Gilderoy Lockhart

chapter six of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

On the first day of classes, Ron gets a Howler, Harry has some awkward run-ins with Lockhart and Colin Creevey, and second years study Mandrakes in Herbology. Then, in Lockhart’s first class, he unleashes a cage full of pixies, and leaves Harry, Ron, and Hermione to deal with them.

Howler, by Alicey

“You’d better open it, Ron,” said Neville in a timid whisper. “It’ll be worse if you don’t. My gran sent me one once, and I ignored it and” – he gulped – “it was horrible.”

(by Alicey)


Professor Sprout, by Felicia Cano

Professor Sprout was a squat little witch who wore a patched hat over her flyaway hair; there was usually a large amount of earth on her clothes and her fingernails would have made Aunt Petunia faint.


by Amanda Grazini

Professor Sprout had made it look extremely easy, but it wasn’t. The Mandrakes didn’t like coming out of the earth, but didn’t seem to want to go back into it either.


Mandrakes Class, by Sheena Kristen Sy

Harry spent ten whole minutes trying to squash a particularly fat one into a pot.


by Laura Freeman

“D’you think – would it be all right if – can I have a picture? … So I can prove I’ve met you. I know all about you. Everyone’s told me….”


Gilderoy Lockhart, by NicoPony

“Yes,” he said dramatically. “Freshly caught Cornish pixies.”


Cornish Pixie Class, by Sheena Kristen Sy

It was pandemonium.


by Laura Freeman

“Rubbish,” said Hermione. “You’ve read his books – look at all those amazing things he’s done -“


about the chapter


Some Things You May Not Have Noticed

We almost never see wizards use keys to unlock doors in everyday situations. It will come up from time to time – Harry and Ron lock a troll in the girl’s bathroom with a key; Moody’s trunk opens with keys, and a key is needed to gain access to a Gringotts vault – but in terms of an everyday unlocking of a plain old door, the only instance we’ll ever see is Sprout using one to unlock Greenhouse Three in this chapter. When you think about it though, it kind of makes sense – none of the classrooms have the type of dangerous (or practical-joke worthy) things in them that this advanced greenhouse has, so maybe this is the one room in Hogwarts that has to be made completely spell-proof to keep students out. Come to think of it, how does Snape lock the door to his office, where he keeps all his most powerful potions?

On a separate note, I love that Hermione sits and reads Voyages With Vampires right before Lockhart’s class, even though she’s clearly read the book (at least) once already. She’ll do a lot of little things like this that Harry and Ron totally miss, but that indicate just how much she’s thinking of Lockhart….

The Wizarding World

Pixies are famous in the wizarding world for wreaking havoc, and for playing jokes on people (like Neville) by picking them up and dropping them in high places. That, however, is pretty much the extent of their danger, and they are certainly not “Dark” creatures. It really says a lot more about Lockhart than it does about pixies that he brings them to class, especially when he proves unable to handle them. One class in, and it’s already very clear that this guy is completely inept.

The Power of Magic

By the way, just how inept is Lockhart? Well, take a close look at the spell he tries on the pixies, and say it out loud to get the meaning: Peskipiksi Pesternomi! In other words, it’s a play on English and bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Latin-rooted words that are the foundation of virtually every spell in the wizarding world. He probably invented the spell himself off the top of his head, and it’s no better than something a young child would easily be able to concoct. Goodness.

Something to Remember

So as it’s becoming clear very quickly that Lockhart hasn’t got a clue, it’s worth asking: where did the stories in his books come from, exactly?

The Final Word

“I have only once set out to depict somebody I have met and, unlikely though it might seem, the result was Gilderoy Lockhart. I assure you that the person on whom Gilderoy was modelled was even more objectionable than his fictional counterpart…. 

You might think it was mean of me to depict him as Gilderoy, but you can rest assured he will never, ever guess.”–J.K. Rowling,

30 Responses to “Gilderoy Lockhart”

  1. Although I’d love to write about a character like Lockhart, I don’t really like reading about him. It frustrates me so much sometimes I want to throw the book across the room. If I were a Weasley twin there I would be on to him faster than you can say “Peskipiksi Pesternomi!” I was wondering, isn’t it quite obvious to the students and other teachers how stupid this man is?

  2. Eliza, Lockhart doesn’t bother me quite so much, but that’s exactly how I feel about Umbridge in the fifth book. It’s my least favorite to read just because of her. So I know exactly what you mean.

