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House-Elves Empty House-Elves

Post  Potteraholic Thu Jun 30, 2011 2:03 am

This topic serves as an archive of a thread from the Harry Potter Lexicon Forum as hosted on World Crossing, which ceased operation on April 15, 2011. It was copied/saved by Lady Arabella and reformatted/reposted by Potteraholic. ~Potteraholic

weasley by nature - Aug 7, 2004 9:49 pm
Edited by Kip Carter Aug 4, 2007 2:54 am

I saw threads for specific house-elves but I felt like my discussion was out of place under Dobby, Winky or Kreacher because it involved all of them.

1) As Hermione's quest in S.P.E.W. shows, many good people feel like house-elves should not be liberated. Their explanation is that house-elves do not want to be liberated for the most part. So should the house-elves be liberated and in what way? House-elves could perhaps be gradually adjusted to free life? Maybe they would be educated because their dialogue shows a lack of grammar (sort of like African-American slaves became uneducated and developed their own dialect). And with education they would gradually understand the ideal of freedom and over time become more and more comfortable and welcoming of the idea of being free.

2) They have their own type of very powerful magic, which could be very useful in the battle against Voldemort, especially if house-elves of the DE's became disloyal. But it seems like 2 years is far too short for very many house-elves to join the battle. But I'm sure Dobby will be glad to help Dumbledore and Harry, and perhaps Winky will too since she would want to do what Barty Crouch did during his life (battle Dark wizards). Do you think that any house-elves will join the battle against Voldemort and what role, if any, will they play?

Any answers, arguments or thoughts about these subjects or others relating to house-elves in general would be applicable to this thread.

Please see the discussion on the Questions to the Host(s) thread beginning with Post #677 and continue through Post#684 before you add anything more to either this thread or the S.P.E.W. thread.


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Last edited by Potteraholic on Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:18 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : added links for index table)
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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #1 - #50)

Post  Potteraholic Thu Jun 30, 2011 2:19 am

Madame Librarian - Aug 8, 2004 5:03 am (#1 of 735)

The house-elf threads come and go, but I'm sort of glad it's revived. New members can offer new insights. I've always thought it odd that under the sub-heads for "Magical Creatures" there's not a permanent one for these mysterious and confounding magical beings.

I feel that it's not so much a lack of understanding about what freedom means that keeps them seemingly complacent and accepting of their servitude--or even that it's a preferred condition as some in the WW hold. Rather I suspect a long-standing pact made between them and the WW that somehow works to their overall survival as long as the elves maintain their slave status willingly. Something like a contract stating "elves will be in the eternal protection from _________ (fill in the blank) as long as participants in the slave system created by the Grand Council of Wizarding Homelife Alliances blah...blah...blah...."

The blank element could be Voldemort or his older equivalents, some force we are unaware of yet, goblins, or the retention of their magical abilities altogether.

How Dobby affects this as the first "free" slave that we know of, I can't really say, but then again, this whole theory is a bit of a stretch. Maybe I should just say that I think some sort of bargain was struck long ago. Safety, magic and a society debt are likely involved.

Ciao. Barb

Paint - Aug 8, 2004 10:11 am (#2 of 735)
Edited Aug 8, 2004 11:13 am

Except for my introduction post, this is my first post since becoming a member. When I first joined I simply marked everything as read so I'm sure I'm repeating many prior post. I suspect that being in a serving position is essential to an elf's happiness resulting in the servant-master relationship between the elves and the WW. Since a servant must protect the secrets of the person he serves, the binds presently existing were created, resulting in the present master-slave relationship. Although there is no evidence that Dobby is half-blood, I suspect he is a major possibility of being the HBP and that the house elves' are going to play a major role in VWII. Hope I made since in my first post. Have a good day. Paint

zelmia - Aug 8, 2004 12:29 pm (#3 of 735)

Weasley By Nature wrote: "Maybe [the House Elves] would be educated because their dialogue shows a lack of grammar (sort of like African-American slaves became uneducated and developed their own dialect)."

I think I would like you to explain this a bit better. I'm sure you don't mean it to be as offensive as it is on the verge of sounding.

Cremare! - Aug 8, 2004 2:25 pm (#4 of 735)

1) House-elves should be liberated but I don’t see it happening within the confines of a seven book series.

2) Dobby will definitely help in the fight against Voldemort. As far as Winky, well, JKR stated in a interview that, "Winky will never fully recover." So... I doubt a half-drunk mess would be much use to the Order. Although they seem to keep Mundungus around... haha... j/k

timrew - Aug 8, 2004 2:41 pm (#5 of 735)

House-elves - a force to reckon with?

House-elves can Apparate and Disapparate in Hogwarts grounds. Most witches and wizards can't do that.

Dobby flung Lucius Malfoy down the stairs; and Lucius didn't retaliate. Was he scared of Dobby?

I think house-elves are more powerful than has been suggested so far. Therefore I think they have a lot to play for in the forthcoming books.

