Themes and Characters

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Heritage, love, loyalty, and betrayal are the dominant themes in this novel. Harry focuses on avenging his parents' murders and learning more about his family's magical past. Rowling's fully developed characters participate in events and react to conflicts and danger to develop the novel's plot. Recurring characters from the first Harry Potter book consistently aid or hinder him. These archetypal characters represent extremes of good and evil. The battle between those two forces is the basic theme of the Harry Potter saga. Some characters seem stereotypical and derivative but their predictability aids readers in understanding their purpose. Many characters are polar opposites, such as Harry and Tom Riddle, yet they paradoxically share some traits and, like the settings, experience opposing characteristics within themselves, presenting an amalgam of good and bad.

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Harry realizes that Riddle is actually Voldemort when he confronts him in the Chamber of Secrets. During their conversation, Harry becomes aware that he and Riddle share similar biographical details, such as being orphans, despite their obvious disparity and hatred for each other. Harry is oblivious to his magical abilities prior to being invited to attend Hogwarts. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry has a deeper appreciation of his heritage and is more self-confident. Both he and Voldemort are cognizant of their half-blood genetic background. Harry virtuously chooses to befriend people based on their personality, while Voldemort sinisterly elects to discriminate against anyone whom he feels threatened by, especially Harry, whom he tried to murder with his martyred parents James and Lily Potter. Harry's parents are also significant characters in the books because of how they motivate their son to pursue justice, fulfill his destiny, and redeem his legacy.

When the chamber monster is released and petrifies students, Harry vows to find Slytherin's heir who is blamed for opening the Chamber of Secrets. Despite false accusations that he is Slytherin's heir, primarily because of his ability to communicate in Parseltongue and proximity to petrification sites soon after incidents occurred, Harry is determined to locate the true culprit. Distractions such as homework and Quidditch matches delay Harry's progress. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, an enchanted Bludger knocks Harry off his broom and breaks his right arm. The ineffective Lockhart casts a spell which inadvertently causes Harry's arm bones to vanish, causing him to become temporarily powerless. The school nurse, Madam Pomfrey, regrows Harry's bones, symbolizing the strengthening of his character. Sacrifice and human fragility are frequent themes in the Harry Potter saga. Harry develops relationships with his closest friends, Ron and Hermione (whom he is especially protective of because of her Muggle parentage), and adults who serve as mentors such as the wise headmaster Albus Dumbledore, good-natured Rubeus Hagrid, strict teacher Minerva McGonagall, and affectionate Arthur and Molly Weasley. Their involvement with Harry, however, has repercussions such as Dumbledore's suspension and Hagrid's imprisonment.

Several characters have prominent roles in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets . A thousand years ago, Hogwarts founder, Salazar Slytherin, built the secret chamber beneath the school after a disagreement with other school founders about admitting Muggle-born students. He planned for his heir to release the basilisk to slay future students that might be inferior and threatening to his ideas. Gilderoy Lockhart, the narcissistic Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, boastfully claims to be able to subdue evil creatures and craves publicity. He resents Harry's fame and is passive-aggressive in his efforts to wound Harry's ego. Lockhart's name suggests that he is...

(The entire section contains 998 words.)

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