Blood status and prejudice Death Food and Drink Games Ghosts History Legends and Lore Music Theatre and Dance

The Deathday Party

- Chapter 8

"My late lamented lords, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great sorrow..."
-- Nearly Headless Nick

CS8: The Deathday Party

Harry is caught dripping mud on the carpet by Filch, is taken to Filch’s office, discovers that Filch is not a wizard, and Nearly Headless Nick invites him to his Deathday Party, which Harry, Ron and Hermione attend on Hallowe’en night. Leaving the party, Harry hears voices again, and following the sound with Ron and Hermione discovers writing on the wall and a Petrified Mrs. Norris.

Calendar and Dates

The action of the chapter takes place during the month of October, 1992, primarily on Hallowe'en night.

Interesting facts and notes

This chapter gives us our most detailed look at ghosts to date.

He was pale as smoke, and Harry could see right through him to the dark sky and torrential rain outside.

We are being reminded that Nick is nearly transparent as well as nearly headless, so that we have all the necessary clues to work out what will happen to Justin Finch-Fletchley later on.

"But you would think, wouldn't you," he erupted suddenly, pulling the letter back out of his pocket, "that getting hit forty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe would qualify you to join the Headless Hunt?"

Talk about adding insult to injury...

"Filch isn't in a good mood."

When is he ever?

"He's got flu..."

Hmm. Does this mean that Pepperup Potion doesn't work on Squibs?

"...and some third-years accidentally plastered frog brains all over the ceiling in dungeon five..."

While Nick doesn't actually say that this was during the course of a Potions lesson, that class seems the most likely candidate for a class in which frog brains would be used. Consequently, frog brains appear on the list of possible potion ingredients, although we do not know what the third-years were attempting to do with them.

...trying to find out what would happen if you fed a Filibuster Firework to a salamander. Fred had 'rescued' the brilliant orange, fire-dwelling lizard from a Care of Magical Creatures class...

This tells us that Fred took Care of Magical Creatures as an elective, and helps confirm that salamanders are part of the typical Care of Magical Creatures curriculum, although Hagrid appears to have changed the order in which the creatures are covered when he took over the class the following year. Harry's CMC class will also study salamanders, but during the winter of their third year (PA12), while Fred at this point is in his fourth year.

Wooden filing cabinets stood around the walls; from their labels, Harry could see that they contained details of every pupil Filch had ever punished. Fred and George Weasley had an entire drawer to themselves.

If Filch was at Hogwarts in the days of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, how much space do their records take up? Harry spends his detention years later cataloging drawers full of the records of his father and Sirius' many escapades. 

the wreckage of a large black-and-gold cabinet that appeared to have been dropped from a great height

This is one of the two Vanishing Cabinets which Draco uses to smuggle Death Eaters into Hogwarts in book six. The twin of this cabinet is in Borgin and Burkes (CS4).

"She haunts the girls' toilet on the first floor," said Hermione.

It's worth mentioning at this point that "first floor" means different things in the U.K. and the U.S. Myrtle's bathroom is on the first floor in U.K. terms - but that means the first floor above ground level, which in the U.S. would be called the second floor.

This painting depicts the Deathday Party from Chamber of Secrets.

Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington
died 31st October, 1492

Since the party is Nearly Headless Nick's 500th Deathday Party, the date on the cake has led to the identification of Y12 as 1992 in many arguments about figuring out the years in which the action of the books takes place. (See the various essays linked in the box.)

Through the dungeon wall burst a dozen ghost horses...

How does a horse become a ghost?

Exceptional character moments

Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who keep their word and attend Nick's party despite the inedible food, the horrible orchestra, and the delights of the Hallowe'en feast being held in the Great Hall.

Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore, who in a dazzling display of his lack of consideration, completely upstages Nick at Nick's own party.

Memorable lines

"But you would think, wouldn't you," he erupted suddenly, pulling the letter back out of his pocket, "that getting hit forty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe would qualify you to join the Headless Hunt?"

"Most people would think that's properly good and beheaded, but oh no, that's not enough for Sir Properly Decapitated-Podmore."

"Why would anyone want to celebrate the day they died?" said Ron, who was halfway through his Potions homework and grumpy. "Sounds dead depressing to me..."

Words and phrases

Characters Introduced


Related images:

Pensieve (Comments)

Tags: anger attention blood embarrassment fear letters party shame voice writing

Editors: , , and

The Harry Potter Canon