Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)

The Boy Who Lived (a.k.a. Harry Potter) is one of the most famous people in the wizarding world. But after his first magical year at Hogwarts, Harry is starting to find out that this whole being-a-wizard thing isn't all charms homework and Quidditch practice.

The Boy Who Worried

Okay, sure, last year Harry had to fight off an evil Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who was in league with Voldemort. But this year, things are getting even darker.

Harry spends the summer sitting in his bedroom wondering if he has any friends at all. No one's even written to him. Bummer. Then a house-elf appears and tells him not to go back to Hogwarts because he's in mortal danger. It just goes to show you how awful the Dursleys are that Harry chooses potential death over spending the rest of the school year in their house.

At Hogwarts, Harry's insecurity really gets the best of him. Who is he really? Does he even belong in Gryffindor? Maybe the Sorting Hat should have put him in Slytherin? And could his ability to speak Parseltongue mean he's the heir of Slytherin who's opened the Chamber of Secrets?

HERMIONE GRANGER: Harry, listen to me. There's a reason the symbol of Slytherin house is a serpent. Salazar Slytherin was a Parselmouth. He could talk to snakes, too.

RON WEASLEY: Exactly. Now the whole school's gonna think you're his great-great-great grandson.

HARRY POTTER: But I'm not. I can't be.

HERMIONE GRANGER: He lived a thousand years ago. For all we know, you could be.

In this moment, Harry has to face the facts. He's an orphan, so it's not like he can ask his parents about his family. The Dursleys won't know any of this info either. Harry's past is a total mystery. What if there's something dark and evil inside of him? What if he's becoming like Voldemort?

The Boy Who Chose

Turns out, Harry's anxiety about his identity is much ado about nothing. It's just like Dumbledore explains to him at the end of the movie:

HARRY POTTER: So the Sorting Hat was right. I should be in Slytherin.

ALBUS DUMBLEDORE: It's true. You possess many of the qualities that Voldemort himself prizes. Determination, resourcefulness, and if I may say so, a certain disregard for the rules. Why, then, did the Sorting Hat place you in Gryffindor?

HARRY POTTER: Because I asked it to.

ALBUS DUMBLEDORE: Exactly, Harry. Exactly. Which makes you different from Voldemort. It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.

Harry isn't a good or bad person because he was born that way. Or because he was destined to be that way. He's the person he because that's how he wants to be. He chose this life and he should be proud.

Okay, so let's take a look at his choices.

The Boy Who Stuck to His Principles

When Harry first meets Gilderoy Lockhart, he's embarrassed to be lumped in with such an attention hog. Harry is probably a way bigger celebrity than Lockhart, but he's constantly trying to blend in and keep people from focusing on "the famous Harry Potter." Lockhart pretty much takes the opposite route.

Then, when Lucius Malfoy speaks admiringly about Voldemort in front of Harry in Diagon Alley, Harry tells the older man, "Voldemort killed my parents. He was nothing more than a murderer." Basically, he shuts that nonsense down real quick. Voldemort is no hero and Harry is not gonna have anything to do with anyone who thinks so. Check and mate.

And, of course, when Tom Riddle tries to talk himself up in the Chamber of Secrets, Harry has got some sweet comebacks for him:

HARRY POTTER: Albus Dumbledore is the greatest sorcerer in the world.

TOM RIDDLE: Dumbledore's been driven out of this castle by the mere memory of me.

HARRY POTTER: He'll never be gone. Not as long as those who remain are loyal to him.

In each of these cases, Harry shows that he has values and principles that he will stay true to no matter what the circumstances. He is modest yet daring. Loyal yet courageous.

If that's not a true Gryffindor we don't know what is.

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