Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Gilderoy Lockhart
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
|Loyalty||Self, his own fame|
Overview[edit | edit source]
Gilderoy Lockhart is famous in the wizarding world. He has been awarded the Order of Merlin, third class, is an Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defence League, and is the five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile Award. He is Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher during Harry's second year. Lockhart has written many best-selling books chronicling his daring adventures, and he revels in his own celebrity.
According to information posted on the Pottermore web site, Gilderoy Lockhart's birthday is 26 January, and his wand is cherry and dragon heartstring. His rise to fame was apparently quite rapid, and he had graduated from Hogwarts (where he was in Ravenclaw house) only about a decade before his return as a teacher.
Role in the Books[edit | edit source]
We first see Lockhart indirectly, as the author of a book on Common Household Pests. As punishment for taking the car, Mrs. Weasley sets Ron, Fred, and George the task of de-Gnoming the garden, and tells them to check Gilderoy's book for instructions. Harry volunteers to help, and like the others is soon spinning the gnomes around rapidly in circles to disorient them, then throwing them over the garden wall. This apparently is effective, as when they are finished, Harry sees a little line of dispirited gnomes heading off towards a distant copse; but near sunset he sees them all finding their way through the hedgerows and back into the garden.
When booklists arrive, it appears that the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher has selected Lockhart's entire library, with the exception of his new autobiography, as texts for the course. Fred and George, who previously commented that Mrs. Weasley is sweet on Gilderoy, now guess that the new Defence teacher is a middle-aged witch. They also comment that the booklist won't be cheap.
When the family reaches Diagon Alley, they find that Lockhart is present in person at Flourish and Blotts' bookstore, signing copies of his new autobiography, Magical Me. Mrs. Weasley is in line, and drags Harry, Ron, and the twins in with her; Ginny is holding back. When the photographer for the Daily Prophet pushes Ron out of the way so he can get a picture, Lockhart spots Harry in line, and drags him up to the table, telling Harry that the two of them together will make the front page. He then gives Harry the full set of his books, smiling broadly all the while, and takes the opportunity to announce that he has accepted the job of teacher of Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. Once released, Harry, retreating to the back of the crowd, finds Ginny, and dumps all the Lockhart books into her cauldron. Shortly after this, there is a physical fight between Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy, which is broken up by Hagrid. While Mrs. Weasley is concerned about what Lockhart will think of them brawling in the store, Fred comments that Lockhart was talking to the photographer chap as to how to spin it for the best news value.
Harry and Ron, unable to reach the Hogwarts Express, use Arthur Weasley's flying car to get to Hogwarts. The car gets into difficulties and crashes into the Whomping Willow. We next see Lockhart the next day as Harry is waiting to get into Herbology; he is walking alongside Professor Sprout, apparently having just been "assisting" her by telling her how to perform first aid on the tree. It is perhaps noteworthy that Professor Sprout is carrying all the first aid gear, looks somewhat exasperated, and has fresh bruises, while Lockhart does not seem at all the worse for the experience. Seeing Harry at the greenhouses, Lockhart takes him aside. Lockhart says he blames himself; having given Harry a taste of fame in Flourish and Blotts', he understands that Harry was only trying for fame and recognition when he took the flying car to Hogwarts. In a fatherly way, he cautions Harry that he may be reaching too high, and that he should tone down his search for recognition.
In the first Defence Against the Dark Arts class, Lockhart has the class take a test, to see who has read through the textbooks. Harry and Ron are astounded; the test is all questions about Lockhart. Hermione gets all the answers right and Lockhart, who is amazed awards Gryffindor 10 points. Lockhart then proposes a practical example, and releases a cageful of Cornish pixies. The pixies promptly wreak mayhem on the classroom. Attempting to return them to their cage, Lockhart performs a spell which has no effect; a pixie grabs his wand and throws it out the window. At the bell, most of the class leaves; Lockhart, also departing, tells Ron, Harry, and Hermione to "finish cleaning up here". Ron says he doesn't think Lockhart is much of a wizard. Hermione counters, saying "Look what he's done!" Ron retorts, quietly, "What he says he's done."
A hero-worshiping Colin Creevey asks Harry to pose for a photograph. Draco Malfoy, passing by, starts making jokes about Harry giving out autographed pictures; Lockhart, arriving on the scene, puts himself in the center of the picture, then takes Harry off for some more "advice about managing his fame". It is mentioned in passing later that the developed photograph shows Lockhart struggling to pull Harry into the picture and failing.
When Ron attempts to curse Malfoy, because Malfoy had insulted Hermione, his wand backfires, and Harry and Hermione take him to Hagrid for assistance, pausing to avoid Lockhart as he leaves Hagrid's hut. Hagrid tells them that Lockhart had been the only applicant for the Defence Against the Dark Arts position, and is uncharacteristically critical of him, saying that Lockhart's books might not be entirely truthful. He also jokes about Harry giving out signed photographs, and says that Lockhart was not happy about Hagrid's saying Harry is already more famous than Lockhart will ever be.