Will Hermione form the house-elf S.P.E.W. brigade, riding into battle on the backs of centaurs - or led by Grawp? I think we should be told......

Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 8, 2004 3:01 pm (#6 of 735)

I am glad to see this thread. I think Dobby will especially play a big role. At the end of CoS (p. 339 U.S. hardback) Harry jokingly asked Dobby to never try save his life again. Of course Dobby did not make that promise. Dobby has been very useful to Harry. I also think that rights of other beings are an essential theme in the books. In OoP (p. 852 U.S. Hardback) Dumbledore says "Kreacher is what he has been made by wizards." Wizards have to face the consequences of their own prejudices. I hope it does not cost them the war. LPO

weasley by nature - Aug 8, 2004 4:21 pm (#7 of 735)
Edited Aug 8, 2004 5:34 pm

Madame Librarian: Your theory would explain why the house-elves want to be slaves and why they are weary of Dobby and Winky. But, although it could be true, house-elves seem to be able to protect themselves and I don't understand why they would need protection. It couldn't be Voldemort because they have been slaves for centuries if I remember correctly.

Zelmia: On the dialect thing I meant that as slaves African-Americans were uneducated and developed a different grammar and dialect, not African-Americans of present day. I was trying to illustrate that we know that the house-elves are uneducated because they do not speak properly and draw a parallel simultaneously. Re-reading it I see how weirdly it was worded, sorry about that, I was just trying to say it in as little space as possible. I was definitely not trying to be offensive, specifically: I was not implying that African-Americans, or Black people in general, are uneducated or cannot speak English well.

Cremare!: When JKR said that Winky will never fully recover, in the context was it clear that she was referring to Winky's Butterbeer addiction or could she have just meant that Winky will never recover from the loss of her masters?

Solitaire - Aug 8, 2004 4:35 pm (#8 of 735)

We do tend to equate the house-elves with slaves, but perhaps they can just as easily be likened to citizens of a country that has been recently released from a tyrannical government. Think of all the difficulties that ensue when such a government topples and citizens are suddenly free after generations of a type of slavery to the government.

While they may have hated feeling crushed under the boot heel of "the master," at least they have had food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. When they are suddenly on their own, they don't know how to cope. Very careful cooperation among all parties is required to make the transition as painless as possible.

Returning house-elves to freedom might also be likened to returning captive creatures to the wild (freedom). An animal that has been raised in captivity can't just be set free with no preparation. It would not have the necessary survival skills. Such animals must be gradually "re-introduced" to the wild ... educated to survive.

These are probably crude examples, but it is how I tend to view SPEW. Before Hermione begins setting the elves of the world free en masse, proper steps must be taken to ensure that they can "deal with" the freedom. Otherwise, they become vulnerable to "enslavement" by some other force.

There is yet another example I'm reminded of in the Bible where one can elect to stay with a master. He is then marked in some way--his ear is pierced or something--and this tells the world he has chosen to remain in servitude of his own volition. Perhaps someone knows what I mean and can explain better. Anyway, I would suspect that many of the Hogwarts elves might fall into this category ... they like it there and are treated fairly.


Solitaire - Aug 8, 2004 4:40 pm (#9 of 735)

Ah, I found the verse, for those who are interested. It is Exodus 21:6 ... about the slave who loves his master and has no desire to be freed.

zelmia - Aug 8, 2004 5:24 pm (#10 of 735)
Edited Aug 8, 2004 6:27 pm

Thank you, WBN. That is a much better explanation. But I guess I just don't get your point about the house-elves being uneducated. We simply don't know enough about them as a culture, as a species, etc. One could argue that Goblins are uneducated because they speak in "gobbledygook" instead of Standard English. Yet these are certainly NOT creatures to be trifled with (ask Ludo Bagman!) Certainly, having a particular manner of speaking does not inhibit the magic inherent in the House Elf, which from what we've seen of it, is quite powerful indeed. Crouch Sr. even trusted his house-elf Winky with some pretty huge responsibility.

I think Solitaire makes an exceptional analogy with the overthrown governments and domesticated animals. But again, we have so little to go on with this. The Hogwarts house-elves seem to be rather pleased to be there - at least the ones we met who work in the kitchen.

I guess if I am honest, I will admit here and now that as a reader, I need to see more of a point to introducing these characters and pretty fast. I find them, frankly, annoying and pointless. Obviously Dobby, Winky and Kreacher all had their uses in the overall plot, but the fewer scenes with them, the better, as far as I am concerned.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 8, 2004 6:04 pm (#11 of 735)

Solitaire: I think your post about house-elves being more like citizens living under a tyrannical government instead of slavery is a very good point. We all have concepts of what we think is right. The majority of the house-elves see freedom as a negative thing. What works for one society may not work for another. It is very difficult to give up long held beliefs and values. I think something major must happen to convince the house-elves to seek freedom en masse. Then it is the "refugee" problem, how do you integrate these beings into society? Or perhaps as your quote from the Bible indicates, they will choose to remain slaves. LPO

Madame Librarian - Aug 8, 2004 6:26 pm (#12 of 735)
Edited Aug 8, 2004 7:28 pm

Weasley by Nature:...house-elves seem to be able to protect themselves and I don't understand why they would need protection. It couldn't be Voldemort because they have been slaves for centuries, if I remember correctly.

