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Literature / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Enemies of the Heir, beware...
"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
Albus Dumbledore

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in the Harry Potter series, published on July 2, 1998.

The main plot involves the Chamber of Secrets, a hidden chamber within Hogwarts built by Salazar Slytherin. A big fan of Fantastic Racism, Slytherin built the Chamber to house a monster which can only be controlled by his heir and which is intended to attack all those, mainly Muggle-borns, whom he considered "unworthy to study magic". Now, someone has opened the Chamber, implying the Heir of Slytherin has returned to Hogwarts, but who is it?

You may have noticed this storyline has rather little to do with the overall Story Arc. While the books were still being written, Chamber was accused of essentially being devoted to a Wacky Wayside Tribe for this reason. In reality, the book is actually an Innocuously Important Episode, and introduces a major Chekhov's Gun among other bits of Foreshadowing for several later books, particularly Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Indeed, as J. K. Rowling was still a freshly-starting-out author, her editors made her remove some parts she wanted to leave in, and so she had to cram them into book six.

Followed by Harry's third year at Hogwarts, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It was adapted into a film released in 2002.

Tropes exclusive to this book or at least especially prominent in it:

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     0 - C 

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: Nick's 500th Deathday cake says he died in 1492. Meaning the book must be set in 1992 even though it was published in '98.note 
  • Aborted Arc: Ron learns that the Malfoys have a secret room in their mansion where they keep most of their illegal dark artifacts. He writes to his father and informs him, but we never hear if anything comes from it. Nothing in Draco or Lucius's later behavior suggests that he got in trouble for this, nor is it mentioned again. Knowing Lucius, he probably bribed, blackmailed, or threatened his way out of legal action, assuming the secret room was discovered in the first place.
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Hogwarts has pipes wide enough for a huge snake to move around in. Justified, as the architect who introduced said huge snake to the castle specifically designed them to be that big.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Professor Binns is always calling students by the wrong name. For example, in this instalment he calls Hermione "Miss Grant," Parvati Patil "Miss Pennyfeather," and Seamus Finnigan "O'Flaherty."
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Harry actually enjoys Fred and George's mockery about the whole "Heir of Slytherin" business because it assures him that they don't actually believe any of it, feeling it's ridiculous and should be mocked. It helps that both Ernie Macmillan (the most vocal accuser) and Malfoy show obvious irritation towards them whenever the twins do it in front of them.
  • An Aesop: Your choices, not your abilities, determine who you truly are.
  • The Alleged Expert: Gilderoy Lockhart wrote a whole series of books chronicling his defeat of various magical monsters. His only real skill turns out to be stealing the credit from the wizards and witches who really defeated those monsters.
  • All for Nothing: Subverted. While it turns out that Malfoy isn't the Heir of Slytherin and doesn't even know who it is, the Trio's efforts with the Polyjuice Potion weren't entirely fruitless as Malfoy had mentioned to Ron and Harry (as Crabbe and Goyle) that his family has a secret vault under their drawing room that they hide all their illegal Dark artifacts inside. An elated Ron decides to mention this to his father to ensure the Ministry confiscates them. Not to mention that Malfoy has some information: his father said that the last time the Chamber was opened was fifty years ago. It caused a scandal because a student actually died. That doesn't give them much to go on, but Hermione makes the connection when the boys show her Tom Riddle's diary from around the same time, suggesting it may have a clue.
  • Alliterative Title: Most of Lockhart's books have them. Assigned to Hogwarts' students this year are Break with a Banshee, Gadding with Ghouls, Holidays with Hags, Travels with Trolls, Voyages with Vampires, Wanderings with Werewolves, and Year with the Yeti. He also wrote the "autobiography" Magical Me.
  • All Myths Are True: Professor Binns insists the Chamber Of Secrets is a made-up legend. You can probably guess from the book's title that he's wrong.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Harry sees an unconscious Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets, and tries to rouse her. He then sees Tom Riddle, looking semi-solid. Harry stands and says they need to run, now, before the basilisk comes. Tom reassures him that the basilisk won't come until it is called. Slowly, it dawns on Harry that Tom is way too calm considering the circumstances; sure enough, Tom reveals that he is the Heir of Slytherin. Also known as Lord Voldemort. Oh, and he has Harry's wand.
  • Alternate Identity Amnesia: Happens to Ginny when Tom Riddle takes over.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Mrs. Weasley's reaction to her children and Harry arriving at the Burrow is "Beds empty! No note! Car gone—could have crashed—out of my mind with worry—did you care?" (She then makes a point of telling Harry that it's not his fault.)
  • Arc Villain: The "Heir of Slytherin" (AKA Tom Marvolo "Lord Voldemort" Riddle's living memory).
  • Are You Sure You Can Drive This Thing?: No, Ron and Harry can't really manage Mr. Weasley's flying car, but they're far too anxious to consider another plan.
  • Artistic Licence – Biology: Madame Pomfrey chases Harry's teammates from his bed by saying he has thirty-three bones to regrow in his arm. A human arm, from fingers to shoulder girdle, contains only thirty-two bones (fourteen phalanges, five metacarpals, eight carpals, one radius, one ulna, one humerus, one scapula and one clavicle). JKR may have missed the fact that the thumb contains only two phalanges.note 
  • Artistic Licence - Geography: The newspapers that Snape shows Harry and Ron reporting the sighting of their flying car by Muggles mentions them being spotted flying over Norfolk. A direct route from King's Cross in London to Hogwarts in the Scottish Highlands would not pass through Norfolk.
  • Artistic License – History: The kids are shown going to classes on Valentine's Day but in reality, Valentine's Day 1993 was a Sunday.
  • Ascended Extra: Ginny Weasley, who had two short scenes squeeing over Harry in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, starts at Hogwarts this year and is crucial to the plot.
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: Backwards-Firing Wand. Ron breaks his wand early in the book and it becomes prone to malfunctioning for the rest of the year. He ends up vomiting slugs thanks to a curse he meant for Malfoy coming out the wrong end.
  • Basilisk and Cockatrice: The Basilisk is a snake the size of several buses that uses the school plumbing system to get around. It attacks several times, but the instant-death gaze apparently needs to be direct: the victims escape death by seeing it through a ghost (the ghost was already dead), camera, mirror or reflected in a puddle. They get petrified instead.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: Moaning Myrtle haunts the third-floor girls’ lavatory because she was killed in one of the stalls after overhearing Tom Riddle opening the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Bat Scare: Non-flying example: Huge crawling masses of spiders flee from Hogwarts. They do no harm, but badly frighten Ron, an arachnophobe.
  • Beast in the Maze: The Basilisk, which resides in the Chamber of Secrets beneath the castle.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: For a good portion of the book, many of Harry's classmates think he is the Heir of Slytherin, to his great chagrin. Eventually they stop, but only after Hermione gets petrified, and everyone realizes Harry would never attack one of his best friends.
  • Becoming the Boast: Subverted. Lockhart seems like a Know-Nothing Know-It-All with a grossly inflated ego. In fact, he's exactly that, plus amoral enough to claim credit for other people's accomplishments and leave a child to die. When the other teachers suggest he go after the Basilisk, it's clear they're doing it to watch him squirm. When Harry and Ron force him to accompany them, since he's the closest thing they've got to a competent adult, he betrays them at the first opportunity.
  • Big Bad: The memory of Tom Riddle.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Ron is more than motivated to save his little sister from the Chamber of Secrets in the climax.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Ford Anglia. The passenger seat is the size of a park bench.
  • Bizarre Belching: After his wand backfires on him during a confrontation with Malfoy, Ron is left repeatedly burping loudly and puking up slugs until the curse wears off.
  • Blank Book: Riddle's diary. At first.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: The Disarming Charm, "Expelliarmus", which Harry learns in this book.
  • Blown Across the Room: Lockhart and Snape have a duel. Cue One-Hit KO.
  • Body Horror: Lockhart removes all the bones in Harry's broken right arm (it's mentioned that he has to eat his porridge left-handed in the next chapter). As a result, the bones have to be regrown overnight. At one point, Harry wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling of large splinters in his arm.
  • Book Snap: Hermione slams the book Moste Potente Potions shut when Harry and Ron express doubts on their highly daring act of making Polyjuice Potion.
