The Dueling Club

chapter eleven of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry, Hermione, and Ron start the Polyjuice Potion, but when Lockhart forms a Dueling Club – and Harry is exposed as a Parselmouth – the school assumes Harry to be the heir of Slytherin. His case isn’t helped when he’s the first to find a Petrified Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly Headless Nick, and McGonagall takes him to Dumbledore.

Making the Polyjuice Potion, by Sheena Kristen Sy

“We’d’ve come to meet you, but we decided to get started on the Polyjuice Potion,” Ron explained…. “We’ve decided this is the safest place to hide it.”


Professor Lockhart, by Laurence Peguy

“As long as it’s not -” Harry began, but he ended on a groan.


Gilderoy Lockhart, by Heather Campbell

“Gather round, gather round! Can everyone see me?”


Dueling Club, by Tealin Raintree

Harry wondered why Lockhart was still smiling; if Snape had been looking at him like that he’d have been running as fast as he could in the opposite direction.


Expelliarmus, by gerre

Snape cried: “Expelliarmus!” There was a dazzling flash of scarlet light and Lockhart was blasted off his feet.

(by gerre)


Rivals, by Helene Sirois

“Scared?” muttered Malfoy, so that Lockhart couldn’t hear him. “You wish,” said Harry out of the corner of his mouth.


The Dueling Club, by Keith James

Harry wasn’t sure what made him do it. He wasn’t even aware of deciding to do it. All he knew was that his legs were carrying him forward as though he was on casters and that he had shouted stupidly at the snake, “Leave him alone!”


The Magician: Salazar, by Heather Campbell

“It matters,” said Hermione, speaking at last in a hushed voice, “because being able to talk to snakes was what Salazar Slytherin was famous for. That’s why the symbol of Slytherin house is a serpent.”


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

I love that Snape is co-sponsor of a Dueling Club with Gilderoy Lockhart. Given Snape’s character (not to mention the look on his face throughout the whole thing), I’d say he’d probably rather be drinking poison than hosting this silly little event with his ridiculous colleague. Clearly he’s there to keep things safe, and nobody could make Snape do that besides Dumbledore. In other words, Dumbledore owes Snape one. Big time.

Something Else You May Not Have Noticed

It’s interesting that Snape completely sets up Harry’s exposure as a Parseltongue when he puts Harry and Malfoy on stage, and then suggests that Malfoy use Serpensortia. Why on earth would Snape have done it? It’s a useless spell for a duel (as Irene M. Cesca mentions below, “What? You cross your fingers… that he’s gonna run out screaming?”). So was something more sinister at work? DId Snape, or Dumbledore, suspect that Harry was a Parselmouth and use the opportunity to learn more?

On the one hand, Dumbledore is such a mastermind so much of the time that my brain tends to immediately jump to conspiracy theories when something like this happens. But as several readers pointed out, it’s just not Dumbledore’s style to publicly expose anybody in this fashion, much less Harry Potter. Snape, however, is not above any such things – especially when it comes to Harry. And he is certainly suspicious (even though Dumbledore is not) that Harry had something to do with the Mrs. Norris incident. Is it possible Snape just took it on himself to throw a snake in front of Harry and see what happened? It would certainly be an awfully big, awfully convenient coincidence if that’s all it was. But I can’t make sense of it any other way.

The Power of Magic

Professor Sprout apparently is working on the Mandrakes herself, now that they’re needed to “revive Mrs. Norris and Colin Creevey.” But what about Nearly Headless Nick? Can a potion be used to revive a ghost? It must be able to somehow, but I confess I’m rather curious as to how that would work.

Life at Hogwarts

It’s funny that Harry thinks of his adventure in Potions this way: “Deliberately causing mayhem in Snape’s Potions class was about as safe as poking a sleeping dragon in the eye.” I have to wonder whether he’s aware at this point that the Hogwarts school motto is “Never tickle a sleeping dragon” – a motto Rowling has said she considers to be “good sound practical advice.” Clearly it’s good sound practical advice that Harry isn’t taking as he flings a firecracker into Goyle’s cauldron.

The Boy Who Lived

This isn’t the first time Harry’s been an outcast at Hogwarts, but the suspicion that plagues him after he’s revealed to be a Parselmouth does mark the first time his classmates are genuinely scared of him. We can see already that this experience isn’t something he deals with particularly well; in fact he storms off in a wave of fury. It’s understandable – from his perspective, his classmates behavior is completely senseless – but it doesn’t bode well for someone who’s as famous as he is, and has a knack for being at the center of attention when he least wants to be.

