Episode 221: CoS 17 Revisit – This Chapter’s Weird

There are more secrets beneath the school than giant killer snakes and hat tricks. Anyone know Parseltongue? It might help Alison, Lauri, Michael and guest host Olivia (long-time listener, SpinnersEnd) with navigating one of the strangest encounters of the series, “The Heir of Slytherin,” Chapter 17 of Chamber of Secrets.

On Episode 221 we discuss…

→ At least it’s the best video game?
→ “Can we talk about plumbing for a minute?”
→ Timing Riddle’s monologue
→ Jurassic Chamber
→ Fawkes’s big secret
→ Two Voldemorts
→ Tom Romeo Elvis Riddle
→ The Hogwarts cold case files
→ Ginny opens the Dumbledore
→ Lockhart will not hijack this chapter
Join us in Diagon Alley on September 1st!

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On this recap we discuss…

→ Harry’s control over his fantasy

DEPRESSION/SUICIDE TRIGGER WARNING: Skip to the 28:28 mark to avoid this conversation

→ Horcruxes as recovery stages
→ Devolving into chaos
→ Is Dumbledore the therapist or the patient?
→ The theory’s true value
→ McGonagall the therapy cat

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  • Casey L.

    Talking about the anagrams for “I am Lord Voldemort” reminds me of the cartoon I saw on tumbler by the user floccinaucinihilipilification. At first his name translates into “dad lover milt room.” Riddle tries again, and comes up with “add more vomit roll.” He finally gives up and says, “Actually I don’t have to impress you, and I still have a huge snake and …” It makes me smile when I think of that scene. Definitely check out the user’s cartoons – they’re fun!

    Also on tumbler, this time on the subject of Ginny spilling her secrets, the user highfunctioningdarklordofall suggested “Tom” on the other side of the diary as Ginny asks certain . . . puberty-related questions. Finally, he thinks, “I am a dark lord, but I have a duty to this poor girl.” It makes you wonder what else she might have written about in the diary.

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    I’m listening to the audiobook of Order right now- Mrs. Weasley definitely uses a Lockhart book to look up how to get rid of the doxies in the curtains. And it struck me this time that NOONE makes any reference or questions why she’s still using his materials, considering he attempted to leave her daughter to die in the chamber and remove her sons memory.

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      he used the experience of real experts, so the advice on doxies is sound. It’s just not his expertise. But I agree with you, I’d have vanished every single reminder of Lockhart’s existence from my home if I had been in Molly’s place.
      Or does Molly not know what happened in the chamber? How much did her children tell her?

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        Yeah, I imagine his guidebooks themselves are still useful, but are there no other similar publications? Or maybe Molly just didn’t want to throw them out and get different ones since it would be an unnecessary expense that the Weasleys can’t afford. Your suggestion that perhaps she didn’t have all the info is plausible too.

        • travellinginabluebox

          I wondered about that too whilst listening and that could also be a reason why no one brought it up, because it might be a bad topic. I also think that it is mainly used to remind the reader of Lockhart as we do meet him in OotP later, so it is possibly just a name drop.

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Yeah, that’s a good point. This particular book doesn’t seem to be a good time for confronting Molly in general. And you’re right, it is a nice quick name drop before seeing Lockhart later.

        • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

          how many non-fiction writers are there who are knowledgeable about magical household pests in Britain? Maybe Lupin would have known something helpful, but he never got around to publishing anything.

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Good question. I suppose, thinking about how many materials there are in the muggle world on things like treating garden pests, I just would expect there to be more than just Lockhart’s books. I’ve imagined his to be the most popular, but not necessarily the only sources for such things. This also made me think of Lupin going around trying to get his own book published and noone bothering to, because they don’t think a book written by a werewolf would sell :(

          • travellinginabluebox

            I would assume there to be more than Lockhart’s books to be honest. There are huge libaries in Hogwarts on all kinds of magic so I am sure there are at least a couple of books on household spells as well. And given that household pests include magical creatures it could be easily featured in other books as well as DADA books. And honestly, shouldn’t some of those kids have learned how to deal with doxies in there first or second year? Assuming that at least the twins had a halfway decent teacher in their first year of Hogwarts. Seems to be something to cover in early school years.

