I don’t remember where I read or heard this particular bit of information, but I heard that chapter 13 of the Potter books was where we got a little preview of the villain for that book, and boy does that hold true for Chapter 13 of Chamber of Secrets, entitled The Very Secret Diary.
We get a glimpse of Tom Riddle in this chapter, just a very small glimpse, and then only the side of him that he wants us to see. He is a perfect example of the phrase ‘Looks can be deceiving’. He comes off as a model student: a prefect and head boy, multiple awards for services to the school, and when Harry asks him for any info about the Chamber of Secrets opening 50 years ago, Tom shows himself being the triumphant hero catching the culprit and his monster. What we don’t see is the conniving, manipulating and calculating evil person that he really is, and neither did anyone else really, except Dumbledore.
Let’s take a look at the diary, now. We certainly cannot judge this book by its cover, just like its owner. Before Harry picks it up Ron warns him about books not always being harmless. Harry and Ron would never had guessed at that point that those books that Ron mentioned were laughable in the face of what they just discovered. What comes off as a blank diary, bought 50 years ago in a muggle shop, is actually a horcrux, containing a piece of soul slowly growing stronger, with an evil mission to reopen the Chamber of Secrets and to kill Harry.
Tom Riddle also used the fact that people DO judge others by their appearances to his advantage. Everyone bought his scheme about Hagrid and Aragog because of the way they looked. Tom made Hagrid come off as a stupid kid who couldn’t control his pet, and because Aragog is technically a monster, it wasn’t hard to believe that he killed someone.
This is a theme that doesn’t just stop here in Chamber of Secrets. If you look at the rest of the books, there are plenty of cases of ‘looks being deceiving’. Ginny, being diminutive in size, but being able to blast people with really powerful jinxes. Again from the Weasley family, Molly, being a very good homemaker, mother and wife; but she was the one to defeat the #2 Death Eater, Bellatrix Lestrange. Sirius Black was misrepresented for 12 whole years, Lupin has to deal with the prejudices of being a werewolf. Loony Luna Lovegood comes off as a brainless dreamer, but she was there until the end, standing next to Harry when he needed it most. And perhaps the best example of ‘looks being deceiving’ is Severus Snape. It looked like he was a loyal Death Eater, but in the end his motivations and loyalty proved to be very different than what he presented to the world at large.
There are many more examples of ‘looks being deceiving’ in the Potter books, these are just a few that I could think of. And there are examples that I wouldn’t think of that would come right to the front of someone else’s mind. I, and the rest of the Lexicon editors, would love to hear what you think about looks being deceiving in the Potter series; please let us know your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of the podcast page.
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