Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Movie vs. Book – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 1: The Worst Birthday

The second book in the Harry Potter series starts the same as the film; at the Dursley’s home in Surrey. Harry’s Uncle Vernon is annoyed by Harry’s owl, Hedwig.

“You’ve forgotten the magic word,” said Harry irritably.
The effect of this simple sentence on the rest of the family was incredible: Dudley gasped and fell off his chair with a crash that shook the whole kitchen; Mrs. Dursley gave a small scream and clapped her hands to her mouth; Mr. Dursley jumped to his feet, veins throbbing in his temples.

There are more details here of how much Harry misses being at Hogwarts.

Harry looked nothing like the rest of the family. Uncle Vernon was large and neckless, with an enormous black mustache; Aunt Petunia was horse-faced and bony; Dudley was blond, pink, and porky. Harry, on the other hand, was small and skinny, with brilliant green eyes and jet-black hair that was always untidy. He wore round glasses, and on his forehead was a thin, lightningshaped scar.

Not quite how they are depicted in the films, although I would say close enough.

There’s a brief recap of Harry’s history and how he ended up living with the Dursleys.

It’s Harry’s birthday, but the Dursleys don’t acknowledge it. Uncle Vernon is fixated on the dinner party that night where a rich builder would be visiting and Vernon hoped to close a deal with him for his company’s drills. Vernon runs the family through the rehearsed plan for the dinner party, which is a bit more than what’s shown in the film. And Harry ends each prompt with “I’ll be in my room, making no noise and pretending I’m not there.”

He had never felt so lonely. More than anything else at Hogwarts, more even than playing Quidditch, Harry missed his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. They, however, didn’t seem to be missing him at all. Neither of them had written to him all summer, even though Ron had said he was going to ask Harry to come and stay.

From watching the films we know that Harry hasn’t talked to his friends at all during the summer, but here the promise of staying with the Weasleys for a bit is noted.

The Dursleys aren’t aware that Harry isn’t allowed to do magic outside of school. To this end, Harry has a little fun terrorizing his cousin Dudley by muttering nonsense words which sends Dudley running from the room.

Harry is in the garden, thinking about Hogwarts and his friends when he sees eyes staring at him from the bushes. Harry is still staring when Dudley comes out, taunting Harry that it’s his birthday and everyone has forgotten and there have been no messages from his friends from school.

Dudley hitched up his trousers, which were slipping down his fat bottom.
“Why’re you staring at the hedge?” he said suspiciously.
“I’m trying to decide what would be the best spell to set it on fire,” said Harry.
Dudley stumbled backward at once, a look of panic on his fat face.

As a punishment for tormenting Dudley, Harry has to do all sorts of chores to get the house ready for the visitors that night, while Dudley watches him and eats ice cream. That night, he’s just given bread and cheese for dinner and sent to his room.

There’s more here to give the reader the sense of what kind of hell Harry goes through living with the Dursleys. In the film, it’s mostly shown rather than explained. Harry seeing the eyes in the bushes and tormenting Dudley isn’t shown in the films, and it really creates a sense of sibling rivalry between the two of them, rather than hatred. Dudley’s parents being who they are and the feelings they have towards Harry preclude any normal sense of a sibling relationship though.

4 replies »

  1. Thank you for reviewing this, Patti! 🙂
    Reminds me that it’s time for me to read it again, too, and recall how important story, and novels like this one especially, are to building empathy!
    🙂
    Shira

    Liked by 1 person

    • Knowing the end of the last book – where it’s stated Harry and Dudley visit once a year – I think they could have had a brotherly relationship if it weren’t for the Dursleys. It’s kind of a shame, but makes for good conflict in the story.

      Like

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