Disclaimer: I do not own anything in here. The ideas and theories behind some of the symbology may be mine, but the creation of the symbology and the symbology itself all belong to JKR.
This essay was written a day after a not-so-pretty run-in with a fanatical HPGW-shipper, who was quite intent on making me accept the symbology of the Chamber of Secrets as a major HPGW hint. I wrote this essay for the mere purpose of debunking this, one of the more farstretched and unbelievable hints (I mean, moreso than the other ones) of HPGW. I dare any HPGW to read this and write a reply debunking my arguments against the "HPGW symbology."
Secrets, Snakes and Swords: The Symbology of the Chamber of Secrets
HPGW shippers say:
'The Chamber of Secrets is symbolic of Ginny's feminine parts, namely the uterus. Harry was the only guy to ever go in there and he entered with the phalic symbol: the sword of Gryffindor. Ron and Lockhart almost went in, but couldn't continue on inside. Harry was the one to open the Chamber and enter. Therefore, HPGW must be canon.'
Alright, HPGW, let's analyze these claims...
The Chamber and Ginny Weasley
HPGWshippers were the first ever to propose that the Chamber of Secrets was symbolic of Ginny. I didn't understand what the basis of this assumption was at first (save their idea of Harry supposedly being the only boy to ever enter it) but when looked at a little closer, the representation becomes a little bit more feasible.
Salazar Slytherin made a secret chamber in Hogwarts where only he and any of his heirs may enter... and he put the entrance in a girls' bathroom?! I'm sure we've all pondered this at one point or another when reading the books. He put it in a girls' bathroom. It wasn't that he put it into another room that was renovated because the entrance was located directly on a faucet. A little odd - the most thought that many of us have given this fact probably went something along the lines of "Real classy, Slytherin..."
But from a symbolic perspective: A girls' bathroom is a very private place, much like the feminine uterus is. The fact that the bathroom was the entrance to the Chamber might be vague hint to its symbology, pertaining to Ginny.
This is the only argument offered to support the claim that the Chamber of Secrets is, in fact, symbolic of Ginny. It may sound farfetched at the moment, but let's just accept this for the rest of the essay.
"Harry was the only boy to open and enter the Chamber"
My response to this HPGW claim:
Tom Marvolo Riddle opened the Chamber fifty years prior to Harry's second year (as stated in the book). During the second year, he opened it again and entered it when he was inside Ginny. That was how Ginny got there herself.
This fact basically kills half of the HPGW argument surrounding the symbolism of the Chamber. Harry is destined to be with Ginny because he was the one to open and enter it? Firstly, Tom Riddle was the first boy to do it and secondly, he did it more often than Harry - the readers know that he did it, at the very least, twice.
The Sword of Gryffindor Vs. the Basilisk of Slytherin
HPGWshippers have claimed that the Sword of Gryffindor was a phallic symbol. However, there was something, ahem, bigger... in the Chamber.
The Basilisk. Traditionally, snakes were meant to represent many things. In Europe, they represented evil, malice, the devil, etc. They were seen as the most cunning and sly of all the animals on Earth, but different parts of Europe also saw snakes as positive symbols, for example, strategists. The snake is also a symbol of temptation. This held true for Eve in the Garden of Eden, and may have held true for Ginny as well. After she broke into Harry's room and retrived the diary, she wasn't able to resist writing in it again.
Most importantly, however, through-out the world, one symbol pertaining to snakes is constant. According to James Hillman, the writer of Dream Animals, the snake is more simply a phallic image because it has a long shafted body that stands erect with a stiffened head, secreting fluids from its tip. (Hillman) (1) Sigmund Freud agreed - to most people, the snake was seen as a phallic symbol.
