Book Review – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Review – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This second book is significantly more sinister than the first one, introducing within the plot the demonic possession of an unwitting and unwilling little girl, for the purpose of destroying both Harry and any wizards at Hogwarts who have “Muggle” ancestry.

The plot is much better developed than the first book, while continuing to offer potions, spells and magic words for readers to “try out” if they are so inclined.

Occult concepts introduced in this story include talismans, amulets, levitation, re-incarnation, healings, thought projection, guided imagery/hypnosis, unity power, and Phoenixes. A number of oblique and incomplete references to aspects of rituals are included, as well as the idea of needing a “part of the person” you wish to magic (like in voodoo).

A key character new to this story is Lockhart, a new professor of “Defense against the Dark Arts”. He behaves like the stereotype of a closeted homosexual, complete with primping, and wearing pink attire for the Valentine’s Day Party he schedules. He makes wild claims about his knowledge and expertise at discovering and defeating multitudinous forms of “Dark Magic”, which are shown by the end of the story to be empty braggadocio. As his character is developed, the lines used sound like a smear of Christians who make it their business to expose and oppose the works of the devil. (ie: p. 123)

We also see a new Christian element parodied: speaking in tongues. Of course, the “tongue” in question is “Parseltongue”, the language of the serpents. Only Harry, and Voldemort are able to speak this language, but Harry’s ability is not learned, but a “gift”. Notably, tongue-speakers are said to belong to the dark side. (p. 148)

Continued is the frequent ugly or vulgar imagery, and suggestions of how to be bad. There is a large helping of violence depicted in this story, along with upsetting scenes, like the description of the Phoenix going up in flames, the cat hanging by its tail, “petrified”, giant spiders intending to eat Harry and Ron, games of head hockey, head polo etc, with the headless ghosts, and other nightmare material.

Voldemort has become “Lord” Voldemort in this book. His powers were destroyed the instant he failed to kill Harry. (p.9) He was “a ruin of his former self” (p12) – consistent with  the negative claims about the character and power of the true God by those in the occult.

Harry and the Weasleys take a trip by burning some “Floo powder”, which sends them through a spiralling, kaleidoscopic maze to another place. Perhaps I am too sensitive, but this smacks of drug use to take psychedelic trips. Harry didn’t enjoy the experience, but because the others were going that way, he “had to” too.

Harry’s character, and that of his friends, has not improved. They still lie, cheat, steal, hate, plan revenge, utter a sincere desire to kill an enemy, disobey authority, etc, etc.

At one point in the story, the students are learning how to transplant mandrakes, a poisonous plant. (later used in a potion for restoring the students who have been “petrified” by the evil serpent’s presence.) When the plant is pulled up, a baby is attached to the greenery – which is the young plant. It grows through the typical human cycle before becoming “mature”, when it will be dug up, then cut up and stewed.(p. 175) A kid might not make the connection, but it is just a bit too close to certain ritual activities of demonic groups to be disregarded, especially when included with so many other flagrant examples.

Marital relations are presented negatively virtually all the time.

Harry is depicted as a saviour character. (p. 134) Dumbledore says he will be available to help anyone who asks, even when absent (p. 194, 6) Of course, Dumbledore’s power rivals Voldemort’s. (p. 18) So if Dumbledore represents the “good” power (aka: God), he is a warlock; if Voldemort represents God, then the high wizard’s power is greater than his.

One more disturbing scene: the Hand of Glory. A withered hand (no body). Insert a candle, it will give light only to the holder. “Best friend of thieves and plunderers.”

A ghoul is said to be a good family pet. So what is a ghoul? Ghoul n. a spirit that robs graves and devours the corpses (Muslim folklore) (Oxford Student Dictionary) Charming.

  1. 118 a she-ghost who is always upset: “’ Peeves upset me so much I came in here and tried to kill myself. Then, of course, I remembered that I’m – that I’m…’ ‘Already dead,” said Ron helpfully. Myrtle gave a tragic sob, rose up in the air, turned over and dived head first into the toilet….’”

My assessment is that this book is worse than the first. It has more damage potential, enters into a more evil context and atmosphere, and stays there. The improvement in plot development simply serves to increase the effect. There are words, ideas, activities which should not be part of anyone’s world, or frame of reference, and most especially not that of an eight to 12 year old child. It is total immersion into occult things. Whether or not the specific substances, spells, actions are what “real” witches would do is irrelevant; it is all fashioned after what they really do, while reinforcing the desirability and acceptability of witchcraft.