Welcome to our next-to-last chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! This has been quite the journey so far, and I’m pumped to keep going. And today… our article is particularly special to me.
But first, here’s our video! We take a deep dive into all that Harry Potter and Tom Riddle discuss in the Chamber of Secrets. Another subject we take a closer look at is Ginny Weasley’s experience with Tom Riddle’s diary and what exactly happened to her during her first year at Hogwarts. As always, there are *SPOILERS* for the Harry Potter series ahead!
Speaking of spoilers, today we’re talking about a hugely important element of this book that plays a big part later in the series. This is your last spoiler warning if you haven’t yet read the books!
Today, we’re breaking down everything we know about the first Horcrux Voldemort created—the diary Harry encounters in this book. Although this diary serves as an important plot point in this second book on its own, it’s integral to the rest of the series and plays a HUGE role in Voldemort’s pursuit of immortality.
If you’ve been following along for a while now, you already know how pumped I’ve been about the introduction of this first Horcrux—the diary of Tom Marvolo Riddle. Of course, when we all read this series for the first time, we didn’t realize the diary Harry stumbles upon in this book, the diary that causes so much devastation, actually contains a piece of Voldemort’s soul. This artifact secretly broadcasts the mission Harry will ultimately embark on in the last book—the journey to destroy the Horcruxes.
I’ve talked a little bit about this diary and Voldemort’s intentions regarding it in a couple of my videos during our read of this book (check out my YouTube channel to find out more about that). But today, I want us to break down each and every detail about this object as well as postulate about the potential the diary held as both a Horcrux and a weapon.
Here’s just about everything we know about Tom Riddle’s diary. This includes a timeline of its creation as a Horcrux as well as some of my thoughts about it:
Tom Riddle bought this diary from a Muggle store called Winstanley’s Bookstore & Stationers on Vauxhall Road in London.
I actually researched this place, and no, it isn’t real. However, I find it extremely fascinating that Voldemort chose a Muggle artifact from the Muggle world to transform into his very first Horcrux. It seems like the most unlikely object for him to consider important or worthy of holding a piece of his soul. This decision is full of irony for a couple of reasons:
- First, all of the other Horcruxes Voldemort intentionally creates are extraordinary magical items that hold intense meaning to him. Voldemort is obsessed with the idea that he is “special,” so of course, his Horcruxes needed to be unique items as well.
- Voldemort despised the Muggle world, the mundane. Again, throughout the series, we get constant references to the idea that he viewed himself as “special” and far above his Muggle beginnings. We must consider his background as well: He hated the childhood he spent in the Muggle world, and once he discovered the details of his parentage, he “cleansed” his past of any Muggle connections by killing his father and grandparents. Needless to say… Voldemort couldn’t stand anything to do with Muggles.
- There’s also irony in the way he utilized this Horcrux. Voldemort intended for this diary (originally a non-magical item) to be used to attack Muggleborns with the intention of killing them.
Because of these reasons, it’s a little strange to consider him choosing a Muggle object as his first Horcrux on the surface. However, in my opinion, this diary is a microcosm of Voldemort’s transformation into the evil, twisted wizard we meet in the books. Like the diary, Tom Riddle also came from the Muggle world, but he worked to “rise above” his mundane beginnings. He gives this diary the same opportunity, transforming it from something ordinary into a dark, cruel object. In the end, Tom Riddle makes the diary into something more than it ever was just as he takes his first steps to become Lord Voldemort.
In the end, this diary mirrors Voldemort’s own journey, which makes it a very fitting first Horcrux for him. This is also one of the reasons it might be my favorite Horcrux!
The diary was transformed into a Horcrux in 1943 using the death of Myrtle Warren (Moaning Myrtle).
The death Voldemort used to create this Horcrux was none other than Moaning Myrtle. This is something I didn’t realize until we started Muggles and Mocha. However, since the Horcrux creation process is shrouded in mystery, it’s unknown when exactly this Horcrux was created. Personally, I believe Horcruxes are most likely made immediately upon the victim’s death because I consider that to be when the soul of the murderer is ripped apart as well. So I assume this Horcrux was created in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom just after she died.
Here’s an interesting thought: From this example, we see Horcruxes can also be made through a death a person directly causes. Voldemort himself didn’t kill Myrtle—the basilisk did. Yet, Voldemort was still able to use this murder to split his soul and create a Horcrux. At this point, I don’t have too much more to say on this discovery, but I find it very interesting when considering the Horcrux creation process!
The diary was intended to be used as both a weapon and a Horcrux.
This is what makes this Horcrux particularly interesting to me. At the time Riddle opened the Chamber of Secrets, he was unable to take credit for his work, or finish it. This diary was created to store a piece of his soul as well as continue Salazar Slytherin’s mission. No other Horcrux was made with intentions like these in mind; after all, Horcruxes are supposed to protect a person’s soul, not put it in harm’s way. However, this is one of the key clues pointing to Voldemort’s decision to make more than one Horcrux, as we’ll soon discuss.
Voldemort also wanted others to know he was the Heir of Slytherin, the one who had opened the chamber. If we know anything about Voldemort, it’s that he’s arrogant. He wants others to know the importance of his ancestry as well as his ability to do what no one else had before. So while this diary would continue a mission that was very important to him, it was also his way of ensuring he received the recognition he deserved for this tragedy.
