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.
‘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.
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.