As they return to the castle, Professor McGonagall tells Harry that his detention for the flying car episode will be to assist Professor Lockhart with his fan mail, and that Lockhart had specifically requested him. Harry duly presents himself at Lockhart's office that evening, finding it full of posters of Lockhart, some of them autographed. Harry dully settles down to addressing envelopes, as Lockhart rambles on about the price of fame, and signs photos. Harry suddenly hears a voice other than Lockhart's, but looking around, cannot find the source. Lockhart, recalled to himself, notes the time and dismisses Harry.
When Mrs. Norris is found hanging off a torch bracket, Professor Dumbledore indicates a need to examine her; Lockhart volunteers his office. Dumbledore asks Harry, Ron, and Hermione to accompany them as they had discovered Mrs. Norris; Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall, and Argus Filch follow. As they enter, Harry notes the occupants of most of the Lockhart posters whisking themselves out of view; he believes he sees some of them wearing hair curlers. As Dumbledore examines the cat, Lockhart is prattling on about how he could have saved her if he had been there; Harry notes that the poster occupants are peering out around their frames, some of them nodding agreement, and sees that at least one is still wearing his hairnet. When Dumbledore reports that Mrs. Norris is not dead but petrified, Lockhart says that he can whip up a Restorative Draught in no time. Snape rather acidly remarks that he had thought he was the Potions master at the school.
In order to determine if Draco Malfoy is the heir of Slytherin, Hermione hits on a plan to use Polyjuice Potion to allow them to disguise themselves as Slytherins. The instructions for making Polyjuice Potion, however, are in a book, Moste Potente Potions, which is in the restricted section, and they would need a note for it. Ron believes that they will have trouble finding a teacher thick enough to sign a note for a book like that...
Lockhart, meanwhile, after the debacle of the pixies, has resorted to re-enacting scenes from his books, with Harry's assistance. When we next see Lockhart, Harry is willingly playing the werewolf foil to Lockhart as he acts out a scene. We see that Harry is unhappy with this, but we are told that he is playing up to Lockhart for a reason. At the end of class, Hermione, Ron, and Harry approach Lockhart with a note, and Hermione explains that she would like to take Moste Potente Potions out of the library because it would help her understand something in a different one of Lockhart's books. Lockhart signs the note with a revolting peacock-feather quill, and Hermione, with Harry and Ron in tow, heads off to the library to take out the book.
At the Quidditch match with Slytherin, which occurs the next day, a Bludger appears to have been enchanted to concentrate on Harry. While he manages to avoid it for most of the match, as he is lining up to catch the Snitch, the Bludger hits him and breaks his wrist. Lockhart then, over Harry's protests, offers to help, but the spell he uses ends up removing all the bones from Harry's arm.
A week before Christmas break, there is notice of the creation of a dueling club. Harry, Ron and Hermione are interested and attend, but are dismayed when they find it's being run by Lockhart. By way of demonstration, Lockhart faces Professor Snape, runs through the formalities, and is quickly disarmed and flung off the stage. Rather than trying a second time, in the face of Snape's rather obvious anger, Lockhart has the students form groups of two. Snape intervenes at one point, separating Harry and Ron and leaving Harry to face Draco Malfoy; Ron is paired with Seamus Finnigan and Hermione with Millicent Bullstrode. On the count of three, mayhem breaks out; amidst the flying curses we hear Lockhart shouting for everyone to stop, but it is Snape who brings things to an end. Once the smoke has cleared, Lockhart suggests putting a pair of students on stage to demonstrate and suggests Neville and Justin Finch-Fletchley. Snape says that is too risky for Justin, as Neville causes havoc with every spell, and suggests instead Harry and Draco. At the count, Draco conjures a snake. Lockhart says he'll dispose of it, but his charm throws the snake ten feet in the air, and it lands in front of Justin. Seeing it is about to attack Justin, Harry tells the snake to stop, and is surprised when it does. Snape then destroys the snake, looking speculatively at Harry. Justin asks Harry what he thought he was trying to do, and storms off; Harry, Ron and Hermione leave as well, and Ron says that he didn't know Harry was a Parselmouth. Harry admits he didn't know either, and Hermione points out that it is a very rare ability, and historically linked to the descendants of Salazar Slytherin.
After Christmas, there is a long break without any sign of the Monster in the Chamber – Justin's Petrification before Christmas had been the last one. Lockhart, of course, takes credit for scaring away the creature, and suggests that they need a little "morale-booster". On Valentine's Day, we discover what Lockhart's morale-booster is: the Great Hall ceiling is showering down heart-shaped confetti, and Lockhart has recruited a number of dwarfs, dressed as Cupids, to run around the school delivering singing Valentines.
