Let’s get this out of the way now – I really, really don’t like Chamber of Secrets. But hey ho, here we go.
So this is probably the second time I’ve watched this since I was about 12 and OH MY GOD. Wow. This is dark, man. My notes consist of: child abuse, slavery, class tension, racism, and psychosis. I want to focus upon the psychosis side of this. I’ve seen a couple of essays about Harry and his (relatively) stable mental state, but not specifically in reference to hearing voices and possession.
This really surprised me, actually. In comparison to JK’s relatively sensitive handling of depression through the Dementors, this stood out as being quite thoughtless. Much like other topics, such as homosexuality (which I will GET TO in the third instalment of this series), there is an immediate sense of shame, and yeah, stigma. I do remember this being in the book, but in the movie? I got that prickly feeling on the back of my neck as students stare at Harry, and as Ron and Hermione force fake, scared smiles. They are terrified.
I do think there’s a distinct difference between being terrified of someone because they’re supposedly committing violent acts, and being terrified of someone because they’re being told by invisible voices to commit violent acts. Psychosis and violence are here inextricably linked in a way that really bothers me, and that is never really challenged. In fact, given later examples of possession through the imperius curse, being ‘possessed’ in such a way is a sign of weakness in character. It quietly implies that it is the characters’ own fault if they cannot resist the voices or the possession. Okay, this might be a magical way of showing how someone can get into your head through manipulation and fear, but I’m still not happy with it.
Finally, one of the things that I wished was further explored in the books, as well as the movies is the fact that Ginny was also hearing voices and being ‘possessed’. She’s seen as a ‘silly little girl’ (and oooh that riled me up – of course the weak-willed child would be a girl) – but other than that, there’s very little reference to her mental state. In the movie this is all dismissed as ‘just a memory’. In my mind, there’s no such thing.
Next time, I tackle Prisoner of Azkaban and yell about what they did to everyone’s favourite werewolf, Remus Lupin. My previous (and far less rant-y) review about the Sorcerer’s Stone can be found here.