I realize my comment seems contradictory when we are told that elves have a particularly powerful and ancient kind of magic. It makes sense to ask why they kowtow to some old slave contract with wizards. What I'm thinking of has less to do with magical abilities vs. magical abilities, more to do with some overall protection against extinction maybe, or total loss of magic in the world. Something really big. Hard to define, but one of those cosmic "jokes" that falls into the category of a Pandora's box, or a Rumpelstiltskin kind of bargain.

And, I didn't mean Voldemort only, but anyone Evil like him that came to power in the past. Actually, I have this feeling it is not a protection against a mere individual no matter how powerful, but rather a force, a completely other race of beings we haven't met yet, a parallel history/universe where elves do not exist, something truly magical like that.

Not very clear, I know. And, just one of those far out explanations for the whole house-elf enigma.

Ciao. Barb

Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 8, 2004 7:41 pm (#13 of 735)
Edited Aug 8, 2004 8:43 pm

Madame Librarian,

Ancient magic seems to run through the books a lot. DD sees it as a weakness of Voldemort. Are the house-elves protecting themselves or the WW or both? Do they serve out of Love, a powerful ancient magic? Are they slaves or are they keeping an eye on humans with their magic? I like your idea of it being a force or different race we have not met yet.


Solitaire - Aug 8, 2004 8:46 pm (#14 of 735)

Ludicrous, I'm going to tread lightly here, because I don't want to offend anyone. Also, I may have my countries jumbled, but this is my take ...

I began to think about the "Iron Curtain" or Eastern European countries that came to freedom after the Berlin Wall came down. In some of the countries, the people were carefully led by benevolent and wisely chosen officials, and the transitions to progressively more freedoms were made gradually and less painfully. In other countries, the economies nearly collapsed, there were food shortages, people who should have been enjoying freedom continued under abusive oppression ...

I'm sure that even following the US Civil War, there were many slaves who preferred to remain with their families instead of striking out on their own. Since not all families had been brutal and inhumane in their treatment of slaves and their families, it is likely that some of these people would have preferred to stay where they knew there would be food, shelter, and safety for them and their families.

To be sure, the slaves had been freed--technically. But what did that mean? What kind of HUMAN and civil rights had the government given to them at that time? Not many, I'm sure.

Those are issues that Hermione needs to consider and plan for BEFORE she launches any great coup to free the house-elves, and someone she respects needs to make her understand this. Since she knows that Dumbledore is probably on her side and deeply respects him, she needs to consult with him about this before proceeding. I would hope he is willing to take the time to counsel her. I can see her campaign causing major chaos in the WW if she does not proceed correctly.

What if she manages to get the elves set free and no one wants to hire and pay house-elves? What do they do then? Where do they go? How do they live? I'd say she needs to find a ministry worker, perhaps, and get busy on post-freedom plans, before she goes any further. And I realize, this may belong on the SPEW thread. If so, please feel free to move it.


Leila 2X4B - Aug 8, 2004 8:52 pm (#15 of 735)
Edited Aug 8, 2004 10:05 pm

Solo, these are the very real problems that faced some in conflicts in which the end result was "freedom". In some cases it meant being free of the food, housing, and stability to which they were accustomed. It is something that Hermione does not consider. Dobby took almost 2 years to find employment. It might not be that way for all elves. Hermione also needs to consider what they want. Some feel that freedom needs to be desired and wanted for it to be successful. You cannot impose freedom on people without problems.

Solitaire - Aug 8, 2004 9:01 pm (#16 of 735)

Exactly, Beauty. Hagrid, Ron, and even Dobby have tried to point this out to her, but she bull-headedly persists. This is one of the serious flaws I can see in her character. Because she is so bright, she has a tendency to think she knows what is best for everyone. I can see her actions creating some major trouble if she doesn't proceed with caution and planning.

The Wandless Wizard - Aug 8, 2004 9:25 pm (#17 of 735)
Edited by Aug 8, 2004 10:26 pm

Speaking of the SPEW thread, which Solitaire mentioned, wouldn't it make sense to combine these two into one thread "house-elves and SPEW"? It seems to me like we are re-treading some ground in this thread. Maybe that is just me. I am not a mod, but thought I'd offer up my opinion. Anyway, onto the point of the thread.

weasley by nature wrote: "Cremare!: When JKR said that Winky will never fully recover, in the context was it clear that she was referring to Winky's Butterbeer addiction or could she have just meant that Winky will never recover from the loss of her masters?"

Well, I am not Cremare, but here is the quote. JKR: "Poor Winky... she'll never be entirely cured of her Butterbeer addiction, I'm afraid." So it is definitely the butterbeer JKR was referring too. However, I feel, and I mentioned it on the Winky thread, that "never cured" refers to alcoholism. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Winky can quit drinking, but she'll never be completely cured.