When Hermione and Penelope Clearwater are attacked, Professor McGonagall orders new restrictions for the safety of the students, including a curfew requiring them to stay in their dormitories, a ban on evening activities, and a requirement that they be shepherded between their classes by the teachers. Shortly after this, Dumbledore is suspended as Headmaster, and Hagrid is arrested as he is suspected of being the one who is allowing the Monster out of the Chamber of Secrets. Lockhart now says that the precautions that McGonagall is insisting on are pointless, as with Hagrid arrested there will be no more attacks; the other teachers, though, are not so sure, and are still being very careful about their guard duties.
Harry and Ron, having visited Aragog by this point, believe that it is Moaning Myrtle who was killed by the Monster when it was released fifty years before, and need to talk to her to find out what they can about the Monster. It is Lockhart's certainty about the threat being over, along with his fatigue at having to patrol the hallways all night, which allows them the liberty to go and speak with her: they suggest to Lockhart that they can find their way to their next class and that he looks tired. He goes off to his office, and Harry and Ron head off to interview Myrtle.
Having been redirected to the Hospital Wing and received some information from Hermione, Harry and Ron determine where the entrance to the Chamber is, and what the Monster is (a Basilisk), and so decide that they must speak with Professor McGonagall. They are waiting in the Staff Room to speak with her when students are sent back to their dormitories; hiding in a closet, they hear that Ginny has been taken into the Chamber. They also hear Lockhart, arriving late for the meeting with the staff, being called on his boasts about knowing where the chamber is and what's in it, and receiving instructions from McGonagall to go and deal with the Monster. Much shaken, he departs.
Harry and Ron find Lockhart in his office, frantically packing. Lockhart admits to them that he has not actually done the things in his books, that other people had done them and he had simply recorded what they had told him. The people who had done these things weren't photogenic, so it was better that he, the handsome and dashing one, take credit for their activities. And he also had a very good line of memory charms that would keep them from recalling having done the things that he was now claiming. So saying, he attempts to charm Harry and Ron, but Harry Disarms him. Ron throws Lockhart's wand out the window. With two wands pointed at his back, Lockhart is marched to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. There, Harry opens the entrance to the Chamber. Lockhart is sent down the tunnel first; Harry and Ron follow. Eventually, they discover a huge, cast-off snake skin. Lockhart seems to faint at the sight, then, grabbing Ron's wand, tells Harry and Ron that he will take some of the snake skin as proof that he had vanquished the monster, and oh too bad about Ginny. However, when he tries to use Ron's broken wand to modify Ron's and Harry's memory, it backfires and explodes. The ceiling falls between Harry and Ron, and Lockhart loses his memory completely.
When Harry returns from the Chamber with Ginny and Fawkes, Lockhart can barely remember who he is himself, and only vaguely recognizes Harry. He spends the remainder of the book going where he is told, staring vaguely at things, and humming quietly to himself.
While visiting Arthur Weasley at St. Mungo's Hospital in London, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny happen to see Lockhart, who is still recovering there from his memory loss. The charge nurse seems to be so pleased that Gilderoy has visitors that the four students feel compelled to stop and visit with him for a while. Gilderoy appears to have made little progress in recovering his memory; he cannot remember Harry, and is unable to remember why people keep writing to him. He has, however, regained his love of autographing pictures of himself, which the charge nurse finds encouraging, and he has finally managed to re-learn joined-up writing.
Harry's visiting Lockhart is primarily a way to introduce us to several other characters who are also suffering long-term spell damage: Broderick Bode, and Frank and Alice Longbottom, parents of Neville.
Strengths[edit | edit source]
His smile is an important strength, at least to him, and he refers to his five awards repeatedly and with what he considers to be charming humour (although Harry and Ron seem to find it slightly sickening). He has the ability to manipulate other characters by using his charm and physical appearance. He also seems to have excellent skill with Memory charms.
Weaknesses[edit | edit source]
Lockhart is inept at using magic other than the Memory Charm. When he tries to mend Harry's broken arm, the spell goes wrong, causing Harry's bones to disappear.
Lockhart is a fraud, lying about his achievements in order to gain celebrity. In Defence Against the Dark Arts class, he only assigns his own published works as textbooks, and he brags constantly about his published exploits, adventures which we discover actually happened to other, less-photogenic wizards and witches. Despite all his magic going wrong, Lockhart does not seem to be aware that those whose successes he has claimed as his own have fed him false information as to how the deeds were done.
Lockhart has an overblown sense of his own importance, and an inability to view things from any viewpoint other than his own. He quite clearly seems to believe that Harry's sole motivation, like his own, is love of the limelight, and tries to give Harry tips on managing his fame.
