The Wonder of Harry Potter – Book 2

When we get to Book 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we’re taken away from the whole He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, darkest wizard of our time scenario and planted into the past. It’s not really just about He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, it’s about a teenage boy who learns that he’s not so unusual after all. This is where Harry discovers that although He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named is the bad guy, he wasn’t always that way; there were qualities in him, that if used for good, could have redeemed him. Harry learns this, because he has the same qualities and background as He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

I love that, unusually for a book with a permanent bad guy, Harry, the hero and protagonist, is more like his enemy than anyone wants to admit. They’re both half-bloods, they’re both destined for a fate they didn’t ask for, they’re both orphans and they both have extraordinary powers. The way they were raised has shaped both young men. To me, this is very important because it’s that old addage of ‘It’s not how you were raised, it’s what you do with what you’ve got’. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named turned evil, not because of how he had been raised, because he had a far better upbringing than Harry did. He turned bad because he was consumed with a hunger for power, for acceptance, to be the best, and to prove that his heritage put him above all the rest. He was ashamed of his Muggle father and his ‘weak’ witch of a mother, and set out his whole life, to prove that he was better than either of them. On the other hand, Harry, who was so badly mistreated by his family, never sought nor wanted power. He accepted his position within the Dursley’s home and even after he had magic on his side, he never used it to control people or hurt them, just to prove his might. Harry didn’t make a conscious choice to be good, but his choices showed that he was fundamentally good inside.

I think the fact that everyone thought that Harry was the Heir of Slytherin, in this book, just goes to show how we all grow up with perceptions. In the wizarding world of Harry Potter, blood and talent is everything. Just because Harry can speak parceltongue, he’s accused of being dark, and the true heir of Slytherin, even though he’s a Griffindor. Everyone over looks the fact that Harry had once saved them all from He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, when he stopped him from getting the Sorcerer’s Stone. It seems silly, to me, that anyone should suspect him of being the Heir of Slytherin when he’s proven himself already, to be on the side of light. But that’s how the world works – you’re not considered good because of one brave action or choice you’ve made because all good people can do bad things if they set their mind to it. Most importantly, the Chamber of Secrets teaches us that ingrained knowledge can be dangerous. It’s like going into the street and assuming that everyone wearing a hoodie is a rowdy, dangerous teenager and that all old people are sweet little things. It’s just not true. Old people can be vicious and rude and spiteful, and young people in hoodies can be good and kind and thoughtful.

It’s not about what you KNOW to be common, it’s about what you FEEL to be true. Ron and Hermione, even though they’re most in danger from those who want pure wizard blood, stand by Harry no matter what through the Chamber of Secrets. Their friendship is something that we all crave, I’m sure…that 100% trusting, total confidence that those you love and trust are exactly who they say they are. That loyalty and honour between them, that carries them throughout the following books.

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