The Downfall of Gilderoy Lockhart – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday full of food, family, and fun. As you’ll see in the video, I had a bit of a cheesy moment with you guys. I just wanted to let you know I’m thankful for each and every one of you. Muggles and Mocha has been such a fantastic experience, and I’m glad we’ve gotten the opportunity to bond and nerd out over Harry Potter! Honestly… there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. Here’s to many more years of doing this!

But enough of the mushy stuff. In this chapter, everything is coming together!

In our video, I try to cover every last detail of what we experience in Chapter 16. We talk about basilisks, Myrtle’s death, and of course, our last Gilderoy Lockhart scene… As usual, we have *SPOILERS* in both the article and video.

Before we begin, I need to be honest. This article wasn’t part of my plan originally. There’s a lot of rich information to discuss in this book as J.K. Rowling sets the stage for the rest of the series. Little did I know… we’re going to talk about Gilderoy Lockhart once more before this book is done. I didn’t think I’d be writing about ol’ Lockhart again. You guys know my feelings about him, and we thoroughly covered his background in the article I wrote a while back. You know the one—the article where we got to rant about how horrible Lockhart is and why. It was cathartic, to be sure.

However, for this article, HE’S BACK. Voldemort’s BACK!

Excuse me—Lockhart is back.

These are the last moments we have with Lockhart before Order of the Phoenix, and by that point, as we know, he isn’t the man he once was. Everything changes for him in this chapter. Today, we’re going to focus on Lockhart’s fate and the thing he’s most obsessed with—fame. Fame is a prevalent theme in this series, and we’ll briefly analyze the differences in how Gilderoy Lockhart and Harry Potter handle it.

Let’s get to it.

In Chapter 16, “The Chamber of Secrets,” Harry and Ron uncover the truth—Lockhart is a fraud. Finally. Fearful of being exposed as a phony by the other teachers, Gilderoy is piling his belongings into his trunk, planning to hit the road as soon as possible. Intending to help him with his venture into the Chamber of Secrets, the duo realizes what we all suspected—Gilderoy Lockhart is all talk! He would never ever in a million years go down into the Chamber of Secrets!

As a matter of fact, one of the moments that inspired me to write this article was Lockhart’s little speech about his experience with fame. He’s just revealed that his fame is not his own—he has stolen other witches and wizards’ accomplishments over the years and used them to make himself a household name in the Wizarding World. Incredulous, Harry accuses him of this theft, and in response, we get this gem:

“Harry, Harry,” said Lockhart, shaking his head impatiently, “it’s not nearly as simple as that. There was work involved. I had to track these people down. Ask them exactly how they managed to do what they did. Then I had to put a Memory Charm on them so they wouldn’t remember doing it. If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s my Memory Charms. No, it’s been a lot of work, Harry. It’s not all book signings and publicity photos, you know. You want fame, you have to be prepared for a long, hard slog.”

First of all, this speech made me furious. For obvious reasons. So… basically what he’s saying is the intense, hard work these witches and wizards did is equivalent to the “struggles” he faced while falsely claiming their accomplishments. Seriously?

But I don’t want to linger on that too long or I’ll get ranty. Plus, we all know how awful he is at this point. Instead, I want to focus on the idea of fame itself and how Gilderoy and Harry handle it differently.


Harry struggles a lot with fame throughout the series, both internally and externally. Harry is very famous for something horrible that occurred in his life; Voldemort attacked his family when he was a baby, murdering both of Harry’s parents and attempting to kill him as well. Harry grapples with the idea that he doesn’t deserve this fame for something he doesn’t remember, especially in Sorcerer’s Stone. When he first enters the Leaky Cauldron at eleven years old, witches and wizards are tripping over each other trying to shake his hand. They’re all clear about how honored they are to meet him, and Harry is bewildered. It takes him a long time to adjust to the idea that he’s famous for this, and it’s a thought that pops up every now and then throughout the rest of the series. He attempts to ignore it most of the time, and when he does have to face it, he’s uncomfortable, to say the least.

This struggle is external as well. Almost all of Harry’s enemies at Hogwarts use his fame against him, throwing around insults about it and insinuating that his ego feeds off of the attention he receives. Malfoy references his fame and uses it as an insult during almost all of his and Harry’s interactions, as we see firsthand in this book when Harry gets his picture taken with Lockhart in Flourish and Blotts. Of course, one of the biggest examples of this is Snape. He treats Harry with disdain, and one of his favorite pastimes is accusing Harry of thinking he’s better than everyone else. Or that he’s “just like his father” in that way.

Ughh, Snape. We need another article about him soon.

As our tale continues, Harry eventually begins to cope with the way others view him and learns to let any comments from the “haters” roll off his back. I think these situations make him stronger as a character, too. He even begins accomplishing feats that are “worth” being famous for. He stops Voldemort from stealing the Sorcerer’s Stone, kills the basilisk and defeats the Heir of Slytherin once and for all, wins the Triwizard Tournament, faces Voldemort in the graveyard and then his Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries… this list goes on and is by no means comprehensive.

Yet, even when Harry does things that he would (begrudgingly) deem worthy of recognition—unlike the way he views Voldemort’s attack when he was a baby—he still acts with humility. Most of the time, he refers to these achievements as “lucky,” not something he accomplished with his own strength or grit.

Now, I’m not saying Harry is never cocky. But regarding his confrontations with Voldemort, Harry always downplays his actions and recognizes those who have helped him along the way. At his core, Harry is extremely humble and doesn’t let the fame get to his head; most moments, we see he even tries to brush it off and dislikes the attention.