Relationships with Other Characters[edit | edit source]
Lockhart is popular with female characters in Chamber of Secrets, particularly Molly Weasley and Hermione Granger. He is a celebrity in the Wizarding World for his (fraudulent) exploits which he has documented in a series of best-selling books.
Lockhart exploits others for publicity, in particular creating headline-grabbing opportunities with Harry whenever possible. He forms a false attachment to Harry purely to generate publicity for himself. His supposed fondness for Harry is exposed as fake when he attempts to use a memory-obliterating charm on him.
Analysis[edit | edit source]
Despite Lockhart's fame, Harry and Ron almost immediately see through his act, and consider him an ineffectual, self-aggrandizing fop. Harry may come to this conclusion even before Ron does; Ron apparently does not see the failure of Lockhart's de-gnoming technique. Many female students, including Hermione, have a crush on him, as do many middle-aged witches including Mrs. Weasley.
Lockhart is almost stunningly oblivious to other people. He seems to feel that everyone is as self-aggrandizing as himself, and keeps taking Harry aside to give him helpful little tips about how to manage his fame. He cannot see that Harry does not want to be famous. Harry sees, much more than Gilderoy, that when one is in the spotlight, every action, including the less flattering ones, is observed. Lockhart clearly feels that he can make no mistake, or can use a memory charm to cover over his mistakes, whereas Harry still feels quite keenly that he is not as much a part of the Wizarding world as he should be.
It is interesting, perhaps, that despite his many and sophisticated efforts to hide his fraudulent behaviour, the entire staff of Hogwarts, including Poppy Pomfrey and Professor Sprout, both of whom are squarely in his "middle-aged witch" target demographic, seems to be aware that he is not who he claims to be. Dumbledore's comment on learning that Lockhart has destroyed his own memory, "Impaled upon your own sword, Gilderoy?" implies that he is not at all surprised that memory charms are what Gilderoy has based his success upon. Whether Dumbledore had already known this, or whether he was simply unsurprised by the revelation, is unknown, and ultimately unimportant.
It may be worth commenting on Lockhart's wand. We note that the author has made an effort to have the wand match the wizard's or witch's personality in some way; there is more information on this in the article on wands. Apart from his foppishness and self-aggrandizement, Lockhart is more than a bit of a romantic. For the sort of syrupy personality who could conceive of sending mock Cupids around the school to deliver Valentine's Day greetings, what would be more appropriate than heartstrings in the wand? We will note the romantic connotations of cherries, as well; but in thinking about that point, we must remind readers that the audience for this book is generally not yet adolescent, though not far away from it.
It is somewhat difficult to understand why the author felt a need to introduce a character like Lockhart to the story. It is true that Harry must have some sort of antagonist in every book to afford interest before the climactic battle, whatever that battle may be. The author also seems to be quite skilled in the art of indirection, providing a low-level antagonist to deflect our attention away from the main battle. But why such a popinjay as Lockhart? Perhaps the intent is to show the audience that this type of adult does exist; we will grant that the intended audience for this book, those aged about 12 or under, likely have some experience detecting self-aggrandizement among their associates, and the author may be attempting to illustrate that the problem is not restricted to children. We suspect that by limning the existence of this sort of glamour, the author intends to try to somewhat inoculate her readers from it.
Questions[edit | edit source]
- Lockhart's personality remains the same, even though his memory has been removed. What does this say about a person's character vs. a person's experiences?
- Why shouldn't someone lie about their accomplishments?
- Given Lockhart's character, and what he has done, which House at Hogwarts do you believe he should have been Sorted into? Why?
Greater Picture[edit | edit source]
It is uncertain whether Lockhart's reappearance in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was planned when Lockhart damaged his mind at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, or whether it was a fortuitous linkage. It is necessary to bring the Trio into contact with some people who have long-term spell damage; in particular, their meeting Broderick Bode at that point is a necessary side light to the plot, as it is part of the sequence that reveals Voldemort's interest in the prophecy stored at the Ministry. It is useful, though arguably not necessary, to have the Trio introduced to Neville's parents at this stage; while the reader has been told about them, it does aid in our understanding of Neville for us to actually see them. Having Lockhart appear at the stairwell door does give us a much better "hook" into visiting with Bode and the Longbottoms than we would get any other way. Bode, wandering, would mean little to Harry, and the only time they would be likely to see Neville is as he is arriving at, or leaving, the ward. If Harry fell in with Neville as they were approaching the ward, likely the Trio would have gone on their way to the tea shop, out of delicacy, rather than staying with Neville as he went to visit his parents. And if Neville were leaving, there would be no incentive for the Trio to visit where he had just left. We have as yet met no other wizard with long-term mental damage, spell-caused or otherwise, and so we would have no reason to visit with Bode, absent Lockhart. His presence, however, could still be purely incidental, rather than being a plan on the author's part.