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"Reliable historical sources tell us this much. But these honest facts have been obscured by the fanciful legend of the Chamber of Secrets. The story goes that Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders knew nothing. Slytherin, according to the legend, sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic."
— The legend of the Chamber of Secrets[src]

The Chamber of Secrets was created under the Dungeons of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry during Medieval times by Salazar Slytherin. He disagreed with the other Hogwarts founders on the merits of Blood Purity.[2] Before leaving the school, Slytherin built this Chamber with the hope of purging the school of those he considered unworthy to study magic.

According to legend, the Chamber of Secrets was home to an ancient Basilisk. The Chamber was flanked with towering pillars that were entwined with carved wood, and the Statue of Slytherin was at the far end. The Basilisk resided within the mouth of Slytherin's Statue, which possibly symbolised Slytherin's ability to speak Parseltongue.[3] Sometime before 1992, the chamber flooded.[6]

History

Early history

Salazar Slytherin created the Chamber

During the establishment of Hogwarts in the First millennium A.D., Salazar Slytherin co-existed peacefully with the three other founders initially, but as time passed, he became increasingly adamant about his disapproal of the acceptance of Muggle-borns at Hogwarts. Disagreeing with the other Hogwarts founders about the matter, Slytherin left the school. According to legend, before he left, Slytherin created a secret chamber deep underground in Hogwarts Castle — known as the Chamber of Secrets.[2]

That Chamber was home to a monster — a Basilisk — that was allegedly supposed to purge the school of all Muggle-borns. Only the Heir of Slytherin could open the Chamber of Secrets, through the use of Parseltongue. Over the centuries after Slytherin's death, many Headmasters conducted searches of the school to find the Chamber. None, however, were successful, and the Chamber was dismissed as a mere legend by many.[2] Until it was opened years later.[7]

Openings

There was clear evidence that the Chamber had been opened more than once between its creation and the twentieth century. When it was first created, the Chamber was accessed through a concealed trapdoor and a series of magical tunnels. However, when Hogwarts’ plumbing became more elaborate in the eighteenth century, the entrance to the Chamber was threatened, and was located on the site of a proposed bathroom.[5]

The presence in school at the time of a student called Corvinus Gaunt — who was a direct descendant of Slytherin — explained how the simple trapdoor was secretly protected, so that those who knew how could still access the entrance to the Chamber even after the newfangled plumbing had been placed on top of it.[5]

1942–1943 openings

"The last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened, a Mudblood was killed by the monster."
— The first opening of the chamber[src]

Tom Riddle standing in the Chamber

The Chamber was opened during the 19421943 school year by a sixteen-year-old teenager by the name of Tom Riddle, later known as Lord Voldemort. Through Merope Gaunt, his mother and a Witch, Riddle was the last remaining direct descendant of Slytherin, and he desired to see Muggle-borns driven from Hogwarts. In his Fifth year, Riddle located the secret entrance to the Chamber of Secrets during his research on his heritage and was able to control the Basilisk as he was the Heir of Slytherin. Riddle turned the Basilisk loose on the school and many students were petrified as a result of the Basilisk's stare.[3][7]

Myrtle's body removed from school grounds after her death

The last victim was a student named Myrtle Warren (also known as Moaning Myrtle), who was killed in the Girls' Bathroom. Hogwarts was due to be closed, which upset Riddle, who did not want to return to the Muggle Orphanage in which he was raised. He framed fellow student Rubeus Hagrid on 13 June, 1943, who had concealed a pet Acromantula named Aragog. Riddle convinced the Headmaster at the time, Armando Dippet, that Aragog was the monster that had terrorised the school. Hagrid was wrongfully expelled, and Riddle received an engraved Trophy for Special Services to the School.[3][7]

Tom Riddle framing Hadrid for opening the Chamber of Secrets

Albus Dumbledore, then Transfiguration Professor, distrusted Riddle and kept a close watch on him after that. As it was no longer safe to open the Chamber of Secrets, Riddle, not wanting his research to be for naught, created a Diary in which to preserve his sixteen-year-old self and hoped it would one day lead someone to finish Salazar Slytherin's "noble quest". The diary was also made a Horcrux (an object that holds the user immortal) with the murder of Myrtle.[8] This was one of Tom Riddle's first actions towards becoming the feared Lord Voldemort.[3][7]

