Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Lies and Deceit Theme
Chamber of Secrets contains some pretty obvious examples of deceit. Lucius Malfoy tricks Ginny into taking Tom Riddle's diary. Harry tricks Lucius Malfoy into freeing his house-elf, Dobby, in turn. Riddle tricks both Ginny and Harry into thinking that he's an honest, upright student – the biggest lie of all. There are also more subtle examples of withholding information, though, much of which stems from feeling of fear and insecurity. For example, Ginny decides not to tell anyone about her suspicions of Riddle's diary until near the end of the book. Also, when Professor Dumbledore asks Harry point-blank if Harry has anything he needs to tell Professor Dumbledore, Harry says no, even though he's been hearing a murderous voice in the walls. In fact, the whole plot of Chamber of Secrets depends on different degrees of manipulation, lies by omission, and outright fibs. Without all of this misinformation, Book 2 wouldn't have the atmosphere of mutual fear and suspicion that distinguishes it from the lighter-hearted Book 1.
Questions About Lies and Deceit
- Lucius Malfoy is an accomplished liar. For example, after four students have been Petrified, he pretends that he cares about the attacks on Muggle-borns in order to get Professor Dumbledore kicked out of office by the school governors. What lies does Lucius tell throughout Book 2?
- How does Lucius's smooth manner differ from Draco's conduct at school? Does Lucius approve of Draco's behavior towards Harry Potter? Why or why not?
- Book 2 includes a minor side plot about Percy Weasley's mysterious behavior from summer break right through to the end of the novel. What is Percy hiding? Why does he choose to deceive his siblings? Why might J.K. Rowling include this side plot?
- Why does Harry choose not to tell Professor Dumbledore about his fear that he might be a Slytherin? How do his motivations compare to Ginny's reasons for not telling anyone about Riddle's diary?