Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Magic/Riddikulus

Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Magic
Type Spell
Features Changes the form of a boggart
First Appearance Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Overview edit

Riddikulus is a spell used against boggarts. The caster must think of something funny while casting this spell. If successful, it forces the boggart to take the shape of whatever the caster was thinking about. As boggarts feed on fear and are defeated by laughter, the object of the spell, ultimately is to make the boggart laughable.

Extended Description edit

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

We see this spell invoked several times in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when Professor Lupin is teaching the spell to his Defence against the Dark Arts class. While Professor Lupin does provide a Boggart for use in Harry's anti-Dementor lessons, we don't see the Riddikulus spell being used against it. The spell appears again in that book when a Boggart is one of the tests in the final exam.

A Boggart plays a role in the Third Task maze in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The effect of the Riddikulus spell here is uncertain.

A Boggart also appears in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Mrs. Weasley is trying to use the Riddikulus spell against it, and is repeatedly failing. The change of aspect forced by the spell, however, allows Harry to note that Mrs. Weasley cares as much about his own welfare as she does about any of her family.

Analysis edit

This spell is of quite limited usefulness, being effective against Boggarts only, at least within our story arc. That said, it is used, as mentioned, a number of times in the series. The fact that Professor Lupin is able to find Boggarts on demand, at least twice and possibly three times during the school year, does indicate that they are relatively common in the Wizarding world. (The story does not specify whether the Boggart used in Lupin's practical final exam is the same one Harry was using for his anti-Dementor spells.)

The author is mute on how Boggarts can be handled in the case where there is no real way to make one's greatest fear seem funny. We see two cases of that in the series: Lupin's greatest fear being the full moon, and Mrs. Weasley's greatest fear being the death of her family members. We note that Lupin rarely tries to use the Riddikulus spell himself, instead using some wordless form of magic to force the Boggart back into its hiding place, on two of the occasions where we see him acting against one. The one time he does demonstrate its use, in his first lesson with Harry's class, he merely turns the Boggart into a cockroach.

As an aside, we note that Lupin used up his one and only (at that point) Boggart teaching the Riddikulus spell to the Gryffindors. We wonder what lesson he taught the Slytherins, Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs.

The origin of the spell seems to be a play on the word "ridiculous." However, "riddi," meaning "I laughed" in Latin, may be an origin for the first part of the spell.

Questions edit

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

  1. What would be the effect of casting Riddikulus on a non-Boggart?

Greater Picture edit

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

One main reason for the Boggart's existence, as mentioned on the write-up of that creature, is to provide an incontrovertible method of displaying the characters' deepest fears. As such, there must be some spell to fight them. Given that the Boggart inspires fear so as to feed on it, that which destroys it must be the antithesis to fear. Having the Boggart be defeated by laughter is, in fact, quite logical, but the author's choice of the spell and its results, and her choice in handing it to Neville for the first and the most effective invocations, seems somehow inspired.