  • Break the Haughty: Lucius avoids prison time but suffers several blows to his ego. A twelve-year-old both stops his plan and tricks him into freeing Dobby, who takes the first opportunity to pay Lucius back for years of abuse by effortlessly blasting him down a flight of stairs. And Lucius also loses his position on Hogwarts' board of governors, which he could have avoided had he not threatened the other governors' families.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Lucius Malfoy attempts this when he buys a Nimbus 2001 broomstick, the new fastest for each member of the Slytherin Quidditch team, and gets Draco made Seeker to boot. Subverted in their match against Gryffindor, when Harry catches the Golden Snitch and wins the game 150–60.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When Harry and Ron are flying the car to Hogwarts, Harry can't help but imagine Fred and George getting jealous upon seeing the two arrive at the castle in such fashion. Sure enough, once they make it to the common room, Fred and George angrily ask them why they couldn't come in the car as well.
    • Early in the school year, as Malfoy is mocking Harry over signed photographs, Ron tells him to "Eat slugs". In their next confrontation, at Quidditch practice, he casts a backfiring curse which makes himself vomit slugs.
  • Bringing Back Proof: Professor Lockhart finds a shed piece of skin from the basilisk, and announces that he's going to take part of it back to the school to corroborate his story about heroically slaying the beast — after wiping the memories of the witnesses, of course.
  • Buffy Speak: While he and Harry debate whether to fly the car to Hogwarts, Ron points out that underage wizards are allowed to use magic in special circumstances according to "section seventeen, or something, of the Restriction of Thingy."
  • Bugs Herald Evil: When looking for clues as to who attacked Mrs. Norris, one of the first things noticed by the Trio is that spiders are fleeing the scene en masse. This is later used to fuel speculation that an Acromantula named Aragog is Slytherin's Monster, but it's actually because the spiders can see all around and don't have eyelids, so they have no means of protecting themselves from the Basilisk's glare.
  • Butt-Dialing Mordor: A variant of this occurs with Ginny and the magic diary of Tom Riddle that Lucius Malfoy slips into her bag. She writes into the diary many things that happened in the school, allowing Riddle to get information about Harry Potter, and he slowly drains her soul to give himself a more corporeal form.
  • Calling Out for Not Calling:
    • Fred, George, and Ron fly the car from their home to the Dursleys, pick Harry up, and bring him back. Molly is very upset with her own boys for not having written a note (to be fair, she was upset that they went at all), but since Harry wasn't involved in planning it, she doesn't blame him.
    • After flying the car into the Whomping Willow, McGonagall wonders why Harry didn't just send Hedwig with a note that they had missed the train instead of trying to fly the car to school. Harry admits he didn't think of it at the time.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: When the Acromantula colony bring Harry and Ron to Aragog, one of the spiders calls out to Aragog while addressing him by name, even though they are all his children.
  • Calling the Young Man Out: Mrs. Weasley does this twice over her kids using the flying car without permission. While the first instance is downplayed because kids left at night to save Harry from his cruel aunt and uncle, this makes the second instance all the more justified: Harry and Ron left in broad daylight, were spotted by a handful of muggles, nearly got killed by the Whomping Willow, broke Ron's wand, caused the car to get lost in the Forbidden Forest, and got Ron's father in trouble at work. And it all could have been avoided if Harry had just sent an owl ahead or if they had waited to see if the Weasleys could get off of Platform 9 3/4. Mrs. Weasley sends a Howler to Ron over this second instance, so that everyone in the Great Hall can hear it.
  • Camera Fiend: Colin Creevey. His camera even saves him from being killed by the Basilisk, as he sees it through the reflection in his camera lens, meaning he only gets Petrified.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Implied when Percy mentions that Ginny caught him doing something and it embarrassed him, but subverted when we find out what he was actually doing: making out with his girlfriend, Penelope Clearwater, about whom he hadn't told anyone.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The first book presented the wizarding world almost entirely as a place of wonder and whimsy. While the threat of Voldemort loomed large over the heroes, he was presented mostly as a bad apple in an otherwise magical place. With this book, however, the honeymoon is over, and the series begins to dig deeper into the problems of the magical world as a whole, namely the undercurrent of prejudice and Fantastic Racism that goes back centuries, and of which Voldemort is only the most recent manifestation.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The whole series has its own page.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Harry, Ron and Hermione interact with Moaning Myrtle throughout the book, and only near the end do the former two realize that she's the girl the Heir of Slytherin killed fifty years before.
    • The book offhandedly checks in with Ginny Weasley periodically before she disappears near the end and then becomes pivotal to the climax.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Harry's ability to communicate with snakes, which was treated as no more significant than any of the other underage magic that he did as a child before he knew about Hogwarts in the first book, becomes majorly significant here.
  • Chores Without Powers: When Harry and Ron get detention for crashing the Weasley family's car into the Whomping Willow, Harry has to help Lockhart answer his fan mail, while Ron has to polish the silver in the Hogwarts trophy room using elbow grease. Harry comments that he'd gladly switch, as he's had lots of practice cleaning while living with the Dursleys.
  • Clown Car: Arthur Weasley enchanted his Ford Anglia to be Bigger on the Inside.
  • Comically Inept Healing: Lockhart attempts to heal Harry's broken arm with a spell, but accidentally removes all of the bones in his arm instead.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • All the victims of the Basilisk happen to see it indirectly, except for the last two victims who knew what the monster was and were deliberately looking around corners with a mirror. According to Tom Riddle it was the same way when the Chamber was opened in the 1940s, other than Moaning Myrtle that is.
    • Dobby's plan to seal the entrance to Platform 9¾ to keep Harry and Ron out and miss the train would have failed if (1) Harry and the Weasleys didn't arrive super-late, after all other students had already gone through, and (2) Molly didn't pick that one particular year to go through the barrier before Harry and Ron. If either of those rather unlikely events didn't happen, some other witch or wizard would have been on the main station floor to help them through, or stop the train.
    • Ron only knows who Tom Riddle is because (1) he had to clean the trophy room as punishment for the flying car incident, (2) his wand was broken in said incident and resulted in the slug vomiting charm he attempted on Malfoy backfiring on him, and (3) the charm caused him to keep vomiting slugs on Riddle's award while he was cleaning it.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: An unintentional case. As punishment for flying the car to school, Ron has to clean the trophy room without magic, while Harry ... has to help Lockhart answer his fan mail. Cue roughly four hours of Harry being bored senseless by Lockhart's "advice" on being a celebrity.
    Harry: Oh, no — can't I go and do the trophy room, too?
    Professor McGonagall: [With her eyebrows raised] Certainly not. Professor Lockhart requested you particularly.
  • Copycat Mockery: Malfoy does a "cruel but accurate" impression of Hero-Worshipper Colin Creevey, a Gryffindor first-year who won't stop taking pictures of Harry and doesn't realize how annoying he is.
  • Covering for the Noise: The Dursleys have invited guests and ordered Harry to stay upstairs without revealing his existence. Naturally, this is the moment Dobby chooses to enter and make a lot of noise by hitting his head against the wall in self-punishment (ruining the punchline of Vernon's "Japanese golfer" joke). Vernon attempts to cover for this by claiming Dudley left his TV on (as far as he knows, Harry is deliberately making noise).
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Harry and Ron use Polyjuice Potion to pretend to be Crabbe and Goyle, but their infiltration of Slytherin House is stymied by the fact that they hadn't planned far enough ahead to get into the Slytherin common room. They ask a passing student, but she's from Ravenclaw. Fortunately, Crabbe and Goyle are so dim that they're not really acting out of character. Even their best friend Draco only thinks that they're acting mildly slower and weirder than normal.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Snape defeats Lockhart quickly and pathetically easily with a single disarming spell.
    • Dobby of all characters sends Lucius Malfoy flying across the room when he pointed his wand at Harry. Though Lucius was focusing his attention on Harry, and likely didn't expect Dobby to do anything.

    D - G 
  • The Dandy: Gilderoy Lockhart always wears colourful, immaculate robes and has his hair curled and styled and his teeth gleaming.
  • Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle: Ginny attempts to stop the attacks on the school by flushing Tom Riddle's diary down the toilet. Unfortunately, the toilet backs up and Harry and Ron find it, bringing it back to the Gryffindor common room and right back into Ginny's hands.
  • Darker and Edgier: While not as tense and brooding as the final books, Chamber of Secrets presents a huge leap in violence from the first book. More importantly, though, it introduces elements that are flat-out horror and can be argued not to have been surpassed even in the final books. Harry hearing the Basilisk's macabre ramblings while the monster stalks the piping system and the sinister, hostile message in blood aren't even the only examples.
