Thursday, August 2, 2007
harry potter and the chamber of secrets
The Harry Potter books were fabulously successful upon their publication. Most readers like an unlikely hero, and Harry, with his broken glasses, skinny frame, and late learning about the wizard world, is such a hero. He succeeds as a result of his enthusiasm, courage, and good friends. These are all positive traits that any reader can understand and desire. Because Harry's relatives undervalue his complex and companionable personality, we are satisfied when he triumphs over people and creatures more powerful than he. Harry is a quirky, unlikely hero.
J.K. Rowling's series of adventures touches the common children's fantasy that another world coexists with our own. The Harry Potter books describe us as Muggles, non-magical people who live our entire lives oblivious to the existence of wizards. The novels allow us to envision a magical world that we are otherwise unable to see. The attitude of wizards toward Muggles is usually tolerant and humoring. The book blurs the boundary between real life and fantasy. Even if there were wizards in our world, we, as Muggles, wouldn't know about them.
Rowling's world offers something to everyone. The novel contains all the elements of adventure stories, including monsters, magic, sports, and miracles. But it also resembles a detective story. The masterminds in the books are all clever, and they are never who they seem. Furthermore, the books familiarize Hogwarts, the magic school that Harry attends. Children can understand and sympathize with the environment of Hogwarts. Gradually, all of the extraordinary aspects of the school become unsurprising, and Hogwarts resembles any child's school where all things are connected and everything is contained. Harry is an ordinary boy who experiences the complexity of growing up, and yet we are able to see this process against an enchanting and vivid new background.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second book in the series, describes the return of the evil wizard Voldemort in a new form. The events of the book suggest that evil can be warded off temporarily, but never banished forever. The Chamber of Secrets also shows how the wizard world shares many characteristics with the unmagical world. There is never a perfect, untroubled ending in either world. As Harry matures, the books mature as well. Each offers more plot complexity than the previous book, shows the ways in which Harry becomes more resourceful, and escalates the threat that Voldemort poses.