"And You will raise your wand -- thus -- and cry 'Riddikulus' -- and concentrate hard on your grandmother's clothes. If all goes well, Professor Boggart Snape will be forced into that vulture-topped hat, and that green dress, with that big red handbag."
-- Professor Lupin to Neville Longbottom (PA6)
A simple charm requiring force of mind, this spell requires the caster to visualize his or her worst fear in an amusing form while reciting the incantation. When performed correctly, this forces the boggart to take on an appearance which will inspire the laughter that forms an effective defense against the creature.
History and Notes
Professor Lupin's father Lyall was an expert on creatures such as poltergeists and boggarts. He met his wife Hope in a Welsh forest while turning a scary boggart into a mushroom. Later they had a boggart-topped wedding cake (Pm).
References from the canon
- Lupin taught the third year Defence Against the Dark Arts class to use this spell (PA7). The laughter it produces in onlookers is what does the boggart in.
- Harry used this against a boggart in the Triwizard maze (GF31).
- Molly tried and failed to use this spell against the boggart at number twelve, Grimmauld Place (OP9).
- Harry did a perfect one during his Defence Against the Dark Arts practical O.W.L. (OP31)
"ridiculum" L. joke, from "ridere" L. to laugh
Readers have often assumed that Neville's boggart was Snape because he was afraid of him as a teacher. Given the fragile state of Neville as a young boy, that may certainly be true. But Hermione's boggart was also a teacher - Professor McGonagall telling her that she had "failed everything" (PA16). We know that Hermione was not literally afraid of McGonagall who was her Head of House, even though she screamed at the boggart. Rowling said that Hermione's boggart showed "that underneath Hermione's swottiness there is a lot of insecurity and a great fear of failure" (Pm). Since Neville told Lupin he also didn't want to see his Gran coming out of the cupboard either, we can make an educated guess that Neville is quite a bit like Hermione, and feared failing his classes, especially Potions which was his worst, because he knew it would displease his grandmother. ~ SIP
Another interesting fact is that at the beginning of the boggart class, Snape specifically mentioned Neville to Lupin as a reason for stopping the class (PA7). Why did he do that? Was he just interfering in Lupin's class, which seems to be the way Lupin took it? Or did Snape fear that Neville had memories of his parents being tortured to insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange? On the other hand, Snape may have been using Neville as a convenient excuse, when really it was Harry he was worried about, since the boy had passed out from being near a Dementor on the way to Hogwarts. And that seems to have been Lupin's thought too, since he chose not to allow Harry to try "Riddikulus" because he thought Harry would see Lord Voldemort come out of the cupboard. But it was the screaming of his mother as she died that he heard when a Dementor was near that Harry feared the most (PA8). ~ SIP