  • Dead Animal Warning:
    • The school caretaker's cat is hung up as a warning after the Chamber of Secrets is opened. As this is technically a children's book, it turns out that she's petrified but not dead, and she's revived later.
    • However, Ginny is forced by Tom Riddle to strangle the two school roosters because the rooster's call can kill the Basilisk.
  • Deader than Dead: Discussed and ultimately defied when the Basilisk petrifies Sir Nicholas. It turns out the monster's gaze petrifies ghosts by default because they simply cannot die twice.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Tom Marvolo Riddle, named for his father and his maternal grandfather. Or for both grandfathers, considering that "Tom" is usually short for "Thomas." It's possible that Marvolo was dead when Tom Marvolo Riddle was born. However, his father was still alive.
  • Deadly Book: Two cases:
    • Ron mentions a book that burns the reader's eyes out.
    • Also, Tom Riddle (Voldemort)'s diary, which has been sapping Ginny's life and making her cause the attacks. It was able to do this because Ginny confided a lot of her secrets to the diary by writing them in it, making Riddle able to have influence over her. It's later revealed in the sixth book that the diary is one of Voldemort's Horcruxes.
  • Deadly Gaze: The Basilisk can kill people who see its eyes. However, it doesn't kill anybody with it over the course of the novel, either because they didn't technically look it in the eye or because it was blinded.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Played with. Harry and Ron are resigned to the worst after Ginny is taken into the Chamber; they only decide to help Lockhart look for her because they have nothing else to do (and don't want to do nothing).
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: In the Quidditch match, the Slytherins at a distinct advantage over Gryffindor due to their new brooms, as well as a rogue Bludger forcing the Gryffindor Beaters to protect Harry instead of watching out for the rest of the team. This means that Slytherin is able to take an early 60-0 lead without much trouble. But Draco, instead of immediately trying to find the Snitch and win the game, gets so caught up in taunting Harry that he doesn't even notice the Snitch hovering inches above his own ear - but Harry does. This ends up costing Slytherin the game, and Flint tears a strip off of Draco for it.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Harry and Ron steal Mr. Weasley's Flying Car to get to Hogwarts after they find themselves barred from Platform 9 3/4. This results in Mr. Weasley facing an inquiry at work because some Muggles spotted his car, while the car itself crashes into a tree on the school's grounds and drives off into the Forbidden Forest. Lampshaded by McGonagall when she points out other, more reasonable, things they could have done to get to Hogwarts, and Harry reluctantly admits to himself that stealing a car was pretty stupid.
    • Despite the trio spending a month brewing the Polyjuice Potion to sneak into the Slytherin dorms, none of them attempt to figure out where those dorms are until they've already taken the potion and have to find the dorms before it wears off.
    • Back in 1943, Tom Riddle sets the Basilisk upon several Muggle-born students, eventually causing Myrtle's death — and only during his interview with Dippet does he realise that the school will close if the culprit isn't found (let alone if there are more deaths) and he'll have to go back to the Muggle orphanage he hates.
  • Dinner with the Boss: Mr. Dursley's potential client and his wife come over to discuss a huge business deal over dinner. When Harry retires to his bedroom, Dobby the house-elf appears and begs Harry not to return to Hogwarts. When he refuses, Dobby levitates Aunt Petunia's pudding and drops it.
  • Dirty Coward: Lockhart turns out to be one. Not only were all his heroic deeds actually done by other people, but when he enters the Chamber of Secrets with Harry and Ron, he tries to flee at the first opportunity and they have to prod him along the whole way.
  • Disappointed in You:
    • Dumbledore and McGonagall to Harry after he flies the car to Hogwarts. Harry feels that the disappointment in Dumbledore's voice is worse than shouting.
    • From Tom Riddle's memory: Dippet to Tom Riddle, when he says something which implies he knows who might be behind the attacks and hadn't spoken up.
  • Disney Death: Ginny Weasley gets one in the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tom Riddle complains that his Muggle father abandoned his magical mother before he was born because of her magic.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Harry's (and Ginny's) interaction with Tom Riddle's diary is extremely similar to that of an online chat room, as well as the part about the person being conversed with being revealed to not be trustworthy at all to begin with, a similarity made even more apparent in the film. It looks like the fear of every early Internet user's parents: a shady character takes advantage of an unsuspecting kid who met them online. Naïve Ginny pours out her soul “to an invisible stranger” she knows only through their text conversations and thinks she is making friends with this person. In reality he’s manipulating her, getting her to do things she normally wouldn’t, and when she goes to meet him in person she nearly ends up dead.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Arthur Weasley is far more pleased than Molly when Ron and the twins steal his flying car and use it to pick up Harry.
  • The Dragon: Ginny Weasley has been acting as Tom Riddle's subordinate due to being under his diary's influence throughout the year by opening the Chamber, releasing the Basilisk and setting it on Mrs. Norris, Colin Creevey, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Nearly Headless Nick, Penelope Clearwater, and Hermione, and writing threatening messages on the walls.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: The Basilisk is causing most of the trouble, but it's made clear she's merely a tool for use by the "Heir of Slytherin".
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • Percy tells Fred and George to stop teasing Harry when rumours spread about Harry being the Heir of Slytherin.
    • McGonagall's reaction to Peeves accusing Harry of killing students and his "Potter, you rotter" song.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Mr. Weasley mentions early on that Mundungus Fletcher tried to hex him while his back was turned. Fletcher gets another brief mention in the fourth book, before appearing properly in the fifth, sixth, and seventh.
  • Early Instalment Weirdness:
    • In early chapters, Rowling recaps the lore and events of the Philosopher's Stone as if the reader has not read the previous entry; Harry is a wizard, his parents were killed by Lord Voldemort, he goes to Hogwarts and so on. This eventually stops about half way through the series.
    • This book implies (through Lockhart stealing real people's accomplishments and not just making them up) that there is a charm that can cure lycanthropy. Later books state that lycanthropy is incurable; at best, it can only be managed so the werewolf isn't a danger to others.
    • Ron and Percy get into an argument and Percy uses his prefect authority to deduct five points from Gryffindor. This kind of thing never happens again and it's later established, or at least insinuated, in Order of the Phoenix that prefects can't give or take house points. (Word of God does say that prefects have the authority to do so, but it still never happens again in the text itself.)
  • Easily Condemned: Riddle admits to Harry that even he was surprised at how easily Headmaster Dippet bought his story that Hagrid was responsible for the attacks on Muggle-borns. After all, Hagrid wasn't very academically inclined and even geniuses like Dumbledore hadn't been able to find the Chamber of Secrets. Of course, it helped that Riddle was a Villain with Good Publicity while Hagrid was always getting into trouble with magical creatures. (Everyone, even Harry, agrees that Hagrid's first thought upon hearing there was some kind of monster locked away in a secret chamber of the castle would be that the poor thing could probably use a friend and some walks.)
  • Eating Optional: When Harry visits Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday party, there's a banquet of rotten food laid out for the ghosts. Hermione figures they let the food rot so that the flavours are strong enough for the ghosts to taste.
  • Enemy Mine: Nearly Headless Nick and Peeves briefly team up to get Harry out of detention with Filch; Nick convinces Peeves to smash a large cabinet over Filch's office while he's in the middle of writing up the detention so that Filch leaves to investigate.
  • Enslaved Tongue: Books can be bewitched to cause harm to anyone who attempts to read them. One example mentioned is Sonnets of a Sorcerer, which causes the reader to speak in limericks for the rest of their lives.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Ron trying to curse Malfoy for racism ends in this as the curse backfires spectacularly due to his use of a broken wand that had just gone through a quick fix with some magic tape and he ends up getting hit with the curse himself instead. Gilderoy Lockhart has the same thing happen to him when he tries to use Ron's wand on Ron and Harry on the way to the eponymous Chamber.
    • Lockhart, trying to mend the broken bones in Harry's right arm, ends up removing them. In his first class, he unleashes a swarm of pixies in the classroom, but fails to get them back under control. Basically, everything Lockhart does proves to be a failure.
    • Draco spends so much of his first Quidditch match taunting Harry that he doesn't notice the Golden Snitch hovering just above his own head. After Harry grabs the Snitch and wins the game for Gryffindor, Draco gets an epic ass-chewing from Flint (though Fred has to tell Harry about it).
    • Hermione took what she thought was Millicent Bulstrode's hair to use in the Polyjuice Potion. As she found out when she took it (and after Harry and Ron's doses had worn off), it wasn't Millicent's hair. It was cat hair. Oops.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • Harry deduces that Lucius Malfoy was the one who set the whole plot in motion when he sees Malfoy arrive with Dobby, the elf who warned Harry in the first place. It helped that Dobby kept pointing to the Diary, then to Malfoy, then punching himself in the head.
