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My dear boy, do use your common sense! My books wouldn't have sold half as well if people didn't think I'd done those things... Now you mention it. I'm rather gifted with Memory Charms. Otherwise, all those wizards would have gone blabbing. I'd never have sold another book. In fact, I'm going to have to do the same to you.
~ Gilderoy Lockhart revealing his true colors.
So, you first, Mr. Potter. Say goodbye to your memories. Obliviate!
~ Lockhart before unsuccessfully attempting to erase Harry and Ron's memories.

Gilderoy Lockhart is a famous author and temporary Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. He is a prominent villain in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and its 2002 film adaptation of the same name.

In the movie, he was portrayed by Kenneth Branagh, who also portrayed Dr. Arliss Loveless in Wild Wild West, and Viktor Cherevin in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

History

Gilderoy Lockhart was born to a Muggle man and a witch and had two elder Squib sisters. He was spoiled by his mother in his childhood, leading to him becoming extremely vain. When he arrived at Hogwarts, he was expecting his peers to be excited about his magical prowess; he had seen himself as a genius, but no one saw him that way.

During his time as a student, Lockhart was a brilliant and clever Ravenclaw who had exceedingly high ambitions. He claimed to his peers that he would succeed in creating the Philosopher's Stone before leaving school and that he intended to captain England’s Quidditch team to World Cup glory, before knuckling down to becoming Britain’s youngest Minister for Magic. He studied for glory and achieved infamy among the Hogwarts staff and students with antics like requesting a school newspaper (just so he could see his own name in print), sending himself 800 valentines, firing a hologram of his face into the sky, and carving his name into the Quidditch pitch (which netted him a week's worth of detentions).

After his graduation (much to the staff's relief), he became a bestselling author. Having mastered Memory Charms, he tracked down accomplished wizards and witches, tricked them into revealing their greatest deeds, and took the credit for said deeds while erasing their memories. He became famous by writing books about his "exploits", gaining awards and invitations for book signings.

While his former teachers began to think they had misjudged him, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore suspected Lockhart's fraudulence, having personally known some of Lockhart's victims. He believed that putting Lockhart into a normal school atmosphere would expose him as a charlatan. With the position as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor open by June 1992, Dumbledore approached Lockhart and offered him a job at Hogwarts. Lockhart was not keen on teaching, as his career as an author was skyrocketing. However, Dumbledore hinted the chance to teach the famous Harry Potter would propel Lockhart's fame to the stratosphere, and Lockhart accepted the position. While Hogwarts staff questioned Dumbledore's decision to hire Lockhart, he merely said that there was plenty to learn from even a bad teacher.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By August 1992, Lockhart had officially become the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor of the 1992-1993 school year, and had assigned seven of his books as textbooks. He announced his new position while visiting Flourish and Blotts, where he first met Harry Potter. Excited, Lockhart dragged Harry into the spotlight, taking pictures with Harry and gifting him a set of his books in affection. An embarrassed Harry gave the set Lockhart gave him to Ginny Weasley, as he could afford his own set.

In his new position, Lockhart had taken over the DADA classroom and office with portraits of himself and copies of his books. He began the school year by issuing a lengthy quiz concerning his books, which only Hermione Granger achieved high marks on. He then unleashed Cornish pixies into the room, which caused pandemonium, before fleeing to his office and forcing Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione to tidy up the mess.

Lockhart once more became infamous among Hogwarts personnel, giving them unsolicited advice. Most students viewed him as obnoxious and incompetent. However, many schoolgirls like Susan Bones and Hermione were attracted to him, as were Muggle-borns.

Afterwards, he spent the rest of the year reading excerpts from his books. He also hounded Harry Potter with acts ranging from poorly healing Harry's broken arm, requesting that Harry answer Lockhart's fan mails, having Harry re-enact scenes from Lockhart's books, founding a short-lived Dueling Club, and setting up a bombastic Valentine's Day event.

After Ginny Weasley was taken into the Chamber of Secrets, Lockhart planned to leave Hogwarts instead of rescuing her, revealing himself to be a coward. When Harry and Ron asked him to help them find her, he confessed his fraudulence. He was then forced down into the Corridor of Secrets as a test subject to see if Harry and Ron would survive the fall. Once in the Corridor, Lockhart seized Ron's broken wand and attempted to use a Memory Charm to erase their memories, but the spell backfired, erasing his own memories. He was then taken into St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, much to the staff and students' joy.

