrecy.” Harry is caught up in a clash larger than himself: mutual fear between Muggles and wizards. The Durselys’ fear leads to prejudice, as they refer to Harry’s powers as his “abnormality.” Later we learn that some wizards also hold suspicion and prejudice towards Muggles, leading to the major conflicts of the story.

The beginning of the book uses auditory and gustatory imagery to display Harry’s relative powerlessness: he, and his pet, must keep quiet, while Vernon Dursley yells. He goes hungry while Mrs. Dursely overfeeds Dudley and prepares an elaborate meal for the Masons. These contrasts in sound and food are magnified by setting the story on Harry’s birthday: e sings only to himself, alone in the garden, and receives no birthday cake. Young readers expect that Harry’s birthday, like theirs, will be remembered. The situational irony of Mr. Dursley calling it a very important day, getting up the hopes of both Harry and his fans that he might be celebrated, and then disappointing by referring only to his own dinner party, reflects the pathetic formation of Harry’s character.

The broad slapstick of the Dursleys’ behavior, their cartoonishness, makes their threats ridiculous. Although Harry is frustrated at this moment, we know that he will ultimately prevail over the narrow, wildly frightened Dursleys. Harry’s powerlessness is partially a symptom of his age, which will be overcome through maturing. This relates The Chamber of Secrets to a common genre, the coming-of-age story. There is an underlying mystery in the circumstances of Harry’s life, and the structure of the book: why is Harry in this home at all, where he doesn’t belong and is unwanted? Why do the Durselys take in Harry Potter, when they clearly loathe him? Why do adults who care for Harry in the wizard world knowingly permit him to return to abuse at home? These questions fit into a larger theme in the book of bungled authority in which adults are unable to keep children safe.

Harry’s isolated, lowly position is transformed during the school year through an enchanted escape, establishing the elements of another genre: the fairy tale. Harry plays Cinderella to the mean Dursleys. The third-person narration describes the Dursleys with great dramatic irony—they aren’t aware of how awful they are. Here’s one example: “‘Do I look stupid?’ snarled Uncle Vernon, a bit of fried egg dangling from his bushy mustache.” This technique of sly social satire built into the voice of the omniscient narrator is favored by Jane Austen, one of J.K. Rowling’s favorite authors. Even after he escapes into the world of magic, Harry will recognize injustice and fight for the downtrodden. Some have read the Christ story onto the Harry Potter series, seeing him as a persecuted savior who was resurrected to protect the meek.

As Harry longs for Hogwarts, the reader is introduced to both the Gothic context of a castle filled with secret passageways and ghosts, and the inventive vocabulary of the Harry Potter universe, from Quidditch to the Forbidden Forest, invoking the fantasy genre. Although Harry’s school is fantastical, his concerns about it are mundane: Will he be prepared? Have his friends forgotten him? In many ways, Harry is ordinary and relatable. He may be a wizard, but his needs are normal: to belong, to be recognized. The first chapter sets up a tension that the second chapter breaks. Harry lives in a precarious position, in which he must make himself small in order to survive. Dobby the house-elf will transgress this accommodation spectacularly.

Dobby is the first magical creature introduced in this book. His role in the plot is transgressive, as he breaks the rules of the Dursley household, transforming Harry’s position from precarious to impossible. Dobby also disrupts Harry’s vision of Hogwarts as a safe haven from the Dursleys’, creating suspense that remains unresolved until the end.

Because Dobby is bound to obey the family he serves, his presence in Harry Potter’s bedroom is also a transgression. In his guilt he is forced to constantly punish himself. Dobby recognizes a larger good in saving Harry Potter, beyond his social role, although the reason why is not revealed until later in the book. Harry attempts to be polite, and is empathetic when he hears of Dobby’s slavery, wishing he could help. In encountering the house-elf, Harry realizes that there are those who have it worse than him.

The central irony of Harry’s relationship with Dobby is that while Dobby is trying to save Harry, he repeatedly places Harry in danger. Uncle Vernon has already established what Harry is expected to do during the dinner party: to stay in his room, making no noise and pretending he’s not there. Harry is exhausted from yard work, has had little to eat, and wants to lie low until he can escape to Hogwarts. The one thing that Dobby asks Harry for in exchange for not disturbing the party is the one thing that Harry cannot offer: a promise to give up Hogwarts. For Harry, that’s the same as giving up hope.