  • Yellow Badger

    Even though Lockhart seems to get what he deserves by having his memory wiped, his “punishment” doesn’t seem so bad. In the Order of the Phoenix, at St. Mungo’s, he seems to live a pleasant life. He doesn’t have any physical injuries, is sane, and seems to be mostly happy. He is probably in much better shape than any of the other patients in the closed ward. He even gets to enjoy fame from the fan mail that he gets. Maybe the reason for Lockhart’s pleasant life is so that he can be the comic relief in that serious chapter in which Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny talk about possession by Voldemort and meet Neville’s parents.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      Yeah, while what Lockhart did to all those people in taking their memories is pretty horrible, I enjoy that his story arc remains pretty comical.

  • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

    Thanks for revisiting this episode! I really wanted to talk about this one; it raises a lot of questions. (Apparently, I’m one of the odd ones who likes Chamber of Secrets and finds it interesting. Anyone else with me here?)

    First observation: Is Harry being uncharacteristically naive here? Not only does he drop his wand, but when Tom Riddle appears, Harry actually thinks Tom has politely picked up his wand for him and appeals to him for help getting Ginny out of the Chamber. Other than just being in a panic, why on earth is Harry still trusting this memory-person, when all signs point to him being dangerous? By this point, Harry has figured out that Hagrid never opened the Chamber, so he should be suspicious that Riddle wrongly accused Hagrid. Then, Riddle is already at the scene when Harry finds Ginny, and he clearly knows something that Harry doesn’t — Riddle keeps saying things like Ginny won’t wake, the basilisk won’t come until it’s called, I came out of that strange diary that keeps turning up in odd places … and Harry just keeps repeating, “What d’you mean?” He means that he’s the Heir of Slytherin and you should stop being convinced that he’s on your side!

    Is this a case of Harry trusting Riddle because he identifies with him so strongly? Even before Riddle points out their similarities, Harry sympathizes with Riddle as a fellow orphan and his fear of losing his true home if Hogwarts closes. The counterpoint to this is Harry’s instinctive suspicion of Snape or Draco every time something is amiss; he doesn’t (until the very end of the series) identify with either of them, and human nature often mistrusts what it doesn’t understand. Add to that the fact that Riddle is a charmer; I thought about whether Riddle’s looks might make him seem more trustworthy, but then remembered that Lockhardt is supposed to be good-looking, and Harry never buys into his stories or sympathizes with him over the trials of fame and celebrity.

    • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

      Let me add that Riddle is being supremely naive when he laughs off Fawkes, as was pointed out on the episode. He realizes that Dumbledore sent Fawkes and the Sorting Hat, so he should probably have taken them seriously simply based on that. Of course, this is 16-year-old Riddle who doesn’t yet have the experiences with Dumbledore that future Voldemort does, and he’s already extremely arrogant about his own powers at the expense of dismissing others’. He’s also surprisingly dismissive of the love protection when Harry explains that his mother died for him. Riddle acknowledges that it’s a “powerful countercharm” but then immediately writes it off as “merely a lucky chance that saved you from me.” I guess this scene is setting up his general attitude toward different types of power.

  • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

    Is this chapter really that weird? Fighting a giant snake with the help of a Phoenix and a sword that comes out of a hat seems pretty standard when the last book ended with someone removing a purple turban to reveal the face of Lord Voldemort, and the following book ends with the revelation that the pet rat who’s been living with Ron and Percy all their lives is actually an adult man in hiding.

  • ousley

    Many of the oldest known depictions of a phoenix portray it as having a nimbus (essentially a halo) with seven rays of light coming off of it (similar to Helios, the Greek Titan of the Sun).

    Seven rays of light appear in several mythologies. Relevant to this discussion: The Greek Chaldean Oracles said that the seven rays were purifying and healing agents of Helios (related: healing tears).

    In Greek gnostic mythology, the seven rays were often related to seven gemstones, talismans, or amulets used for medicine and healing. These were often engraved with seven rays emanating from the image of a large serpent with a lion’s head. (Harry’s duality between Slytherin and Gryffindor?)

