At Flourish and Blotts
chapter four of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
En route to Diagon Alley, Harry takes the Floo to Knockturn Alley by mistake and runs into the Malfoys. He soon ends up in the right place, though, where he and his friends cap a memorable shopping excursion by meeting Gilderoy Lockhart (their new teacher) and watching a fight between Arthur and Lucius before heading home.
An old wooden street sign… told him he was in Knockturn Alley.
“But you’re Muggles!” said Mr. Weasley delightedly. “We must have a drink!”
(by Heather Campbell)
“We can actually meet him!” Hermione squealed. “I mean, he’s written almost the whole booklist!”
(by Edgar Torné)
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said loudly, waving for quiet. “What an extraordinary moment this is! The perfect moment for me to make a little announcement I’ve been sitting on for some time!”
(by Felicia Cano)
“We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy.”
Dozens of heavy spellbooks came thundering down on all their heads….
about the chapter
I always wonder what the backstory is on the relationship between Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy. They certainly have plenty of animosity for each other long before this day, and it’s never really clear why. Arthur is at least a few years older than Lucius, so it probably doesn’t stem from a relationship at Hogwarts. Perhaps it’s simply that each seems to be something of a spokesman in the wizarding world for his respective viewpoint on Muggle relations; either way, I wish we could hear more about it.
Something You May Not Have Noticed
This chapter is the first time we’ve ever heard the phrase “Dark Lord” used to describe Voldemort. The fact that Lucius Malfoy is the one speaking it, along with his context, makes it pretty clear that the title is used primarily by his supporters. I’ve always thought it was interesting that they continue to use this phrase (although here Lucius is in private) – wouldn’t it be something of a giveaway? But we’ll see some evidence down the road that there might be other reasons for it, too.
The Wizarding World
Wizards don’t seem to place as high a premium on privacy as we Muggles are used to (or at least as high as I’m used to). For example, I find it a bit disconcerting that Dumbledore knows Harry is staying at the Burrow – how does he know? Some kind of magical surveillance? Isn’t that a little Big Brother-ey? But none of the Weasleys seem to think twice about it. To the contrary, Molly is genuinely impressed. Perhaps the cultural distinction stems from wizards being such a tight-knit society, or from the wide uses of magic; either way it gives a bit more insight into the closeness of the wizarding world, and how incredibly disruptive Voldemort’s reign of terror must have been for those used to living in it.
Something to Remember
There are lots of great tidbits in this chapter that hint at things we’ll see later on:
- The Weasleys don’t think twice when they hear explosions from Fred and George’s room. But they also don’t seem to ask, what the heck are those two doing in there?
- The Dark objects that Harry sees on display in Borgin and Burkes are worth remembering; knowledge of several will prove useful in future years.
- Finally, another interesting thing to note about Lucius’s visit to Borgin and Burkes is the fact that he’s in a hurry because he has “important business elsewhere.” But an hour later we see he’s still shopping, this time at Flourish and Blotts. So what important thing is he attending to?
The Final Word
“Gilderoy Lockhart is a great example. I knew his name had to have an impressive ring to it. I was looking through the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable – a great source for names – and came across Gilderoy, a handsome Scottish highwayman. Exactly what I wanted. And then I found Lockhart on a war memorial to the First World War. The two together said everything I wanted about the character. “–J.K. Rowling, on how she finds names for her characters, November 2002