At first, Dobby seems unaware of the social situation, as he wails loudly and crashes about, causing Harry to panic and Vernon to threaten. Chapter three is full of auditory imagery, which takes on a comic tone as Harry tries with increasing desperation to keep Dobby quiet, and the elf makes more and more noise. Dobby’s battle with his own nature is both darkly violent and exaggerated into broad slapstick. He brings chaos to the suburban household by banging his head on the walls and windows and beating his head with a lamp.

But Dobby is also uncannily aware of how to manipulate Harry. He steals Harry’s letters, hoping that if Harry thinks his friends have forgotten him, he won’t want to go back to Hogwarts. Then he finds the most precious item in the house at that moment: Aunt Petunia’s pudding, Harry’s anti-birthday cake, her offering to Uncle Weasley’s rich potential client, and holds it hostage. Dobby is aware of Harry’s desperation to keep the Dursleys calm. By levitating the dessert, he forces Harry to make a choice: maintain the tenuously safe status-quo and give up hope, or disrupt it irrevocably and maintain hope that he will be able to return to Hogwarts. Dobby prefers the former because he believes that Harry is safe at the Dursleys. When Harry chooses the later he loses his last shred of autonomy in that household. He maintained what freedom he had by not rocking the boat, and by making the Dursleys think that he could cast a spell on them at any moment. Both of those are lost, and Harry becomes a prisoner.

Then Harry is freed through the magic of friendship and an enchanted car. Mr. Wesley’s flying Ford Angola represents freedom and independence, and thus the promise of adulthood. It also represents the hybrid sensibility of the Weasleys, who value both Muggle and wizard skills. In a bit of irony for readers who expected a purely magical escape, Fred and George help Harry by knowing how to pick a lock. Arthur Weasley loves to tinker with Muggle things and also works for the “Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office.” Both arise out of respect for Muggles, but will create tension later in the plot. He works to keep the existence of wizardry covert with memory charms, even as his own politics are very liberal. He is willing to bend the Ministry’s rules. He takes delight in Muggles’ ingenuity for finding ways to get along without magic. He is impressed with difference and tolerant. In the flying car ride, the Malfoys are introduced as foils for the Weasleys. We learn that Lucius Malfoy is aligned politically with Voldemort, who represents evil in the series.

The Weasleys’ home the Burrow contrasts with Privet drive: it is situated in the country rather than the suburbs, is crooked and jumbled, and held together by magic. Mrs. Weasley cares, which is also a contrast to the Dursleys’ indifference. She is both kind and fierce, and worried about her children. Her appearance is domestic and powerful, represented by her flowered apron with a wand in the pocket. The contrast between her rage and politeness to Harry adds a comedic tone to the scene. The sights and sounds of domesticity at the Burrow comfort Harry. Ginny Weasley is introduced as having a crush on him. Overall, female sexuality is ahead of male sexuality in this book. In Mrs. Weasley’s crush on Gilderoy Lockhart, female desire appears as somewhat silly and misguided.

The Burrow’s garden is unkempt, diverse, and full of life. Like Harry, the gnomes are displaced and homeless. In degnoming, the Weasleys toss them around until they are “dizzy, so can’t find their way back to gnome holes.” Harry is shocked by the routine mistreatment of gnomes until a gnome bites him. The omniscient narrator is the most sympathetic, adding pathos to their exodus with the description of “their little shoulders hunched.” This is an allegory for the politics of immigration. Ron thinks that his father is “too soft with them.”

Many characteristics of the Weasley family mark them as Irish Catholic: their liberal politics, red hair, large family, traditional gender roles, and relative poverty. While Ron is self-conscious about his home and room, Harry is enamored by the strange and unexpected at the Burrow, and the kindness he experiences there. We are given clues about Gilderoy Lockhart’s character early: He is a hyperbolic con-artist who bilks the poor Weasleys to sell his books. Errol, the Weasleys’ pet owl, is a comic character who barely delivers messages in his advanced years, and also highlights the family’s poverty because they can’t afford a younger owl.

This novel starts immediately after the events of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.’ Harry’s world has significantly changed since last year when Hagrid, the gamekeeper of Hogwarts, revealed to Harry that he is a wizard. Harry spent last year not just attending the school of magic, Hogwarts but also learning loads of new stuff about how wizards operate and who his parents really were. Harry also faced Lord Voldemort, his nemesis, at the end of the school year.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets‘ significantly brings a lot of nuance to the real problems of the wizarding world and is a tad bit darker as a narrative. It speaks of the ill-treating of magical beings like the house elves, delves deeper into the origins of Voldemort, and gives a deeper understanding of the world run by wizards.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Summary

‘Spoiler-Free’ Summary of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets‘ begins with Harry feeling very lonely at Privet Drive after his first year at Hogwarts. He is sad that he has not received any letters from his friends Ron, Hermione, and even Hagrid.