    • Hermione has one when she realises what the monster of Slytherin is, but doesn't get to tell anyone other than Penelope Clearwater. Harry gets the moment secondhand when he reads her note later.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The rumours about Harry being the heir of Slytherin eventually stop when Hermione is attacked, because nobody can entertain the idea that Harry would hurt Hermione, one of his True Companions, even if he were evil.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Cornelius Fudge usually is easily swayed by Lucius Malfoy, however he quite vocally argues against him when he learns that Dumbledore is being dismissed from Hogwarts at the worst possible time.
    • Gilderoy Lockhart thinks and acts as though he's magically superior than everyone else, but he never once claims or pretends to be more powerful than Dumbledore. He also shamelessly refuses to say Voldemort's name, even though it would make him appear even more impressive, implying that he fears the dark wizard and is unwilling to even pretend otherwise.
    • Hermione realizes the threat of the monster of the Chamber of Secrets is so great that the second she finds out what it is, she rips a page out of a library book just to make sure the information gets passed on to somebody should something happen to her before she can tell anyone. And that was a good call, because that was exactly what happened.
  • Everybody Lives: Assuming the Basilisk, roosters and the soul fragment of Tom Riddle don't count, this book and The Prisoner of Azkaban are the only books in the series where no character dies during the course of the story (though Moaning Myrtle's death is a major part of the backstory).
  • Exact Words: At the beginning of the book, Dobby says that "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" is not involved in the plot he's trying to warn Harry about. At the end of the book, Harry asks why he said that when the whole thing revolved around one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, which Dobby explains as actually intended to be a clue — the Horcrux in question was made when he was still Tom Riddle, and so "could be freely named", meaning that at the time he wasn't "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" yet.
  • Exposition Party: the night Harry rescues Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore arranges an impromptu feast in celebration, which everyone attends in their pyjamas. In what Harry describes as the most unusual Hogwarts feast he has been to, we learn that the petrified victims have been cured, Gryffindor wins the house cup, Hagrid is released from Azkaban, Lockhart is not returning as a professor the following year, and that the end of term exams are cancelled. Perhaps we should blame late night exhaustion on why he couldn't decide whether one of his best friends being alive and well was better than exams being cancelled.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Fawkes versus the Basilisk, to give Harry a fighting chance against the latter by disabling her killing gaze.
    • Also a book the Ministry had confiscated, mentioned in Ron's response to Harry asking him how a book could possibly be dangerous: it burned out its readers' eyes.
  • Face Palm: Flitwick does one with both hands after Lockhart suggests students visit him for advice on Entrancing Enchantments.
  • Feet of Clay: Gilderoy Lockhart, who has a grand reputation but is revealed to be pretty much incompetent as a wizard, except for his knack with Memory Charms.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When Lockhart steals Ron's wand and prepares to use it to wipe Harry and Ron's memories, the wand is described as being "Spellotaped", reminding readers that it's broken and no longer casts spells properly. It promptly explodes, causing the spell to backfire.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: Harry and Ron follow a trail of spiders to Aragog.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Harry and Ron find a swarm of spiders leaving Hogwarts by an open window and heading for the forest. They later find out that the castle is home to a monster that spiders consider their mortal enemy: the Basilisk.
  • Foreshadowing: Has its own page.
  • Forgotten Birthday: Invoked by the Dursleys after Harry comes home from Hogwarts. Vernon recognises what also happens to be Harry's twelfth birthday not as that, but as "[what] could very well be the day I make the biggest deal of my career."
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Cracked wondered why innocent Hagrid had to go to jail in a world with truth potions and mind-reading spells. Though as these methods can be resisted, the Ministry and Prof. Dippet may have assumed that the "heir of Slytherin" was powerful enough to do so.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: It is very apparent that none of the other teachers like Lockhart. Even the usually cheery Professor Sprout quickly tires of his rampant narcissism. When the Chamber of Secrets is opened, they all eagerly nominate him for the task of rescuing Ginny, seeing a chance to get rid of him.
  • Gambit Roulette: Lucius' plan for revenge against Arthur Weasley involves slipping Tom Riddle's diary to Ginny and waiting for it to cause trouble at Hogwarts. Lucius has no idea what the diary is capable of, basically goes on a hunch, and has little (if any) control of the situation once the diary is out of his hands.
  • Giant Spider: Aragog and his relatives are all giant spiders hidden away in the Forbidden Forest. So fearsome are they that Aragog was at first believed to be the monster within the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • Voldemort does not personally appear in this book, but the conflict at Hogwarts this year is caused by his diary containing a fragment of his soul.
    • Lucius Malfoy, who gave Ginny Tom Riddle's old diary so it would possess her and make her carry out his work.
    • Salazar Slytherin could be seen as this given that he was the one who bred and raised the basilisk in order to purge Hogwarts of muggle-borns. Ron also suggests that the idea of pure blood supremacy originated with him.

    H - N 
  • Hammy Herald: Fred and George show their support for Harry not by squashing rumours about him, but rather by following him around crying "Make way for the heir of Slytherin! Seriously evil wizard coming through!"
  • Hand of Glory: Draco Malfoy notices a Hand of Glory in Borgin and Burkes and takes an interest in it. He eventually uses it in Half-Blood Prince for his plan to let Death Eaters into the school.
    "Can I have that?" interrupted Draco, pointing at the withered hand on its cushion.
    "Ah, the Hand of Glory!" said Mr. Borgin, abandoning Mr. Malfoy's list and scurrying over to Draco. "Insert a candle and it gives light only to the holder! Best friend of thieves and plunderers! Your son has fine taste, sir."
  • Harmful Healing: Gilderoy Lockhart fixes Harry's broken wrist ... by making the bones vanish entirely. Of course, this being the wizarding world, there's a cure for that too. (Maybe this is a common side-effect of botching a bone-mending spell?)invoked It's called "Skele-Gro". Unfortunately, Skele-Gro regrows bones gradually, so the patient will have to endure a night or two of bone splinters forcing their way through muscle, blood and nerves, since, for reasons unknown, even competent doctors don't use anesthesia for that process.
  • Headlock of Dominance: At the Duelling Club, Hermione gets paired with Slytherin Millicent Bulstrode, a much larger and stronger girl. After the chaos of the duels settles down, Bulstrode is found to have forgone wands and grabbed Hermione in a headlock that she couldn't get out of. Harry has to free her physically.
  • Hearing Voices: Harry is the only person who hears a voice in the wall that repeats "Kill!" He, Hermione, and Ron realize it is not good to be the only person able to hear certain voices. It turns out to be the Basilisk moving in the pipes.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Dobby at the end, going against his master.
  • Heroic BSoD: It's implied that the Weasley brothers understandably suffered from one after they learned that Ginny was taken.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: The book plays out like this. So a monster controlled by the Heir of Slytherin has been attacking students. At the end, we discover that — surprise! — Voldemort was behind the entire thing. Only it's not Voldemort himself, just a piece of his soul containing the memories of his sixteen-year-old self. Riddle even makes a point to explain his actions and motivations before revealing himself to be a young Voldemort, making it seem as though he was something of a Predecessor Villain.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Ron, when trying to curse Malfoy, inadvertently curses himself, thanks to his broken wand. This is important later with Lockhart, hit by his own rebounding Memory Charm while using Ron's broken wand.
    • Cited by Dumbledore's line to Lockhart at the end: "Impaled upon your own sword, Gilderoy!"
  • Holding In Laughter: In the opening chapters, the Dursleys are having a rich builder and his wife over for dinner, in hopes of getting a big order for Uncle Vernon's drill-manufacturing company. When Uncle Vernon suggests flattering them with compliments at dinner, Dudley says, "How about 'We had to write an essay about our hero at school, Mr. Mason, and I wrote about you.'" Harry has to duck under the table so his aunt, uncle, and cousin won't see him trying not to laugh.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The message in blood announcing the opening of the Chamber and the first petrification victim, Mrs. Norris, are discovered on All Hallows' Eve.
  • Hot for Teacher: Hermione seems to be one of many girls who have a crush on Lockhart, which makes her oblivious to the fact he clearly has no idea what he's doing.
  • Idiot Ball: Hermione mistaking a cat hair for human hair leading to her unfortunate Polyjuice Potion accident, which is something she shouldn't have failed to do with how smart she is, which is what progresses the plot.