I completely agree with Madame Librarian that we should be asking ourselves why the house-elves are enslaved in the first place. They have powerful magic of their own. I have pointed out in the SPEW thread that Hermione needs to find this out before she can successfully move forward with SPEW. It is a mistake not to do more research before hand and really odd that a book-lover like Hermione has not done so (at least not that we have heard of). My opinion, also posted in SPEW, is that wizards created house-elves and ingrained a deep loyalty into them as well as giving them their magic. So it is in an elf's nature to serve wizards. Maybe if a non-freed house-elf raises his fingers against a wizard, he will lose the magic given to him. I'd like to know for sure.

Leila 2X4B - Aug 8, 2004 9:32 pm (#18 of 735)

Wandless, I think that you have a point about the combining of threads. Perhaps you can ask a host or mod if it is possible?


weasley by nature - Aug 9, 2004 12:13 am (#19 of 735)
Edited Aug 9, 2004 1:14 am

What if the house-elves were free a long time ago and they fought with the wizards and they lost. Even though house-elves had their own powerful brand of magic the wizards could have outnumbered, outsmarted or outpowered (is that a word?) them. Then as a punishment they became slaves and the wizards magically bound them to be loyal. This would explain why they can't go against their masters. This would also explain why the house-elves serve for pureblood old rich families: because those were the families in power when the house-elves lost. I think this is my new theory Smile. Any holes?

Solitaire - Aug 9, 2004 12:43 am (#20 of 735)

Wandless: It is a mistake not to do more research before hand and really odd that a book-lover like Hermione has not done so (at least not that we have heard of). This IS odd, Wandless. Even Harry makes the comment in Umbridge's first class that he'd never known Hermione not to open any book that came under her nose.

Re the two threads ... I asked the last week why there was not a house-elf thread, as I wanted to discuss something that didn't really seem appropriate for SPEW. Eventually, I gave up and forgot what I wanted to say since this thread was not here then. I'm hoping it will come back.

Wandless, you suggest that perhaps wizards CREATED house-elves. I don't know if I'd go along with that. Creating house-elves would make them sort of like magical R2-D2s, wouldn't it? It would certainly diminish their importance in the WW, I think.

Remember when Dumbledore talked to Harry following the battle? He told Harry that he had tried to impress upon Sirius how important it was to always treat Kreacher with kindness and respect and to be aware that Kreacher COULD be dangerous to the Order. He continued that, while Sirius was kind to house-elves in general, he failed to consider Kreacher as a being with feelings as acute as a human's. I assume that means not only positive feelings but feelings of hatred, betrayal, prejudice, etc.

The fact that they hold a position that could prove important in the coming war leads me to believe that house-elves are their own original, ancient group of the magical world, and not a created one. If I'm wrong, I'll whip up a stoat sandwich and some butterbeer for you. Smile


Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 9, 2004 7:34 am (#21 of 735)

Freedom is something Hermione values. The majority of the house-elves see freedom as a disgrace. Is it fair for Hermione to impose her values on a whole community? The house-elves will not be free unless they chose to be. Dobby chooses freedom. Winky does not. "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink"

I agree that Hermione is overzealous and does not see past the "injustice" of it all. I do not think house-elves were created by wizards but they may be a conquered race.


Kip Carter - Aug 9, 2004 3:59 pm (#22 of 735)

Please see the discussion on the Questions to the Host(s) thread beginning with Post #677 and continue through Post#684 before you add anything more to either this thread or the S.P.E.W. thread.

The Wandless Wizard - Aug 9, 2004 4:01 pm (#23 of 735)

Solitaire wrote: "Wandless, you suggest that perhaps wizards CREATED house-elves. I don't know if I'd go along with that. Creating house-elves would make them sort of like magical R2-D2s, wouldn't it? It would certainly diminish their importance in the WW, I think."

Well, my idea was they created them a long time ago. When the WW had to separate themselves from the Muggle world, wizards lost a source of cheap labor in Muggles. Wizards living in big estates did not want to clean the estates themselves. So they started hiring Squibs (like Filch and the castle), but there were not enough Squibs. So wizards decided to find a creature to do it. They wanted something somewhat intelligent, but fiercely loyal. A little bit of magical ability would also help. However there were no creatures that fit the description. So they made them. I don't think of it like making a robot or R2-D2 (but Dobby is a little like R2, isn’t he?). I think it is more like the domestication and breeding of dogs, with a little magic thrown into the mix. I think it would explain why the house-elves are so loyal and enjoy working. They were made to work and be loyal. Anyway, it is just a theory of a possibility. You don't have to buy it. I don't even completely buy it.

Solitaire - Aug 9, 2004 5:04 pm (#24 of 735)

Wandless: I think it is more like the domestication and breeding of dogs, with a little magic thrown into the mix.

Wandless, even domesticating and breeding dogs is not the same as creating them. It involves modifying their behavior and their genetic makeup over many generations, I suppose.