Uncle Vernon is expecting guests and therefore tries to keep Harry inside his room. However, when Harry is sitting in his room, he is encountered by a rather strange creature who introduces himself as Dobby, a house-elf. He warns Harry that his life is in grave danger and that he shouldn’t be going to Hogwarts as someone is planning terrible things that would put Harry in danger. He also accidentally lets slip that the reason Harry has not received any letters this summer is that he has been hiding them.

Eventually, Dobby deliberately drops the pudding made by Aunt Petunia on the guests and ensures that Harry is blamed for it, just so that he is forced to stay at Privet Drive.

Harry, however, decides to go to Hogwarts, and once there, several sinister attacks happen in the castle, ‘petrifying’ victims. Harry, Ron, and Hermione try to figure out what is causing these attacks.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Summary

Spoiler Alert: Important details of the novel are revealed below

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets‘ by J. K. Rowling begins with Harry’s ‘Solitary Confinement’ as punishment for dropping the pudding on Uncle Vernon’s guests, something Harry didn’t do. Ron and his brothers rescue him from Uncle Vernon, who had locked Harry up in a room with their father’s bewitched Ford Anglia that can fly.

Harry spends the rest of his summer in Ron’s house, ‘The Burrow.’ Harry is very happy with how kind and nurturing Ron’s family is towards him, especially Mrs. Weasley, Ron’s mother. They all then plan to leave for Diagon Alley to buy books and other supplies through the Floo Network, which Harry is new to.

Harry accidentally ends up in a novelties shop called Borgin and Burkes, where he sees Malfoy and his father discussing forbidden items with the owner of the shop. He then ends up in Knockturn Alley, where he finds Hagrid, and they both meet Hermione and eventually Ron and his family.

They all end up in a bookshop where they meet their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart, who instantly clicks pictures with Harry and makes a spectacle out of everything. Harry meets Malfoy in the shop, and they have a tussle which eventually ends up with Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy having a fistfight, which Hagrid ends up stopping.

On the day of boarding the Hogwarts Express, Harry and Ron are locked out of platform nine and three-quarters, and they eventually decide to reach Hogwarts in Ron’s father’s flying car. They eventually reach Hogwarts but are caught and given detention.

Quidditch season begins with news that Draco Malfoy is the new seeker of Slytherin and that his father bought a brand new Nimbus 2001 brooms for everybody on their team. Hermione insults Malfoy for buying his way into the team, to which Malfoy calls her a Mudblood, an offensive term for a muggle-born person. Ron retaliates with a spell, but it accidentally backfires, and he is left to belching slugs.

During Harry’s detention signing fan mail for Gilderoy Lockhart, he hears a sinister voice speaking about killing someone. He also realizes that Lockhart is oblivious to this voice. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are invited to attend Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party and, on their way back, come across Mr. Filch’s cat, Mrs. Norris, lifelessly hanging near the wall. Several people reach the spot, and Professor Dumbledore determines that the cat has been ‘petrified,’ a condition similar to a coma. A sinister message is written in what looks like blood on the wall, saying that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened and that the enemies of the Heir of Slytherin should be scared.

During the first Quidditch match of the year against Slytherin, Harry is attacked by a rogue bludger who tries to hurt Harry and eventually succeeds by breaking his arm. Harry catches the snitch nevertheless and wins Gryffindor the game. Gilderoy Lockhart tries to repair Harry’s arm but ends up creating more damage, and Harry has to spend a night in the hospital wing. There he meets Dobby again, who admits to tampering with both the wall that prevented Harry and Ron from going to Platform nine and three quarters, as well as the rogue bludger.

Harry is very angry but eventually calms down as he feels compassion for Dobby. Eventually, Colin Creevey, another victim who is petrified, is brought to the hospital by Professor Dumbledore and McGonagall.

During a duel at the Dueling Club, Harry also figures out, along with the rest of the school, that the reason he can speak to snakes is that he is a ‘Parselmouth,’ like Salazar Slytherin himself. Rumors begin to spread that Harry might be the Heir of Slytherin, and soon enough, Justin Finch Fletchley and Nearly Headless Nick become new victims and are petrified too.