    In Catholicism, the body or head of Christ is sometimes shown with seven rays that represent the seven gifts of the holy ghost and how they relate to virtues. These gifts and virtues are: wisdom (charity), understanding (faith), counsel (prudence), fortitude (courage), knowledge (hope), piety (justice), and fear of the Lord (temperance).

    One could argue that it took a combination of those things to summon Fawkes and retrieve of the sword of Gryffindor – and for the summoner who has the serpent’s body with the lion’s head to receive the healing powers of the Phoenix.

    • ousley

      Disqus still thinks that I’m trying to post spam and deleting things :(

      (1/2 of CWL)

      An additional perspective on the seven rays was posited by C. W. Ledbetter, a “theosophist” and “Liberal Catholic Bishop” (ok then… lol). He suggests that each of the seven rays could symbolize a different type of magic:

      -First ray: Magic of Will of magician
      -Second ray: Magic of Raja Yoga (Development of Mind)
      -Third ray: Magic of Astrology (Natural Magnetic Forces)
      -Fourth ray: Magic of Hatha Yoga (physical development)
      -Fifth ray: Magic of Alchemy (Manipulation of Material Substances)
      -Sixth ray: Magic of Bhakti Yoga (Selfless Service and Altruistic Love; agape)
      -Seventh ray: Ceremonial magic (Invocation of Elementals, and Devas)

    • ousley

      (2/2 of CWL)

      – Book 1: Will of Harry to choose the good magical path
      – Book 2: Development of Harry’s mind to operate without Hermione’s help and come up with the answers to the mystery
      – Book 3: First year of divination; prophecy of the dark lord returning; time turner manipulating the magnetic forces of time
      – Book 4: Harry’s physical developments in training for the tournament; Voldemort’s physical developments in regaining a body
      – Book 5: Pretty much everything in this book is a manipulation of material – whether it be physical or metaphorical – it’s a book of manipulation and strategy to set up the last two
      – Book 6: Selfless service: Of Dumbledore, giving his life; of Harry, willing to give his to help the cause; of Snape (yuck), sacrificing his freedom to help the greater good (oops, did I phrase it that way?)
      – Book 7: Ceremonial magic invoking the elements? That one speaks for itself. Deathly Hallows.

  • Gryffindork

    On the (admittedly gross) subject of wizard’s vanishing their bodily waste before Hogwarts installed modern plumbing, we know that vanished objects go “into non-being, which is to say, everything.” I took this to mean that vanished objects are broken down into a, perhaps, sub-atomic level and dispersed into the everything around us and therefore vanished to the eye. Does that mean that Hogwarts students even today are walking through halls filled with bodily fluids? Man, this chapter is weird.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      Lol. Wizards are gross. Like Hagrid with his rancid dragon meat over his beat-up face in Order. Hermione is right- these things are not sanitary.

  • the head girl

    The long discussion of the name Elvis made me laugh out loud on the train. Anyone else listen to My Favorite Murder? All I could picture was Georgia trying to give Voldemort a cookie!

    (Between that and Hogwarts Cold Case files … now THERE’S a fic waiting to be written!)

    • ousley

      An HP True Crime fanfic podcast series would be phenomenal. Karen & Georgia from MFM and Mike from Sword & Scale could narrate, with our very own Michael doing all the voices.

      And the guy from Lore could do a “this will make you fall asleep, but not before 1/3 of the episode is advertisements” series of HP lullaby stories. :p

      • the head girl

        OMG, that would be amazing. There’s so much weird stuff just below the surface in the wizarding world. I can just hear the “oh my god!”s now.

        Yessss, I would love to hear Aaron take on lullaby stories! He and the guy from “Sleep with Me” could team up and no one would make it past five minutes.

        • ousley

          “Sometimes getting to sleep is hard, so buy a Casper mattress” – no, not really. Lore is interesting stories, but not ominous enough. I’m interested to see how the TV show turns out.

          I hadn’t heard of Sleep with Me, but I just looked it up and listened to a sample. I will have to give a full listen. I’m weird enough that I’d probably get hooked if I can make it past the voice…

  • ousley

    The Chamber of Secrets and the Room of Requirement, in some ways, are similar concepts that act in complete opposition to each other.