  • I Have Just One Thing to Say: After the climax Dumbledore seems about to give a criticizing speech to Harry and Ron about their behaviour, only to change course mid-sentence: "I seem to remember telling you both that I would have to expel you if you broke any more school rules … [Beat] … which goes to show that the best of us must sometimes eat our words."
  • I Have This Friend: Filch claims that the Kwikspell letter on his desk is for a friend so Harry doesn't guess that he has no magic.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Dobby, the House Elf of the Malfoy family. His situation is so pitiful that even when the Malfoys aren't around, he inflicts punishments upon himself when he "misbehaves." He's understandably ecstatic when Harry "frees" him at the end.
  • Ill-Timed Sneeze: Inverted. When Harry and Ron sneak out of bed, Ron stubs his toe near Professor Snape. Snape happens to sneeze just as Ron swears in pain, so they avoid detection.
  • Incapable of Disobeying: Dobby works for a wizarding family with a grudge towards Harry that are plotting against him. Dobby wants to help Harry, but cannot warn him directly and his attempts to help anyway generally do more harm than good. Once Harry arranges for him to be freed, Dobby has nothing holding him back and he can lay his former master flat on his back to defend Harry.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Ron uses this to get away from Malfoy when the Polyjuice Potion starts wearing off, citing he needs medicine for a stomach ache which he had cited earlier in the scene to explain away an angry look.
  • Inept Mage: Gilderoy Lockhart, who bungles it every time he has to do magic. Ron is also temporarily one when he has a broken wand, which makes his spells go awry, even though his skill and knowledge of magic are actually average.
  • I Never Got Any Letters: In the first chapter, Harry is upset that his friends haven't written to him all summer. Then it's revealed that an elf has been intercepting their letters.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Dobby inadvertently reveals that he has been stopping Harry's letters when he mentions that Harry's friends haven't written to him — which he should have no way of knowing.
  • Informed Ability: In-universe: Lockhart completely fails to live up to any of his hype, as Harry and Ron are quick to point out.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: Some readers found the novel to be heavy in the padding department, particularly the Wacky Wayside Tribe aspect. But the novel is quietly setting up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and, to some extent, foreshadowing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. See the Harry Potter Chekhov's Gun page for a list.
  • Invisible Writing: The team initially thinks that Tom Riddle's diary was written with invisible ink, with Hermione trying spells and a magicked eraser called a "revealer" to try making something visible. Subverted: The diary contains Tom Riddle's memories in a very literal sense, and is capable of responding to written messages.
  • Involuntary Group Split: Gilderoy Lockhart's wayward spell sets off a cave-in that separates Ron from Harry, so Harry has to go alone into the Chamber.
  • Irony:
    • Harry lampshades one such irony in the beginning of the book. While most kids look forward to the summer holidays, Harry dislikes it for being the three months out of the year he has to live with his horrible relatives.
    • In retrospect, Ron trying to comfort Ginny after the attack on Mrs. Norris by telling her that "they'll catch the nutter who did it and have him out of here in no time." Assuming Ginny had begun to suspect herself at that point, this might also count as Oblivious Guilt Slinging. After all, at the end of the book, she was convinced that she was going to be expelled. Way to go, Ron.
    • When wondering what Tom Riddle got a Special Award for Service to the School for, Ron sarcastically suggests that maybe he killed Myrtle as "that would've done everyone a favour." Riddle did kill her and he got the award for successfully framing Hagrid as her murderer.
    • Hermione suggests that whoever flushed Riddle's diary may have been the culprit, trying to stop anyone from finding out details about the last time the Chamber was opened. It was the culprit (sort of), but they did it to stop the attacks.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Harry assumed that Parseltongue was just a thing wizards in general could do. It's not until after he scares everybody at the Duelling Club that he learns it's an uncommon ability associated with Salazar Slytherin and dark wizards.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Harry defies this when Dobby introduces himself to him. Harry wants to ask Dobby, "What are you?" but instead says, "Who are you?", thinking the former interrogative would be extremely rude.
  • It's Like I Always Say: Provided by Arthur Weasley: "What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain!"
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • While it doesn't remotely excuse him going out of his way to barricade Harry in his room and stop him from going back to Hogwarts, Vernon, from a purely technical standpoint, is in the right to be pissed off at Harry withholding from him that he's not allowed to use magic outside of school since he basically kept the Dursleys in a constant state of fear since he returned, even if Harry had a very, very good reason for doing so. And even before that, since he never discovers Dobby's treachery in spoiling Petunia's cake and framing Harry for it, as far as he's concerned Harry is guilty as charged in trying to cause even more grief for them.
    • Malfoy finds Colin Creevey's fanboying of Harry ridiculous and starts imitating the kid to make fun of him. Harry, who's by that time very tired of Colin's constant squealing, finds that while the imitation is cruel, it's also rather accurate.
  • Job's Only Volunteer: when discussing new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Gilderoy Lockhart and his displays of incompetence with Hagrid, Hermione defends him by saying Dumbledore wouldn't have hired Lockhart out of all the applicants if he felt Lockhart was unqualified. Hagrid informs her that Lockhart was the only applicant.
  • Joke and Receive: Used as a Brick Joke. When Harry and Ron discover a trophy awarded to a Tom Riddle for undisclosed services to the school, Ron jokes that maybe Tom killed Moaning Myrtle (who is currently a ghost) because she's so annoying. Much later in the book, Tom Riddle's own memory reveals that he did cause Myrtle's murder, although that's not why he received the trophy — more likely it was for when he "turned in" Hagrid for his misdeeds.
  • Kids Driving Cars: The Weasley family's flying car gets this several times. First, the Weasley twins (age 14) "borrow" the car to rescue Harry, getting in huge amounts of trouble. Later, Harry and Ron drive the car across Britain when they miss the train, and get into deep trouble after they crash the car into a tree on the Hogwarts grounds, though this had more to do with the car malfunctioning than their driving.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Lockhart is set up as one, only it turns out he's actually well aware of his own incompetence. It seems the only spell he can perform correctly is the Memory Charm.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Lockhart tries to use the memory charm on Harry and Ron, as he has done to countless others in order to steal their accomplishments, but Ron's faulty wand causes the spell to backfire and it hits Lockhart himself instead, thus wiping his own memory.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: At first, it is assumed that Hermione was petrified because she acted like this, looking for the Chamber alone and unprepared. It's a subversion: she was prepared, the reason she wasn't killed.
  • Let Me at Him!: Ron attempts to beat the hell out of Malfoy, without magic, with Snape only a few feet away, when Malfoy says he bets the next attack is fatal and, "Pity it wasn't Granger." Harry and Dean have to drag Ron away from Malfoy physically to prevent him from jumping right then and there.
    Ron: Let me at him... I don't care, I don't need my wand, I'm going to kill him with my bare hands!
  • Little "No": Harry in the Chamber when Riddle tells him that Ginny was the one who opened the Chamber, strangled the roosters, wrote the messages on the walls and set the Basilisk on its victims.
  • Living Memory: The Diary of Tom Riddle. It looks like a blank book, but writing in it reveals it contains Tom's memories, left as a warning in case the Chamber of Secrets was open again. Also, that last part was a lie; it's actually a Horcrux containing part of Tom's soul, capable of talking to who it pleases and still adamant to purge Hogwarts of the "unworthy."
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Invoked by Arthur Weasley. There's a law to stop wizards from misusing Muggle artifacts, but Arthur uses a loophole in a law that he wrote to let him misuse them on his own time.
    • Ron, Fred, and George don't get in trouble for doing underage magic outside of Hogwarts because their dad was the one who enchanted the car. They're just driving it.
    • Ron and Harry don't lose any points for Gryffindor for flying the car because the school year had not started yet.
  • Love Potion: Lockhart suggests students visit Snape for advice on brewing love potions. Snape's expression makes it clear anyone who does so risks being poisoned.
  • Magic Misfire: Everything cast with Ron's broken wand backfires or fails. This becomes important.
  • Malicious Slander: Many students believe Harry is the Heir of Slytherin after the incident with the snake and Justin Finch-Fletchley at the Duelling Club.
  • Milky White Eyes: The blind Aragog's eyes are described as being milky white when Ron and Harry encounter him.
  • Mind Rape:
    • Ginny's trust in Tom Riddle (in the diary) makes it easier for him to slowly but surely take control over her mind. Her realization comes too little too late, and Tom forces her to write her own death threat against the school walls and seal herself within the Chamber.