Hermione is adamant about figuring out a way to find out from Malfoy as to who the Heir of Slytherin is. So, she starts brewing the Polyjuice potion, which allows its drinker to shapeshift into someone else. Harry and Ron transform into Crabbe and Goyle and enter the Slytherin dormitory to ask Malfoy about it. However, they realize he, too, doesn’t know who the heir is. Around the same time, Harry finds a mysterious black diary that belongs to Tom Riddle. When he researches the diary it takes him into Riddle’s memory and shows him that Hagrid was the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets.

Shocked by this information, Harry, Ron, and Hermione discuss a course of action, but eventually, even Hermione is petrified and is admitted to the hospital. So, when Harry and Ron go to Hagrid’s hut to question him, the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, visits Hagrid and eventually takes him to Azkaban to prevent further attacks. Lucius Malfoy, too, arrives there with a letter dismissing Dumbledore from his post as the Headmaster.

Taking clues from Hagrid’s words, Harry and Ron go to the Forbidden Forest in search of answers but encounter a large spider whom Hagrid had saved. Aragog, the spider claims that Hagrid never opened the Chamber of Secrets and that the creature that is petrifying people in the castle is a very dangerous and feared creature. On their way back, the other spiders in the colony try to attack them, but they barely make it alive with the help of Ron’s abandoned car.

Back in the castle, Ginny Weasley, Ron’s sister, is taken to the Chamber of Secrets, and fear spreads throughout the school. Harry, Ron, and Gilderoy Lockhart, the latter who had always been overconfident about his skills enter the Chamber of Secrets. Harry eventually goes into the Chamber, sees Ginny, and encounters Tom Riddle’s life-like apparition, who claims that he is the younger self of Harry’s archenemy, Lord Voldemort.

Riddle summons the beast, the Basilisk, a large snake, to kill Harry, but Dumbledore’s pet Phoenix, Fawkes, arrives on time with the Sorting Hat that contains the Sword of Gryffindor. Harry eventually defeats the Basilisk and then punctures Tom Riddle’s diary with the Basilisk’s fangs, thereby ‘killing’ the apparition of Riddle. Ginny comes back to normal, and they all are safely carried out of the Chamber by Fawkes.

Dumbledore is reinstated as the Headmaster, and Hagrid is brought back from Azkaban too. It is eventually revealed that Riddle’s diary forced Ginny into releasing the Basilisk to petrify the victims and that it was Lucius Malfoy who deliberately placed the diary along with Ginny’s books. It is also revealed that Dobby is the Malfoys’ House Elf. Harry eventually frees Dobby by manipulating Lucius Malfoy into giving Dobby a sock. Dumbledore congratulates Harry, and by extension, Hermione and Ron, for being very proud and resourceful.

FAQs

What is the beast in the Chamber of Secrets?

The beast in the Chamber of Secrets is a Basilisk, an ancient creature feared by spiders and many other creatures. Its bite is fatal as its fangs are highly venomous, and its eyes are deadly, and seeing it instantly kills the victim. However, if its eyes are seen through a reflection, the person is petrified. The Basilisk was used by Tom Riddle, the heir of Slytherin, to attack Muggle-born students at Hogwarts.

Is Tom Riddle Lord Voldemort?

Yes, Tom Riddle is, in fact, Lord Voldemort. In ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,’ it is also revealed that his full name Tom Marvolo Riddle, is an anagram of the statement “I am Lord Voldemort.” He was named after his father, who was a muggle. When Voldemort realized this, he wanted to distance himself from this name and therefore chose a different name.

Why was Hagrid expelled from Hogwarts?

Hagrid was wrongfully accused of housing the beast in the Chamber of Secrets and letting it loose to kill Myrtle Warren, who later became the ghost, Moaning Myrtle. In actuality, it was Tom Riddle, or Lord Voldemort, who set the Basilisk loose in the castle to kill muggle-born students. The spider that Hagrid kept, Aragog, never hurt anyone in the castle. Although Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore trusted him, and he was therefore given a job as a gamekeeper.