Some time later, Lockhart penned a final book called Who Am I?, either written by him or dictated and ghostwritten by some other author.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

3 years later, Lockhart was still in St. Mungo's, residing in the Permanent Resident Ward. He had recovered to the point of being able to write letters, though he still had no idea how he had ended up there and was only aware of some things about his past that the hospital's staff told him, like the fact he used to be a famous teacher. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny met Lockhart at St. Mungo's, while visiting Arthur Weasley, who had been injured by Nagini, and they were shocked to see him, being too focused on the recent events to remember that Lockhart was likely to be there, after his incident. While Ron felt guilty in some way about putting Lockhart in this situation, Harry wasn't, since Lockhart was at fault for erasing his own memories when he was trying to erase theirs.

As confirmed by J.K. Rowling, despite that Lockhart's condition got better a little and he managed to retain some of his memories, he never fully recovered from the Memory Charm that backfired on him. However, he's fortunately known to be happier that way. Given that, it's likely that Lockhart spend the rest of his days at St. Mungo, forgetful but felicitous.

Characteristics

Personality

Gilderoy Lockhart was an immoderately vainglorious, self-obsessed, egocentric, and narcissistic self-promoter who claimed to have accomplished multiple heroic deeds. However, in reality, he was nothing but a charlatan who took credit for other wizards and witches' achievements. He even claimed his winning of the Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award five times in a row was more impressive than Harry Potter defeating Lord Voldemort. Lockhart also made claims and suggestions, whether about other's occupations or in times of danger in attempt to make himself look more important and powerful. He rather frequently came up with fictitious concepts in the blink of an eye just to impress his admirers. His attempts to acquire more fame additionally led him to attempt spells without entirely understanding them (e.g. removing Harry's bones instead of mending them, and launching a snake into the air instead of making it vanish). Also, it has been speculated that he invented some non-existent incantations and spell names, like Peskipiksi Pesternomi, the Transmogrifian Torture, and the Homorphus Charm. In fact, a majority of his books contained numberless fabricated details to contribute to his ostensible feats. As part of his conceited nature, Lockhart was immensely proud of his books, and would always make reference to them whenever giving advice based on his so-called experience.

Lockhart's overbearing arrogance and insensitive suggestions rubbed most of his non-fans the wrong way. What's more, his unprofessional behavior earned him the disapproval of the Hogwarts faculty as well as a multiplicity of the students. Overall, Hogwarts viewed Lockhart as a joke. When he left due to memory loss, most if not all of the school was elated to see him go.

In addition, Lockhart seemed completely oblivious to other people's negative reactions to him or completely misinterpreted them. One time, he Ron was admiring his peacock quill when he was actually revolted. He ignored Harry's numerous attempts to contradict his theories of enjoying his company and attention, as well as him begging Lockhart to leave his broken arm alone; also completely failed to notice the rest of the faculty shooting daggers at him. After Hagrid was taken into custody, Lockhart asserted Hogwarts was safe from the monster of Slytherin and that extra security was unnecessary. Though almost immediately proven wrong, he stubbornly refused to retract his earlier claims, and continued to complain about how the extra security was tiring him out.

Despite his own books portraying him as fearless, Gilderoy was shown to be uncourageous when faced with true danger. He attempted to make a quick exit from Hogwarts when the other teachers pressured him into entering the Chamber of Secrets after Ginny Weasley's abduction. Even after the location of the Chamber's entrance was discovered, he was willing to leave Ginny Weasley to die, attempting to modify Harry and Ron's memories to cover himself.

Although Lockhart started out as a clever and very skilled student, being sorted into Ravenclaw house, he had a critical flaw in never trying in his studies (or anything) unless he was the very best of it, having been spoiled by his mother's overly affection and his own vanity. Even in his childhood, he already expected the students and teachers to greet him with admiration and excitement, as he deluded himself into thinking he is a genius above all others of undeserved rights, and was very disappointed and dulled when he was not given any special treatments. He studied not for education, but for attention and awards, and spent much of his time with annoying antics for fame that instead earned him a small notoriety. He was never an unskilled wizard, just a lazy one, and increasingly directed his talents to shortcuts and dodges; his gifts were wasted away, as the only spell he focused on was the Memory Charm. His abilities were eventually deteriorated beyond the point of recovery.

Despite his ineptitude in most other areas of magic due to long-term neglect and misuse, Lockhart was skilled in Memory Charms, it being the one spell he focused on for his entire life, and was conniving enough to deceive other wizards and witches to thoroughly reveal their work to him before erasing their memories and claim the credits for himself. He also appeared to have been a skilled writer, publishing many books consisting primarily of his embellishments of other people's achievements, taking credit for them as his own. Given his propensity for lying, however, it cannot be said for certain that Lockhart himself actually wrote any of the books. He also added many invented details in such feats to promote himself further, distorting facts with fictional concepts. Lockhart's fraudulent lifestyle has proven a certain degree of cunning, resourcefulness and disregard for rules, qualities that fall under the specifics of Slytherin, which he was narrowly able to avoid being sorted into.

