In J. K. Rowling’s novel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, readers see Harry’s character develop and build upon the person Rowling introduced in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets shows Harry further mature as a wizard and as a person. Though he is still young, Harry learns many important lessons in this novel that help him learn about life and himself. By the end of the novel, readers can see Harry as a bit more developed, but not as a completely different person.
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The second novel in the Harry Porter series isn’t too different from the first in that it enforces many of the characteristics readers have already learned about Harry from the first novel. For example, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone readers learn that Harry’s deepest desire is to be with family. In the very beginning of the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets readers learn that he can’t wait to go back to Hogwarts and see his friends, who are his new family. Readers also see in the second novel that Harry has many doubts in himself, he still lacks confidence; likely caused by years of abuse by the Dursleys. Readers can also see that Harry is still kind, witty, honest and brave person. These can be seen when Harry treats Dobby as an equal in a kind manner, when Dobby asks him about his friends not writing and he immediately questions Dobby about how he knows that, when he refuses to lie to Dobby in order to get him to put down the cake, and finally when he uses the floo powder without much hesitation. Readers also see that Harry is just as righteous in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as he was in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This can be seen in his distaste of people like Lucius and Draco.
Another characteristic which Rowling builds on is how Harry deals with fame. In the first book readers see Harry discover that he is famous for the first time, however his new found fame doesn’t really seem to impact him. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets readers see that Harry actually dislikes his fame. Harry seems to be the exact opposite of Lockhart. Though, Lockhart is oblivious to this and ends up offending Harry by assuming that he seeks fame the same way he does. Rowling clearly shows readers how Harry feels about his fame when tries to refuse to take a picture with Lockhart and even more so when his image in the picture refuses to stay in the image; leaving Lockhart to pose alone.
Two major themes Rowling writes about in the novel are class and prejudice. From the very beginning of the novel readers can see that Harry treats all beings equal; seen when Dobby shows up. However, readers can also see how young and naÃ¯ve Harry is in this novel. For example, when Draco calls Hermione and a “filthy little mudblood” Harry has no idea what that means (112). Through this readers can see how innocent Harry actually is. He doesn’t know how evil the world can be and this is something he learns during his time at Hogwarts. In addition, Harry lies to Dumbledore about what he knows and then turns to Riddle for help with figuring out what is happening. This shows how young Harry is and that his judgment still needs more developing. Eventually readers can see Harry gaining better judgment with regards to who he should trust.
The voice that Harry hears also helps readers identify some of his characteristics. When Harry hears the voice say that it is “time to kill” (Rowling 137), his instinct is to follow the voice in hopes of preventing it from doing anyone any harm. This is a characteristic that Rowling continues to build upon with Harry. His instinct is to always do good things and prevent evil from occurring; however Harry does not understand the source or nature of the voice. This lack of understanding becomes the source of frustration and doubt for Harry. He later deals with this by confiding in his friends, but rejects help from a more mature and experienced people, such as Dumbledore. The fact that he seeks help from his friends shows some maturity in Harry, but because he doesn’t seek help from Dumbledore readers can see that he has some growing up to do.
Throughout the book Rowling enforces many of the characteristics she has already given Harry. For example, Harry doesn’t look down on Filch for being a squib, he throws a firecracker into a cauldron while in potions class, so that Hermione may get the ingredients for the poly juice potion, and finally his performance during the Quidditch game versus Slytherins. These show that Harry treats all beings equal, that he’ll break the rules for the greater good, and the Quidditch match shows his bravery, loyalty, determination, and teamwork. The Quidditch match a very example for describing Harry because of how intense it is. Oliver tells Harry, “get to that snitchâ€¦or die trying” and that is exactly what Harry does (167). In addition, he tells George and Fred to leave him alone, so that he can find the snitch while leaving himself defenseless to the rogue bludger. This shows that Harry is even willing to sacrifice himself if his friends benefit.
