Jareth resides in the castle beyond the goblin city and takes Sarah’s baby brother, Toby. His goal is to transform Toby into a goblin: “You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth, before your baby brother becomes one of us… forever.”
Did the goblin king create all of the goblins in the goblin city, transforming them from babies to goblins with his magic? That would make him some kind of twisted father figure….
His cruelty is obvious, what with the baby kidnapping and all. Jareth harasses Hoggle with continuous Bog of Eternal Stench threats. He abuses his goblin underlings, and is generally a jerk.
But we also love Jareth, because of the singing on the Labyrinth soundtrack, the dancing, and the fact that he is the one with all the magic. Plus, there is a touch of pain and sympathy for Jareth. As he says/sings to Sarah “everything I’ve done I’ve done for you” and “I can’t live within you.” As a fantasy master, Jareth’s very existence depends on Sarah’s fantasy and imagination. His love for her is deep and obsessive – he literally needs her to live. How complex.
Bowie brings to the character his years of experience of sexualized strutting and the benefit of an amazing soundtrack. Dance Magic, and many others, have aged well, and the vocals are a pure example of 1980s David Bowie.
And those pants. Those are some pants.