Boggarts are one of the many magical creatures from the world of Harry Potter and are most recognised for their role in the third book/film – The Prisoner of Azkaban. Boggarts are shape-shifting creatures which dawn the shape of whatever most frightens the person they encounter. Looking at what form a boggart takes when it confronts certain people offers great insight into the minds of the individual. Here is a look at 10 Harry Potter characters and what boggarts tell us about their fears.
When confronting Albus Dumbledore, a boggart takes on the shape of his sister’s dead body. Dumbledore’s sister, Ariana, died during a conflict between the Dumbledore brothers and Grindelwald and whilst it is unclear whether Albus cast the spell which killed her he blamed himself and carried the guilt with him. It is not certain what the specific fear is as he is not fearing the death of his sister as she is already deceased and it is suggested that Dumbledore fears that it was him who directly killed his sister in the conflict or that he fears the loss of control that lead to his sister’s sudden death.
One of the most known facts about boggarts is what they transform into in the presence of Neville Longbottom – Professor Snape. Shown in the third book and the movie adaptation, Neville casting a Riddikulus spell on a Boggart and enveloping its Snape transformation in his Grandmother’s clothes is one of the funnier moments in the Harry Potter series.
But more importantly, knowing Neville’s troubled past many would expect a boggart to transform into Bellatrix Lestrange (as she tortured his parents to the point of insanity). Alternatively, the boggart could have appeared as a death eater or Lord Voldemort himself, perhaps even some representation of the Cruciatus curse. Instead, the boggart took the shape of Severus Snape – Neville must have found him truly terrifying.
Dean Thomas biggest fear is a Loose Hand (otherwise known as a Severed Hand or Disembodied Hand). It is, simply, a severed human hand which can be possessed and controlled by spirits. During the 1993 – 1994 school year, Loose hands could be found throughout Hogwarts and were known to attack students although Deans fear of them likely predates this. When using a riddikulus charm on a boggart Dean traps its Loose Hand form in a mouse trap.
Another character whose biggest fear was revealed during the third book and movie was Remus Lupin. A werewolf, Lupins biggest fear is a full moon, or rather the consequences of a full moon. Lupin fears the loss of control after his transformation and the damage and destruction his wolf form is capable of. A boggart represents this by taking the form of a floating glowing orb which he transforms into a cockroach (changed to a balloon in the movie) by enchanting “Riddikulus”.
As shown in The Prisoner of Azkaban a boggart takes the form of a dementor when in the presence of Harry (although the boggart is significantly weaker than the real thing). In reference to this Remus Lupin addressed Harry saying, “That suggests that what you fear most of all is — fear. Very wise, Harry.” Harry’s first encounter with a boggart was shortly after his first encounter with a dementor and there is a lot of speculation as to what form the boggart would have took had Harry not experienced a chilling attack from a dementor.
Voldemort’s greatest fear is death and as a result a boggart takes the form of his own corpse. It is unsurprising that this is Voldemort’s biggest fear. After all, he did split his soul up encasing it in various horcruxes just so to keep himself from dying.
It may seem that it would have been much easier for Voldemort to evade death by seeking out the deathly hallows but the thought of dying had clearly been a big fear of Voldemort even as a child, when he (then called Tom Riddle) first started looking into horcruxes and long before he was aware of the deathly hallows’ existence.
Molly Weasley has built a reputation as a great mother who is dearly loved by her extensive family as well as friends. Her mothering behaviour extend well beyond her own seven children (and later 10 grandchildren) as she treats Harry Potter like a son in many ways and openly welcomed Hermione and others into her home. As expected, with such a strong love for family a boggart takes the form of her family members dead bodies. This occurred at a celebration party for Hermione and Ron becoming prefects where the boggart transformed into the body of Ron and then following an unsuccessful riddikulus charm changed into several of her other children then her husband, Arthur Weasley and finally it took the form of Harry’s lifeless body.
In the world of Harry Potter there are many fearsome creatures from disembodied hands to mummies but, as revealed by boggarts, the one that Seamus Finnigan fears the most is the banshee. Banshees are described as looking zombie-like and dawn a female appearance. Native to Ireland and Scotland, a banshee’s cries are fatal to anyone that hears it giving Seamus good reason to be scared of them. Seamus was not shy about admitting his fear of the dark creatures announcing his fear during his fourth year at Hogwarts after Harry opened the golden egg which let out a loud screech.
Hermione Grainger is renowned for her class smarts and she prides herself on her academic abilities. As a result, during her third school year her meeting with a boggart in defence against the dark arts class resulted in the boggart taking the form of Professor McGonagall telling her she had failed her exams. However, it is recognised that this boggart’s transformation was representative of her fear of failure and therefore, at other periods in her life, a boggart would likely take a different form representing failure which is more applicable to her situation.
Moody is just one of many that end up face to face with “Voldemort” when confronting a boggart. Whilst the list of people whose biggest fear is the Dark Lord, the fact that he is Moody’s biggest fear truly shows how terrifying he really is. Alastor Moody is considered as the most famous Auror of the modern time and a vital member of the Order of the Phoenix who continued to fight against the death eaters despite losing an eye, leg, and part of his nose in conflicts against those using the dark arts. Many Azkaban cells were filled by the work of Alastor Moody and despite all this Voldemort still managed to bring fear to him – a true testament to the horror Voldemort cast across the wizarding world.
Boggarts are one of the scariest creatures in the whole of the wizarding world. There ability to take the shape of your biggest fear can leave you paralysed with horror, unable to react. Thankfully J.K Rowling added the well-known riddikulus spell into the arsenal of her wizarding heroes, so they could fend of the fearsome creature.