On top of all his other flaws, Lockhart may have possessed a spiteful side. After learning from Hagrid that the gamekeeper hadn't read any of his books Lockhart was rather put out, and again when Hagrid told him Harry Potter was more famous than Lockhart without trying. After Hagrid's arrest, Lockhart blatantly claimed to be certain that Hagrid was truly guilty. Then again, it is unknown whether this was an actual hint of malice or just another sign of Lockhart's ignorance.

After losing his memory, however, Lockhart became an exceedingly nicer, happier, and humbler person even if he didn't particularly know it. Upon seeing Harry and Ginny after the spell hit him, he said hello to them very cheerfully and spent most of the time humming to himself absentmindedly. When addressed as Professor, he expressed surprise at the idea and remarked that he must have been hopeless at it without any reluctance at all. Despite forgetting his desire for fame and attention, he still enjoyed signing autographs and responding to fan letters, a trait that Harry noted remained unchanged.

Powers and Abilities

In his youth, Gilderoy Lockhart was naturally gifted in the magical arts. Despite detesting his attention-seeking tendencies, Lockhart's teachers acknowledged he possessed prodigious ability, intellect, and potential to become an excellent wizard. However, his magical capabilities became rusted and diminished due to his focus on Memory Charms, as well as years of mismanagement and neglect. Indeed, his stardom was entirely dependent on using Memory Charms to steal knowledge from accomplished wizards and witches of how to attain exceptional feats. While he did retain some of his former good magical abilities and displayed some adeptness in some fields of magic (potentially acquired from his journey), Lockhart's significantly diminished magical prowess ultimately led to his downfall. When he lost his memories, he lost all of his abilities, save for his penmanship and renown.