As for the claim that the sword was a phallic symbol... No evidence was offered by any HPGWshipper to support this claim. Research shows that swords, knives, bayonnets and other weapons that can break skin have been described as phallic. However, when weapons are given this appellation, it is more symbolic of repressed sex or having sexual problems. "Psychologists say all your weapons are phallic. Because you could not penetrate a woman's body, you penetrate somebody's body with a sword. The sword is a phallic symbol. It is beautiful to love a woman, but to penetrate somebody's body with a sword is ugly. BUT this is how things are." (2)
The Sword of Gryffindor and King Arthur's Sword
The sword of Gryffindor can however be seen as an allusion to King Arthur's sword. This can be a point favourable to HPGWshippers, especially because Ginny's first name - Ginevra - is the Italian form of the name Guinevere. Because Harry was the one to wield the sword of Gryffindor - representing the King Arthur's sword - it can be said that Harry and Ginny's relationship then was an allusion to King Arthur and Guinevere's relationship. Contrary to what HPGWshippers may believe, this is not a good thing. Throughout the many myths and legends told about the pair, Guinevere cheated on Arthur many times, the most famous of her affairs being the one she had with Lancelot. Guinevere's affair led to the eventual downfall of Arthur's court, and in the end, he banished her from the kingdom. Most versions of the myth portray her as having affairs because she was bethrothed to, and later married to, a man she did not love. (3)
While we're on this subject, let's discuss the actual Tom Riddle-Ginny Weasley-Harry Potter triangle. Both young men entered the Chamber, which represents Ginny, which should say something about her relationship with each of them.
However, outside the symbology of the Chamber and looking at the literal, who was she more intimately familiar with?
Harry Potter was the hero she had stolen a glance at the previous year, and he was the boy she'd been gushing over and running from during her entire first year. She knew nothing about him except for what she'd read in newspapers, books, magazines, etc. She knew nothing about and she had barely said two words to him. Her relationship with him was that of a fangirl and rockstar - there was nothing there but shallow, one-sided admiration.
Riddle, however, was the man she actually knew. He was the one she actually considered a friend, and trusted, and "simply loved." Out of the thousands who've speculated on this relationship, nobody has yet disagreed with the statement, "Ginny pours out her soul to the diary and grows to love Riddle, calling him the only one to understand her." (4) Ergo, Ginny's relationship with Tom Riddle was stronger than the one she had with the Boy Wonder. If we must continue to say that the Chamber represented her uterus, then it would make quite a bit more sense that Riddle's basilisk spent more time there. The nature of her relationship with Riddle in comparison to her relationship with Potter could also be linked to the fact that Riddle's phallic symbol was a snake - a living, breathing creature - while Potter's was an inanimate sword.
Even after the battle that took place in the Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Gryffindor's sword leave, while the body of the basilisk remains in the Chamber. Ginny's relationship with Riddle may be symbolized as dead here, but it could also mean this: The basilisk is dead, but 'her skeleton will lay in the Chamber forever.' This means that Ginny would not be able to forget Tom or her relationship with him, whereas anything that represented Harry was whisked away from the Chamber forever.
In conclusion, the symbology of the Chamber of Secrets that paints it as a representation of Ginevra Weasley is an interesting one. It may sound farfetched, but the idea is a big one. One so big and interesting that it deserves an analysis more deep and thorough than the ones that were so far granted it by HPGWshippers. At this point, I would like to extend an invitation to any HPGWshipper who read this essay to attempt an intelligent and well-thoughout rebuttal.
If there is any reader who still insists that the symbology only extends so far as "Slytherin's Chamber was the uterus and Gryffindor's Sword was the penis and that's it" - my reply to you would be that this assessment would only be symbolic for: 1) Slytherin had a uterus. 2) Gryffindor was a prick. 3) They were doing it.
Personally, I prefer the Tom Riddle/Ginny Weasley/Harry Potter symbology.
1) Hillman, James. Dream Animals. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1997.
The site isn't letting me upload my references. Message me if you want the full list.
I know this report may be a little controversial (hahaha) and many of you would like to say many things to me right now. But, I don't like reading random flames. If you have critism, feel free to give it to me, but do so tastefully. Thank you.