Taking a living being with feelings and subordinating it against its will would probably involve placing a lot of spells and memory charms on that being. I can't imagine it would be worth much after that time (look at Lockhart and others who've had their memories Obliviated and damaged by spells). It seems rather unforgivable, anyway.

The fact that Dobby retained a personal will, a conscience desire to help Harry, and knowledge of the events of the outside world suggests a potentially high level of intelligence and magical ability for elves in general.

I wonder if it is possible that Dobby was only able to use magic defensively against Malfoy AFTER he was free. It's just that, if it were possible at any time, then any house-elf who felt maltreated could really knock the socks off his master (no pun intended) any time he got out of line, couldn't he? And we know that Dobby was treated brutally, so why didn't he strike out before? Is it only the endangerment of Harry that caused him to act "against his kind"?

I am still having some problems with the idea of elves having been created by wizards. But don't worry ... I'm not going to call and order stoat pizzas to be sent to your door every hour on the hour. I promise! ;-)


Madame Librarian - Aug 10, 2004 6:58 am (#25 of 735)
Edited Aug 10, 2004 8:02 am

I'm going to jump-shift the discussion a bit, so please just ignore this if it gets in the way of the current one: I'm copying a post I just entered on the Chamber clue/book 6 thread because part of what I suggested really applies to the house-elves (it's from post #704):

As far as Tom visiting the bathroom way back when he was student, he was quite good at skulking around (he's a prefect, right?). After hours it would not be difficult to go in there to investigate the pipes connection to the Chamber and check it out. There might not even be a real need to go into the Chamber as long as he could call the basilisk out from that sink faucet. Also, remember that the Basilisk moves around the castle through the pipes; it only needs access to one set since presumably the plumbing system throughout the building (or at least the main, highly trafficked areas) are all connected. When Harry hears the voice, I always imagined it was the Basilisk just on the other side of the wall, inside a pipe, looking for an exit point (a drain or sink, something like that).

As for Ginny--by the time she's at Hogwarts the bathroom has been closed for a long time, since Myrtle's murder. Diary Tom need only instruct her how to call the Basilisk. Should she be caught in there her excuse is that she's just a first year and didn't realize the bathroom was closed.

Hey, wait...is this the clue: the fact that one can navigate around Hogwarts through the walls via pipes, secret tunnels, and other hidden features? Seems a bit simplistic, but remember how long it took Hermione to put it all together. And, it would be just like the Trio to sort of "back shelf" that concept till trapped and stymied during an attack or similar crisis. It is, perhaps, the one vulnerability of the castle itself. Is that something the house-elves know, part of the ancient magic that keeps them in thrall to their masters? The ability to move around places that are seemingly completely secure? Uh, oh...this is in need of much marinating.

The part that's underscored is the idea I'd like to present on this thread. It's something that fits very well with how the elves seem to function. They can Apparate around the building (or any building, for that matter), they can deliver food and supplies, they seem to know when to do that, too. They may just be able to conjure what's needed on the spot, but what if there are passageways they use? Maybe that's what they conjure, the very connections, tunnels, pipes, dumb waiters, or other similar contrivances that move stuff around without anyone being aware of all the hustle and bustle that would under normal circumstances be very obvious.

OK, that's it. Be gentle, it's early.

Ciao. Barb

Czarina II - Aug 10, 2004 9:06 am (#26 of 735)

If there were house-elves in the pipes in CoS, how come none of them ran into the basilisk?

Madame Librarian - Aug 10, 2004 1:14 pm (#27 of 735)
Edited Aug 10, 2004 2:18 pm

Ancient magic! No, I didn't mean to be flip, but that's all part of the system they have evolved. They do their thing, they avoid trouble (use their own brand of protections in eluding trouble), and stay neutral when things get dicey. Dobby tells Harry that his elimination of Voldemort back at Godric's Hollow was a joyous event for the elves, too, but it seems that Dobby is the only one to care, and the only one who wants things to change even more.

I'm building this theory as I go along as you all can probably tell. I'm not totally secure in it, I just have this strong feeling that the elves are hiding a core truth about the wizarding world and how it all works and hangs together.

And, I'm not saying that they themselves use the pipes, just that they are the ones who know about all the secrets of a place, the hidden ways, the old structures so that they are able if they wish to move around in them. I'm also thinking there could be magic attached to them that make them like wormholes, singularities, that kind of space-jumping medium (I don't mean outer space, just the physical spaces in a castle or building).

Ciao. Barb

The Wandless Wizard - Aug 10, 2004 1:48 pm (#28 of 735)
Edited by Aug 10, 2004 2:48 pm

Czarina II wrote: If there were house-elves in the pipes in CoS, how come none of them ran into the basilisk?

Who says they haven't? What else has the Basilisk been eating all these years if not stray house-elves. Hogwarts has 100s of house-elves. Who is going to miss a few of them if they disappear. house-elves aren't allowed to complain, so they couldn't even tell somebody that a few of their co-workers were eaten.