  3. I remember thinking ‘Dumbledore hired this man?’ I know DADA teachers are in short supply, but I’d have thought Dumbldore would have taught it himself rather than have that knucklehead at Hogwarts.

  4. Could Dumbledore have really been hoodwinked my Gilderoy before he hired him or was he ‘charmed’ by him like the rest of the witches? :)

  5. Anything’s possible, but I always thought Dumbledore saw right through him, yet considered him to be a “life lesson” for the students in his classes. Similar to the quote from J.K. Rowling at the bottom of this page:

    Although if you were in your O.W.L. or N.E.W.T. year, it would be pretty rotten timing for a life lesson.

  6. Dumbledore must have been really, REALLY desperate to let this guy teach at his school. Unless he didn’t know Lockhart was a fake?
    And how does Hermione not realise that Lockhart’s an idiot sooner? She’s normally so observant, but I supposed she’s blinded by ‘love’.

  7. Mickey – Hermione’s blinded, yes, but also twelve years old. I don’t think many kids that age (no matter how smart) are conscious of fallibility in adult figures of authority.

  8. Josie, I really like the idea that Dumbledore hired Lockhart to give his students life experience! It puts a whole new slant on the book (or at least the trio’s dealings with him).

    I also love Laurence Peguy’s picutre of Professor Sprout; it’s exactly how I always imagined her to be.

  9. I always figured Dumbledore was getting desperate. I mean, if he hasn’t been able to keep a DADA teacher more than one year since back when Voldy interviewed for the job, which was at least 12 years ago…how many even “only qualified on paper” teachers would there be in Britain? Does he already have a whiff of the Ministry being ready to jump in, several books down, if he doesn’t have a suitable candidate?

  10. I think it’s ironic that Hermione is probably one of the last ones to realize Lockheart is an idiot. Yet she is one of the brightest students in the school. I realize she’s blinded by her adoration of authority figure particular Lockheart because he wrote those books but it’s still funny.

  11. I would say Lockheart’s entertainment value justifies his presence here.

    I wonder if he attended Hogwarts, given that he is unable to perform even quite simple spells that first and second year students at Hogwarts learn.

  12. After all of the flops that Hogwarts has had in the DADA position, I’ve begun to wonder exactly what the interview and decision process has been for some of them.

  13. I love J.K.’s quote at the end

    …”but you can rest assured he will never, ever guess…”

  14. @Jonathan: If Flint, Crabbe and Goyle managed to graduate, Lockhart probably did, too. Or he’s just one of those kids that don’t get the letter and are homeschooled, like Neville might have been (or at least that’s how his family was afraid it’d turn out).

    @grrreg: Is it me or was that joke really meant to call Dumbledore a witch?! I realized the subtext only by how weirdly diverted I was…

    re: Hermione & Lockhart. I find it funny that it takes 14 years old Hermione less time to figure out Lupin’s secret than it took 13 years old Hermione to’ realize Lockhart was an idiot. So much brain, but she’s still an adolescent girl inside!! After all, look who she’s coupled with. =p

  15. Hermione not realizing how much of an idiot Lockhart is, I think, just another example of JK Rowling writing a perfectly normal, flawed human being. There isn’t anything dangerous about Lockhart, however stupid he turns out to be, and she can see that. Whereas with Lupin, she’s suspicious and then she makes the connection he’s a werewolf, which is highly dangerous. So I’m not really that surprised she’s blinded when it comes to Lockhart.

    How old is Lockhart anyway? Is he supposed to be as old as Kenneth Brannagh?

  16. With Hermione and Lockhart, I think Jo’s actually demonstrating her knowledge of how blinded teenage girls can be when they have a crush. Hermione’s attracted to Lockhart because he’s handsome and has supposedly done these amazing things and she makes up excuses for his behaviour, like his incompetance with the pixies being a deliberate attempt to give them some hands on experience. It’s clutching at straws but look at all the excuses girls in real life give bad boys for their behaviour. (Oh he’s really good underneath, I’m just the only person who sees it…) Even Hermione can be falible, especially when she’s twelve and it’s her very first crush.

    With regard to why he was hired, the boys asked Hagrid that and he said it was because Lockhart was the only person who wanted it.

