The Dursleys are so mean and hideous to Harry Potter when he is home for the summer that all he wants is to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attention of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone—or something—starts turning Hogwarts students to stone.
After a summer spent with the Dursleys, Harry is excited to return to Hogwarts. An unexpected visitor, the house elf Dobby, tries in vain to prevent Harry from returning to Hogwarts by getting him to illegally perform magic outside of the school.
The Ministry of Magic blames Harry anyway, and the Dursleys confiscate Harry's books and wand. Uncle Vernon puts bars on Harry's windows, imprisoning him in his room. Fred and George Weasley, Ron's brothers, rescue Harry from 4 Privet Drive with their father's flying car. Harry spends the remainder of the summer at the Weasleys' cramped but cozy home.
The trouble begins when someone opens the Chamber of Secrets, hidden under the dungeons of Hogwarts. The Chamber is home to a Basilisk, a snake-like monster that attacks Muggle-born students, turning them into stone. Browsing through the restricted section in the library archives, Ron, Hermione and Harry learn that the Chamber was built by Salazar Slytherin and can be opened only by his pure-blood heir. Harry fears that he himself may be Slytherin's heir since he can speak the snake language, Parseltongue.
Ginny disappears and Ron, Hermione and Harry try to find her. Soon Harry and Ginny are trapped in the Chamber of Secrets with the Basilisk. Fawkes, Dumbledore's faithful phoenix, delivers the Sorting Hat to Harry, who draws the sword of Gryffindor from it. With the sword, Harry blinds and maims the Basilisk, which manages to bite Harry at the last minute. Dying from the Basilisk's poison, Harry is revived by Fawkes' rejuvenating tears.
It turns out that Ginny had opened the Chamber of Secrets under the guidance of Voldemort, who controlled her through his enchanted diary. Gilderoy Lockhart is revealed as a fraud. Dobby is Lucius Malfoy's elf and was trying his best to protect Harry from harm. Dumbledore puts to rest any suspicion that Harry is Slytherin's heir and makes his famous comment: "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." Harry could not have wielded the sword of Gryffindor if he did not truly belong to that house.
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