At some point between the death of Myrtle and the 1992–1993 school year, the Chamber flooded under unknown circumstances.[6]

1992–1993 openings

"He was standing at the end of a long, dimly lit chamber. Towering stone pillars entwined with more serpents, rose to a ceiling lost in darkness, casting long, black shadows through the odd, greenish gloom that filled the place."
— Description of the Chamber[src]

The first message from the Heir of Slytherin

The Chamber was re-opened in 1992 when the bewitched diary of Tom Riddle manipulated and controlled first-year Ginny Weasley (a Gryffindor first-year who had got hold of the diary through Lucius Malfoy, who slipped it in her cauldron when he viewed her other spellbooks at Flourish and Blotts)[9][3][10] to fall under its influence. Ginny was compelled to vandalise the school by painting terrifying messages on the corridor walls outside Moaning Myrtle's Bathroom. The first message read: "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir, beware."[2]

Petrified students in the Hospital Wing

Opening the Chamber of Secrets let the Basilisk come out and made people look at it in different ways (all indirectly, with the exception for Nick), which Petrified many students, including Colin Creevey,[11] Justin Finch-Fletchley,[12] Penelope Clearwater, and Hermione Granger,[1] as well as the ghost of Nearly Headless Nick[12] and Argus Filch's cat, Mrs Norris.[2] They were later restored to their proper states through the use of Mandrake Restorative Draught.[10] Fortunately, that time, no one was killed.

The second message from the Heir of Slytherin

On 29 May 1993, Ginny was taken down to the Chamber to die, while Riddle intended to feed off her life force in order to become fully alive again. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and then-Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor Gilderoy Lockhart went to the Chamber to rescue Ginny, as a message had been left that she was held prisoner there: "Her Skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever."[1]

Skirmish in the Chamber of Secrets

"Now, Harry, I'm going to teach you a little lesson. Let;s match the powers of Lord Voldemort, Heir of Salazar Slytherin, against famous Harry Potter, and the best weapons Dumbledore can give him..."
— Tom Riddle's soul to Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets[src]

Harry confronting the memory of Tom Riddle

Once in the Chamber, Harry met with the memory of Tom Riddle, which was preserved in the diary. A near-dead Ginny lay nearby, whose life force was slowly being drained. As Ginny grew weaker, Riddle grew stronger. Riddle then revealed that he was, in fact, Lord Voldemort (rearranging the letters of his name from "Tom Marvolo Riddle" to "I am Lord Voldemort") and then summoned the Basilisk.[3]

Harry, after he knew that eye contact with the Basilisk would be fatal, ran from it. He was helped by the timely arrival of Fawkes, Dumbledore's phoenix. Fawkes swooped into the Chamber and clawed the Basilisk's eyes out, rendering it fully blind and no longer able to kill with its lethal stare. Then Basilisk then chased Harry through the pipes located throughout the Chamber. The Basilisk was relying on its sense of smell.[3]

Harry slaying Slytherin's Basilisk with Godric Gryffindor's Sword

Able to look freely, Harry battled the Basilisk with Godric Gryffindor's Sword, which materialised out of the Sorting Hat, which Fawkes had brought down to the Chamber. As Harry impaled the Basilisk, a fang stabbed into his arm in the process. Near death, Harry used the fang to stab the diary, which spurted out black blood like ink, and the memory of Riddle preserved in it was destroyed.

That action also effectively destroyed the fragment of Voldemort's soul within it, as Basilisk venom was one of the substances that were capable of destroying Horcruxes. After the fight with the Basilisk, Fawkes's tears healed Harry's wound, and he, Ginny, Lockhart, and Ron were carried by Fawkes out of the Chamber.[3] Harry then brought the diary to Dumbledore. This became proof to Dumbledore that Lord Voldemort was using Horcruxes in order to achieve immortality.