Just, so you know, I am kidding....mostly. What has the Basilisk eaten for all those years?

timrew - Aug 10, 2004 1:59 pm (#29 of 735)

Going by the movie (I can't remember what it says in the book!), didn't Harry and Ron land on a bed of rat skeletons when they entered the Chamber?

Shame the basilisk didn't come across Scabbers!

Solitaire - Aug 10, 2004 2:26 pm (#30 of 735)

I have often wondered, since we first met Kreacher, how many of the house-elves are owned by Dark wizards. Dobby was. So was Kreacher. And Winky seemed to love Barty, Jr., who was a DE.

It makes one wonder what kinds of families own the house-elves. Winky and Kreacher seem to love their Dark masters. Perhaps they have been in those families for generations. But Dobby ... is it possible that Dobby is relatively new to the Malfoy family? Could he once have been owned by a nice family ... or perhaps be the offspring of elves who had been owned by good wizards?

Barb, I think your comments about the elves staying out of view is appropriate. If you happen to have seen the movie Gosford Park, it is amazing how some of the servants in the house seem almost afraid of being seen in certain scenes ... they really stay in the shadows and corners. They even have their own stairways and corridors.


Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 10, 2004 3:10 pm (#31 of 735)

Madame Librarian,

I think you are on to something. The house-elves need to know a lot about where they serve to perform their duties. It would be logical for the WW world to allow them certain freedoms to perform their duties. Ancient magic is very important. Many beings are looking for equal status with witches and wizards. The wizarding community seems fearful of granting those rights. If the house-elves bind help bind the system together the wizarding community would be very careful about letting them have any freedom or power.

Solitaire has a good point about how many house-elves are devoted to Dark wizards. Will they help or hinder Harry in the war? Dobby is devoted to Harry. Who will the others help? LPO

Madame Librarian - Aug 10, 2004 3:37 pm (#32 of 735)
Edited Aug 10, 2004 4:38 pm

Solitaire, I just ran across a factoid that relates to what you said about servants. Gaaaa! I can't remember the source--those PBS "Victorian House"-type programs or the NY Times review I read of the new-ish nonfic book on Victorian society. Whatever.

The point was that servants were trained to be invisible. Almost above all other "rules," this was primary. A good servant moved through his/her duties in the house (estate) in a way that was almost creepy in its non-presence. For example, if a housemaid was cleaning the front hall when one of the family members entered, she was instructed to stand up, make the slightest of quick curtsies, remove her supplies, go stand perfectly still against a wall or in a corner, not make a sound. If on a front stairway, she's to scuttle off to the side and freeze with her eyes downcast. Golly, the household in "Upstairs, Downstairs" seemed downright modern compared to those rules! In reality, I suspect the rules represented the ideal, but the family often was careful not to get in the servants' way. Sure, a lowly newly hired upper housemaid might still be expected to toe the line and be silent and invisible, but I doubt it would really be practical to run a house efficiently if the whole staff had to play-act non-existence.

So, the Trio learning about Hogwarts' house-elves was reacting almost exactly like young mistresses or masters might in the 19th century upon realizing that their fine houses ran on an elaborate system of silent, uncomplaining labor. They all sort of go through the "Duh, how did you think your laundry got done?" realization at that point.

Ciao. Barb

constant vigilance - Aug 10, 2004 4:37 pm (#33 of 735)

It is intriguing that house-elves seem to be owned by Dark families. But this raises questions as well. Is it because house-elves are in old families, and old families are more inclined to be snobs (and the deeper they go into snobbery, the more they are inclined to the Dark side?) Do we simply not hear about families that own house-elves but aren't Dark?

The Ancient House of Black was clearly a house of blood-snobs, so of course they were inclined to support Voldemort at the beginning of his rise to power. It was, after all, the cousin of Mrs. Black (Araminta Meliflua) who tried to pass laws permitting Muggle-hunting.

But we have seen, more than once, that it is what you become, and not what you are born into, that matters most. The Crouch family was by no means Dark, but Barty Jr. was one of LV's strongest supporters. The House of Black was Dark, but Sirius was involved with the Order in both its incarnations.

One has to wonder how Hogwarts came to have so many house-elves. Is it a haven for orphaned house-elves? If so, has that always been the case or is it a result of Dumbledore being the Headmaster? Where will Kreacher go now that there is nobody left at 12GP? It seems likely that he'll end up with the Malfoys--a scary thought. But surely Dumbledore has considered the possible consequences of that. Would he try to do anything to prevent it?

Eek! So many things to think about!!

Solitaire - Aug 10, 2004 7:33 pm (#34 of 735)
Edited Aug 10, 2004 8:34 pm

One has to wonder how Hogwarts came to have so many house-elves. Is it a haven for orphaned house-elves? If so, has that always been the case or is it a result of Dumbledore being the Headmaster?

It's funny ... this exact point was in my post before I began trimming and editing! I'm glad you put it in your post, Constant Vigilance. It does makes me wonder if some of the Hogwarts house-elves belonged to Dark wizards who died or were incarcerated in the last war ... or maybe some of the wars in previous centuries. With the exception of Winky, most seem very happy to be where they are!