Read a full summary of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling below. If you can’t remember what happened in A Curse So Dark and Lonely and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

In short

Harry’s had another terrible summer. None of his friends wrote to him, all his stuff was locked away and Hedwig was miserable, locked in her cage. Harry was in constant fight with his family and it didn’t help when he got a visitor on a very important night for his uncle. Dobby the house elf came to warn him to not return to Hogwarts, and after Harry refused, Dobby tricked him. Harry got bars on his window and a cat door for food installed and it was only because of Ron that he escaped his prison.
Ron came to rescue Harry with his twin brothers in a flying car. After a successful escape, Harry had a great remainder of summer at the Burrow. More trouble arose after Ron an Harry were unable to go to the Platform 9 3/4 after the passage sealed. They flew Ron’s father’s car to Hogwarts and got detention for it. But that was only the start.
Strange happenings were going on at the school – people kept getting petrified because the heir of Slytherin was letting a monster loose on all the ‘Mudbloods’. They all started to suspect Harry after they learnt he can talk to snakes. Harry meanwhile had other troubles as well: he got attacked by a rogue bludger – it turned out to be Dobby’s, to get Harry to get home again, just like sealing the passage at the train station was Dobby’s work as well.
After the number of petrified people was too great, they arrested Hagrid on account of old suspicions, and forced Dumbledore to leave his post as the headmaster. Harry and Ron decided to take matters in their own hands and, with a little help from Hermione, stopped Lord Voldemort from rising again. It turned out he was controlling Ron’s sister Ginny to gain power, but Harry killed the beast, and the diary Voldemort was using, to beat him once more.

What happened in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?

