I think this one is my least favorite in the series. And I’m not sure if it’s because everything seems to go wrong for Harry throughout the book, from Dobby and the pudding, to Malfoy and Quidditch, to fricking Gilderoy Lockhart, or if it’s because the movie has now overshadowed the reading of the book. I’m not sure.
I do have to say that, as much as I adore Kenneth Branaugh, I just want to punch Gilderoy Lockhart in the face. A lot. Like, just having his memory erased was too good for that smug sonofabitch. In fact, it’s only the fact that Kenneth Branaugh was in the movie in the first place that Chamber of Secrets is my second-to-least favorite movie. (Stay tuned two books later for why I’ve never rewatched Goblet of Fire.)
But seriously, let’s look at Harry in this one. He’s behaving as well as he possibly can, and then Dobby, who has absolutely no inkling of how tough it is to be a boy wizard in a crazy normal world, goes and mucks everything up because Harry wants to return to the wizarding world. Repeatedly. And when Dobby isn’t mucking things up, or when he mucks it up just enough to make it through, Lockhart comes along with all his idiocracy and doesn’t just muck it up, but fucks it up. Dude, if you don’t know how to fix broken bones, then don’t do it. Just run away and modify everyone’s memory later, okay? Stick to what you’re good at, asshat.
And, sidenote, is it ever explicitly stated why Dobby wreaks havoc in Harry’s life? I mean, I know that Lucius* is planning to cause chaos at Hogwarts this year, using Riddle’s Diary, but does Lucius Malfoy explicitly tell Dobby, “Hey, Dobs, make sure Harry doesn’t come back to Hogwarts this year”? Because honestly, that just shows how completely stupid Malfoy is. If I were Malfoy, I’d want to make sure that my plan uses Harry as a scapegoat. And while Harry is almost always in the wrong place at the wrong time (even Snape says so!), he always gets out of the punishment and away from the blame. If I were a criminal mastermind in the employ of You-Know-Who, I’d freaking have my scapegoat locked up so fingers don’t come back to point at me. Lucius, that’s just shoddy workmanship!
To get back to Dobby and his involvement: again, unless Malfoy Sr. said to Dobby offline, “I need to make sure that Harry doesn’t survive the plan,” and sent Dobby to Privet Drive and to the Quidditch field and King’s Cross, I don’t understand what the point of it is. Because I’m pretty sure that a house-elf under such strict rule as the Malfoy household would be allowed to act on his own. I mean, yeah, sure, Dobby explains that house-elfs look upon Harry as a hero (and honestly, who doesn’t in the non-evil wizarding world?), but would Dobby be allowed to leave Malfoy Manor and “help” Harry? I don’t think so.
*I can never not type that as Lucious first. I don’t know why; it’s the same reason I always spell marriage wrong on first blush. Lucious Malfoy. Oh god. And I’m not one of those weird Malfoy fangirls, either. I mean, I love Jason Isaacs in the role of Malfoy, but I’m a Snape girl through and through. Shut up, all of you.
Other things: Yeah, Gilderoy Lockhart is a smug asshat. And I still don’t see why he’s Hermione’s first crush. You’d think she’d be smarter than that. I don’t recall that they played that up in the movies, though, which is good. Again, I think I’ve rewatched Chamber of Secrets once, because it wasn’t that great.
What else… oh, right, the foreshadowing! I’m going to mention two things that were seen in first Borgin and Burkes, and secondly over Filch’s office, and then I won’t say anything more about them until later: opal necklace, and vanishing cabinet.
So in this book, Harry meets Voldemort for the second time — only this time, it’s a shadow of His Evilness’s former self. And Harry is finally able to realize that, though the Sorting Hat wanted to put him into Slytherin, it is the choices he made and the loyalty he showed that proved he belonged to Gryffindor. I’ve been saying that a lot recently, in my real life: the choices one makes directly affect any consequences or rewards that are due to you. And I think that’s an important lesson to be aware of.
And Gilderoy Lockhart’s consequence is total memory loss as a result of being a vain dick. I heart symmetry.
Grade for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: 2.5 stars