Your Weekend Creature Comforts: The Boggart
Hey there my creepy-crawly-creature-loving friends, we’ve sadly moved on from the Halloween classics but there are so many monsters out there to talk about it’s hard to decide where to start. I could probably spend an entire year scoring through and researching the creature from the Harry Potter novels, but as Ron and Harry have a great bromance, I am going to dedicate my November’s creature comfort posts to creatures in the Harry Potter novels. We could spend over a year discussing and dissecting Harry Potter creatures, but I decided to start with the boggart.
What is a boggart you ask? Obviously you magical friends who have read all of J.K. Rowling’s wonders will know, but for those of you who are still naïve, a boggart is actually a household spirit prone to mischievous acts. The original spirit was called a genius loci and has been around since ancient Roman times, but the term boggart was derived for the same creature in English folklore.
As I mentioned, boggarts love to create mischief and mayhem. They can spoil food, hurt the family pet, and most commonly steal household objects or grab at people from under the bed. Sound familiar? Yes folks, the “bogey-man” that we were all scared of as children is another derivation in the name boggart, and that man is indeed the very same boggart spirit.
Now most of these creatures will remain relatively tame, causing minimal injury to the house’s inhabitants. But occasionally you will get a boggart that is a little more hell-bent than the rest, especially when they have been given a name, which goes a little off the deep end with torture. While I haven’t been able to ask Tim Burton whether or not he meant to portray this in his character Oogie Boogie, I am fairly certain he is a boggart that given the name Oogie has become obsessed with causing as much fear and mayhem as possible, leading to one of Arthur Harkness’ many bromances.
If you are lucky enough to have a house full of boggarts, or even just one residential bogey-man, they will most often take on the appearance of a human, though often one that looks like it was inbred living in the Appalachians (no offense to anyone living in the Appalachians). More rarely one may take on the form of an animal, though probably during a fit of rage.
While my first exposure to the boggart was from the land of Hogwarts, I was interested to find out there are several novels from popular culture referencing or portraying these monsters. In fact, there is a children’s novel by Susan Cooper titled “The Boggart” that features one as a main character. Of course he is sadly pretty harmless, with throwing apples at his residents being his most devious behavior. There are also appearances of boggarts in The Chronicles of Narnia, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Wardstone Chronicles, and The Septimus Heap series (lots of chronicles there, huh?).
But my favorite depiction of the boggart is definitely from the Harry Potter novels, since it has a little more of a unique power compared to previous descriptions of the creature. Like other stories about boggarts, these spirits like to hide in dark places, like under the bed or in the closet. But unlike any other form of boggart, Rowling’s try to protect themselves when discovered by sensing your deepest, darkest fear, and then changing in to the appearance of that fear. You could spend a lot of time wondering what you would see if you were faced down with this boggart, of course some of those things might have already happened like Disney taking over making 6 new Star Wars movies. If you were lucky enough to be a witch or wizard, you could cast a ridiculous spell, which would transform the boggart back in to something funny and allow you time to stuff it back up in to some dark corner before it could torture you more. While it might not be that powerful, these versions of the boggart from the land of Harry Potter really do embody the concept of a bogie-man. Sure, he might not be under your bed, but a monster that comes at you as whatever you fear most is quite effective. I think I might like to find a boggart and stuff it in a jewelry box for save keeping in the future, might come in handy with my enemies.
That’s our first installment of creatures from Rowling’s magical land, tune in next week for another Potter-tastic monster profile.
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