Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’: Chapter 18

In the eighteenth (and final!) chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry spills his guts to Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall about what happened in the Chamber of Secrets and also manages to make the ending slightly better than the last chapter. Then Dobby returns and Harry becomes even more awesome than before. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.

CHAPTER 18: DOBBY’S REWARD

I gotta start this final review of Chamber of Secrets with a message:

Haters to the left

If it wasn’t apparent with my review from yesterday, I didn’t like chapter 17 much at all. (Was it not obvious that Gilderoy’s thoughts were my own? THEN I FAIL AS A WRITER OH GOD.)

It was convoluted, over complicated, slightly confusing, and everything was just a tad too convenient for me. Also ISN’T IT BASICALLY THE SAME REVEAL AS THE FIRST BOOK. Also ANAGRAMS FOR VILLAINS ARE BOTH UNORIGINAL AND NOT SURPRISING OR SHOCKING.

That doesn’t mean I now HATE HARRY POTTER FOREVER or that I think J.K. Rowling is ON THE SAME LEVEL AS STEPHENIE “Please Spell Your Name Right” MEYER. I’m allowed to (greatly) dislike a chapter, right? RIGHT?

yeah you should stop judging me forever

That being said, I feel that Chamber of Secrets ultimately goes out on a high note, both because Dumbledore explains things so simple minds like mine can understand what just happened and because Harry’s treatment of Dobby is pretty spectacular. Shall we?

  • “What interests me most,” said Dumbledore gently, “is how Lord Voldemort managed to enchant Ginny, when my sources tell me he is currently hiding in the forests of Albania.”

See, this is what I didn’t really understand about the last chapter. If Voldemort had been chased out of a possessed Quirrell, how on earth did he end up back at Hogwarts? So it appears Riddle wasn’t actually a real being until Ginny provided him with the power to challenge Harry. (Right? Sort of?)

If this is the case….wait. I’m still confused. So Voldemort set this diary up years and years and years ago, correct? It’s a long con that he set into place with the hope that someone would present themselves as a vulnerable character to be enchanted. But doesn’t that mean he also sort of expected himself to fail at getting the Sorcerer’s Stone? Because if he got the Sorcerer’s Stone as he had planned in the last book, wouldn’t that have negated the need for the diary?

Maybe this is a loose end I’ll just have to wait until the final book to understand, but I think I’m pretty confused. I do like that it was confirmed by Dumbledore that Riddle wasn’t ACTUALLY there, because that’s what I didn’t get.

Dumbledore also provides some much-need backstory to Voldemort that clears things up significantly:

  • “Very few people know that Lord Voldemort was once called Tom Riddle. I taught him myself, fifty years ago, at Hogwarts. He disappeared after leaving the school…traveled far and wide…sank so deeply into the Dark Arts, consorted with the very worst of our kind, underwent so many dangerous, magical transformations, that when he resurfaced as Lord Voldemort, he was barely recognizable. Hardly anyone connected Lord Voldemort with the clever, handsome boy who was once Head Boy here.”

Well, hot damn. That not only explains why Voldemort looks the way he does, but it provides us with a healthy dose of Star Wars archetypes. And we all know how much I love when people rip off Star Wars, amirite?

Also, this is why Dumbledore should be President of the Universe For All Eternity:

  • “Miss Weasley should go up to the hospital wing right away,” Dumbledore interrupted in a firm voice. “This has been a terrible ordeal for her. There will be no punishment. Older and wiser wizards than she have been hoodwinked by Lord Voldemort.” He strode over to the door and opened it. “Bed rest and perhaps a large, steaming mug of hot chocolate. I always find that cheers me up,” he added, twinkling kindly down at her. “You will find that Madam Pomfrey is still awake. She’s just giving out Mandrake juice–I daresay the basilisk’s victims will be waking up any moment.”

The reason this is so fantastic to me is because Dumbledore operates with respect to context and circumstance. Unlike other events in this book’s conclusion, I don’t feel like this is a cop-out to resolving Ginny’s conflict. Dumbledore understands that Ginny wasn’t acting of her own volition and also understands that Ginny’s fears need to be allayed with kindness and care.