I am curious about Kreacher and where he will wind up--if he is still alive. It is possible that he might like working with the Malfoys and might not be mistreated, as he seems to support the Dark wizard way of thinking. He would probably do anything Malfoy asked and love it.

I find Kreacher a troublesome "loose end." Does anyone else feel this way?


TomProffitt - Aug 10, 2004 9:30 pm (#35 of 735)

I'm a pretty solid supporter of equality all of the way around, a firm believer in keeping an open mind, but there is a simple fact that I think most of the posters on this thread have missed.

Half-elves are not human, at least not in the strictest sense of the word.

Until we learn more about the nature of house-elves we will be like Hermione, assuming we know what is best for them without discovering the truth.

Archangel - Aug 11, 2004 1:50 am (#36 of 735)

Solitaire, I share your view on Kreacher. He certainly is trouble for the Order and he has shown that he has no sympathy for them as he was very instrumental in bringing about the demise of Sirius.

Maybe he'll just die a natural death since he's already old. Or maybe he and Dobby will battle and Dobby will defeat him. It'll surely be nice to see a house-elf battle seeing that they are quite powerful themselves.

constant vigilance - Aug 11, 2004 6:08 am (#37 of 735)

I also feel that Kreacher is a loose end. If he does become the servant of Narcissa, can he tell her all the secrets of The Order, or is he still bound by law to obey even deceased masters? The first time Kreacher was introduced in OoTP I was skeptical of him. He seemed, to me, to be a threat. Although, I suppose Kreacher disobeying Sirius is equal to Dobby's behavior towards Lucius.

I could be wrong about my take on Hermione’s activism for house-elves, but I think what bothers her is that they don't get paid. If they were comfortable with being paid for their labor, their status as servants wouldn't have to change. Instead, they were remain employed,--at least at Hogwarts-- they could continue to be secret-keepers,(which I think provides them with a great deal of pride) but earn some money to buy what ever they pleased, even if it is gifts for others. However, I agree that Hermione is going about this the wrong way.

T Brightwater - Aug 11, 2004 11:15 am (#38 of 735)

"Until we learn more about the nature of house-elves we will be like Hermione, assuming we know what is best for them without discovering the truth."

Tom, are you a Legilimens? I've been thinking the same thing. JKR has several beings in her world who are neither animal nor human, who have their own purposes and ways of looking at things. Even Dobby, happy renegade that he is, says he likes freedom, but he likes work better.

To us, it may look like house-elves are slaves, but they may see themselves differently. Remember, the only ones we've met as individuals are three who have been in some way mistreated by members of their families. Maybe the kitchen staff at Hogwarts is more representative. Hagrid, who has more empathy with non-wizard beings than almost anyone else, tells Hermione that "it's in their nature" to look after humans, and it would be unkind to set them free.

Judging from what little we've seen of "normal" elves, what they like most is being appreciated. Probably what hurt Winky the most is that she was doing her best to keep Barty out of trouble and probably felt she deserved Crouch Sr.'s gratitude - and she was punished instead.

One more observation: I think that scene with Winky in the woods at the World Cup is the only time we ever hear a house-elf say "I" instead of referring to him/herself in the third person. Is this just a sign of stress, or is there more to it?

David V - Aug 11, 2004 12:42 pm (#39 of 735)

May I suggest that perhaps the house-elves really do like their situation. We know they have their own special magic that may or may not rival wizards (Apparating into and out of Hogwarts, Dobby prohibiting Lucius from cursing Harry). Maybe the house-elves prefer life the way they have it, and it's best to let it be.

I posted this in the "Problems in 5th book" thread, but it seems to fit better here.

Why fight to set them free when it'd just make them unhappy? Every Elf we know is highly offended with the thought of receiving clothes and gaining freedom.

It seems to me that if the Elves really wanted freedom, they're powerful enough to get it.

Solitaire - Aug 11, 2004 2:52 pm (#40 of 735)

I suppose Kreacher disobeying Sirius is equal to Dobby's behavior towards Lucius.

That could be true, Constant Vigilance ... but I suppose we forgive Dobby, because he was trying to save a life (Harry); he wasn't trying to hurt Malfoy. Kreacher's actions resulted in deliberately injuring Buckbeak, sending Harry into danger and possibly to his death, and the loss of Sirius's life. I guess I don't really see those offenses as equal.


Madame Librarian - Aug 11, 2004 3:37 pm (#41 of 735)

Oh, boy, we all seem to have tons and tons of questions on house-elves. Naturally I have a few of my own--

We've met three individual house-elves, Dobby, Winky and Kreacher. Three very different personalities. The large house-elf staff at Hogwarts are not known to us as individuals, so we can't base much on them other than they think Dobby's whacko, Winky's a disgrace, Hermione is horribly misguided and a troublesome busybody, and everyone else is their raison d'etre--humans to serve. We don't know what they think about Kreacher. OK, only a re-cap of what we know.