  • Charms: Lockhart's most prominent area of expertise seemed to be Charms; he retained a good amount of adroitness in it even after losing plenty of his erstwhile magical brilliance. He was particularly gifted with the Memory Charm which he spent years perfecting. Lockhart was eventually able to cast it flawlessly no matter the circumstance, even managing to do so to accomplished wizards and witches upon catching them off-guard. Indeed, he was able to perform the spell even with a wand he had not yet mastered. His talents and skills in Charms were great enough to be capable of conjuring a non corporeal Patronus, a very advanced piece of magic. He was additionally capable of performing a charm that sent the target flying high into the air. However, while he could adequately perform simple, minor enchantments and could thoroughly educate his students on how to use them, it is improbable that he could perform more complex charms.
  • Nonverbal Magic: While Lockhart had lost a lot of his initial magical brilliance and his spells consequently rarely worked out the way he wanted them to, he could cast spells without having to speak them out loud was very difficult N.E.W.T. level magic. His ability to produce any effect by wordless spellcasting at all seem to indicate that he could have still honed his magical ability and lived up to his potential as a wizard had he put his mind to it.
  • Potions: Lockhart had at least sufficiently adequate abilities and knowledge in Potions with presumably some years of experience, as he was capable of creating his own basic brews, such as an Occamy egg yolk shampoo that would give the drinker lustrous locks of hair. This was also one of the very few things that he made that proved to be true but it was too dangerous and expensive for the open market. His claims, however, that he had made the Mandrake Restorative Draught so many times that he could do it in his sleep were likely false.
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts: It can be assumed that Lockhart was once excellent in Defense Against the Dark Arts, as he would have had to achieve a good score on his N.E.W.T Exam as required to be able to be a teacher even though Dumbledore only hired him to expose his fraudulence. Although he clearly lost most of his once presumably outstanding defensive abilities against the Dark Forces, Lockhart had apparently kept some of them and his lack of ability was apparently compensated somewhat by his journeys giving him a sufficiently adequate of experience and expertise in how to defend from the Dark Forces, as evidenced by the fact that he was able to do a good enough job as an honorary member of the Dark Force Defensive League to not attract suspicion. While not particularly competent as a teacher of the Defense Against the Dark Arts, he was still able to teach his class on how to use Rictusempra, Petrificus Totalus and Verdimillious Duo Spell to defend themselves effectively, with even Harry Potter admitting Lockhart did teach him how to use those spells quite well. It appears that his particular area of expertise in the subject was how to defend from Dark Creatures, acquiring extensive knowledge from his journeys by talking to accomplished wizards and witches on how they subdued dangerous monsters, although he clearly lacked the ability to handle them the way he wrote it in his books but his books were good enough to be deemed fantastic, which fooled the majority of the Wizarding World who read them until he revealed he could not do the means he wrote in his books. However, his claims that he had seen the use of the Transmogrifian Torture Curse being done countless times and knew the countercurse for it was likely false and the curse and the countercurse may not even have existed in the first place and was just another one of Lockhart's lies.
  • Magizoology: Lockhart displayed a rather surprisingly impressive amount of knowledge on magical creatures, implying while he is incompetent in dealing with them practically (in particular Cornish Pixies), he has genuinely acquired a good amount of knowledge on how to understand them. His books covered various dark and dangerous creatures, including Ghouls, Banshees, Hags, Vampires, Werewolves, Trolls and Yetis, and whilst his experiences with them were all entirely fabricated, he still had a reasonably good understanding of such creatures. His books on house pests was deemed to be very good, earning him praise from housewives such as Molly Weasley. He also authorized the book Marauding with Monsters that provided accurate and thorough knowledge on how to handle Horklumps, Gnomes, Fire Crabs, Gytrashes, and Imps.
  • Healing Magic: Lockhart had a mediocre amount of knowledge and ability in Healing Charms, as he attempted to use a spell to mend Harry's broken arm when Dobby made a Bludger attack him. However, his abilities in this field was clearly limited, as instead of healing Harry's bones, he vanished them completely, something that he said could happen if the user had not sufficient skill. It may be assumed that Lockhart may have specialized in Deboning, as he successfully removed all of Harry's bones and thought by relieving Harry of his bones, he would feel less pain.
  • Flying: Lockhart played on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team as Seeker during his Hogwarts years, meaning he would have been a talented broomstick flyer and Quidditch player in his youth. It is unknown if he retained his flying talent in his adult years, given his neglect of most of his magical abilities.
  • Intelligence: Lockhart was known to be very clever as a student, as he was sorted into the Ravenclaw House, which requires a good amount of intelligence, and in his school days, despite his teachers being annoyed by his constant troublemaker and attention seeking antics, they still acknowledged him as being cleverer than most of his fellow students and he got good marks on his academic tests and homework. As an adult, upon fully graduating, the full extent of Lockhart's cunning and resourcefulness, qualities that also nearly made him a Slytherin, was shown in his journey for fame. He was capable of easily deceiving the whole magical community apart from Dumbledore that he was a famous wizard with exceptional abilities despite having lost much of his youth's magical prowess while in actuality he was a fraud who stole the knowledge of how to achieve the great feats he wrote in his book from the real ones who did it by successfully convincing them to tell him. It was only because Dumbledore decided to expose him by luring him into becoming a teacher at Hogwarts, which he did poorly, that he lost his fame and was revealed to all as a fraud.
  • Actor: Lockhart was also quite adept in acting and deceiving others, as he was able to fool the wizards and witches whose heroic deeds he used as a basis for his books to tell him thoroughly how they achieved their feats so he can pretend that he did it perfectly before modifying their memory and making them forget. His acting skills also contributed in his ability to completely hide his fraudulence and ineptitude in most fields of magic from almost all of the Wizarding World with his tall tales, making him world-wide famous, with only Dumbledore seeing through Lockhart's facade.
  • Author: Lockhart's biggest skill apart from his specialty with Memory Charms was that he was an extremely accomplished author, which was the career he chose after leaving Hogwarts. His skills as an Author were such that he was able to completely hide both his fraudulence and magical ineptitude to the general public by claiming credit in his books for deeds which other witches and wizards had done, to the point that he was initially idolized by the majority of the Wizarding World and many Hogwarts students. Only when he revealed his obnoxious and attention-seeking personality, and while he was teaching Defense against the Dark Arts in Hogwarts, were his ineptitude and fraudulence gradually exposed to the Hogwarts students, which Albus Dumbledore, being the only one who was not at all fooled by Lockhart's fame and easily saw through his facade, took advantage of in order to expose him. Even after his memories were erased, Lockhart still retained some of his writing skills despite his popularity having fallen, which was shown when he wrote and published the book Who Am I?. Lockhart did admit to Harry and Ron that had the public know that he is not the hero he wrote himself as, his books would not have sold half as well as they did, showing he knows that the people are not simply interested in reading what they would know to be fiction.

Trivia

  • Originally, Lockhart was going to be played by Hugh Grant. Coincidentally, one of Grant's middle names is "Mungo".
  • In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets film, Lockhart has a photo of himself as a Ravenclaw Seeker. However, he most likely forged it, considering his history of creating fake exploits.
  • Originally, in the earlier drafts of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film, Lockhart would have reappeared like in the book, with Kenneth Branagh reprising his role. He was ultimately cut from the movie.
  • Since he attended Hogwarts from 1975 to 1982, he would have been at Hogwarts at the same time as Lily Evans, Severus Snape, and the Marauders, which could partially explain Snape's disdain towards him.
  • Lockhart is inspired by a real person J.K. Rowling knew for two years. She has not revealed who this person is, but she claims to have barely exaggerated his personality on Lockhart.

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