Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Irony

Uncle Vernon looking stupid (Dramatic Irony)

“‘Do I look stupid?’ snarled Uncle Vernon, a bit of fried egg dangling from his bushy mustache” (p.1).

In this moment of dramatic irony, Uncle Vernon’s question is answered in the affirmative by the narrator’s description of him. This framing of his absurd appearance undercuts the tension caused by the power he holds over Harry. Uncle Vernon may think he is in control, but he definitely looks stupid. This broad humor provides some relief in what would otherwise be a miserable situation. Vernon doesn’t know it, but the story is not on his side.

Harry Potter (Situational Irony)

“‘Proud?’ said Harry. ‘Are you crazy? All those times I could’ve died, and I didn’t manage it? They’ll be furious. . . .’” (p. 341).

The book ends in situational irony, as Harry Potter, who has just saved Hogwarts with his brave acts of heroism, returns home to the Dursleys, who detest him. He will not receive a hero’s welcome, or even the love of a proud family. Instead, he imagines that they will be angry he didn’t die. There is nothing he could do to win their affection. So after the climax of the Hogwarts feast, this return to the Muggle world adds an anticlimactic melancholy to the end of the story.

Nearly Headless Nick (Situational Irony)

“'My dear boy! Harry Potter, at my deathday party! And'—he hesitated, looking excited—'do you think you could possibly mention to Sir Patrick how very frightening and impressive you find me?' 'Of—of course,' said Harry. Nearly Headless Nick beamed at him" (p. 130).

This moment is ironic because Nearly Headless Nick is being very kind to Harry, while asking him to vouch for how frightening he finds him. Nick has just helped Harry escape trouble with Filch by convincing Peeves to create a distraction. He and Harry were also commiserating about their mutual social discouragement. Nick is very approachable, polite, and friendly—the exact opposite of what he is expected to be to gain status as a ghost.

Gilderoy Lockhart (dramatic irony)

“Still, if ever you feel the need for a little private training, don’t hesitate to ask. Always happy to pass on my expertise to less able players. . . .” (p. 163).

Much of what Gilderoy Lockhart says in the book is ironic, in that everyone (the other characters and the reader) knows that he can’t do everything that he claims. His hyperbole becomes absurd as he tries to make inroads by pretending to have an impossible array of skills. He also makes these claims at the expense of whoever he is talking to, which undermines his friendly gesture. In this quote, he is posing to Harry Potter as an expert in Quidditch.