Something to Remember

This is the first time we really meet Ernie Macmillan, Hannah Abbott, and the other Hufflepuffs in Harry’s year. They certainly distrust him for the time being, but in time they’ll prove to be important allies to Harry.

45 Responses to “The Dueling Club”

  1. I’m gonna also say that Serpensortia was a coincidence – most likely Snape just wanted to terrify some students and thought this would do the trick after the Mrs Norris incident. Or he may have been hoping to uncover the real heir, and he would also be Parselmouth. But I just can’t see how this could have been orchestrated for Harry.

  2. About Polyjuice Potion: This is supposed to be a very complicated potion to make. We’ve seen equally or less complicated potions where it’s important when and in which direction to stir and in which order to add the ingredients. Here Hermione steals two ingredients when it’s convenient, then throws them into the cauldron and stirs away.

  3. I always thought that Professor Sprout would take the Mandrake potion and then destroy it, by boiling or burning it, to bring Nearly Headless Nick back.

  4. about the snake: he told him the spell because it’s just a very slytherin thing to do. He wanted to show him high magic he can’t perform and also of course the symbol of Slytherin. I think there’re lot of reasons, but he definitely didn’t know about Parselmouth

  5. See and I always thought that they would mist the potion through him somehow, that way the potion is still reviving the material. I do like Loader Lady’s Idea of Boiling or burning it however. I can see how the steam would work to revive him.

  6. I love the idea of boiling/burning the potion to revive Nick. It hadn’t occurred to me, but it fits perfectly with the wizarding world.

    In terms of the snake…. I go back and forth. The look Snape gives Harry after he speaks in Parseltongue certainly makes it seem like Snape wasn’t expecting it. But it’s such a coincidence! And if Dumbledore were scheming on this one, it would certainly fit right into his plan. But it’s probably true that Rowling intended it to just be a coincidence that moves the plot. Dumbledore is so conniving, it’s hard not to dive headfirst into conspiracy theories when he’s involved sometimes. ;)

  7. I think the chapter also highlights the mind set of the Hufflepuff House where friendships/loyalty come before rational thought. Hurt one Hufflepuff and you insult them all.

  8. Knowing only what is in books 1 and 2 about Snape, you’d have to conclude coincidence on the snake/parseltongue thing.

    However, knowing the entire series, I am leaning heavily towards the idea that something more is going on here. Snape never wasted a moment letting slip that Lupin was a werewolf even though Snape was loyal to Dumbeldore. He also never wasted an opportunity to harass Harry even though he was constantly saving Harry’s life.

    We also know Dumbledore “sees all and knows all”, so to speak, of life at Hogwarts. I would not put it past Dumbledore to have asked Snape to look into this more as he knew full well that the Chamber was real and who had opened it the first time. We now know that Snape was on Dumbledore’s side the entire time and thus was probably doing Dumbledore’s bidding while not missing a chance to harass Harry at the same time.

    It also seems from later in this book and later book that Dumbledore suspected that Voldemort had made a horcrux. He already suspected that something had happened to Harry when Voldemort attempted to kill him. He seemed not the least bit surprised that Harry could speak parseltongue even going as far as saying later in the book “You can speak parseltongue Harry, because Lord Voldemort can speak parseltongue”. Dumbledore did not suspect for a second that Harry had opened the chamber or caused the petrifications because he knew full well who was doing it..just not yet exactly how.

    My guess is that Dumbledore engineered this as a test of the theory he was probably developing in regards to Voldemort and horcruxes.

  9. I don’t think Dumbledore had arranged this, it’s not like him, I mean, the hability of Parseltongue has important implications, negative ones, and the fact that everyone learns that Harry has it is not like Dumbledore. He wanted Harry no to stand out above the rest, at least no more than he already does, so why would he put him in that unpleasant situation?

  10. Kim, that just made me laugh soo loud. You’re right, “then throws them into the cauldron and stirs away.”

  11. I’ve never thought about whether or not the snake spell was a deliberate attempt on Snape’s part to show Harry as a parseltongue. I’ve gone back and forth, reading the arguments on here, but I think Paulo’s argument is the most conviincing as regards Dumbledore – assuming he did suspect that Harry was a parseltongue, I don’t think he would deliberately cause Harry to suffer the negative whispering of the whole school just to check if he was right or not. I don’t imagine he would want to draw too much attention to the idea of a link between Harry and Voldemort either.