Basically, Dumbledore rules the school THE END.

  • “I seem to remember telling you both that I would have to expel you if you broke any more school rules,” said Dumbledore.

    Ron opened his mouth in horror.

    “Which goes to show that the best of us must sometimes eat our words,” Dumbledore went on, smiling. “You will both receive Special Awards for Services to the School and–let me see–yes, I think two hundred points apiece for Gryffindor.”

jsadfl;kjas;lkjsa;kjlfdfkl;jasdfkl; DUMBLEDORE, PLEASE RUN THE UNIVERSE.

Oh wait, he’s not done being TOTALLY AWESOME.

  • “Professor Dumbledore,” Ron said quickly, “there was an accident down in the Chamber of Secrets. Professor Lockhart–”

    “Am I a professor?” said Lockhart in mild surprise. “Goodness. I expect I was hopeless, was I?”

    “He tried to do a Memory Charm and the wand backfired,” Ron explained quietly to Dumbledore.

    “Dear me,” said Dumbledore, shaking his head, his long silver mustache quivering. “Impaled upon your own sword, Gilderoy!”

    “Sword?” said Lockhart calmly. “Haven’t got a sword. That boy has, though.” He pointed at Harry. “He’ll lend you one.”

oh god THIS IS THE BEST CHARACTER RESOLUTION OF ALL TIME.

but wait THERE IS MORE. As Ron accompanies Lockhart to the infirmary, Dumbledore has a moment alone with Harry to talk to him about his confrontation with Riddle/Voldemort.

This helps clear up a rather interesting development that I found fascinating: the idea that Harry may possibly be a Slytherin after all. Dumbledore reveals that the reason Harry can speak Parseltongue is because Voldemort transferred some of his powers to him the night he tried to kill him as an infant. This alarms Harry, as he quickly becomes convinced that he was supposed to be a Slytherin all along. Except there is one difference between Harry and Voldemort: Harry chose to be a Gryffindor.

  • “Exactly,” said Dumbledore, beaming once more. “Which makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Harry sat motionless in his chair, stunned. “If you want proof, Harry, that you belong in Gryffindor, I suggest you look more closely at this.”

    Dumbledore reached across to Professor McGonagall’s desk, picked up the blood-stained silver sword, and handed it to Harry. Dully, Harry turned it over, the rubies blazing in the firelight. And then he saw the name engraved just below the hilt.

    Godric Gryffindor.

    “Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that out of the hat, Harry,” said Dumbledore simply.

WELL BOOYAH. Oh god, Dumbledore IS THE BEST. And also, I really adore the message that Dumbledore imparts: that you can fight “destiny” and be whoever you want to be.

And then…well. It’s time for my head to explode with shock:

  • Harry got up and crossed to the door. He had just reached for the handle, however, when the door burst open so violently that it bounced back off the wall.

    Lucius Malfoy stood there, fury in his face. And cowering behind his legs, heavily wrapped in bandages, was Dobby.

WHAT THE EVERLIVING FUCK??!?!?!?! Dobby belongs to THE MALFOYS???????

HOLY SHIT. This means….oh my god. The Malfoys knew the entire time that someone was going to open the Chamber this year? OH MY GOD WAIT WHAT THE FUCK

But never fear! Because, to my surprise, Dumbledore immediately calls out Lucius for his shenanigans and J.K. Rowling totally turns my brain to mush again.

  • “Very strange tales they [the school’s governors] told me, too….Several of them seemed to think that you had threatened to curse their families if they didn’t agree to suspend me in the first place.”

OH SHIT.

Except Dumbledore STILL isn’t done. As he begins to dramatically elaborate on the plan to get Ginny Weasley in trouble via Tom Riddle’s diary and how it would inevitably get the Weasley family in trouble, which would then unravel the Ministry of Magic and any protection of Muggles, I started wondering where Dumbledore was going with this. It was obvious that Malfoy had something to do with what had happened, but I hadn’t connected the dots yet. Harry, however, with clues from Dobby, suddenly figures it out.

  • “Don’t you want to know how Ginny got hold of that diary, Mr. Malfoy?” said Harry.