    • Lockhart's only real skill, aside from being Mr. Fanservice, is wiping the memory of witches and wizards and taking their accomplishments for his own.
  • Missed the Bus: Dobby blocks Harry's access to Platform 9¾, causing him and Ron to miss the Hogwarts Express and take alternative transport. Once the two get to school (causing trouble for themselves and others along the way), McGonagall asks why Harry didn't just send a message to ask for help.
  • Missing Steps Plan: You'd think the trio would have found out where the Slytherin common room was before drinking the Polyjuice Potion that only lasts an hour.
  • Monster of the Week: Subverted; the Heir of Slytherin turns out to be Voldemort — or rather a younger version of him.
  • Motive Misidentification: While Tom certainly didn't mind using the Basilisk on Muggle-borns, he was more interested in trying to bait Harry so he could take revenge for what the latter did to his future self than in "purging the school."
  • Muggle Born of Mages: This book introduces the concept of Squibs, people born into wizarding families but are unable to use magic. Filch is revealed to be one.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: Harry's Christmas presents from the Dursleys: a single toothpick and a a note "telling him to find out whether he’d be able to stay at Hogwarts for the summer vacation, too." He gets much better presents from his friends though.
  • Narcissist: Lockhart. Good God, Lockhart. Whenever he mentions himself, he always mentions his achievements ("Order of Merlin, Third Class, honorary member of the Dark Force Defence League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award"), his books made up the whole year booklist, the quiz at the start of the year concerns questions about himself from his books, Harry is made to answer Lockhart's fan mail with him for his detention, and his office is filled with pictures of himself.
  • Narm: In-universe.
    • Invoked with Ginny's valentine to Harry. Fred and George continually tease him with it and Peeves adds a dance routine.
    • Dudley's ass-kissing compliment to the Masons ("We had to write about our hero at school, Mr. Mason, and I wrote about you"). Harry hides under the table to conceal his laughter from the Dursleys.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Harry Potter is fatally wounded while stabbing the Basilisk, and due to effects of its venom has mere minutes to live. It seems as if Lord Voldemort has finally won, as he waits for Harry to die. The only thing the saves him is Fawkes, who heals Harry with phoenix tears.
  • Nerds Love Tough Schoolwork: In the ending, Professor Dumbledore cancels the final exams on account of the terror and stress of the attacks disrupting a normal school year and holds a grand celebration instead, much to Hermione's dismay.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Lucius Malfoy planting the diary on Ginny Weasley. As we learn in the sixth book, this set off a chain of events that destroys one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, provides Dumbledore with the first real proof that Voldemort split his soul, and alerts Dumbledore to the possibility of multiple Horcruxes (Voldemort would be unlikely to put his only Horcrux in harms way). Good going, Lucius.
      • While not explictly pointed out in the later books, this also ends up having another long-term repercussion. While Dumbeldore can't officially prove Lucius was behind the reopening of the Chamber and get him arrested, he is able to use the incident as leverage to oust Lucius from the Board of Govenors. This removes Lucius' influence on Hogwarts, lessening his value as an asset when Voldemort returns (and ironiclly leaving Snape in a position to usurp that vacated influence to preserve his cover.
    • Moreover, luring Harry into the Chamber of Secrets leads to him discovering one of the few ways to destroy Horcruxes: Basilisk venom. In killing the Basilisk with the Sword of Gryffindor, the sword itself absorbs some of the venom, making it another weapon that can be used on Voldemort's Horcruxes.
  • Noodle Incident: During the final confrontation in the Chamber, Tom Riddle says that Dumbledore never seemed to like him as much as the other professors. Exactly what he did to trigger Dumbledore's suspicions won't be revealed until the sixth book.
  • No-Sell: Draco calls Hermione "mudblood" which is a vicious wizard slur for a muggle-born witch or wizard. But since Hermione is a muggle-born witch, she's never heard the term before and only knows it's an insult from how the others around her react with fury.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-universe; after Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy have a fight in Flourish and Blott's during Lockhart's book signing, it's mentioned that Lockhart was trying to work the fight into the article about the book signing by saying it was a publicity stunt.
  • NOT!: Moaning Myrtle uses the old-fashioned version. Someone tosses Tom Riddle's diary in the girl's bathroom haunted by Moaning Myrtle, hoping to get rid of it. It ends up hitting Myrtle, much to her dismay, though Harry points out that it couldn't hurt her, it would just go right through her. This is the wrong thing to say:
    Moaning Myrtle: "Let's all throw books at Myrtle, because she can't feel it! Ten points if you can get it through her stomach! Fifty points if it goes through her head! Well, ha ha ha! What a lovely game, I don’t think!"
  • Not Me This Time:
    • Harry and Ron use Polyjuice Potion to imitate Crabbe and Goyle, Draco Malfoy's two Mooks, in the hopes of getting Draco to admit that he's the Heir of Slytherin, and thus the cause of all the shenanigans happening at Hogwarts that year. Instead, they hear Draco raving about how thrilled he is that it's happening and how he'd love to congratulate and help whoever is actually behind it.
    • Also subverted. The book tries to convince you that Lord Voldemort is not behind the mystery this time given the fact that the Chamber was originally opened almost 30 years before Voldemort rose to prominence, and Dobby even telling Harry that "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" is not involved. Of course, it turns out the perpetrator is a manifestation of the young Voldemort, then known as Tom Riddle. At the end, Dobby explains that his earlier comment was a subtle clue: "The Dark Lord, before he changed his name, could be freely named, you see?" Though it would have been lost on Harry at the time, not finding out until it was almost too late that Riddle and Voldemort were the same person.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Hermione, "The Brightest Witch of Her Age", who normally plays the Only Sane Man of the main trio, is completely taken in by Lockhart's charms, while Harry and Ron see him for the narcissistic buffoon he really is immediately and are baffled by her falling for him.
    • While Lockhart loves to demonstrate his bravado and claim superiority to everyone else, even he refuses to say Voldemort's name.

    O - S 
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ron says "Uh-oh..." very calmly when the Ford Anglia's engine gives in midair, shortly followed by a Big "NO!" as they plummet towards the ground.
    • Ron panics on the first day of term when he receives a Howler from Mrs Weasley.
    • Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly Headless Nick have identical Oh, Crap! expressions on their faces when the Basilisk petrifies them.
    • Lockhart gets a few good ones. He has this reaction during the Dueling Club when he realized that his arrogant comments were starting to push Snape too far (especially since Snape had just effortlessly defeated him in a duel). He has an even greater one when the rest of the staff suggest that he go into the Chamber of Secrets, as he had been bragging throughout the book that he could defeat the heir of Slytherin and the monster easily.
    • Harry and Ron get this when the Polyjuice Potion starts to wear off in front of Malfoy and they start turning back into themselves. Cue a hasty exit. Hermione presumably got one as well when she took her dose, because it turned her into a cat-person.
  • Orifice Evacuation: Slug-puking spell.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Lockhart hires a load of dwarfs dressed as Cupids to deliver Singing Telegrams on Valentine's Day. Weirdly they're never mentioned again in the franchise besides Harry spotting a few "raucous dwarves" in the Leaky Cauldron in the next book.
  • Our Pixies Are Different: Pixies are depicted as winged humanoids that are electric blue in colour and fond of mischief. They also don't wear any clothing and appear to be incapable of speech like other magical races.
  • Parody Magic Spell: Harry threatens Dudley with the words "Jiggery pokery! Hocus pocus! Squiggly wiggly!" around noon on his birthday, and earns himself an afternoon of menial housework for his joke.
  • Pensieve Flashback: Although the actual Pensieve wasn't introduced until Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Riddle's diary displays this here, two books earlier.
  • People Zoo: Early on, Harry has a nightmare where he's displayed in one, with a table on his cage saying "UNDERAGE WIZARD".
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Snape has a couple moments. During the Dueling Club, he quickly intervenes when Draco and Harry jinx each other and dispels Draco's snake when it goes for Justin. He also seems just as distraught as the other teachers when they learn that Ginny was taken into the Chamber of Secrets.
    • In the same scene where Cornelius Fudge arrives to bring Hagrid to Azkaban prison in effort to end the attacks, Fudge objects to Lucius Malfoy and the Hogwarts governors' motion to suspend Dumbledore because he knows this will only make the school even more dangerous for the Muggle-borns.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: In this book, Draco Malfoy introduces the anti-Muggle-born slur "Mudblood". The book also expands on the prejudice towards Muggle-borns held by pure-blood wizards and makes it clear that many of them want the Muggle-borns dead.