    As for Snape – I’m not so convinced. It’s possible he had his own suspicions and wanted to test them, and he certainly wouldn’t worry about causing (emotional or social) harm to Harry. I’ve always taken his expression to be one of surpressed surprise, but maybe it was something more.

  12. Josie, I think Snape and Dumbledore probably had discussed the need to find out whether there was a Parselmouth at school. They both knew that Voldy was somehow behind the attacks, and exposing a Parselmouth would be an important clue. Snape clearly did not expect Harry to be the person who would be able to control the snake. He had probably hoped that some OTHER person would be implicated.

    However, it surely isn’t difficult to understand why Snape presented the danger to Harry rather than to some other student? First, he knows that Harry cannot die, so he is the one student who will actually be safe. Second, he never misses the opportunity to show petty malice to Harry – he wants to give him a good scare. Third, he hopes to make a quick end to the Duelling Club so that he doesn’t ahve to play any more silly games with Lockhart.

    I’ve never understood why the Trio went to such elaborate lengths to steal the Polyjuice ingredients. Why didn’t Harry just send Hedwig off to Hogsmeade with an order?

  13. I agree with Paula and Caitlin that it seems unlikely that Dumbledore would want Harry to be publicly exposed as a Parselmouth. Later on, at the end of Goblet of Fire, Fudge even accuses Dumbledore of trying to hide the fact that Harry can speak Parseltongue. I’m sure the info about Harry’s ability was useful to Dumbledore, but it just doesn’t seem like a situation that would be engineered by the headmaster, who seems to keep only a select few “in the know” at any given time.

    As for Snape, his intentions are less clear. Snape does believe that Harry was being less than truthful the night Mrs. Norris was attacked, so it’s possible that he suspects Harry has some kind of connection to the opening of the Chamber. But Snape also just has an inherent dislike of Harry (and to be fair, Harry had just created a huge mess in Snape’s class earlier in this chapter when he lobbed the firecracker into Goyle’s cauldron, and Harry was sure Snape knew it was him)… so it’s possible that Snape just wanted to humiliate Harry in front of the school by getting Malfoy to conjure something that Harry would be completely unprepared for. Either way, I’m sure Snape delighted in the ostracism Harry experienced from his fellow students following this event.

    A line from the chapter that makes me smile is that Harry eavesdrops on the Hufflepuffs in the library while “hidden in the Invisibility section.”

  14. Isn’t it interesting, too, that Harry learns his trademark spell-Expelliarmus-from his most hated teacher? I bet Snape had no idea that Harry would take that spell and use it to not only save his own life (Harry’s), but the lives of so many others in the end?

  15. Consider the Possibility that Snape was trying to expose Draco as the agent of Voldemort. He was, after all, the son of a known deatheater, and Snape told Draco the spell.

  16. Ooh, Johan, that’s an interesting theory.

    I’ve always imagined (after discovering that Snape does have a history for this kind of thing) that Serpensortia is Snape’s own spell, and this would be a good opportunity to show it off.

    There is good logic to the theory that Dumbledore’s behind this whole business, but it just doesn’t seem his style, as others have been pointing out here.

    Oh, and excellent observation, Jennifer C!

  17. RE: Something you may not have noticed…I don’t necessarily think it’s all a set-up to expose harry as a parslemouth. Snape is head of slytherin house, and malfoy is a slytherin..those factors alone are enough to explain why snape suggested the snake spell to malfoy.

    @Grrreg That’s a really good point you bring up about the Hufflepuff house.

    @Andrea hidden in the invisibility section, i love it! I had never noticed that before :)

  18. re: Serpensortia.

    What’s the REAL use of that spell in a duel?? You throw a snake at your opponent and… What?! You cross your fingers that you’re dueling Indiana Jones and that he’s gonna run out screaming like a little kid?

    Ok, snakes can be dangerous. But if I’m dueling I’ll just Stun my opponent over the snake’s head and walk away.