  • Harry’s had another terrible summer. None of his friends wrote to him all summer, all his stuff was locked away in the cupboard under the stairs and Hedwig was miserable, locked in her cage, unable to exercise a little. Harry was in constant fight with his family and it didn’t help when he got a visitor on a very important night for his uncle.
  • Dobby the house elf came to warn him to not return to Hogwarts, because bad things will happen in the next school year. He told Harry he was holding back all his letters because he thought that might persuade Harry to stay home. But Harry disregarded the warning so Dobby got Harry in trouble when he made the after-dinner pudding crash in the kitchen. After that Dobby disappeared and Harry got a letter from the ministry with a warning, since he’s not allowed to do magic outside of school. Dinner with the investor was therefore ruined; the Dursleys were super mad and locked Harry in his room. Uncle Vernon had bars installed on Harry’s window and a cat flap in his door for 3 lame meals per day.
  • Harry was rescued long and lonely days later by his friend Ron and Ron’s twin brothers Fred and George in their flying car, spending the summer at the Weasley home the Burrow and having the best time. When traveling to Diagon Alley to get books, Harry accidentally ended up in Knockturn Alley, a place for dark arts lovers, in a weird shop. Hiding in a wardrobe, he saw Draco and his father come in and make some selling arrangements. Fortunately, Hagrid (who was buying flesh-eating slug repellent) guided Harry safely to Diagon Alley to shop for school supplies.
  • In the company of the Weasleys, Harry met the famous Gilderoy Lockhart while buying new schools books. Lockhart announced he will be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, got a photo with Harry for The Daily Prophet and gifted Harry his entire works. While leaving, they met Draco and his father again. Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy got in a row and had to be forcefully separated.
  • Soon after, the Weasleys departed with Harry to go to the train station on September 1st. They were rather late coming there and they all hurried to the passage to the Hogwarts platform. Harry and Ron went last and when they try to go through together, they crashed. The passage was sealed so they couldn’t cross. They missed the train for school, so Ron had an idea to fly the Weasley’s car to Hogwarts instead.
  • They made it almost to school before the car started acting weird. Ron lost his control over the car and it fell down from the sky and crashed into a Whoomping Willow – an old tree which attacks any person that comes near. Ron and Harry escaped from it but lost the car in the process. It ran straight for the forest. Harry and Ron were found by Snape, led to his office, yelled at and interrogated by Snape, McGonagall and Dumbledore. They both got detention and the next day, Molly Weasley sent a Howler to Ron, threatening to bring him home if he puts a toe out of line. Ron also broke his wand in the crash and was now having troubles with it.
  • Their first DADA lesson was a disaster. Lockhart was an incompetent teacher, more concerned with personal accomplishment than teaching. He quizzed the class on his favorite color etc. and only Hermione managed to answer correctly on all questions. He also let loose a cage of Pixies and left Harry, Ron and Hermione to deal with them after they went berzerk.
  • On Halloween, Filch’s cat, Mrs. Norris, was petrified. “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened, enemies of the heir beware.” writing was found scrawled on a wall in the castle in big red letters. Harry, Ron and Hermione discoveredd that one of Hogwarts’ founders, Salazar Slytherin, secretly built the Chamber of Secrets, which is rumoured to contain a monster only Slytherin’s heir can have under direct control. The monster was there to purge the school of all Mudbloods.
  • Harry was training harder and more often with the team to win the Quidditch cup this year, and one day just before they started training, Slytherins came to take over the pitch. They had to ‘break in’ the new seeker that turned out to be Draco Malfoy. The other new thing were new brooms for the whole team – Numbus 2001 – that Draco’s father bought for the Slytherins. That caused Hermione to point out at least nobody in Gryffindor team had to buy their way in, to which Draco replied with an insult ‘Mudblood’. That resulted in a huge uproar and Ron blasting a curse at Draco, that backfired. Ron was throwing up slugs for a few hours that day.
  • First Quidditch game of the season, Harry was pursued by a rogue Bludger, which caused Harry’s arm to be broken, but Harry still managed to catch the snitch and win the game. Lockhart volunteered to heal the broken bones in Harry’s arm but removed them completely instead. That night, as Harry was in the hospital regrowing his bones, Dobby appeared and admitted he was the one that sealed the passage to the platform and set the Bludger after Harry. He begged Harry to leave Hogwarts again, sensing that he is in a grave danger and likely will die if he doesn’t comply with him.
  • The talk with Dobby was interrupted by a new arrival at the hospital wing. Colin Creevey, was attacked and petrified and brought in by Dumbledore and McGonagall. They hoped he might have caught the attacker on his camera but the film was fried. Dumbledore admitted that the Chamber has been opened again for sure.
  • During the first meeting of Lockhart’s new dueling club, Harry dueled with Draco, who cast a spell that produced a snake. After Lockhart unsuccessfully tried to get rid of it, the snake tried to attack a student. Harry unwittingly spoke Parseltongue and stopped the snake from attacking a boy. Harry’s ability frightened everyone because Salazar Slytherin was also able to speak Parseltongue, and his heir would also have this ability, causing everybody in the school to think that Harry is actually Slytherin’s heir.
  • Suspecting that Draco is actually the heir of Slytherin, the trio decided to make Polyjuice Potion, a brew which allows the drinker to look like someone else for a limited amount of time. The ingredients were hard to come by and they had to steal from Snape in order to finish it, but making of the potion still took a whole month and it was ready on Christmas.
  • Harry came under further suspicion when he stumbled upon the petrified bodies of Justin Finch-Fletchley (the student who was almost attacked by the snake), and the Gryffindor’s ghost Nearly Headless Nick. He was brought before Dumbledore, who assured him Harry is not a suspect in his eyes. At Christmas, Harry and Ron used the finished Polyjuice Potion to disguise themselves as Crabbe and Goyle, while Hermione was supposed to turn in Milicent Bulstrode. Hermione’s transformation went south so Harry and Ron had to infiltrate Slytherin’s common room by themselves. They discovered that Draco was not the heir of Slytherin, and that the Chamber was opened 50 years before when a Muggle-born girl died.
  • After a few quiet months, Harry found a diary in a flooded bathroom. It turned out somebody threw it through Moaning Myrtle’s head while presumably trying to get rid of it. The diary seemed empty and didn’t yield any information, until Harry’s ink spilled all over it and the diary stayed dry and spotless. Harry wrote in the diary, which responded in writing, telling Harry it’s Tom Riddle’s, a boy who was at Hogwarts 50 years before. Harry was shown the events after the death of the Muggle-born girl half a decade ago when Tom accused Hagrid, then in third year of schooling, of opening the Chamber of Secrets and being responsible for the girl’s death. That resulted in Hagrid’s expulsion.
  • Some time later, Harry’s room was ransacked and the diary was taken. Harry tried to figure out which Gryffindor student took it. On the day of the next game Hermione got an idea and left for the library before the game. The game never started, however; Hermione and a Ravenclaw girl were found petrified as well. Harry and Ron intended to question Hagrid, but before they could, he was accused of opening the Chamber of Secrets again, and was sentenced to Azkaban prison. On the same evening, while Harry and Ron were hiding in the hut under the cloak, Dumbledore was asked to stand down as the headmaster by Lucius Malfoy. Before Hagrid was led away, he secretly instructed Harry and Ron to “follow the spiders” to learn the truth, while Dumbledore hinted that “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”.
  • Not long after that Harry and Ron followed the spiders to the Forbidden Forest. There they encountered Aragog, a giant spider, who told them the monster that killed the girl 50 years before was not him (as suspected), that the girl’s body was found in a bathroom, and that Hagrid is innocent. After that Aragog left them to be eaten by his enormous family, but they managed to escape with the help of Mr Weasley’s car that was living in the wild ever since the crash.
  • Going back to the castle they realised that Moaning Myrtle, the ghost who haunted the bathroom where they made the Polyjuice Potion, must have been the girl Aragog was referring to. Harry and Ron were caught in the corridors after one class and lied to McGonagall they wanted to visit Hermione. After they got the approval, they went straight to hospital wing. There Harry found a piece of paper clutched in Hermione’s hand. It said that the monster in the Chamber is a Basilisk, a giant snake that kills those who look it in the eye. Harry and Ron figured out why nobody has died yet: none of the petrified people saw the snake directly. Hermione also wrote “pipes”, making the boys realize that’s how the snake has been traveling around.
  • They left to inform professor McGonagall about what they learned, but nobody was in the staff room. Soon after there was an announcement that all students should return to their dormitories while all the staff should meet in the staff room. They hid in a coat closet and listened: Ron’s sister Ginny has been taken into the Chamber. When Lockhart barged in, utterly ignorant, all professors told him his time has finally come; he must go get Ginny.
  • Realising he’s their only hope, Ron and Harry left for Lockhart’s office to tell him all they knew. Instead of preparing to save Ginny, Lockhart was packing to leave. It turned out he was not responsible for the stuff in his books; he stole the credit from other wizards and modified their memories. He tried to attack Harry and Ron as well, but they were too fast. They marched him to Myrtle’s toilet to ask about her death. With her help they discovered the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Sliding down the tunnel they ended up far below the castle. Lockhart, momentarily forgotten by the boys, stole Ron’s wand and attempted a memory charm on the boys, trying to take all the credit again, this time for the Chamber. As he prepared to erase their memories, Ron’s broken wand backfired the spell back at Lockhart, knocking him down and erasing all of his memories. The bang also caved the tunnel in and separated Harry from Ron. Harry was forced to go on alone while Ron was left to shift some rocks.

