At Flourish and Blotts
Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: At Flourish and Blotts
Life for Harry has never been this good, far better than Privet Drive. Finally, he has found a family that accepts him, and treats him as one of their own, rather than as an inferior intruder. True, he is still not allowed to perform magic, but it surrounds him, and is a natural part of life.
The letters from Hogwarts, including Harry's, arrive at the Burrow. As always, the letter has a reminder that the term starts September 1st, and include the school booklist.
Second year students will require:
- "The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2", by Miranda Goshawk
- "Break With A Banshee", by Gilderoy Lockhart
- "Gadding with Ghouls", by Gilderoy Lockhart
- "Holidays with Hags", by Gilderoy Lockhart
- "Travels with Trolls", by Gilderoy Lockhart
- "Voyages with Vampires", by Gilderoy Lockhart
- "Wandering with Werewolves", by Gilderoy Lockhart
- "Year with the Yeti", by Gilderoy Lockhart
Based on the list's content, Fred surmises that the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is a witch and a fan of Lockhart. George has a more practical thought: "This lot won't come cheap." Mrs. Weasley says they will manage, though Harry notices she seems worried.
Hermione sends an owl suggesting they all meet in Diagon Alley. She questions the use of Errol as messenger, as he is so old and worn out. Ron says that Percy had refused to loan him his owl. The Twins mention that Percy, who is normally stuffy and annoying, has been acting odd, often remaining shut up in his room.
On the appointed day, the Weasleys head to Diagon Alley via the the Floo Network, a magical transportation system that connects fireplaces throughout the Wizarding realm. Harry, choking on ash in the Weasley's fireplace, unfortunately mispronounces, "Diagon Alley," landing him one grate too far in what appears to be a Dark magic shop. Draco Malfoy and his father are there. Mr. Malfoy appears to be selling some magical items to the proprietor, Borgin.
Exiting undetected, Harry discovers he was at Borgin & Burkes in Knockturn Alley, an unsafe area frequented by Dark wizards and other unsavory characters. Fortunately, Hagrid appears, and steers Harry back to Diagon Alley, where he locates the Weasleys and Hermione. They proceed to Gringotts Bank, where, inside, Harry is embarrassed by the wealth stored in his vault, particularly after seeing the meager sum the Weasleys have.
Later, the group arrives at Flourish & Blotts bookstore, where the popular author, Gilderoy Lockhart, is signing copies of his autobiography, Magical Me. Recognizing the famous Harry Potter, Lockhart presents him with a complete set of his autographed books while posing for photos. Lockhart then announces that he is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher for Hogwarts.
Staggering away from the limelight, Harry dumps the Lockhart books into Ginny's cauldron. Draco Malfoy, observing this byplay, taunts Harry. Mr. Malfoy suddenly appears, and makes rude comments about Ginny's second-hand book before returning it to her cauldron. Mr. Weasley begins arguing with Mr. Malfoy. As the argument becomes physical, Hagrid drags the Weasleys away while the Malfoys stalk off. The Weasleys, Hermione, and Harry return to the Leaky Cauldron, then head home.
After only a few days at The Burrow, Harry learns what a functional, loving family is supposed to be like and how it interacts within itself. He feels at home here, realizing what he has been missing and has yearned for all these years, and will continue to desire throughout the series. Hogwarts, we have already seen, has become a surrogate home to Harry, a place where he knows everyone and everyone knows him, and where his abilities are not feared and hated but welcomed and considered normal. However, good as it is, there is no real family there; the teachers must remain, to a large extent, professionally remote. The one exception is Hagrid. who is not a teacher, and who also lacks a true family; Harry becomes a substitute for that. Here, in The Burrow, people care about Harry, he is well fed and physically comfortable, and is made to feel wanted. Harry now fully realizes just what he has always lacked. And though he is happily content amongst the Weasleys, it will perhaps be even harder to return to the Dursleys', a place that is little more than a roof over his head, where he barely has enough to eat, and offers no love or comfort.
Gilderoy Lockhart makes his first appearance. Handsome and charismatic, he has a legion of fans, comprised largely of middle-aged witches like Mrs. Weasley. He is also a vain, opportunistic fame-seeker who exploits Harry to get his photo onto the Daily Prophet's front page. Lockhart is famous for his many exciting adventures that he recounts in his books. He apparently believes that Harry is as fame-obsessed as he. When the fight erupts between Lucius Malfoy and Arthur Weasley, Lockhart is heard planning to spin it to promote himself in the paper.
Ginny Weasley's true character also becomes more evident here. When Draco insults Harry for attracting attention in Flourish & Blotts, Ginny defensively says that Harry did nothing to warrant the attention. This shows us that, despite Ginny's schoolgirl crush on Harry, she is sensitive to his distaste for the fame that his history with Voldemort heaps on him. While it is possible she fears her attention will be misinterpreted as being rooted in Harry's fame, rather than in himself, it is more typical for a schoolgirl's crush to render her too shy to speak to the boy she likes.
Another Malfoy is introduced: Lucius Malfoy. Proud, rich, and arrogant, he is a strict and demanding parent who holds a tight rein on Draco. In the bookstore, he is insulting and bullying towards Ginny Weasley. It seems odd that his attention should fall on her, and there may be some reason behind it.
