Monday, December 29, 2014

Not Upset: My Boggart

(I forgot to do this on the last few posts but if you have ten minutes you might look into my nine-question-survey for Sometimes I'm a Story to help make the blog better next year. Last time I bring it up, promise.)

This is it! The last Harry Potter introspection experience. (Really, last one, promise.) Today we reach the fourth and fatal question… Are you scared?

Courtesy of Tumblr

4. What Would My Boggart Be?

Fear is tricky because it’s complex.

Getting startled is one thing—but if your little brother jumps out from behind the couch and draws the dirtiest of swears from your lips, you probably won’t live in dread of meeting him again (however annoying he may be).

Real, deep-seated fear? That’s complex. An undesirable precedent, a current problem, and the unknown future couldn’t be anything else.

Let Ron be our guinea pig: he fears spiders. As children, Fred turned Ron’s teddy bear into a spider because he broke his toy broomstick. That’s traumatic. Something familiar, even comforting, became unfamiliar and threatening. Spiders still terrify him—and I don’t really blame him.

However, even though spiders have too many legs and are disgusting, I think, for Ron, they are also a symbol. Ron was betrayed: not just by his teddy, but by his brother, even if it took him a while to understand what happened that fateful day. It’s my own supposition, but especially when he wears the locket in Deathly Hallows, Ron’s actions show that he still fears being betrayed again, even if it’s unconsciously.

Still, spiders are disturbing, right? Even if they aren’t tied up in childhood trauma. So let’s look at something most of us aren’t afraid of: the moon.

Remus Lupin’s boggart appears as the moon. And, if you are a healthy individual, you likely recognize that the moon is about 384,399 km (238,900 miles) away from us, on average [source]. It’s not like it’s going to squish us, or attack us, or eat us, or kill us. It’s the moon.

No, Lupin fears his darker nature: that of a werewolf. To my knowledge, he never killed anyone—but the possibility remains. He could kill someone. Perhaps worse, he could allow them to live; when he learns that Tonks is pregnant he completely flips out because he would never wish his curse on anyone else.

Now, the boggart could turn into Lupin-wolf, if it wanted, but when Lupin undergoes his transformation he sees the moon, not himself. The moon symbolizes his fears, and so the boggart uses that symbol to elicit the emotional ties connected to that image—it’s not the moon, but what it does, that alarms him.

Flickr Credit: Doug Wheller
So… What about me?

Making a fear public kind of sucks: it makes finding the next words tricky. I don’t scare too easily, and I don’t have a phobia, and I wouldn’t want people to think I do. But I felt scared a few weeks ago: I fear school shootings. It isn’t exactly THE fear of all fears—my boggart might very well turn into something else—but it’s a go-to thought.

A couple weeks ago, my principal interrupted my Film Studies class on the intercom: “This is your principal. Lockdown. Lockdown. Locks, lights, out of sight.”

My first thought, of course, was “oh, shit.”

I live in a state with a reputation for school shootings, and a lockdown means that somebody’s already in the building. I ran for all I was worth to one of the three doors, and in my head I was almost defiant: “you don’t kill me today, bastard.”

Before we had a chance to do the out-of-sight bit, my principal came on again, a little more flustered: someone accidentally hit the lockdown recording button, and we were actually having a lockout drill, which lasted for ten minutes and classroom business resumed as usual.

It frightened me, but I’m kind of glad it happened—I believed the situation was real, and so I acted as if it were real. And I was kind of freaking out. I had two sisters in the building, and though I was nervous about my own safety I also thought theirs. Some stupidhead could rip apart my family in minutes, and even after the drill ended my hands shook a little.

(Of course, I’m an ISTJ so I don’t think anyone actually noticed I was scared, but this is what was going on in my head.)

The point, anyway, is that I fear someone—someone I know, even, someone who I might call friend—putting the people and community I value most in danger. I’m not plagued endlessly. I don’t go rigid when people talk about shootings. I don’t cry. But I also know that if the real thing ever happened, I’d be terrified.

That’s probably what my boggart would want.

Flickr Credit: modernrockstar

That’s a wrap! I’ve speculated on answers, and presented the cases for our patronuses, love potions, desires, and fears, and I have come to a conclusion: this is a silly thing to be forever upset about. Don’t get me wrong—they’re worth thinking about. What is your character, your passion, your desire, your fear? You should explore these things!

But don’t be forever upset: they’re always going to change. Ron’s biggest fear was likely something else before the teddy bear fiasco. Tonks’ patronus only became a werewolf after she fell in love with Lupin. Harry only wanted the sorcerer’s stone in the moments he needed it.

Considering the fluidity of YOU, patience seems better than upsetness. Besides, who knows? You might be a completely different you tomorrow.

Ta-da! What did you think? Did you enjoy this Harry-Potter-based introspection? Would you want to read something like this again? I don’t know these answers: it’s all on you, partner. 


  1. I have enjoyed these posts!
    I am terrified of spiders like Ron, but I'm not sure where the fear comes from. If you ever want to make me scream long and loud, put a spider where I can see it. I'm also terrified of house fires - again, not sure where this came from, but I live in constant fear that our house will burn down. Earthquakes as well (and I live in NZ so we get plenty).
    I'm not sure what my boggart would be though.

    1. I'm glad you have!

      Spiders really don't need a reason; they're just terrifying and awful all by themselves. But house fires and earthquakes are also scary things, and so I can't blame you. Dangerous things are no fun at all. But I don't think the symbol matters so much—boggarts are so volatile that I doubt you could always predict what it will look like.

  2. Well, that ended on quite a philosophical note! Hmm, I honestly have no idea what my Boggart would be -- but I think it'd be something celestial, something that reminds us that we're a tiny planet in a tiny system in a not-so-tiny galaxy in a massive universe. These were absolutely wonderful posts -- loved reading them!

    1. We are small—I guess my only cure for that would be the Galaxy Song from Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life" and even then that's not the most comforting thing. But it's catchy. I'm glad you loved them—I hope I'll be able to find something similar to them again soon. :)


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