How did Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets end?

Harry soon found a door with two snakes and opened it using Parseltongue. Inside the chamber, Harry found Ginny unconscious and barely alive, as well as the almost-physical form of Tom Riddle. He learned it was Riddle who Ginny has been communicating with through the diary – by revealing all her deepest secrets, she poured her soul into it. Soon Riddle was able to pour some of his own back into her to possess her. She was the one killing all Hagrid’s roosters, she wrote the messages on the walls and she let the Basilisk loose in school. Ginny realised that the diary wasn’t what it seemed to be and tried to dispose of it in Myrtle’s bathroom, but stole it back when she saw Harry with it, afraid that her crimes would be revealed. Riddle then forced Ginny to enter the Chamber in order to lure Harry down after her, and by possessing Ginny’s soul, Tom began to take physical form, feeding on her receding energy. Riddle also revealed that Tom Marvolo Riddle is an anagram for I am Lord Voldemort.
Riddle then summoned the Basilisk and had it attack Harry. Just when it seemed Harry will die, Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, appeared and blinded the Basilisk. Fawkes also brought Harry the Sorting Hat, which Harry used to ask for help, hanging on Dumbledore’s words. The hat gave Harry a sword with which Harry killed the Basilisk, but one of its fangs pierces Harry’s arm nevertheless, dooming him to die. Harry almost gave up under the triumphant stare of Riddle, when Fawkes saved him – phoenix tears have healing powers. Fawkes then brought Harry the diary that lay discarded by Ginny, and Harry stabbed it with a Basilisk fang, defeating Riddle and saving Ginny. The two returned to Ron and Lockhart with Fawkes, who carried them all back up to school.
They burst into McGonagall’s office where Ginny was reunited with her parents and sent to the hospital, and Ron and Harry got congratulated by Dumbledore and won 400 points total for their house. Ron was sent to send an owl to bring Hagrid back while Harry was assured he was a true Gryffindor by Dumbledore. Their talk was interrupted by Lucius Malfoy who was mad Dumbledore was back. Headmaster told him all the other school governors were suddenly okay with Dumbledore returning. He also informed Malfoy about Harry saving the day. In the aftermath, Harry accused Lucius Malfoy of putting the diary in Ginny’s cauldron and was set on returning it. He tricked Malfoy to drop the sock the diary was wrapped in which saved Malfoy’s house-elf Dobby.