    I don’t believe Snape was setting Harry up, but what was the whole point anyways? Make Harry look stupid? What would a 2nd year student who’s just learning to disarm be expected to do in front of a snake? If anything, I’d take Malfoy for the stupid, for doing something so pointless when he was supposed to be in the middle of a totally different exercise…

  19. RE: Something Else You May Not Have Noticed

    In HBP Chapter 2 (Spinner’s End), Snape tells Bella and Cissy, “I should remind you that when Potter first arrived at Hogwarts there were still many stories circulating about him, rumors that he himself was a great Dark wizard, which was how he had survived the Dark Lord’s attack. Indeed, many of the Dark Lord’s old followers thought Potter might be a standard around which we could all rally once more. I was curious, I admit it, and not at all inclined to murder him the moment he set foot in the castle.”

    Suppose Snape knows that Tom Riddle opened the chamber, that the chamber contains a basilisk, and that Lord Voldemort is a Parselmouth. It’s not a tremendous leap of logic to think that either Parseltongue is required to open the chamber or that a Parselmouth might be able to talk to the basilisk through the walls and learn how to open it. Perhaps this is Snape’s way of testing his “Harry is a Dark Wizard” hypothesis?

  20. I don’t think anyone knew what the monster was in the Chamber of Secrets, so exposing anyone as a parselmouth wouldn’t make sense. For all we know, most people think the monster is an acromantula, since Hagrid was expelled for keeping one. Voldemort might have told Snape, but then Dumbledore would have known. Then Dumbledore could have searched for the chamber, since Dumbledore speaks Parselmouth himself. (Or maybe he just understands it? And how did he learn it? There wasn’t anyone to teach him.)

  21. Yeah, I was implying that Snape might know it’s a basilisk from Lord Voldemort. However, even if he doesn’t, Snape is a fairly brilliant guy academically and Dumbledore has proven his deductive skills repeatedly. It’s not that big of a leap that dead chickens + people turned to stone = basilisk, since that information is readily available in the library. Heck, Hermione only needed those two pieces plus Parseltongue coming from the walls to figure it out and however bright she is, she’s got nothing on Dumbledore.

    Of course, it’s possible that there are a bunch of creatures that can turn you to stone and no one can be sure which it is. Snape and Dumbledore are both bright enough to know that acromantulas can’t, but they might not connect the chickens to the creature. In this case, Snape and Dumbledore still know Salazar Slytherin was a Parselmouth, and they probably know Voldemort is too. So, they may not be sure it’s a basilisk, but it’s got to be near the top of their list of possibilities, right?

    As far as “exposing” Harry, I don’t think that was Snape’s intent. I think he just wanted to know whether Harry was a Parselmouth (and therefore more likely to be a dark wizard) for Snape’s own benefit. If everyone else knew Harry was a Parselmouth too, more to the good from Snape’s point of view since they’d all obviously shun Harry.

    Of course, there’s a much simpler explanation now that I think about it. Perhaps Dumbledore knew Harry was a Parselmouth because he (or an agent of his) saw Harry at the zoo. He may have told Snape about it at some point. Snape being Snape might have just seen an opportunity to make life miserable for Harry by getting the other students to ostracize him.

  22. Yeah, I think I have to agree with Douglas – Dumbledore and Snape both *definitely* know it’s not an acromantula, and the list of creatures that can stun people, including ghosts, and which would be associated with Slytherin has got to be vanishingly small. To borrow a phrase from another essay I wrote – if Dumbledore hasn’t figured out that it’s a basilisk, then he’s not the Dumbledore I’ve been reading about all these years. And it’s hard to imagine Snape hasn’t connected those dots, too.

  23. @Irene M. Cesca. Judging by the way Harry was standing frozen in front of the snake and how alarmed people were by Harry apparently egging it on towards Justin it was a poisonous snake, so it would be handy in a duel against a second year who doesn’t know what to do with it.

    I was wondering when I was reading it just now whether Snape actually did tell Draco to do the serpensortia spell. Probably he did, but I did wonder if he was making a comment on Lockhart’s, “Sorry, my wand got a bit over excited.” At least, I would have done. :D

    Seriously though, if Snape was trying to expose Harry as a parselmouth or find out if he was then why was he about to vanish the snake before Lockhart jumped in and before anything had even happened? Even knowing Lockhart it’s still a longshot to assume he would attempt to do it himself and if he did attempt it exactly how it would go wrong.

  24. i think that the 2 important things by which this chapter was necessary were:
    expelliarmus: it kills voldy in DH & saves harry in GF
    parseltongue: JKR probably wrote this chapter so that harry knew the importance of being a parseltongue which later proves necessary to open the chamber and if hermionie did not know that harry could understand parseltongue, she’d have never realised that the monster was a basilisk and hogwarts would close.
    which would mean that in an indirect way, snape’s spell was a lot more than zilch in this book

  25. These are interesting theories (and I’m definitely not discounting them), but I’m more inclined to think that it was a bit of a clumsy plot device on JKR’s part. She needed Harry to be exposed as a parselmouth in front of most of the school; this did the trick.

