Twenty-three years ago today, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was published in the United Kingdom. This is the second book in J.K. Rowling’s beloved and magical Harry Potter series.
Harry longs to return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and see his best friends Ron and Hermione again. Right when he’s about to leave for his second year, a strange house-elf named Dobby appears in Harry’s bedroom, warning him not to go back to Hogwarts because of an unnamed danger.
Harry returns anyways, but Dobby’s warning was not a lie. Aside from a bizarre new professor and a strange ghost, someone (or something) is terrorizing the Hogwarts students—turning them into stone. Harry must figure out who the culprit is: his rival Draco Malfoy, the kind, giant Hagrid with a secret past, or is it truly Harry himself?
To celebrate twenty-three years of The Chamber of Secrets, let’s take a look back at some of the best and most unforgettable moments from the book!
1. Dobby and Aunt Petunia’s Pudding
After Harry tells Dobby he will return to Hogwarts despite the house-elf’s warning, Dobby escapes from Harry’s bedroom and rushes downstairs. Using magic, he makes Harry’s Aunt Petunia’s carefully-crafted pudding dessert levitate and has it fall on Mrs. Mason’s head, the wife of a rich builder Uncle Vernon wishes to impress. Dobby vanishes into thin air, leaving Harry to the mercy of the incident and the wrath of his aunt and uncle.
2. Weasley Rescue
Uncle Vernon, beyond furious with Harry, locks him in his room and declares he will never return to Hogwarts again. He attaches metal bars onto Harry’s window to prevent him from escaping or from sending letters via owl. One night, to Harry’s surprise, Ron shows up at Harry’s window with his brothers Fred and George in their father’s bewitched flying car. The Weasleys help Harry escape and they drive (er, fly, rather) to the Weasley’s home where they spend the remainder of the summer break.
3. Harry’s First Trip to the Burrow
Harry finally visits the home of the family who immediately started treating him as one of their own after first meeting him. He becomes more familiar with the Weasleys and enjoys the rest of his summer break with them. Aside from Hogwarts, the Burrow is perhaps the place that feels most like “home” to Harry.
4. Detour to Hogwarts
When the Weasleys and Harry arrive at King’s Cross to board the Hogwarts Express, the passageway to Platform 9 ¾ seals itself shut, preventing Ron and Harry from entering. After they miss the train, the boys decide to use Mr. Weasley’s flying car as their way of getting to Hogwarts. They’re able to find the Hogwarts Express and fly above it, following the train all the way to the school.
5. Ron’s Howler
The day after Harry and Ron arrive at Hogwarts, Ron receives an interesting piece of mail from his mother in the post. A Howler. Mrs. Weasley’s voice erupts into the hall, scolding Ron (and Harry to an extent) for stealing the flying car and taking it to Hogwarts. She informs Ron that Mr. Weasley must face an inquiry at his work due to the boys’ actions and threatens to bring Ron home if he breaks any more rules.
When the Slytherin Quidditch team interrupts the Gryffindor team’s practice, Malfoy tries to show off by telling everyone his father bought the Slytherins new broomsticks. Hermione claims everyone on the Gryffindor team got in based on talent alone, to which Malfoy retorts and calls her a “Mudblood.” Ron tries to make Malfoy pay for what he said, but his curse backfires and results in Ron retching up slugs. Harry and Hermione take him to Hagrid’s, where Harry learns the meaning behind the horrible word.
7. A Deathday Party
Nearly Headless Nick (the Gryffindor ghost) invites Harry, Ron, and Hermione to his 500th Deathday Party on Halloween. At the party, the trio encounter various ghosts, horrible music, and rotting food. The three also meet Moaning Myrtle for the first time, a young, emotional ghost who mysteriously died in one of the Hogwarts bathrooms decades ago.
8. The Chamber is Opened Again
Upon leaving Nick’s Deathday Party, Harry hears a chilling voice through the corridors. He follows it, despite Ron and Hermione’s inability to hear the voice too. The three come across writing on a wall that reads: “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened / enemies of the heir, beware.” Accompanying this sight is a petrified Mrs. Norris, the cat of the loathed Hogwarts caretaker, Mr. Filch. Of course, this scene causes the entire school to become insatiably curious about the Chamber of Secrets and Hogwarts history.