1998 opening

Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger preparing to open the Chamber to destroy Helga Hufflepuff's Cup

On 2 May, 1998, during the Battle of Hogwarts, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger went back to the Chamber of Secrets to retrieve more Basilisk fangs, since they needed Basilisk venom to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes, as they did not have the Sword of Gryffindor at the time.[13]

Ron was able to open the Chamber by mimicking Parseltongue. Once inside, Hermione stabbed Hufflepuff's Cup with a Basilisk Fang that was taken from the dead Basilisk's skeleton, which destroyed the Horcrux.[13]

2009–2010 opening

Four Hogwarts students, Robyn Thistlethwaite, Lottie Turner, Kevin Farrell and their friend, came down to the Chamber of Secrets during the 2009–2010 school year to look for Basil Aurelius III's portrait. They found him beside the bones of the Serpent of Slytherin and also encountered a Dark Wizard (likely Bly), who animated one of the snake statues to attack them. The Dark Wizard fled after the fight, and the students followed him out of the Chamber, bringing the portrait with them.[14]

Entrance

"Next second, the sink began to move. The sink, in fact, sank, right out of sight, leaving a large pipe exposed, a pipe wide enough for a man to slide into."
— The entrance to the corridor of snakes that led to the Chamber[src]

The entrance to the Chamber in the girls' washroom

The Entrance to the Chamber was at a snake-engraved sink tap on the second-floor girls' lavatory, where a ghost of a girl named Myrtle Warren, more commonly known as Moaning Myrtle was often found. A corridor may be entered by giving the command of: "Open" or "Open up" to a snake engraved on the entrance in Parseltongue.[1] The engraved snake was on a tap over one of the sinks. The snake twisted, which made the other snakes go back. According to Myrtle, the tap had never worked. A passage opened from the sink that lead to a corridor, which Harry and Ron opened in 1993 and 1998, respectively.[1]

This hidden passage behind the fixture was actually the works of Corvinus Gaunt's doing, as the proposal of the new girls' bathroom threatened to expose the original entrance — a concealed trapdoor and a series of magical tunnels — so he secretly ensured the passage would be adapted to the new washroom's creation without compromising its hidden nature, and that those who knew how could still access the Chamber.[5]

Corridor of Secrets

The entrance to the Chamber of Secrets at the end of the corridor

That corridor was a passageway that led to the door of the Chamber. In the spring of 1993, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Gilderoy Lockhart found an old and shed Basilisk Skin while they travelled through the corridor. Lockhart accidentally caused a cave-in when he attempted to use Ron's broken wand to cast a Memory Charm, which backfired instead.[1]

Behind the scenes

The Chamber of Secrets as seen in the GBC version of the Chamber of Secrets video game

  • Professor Binns was cut from the film adaptation, and so Professor McGonagall is the one who reveals the history of the chamber.
  • Ginny Weasley opened the Chamber under Tom Riddle's control; however, she only could open it because of Riddle's ability to speak Parseltongue. She was unable to speak Parseltongue afterwards, but Riddle probably told her what to say.
  • In the book, it is said that Filch could not get the messages written by Ginny off the wall. It was unknown if he ever did, and it was not mentioned since.

The entrance to the Chamber of Secrets in 1992, as depicted on the book cover (Bloomsbury Adult Edition)

  • The Chamber of Secrets was one of the few Hogwarts locations not to be on the Marauder's Map, as it was never found by the Marauders. It is however unknown if they could have drawn it, as the Chamber could be Unplottable.
  • Tom Riddle opened the Chamber of Secrets in June 1943, but it was unknown precisely which day, possibly the same day that he caught Hagrid from talking with Aragog (13 June) or the day before. As Myrtle recalled, they took "hours and hours" to find her body.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the Chamber of Secrets scene where Ron and Hermione entered and Hermione destroyed Helga Hufflepuff's Cup with a Basilisk Fang was shown. Also, Voldemort caused the Chamber to flood and nearly kill them, and that was the scene when they kissed.
  • The Chamber of Secrets happened to be the location of the destruction of two of Voldemort's Horcruxes: the Diary and the Cup.
  • The Chamber had a green hue in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, its hue was blue.
  • In The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the snake head statues in the Chamber appeared to be more worn than in The Chamber of Secrets, and had slightly bigger eyes.
  • In The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 video game, the Chamber was recreated inaccurately. It had miles of caves, tunnels, and doors inbetween the bone pit and the actual Chamber. The Chamber was also shown to be behind an ordinary metal door rather than the unique one in the films, and there was a ramp to get down into the Chamber rather than a ladder.