    I think conjuring the snake is easily described by Snape and Malfoy being Slytherins—a venomous snake would be useful in a duel (just look at Voldemort and Nagini).

  26. When I read this chapter, I always thought Snape wanted (in his own way) to get back at Harry because he knew he caused that big disruption in class earlier.

    I think I spotted a mistake on Rowling’s part here too. She had Malfoy (who’s only in his second year) conjure a snake.
    And then in the Half-Blood Prince, she’s having the fifth years lean to conjure birds. (Hermione Crying bird attacking Ron Part)

    Probably just a minor detail she forgot.

  27. It’s possible that Dumbledore already knew, or suspected that Harry was a Parselmouth from PS, remember Mrs Figg ‘breaks her leg’ before Dudley’s birthday, having a prior arrangement with Vernon to look after Harry. It’s possible that Dumbledore organised for Harry to get a bit of fresh air (with someone, if not Dumbledore himself tagging along). Dumbledore would see this as an opportunity to learn about Harry, since he already suspects something is up with Quirrell (i have read your essay) and it is the summer holidays after all.

  28. @snape_ftw. That seems a bit complicated. There’s no reason to have Harry tracked whenever he leaves the house at that point in time, and why leave your place of work to go out of your way to get to know someone who’ll be coming to you in a few months time? I don’t think Dumbledore suspected Harry was a Parselmouth until the duelling club. Since no one else has had a scar like Harry’s, there was no way for him to know how it would affect Harry. But when he sees the effects he can put two and two together to find the cause.

  29. Snape in the Dueling Club: I thought his reason for participating in the Dueling Club was quite apparent. For years he has been applying for the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position only to be continually denied. The Dueling Club, which would naturally feature combative and defensive spells, would allow Snape to whet his appetite.

  30. The pictures of Lockheart potray him beautifully.

  31. Laura, I somehow doubt that any conjuring spell can conjure up a live animal. The snake looked realistic and terrified the students and even responded to Parseltongue… but if it was a real, biological snake, then some basic rules of magic have been broken.

    And I do hope the whole Serpensortia episode wasn’t just a clumsy plot device, because it is too much of a coincidence. I’d rather believe that either (a) Snape expected to find a Parselmouth and wanted to expose him/her or that (b) Snape already had a good reason to believe the Parselmouth was Harry. (Dumbledore would not have exposed Harry like that, of course. But I doubt Snape waited around for Dumbledore’s permission!)

    Unfortunately, this theory is full of holes too. Yes, Dumbledore should have worked out by now that a Basilisk was on the shortlist of possible monsters. But if he suspected that… and if he knew where Myrtle had died… and if he even spoke a few words of Parseltongue himself… Then why didn’t he call in the Dangerous Creature Disposal people and send them looking for the monster? For a man who had almost solved the mystery, he was pathetically inactive. And that is not like Dumbledore.

  32. I think that Dumbledore just may have simply wanted to understand just how deeply Harry’s connection to Voldemort really was. How many of Voldemort’s abilities he had absorbed and the like, and had just simply told Snape to “look into it”. Dumbledore tends to treat Snape as, well, his spy, seeing as how that’s what he is really. Even in Hogwarts, not necessarily just within the Death Eater circle. As we see throughout the series, Dumbledore, like Voldemort, tends to take up the role of a General in an army. Much like the King in Chess. He gives out orders to his different pieces, and then gathers information and acts accordingly to each situation that arises, rather than taking a direct approach. As I said, I think it’s possible he just told Snape to look into the possibility that Harry might be a Parselmouth. I can imagine that after hearing what Snape had done to do this, Dumbledore had gotten quite upset with him for his methods.

