Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling
Lies and Deceit Quotes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"It means," said Dumbledore, "that the Chamber of Secrets is indeed open again."
Madam Pomfrey clapped a hand to her mouth. Professor McGonagall stared at Dumbledore.
"The question is not who," said Dumbledore, his eyes on Colin. "The question is, how."
And from what Harry could see of Professor McGonagall's shadowy face, she didn't understand this any better than he did. (10.175-179)
Professor Dumbledore obviously means well. We still have to wonder, though: why doesn't he just tell the people around him what he knows? It would save them all a lot of trouble, especially in the later novels. Oh, of course, it preserves the suspense of the books that he's not totally open about his suspicions ever, but it would be nice if he explained himself once in a while, and avoided these totally obscure and incomprehensible hints. Why do you think Professor Dumbledore doesn't just tell Professor McGonagall what he thinks has happened to Colin Creevey? Why must he be so mysterious all the time? What reasons does he give in the later novels for keeping secrets? What do you think his motivations are in not explaining everything he knows up front to his colleagues?
"Dreadful thing, Dumbledore," said Malfoy lazily, taking out a long roll of parchment, "but the governors feel it's time for you to step aside. This is an Order of Suspension – you'll find all twelve signatures on it. I'm afraid we feel you're losing your touch. How many attacks have there been now? Two more this afternoon, wasn't it? At this rate, there'll be no Muggle-borns left at Hogwarts, and we all know what an awful loss that would be to the school." (14.124)
Lucius Malfoy is the single biggest opportunist in all of the Harry Potter novels. He's great at seizing chances to twist things to his advantage. These attacks on the Muggle-borns give him an apparently righteous reason to get rid of one of Voldemort's biggest enemies, Professor Dumbledore. Lucius is also remarkably good at saying the opposite of what he means and yet, making his true feelings perfectly clear. Obviously, he does not care at all if "there'll be no Muggle-borns left at Hogwarts." He's a callous, evil bastard, but he does have style and skill with language. How does Rowling show that Lucius is not to be trusted? Do we have any sense of his motivations beyond being an enemy to all things good?
"We haven't seen [Hermione] for ages, Professor," Harry went on hurriedly, treading on Ron's foot, "and we thought we'd sneak down to the hospital wing, you know, and tell her the Mandrakes are nearly ready and, er, not to worry —"
Professor McGonagall was still staring at him, and for a moment, Harry thought she was going to explode, but when she spoke, it was in a strangely croaky voice.
"Of course," she said, and Harry, amazed, saw a tear glistening in her beady eye. "Of course, I realize that this has all been hardest on the friends of those who have been…I quite understand. Yes, Potter, of course you may visit Miss Granger. I will inform Professor Binns where you've gone. Tell Madam Pomfrey I have given my permission." (16.59-61)
Remember how the Sorting Hat confirms that Harry would've done well in Slytherin? Here's a great example. He can be sneaky when he needs to be. Harry expertly manipulates Professor McGonagall's good nature and her care for her students. It's really a pretty impressive piece of lying. So, much of Book 2 is about the ways in which Harry is or isn't Slytherin. Why is his skill with manipulation not Slytherin here? What makes his lying to Professor McGonagall OK?