In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the kids learn about boggarts. A boggart is, according to Hermione, a “shape-shifter…it can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most.”
Professor Lupin tells the kids about boggarts (they have no form of their own, but take the form of your worst fear) and how to repel them (you turn it into something funny, because boggarts dissipate with laughter). Then Lupin tells the kids “to take a moment now to think of the thing that scares you most….”
In the book, the boggart turns into a giant spider, a banshee, a mummy, a bullying teacher, and a severed hand, as it faces each of the students in turn.
Listening to this scene got me thinking…what would a boggart turn into if it focused on me? What do I fear most? I had a hard time imagining something—of putting a fear into some kind of concrete monster form.
I realized that what I fear most is…people. I’m not afraid of ghosts, banshees, zombies, mummies, or vampires. I’m afraid of real people who do horrible things. When I hear about a young girl who is abducted from her home at night, when I hear about a young woman physically assaulted on a bus by six men, when I hear about innocent people mutilated by machetes…that is what makes me afraid.
I suppose I carry this fear, because what I’m afraid of is real. I’ve never heard of a vampire attack. I don’t read news articles about banshees. I DO read about women being attacked. I DO read about kids being abducted. These things happen, and THAT is scary.
The kids in The Prisoner of Azkaban were young. They had the fears of kids who still live in their imaginations. I have adult fears, ones that are based in the real world. When Mrs. Weasley is attacked by a boggart she sees, not monsters, but her family dead. That is her greatest fear.
How do you make that funny?
So, I’ve decided, to prepare myself for a boggart encounter, I need to come up with something scary that I can make funny. As a teenager I watched lots of horror movies. I was terrified of Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Michael Myers from Halloween.
I can work with that. The spell to repel a boggart is “riddikulus”. I can imagine masks falling off, goofy clothes, a chainsaw that malfunctions, roller skates, and other things. I can make them funny in my mind—ridiculous.
What is your greatest fear? How would you make it funny and ridiculous?