9. Polyjuice Potion
Convinced Malfoy is playing some part in the reopening of the Chamber of Secrets, Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide they need to investigate him. Knowing he’d never speak to the trio willingly about such matters, Hermione brews a Polyjuice Potion that will turn the three into Malfoy’s Slytherin friends. Unfortunately, the plans go a little “furry” for Hermione, and Ron and Harry are left to complete the task without her.
10. Tom Riddle’s Diary
After Harry manages to get a hold of the diary, he realizes he’s able to communicate with the diary’s owner, Tom Riddle, by writing in the book. He agrees to let Riddle take him inside the diary, inside Riddle’s memory, and show Harry what Hogwarts was like fifty years ago. Invisible to the people from the memory, Harry watches a conversation between Riddle and Headmaster Dippet, encounters a younger Dumbledore, and watches Riddle accuse Hagrid of opening the Chamber of Secrets and having one of his beasts attack and kill a young girl. This event causes Harry to suspect that Hagrid was the one who did open the Chamber the first time, and he passes on his suspicions to Ron and Hermione.
After Hermione is Petrified, Ron and Harry decide to visit Hagrid to see what he knows about the Chamber. While hiding under the Invisibility Cloak, they watch Hagrid get taken away to Azkaban, but before Hagrid leaves, he cryptically tells the boys to “follow the spiders” should they need anything while he’s gone. The next night, Harry and Ron venture into the Forbidden Forest, trailing the path of spiders until they meet Aragog: an enormous spider who informs them of Hagrid’s innocence in opening the Chamber of Secrets fifty years ago. He instructs his “children” to kill Harry and Ron after he’s finished speaking with them, and luckily the boys escape, thanks to the surprising return of Mr. Weasley’s flying car.
12. The Chamber of Secrets
In addition to learning that Ron’s sister Ginny was taken into the Chamber, a series of interconnecting events lead Harry, Ron, and Professor Gilderoy Lockhart to the entrance of the Chamber of Secrets: in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Using Parseltongue, Harry commands the entrance to open, and the three make their way into the Chamber, miles beneath the Hogwarts castle. After Lockhart attempts to Obliviate the boys’ memories, he accidentally erases his own, and causes a pile of rubble to separate Harry from himself and Ron. Harry must now venture further into the Chamber, and face whatever he finds there, alone.
13. Tom Riddle
Harry finally learns the truth of who’s been behind the attacks on students and the writings on the wall: Ginny Weasley, acting through Tom Riddle. Preserved as a memory in his diary, Riddle realized he could coerce young Ginny into doing his bidding by acting as her friend. Harry learns that Riddle is actually the preserved memory of a teenage Lord Voldemort; he decided to take on the new name and leave his Muggle background behind him. He was the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets fifty years ago, and was the last living descendent of Salazar Slytherin.
14. The Basilisk and the Phoenix
Determined to kill Harry, Riddle sets a basilisk after him. Prior to the basilisk’s release, Dumbledore’s pet phoenix, Fawkes, arrived within the Chamber, giving the Sorting Hat to Harry. Fawkes aids Harry in fighting the basilisk, blinding the monster. To Harry’s amazement, he pulls a majestic sword out of the Sorting Hat and ends up stabbing it through the basilisk’s head. One of the basilisk’s fangs pierces Harry’s arm, but Fawkes uses his tears to heal the wound. Harry takes the fang, and plunges it into Riddle’s diary, destroying the Riddle embodied in the diary’s memories. This act also awakens Ginny, who was on the verge of death when Harry first arrived.
Malfoy’s father, Lucius, pays Dumbledore a visit after he learns the headmaster has returned to Hogwarts. With Lucius is a familiar face: Dobby the house-elf. Harry learns that Dobby serves the Malfoy family. After Harry and Dumbledore reveal the truth (and their suspicions) about who caused the events of this year to unfold, Lucius storms out with Dobby. Harry decides to give Riddle’s diary back to Lucius, but not before including his sock along with it. Lucius angrily throws the sock aside and Dobby catches it, becoming a free elf. A master giving their house-elf a piece of clothing is the only way a house-elf may be freed.
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