It is learned that the Malfoys and the Weasleys, both old pure-blood wizarding families, have "very different ideas about what disgraces Wizardkind." The argument that erupts between Lucius Malfoy and Mr. Weasley focuses attention on a great division among the story's characters. Malfoy, already disdaining the Weasleys for their poverty, is clearly scornful that Mr. Weasley endlessly lobbies on Muggles' behalf, where Mr. Weasley is affronted by Malfoy's belief that his ancestry is superior, as well as his suspected affiliation to Dark wizards. What is highlighted here is that some wizards feel superior to others due to their breeding, there being no non-Magical people in their bloodlines. This group believes anyone unable to perform magic is somehow sub-human, and those wizards choosing to fraternize with them or protect them are traitors to this blood purity. While the Weasley family is as old and pure a bloodline as any other, to some "pure-blood" wizards, their ongoing commerce with Muggles is considered demeaning, if not downright disloyal. This snobbery also, of course, extends to Harry, who is a Half-blood, and particularly Hermione, who is Muggle-born, and explains much of Draco's behavior to them. It also extends to Ron, who Draco, taking a cue from his father, looks down on, along with the entire Weasley family.
Fred's guess that the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher must be a witch who is a fan of Gilderoy Lockhart was likely based on his seeing how Mrs. Weasley, and apparently many female fans, idolize him. Fred is wrong, of course, but a class requiring only Lockhart's books should have tipped off the reader as to who the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher will be, and possibly some clue about Lockhart's character.
Harry's hiding in the cabinet in Borgin and Burkes' is worthy of extra study. We will see later that some story-related events would have occurred had Harry actually closed the door to that cabinet; to the student of writing, we recommend study of that passage to see how the author misdirects us into the belief that Harry has closed himself in, while actually explicitly not allowing Harry to close the door of the cabinet.
- Why is Lucius Malfoy selling objects to Borgin? What might they be?
- Why is Hagrid in Knockturn alley? Is his explanation believable?
- Why do Lucius Malfoy and Mr. Weasley get into an argument?
- Why does Lockhart grab Harry in Flourish & Blotts?
- Based on what has been seen and heard so far, give a short analysis of Lockhart's character.
- Compare and contrast what Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Weasley might think disgraces wizardkind.
- Why would Mr. Malfoy want to inspect Ginny's books?
Three items shown in Borgin & Burkes are seen again in a later book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Draco uses the Hand of Glory while he is departing the Room of Requirement. The opal necklace with the note warning that it was cursed is used in an attempt to kill Dumbledore, in October of that year. Also, the cabinet in which Harry is hiding has a twin at Hogwarts that will make an appearance.
Lucius Malfoy's inspecting Ginny's book is an excuse to slip Tom Riddle's Diary into her cauldron. As we later learn, Voldemort left this Diary with Lucius, intending it as a weapon against Hogwarts. Lucius, not knowing exactly what the Diary was, had apparently decided that, given his son's discouraging school marks (as mentioned to Borgin), it was time to create problems for the school.
While not seen explicitly yet, we can already guess that Voldemort recruited many allies from pure-blood wizard families, though there are also some Half-blood followers. Lucius is returning some Dark magic items to Borgin & Burkes, claiming it is too dangerous to keep them around in the event of Ministry raids on his house. Lucius' disdain towards anyone considered to have inferior bloodlines is seen here, as well as his annoyance that Draco, pureblood though he is, is unable to surpass Hermione's grades. In the previous chapter, we learned that Lucius is believed to be a Voldemort supporter. His possessing Dark magical objects lends credence to this, as we have been told that Voldemort was a Dark wizard. This suggests strongly that Voldemort may have been playing on the pure-blood belief in their own superiority to fuel his initial rise to power.
It is particularly interesting to note how many items mentioned in this chapter will reappear in the sixth book of the series. It is apparent that the story arc was plotted out at least as far as the sixth book in some detail when the second book was written.
- Borgin and Burkes appears in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Draco visits the shop to demand advice from Borgin on repairing something.
- Three items that Harry sees in Borgin and Burkes will appear later.
- The Hand of Glory is used by Draco as he is leading Death Eaters through magically-created darkness, out of the Room of Requirement and into Hogwarts proper. We learn about this from Ron after the attack.
- The cursed opal necklace is sent to Dumbledore by way of Katie Bell on a Hogsmeade weekend in mid-October of Harry's sixth year. Sent in an attempt to kill Dumbledore, it fails when Katie touches the necklace and is cursed by it.
- Considering the Disappearing Cabinet that Harry hides in, and the one at Hogwarts, as a unit, we will see them again several times. The Hogwarts cabinet is dropped and broken by Peeves, at Nearly Headless Nick's request, to distract Filch, later in this book. Fred and George Weasley stuff Montague into it in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Draco learns of its linkage to the one at Borgin and Burkes from Montague, and demands assistance in its repair from Borgin; the other cabinet of the pair is actually partially hiding Draco from the Trio as they watch Draco make this demand. Draco then spends all of his spare time throughout the next year attempting to repair it. Late in the year, Harry actually sees the Cabinet in the Room of Requirement where Draco has been trying to repair it. Finally, the repaired cabinet is the way that Draco smuggles Death Eaters into the school to support him while he tries to carry out his assignment from Voldemort.
- Tom Riddle's diary will be destroyed at the end of this book, but it will be mentioned again in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where we learn that it was a Horcrux.