Harry Potter and the Enneagram - Threes

By Teresa Malcolm

The most obvious Three in the Harry Potter books is so easy to spot because he is a caricature of the style, in which the Three’s primary “sin” of deceit is exaggerated for comedic effect (although J.K. Rowling has said the character was modeled on a real person). Meet Gilderoy Lockhart, internationally famous wizard and five-time winner of Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile Award, as he will tell you himself, repeatedly.

Lockhart is first introduced in The Chamber of Secrets, preening in front of an adoring audience, and he immediately drags Harry Potter into his spotlight, for the added prestige and fame that comes from being associated with the Boy Who Lived. “Nice big smile, Harry,” Lockhart says as he forces Harry to pose with him as a photographer snaps away. “Together you and I are worth the front page.”

He is the author of numerous books trumpeting his great achievements, but it becomes clear that the image he presents does not quite match reality. He is a dreadful Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, incompetent when he actually does perform magic (in between bragging about his skills to anyone within earshot). Whenever his failure is apparent, he is quick to gloss over it, as when he is easily outshone by Professor Snape when the two teach dueling. Snape disarms Lockhart, who responds: “Yes, an excellent idea to show them that, Professor Snape, but if you don’t mind my saying so, it was very obvious what you were about to do. If I had wanted to stop you it would have been only too easy. However, I felt it would be instructive to let [the students] see.”

Lockhart can never admit the possibility that anyone could be better at something than he is. This is the Three’s compulsion for competition. It’s not enough to be good at something, he has to be superior to others. To hear Lockhart say it, he could single-handedly teach every subject at Hogwarts. It is no surprise that he is roundly disliked by all his colleagues.

What is eventually revealed is that Lockhart’s fame is based entirely on lies: All the great deeds and derring-do in his books were other people’s stories that he claimed as his own. He justifies his actions this way:

"My books wouldn't have sold half as well if people didn't think I'd done all those things. No one wants to read about some ugly old Armenian warlock, even if he did save a village from werewolves. He'd look dreadful on the front cover. No dress sense at all. And the witch who banished the Bandon Banshee had a harelip."

But he insists:

"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."

In a way, he’s right: Threes are naturally hard workers, even when all of an unhealthy Three’s energy is devoted to producing an image – when seeming successful is more important than true accomplishment.

Although a more nuanced character than Lockhart, Draco Malfoy shares similar Three characteristics. Like Lockhart, Draco is a braggart, about his pureblood family and about his abilities. In Sorcerer’s Stone, for insistence, as the first years prepare for broom-flying lessons, Draco tells “long, boastful stories which always seemed to end with him narrowly escaping Muggles in helicopters.”

Draco also tries to ingratiate himself with the famous Harry Potter when they first meet, but when Harry, put off by Draco’s snobbery ("You'll soon find out some wizarding families are better than others, Potter"), rebuffs him, it is the start of their long enmity. From then on, Draco puts himself in constant competition with Harry, especially at Quidditch, the wizarding sport. When it comes to Harry’s best friends, Draco publicly disdains the poverty and lack of connections of Ron Weasley's family, and he is resentful being bested academically by Hermione Granger. Unlike Lockhart, Draco does have actual talents, but not enough compete with her; so he lays claim to superiority by calling her a “Mudblood” (a slur for someone with Muggle parents).

He curries favor during Umbridge's reign at Hogwarts. But when Potions Professor Slughorn fails to choose Draco as an up-and-comer for the "Slug Club," Draco is obviously rankled but plays down the rejection: "What is he, when you come down to it? Just some stupid teacher. … what's it matter to me if some fat old has-been likes me or not?"

A reader can start to get the idea that J.K. Rowling doesn’t like Threes much. At least, I haven’t identified any notable sympathetic Threes. But we can give Draco his due, that over the course of the final two books, he becomes, if not one of the good guys, at least deserving of pity. In his family, a prestigious position within the Death Eaters is the ultimate marker of success. But once Draco is immersed in it, he discovers it is more a life of sheer terror. In The Half-Blood Prince, Lord Voldemort forces Draco into an assignment to kill Professor Dumbledore, expecting the boy to fail -- it is punishment for Draco's father's misdeeds. But Draco clings to what prestige he can gain from it, hinting to his Slytherin peers of his important work, and refusing help from Professor Snape, accusing his mentor of wanting "to steal my glory!"

Behind the mask, Draco is cracking, with the threat of his own death and the death of his parents hanging over him. His conscience also pricks at him more than he, or the reader, might have suspected. In the end, he cannot follow through with the murder.

That is not to say he is exactly redeemed. Opportunism and self-preservation mark his conduct in the war, but even small gestures such as his reluctance to identify Harry to those who would kill him leave one to think that Draco is not entirely a lost cause.

The same could not be said for Lord Voldemort, who takes us to the unhealthiest extreme of the Three style. While average Threes try to ignore their emotions in the name of achieving goals (witness Draco's struggles in The Half-Blood Prince), for Voldemort this becomes a complete disconnection from human feeling or any kind of empathy for others.

As a youth, when he was only Tom Riddle, he was remarkably adept at impressing others and using "careful flattery of the people who matter," as Professor Slughorn put it. Or as Tom himself said to Harry, "I've always been able to charm the people I needed." He was exceptionally handsome, intelligent and polite, admired by many teachers and peers -- but it was a calculated image that hid the vindictiveness and contempt beneath.

Then he adopted the mask of "Lord Voldemort," and set on the path of becoming the most feared wizard of all time and gathering followers who shared his hatred of Muggles and Muggle-born witches and wizards.

The name change is symbolic of the shadowy undercurrent of Voldemort's self-aggrandizement -- the discarded name being from his own Muggle father. Voldemort's obsession with "pure" magical blood is rooted in self-rejection; a false self had to be created, his true family roots deeply hidden, so that he could maintain his illusion of superiority -- not only to others, but to himself. Small wonder that Dumbledore knew the simplest way to puncture Lord Voldemort's grandiosity: refusing to address him as anything but "Tom."

Next up: Envy, obsession and the Four