Before Voldemort was defeated, he passed the diary on to Lucius Malfoy.
This says a lot about Lucius’s rank in the Death Eaters before Voldemort’s defeat. Lucius wasn’t aware this object housed a piece of Voldemort’s soul, but he knew about the dark magic it was capable of. However, he simply believed Voldemort had enchanted it and given it certain abilities. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, I believe Lucius slips this book to Ginny Weasley for a couple of reasons:
- He knew about the dark magic it contained, and I suspect he knew it would target Muggleborns in its mission.
- He was worried about the ministry’s raids at the time, and we see him hastily selling some of his dark artifacts to Borgin and Burkes so he wouldn’t get caught. While he gave the diary to Ginny Weasley in the hopes it would be used at Hogwarts, I think he also wanted to get as many dark objects out of his hands as possible.
- He wanted the Weasleys to suffer. I won’t go into this too much here, but we know Lucius Malfoy hates Arthur Weasley. By giving this object to his daughter, I believe he was also hoping this would spell out tragedy and ruin for a family he considered “blood traitors.”
The events in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets occur.
We’ve already talked quite a bit about what happens in this book, so I won’t spend too much time here. Through possession (the Horcruxes’ main ability), the diary uses Ginny Weasley to open the Chamber of Secrets and set the basilisk on Muggleborns. Honestly, it’s a terrible year for Ginny…
It’s fascinating to consider the way this diary works, and I talk a lot about it in the video above. Here’s an informative bit of information I found about this diary in my research:
“The diary could transport the reader into a realm of memories, much like the Pensieve. The diary was also able to siphon the life force from a reader and transfer it to Riddle’s stored memory. This act was an endeavor to create a physical body for the sixteen-year-old Soul of Tom Riddle. The closer a writer became to the memory of Tom Riddle emotionally, the more power the diary would acquire over him or her. As this diary contained Riddle’s soul, it also housed his magical powers, including his ability to speak Parseltongue, even by possessing the writer to speak it, which was instrumental in reopening the Chamber of Secrets.”
In a nutshell, I think Tom Riddle’s diary was able to use possession as its primary ability, and this is what brought about Ginny’s actions in the book. For more information about the diary’s effects on Ginny and how it accomplishes this magic, please check out our video today!
Harry destroys the diary using a basilisk fang, which kills the Horcrux within. Dumbledore begins to suspect Voldemort’s use of Horcruxes because of this!
Due to what Harry tells Dumbledore about this dark artifact, Dumbledore begins to believe this diary could have been a Horcrux. This is the moment when our Horcrux narrative begins, even if it’s behind the scenes right now. Because of how reckless Voldemort was with this Horcrux, imbuing it with magic to be used as a weapon, Dumbledore begins to suspect he created more than one. As we can see, this second book is HUGELY important for laying the groundwork for later events and plot points!
Each Horcrux Voldemort created was important, but this one might very well be my favorite because of its particular significance to the overall narrative. Of course, it was the first Horcrux, so that’s pretty cool. But when paired with Tom Riddle’s opening of the Chamber of Secrets and his first murder, this diary symbolizes much more than we may initially realize. It signifies Tom Riddle’s plunge into the dark arts as he gradually became the person we meet in the Harry Potter books.
It represents a lot of firsts for Harry as well! This book is the first time Harry realizes he can speak Parseltongue, same as Riddle. It begins the pair’s “connection,” which will steadily grow more apparent throughout the rest of the book. It’s also the first time Harry truly learns more about the person Voldemort was… Tom Riddle before he became Voldemort.
There’s much, much more I could say about this… But at the risk of rambling, we need to call it a day!
That’s most of the details I have about Tom Riddle’s diary! If you have any questions or if there’s more you’d like to add about this first Horcrux, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
Before we end today, I want to give a quick teaser for next week’s article—it’s going to be a game-changer! There’s an important question a friend pointed out to me recently that needs to be addressed—What if diary Tom Riddle had succeeded in his mission? What if he had “left the pages” of the diary?
I was led to this question by my friend, Parker, who has made many brilliant comments throughout our Muggles and Mocha journey. Here’s a bit of what he said (ellipses added by me); you can read the full comment under my previous YouTube video:
“Madison. Can we talk about how close Voldemort gets to actually returning here?… I think that this attempt at a return is the closest that Voldy comes to actually returning until we hit the fourth book. WHAT IS WILD to me is that he doesn’t seem to know how close he came to returning either… I don’t think he was aware of what happened in the Chamber… Which leads me to some VERY interesting questions and speculation. Riddle is feeding off of Ginny’s life force in an attempt to bring himself into the physical world BUT, at the same time, a fragment of soul and consciousness exists in the forests of Albania. What happens if the diary Riddle succeeds and returns to a physical body? Does the Voldemort in Albania cease to exist or do we now have two independently functioning Voldemorts? I think that there is room in the lore for this to be a possibility.”
What a thought! Thanks so much, Parker! This question was so interesting to me that I wanted to take some time to consider it within an article, which will be published next week.
So, what would have happened if this Horcrux had succeeded? Tune in next time to find out! In the meantime, leave your theories about this question in the comments below.
Again, don’t forget our video today, and you can follow me on social media through the buttons below to keep up with our Muggles and Mocha news.
Until next time! Read Chapter 18 and get ready for our last Muggles and Mocha of this book!
Disclaimer: I do not own any element of the Harry Potter series.