Then you have Lockhart. I mean… what can I say? His mindset is the complete opposite of Harry’s. While Harry thinks he doesn’t deserve the fame he receives for something that’s actually amazing (being the reason for Voldemort’s disappearance), Lockhart believes he deserves fame for absolutely nothing at all. For tracking down famous witches and wizards and erasing their memories. As we discussed with Lockhart’s past, we know he always strove for greatness and thought he was better than everyone at everything he attempted, deserving of admiration.  

But for Lockhart… no one noticed him, really. Not in the way he wanted. In his mind, he needed to go out and seize the fame he deserved, no matter what. But instead of achieving the goals he envisioned for himself, he took the lowest road imaginable. He stole accomplishments from other famous witches and wizards. Claiming these feats as his own and relying on his looks as well, he was propelled to fortune and fame. But deep down, as we see from his speech in this chapter… he still believes he deserves it, thinking he gained this fame through hard work.

Unlike Harry, Lockhart thrives off his fame and has dedicated his entire life to gaining it through whatever means possible.

Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

In this book, it’s extremely fitting that we have Lockhart juxtaposed against Harry. During his interactions with Lockhart, Harry’s own fame is examined as he struggles with all the attention he gets, both positive and negative. From Colin Creevey, to Draco Malfoy, to the entire school’s suspicions that he’s the Heir of Slytherin, Harry understands fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Most of the time, we see he would rather it all just disappeared.

Lockhart, on the other hand, relies on his fame to survive—it fuels him. This fact makes his downfall even more ironic. At the end of Lockhart’s story, he’s hit by one of his own memory charms, which backfires from Ron’s broken wand. The results are horrifying. Lockhart doesn’t simply forget a few memories—his entire identity is gone. In the end, it’s Lockhart who loses everything he is and everything he ever worked for in just one second—his accolades, his life, his relationships, his fame.

As I mention in the video, I believe this is one of the worst fates in the entire book series, and I do feel very sorry for Lockhart. His downfall is tragic, for sure; and while no one deserves what happened to him, it is ironic to see someone so obsessed with the way others view him end this story without even a view of himself. His worst fear was to be overlooked, forgotten, and now even he himself has forgotten who he is.


Even though we get a glimpse of Harry’s newfound fame and how he handles it in Sorcerer’s Stone, I believe this is truly the first book when we really get to dig deep into the struggles he encounters with this recognition. Harry deals with this attention in different ways, and we’ll of course see this a lot more in the coming books as well. As we know, he goes through many highs and lows with this stuff—sometimes the people hate him, sometimes they love him. But that’s fame, right?

For now, it’s been interesting to watch Harry and Lockhart’s relationship unfold and view the effects fame can have on people as well as the way two very different characters handle it. I’m sure Harry’s interactions with Lockhart heavily contributed to why he never let his fame go to his head…

That’s all, Muggles! I hope you enjoyed this brief, last look at Lockhart before the end of the second book. Next time… we’re going to be in the thick of it. It’s time for us to meet the true Heir of Slytherin, and I CAN’T WAIT.

Thanks for tuning in, don’t forget to watch the video above, and feel free to follow me through any of the social media links below. Also, if you ever have any questions or suggestions on video topics you’d like to hear about, leave a comment or message me directly through the contact button below.

Hope you’ve had a happy Thanksgiving, Muggles. See you next time!

Disclaimer: I do not own any element of the Harry Potter series.


4 Replies to “The Downfall of Gilderoy Lockhart – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16”

  1. I will never stop enjoying a good Lockhart-bashing session.

    Seriously, everything this guy is and stands for nauseates me. I think the fact that all of his students and the Hogwarts faculty survived nearly a full school year with him always nearby is almost more impressive than the fact that he was actually good at memory charms. What I find fascinating about him is that he’s almost chosen a harder path, going around the world trying to steal other’s accomplishments. It seems that his level of narcissism is so high that he’d rather spend all of his time and effort stealing accomplishments that “should be his” rather than actually go and achieve something for himself, because those other people weren’t actually deserving. This guy had some SERIOUS issues…

    Which makes his demise honestly seem kind of inevitable. I don’t necessarily mean that his memory being wiped was inevitable (although it is indeed beautifully poetic), but this lifestyle was not ever going to be sustainable indefinitely. One way or another, he was going to be caught in his own lies. To be honest, I almost feel that this is too kind of an end for him. While it seems terribly tragic to those of us on the outside, it is only tragic for those of us who remember. Lockhart has no idea of what he’s lost, or that he’s lost anything at all. In many ways, I think his life probably becomes much simpler after this (to be honest I don’t remember his reappearance in book 5 right now so you’ll have to let me know if I’m wrong here). A more painful end for him would be everyone else forgetting about him, leaving him to be the only one who remembers what he’s “accomplished” and the fame he used to have.

    Sorry, you opened the tap and I can’t get it shut again 😂

    Anyway, juxtaposing Harry and Lockhart makes a great point, and illustrates the right and the wrong way to handle fame for all of us. I don’t remember her level of fame at the time she was writing this book, but I’d like to think that Rowling wrote this for her as much as she did for the rest of us. While we can’t presume to know for sure, it certainly seems that she takes her fame in stride, much like Harry does.

    I’d like to point out before I go that a special on horcruxes sounds great, especially after reading Parker’s comment on YouTube. Don’t let that one slip through the cracks! We have much to discuss 👀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Too kind for Lockhart, hahaha! You know, you’re right, your version sounds like a much worse fate for him, really. And don’t you worry, we definitely have more Horcrux material coming! Actually, the next two weeks will focus on them pretty heavily, so I’m excited for that. Thanks!


  2. So shocked to see my name! Lol. I do love the Ginny character so much more in the books. Every time I read the books, I pick up some new detail and I think that is what makes the books so intriguing. I am glad to say,” good riddance”, to Lockhart for now.

    Liked by 1 person

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