The entrance to the Chamber in the films

The second door into the actual Chamber in the film

  • The Chamber in the film differed from the one in the book; Slytherin's Statue only had his head rather than his full body and the snake heads were in place of the pillars. In Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey, it was revealed that the Chamber was flooded, and that the water rose to the statue's head while the original Chamber and the snake bodies with the pillars were submerged.
    • The entrance to the Chamber was also different in the film, as the sinks were lined up in a circular formation, which all spread open when spoken in Parseltongue, and the sink with the engraved snake slides down, leading to a massive hole in the floor for the entrants to jump in. The door separating the actual Chamber from the Corridor of Secrets in the film is not a stone wall with snake engraved on it as in the novel, but a heavy steel hatchway door with seven snake-shaped locks on the front that slither backwards as an eighth snake slithers around the door's edge when spoken to open via Parseltongue.
  • Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), said that when shooting for the scene in the Chamber of Secrets, the floor was so cold, there were hot water bottles in her clothes.
  • In the PS1 Version, the Chamber was divided into several corridors, which lead to a penultimate chamber with four connecting chambers, two on either side. They contained small trolls, animated suits of armour, giant slugs and rats. In the final chamber, Harry used Flipendo when the Basilisk opened its mouth, and then used Godric Gryffindor's Sword to deflect green laser-like beams that protruded from the Basilisk's fangs. Harry in both the GBC and PS1 versions must also duel with Lockhart before he loses his memory.

Appearances

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Notes and references

Death Eaters
Dark Mark Pottermore.png
Leader: Lord Voldemort
Death Eaters

Avery (II) | Alecto Carrow | Amycus Carrow | Crabbe | Bartemius Crouch Junior (deceased) | Antonin Dolohov | Gibbon (deceased) | Goyle | Gareth Greengrass's brother | Jugson | Barnaby Lee's father | Barnaby Lee's mother | Bellatrix Lestrange (deceased) | Rabastan Lestrange | Rodolphus Lestrange | Walden Macnair | Mulciber (I) | Mulciber (II) | Nott | Pyrites (possibly) | Augustus Rookwood | Rosier | Evan Rosier (deceased) | Thorfinn Rowle | Selwyn | Merula Snyde's father | Merula Snyde's mother | Travers | Wilkes (deceased) | Corban Yaxley | Unidentified Death Eaters

Death Eater defectors

Regulus Black (deceased) | Igor Karkaroff (deceased) | Draco Malfoy | Lucius Malfoy | Peter Pettigrew (deceased) | Severus Snape (deceased)

Death Eater allies

Borgin | Vincent Crabbe | John Dawlish | Delphini | Golgomath | Gregory Goyle | Fenrir Greyback | Mafalda Hopkirk | Narcissa Malfoy (defected) | Ismelda Murk (unofficially, supposedly) | Nagini | Mr Padgett | Mrs Padgett | Pansy Parkinson | Quirinus Quirrell | Albert Runcorn | Stanley Shunpike (Imperiused) | Scabior | Serpent of Slytherin | Pius Thicknesse (Imperiused) | Dolores Umbridge

Other affiliations

British Ministry of Magic (under Voldemort's control) | Daily Prophet (Under Voldemort's control) | Dementors | Draco Malfoy's gang | Kreacher (formerly) | Tom Riddle's gang | Gang of Slytherins | Giants (Golgomath's control) | Inferi | Charmed skeletons | Muggle-Born Registration Commission | Theodore Nott (possibly) | Snatchers | Werewolf army | The Unforgivable

Death Eater establishments

Abandoned nuclear power plant | Borgin and Burkes | British Ministry of Magic Headquarters (under Voldemort's control) | The Cave | Chamber of Secrets | Forbidden Forest | Gaunt Shack | Lee family house | Lestrange Vault | Little Hangleton graveyard | Malfoy Manor | Misty Dell | Riddle House | Snatcher Camp | Spinner's End | The Abandoned Substation | The Ruins | The Quarry

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