Book 2 – where things get seriously dark. We encounter the first of the later mentioned horcruxes, fragments of the Dark Lord’s soul, in the form of Tom Riddle’s dairy. The young version of Voldemort is good-looking, charming and has exceptional magical talent – it was genius to show us this side to Voldemort – introducing him in his younger, more human form reminds us that he was once just a boy, not so different from Harry.
So, on this read, what did I take from it?
The nature vs nurture debate has long been discussed and argued, but this is a classic example of how a boy, even when life has been tough, as it was for Harry in his cupboard under the stairs, can still turn out brave, caring and innately good. Tom Riddle, for all that his circumstances were worse (in an orphanage – at least Harry has family), choose to go down a dark path, not just because of his circumstances, which played a big part I am sure, but because of his nature, which was to become powerful and ultimately immortal. Harry sought no such things, and as such he was a better person for it.
But which was it, nature or nurture?
This re-read of the Chamber of Secrets made me think a lot about this and in Harry’s case, who was surrounded by love (even by the Dursleys, in their own way) for most of his life and more so once he went to Hogwarts, his nature was determined by the nurture and love shown to him by others around him. Tom Riddle was given no such love and the result in his nature is apparent.
Vanity. Gilderoy Lockhart. I’ve always been aware of this character and his nature and how he represents so many people like him in our society. But the latest revelation. We all have a little of him in us. We’ve all experience imposter syndrome at some point, writers as much as anyone. Like he tries to bluff being an incredible magician, who has banished some of the worst magical threats of his time, we all try to bluff being good at our jobs, or being brilliant parents or whatever else we do in our lives.
Am I really a writer? The question that gnaws at me, and most others who do it. Time for an aptly chosen quote from the book.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
And it’s so true, we choose what we do. Sure our abilities normally guide us towards one thing or another, but you might be good at maths, but choose to be a fireman, or being very strong, but choose to be a mathematician. I am a Biology teacher, because I love Biology, I chose to study it as an undergraduate. But now, with no outstanding ability, I’ve chosen to be a writer. I started from utter novice, no ability, and have chosen to improve and to improve and some day, someone else might agree – ‘yes, you are a writer.’
But until that time, and I’m certain every one of us has thought this at some point, we are all imposters and perhaps Gilderoy Lockhart was just unlucky to have become a Defence against the Dark Arts teacher at the worst possible time…or perhaps JK Rowling is just a genius plotter, who the circumstances just so…
And to finish, another quote, this one I’ll just write and then leave. But any other writers out there, working on a book will no about have thought this exact thing…
“Honestly, if you were any slower, you’d be going backward.”