  • Portal Slam: Harry and Ron rebound painfully from the portal to Platform 9¾.
  • Post-Mortem Comeback: The entire basis of the plot; Voldemort hid bits of his memories in a book, who took the form of Tom Riddle, but it's inverted — Voldemort himself was already alive then … somewhat.
  • Predecessor Villain: Salazar Slytherin built the Chamber of Secrets and put the Basilisk there in the first place, but he died nearly a millennium before this story begins.
  • Proof Dare: At the end, when Lucius Malfoy comes storming into Dumbledore's office, Harry makes the connection of Malfoy trying to get rid of a number of dark items, like the diary that caused all the trouble, before term started and realizes that he is the one responsible for the year's events, explaining that Malfoy slipped the diary into Ginny Weasley's stack of textbooks. Malfoy can only say, "Prove it." Dumbledore admits there's little chance of that, but warns Malfoy that the Ministry of Magic, and Arthur Weasley in particular, will be paying much closer attention to him.
  • Punny Name: Knockturn Alley, like its good counterpart Diagon Alley, is this ("Nocturnally" or "Nocturne" Alley).
  • Ransacked Room: Ginny ransacks Harry's dormitory to get Tom Riddle's diary back.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Harry gives one to the memory of Riddle, gloating about how his "common Muggle-born mother" reduced Voldemort, the greatest Dark wizard ever, to almost nothing.
  • Red Herring:
    • Malfoy, Percy, Hagrid, and even Harry are set up as possible Heirs of Slytherin, with Malfoy being the choice that's so obvious it's stupid, and Percy and Hagrid both having Really Big Secrets that make them act suspiciously. Naturally, our heroes suspect Malfoy immediately and spend several chapters investigating him, only to find out he's not the culprit. Much later, Ernie Macmillan asks Harry and Ron if it could be Malfoy, but they have long since discovered his innocence.
    • At times, Lockhart seems to be set up as another possible Heir of Slytherin with possible Obfuscating Stupidity, though that also turns out not to be the case.
  • Reinforce Field: Harry guesses that The Burrow is probably held together with magic.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Basilisk. Also the decoration of the Chamber of Secrets. Salazar must have been swapping design tips with Jafar.
  • Rewatch Bonus: All the books have quite a bit of this, but Ginny seems largely irrelevant on the first read, until the end. The second time, it becomes apparent that every single mention of her once they get to Hogwarts is important to the plot.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: When Harry and Ron first find Tom Riddle's diary, Ron warns Harry that it could be dangerous. When Harry incredulously asks how a book could possibly be dangerous, Ron tells him about all the freaky books his father's told him the ministry's had to deal with, including one that burns your eyes out, one that you can't ever stop reading, and one that curses you to speak in limericks for the rest of your life.
  • Right Behind Me: Harry and Ron excitedly speculate on reasons why Snape is absent from the teachers' table at the beginning of the year, not realizing that Snape is actually just behind them, until he interrupts them.
    Ron: Maybe he’s ill!
    Harry: Maybe he’s left, because he missed out on the Defence Against the Dark Arts job again!
    Ron: Or he might have been sacked! I mean, everyone hates him—
    Snape: Or maybe he's waiting to hear why you two didn't arrive on the school train.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • Ron's sarcastic suggestion that Tom Riddle might have killed Moaning Myrtle.
    • Ron suggests that Dobby might belong to the Malfoys, and that his whole spiel about "protecting" Harry is just Draco's trick to get him sent home. Dobby does belong to the Malfoys, but his motive is legitimately good.
    • Their suspicions that Malfoy is involved with the Chamber opening is correct, they just suspected the wrong Malfoy.
  • A Rotten Time to Revert: Harry and Ron attempt to uncover information about the Heir of Slytherin by using Polyjuice Potion to transform into Crabbe and Goyle so they can spy on the Slytherins up close. Unfortunately, the potion starts to wear off while they're questioning Draco Malfoy in the Slytherin common room, forcing them to make excuses about needing medicine for a stomachache and leave as quickly as possible before the reversion becomes noticeable.
  • Rule of Three: Harry and the Weasleys have to return to The Burrow three times to pick up items left behind they need to bring with them to Hogwarts. First, George's box of Filibuster Fireworks, then Fred's broomstick, and finally Ginny's diary.
  • Saved by the Awesome: After the flying car incident, Harry and Ron are threatened with expulsion if they're caught breaking any more rules. At the end, Dumbledore points out that they did just that when they went into the Chamber … then happily awards them several hundred points and special awards for services to Hogwarts.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Arthur Weasley wrote a loophole into the law saying he could enchant a car to fly if he had no intention to actually fly it.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • The titular chamber contains Slytherin's monster, an enormous Basilisk.
    • Tom Riddle's diary has the "memory" of the teenage Voldemort sealed inside, which Ginny unknowingly awakens through her liberal use of the diary.
  • Secret Pet Plot: During Hagrid's time at Hogwarts, he had a secret pet acromantula (giant spider creature), Aragog. Unforutnately, this happened to be the same time the Chamber of Secrets first opened; with the Beast of Slytherin's attacks threatening the future of Hogwarts, Tom Riddle turned Hagrid and Aragog in. Aragog was forced to flee into the Forbidden Forest and Hagrid was expelled.
  • Secret Room: The eponymous chamber built by Salazar Slytherin, located through a secret passage in the second-floor girls' bathroom and only accessible to Parselmouths (i.e., snake talkers). The entrance was originally just a hidden trapdoor, but because of plumbing reforms that threatened to reveal its existence, it had to be adapted into an elaborate mechanism by one of Salazar's descendants.
  • Self-Damaging Attack Backfire: Ron Weasley tries to cast a slug-vomiting spell on Draco Malfoy with his broken wand. It backfires, causing Ron to vomit slugs instead. Before the climax, the same happens to Gilderoy Lockhart when he tries to wipe the memories of Ron and Harry.
  • Sentient Vehicle: The Ford Anglia becomes this — apparently the enchantment placed on it gave it some level of sentience. After crashing into the Whomping Willow, the car ejects Harry and Ron and takes off into the Forbidden Forest, where it goes native and putters around the woods all year. It later saves Harry and Ron from being eaten by Aragog's clan of Acromantula.
  • Series Continuity Error: Two mentions of werewolves in this book make absolutely no sense come the very next instalment: Lockhart claims he used a spell to turn a werewolf back into a man, and Riddle claims that Hagrid raised "werewolf cubs" during their school days. The former could be In-Universe Factoid Failure, though it would require the wizarding public to be ignorant enough about werewolves that Lockhart's claim doesn't immediately reveal him as a charlatan. The "werewolf cubs" error was straightened out much later by Word of God: apparently if a male and female werewolf meet in their wolf forms, they can breed and produce a litter of "beautiful and unusually intelligent" wolves, incapable of spreading the condition. The brood raised by Hagrid is apparently still running around the Forbidden Forest.
  • Serpent of Immortality: The Basilisk that lives beneath the school has an incredibly long lifespan. It was first stored under the school around a thousand years earlier.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shrine to Self: Lockhart's room is filled with pictures of himself. Since this is the wizarding world, they're all nearly as vain as he is and tend to nod along to whatever he's saying.
  • Shrinking Violet: Ginny, pretty much only in this book as she's hardly in the next two and in the fifth she's revealed to have Taken a Level in Badass.
  • Significant Anagram: TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE <-> I AM LORD VOLDEMORT. Other languages revise the anagram to make sense in their tongues — or change his birth name. One of the funniest examples of this is the French version, which gives him the name "Tom Elvis Jedusor." Some other translations are even further out there — in Danish he becomes "Romeo G. Detlev Jr." while in Icelandic he's "Trevor Delgome".
  • Singing Telegram: Ginny sends a Valentine poem to Harry using a singing dwarf. The message ends up embarrassing both of them in front of Malfoy.
  • Skewed Priorities: Played for Laughs. Professor McGonagall announces that she has good news (the Mandrake potion, which will revive the Petrified students, is ready); while many students correctly guess that the news has to do with the dire Chamber of Secrets situation, Oliver Wood hopes that the suspended Quidditch season will resume.
  • Slower Than a Snail: While staying with the Weasleys, Harry plays a few friendly Quidditch matches with them. According to the narration, Ron's old hand-me-down Cleansweep broom is so slow compared to his own Nimbus 2000 that it's occasionally outstripped by passing butterflies.
  • Soul Jar: Tom Riddle's diary is a Horcrux that holds a piece of his soul.
