The Unlocking Charm is used to open locked windows, doors, or objects. It’s cast using the incantation “Alohomora”. Instructions for use of the spell are found in the first volume of The Standard Book of Spells. In The Sorcerer’s Stone, the book is on a list of required textbooks for First Year students.
A Brief History of Alohomora
More information on the Unlocking Charm can be found in the video game Wonderbook: Book of Spells.
This game was created in collaboration between Sony and JK Rowling, and gives further depth into various other spells as well.
Within the game, we learn the history of the Unlocking Charm and the man who popularized it. In the 17th century, British outlaw wizard thief Eldon Elsrickle learned the charm from an African sorcerer.
He returned to London and used the Unlocking Charm to steal from both wizards and Muggles. Elsrickle’s work was so baffling that he became known as the Spectral Thief of Old London Town. If caught by a wizard, Elsrickle would trade the charm for his freedom, creating a wide network of “Spectral Thieves”.
However, Blagdon Blay created an Anti-Alohomora Charm after being robbed 19 times in two weeks. Elsrickle’s career – and life – ended soon after. After a full night of unsuccessful robberies, Elsrickle forgot to disable the creature guarding his treasure and it devoured him.
The Unlocking Charm Within the Series
Throughout the main series, users of the spell aren’t as devious.
For example, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Hermione uses the Unlocking Charm to open the door guarding Fluffy when they needed a good hiding place.
In a few other examples, use of Alohomora is actually quite unsuccessful.
Later in the novel, she attempts to unlock a door protecting the Sorcerer’s Stone, but cannot. This door was most likely enchanted with the Anti-Alohomora Charm to make the puzzle much more difficult to complete.
In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Queenie Goldstein attempts to use the Unlocking Charm on Percival Graves’ door, but is also unsuccessful.
The Unlocking Charm definitely has its uses within the Wizarding World, although almost always mischievous. It’s no wonder it is sometimes referred to as the Thief’s Friend.