anything else

Lord Voldemort – a dark wizard in search of great power, who killed many wizards, even Harry’s parents
Hogwarts – magical school in Britain for young witches and wizards
Muggles – non-magical people
Diagon Alley – an allex full of magical shops and stores and a wizard bank Gringotts
Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Raveclaw and Slytherin – four houses of Hogwarts, like families for the school year
Quidditch – wizard sport played on brooms
Chamber of Secrets – a chamber within the school that holds a monster that kills Muggle-borns to clean up the school. Created by Salazar Slytherin, made to be operated only by his true heir (Lord Voldemort)
Mudblood – a Muggle-born witch or wizard, a wizard of ‘bad blood
House-elf – an elf in servitude of a wizarding family; free only if presented with clothes

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

Other recaps for this series:

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1)

«Гарри Поттер и Тайная Комната (краткое содержание)» на английском с параллельным переводом

Оригинальное название: 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Пересказ книги «Гарри Поттер и Тайная комната» — второго романа о Гарри Поттере, написанного Дж. К. Роулинг. Гарри учится на втором курсе школы Хогвартс. Ему и его друзьям предстоит столкнуться с новыми трудностями. Кажется, Тайная комната снова открыта: на стенах появляются загадочные послания о наследнике Слизерина, происходит серия таинственных нападений на учеников школы. Главным героям нужно найти ответ на эти загадки.

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Book Summary, by J.K. Rowling

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Video Summaries of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Overall Summary

Harry Potter is upset that his friends haven’t written to him over the summer. On Harry’s twelfth birthday, a house elf named Dobby visits and warns of danger at Hogwarts. He also reveals that he has been stopping Harry’s friends’ letters from reaching him. When Harry refuses to promise that he won’t return to Hogwarts, Dobby destroys Petunia’s pudding and ruins her dinner party for business associates of Uncle Vernon’s boss. The Dursleys lock Harry in his room for three days as punishment. His friend Ron Weasley rescues him using his father’s flying car; they take the luggage back to their home, The Burrow, where Harry spends the rest of the summer in bliss with all his friends

Harry and his friends go to a bookstore with Hermione Granger. They meet Gilderoy Lockhart, who is famous for being a wizard. Lucius Malfoy says that Harry’s family disgraces wizards because they associate with Muggles (non-wizards).

At the end of summer, the Weasleys drive Harry to King’s Cross Station on their way to Hogwarts. However, they can’t get through Platform 9 ¾ because it is blocked by a brick wall. They decide to fly the car and land in front of everyone at school. The car engine fails and they are forced to walk into school with Ron carrying Harry’s trunk, but when they arrive there are no students around because classes have already started. They run into trouble for flying the car and receive a warning from Dumbledore that if they break any more rules while attending Hogwarts then they will be expelled.

After Harry’s first week of class, the Quidditch team begins practice. However, they are interrupted by Draco Malfoy and his new broomstick. He is a Seeker on the Slytherin team because he bought it with money from his father. Hermione points out that Draco would not have been chosen for this position if he had not paid for it. She also explains that “Mudblood” is a derogatory term used to describe someone who was born in a Muggle family but has magical abilities due to being related to wizards or witches through bloodlines; however, most people know that having magic does not depend on blood status alone.

Harry and Ron get in trouble for flying their car to Hogwarts. They have detention with Lockhart, who tells them he’s a great wizard. He has Harry answer his fan mail while he goes off to polish trophies, but Harry hears a voice saying “Let me rip you…” The voice seems like it’s coming from the trophy room. When he goes to investigate, there is no one else around and nothing that could be making the sound except for Mrs. Norris (Filch’s cat). On Halloween night, Harry hears the same voice again and follows it down a corridor where he sees graffiti on the wall next to Mrs. Norris: “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened…Enemies of the heir beware.” Filch blames Harry for killing Mrs. Norris since only someone very powerful would be able do something like that—but Dumbledore says there’s no way a second-year student could’ve done it because they don’t have enough magic yet—it must’ve been someone older who did this terrible thing! Furthermore, Professor Sprout will soon grow Mandrakes so that they can revive poor Mrs. Norris when she is petrified by whoever wrote those awful words on her back!

Hermione wants to find out about the Chamber of Secrets, so she asks Professor Binns about it. He explains that when Hogwarts was first built, one of the founders did not want Muggle-borns at school. However, the other three disagreed with him and created a secret chamber that could only be opened by his heir. It’s rumored that Harry is this person’s heir because he shares a name with him—though Ron and Hermione think Draco Malfoy is Slytherin’s heir instead. They decide to use Polyjuice Potion (which can transform someone into another person) to ask Draco about it; however, they’ll need ingredients from Snape’s supply cupboard for this potion.

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