On Poetry, Prose, and Videogames

JLawrence Kenny

Maniacal Monday: Gilderoy Lockhart, from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

on October 17, 2011

What can I say about the Harry Potter books besides the fact that I think they are some of the best things to ever happen to this world? Well, I guess that says it all, really. And like in any decent story, Harry Potter has his fair share of enemies. From the maniacal Lord Voldemort to the control freak Dolores Umbridge, the villains of the Wizarding World are diverse and colorful, each bringing their own brand of evil to the table. And before we return to the more sinister villains that I love, I thought it would be nice to end our little trip into the world of humor with the wonderful character known as Gilderoy Lockhart.

Conceited? Him? Nnoooooo....

Gilderoy Lockhart is a celebrated author in the wizarding world of Britain, well-known for his wonderful books about his many exploits in foreign lands defending the world from the forces of darkness. When we first meet him in the story, during a book-signing session, he announces that he will be taking the recently vacated position as teacher for the Defence Against the Dark Arts class at Harry’s school, Hogwarts. Once there, however, it becomes quite clear that Lockhart may not be all that he seems. During his first lesson, after a review test on his published works, he unleashes a group of pixies upon an unsuspecting class, who proceed to demolish the entire room within moments, while Lockhart stands by, powerless to stop them. For the rest of the book, his classes mainly consist of reenactments of scenes from his books, usually with Harry as an unwilling volunteer. He also spends quite a bit of time being overly dramatic, holding his fame over his students, and attempting to cozy up to the famous Harry Potter. It is not until the climax of the story that we discover that Lockhart is a fraud, having stolen his stories from other people and wiped their memories of their journeys so that he might profit from them. In the end, he accidentally erases his own memory, and he spends the rest of his life in a hospital, unable to ever regain his lost memories.

Had he been any more interested in Harry, I would've called "pedophile."

Gilderoy Lockhart is a very different villain from the sort we have encountered before in this blog. Rather than a grand scheme to take over the world or otherwise do evil things, Lockharts motives are purely selfish. He desires fame and fortune for himself, and exploits others to this end, lying and cheating his way to the top. He relies on his charms, dashing good looks, and acting prowess rather than any actual talents, knowing that they will get him far in life, but not as far as he desires. Besides his obvious theft of stories that had nothing to do with him, he also makes it his job to cozy up to Harry as often as possible, knowing that Harry’s star power could easily help him advance in life. As he says once, “Nice big smile, Harry; together we’ll make the front page.” He is a master of deceit, coasting through life with ease. However, under his confident exterior is a fairly pathetic individual, as we can easily see once Harry and Ron confront and Disarm him. He practically begs them to leave him alone as they go to the Chamber of Secrets. He even manages to use his fear to his advantage, pretending to faint in order to steal Ron’s wand from him, and had the spell not backfired because it was broken, he probably would have escaped scot-free. Fortunately for our heroes, that’s not the case.

"No, I totally meant to let myself get thrown back 20 feet and fall on my arse."

For the majority of the story, Lockhart acts as a comedic relief, his larger-than-life personality adding both to his character and allowing for comedic moments during otherwise serious events. During one scene, Lockhart begins a Dueling Club in order to supposedly train the students to defend themselves. Though he is quite easily defeated by Professor Snape, who is assisting him, he shrugs off his defeat, claiming that he had known Snape’s intentions all along, merely wishing the students to see the results of the spell cast upon him. He plays to his audience well, knowing exactly what will and won’t affect them, and how to turn a situation to his advantage without ever lifting a finger. He also creates a number of comedic moments on Valentine’s Day. He dresses in a flamboyant pink outfit, recruits an army of dwarves to send Valentine’s wishes to people in the most annoying way possible. Everything about Lockhart is over-the-top, which is why he managed to become so popular in the first place. People naturally flock to those that possess confidence. If he had ever decided to do more than only look out for himself, there is a definite possibility that he might have done serious damage, his fame protecting him from negative backlash.

Okay, NOW I'm totally calling "pedophile."

Luckily for us, however, Lockhart was a bumbling idiot, whose villainous role was eclipsed by Voldemort himself (albeit in a younger form). Though in the end, he was an easily disposable character, he was certainly an entertaining one, and very well characterized by J. K. Rowling. He was a realistic opportunist, taking what he could and using it for his own benefit, regardless of morals. If he could get away with something that made him more popular or richer, he did it, and he was good at it. Just keep an eye out for real life Lockharts, and make sure you aren’t exploited for someone else’s gain.

Next Week: Seymour, from Final Fantasy X

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