    The Chamber is beneath the school – hidden away only available to the true Heir of Slytherin, clearly meant to be used for naughty purposes. The Room of Requirement is on the top level, seventh floor, of the castle – open to any student who needs its help for any purpose.

    Y’all mentioned on the episode the idea that the Chamber could have been used for teaching dark magic away from the prying eyes of the other founders/houses. Lore says that Herpo the Foul created both the basilisk and the first horcrux – we can only assume that the first creators of both in the “Hogwarts era” did so in the Chamber, perhaps even leaving behind instruction important to Riddle’s education thereof.

    Meanwhile, Harry uses the Room of Requirement to teach spells away from the prying eyes of the school leadership and government – but with the purpose of destroying the evil that was created in the depths of the castle.

    It’s appropriate, then, that the destruction of several of the horcruxes were directly tied to those two rooms. Perhaps it was the combined efforts of the three other founders that created the Room of Requirement as a way to teach their own magic in opposition to Slytherin’s teachings in the rumored Chamber.

  • ousley

    Random questions while listening and reading:

    – Why didn’t Tom want to kill Harry by his own hand or with a wand? Why let the basilisk do something that he knew his future self so longed to do?

    – How many dark secrets could an 11 year old girl from a good family really have (prior to being possessed by the dark lord)?

    – When wizards were relieving themselves all over the place were they just legit squatting down in the hallways? Oh hey lemme open up my robes and go for it!

    – Great question about why Dumbledore didn’t ask Myrtle what happened. It honestly seems like he doesn’t do much in the first couple books to try & figure out what’s going on. Come to think of it, he doesn’t seem remotely interested in using all his alleged knowledge and power to protect the school at any point in the books. He just kind of hangs around shrugging his shoulders. “Something is going on, let’s let a bunch of preteens/teens solve it.” (Probably because he’s future-Ron or whatever.)

    – Riddle’s monologue is due to the inconvenience of writing for a “preteen audience” – the early books had to really lay everything out there for younger minds to comprehend. In addition to the “original” COS book with “too much information” I’d really love to see an “adult” version of the books. (Not in a 50 Shades sense, lol, just with a more mature approach to the mysteries. I know JKR is capable re: Cormoran Strike.)

  • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

    The episode discussion touched on the idea that the diary seems unique among the Horcruxes, because the piece of soul in it is nearly infused with Ginny’s soul to the point where it becomes embodied. Besides the idea that Riddle put so much of himself into it, maybe another reason for its special powers is that it is the only Horcrux object that belonged entirely to Riddle. The Founders’ objects and the Gaunts’ ancestral ring with the Resurrection Stone were others’ possessions before Voldemort took them, and Nagini and Harry have their own identities and consciousness. The diary is the only one that always and only belonged to Voldemort.

    In response to the question of what might have happened if Riddle had succeeded in taking all of the life force out of Ginny and into himself, could it have been a similar situation to the Harry “Horcrux”, only in reverse? There are various perspectives on what the fragment of soul in Harry means for Harry’s personality, actions, identity, etc., but one idea is that some of his “darker” aspects are influenced by that element of Voldemort. At minimum, the power of Parseltongue was transferred to Harry. With that in mind, since Ginny is an innocent young girl, is it possible that the Riddle who might have come alive by taking in Ginny’s soul would have had some small element of good within him, or some purer form of power that came from Ginny? Maybe a pang of conscience that would have held him back from being as destructive and remorseless as the Voldemort who re-emerges later? If this part of Voldemort were capable of feeling remorse, because of Ginny’s influence, could it have partly repaired his damaged soul?

  • frumpybutsupersmart

    Referring to the discussion that was had around how differently the diary Horcrux seemed to behave, it was always my understanding that the diary wasn’t acting uniquely at all. Hermione states in DH that if you get too emotionally attached to a Horcrux – any Horcrux – it can start feeding off of you and possessing you, just like the diary did to Ginny. No one else ever seemed to get invested in any of the other Horcruxes, so they weren’t able to possess anyone.

    Also, it was said that the diary is different because it’s a “memory” of Riddle as well as a Horcrux; however, I would argue that when Riddle says “this diary contains a memory of my sixteen-year-old self”, he is just lying to cover up the fact that it is a Horcrux. I think any of his Horcruxes (or anyone else’s, for that matter) could act exactly the way the diary acted with Ginny. The fact that it was a diary might have just made it easier for Ginny to communicate with it and become emotionally dependent.

    • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

      I agree with you that the diary’s possession of Ginny was something any Horcrux could have done. I thought what the discussants were getting at was the fact that the bit of Riddle’s soul seemed to become corporeal as it fed off of Ginny’s soul, potentially taking on its own life outside of the diary (its “container”) rather than the soul only being able to possess another person’s body (unless it were reunited with Voldemort’s main soul). But possibly that could have happened with any of the others as well.
      So do you think that the Riddle who comes out of the diary isn’t a memory like the people we see through the Penseive? That would make more sense to me, because I’m not sure I agree with the suggestion on the podcast that anybody could have made a diary like this. Certainly, no one could make one that could possess another person or use their soul to take on bodily form. It’s definitely hard to figure out which attributes are the object’s and which are the Horcrux’s. Could Nagini possess Bathilda if she weren’t a Horcrux? My guess is no, because I believe she was just an innocent snake prior to meeting Voldemort.

  • ousley

    – Are parselmouths immune to the stare of the basilisk? How else does Tom, and later Ginny (along with Slytherins of Times Past), manage to control it so long without accidentally looking at it? It is implied that Tom’s powers of parseltongue are transferred to Ginny while he’s possessing her. Harry should have stared it down and “expelliarmus” at its eyes.

    – If Tom had forced Ginny to kill while possessing her – could he have also forced her to use that killing to make her own horcrux, thus preserving her soul if her body was destroyed, giving Tom double “immunity” as long as he could access her soul?

    – Stephen King’s “End of Watch” bears a lot of similarity to what is revealed in this chapter – except the killer uses an app on computer tablets to gain control rather than a diary.

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      I highly doubt it would count as a mark against Ginny’s soul if she were to kill someone while possessed. It seems to be a subjective thing when it comes to killing for reasons other than just “I want to kill you” (Dumbledore questions whether Snape killing him would harm Snape’s soul, even though it would definitely be deliberate). Besides this, Hermione says that true remorse can heal your soul, so as soon as she realised what she’d done, it would become a moot point. So no, I don’t think Riddle could have forced Ginny to create a Horcrux. There seems to be a lot of emotion and subjectivity in magic – think of Disapparating, which is literally just thinking really hard; Riddikulus, which Lupin says requires “force of mind”; the Patronus Charm, which needs real positive emotion behind it; the Unforgivable Curses, which requires the caster to genuinely want to cause pain. It seems to me that the bigger the magic, the more feeling you need behind it, whether it’s a positive or Dark spell. I doubt anyone could make a Horcrux unwillingly, even if possessed – I just don’t think the magic would work.

  • frumpybutsupersmart

    Re the Herpo the Foul mention, I just wanted to point out that JKR probably got the name Herpo from the word ‘herpetology’, which is the study of reptiles and amphibians. Not as on the nose as Black Dog the black dog or Werewolf McWerewolf II, but it’s up there!

  • Silverdoe25

    I’m enjoying the chapter revisits a lot. Just a suggestion – These revisits might also be a good place to look into the corresponding chapter in the same book or the companion book in terms of Ring Theory.

  • Arthur Dent

    On the subject of “werewolf cubs”:

    I’m pretty sure J. K. Rowling stated somewhere that when two werewolves mate while in wolf shape, the mother will give birth to a litter of wolves that are smarter than regular wolves, but can’t transform into human shape. Several of these werewolf-offspring supposedly live in the Forbidden Forest.

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      Yeah, this is definitely a thing. That’s also why in the first book, Malfoy says something like “we can’t go into the Forbidden Forest, there are werewolves in there!”

  • Sheetlebug

    Regarding how Riddle knew so much about Hagrid and his antics, to quote Dumbledore from Philosopher’s Stone:

    “What happened down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrell is a complete secret, so, naturally the whole school knows.”

  • DisKid

    Not that I don’t love the Chamber of Secrets game (I used to play the ps2 one all the time!), but my favorite has got to be the Order of the Phoenix game. Chamber of Secrets is probably my second favorite though!