Trump isn’t a Dementor. He’s Gilderoy Lockhart.
Dementors, for the uninitiated in the Muggle world, are the guards of the Azkaban prison. Here is how Professor Lupin […] describes them: “Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them.”
In fact, that’s how the dementors exercise their power — by sapping their victims of their warmth and vitality, leaving them cold, emotionally shrunken and diminished. “Get too near a dementor,” warns Professor Lupin, “and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself . . . soulless and evil.”
It’s a good read, and definitely worth checking out. Still, something about vesting Trump with a dementor’s expansive dark powers just didn’t sit quite right with me.
At first, I thought the troll from the Sorcerer’s Stone might be a better comparison: you know, the one who wrecks the school restroom with a tantrum before studious-but-unpopular Hermione takes charge and, marshaling her male companions, uses her detailed, technical grasp of magic to initiate a maneuver that knocks the troll out with its own club. But that wasn’t quite right, either.
So after much consideration, I’ve concluded that if Trump is anybody from the Potter universe, it has to be a lesser-known, chaotic-neutral quasi-villain: Gilderoy Lockhart.
Let’s start with Lockhart’s childhood. Upon his arrival at Hogwarts as a student, Rowling writes that:
In Lockhart’s own mind he was already a fully-fledged hero and genius, and it was a most unwelcome shock to discover that his name was unknown, his talents were unexceptional and that nobody was particularly impressed by his naturally wavy hair.
Ego issues and distinctive hair? Go on.
As it happens, this disjunction between expectation and reality led to some scholastic challenges for Gilderoy. Not unlike young Donald — whose adolescent behavior problems triggered his departure from the Kew-Forest School and re-enrollment in the New York Military Academy — it seems that although Lockhart was an intelligent student, his vanity and desire for attention tended to get in the way of his academic achievements:
If he was not first and best, he would rather not participate at all. Increasingly, he directed his talents towards short cuts and dodges. He valued learning not for his own sake, but for the attention it brought him. He craved prizes and awards.
So intense was Lockhart’s desire for attention that he pushed for the establishment of a school newspaper — just so he could see his own name in print (sound familiar?).
Despite not being particularly well-liked, Lockhart gained recognition through “repeated, attention-getting exploits” like creating “a massive, illuminated projection of his own face, which he would send skywards in imitation of the Dark Mark” or sending himself 800 Valentine’s cards (ruining everyone’s breakfast by triggering an influx of owls).
Less than a decade after graduating from Hogwarts, however, Lockhart had become a celebrity thanks to his dramatic first-hand accounts of grappling with and defeating dark creatures. He basked in his newfound reputation “as a world-class defender against the Dark Arts.” (I mean, he was a great wizard. I don’t want to say it, but — probably the best. You can ask anybody. He’s won so many awards, it’s, like, crazy.)
There was just one problem: Lockhart’s fame was built on, well, nothing — except maybe a talent for taking credit for things he didn’t do. Rather honing his skills in the Defense Against the Dark Arts after leaving Hogwarts, Lockhart instead focused on another area: obfuscating the distinction between fact and reality through the use of Memory Charms.
By perfecting this tricky spell, he had succeeded modify the recollections of a dozen highly accomplished and courageous witches and wizards, allowing him to take credit for their daring exploits, returning to Britain and the end of each ‘adventure’ with a new book ready for publication which retold ‘his’ feats of bravery with a wealth of invented detail.
The prospect of “set[ting] the seal on his fame” by serving as the professor to the great Harry Potter eventually entices Lockhart to pursue a real job (you know, other than being famous) and return to Hogwarts, where it quickly becomes abundantly clear that his “once rather good” magical skills had become “rusty almost beyond repair” — a development which did little to dampen either his “overbearing self-confidence” or the insensitivity of his suggestions to students:
His classes quickly became a charade, as he was revealed to be completely inept at everything in which he claimed, in his books, to be an expert.
Despite the celebrity attached to the course, Lockhart’s students — who were there to learn vital skills — found themselves almost entirely unsupported and were forced to take their education into their own hands, on their own time.
In the film version of Chamber of Secrets, Lockhart’s depiction is eerily familiar: the hue of his skin a bare fraction of a tone removed from that of his distinctive golden hair, he wears only the most expensive (gold-hued) robes — as if Trump rolled out of bed one day to discover that, rather than leaving a Cheeto-colored imprint on his sheets, his suffocatingly gaudy penthouse suite had managed to produce overnight a fine golden dust which had rubbed off on him.
To sum up: if you’re looking for a Donald Trump parallel in the Potterverse, look no farther than the wavy-haired, oddly-tinted, narcissistic, gold-obsessed, professional celebrity obsessed with seeing his face in print, whose ventures into the world of education turned out to be a scam, whose fame can’t really be attributed to much of anything he’s actually done, and who has a thing for putting his name up in the sky.
As a final point, I think it’s worth acknowledging that by trying to draw parallels between Trump and Harry Potter, we’re engaged in something more than idle play. There are elements of hope and expectation, too — the sense that because narrative trajectories are so often repeated and reproduced, there may be something prophetic in such metaphors, and that if we happen on one that fits well enough, it might give us a sense of what lies ahead.
If that’s the case, then beware: the record is more or less silent on the ultimate fate of the dementors once Harry defeats Voldemort.
Lockhart’s fate, however, is made exceedingly explicit: he finds himself undone by his own hand, having lost his sanity to a backfiring Memory Charm. After the accident, he composes a final memoir, entitled Who Am I?
On its cover is an image of Lockhart in a straitjacket.
Take your pick.
Note: This is a slightly revised version of my reply to Arianna’s post, which I tweaked into a stand-alone piece.