    Lucius Malfoy rounded on him.

    “How should I know how the stupid little girl got hold of it?” he said.

    “Because you gave it to her,” said Harry. “In Flourish and Blotts. You picked up her old Transfiguration book and slipped the diary inside it, didn’t you?”

    He saw Mr. Malfoy’s white hands clench and unclench.

WELL, THAT IS SIMPLY AMAZING. Oh my god, THIS IS GENIUS.

But wait WE AREN’T DONE WITH THE AWESOME.

  • He wrenched open the door and as the elf came hurrying up to him, he kicked him right through it. They could hear Dobby squealing with pain all the way along the corridor. Harry stood for a moment, thinking hard. Then it came to him–

wait. what. what. what is going on. what.

  • Harry grabbed the diary and dashed out of the office. He could hear Dobby’s squals of pain receding around the corner. Quickly, wondering if this plan could possibly work, Harry took off one of his shoes, pulled off his slimy, filthy sock, and stuffed the diary into it. Then he ran down the dark corridor.

what??????

  • “Mr. Malofy,” he gasped, skidding to a halt, “I’ve got something for you–”

    And he forced the smelly sock into Lucius Malfoy’s hand.

    “What the–?”

    Mr. Malfoy ripped the sock off the diary, threw it aside, then look furiously from the ruined book to Harry.

    “You’ll mee the same stick end as your parents one of these days, Harry Potter,” he said softly. “They were meddlesome fools, too.”

I do not understand the point of this.

  • He turned to go.

    “Come, Dobby. I said, come.”

    But Dobby didn’t move. He was holding up Harry’s disgusting, slimy sock, and looking at it as though it were a priceless treasure.

    “Master has given a sock,” said the elf in wonderment. “Master gave it to Dobby.”

    “Got a sock,” said Dobby in disbelief. “Master threw it, and Dobby caught it, and Dobby–Dobby is free.”

Harry Potter, you are a true genius. holy god.

  • “You’ve lost me my servant, boy!”

    But Dobby shouted, “You shall not harm Harry Potter!”

    There was a loud bang, and Mr. Malfoy was thrown backward. He crashed down the stairs, three at a time, landing in a crumpled heap on the landing below. He got up, his face livid, and pulled out his wand, but Dobby raised a long, threatening finger.

    “You shall go now,” he said fiercely, pointing down at Mr. Malfoy. “You shall not touch Harry Potter. You shall go now.”

This is so wonderfully fantastic CAN WE HAVE A DOBBY PARTY IN THE COMMENTS. Wait, are there even Dobby GIFS at all? LET’S FIND OUT.

Hogwarts ends the year without exams, thankfully, and Ron and Harry are reunited with Hermione. (Though this is glossed over almost entirely completely.) They leave the school and Harry gives Ron his phone number so that he can contact him without using letters while he is at the Dursleys.

And then that’s it. We’re left to wonder what happens in the next year.

I liked this book and this chapter definitely removed most of the bad taste the previous chapter left behind. But now I see why it’s not everyone’s favorite book. It IS kind of a bit like the last one and, while it has definitely sown the seeds for future conflicts, it almost feels slightly unnecessary. SLIGHTLY. I will probably change my mind when I find out how this relates to the full series, but THAT’S HOW I FEEL NOW.

I do enjoy the larger issue presented in this book, which is Rowling’s take on racism via the Mudblood/Pure-blood drama. She presents it in a healthy, intelligent way and uses the characters to dissect just how silly and absurd this type of thinking is. I LIKE THIS, THIS IS GOOD, YOU SHOULD FEEL GOOD.

Please do not forget: Tomorrow, we are having our Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Liveblog at 12:00pm PST. Get your copies of the movie handy and let’s break 2,200 comments.

And now, to finish this as I’m supposed to:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a pretty decent book with a problematic, confusing, and repetitive endgame, but is enjoyable as a single book, yet it just makes me want to keep reading because SNAPE and WHAT IS IN AZKABAN, so I’m just going to continue doing that.

EDIT: Because people are already asking, I will start reading The Prisoner of Azkaban this Thursday, the day after the liveblog. I DON’T WASTE NO TIME.