Darkness, monsters, loneliness, heights… Fear. We all have experienced it and known it since we were kids. For each one of us, thought, it has a different form. Some types of fears grow bigger over time and become phobias. Whichever its form, whoever comes in contact with a creature such as the Boggart, that will take the form of their worst nightmare.
Fear is one of the basic feelings of human nature, which is expressed in circumstances of real or imaginative danger. It’s an automatic protection mechanism which is connected with the instinct of survival and which humans have since the beginning of their existence. When we are scared, a hormone known as adrenaline begins its work and helps the organism in turning on every source of energy and thus turning on a type of “general alert” known also as the characteristic “fight or run”. Therefore, under the influence of fear and adrenaline, we move instinctively and rather quickly in other to protect ourselves. If we haven’t become paralyzed because of our fear.
We are all scared of something, just like Neville Longbottom was scared of Professor Snape, or like Harry Potter was scared of the Dementors – fear itself really. Of course, many carry around on a daily basis a certain phobia, like Ron Weasley had Arachnophobia. Whatever the form that makes you freak out and causes you goosebumps, that is the one that a Boggart would get. Hidden in darkness, within a closet, under beds, they wait in an unknown original form under their next victim walks in. The more people a Boggart faces, the weaker it grows. Mainly because it ends up in confusion as to which form it is to take. Boggarts belong in the category of the “no alive” creatures. They are in a state into which they came to be but not because of death, and yet they cannot die. They feed from the human emotions. The spell that weakens and “defeats” a Boggart is pronounced as Riddikulus and in combination with the power of thought of the user, the form of the Boggart – if the spells works – will become “ridiculous”.
Once again, J. K Rowling symboliyes, through the creatures of the magical world, aspects of human nature. Every Boggart, as well as fear, have different faces for everyone. They live enclosed in the dark, like the shadows in our minds, where our greatest fears live. They are nourished and produced by human emotions and the spells that weakens them means “the one who has been ridiculed”. Fears, real or not, are nourished and strengthened in everyone’s mind until they paralyze us. Of course, in the world of the Muggles, our world, there is another creature that feeds of us and drowns us. In any case, the Riddikulus spells succeeds, because if we ridicule our fears and anxieties, they will surely be weakened and hidden in some dark corner, where they belong that is.
Riddikulus weakens the Boggarts and laughter weakens fear. Laughing with friends and loved ones is a way that fear can be dealt with. So be prepared, because the Boggarts are lurking. And if you don’t have a wand, it doesn’t matter. A smile is enough!