  • Spanner in the Works: Lucius Malfoy being careless with the diary certainly qualifies as this. It is a Horcrux, after all.
  • Spider Swarm: The giant spiders (also known as Acromantula) appear to be social, although instead of a queen, they are led by an elderly male spider named Aragog. It's explicitly stated that Aragog had a bride called Mosag, so apparently, Acromantula females don't feed on their male.
  • Spinning Out of Here: Travel by Floo sends the traveler spinning to his/her destination.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Colin Creevey is this to Harry in this book, albeit in a Hero-Worshipper way with no overt romantic interest being shown.
  • Starstruck Speechless: When Ginny Weasley first meets Harry Potter — the legendary Boy Who Lived — she scurries away, unable to speak to him. Much later, in-universe and in Real Life, this is a Discussed Trope when she admits that she had to learn to lose the uncharacteristic Shrinking Violet behaviour and get to know him as a person.
  • Stealing the Credit: Lockhart, on a fairly horrifying scale. Be careful if you're a witch or wizard who has done something either brave or impressive. He doesn't just steal the credit, he wipes your memories.

    T - Z 
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Inverted. Ron says of Hermione's plan for the Power Trio to impersonate Slytherins, "Have you ever heard of a plan where so many things could go wrong?"
    • Later double-subverted, when the boys accomplish their part without a hitch, but Hermione, who refused to go with them, transformed into a cat by accident.
  • Third-Person Person: Dobby talks this way, and not only when referring to himself. Later books reveal that this is a uniform pattern among house-elves.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Harry and Ron fully expect to be expelled after Snape catches them having flown the car to Hogwarts.
    • Ron when he receives the Howler.
  • Toilet Horror: In a nod to this trope, students avoid a certain bathroom because it's haunted by an unpleasant ghost. This isn't really played for horror, as Moaning Myrtle is just gloomy and annoying, not vengeful. The trope is later played straight, however, when the same bathroom turns out to be the portal to the Chamber of Secrets, home of the monster that's been terrifying Hogwarts. It's also revealed that Myrtle was killed there by the same monster.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore:
    • The Moste Potente Potions book has shades of this with illustrations showing a man turned inside out and a woman with several pairs of arms growing out of her head.
    • Riddle's diary contains part of Voldemort's soul and manages to take control of Ginny.
    • Ron mentions a book that makes you keep reading it for the rest of your life.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: A younger incarnation of Voldemort turns out to be the Trope Namer.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The true identity of the monster lurking in the Chamber of Secrets is supposed to be a mystery until the last third of the book — which did not stop multiple editions from spoiling it by heavily featuring snakes and snake imagery on their covers. The cover featured on this very page has the Final Battle between Harry and the Basilisk in plain view, thereby leaving nothing at all to the imagination.
  • Tricked into Signing: A signed permission slip from a teacher in order to check out a book from the restricted section of the library. Our heroes decide to get the signature from their dumbest teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart. While they do tell him the truth that it's for checking out a book, Lockhart clearly doesn't care and happily signs it as though it were yet another autograph.
  • Twisted Echo Cut: When Harry, Ron and Hermione decide to make Polyjuice Potion, they need a signed note from a teacher to obtain the book they need from the library. At the end of the chapter, Ron says that no teacher will be thick enough to give them one; and at the beginning of the next chapter, the inept Professor Lockhart is mentioned, who is indeed the teacher they ask for this.
    Ron: Oh come on, no teacher is going to fall for that, they'd have to be really thick...
    (In the next chapter) Since the disastrous episode of the Cornish Pixies, Professor Lockhart had not brought any live creatures to the class.
  • Unseen Pen Pal: Tom Riddle, though he lacks any Stalker with a Crush tendencies toward Ginny, manipulates Ginny into thinking he's a genuine friend of hers. By the time Ginny realizes the truth, it's too late, and Tom has control over her.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Dobby. Harry actually asks him never to try to save his life again at the end. Good thing Dobby didn't listen.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • Lucius Malfoy, who is a distinguished Ministry official despite being a former Death Eater. He manages this by attributing his past affiliation with the Big Bad to the Imperius Curse.
    • Lockhart is another example, although he's more of an Anti-Villain.
    • Tom Riddle, fifty years prior to the events of the story. He used the Basilisk to murder a student, then framed Hagrid, took credit for catching him, and received a Special Award for Services to the School.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: What tree?! The Whomping Willow!
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Basilisk would die at the crowing of a rooster (presumably because it is hatched from a chicken's egg incubated by a toad). One wonders just how effective a weapon a Basilisk would be to a Dark wizard in any other situation, given everyone knows this and roosters aren't exactly hard to come by.
    • As it turns out, Tom Riddle anticipated this and made Ginny kill all the roosters on the grounds to prevent any from stopping the Basilisk.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dobby.
    "Your Bludger?" said Harry, anger rising once more. "What d'you mean, your Bludger? You made that Bludger try and kill me?"
    "Not kill you, sir, never kill you!" said Dobby, shocked. "Dobby wants to save Harry Potter's life! Better sent home, grievously injured, than remain here, sir! Dobby only wanted Harry Potter hurt enough to be sent home!"
  • We Need a Distraction: When Harry, Ron and Hermione need to steal potion ingredients for the polyjuice potion, Harry shoots a firework into Goyle's cauldron and makes it explode, causing enough panic that Hermione is able to sneak into Snape's cupboards.
  • Wham Line: Tom Riddle's reveal. Turns out his full name ("Tom Marvolo Riddle"), can be rearranged to spell...
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Those poor Mandrakes. Even though everything suggests that they are sapient, social lifeforms (they get "moody and secretive" in their adolescent phase, enjoy partying, and when they reach adulthood, start moving into each other's pots), nobody seems to think chopping a Mandrake up for a potion is any different than chopping up a carrot.
    • The gnomes in the Weasley garden are similarly intelligent (or at least appear that way). Harry actually feels bad about participating in removing the gnomes from the garden ... until they start trying to bite him.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: At the very end of chapter nine, "The Writing on the Wall", Hermione comes up with the idea of using Polyjuice Potion to get information from Malfoy. However, the book with information on how to make it is in the Restricted Section of the library, and they need permission from a professor to take out the book, which would raise suspicion from any professor they ask.
    Last line of chapter nine: "Oh, come on, no teacher's going to fall for that," said Ron. "They'd have to be really thick..."
    [Chapter break]
    First line of chapter ten, "The Rogue Bludger": Since the disastrous episode with the pixies, Professor Lockhart had not brought live creatures to class...
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Or in this case, spiders? Poor, poor Ron. However, it speaks to his character that he goes into the Forbidden Forest anyway. It's even lampshaded by Ron in the film.
    Ron: Why spiders? Why couldn't it be "follow the butterflies"?
  • Woken Up at an Ungodly Hour: Ron, Fred, and George Weasley rescue Harry from the Dursleys in the middle of the night. The boys unintentionally woke the muggle family up. Harry and the Weasleys manage to escape from them.
  • Wondrous Ladies Room: Hermione tries to give Moaning Myrtle this excuse for bringing Harry and Ron into the girls' bathroom Myrtle haunts. As the bathroom is filthy and largely abandoned, Myrtle doesn't really buy it.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: After the attack on Nick and Justin, Hagrid bursts into Dumbledore's office to explain that he was talking to Harry only seconds beforehand and he'll swear that Harry's innocent in front of the Ministry if necessary. Dumbledore repeatedly tries to interrupt before half-shouting that he completely agrees with Hagrid.
  • The Woobie: In-Universe: Harry feels sorry for Tom Riddle upon learning that Riddle grew up in a Muggle orphanage, and returned there every summer. That is, until Riddle reveals that he is Voldemort.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Ron's wand winds up being broken in chapter five and causes him trouble for most of the book. When Lockhart tries to use it to obliviate Harry and Ron, the wand explodes.
  • Wrote the Book: Inverted; even though Lockhart literally wrote the book on dealing with magical pests, that doesn't mean he has a clue about it.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Lucius Malfoy's plan has two possible outcomes: either Ginny is caught, thus disgracing Arthur Weasley and his Muggle Protection Act, or the culprit is not apprehended, and either kills every Muggle-born in the school or drives them all away. The former seems to be his preferred option, interestingly enough, but either would presumably satisfy him. Of course, his plan backfired worse than he could have possibly imagined, which we learn in Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Harry feels unworthy of his fame as well as his house, Gryffindor. Dumbledore manages to assure him that he does belong in Gryffindor, showing Harry the sword as proof.