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SCARPnotes for the book
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret's

Table of Contents

   I. Key Facts Portus
  II. Plot Overview Portus
 III. Context- with commentary by Madame Poppy Pomfrey Portus
  IV. Summary and Analysis of Chapters Portus
   V. Character List and Analysis Portus
  VI. Themes, Motifs and Symbols Portus
 VII. Important Quotations Portus
VIII. Study Questions and Essay Topics Portus
  IX. Review and Resources Portus
   X. Quiz Portus

Key Facts

Full title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret's
Author: Joanna Kathleen (J. K.) Rowling
Type of Work: Part two of a seven part Novel, containing 85,141 words in 18 chapters
Genre: Fantasy, Children's
Language: English
Time and Place Written: Late 1990's to 1998
First Publication Date: UK: July, 1998; US: 2 Jul, 1999
Publisher: Great Britain: Bloomsbury Children's books; US: Arthur A. Levine Books an imprint of Scholastic inc.
Narrator: A detached third person close, but not in, the action.
Point of View: The narrator, who is omniscient, takes Harry's point of view throughout the book.
Tone: Being a book for children, the tone is straight-forward, matter-of-fact, simple and, at times, comical; even when dealing with such subjects as: Harry's mistreatment by the Dursley's and various adversaries at Hogwarts, loosing all the bones in one arm, and facing life and death situations. This second book is a bit more serious, or "dark" than the first especially in the final chapters when dealing with Tom Riddle.
Tense: Past
Settings (time): Although in the beginning the books never actually gave an exact date for the school years, the large fan base extensively researched internal clues and, through deductive reasoning, calculated Harry's birth date. Most likely to shut off the large amount of speculation, the author (JKR) gave a tangential reference to a "real" date, which then gave credence to the calculations once and for all. Some of the specific's remain "magical" however as the author's references still do not always coincide with a normal calendar; for example, the school year always begins on September 1st, and it's always a Monday, of every school year. Therefore, this book's action covers his second school year at Hogwarts from September 1st (a Monday) 1991 to the end of June 1992. [Following the release of the 7th book - JKR gave a specific reference to a death as 1996, the end of Harry's 6th year].
Setting (place): Surrey and London England, and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Protagonists: Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore
Antagonists: Dursleys, Severus Snape, Tom Riddle (a.k.a. Voldemort), Lucius Malfoy
Major conflict: Learning to BE a wizard was undertaken by Harry last year, when he was eleven and was invited to matriculate into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This year, his education broadens into learning to LIVE LIKE a wizard and what he missed out on by being raised by Muggles. Harry's new world seems like it could be short lived when a rumored secret chamber is opened and Slytherin's Monster begins trying to kill non-pureblood students, like it did 50 years previously. Harry also begins to understand better, the world of his life nemesis, Voldemort, by discovering a diary kept by him as a student. Unfortunately, the book is not what it seems and eventually leads to a deadly confrontation with both the monster and the incarnation of the youthful Voldemort.
Rising Action: Dire warnings and obstructions set by a house elf, Dobby, and a fist-fight between Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy set the stage for Harry's second year at Hogwarts. Once at the school the students are treated to their new DADA teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart, a narcissist of the highest degree and an incompetent teacher who seems to want to feed off of Harry. This is eclipsed, however, by the petrification of several Muggle-born students thought to be due to the releasing of Slytherin's Monster from the Chamber of Secrets by the "heir of Slytherin" who was prophesied to do so. Unfortunately, students began to blame Harry for being the heir when he was discovered to be a "Parselmouth" and could talk to snakes. Harry's mentors, Dumbledore and Hagrid, were eventually expelled from the school, and Hermione was petrified, which left only Ron and Harry to solve the mystery by themselves. Following a "clue" from Hagrid, Harry and Ron went into the Forbidden Forest to obtain information from one of Hagrid's "pets," Aragog, a giant spider who tried to kill the two. Clues fell into place for Harry when the "monster" had apparently kidnapped Ron's sister, Ginny, and taken her into the Chamber.
Climax: Speaking Parseltongue, Harry found the secret entrance to the chamber and met both the monster, a Basilisk, and the "memory" of Tom Riddle, (the childhood Voldemort) who had extracted himself from his diary by the hapless entries of Ginny Weasley. Riddle had set a trap for Harry, using Ginny as bait. After Harry explained how decrepit and vile Voldemort had become, Riddle released the Basilisk, a giant snake which could kill with its eyes. It was only by showing great bravery and loyalty to Dumbledore that Harry was able to prevail over both the monster and Riddle.
Falling Action: Eventually it was revealed that Lucius Malfoy had "planted" the diary, an artifact from his old master Voldemort, on Ginny in order to discredit Arthur and his "Muggle Protection Act" legislation - among other things. Ginny had been enchanted by the Riddle in the diary into performing acts of mayhem and opening the chamber, while he was taking over her soul. The house elf was a slave of Malfoy's, but had been trying to warn and protect Harry. Harry tricked Malfoy into setting the elf free. Another heart-to-heart talk with Dumbledore gave needed counsel; but, raised more questions than it resolved about Harry's past and future.
Themes: Discovering Oneself (Finding out 'Who I Am')
The evils of being a bigot
The value (and irony) of Friendship
Motifs: Wizardry
Literary Devices: Polyjuice Potion
Symbolism: Harry's scar
Foreshadowing: Hidden knowledge of Dumbledore
Harry's future
Snape's unexplained hatred of Harry
Voldemort's abilities and power
Hagrid's and Malfoy's past

Plot Overview

If Harry had of had any hopes that things would be different at the Dursley's now that he was a wizard he would be disappointed; but, he didn't, so he wasn't. Everything the least magically related was incarcerated, in one way or the other, including him; when, through no fault of his own, Dobby the house elf showed up and tried to get him expelled from Hogwarts. "You're too good and important," the elf explained, to be back at Hogwarts where "evil things are going to happen." Dobby made a mess in the kitchen and blamed it on Harry so Mafalda Hopkirk, of the ministry, sent him an official letter of warning, and uncle Vernon imprisoned him behind bars in his bedroom. The Weasley boys stole their dad's flying car and rescued Harry to begin an adventure of a lifetime.

The only person who would accept the DADA job was the author Gilderoy Lockhart, which gave Harry two professors to contend with. A narcissistic, incompetent hanger on and a return visit of Potions Master Severus Snape who just plain couldn't stand him. Unfortunately, Draco Malfoy's father Lucius, an old follower of Voldemort, chose this year to hatch a scheme to discredit Arthur Weasley's Muggle Protection Act. Muggleborns, cats belonging to squibs and ghosts were being petrified, like they were 50 years ago when Tom Riddle attended Hogwarts. Harry began hearing voices that no one else could hear, which Ron had to tell him "wasn't good in either the muggle or wizarding world." Then he found that he was the only person in the school who could speak "Parseltongue," snake language, a similar trait of the legendary Salazar Slytherin, one of the original four founders of Hogwarts.

Before long Hagrid had been arrested by minister Fudge, for publicity reasons, and Dumbledore had been suspended as headmaster by Lucius, one of the board of governors. Amassing friends amongst the odd and outcast, as seems to be Harry's specialty, he was able to solve the mystery which had baffled the greatest wizards of the past half-century — including Dumbledore. He learned more of the key information about Voldemort, his nemesis; and was able to both save Hermione, learn advanced level potions, free Dobby from slavery and get Lucius sacked, (among other things) all before leaving for the summer.