Readers can see further development of Harry’s character when the Riddle’s diary goes missing. Harry decides that he and Ron must talk to Hagrid about the situation even though he “can’t believe it’s him this time” (259). Harry is willing to break rules because he is interested in protecting his Hogwarts as well as preserving it. This is an important scene in the novel because Harry does not generally do bad things. Harry never really has a problem discerning right from wrong. However, there are certain circumstances when he must break rules in order to achieve the greater good; this is yet another trait which Rowling is building upon. Readers can see that Harry does not accept status quo and will do whatever it takes to do what’s right. Readers can see examples of this when Harry goes into the forbidden forest and makes Ron come with him. Even though the last time he went in the forbidden forest he saw Voldemort, Harry does not hesitate to go and even when he stands in front of Aragog Harry keep his cool. In these passages readers can see that Harry truly is a brave person of action. Harry’s bravery is also enhanced by the fact that he has to rely on his own instincts and himself for help; Hermione has been petrified and Ron’s wand is broken, rendering him useless. Another example of how Harry’s character develops can be seen in how he handles being blamed for petrifying Hermione. Even though so many horrible things are going on around him, he doesn’t explode or over react. In fact, when Ernie apologizes for suspecting him, Harry does not hold a grudge.
Hermione’s character actually players a major role in the development of Harry. Her condition leaves her confined to the infirmary and leaves Harry to solve problems he’d leave to Hermione on his own. Without Hermione’s knowledge, Harry must approach every dangerous encounter while relying on his own instincts, bravery, and loyalty. For example, when Ron suggests that they go speak with Lockhart, the Rowling tells the reader that Harry agreed because he “couldn’t think of anything else to do, and because he wanted to do something” (296). Also, when they go to see Lockhart and realize that he intends on running away, it is Harry who challenges Lockhart’s and stops him. He tells Lockhart,” You’re the Defense against the Dark Arts teacher . . . You can’t go now!” (297). These scenes show readers that Harry is becoming more independent and can rely on his own abilities. Even without anyone’s help Harry is capable of making his own decisions and doing what he believes is right.
In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, readers see Harry take part in a conflict similar to the ending of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In this final conflict, Harry shows immense bravery and loyalty. He also learns an important lesson with regards to his good nature and trusting other people. Harry wanted to believe that Riddle wanted to help him, but he soon discovers that he is doesn’t. In fact, he learns that Riddle is Voldemort and Harry shows courage in trying to fight him. Harry also shows how loyal he actually is when he tells Riddle that “Dumbledore is the greatest wizard in the world” (314).Because of his loyalty, Harry is rewarded with the phoenix and even though Harry doesn’t know exactly what to do, he is still brave enough to fight.
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The end of the book also foreshadows what is to become of Harry. Harry using his wit to trick Lucius into freeing Dobby shows that in the future he’ll have combat evil with his intelligence in addition to his actions. Even though many readers many have grown a dislike for Dobby because of what he has done to Harry; Harry sees that his actions were to help him, so Harry tries to help him in return. This kindness is a characteristic Rowling also builds upon in Harry and is essential in his personality.
Harry’s character evolves throughout the novel. In the end readers are presented with a character that is different, but not completely. Readers can see that Harry is not an exceptional hero. In fact he is more of an average person that is aided by those who care for him and are genuinely concerned for his well being. Harry is a good person and this would be true even if he wasn’t a wizard. While magic adds to the novel, it does not entirely make up Harry’s personality. In fact, it is Harry’s human characteristics that allow Harry to shine as a hero in this novel. He is a hero, but this fact is not based solely on him being a wizard.
In conclusion, Harry’s development teaches readers many things and gives them some insight of what is to become of Harry. One theme of the novel is that people will always encounter obstacles. Harry learns that even as a wizard, he will always face difficult times. To overcome his endeavors Harry must continue to grow as a person and continue to live fully aware that dangers are present. The best Harry can do is keep using his strong character traits such as honestly, bravery, wit, loyalty, and finally what is probably most important to his character vigilance.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic Inc. 1999.
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