    @grrreg You seem to forget one of the other traits of a Hufflepuff: being just. These Hufflepuffs aren’t exactly being fair in their portrayal of Harry. Of course, they are 12 – 13 year old children, who don’t completely think things through. But still, I think that if one of their qualities is being fair and just, they should have thought things through a little better. Like the fact that one of Harry’s best friends is a Muggle-born and is in fact a half-blood himself (Ernie was quite indignant about his own blood “purity”), that Harry was laying in a hospital bed when Colin was attacked, as well as the way events unfolded in the Dueling Club. When you read over exactly how they did unfold, it’s quite obvious to anyone paying attention that the snake became docile after Harry talked to it. However, I do believe this is a good time to point out that when the “houses” work together, they are stronger than they could ever be alone (if a person can be courageous, intelligent, cunning, and have a fair and loyal mindset, then they would certainly be a very powerful adversary or ally). I believe this is part of why Harry is so powerful (“plenty of courage, I see, not a bad mind either, and there’s talent, oh yes, and a thirst to prove yourself”), and then you think of adding in Hermione with her brains and Ron’s courage (albeit only when it’s really needed) and Harry’s infinite fairness and loyalty to his friends, you have a very powerful combination.

  33. I think you should mention the importance of ‘Expelliarmus’ in the future of the books.
    Just saying, as it will come in handy many times in the future.

  34. To the idea of Professor Sprout reviving Nick with the Mandrake potion-It’s not to revive dead people, it’s simply to revive those who are petrified due to (as we learn) the reflected glare of a basilisk or some kind of spell. The dead are a completely different story and Dumbledore told Harry time and time again, “No spell can reawaken the dead.”

  35. Marcus, somebody must have done something to revive Nick – meaning not to bring him back to life, but rather to bring him back to his previous ghostly state. After all, we see him in future books. I think it’s reasonable to suggest that the Mandrake potion could bring a stunned ghost back to being a ghost just as it would bring a stunned person back to being a person, no?

  36. I think Snape just wanted to humiliate Harry. Once the spell was cast, he figured Harry would have no idea how to respond and Snape could step in, maybe call Harry a fool or something, and then clean it up for him. LIke he tried to. And then Lockhart got in the way and made things a whole lot worse.

  37. This chapter has one of my favourite bits of dialogue in the whole series.

    “I know,” said Harry. “I mean, that’s only the second time I’ve ever done it. I accidentally set a boa constrictor on my cousin Dudley at the zoo once – long story – but it was telling me it had never seen Brazil and I sort of set it free without meaning to. That was before I knew I was a wizard…” “A boa constrictor told you it had never seen Brazil?” Ron repeated faintly.

    I just love reading it out loud to myself. I can just picture how he says it. Quite quickly but like it’s no big deal and with a half roll of his eyes at “long story”. I love picturing what Ron and Hermione’s faces are like as he’s talking. It’s one of the few parts that I read to myself in the manner of the characters.

  38. Honestly I think everyone’s giving to much credit to Chessmaster Dumbledore and Snape. I really believe that, like the one’s above me, Snape was just being petty and wanted to humiliate Harry. Also we REALLY don’t know what he told Draco right? (I can’t remember it’s been to long since I read it). I really think the snake just came into play because, well, “Slytherin pride” and all that.

  39. It just seems too much of a coincidence that Snape vaguely told Draco to use Serpensortia, out of the thousands of spells that can be used in duels. I personally think Snape wanted to know what Harry’s connection with the Chamber of Secrets is. Both Hermione and Ron knew that Salazar Slytherin is a Parselmouth; therefore, Snape is also brilliant enough to deduce that the so-called heir of Slytherin is also likewise a Parselmouth. Plus, Snape also knew that Harry wasn’t completely telling the truth when he and the gang were found with a Petrified Mrs. Norries and he might have been starting to suspect something about Harry by then. So what better way to find answers to his problem than by putting a snake right in front of Harry, no? Through that, he could find out whether or not Harry is a Parselmouth and deduce if he is indeed Slytherin’s heir or not.

    And yes, I don’t think Dumbledore has had anything to do with this dueling charade. Like what the others said, he doesn’t seem like the type to openly expose Harry’s connection with Voldemort like that. And yes, I agree with what Casey said: that Dumbledore simply told Snape to “look into it” and Snape decided to find out using Serpensortia. It’s actually killing two birds with one stone: by being in the duel, he could help protect Harry if anything goes wrong (like what Josie said) and he could find an answer to his question.

    This is just my assumption, though. I think it sort of fits the personality of the characters involved and the underlying plot of the book.

  40. 1. Why did Draco stay at Hogwarts over Christmas?

    2. Why was this the only time there was a dueling club?

  41. @Jeremy 1. I don’t know 2. I think it’s because of the snake stuff that happened during that class, or because it is the only time the class was ever mentioned:)

  42. “And what will you do in return, Severus?”

