Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

I’m listening to all the Harry Potter books on audiobook these days, because why not? And I recently finished book 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was always my least favourite, I don’t know why, I think it’s just because I love the others more. This won’t be like a review, this’ll just be me rambling about things in Harry Potter that I like or find confusing.

So this is book two, and it is about Harry’s second year of school at Hogwarts. And I’m not going to go deeply into plot, because it’s Harry Potter. Essentially a monster controlled by the Heir of Slytherin is petrifying students and terrifying the student body. Harry and Ron break some school rules and you know. Hilarity ensues.

One of the best things about The Chamber of Secrets is Gilderoy Lockhart

I thought about him more and more this time. If you haven’t read the book he is the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in the second book, and he is best described as a self-indulgent, egotistical, idiotic fop. He has very little magical ability, it seems, and has gotten the job mainly because he’s the only applicant. He’s also written like seven books that are quite sensationalist and extremely popular, probably because he’s a handsome man, and quite charming. It’s revealed during the book that he didn’t do any of the things in the books, he found people who did impressive things, he stole their stories and modified their memories. He is a useless wizard and he is pretty much only good at memory charms. He still volunteers for everything, brags about everything he’s done or what he can do, or how he would fix something, and seems to have no insight into how people find him to be both idiotic and annoying.

What always fascinated me about Lockhart is that he must know that he’s a completely useless wizard. He knows he didn’t do any of the things that he’s written about. He knows he’s no good, and yet he keeps trying to insert himself into dangerous situation or to impress people. Like for instance trying to repair Harry’s arm, and completely failing. In front of the entire school. He also starts a duelling club despite the fact that he must know he’s no good at it, and that Snape is an excellent wizard. He must know he’ll look like an idiot in front of the student body again. So why is he doing all this nonsense?

I developed a theory when I listened to it this time. I feel like Gilderoy Lockhart never really had any friends because he’s too vain, too narcissistic, and too intense, and tries too hard. So people don’t really like him, and it’s made him try too hard, and turn to being impressive instead. And he has kept up with this, because he probably has still no idea how to make friends, and he keeps trying to be impressive. He doesn’t seem to realize that he will be held accountable for the things he says, at least for a while. When he says he knows where the Chamber of Secrets is he will obviously be sent to find it and save Ginny. Because no one else knows.

One thing that bothered me before, but which I get more now, is Hermione’s infatuation with him. She finds him very attractive, impressive, and she really adores him. As someone who is so clever and level-headed as Hermione it seems very out of character. No matter what Lockhart does, and no matter how often he messes up, she is willing to forgive him. The thing is, Hermione is 12/13 (her birthday is in September I think), and Lockhart is very handsome and very charming, and he sets himself up as a very impressive guy. And it’s normal for young girls to have crushes on their teachers. So it’s not a completely insane thing for Hermione to feel. Even though Lockhart fucks up she’s willing to forgive him and look past it. The thing about Hermione is that she puts enormous stock in books. If it’s from a book it’s trustworthy, unless she’s already got bias against the author, like Rita Skeeter. So when she’s read Lockhart’s books that’s cemented him as an impressive, incredible wizard in her mind, and she isn’t great at revising her opinion when she’s decided on something. So she needs incredible evidence to revise her opinion. Which is why she wouldn’t be a good Ravenclaw, she’s an excellent Gryffindor.

Baffling things about the book

These are my thoughts on Lockhart, who by the way is excellently portrayed by Brannagh in the movie by the way, and other things in the Chamber of Secrets.