Thursday, August 2, 2007
harry potter and the chamber of secrets
Chapter Eighteen: Dobby's Reward
Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Lockhart enter McGonagall's office to find Dumbledore and Molly and Arthur Weasley waiting inside. The Weasleys fling themselves on their daughter and ask Harry how he saved her. Harry tells them everything from the voice to Aragog to Moaning Myrtle, managing to avoid the parts involving Ginny and the diary. When asked directly about this topic, Harry instinctively looks to Dumbledore, who gently prods him to answer the question of how Voldemort managed to enchant Ginny. So the part of the diary comes out into the open, and Dumbledore sends Ginny to the infirmary for rest and hot chocolate, and he informs all of them that the Mandrake juice is presently being administrated to the petrified victims. Dumbledore calls for a feast for the entire school, and he awards Harry and Ron each two hundred points for Gryffindor House on account of their daring tasks in battling the monster. Dumbledore then sends the clueless Lockhart to the infirmary under Ron's care, and finally he asks Harry to remain.
While Dumbledore is alone with Harry, he explains that Fawkes came to his aid because of the true loyalty Harry showed Dumbledore down in the Chamber. Harry asks Dumbledore the question that has been bothering him for so long, whether he is in fact like Riddle, marked with evil potential and predestined for Slytherin House. Dumbledore explains here in a gloriously reassuring passage that the Sorting Hat put Harry in Gryffindor because Harry did not want to be in Slytherin, and that choices made are far more important than abilities. Dumbledore also adds that only a true Gryffindor could have pulled Godric Gryffindor's sword out of the Sorting Hat.
The door bangs open and Lucius Malfoy appears, Dobby squealing at his heals. Lucius is most upset that Dumbledore has returned to Hogwarts, and Dumbledore calmly explains that the attacks have been stopped, and that eleven of the school governors contacted him, begging him to return to Hogwarts and suggesting that they had been blackmailed into suspending him. When Dumbledore holds up the diary as evidence from the recent events, Dobby begins to make strange faces and gestures, which Harry ultimately understands to mean that Lucius had slipped the diary into Ginny's books in Flourish and Blotts, so many months ago. Lucius acts shifty and defensive when Harry accuses him of this, and he sweeps out of the room, yelling at Dobby to follow. Harry thinks quickly and wraps the diary inside one of his slimy socks, then hands it to Lucius. Lucius unwraps it and disgustedly throws down the sock, which Dobby retrieves with a thrilled expression on his face. In handing him an article of clothing, Lucius has inadvertently freed his house-elf, and Dobby thanks Harry profusely in front of the livid Lucius, and then the elf disappears with a crack.
Harry then attends the great feast. Hagrid returns, exams are cancelled, and Lockhart is officially removed from the school staff, and Gryffindor is given the House cup. Harry has not been this happy for a long time. The last bit of school passes calmly and happily. Defense Against the Dark Arts classes are cancelled, and Lucius Malfoy is fired as school governor. All is well. On the train ride back to London, Harry curiously asks Ginny what she caught Percy doing. She giggles and replies that he was kissing his girlfriend, Penelope Clearwater, in an empty classroom. Fred and George are pleased by this bit of knowledge, and together they all walk back into the Muggle world for their summer vacations.
This chapter neatly ties up all loose ends still dangling after the rest of the story has been resolved. We see the reason why Percy was sneaking suspiciously into empty rooms and corridors, and we understand finally how Ginny came to possess the diary. Most importantly, we are reassured that Harry was not, in fact, destined for the dark wizard House, Slytherin. Dumbledore's speech in which he explains to Harry the importance of choices over ability reveals Harry's success as a character. In none of the books is he a stereotypical or epic hero; he simply is marked and helped by the people who have loved him and his flights into adventure and detective work have the noble intentions of keeping himself, his friends, and his school safe. Harry is simply a good person with courage and people looking out for him, and this combination, more than any natural or learned talents, brings him to triumph again over the world's most powerful dark wizard. He and Ron and Hermione each add their individual talents to the group, but their group efforts and initiative as a whole is what makes them so successful in their ventures. The same is the case for Harry; he is a sum of decent parts, but he uses them in ways that make him a truly impressive magical hero.
The ending serves justice to all characters. Dobby is liberated, Lucius Malfoy is without a servant and loses his job as school governor. Ginny is freed from enchantment, and her involvement in the Chamber of Secrets is kindly and instantly forgotten by her friends and family. Gryffindor wins the House cup, which is always a delight, since we know that the students in it are a good, smart, deserving bunch of kids. Harry is happy and satisfied and safe as he heads into summer vacation. The fairness element is crucial in this book, as a children's book and somewhat of a fantasy/fairy tale. Good triumphs over evil with no casualties to be mourned, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ends in a nice, tight conclusion. This was the case in the first book and also the third, but as the series progresses, the author does involve incidents in which life is not fair at all, and is in fact laden with unnecessary tragedy. In this book, the ending follows a standard storybook pattern, but it is not an easy ending. Everything that happens has a reason behind it, something significant in the lessons learned or the personalities shown in the dealing with danger. Whichever morals seem vague are soon explained by Dumbledore, who once again is safely overlooking Hogwarts' affairs. A sense of comfort ends this book, and for the time being, Hogwarts is left in its natural state-a cheerful and eccentric place where students grow up, make friends, and learn magic.