    This scene really defines Snape, I think. Anything he does outside of showing hatred towards Harry prior to the last chapters of the last book is purely on Dumbledore’s orders.
    My theory is that Dumbledore would have discussed with Snape privately after he’d received yet more feedback from each of his staff regarding how Harry was doing. (forgive me on this part as I don’t have the appropriate citing) One of the teachers passed information to Dumbledore than he was rather ill-equipped at even the most basic means of defending himself. After much consideration, Dumbledore requested Snape display an open invitation, to any willing students who wished to lean how to defend themselves. Snape has agreed to do anything Dumbledore requests of him.

    It was not Lockhart that decided to start up the Duelling Club – we know this because he’s an almost completely untalented wizard. Although he invited himself up to Dumbledore’s office to offer a suitable detention (signing fanmail) when he overheard only the last part of the conversation, and true to character offered to help with the extra-curricular lessons; he did, after all, defeat [some Dark wizard], [whatever year that didn’t actually happen].

    And so it was agreed. Snape and Lockhart were to teach extra-curricular duelling, much to Snape’s dislike.

    Skip forward to the actual duelling.

    Snape’s first move on Lockhart is the Expelliarmus charm, although the effect is much more than just the wand flying out of Lockhart’s hand. He’s blasted backwards. My assumption is that he used a non-verbal spell in addition to the verbal “expelliarmus”.

    Onto my last note.

    I have my suspicions regarding Snape’s deliberately outing Harry as a Parselmouth.
    I think there was an unseen memory from the set of memories that night Snape was killed (DH). When Dumbledore told Snape that part of himself had lodged itself into Harry, Snape didn’t want to believe it. But over the course of the first year, and part of the second, he had come to truly loathe Harry for being so physically close to James, that his emotions grew slightly detached from him. It took him more than 12 months to test out Dumbledore’s theory – and what better a method than to test it out where he was under pressure and had to act instinctively?

  43. I love the various theories to explain Serpensortia. My personal preference is the theory that Dumbledore suspected that Harry might be a Parselmouth, shared this with Snape and possibly asked him to look into it, and then Snape did so in the most inconvenient way possible for Harry. Here’s a slight alteration on that, though: we know that Dumbledore knows that Voldemort is the one opening the Chamber–he knows WHO, but not HOW. He HAS to be at least a little worried that Voldemort is doing it by possessing Harry. He knows there’s a link between Voldy and Harry, even if he doesn’t know the full extent of it yet–there’s the prophecy, Voldy “marking” Harry as his equal, the scar itself, and the fact that Harry’s the only student who’s had any actual contact with Voldy. It would be just like Voldemort to exploit that link, and this has to have crossed Dumbledore’s mind. (Josie’s probably pointed all this out somewhere else, so I apologize if I’m accidentally stealing someone else’s thoughts!)

    However, there’s another possibility which several people have alluded to: We’re neglecting Malfoy’s role in all of this. We tend to assume that what Snape whispered was instructions on what spell to use, but we don’t have any actual proof of that. Snape may have just said, “Do something impressive” (or scary). Or he may have just been saying something encouraging (or, more likely, something insulting about Harry). And Malfoy, at this point, is full of pureblood pride. He’s excited that the Heir of Slytherin is prowling around. He sees the Heir and the potential “cleansing” of Hogwarts as something bringing glory to Slytherin. It would be perfectly natural for him to show off the symbol of Slytherin as publicly as possible. Snake-conjuring may even be a spell that Slytherins commonly teach each other, like a first-year rite of passage.

  44. I think that no one knew Harry was a parselmouth before the dueling club. *SPOILER* At this time, Dumbledore didn´t even know that Harry was a horcrux. Snape just took the opportunity to humiliate Harry in front of the whole school, he always loves that. If he wanted the possible heir of Slytherin to show himself, this would be quite a foolish way to do that, because the heir who was behind the attacks wouldn´t want others to know that he can speak parseltongue. I think Smape was surprised and even worried when Harry spoke to the snake.

    I also don´t think Dumbledore knew everything about the chamber. He probably knew bits of it, he suspected Riddle, maybe he and Snape worked out that the monster was a basilisk. But if Dumbledore knew how to get to the chamber and everything, he wouldn´t have left the school when there was a possibility that someone was going to be killed by the basilisk.

  45. Referring to Nick’s revival, I imagine that the potion was evaporated underneath him so the vapour entered his ectoplasmic form.

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