  17. @Irene… Crabbe did not graduate… the series is over and he is dead! At very most he only lived to 17 or 18. And it is never stated that Goyle graduated. Remember, Harry and Ron didn’t go back to study at Hogwarts after Half Blood Prince so technically they didn’t graduate either, although unlike Goyle, they could have both passed some NEWTs.

  18. Lockheart hands out a test – on sheets of paper. Aren’t things like this in the wizarding world usually on scrolls of “parchment”?

    Also – during the pixie pandemonium, I love how Neville is hanging from a chandelier – how in the world did he get up there!?

  19. Crystal, somebody brought this up once before but I can’t find the reference – but paper and parchment are used more or less interchangeably in classes. I looked up a bunch of references and couldn’t find a pattern.

    As for Neville, doesn’t it describe the pixies lifting him up there by the ears?

  20. It say on page 102 of the American Edition

    “Two of them seized Neville by the ears and lifted him into the air. . . . Neville was swinging from the iron chandelier in the ceiling.”

  21. Oh haha, thanks guys – looks like I’m not as observant as I should be!
    Love this site and actually “studying” the wonderful world of Harry Potter!! :)

  22. Jonathan: i loved how you described Lockheart as ‘entertainment value’. I thought that was hilarious and basically describes his role in the book:))

    Bonnie: i would have never thought of that as the way Hermione views Lockheart. It’s a very beautiful way to view a person and it would have never crossed my mind that that was what was behind Hermione’s infatuation:)

  23. As to question of where the stories in Lockhart’s books come from: I cannot remember if it is in the second movie or the fifth book when it is revealed that Lockhart did not actually do any of the stuff. He would hear other people’s stories and record them then wipe their memory. He was supposed to be very good at memory modification. This is why he attempts to hit them with the “obliviate” spell in the chamber at the end of movie 2. I love this site btw. Thanks for it!

  24. i was thinking about the key situation at the ‘something you may not have noticed’ section. i think it is understandable that a key, a very ordinary muggle artifact really, can be used to secure certain doors to avoid being opened by witches and wizards in training is useful. but there is one person who cannot use magic at all and is relied upon to patrol the entire school grounds: argus filch. and hagrid since technically he shouldn’t be doing magic. so with 2 people who need access to the whole school who can’t/ aren’t allowed to do magic, it kinda makes sense. so maybe, since everyone else can get by with magic, some doors open by both magical and mechanical means.

  25. SuetheSquid, thanks for your kind words! I don’t pay any attention on this site to things that happen in the movies but not the books, but I think the scene you’re thinking of happens in Chamber of Secrets, chapter 16:

    “So you’ve just been taking credit for what a load of other people have done?” said Harry incredulously.
    “Harry, Harry,” said Lockhart, shaking his head impatiently, “it’s not nearly as simple as that. There was work involved. I had to track these people down. Ask them exactly how they managed to do what they did. Then I had to put a Memory Charm on them so they wouldn’t remember doing it. If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s my Memory Charms. No, it’s been a lot of work, Harry. It’s not all book signings and publicity photos, you know. You want fame, you have to be prepared for a long hard slog.”

    kayno, I love your insights about the keys – something I’d never thought about before, but it totally makes sense!

  26. Although I still like it, I think Chamber has to be my least favourite in the series. The main reason for that is Lockhart. JKR has done such a good job of making him a fame-mad, pompous, idiot that I find myself getting really annoyed whenever I read the parts where he appears.

  27. Why Hermione is totally oblivious to Lockhart’s idiocy has also something to do with the fact that she loves books so much! She read all about the “heroic” deeds Lockhart has done and, poof!… she believed them instantly because it’s in a book! She trusts and relies on books so much, such that each and every typeset word in a book must be true.

    I thought the Whomping Willow is the only one of its kind. Like it’s unique. But the way Lockhart said it – “I just happen to have met several of these exotic plants on my travels…” – emphasizes that the Whomping Willow have others f its kind. But since it’s Lockhart speaking, we can never be really sure. ;)

  28. Two things:

    1. First year, greenhouse one; second year, greenhouse three. What about greenhouse two?

    2. Considering what Lockhart’s classes are with the second years, I wonder what his classes with the fifth, sixth, and seventh year are like.

  29. Actually, there is a very good story I once read about all the DADA teachers and how they ended up being picked:

  30. I feel even more sorry for Mr. Creevey after relistening to this chapter – his son gets murdered and then his (milkman) industry massively declines.

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