Welcome to the next Specialis Revelio chapter analysis! If this is your first time on the blog, please check out this introductory post, where I explain the purpose of this blog, as well as the different sections you'll see in each post. You can also click here to go to the page where all of my posts are listed in chronological order.
~I solemnly swear that I am up to no good~
Specialis Revelio: a spell that reveals an object's hidden secrets.
Ten years after the events of chapter one, the Dursleys still live nearly the exact same as before. Harry has grown up in the cupboard under the stairs, largely ignored save for taunts, punishments, and bullying.
The chapter opens on Dudley's birthday. Dudley is doted upon and receives numerous birthday presents. Harry is supposed to be left at the neighbor's (Mrs. Figg) house for the day, but she has an injury and cannot take care of him, so Harry is able to go to the zoo with the Dursleys and Dudley's best friend, Piers Polkiss. We discover that odd things seem to happen around Harry. While in the snake room at the zoo, Harry seemingly speaks to a snake before the glass disappears and the snake escapes. Harry is punished by the Dursleys for this and lays in his cupboard contemplating his rather odd life.
Dudley is ~5 weeks older than Harry, and his DOB is June 23, 1980. Therefore, this chapter takes place on Saturday, June 23, 1991.
TBH, my favorite moment from this scene is something that happens exclusively in the movie! But I do really enjoy these little stories about Harry accidentally using magic.
WWP Analysis- The book mentions that socks seem to be a running bit. Like last time, I'm not 100% sure that this has any real significance, but this is definitely something that could be interesting to follow. I know for sure this one pops up again.
- Again, 12, 13, and watches are also running symbols. The numbers appear again in this chapter in the form of the number of presents.
- Fig= "not literal". Fig leaf= "something that conceals or camouflages." Is this coincidental, or is Mrs. Figg hiding something?
- How come Harry can talk to snakes specifically, but not any of Mrs. Figg's cats?
Notes for First Years-Keep that cabbage scent handy, kids. Never know when it'll come wafting back again.
-IDK about you, but I'd rather stay far away from snakes than talk to them.
Everyone's favorite criticism of this chapter is the fact that snakes don't have eyelids and therefore could never wink or blink at Harry. Oops. Good research, JKR!
... actually, it's not, really. There's nothing of note that has really slipped my mind here. There are a few fun moments that I'm reminded of upon each re-read (Harry's motor-bike dream, receiving ice cream, the rando moments of accidental magic usage) but none of these things are anything I've outright forgotten.
(Remember, this section is spoilery if you haven't seen the movie!)
Actually, this time it's what is in the movie. I love the scene where the glass disappears and Dudley falls into the water, only to realize that the glass is there again and he's stuck in the snake display. Brilliant.
No first years past this point!
From here forward, spoilers from all 7 books are fair game!
The clear things here are the parseltongue and Mrs. Figg. Mrs. Figg is obviously rather purposeful, though IDK if the extent of her involvement was decided. Also, the snake stuff is clever because at the time it's presented as just another odd thing Harry randomly does rather than something that's actually rather unique. So it's super subtle foreshadowing in the fact that it's something readers will clearly remember, but it's packaged in a way that purposely makes this specific ability not stand out. Then, when he's revealed as a parselmouth in book 2, it's this epic revelation and the reader immediately thinks back to the foreshadowing in book 1.
OK, so I wanted to take a moment to discuss the use of magic by underage wizards. This is dealt with rather severely once wizards enter school. In fact, this causes problems for Harry HALF of the summers he's living with the Dursleys... but it's completely unregulated before kids go to Hogwarts? This has never made sense to me. Wouldn't witches/wizards with zero training be more dangerous because they have no idea how to use their powers? They don't have a real grasp on them yet and probably don't fully understand that they need to keep everything under wraps. The implications of exposing magic to the muggle world have not yet been given to them. Plus, this is even worse for muggle-borns or people like Harry who have no idea that the Wizarding World exists. It just seems really odd to me that no one tries to do anything about these outbursts, despite panic over purposeful use of basic charms.
Also, once a witch/wizard stars learning magic, do they no longer have accidental outbursts? Ron makes snow fall on accident once, but that's all I can remember. This accidental magic usage seems to be one of the things that wasn't fully thought out or developed.
So, that's it for this chapter analysis! I'm already so excited about re-reading this series and looking at each chapter through a different lens than I normally do. Let me know in the comments what you thought of this post and if you have any ideas for other things that I can look at in the chapter. Thanks so much for reading and don't forget to check out my links below!