Say you're the head of a reasonably successful wizard family and you decide to get a house-elf. Where do you go? How much does it cost? Who gets the money? There is a dept. of house-elf re-location, but does that imply that it's the agency that controls the whole system? Where do you get a brand new elf? Do untrained ones cost less? Are there any families with more than one elf? We are really clueless about this whole deal. You'd think Hermione would have investigated all of this before she got all het up about it.

More--once you've gotten your elf, is it expensive to maintain. They're little so food and space couldn't run you much. No clothing to speak of (which I'd like to discuss on a new thread someday). So if a family that's strapped financially like the Weasleys inherits an elf, can they still afford it?

And--I'm on a roll here, but should probably shut up--how many ordinary wizarding families actually have house-elves? If there are more elves than families wanting them, maybe unassigned elves work for places like the Ministry or Hogwarts.

Yikes, I'm worse than Dobby, can't stop babbling...

Ciao. Barb

Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 11, 2004 5:43 pm (#42 of 735)

I agree Potterhead. Until the house-elves think it is important to be free there is no point in trying to free them. Dobby wanted freedom, he found a way. Perhaps Hermione would be better off listening to the house-elves instead of talking to them.

I'm looking forward to HBP to see what happens with Kreacher. LPO

Solitaire - Aug 11, 2004 6:47 pm (#43 of 735)

In CoS, Dobby says "...Dobby is a house-elf ... bound to serve one house and one family forever ..." Unless that family sets the elf free (clothes) or kills it, apparently they stay with the house. We need more info on how and why the elves came to be enslaved.

The Artful Dodger - Aug 12, 2004 6:20 am (#44 of 735)

My first post here, so hello to everyone. To add a new aspect to the discussion, I think the Fountain Of Magical Brethren gives us a pretty clear impression of what the role of house-elves (and centaurs and goblins) will be like in the future. They will fight Lord Voldemort.

That Fountain is a mysterious object to me. What kind of brethren is meant? Has there been a different relationship between house-elves and wizards? Are they "just" brothers in arms against Lord Voldemort? Any ideas?

constant vigilance - Aug 12, 2004 7:05 am (#45 of 735)

I guess I don't really see those offenses as equal.

I completely agree, Solitaire. I think what Kreacher did was a terrible thing, not doubt about that. I love Dobby, so I would never want to equate him on a moral level with Kreacher. My comment about them being equal was from a purely objective point-of-view. The way Harry views Kreacher's betrayal, I imagine, is much the same as how Lucius would view Dobby's interference with the Chamber of Secrets. That's all.

I do wonder about how accurate human perception of the house-elves is. Are they happy? Certainly, the Hogwarts elves are happy (I would be if I got to work there). Dumbledore offers to pay them, and give them holidays if they wanted, but they choose to work for no wages. Is this conditioning, as Hermione believes? I want to hear more from the other house-elves before I decide.

Madame Librarian - Aug 12, 2004 7:11 am (#46 of 735)

Yes, c.v., it's time the Head house-elf steps forward!

Ciao. Barb

T Brightwater - Aug 12, 2004 7:43 am (#47 of 735)

"Perhaps Hermione would be better off listening to the house-elves instead of talking to them."

I agree, LPO. (Is your office anywhere near the Ministry for Silly Walks?) Imposing human/wizard standards on house-elves (or centaurs or goblins for that matter) insults them. Harry helped free Dobby because he knew Dobby as an individual wanted to be free; that's quite different from hiding hats in rubbish. Fred, George, and Hagrid are willing to let house-elves be themselves, and Ron treats them better by saying "Good service!" than Hermione does by telling them that they have the right to be unhappy.

Presumably the Malfoys never thought to tell Dobby not to help or warn Harry, so he wasn't technically breaking any rules by doing so. Winky was told to stay in the tent by Crouch Sr., but she judged that keeping Barty safely in hiding was more important than following a direct order. Kreacher made a decision about which members of his family he would side with - and worked within the letter of the law by deliberately taking Sirius's "Get out!" in a way which he knew Sirius had not intended.

Dumbledore told Sirius that Kreacher should be treated with kindness and respect, and we get the feeling that DD does treat house-elves that way (and every other kind of being, for that matter). That's probably why the Hogwarts elves are so delighted with their jobs.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 12, 2004 9:20 am (#48 of 735)

Close T. It is on Level Seven in the MoM with the British and Irish Quidditch League Headquarters (you should hear them sometime, there seems to be a long standing feud...) and the Official Gobstones Club (p.129 OoP American).

Artful Dodger, good thought. I hope the destroyed fountain does not symbolize the breaking of friendships. Maybe it is time to rebuild the brethren on more equal terms. DD treats all beings with respect. I get he impression he would extend legal rights to the different brethren. He is an interesting tie to all the house-elves we have met. He shows a great deal of compassion for Winky and Kreacher. LPO

Hollywand - Aug 12, 2004 9:50 pm (#49 of 735)
Edited Aug 12, 2004 10:52 pm

A slightly different spin on the elves. British society still has a lot more class distinctions than the US; this history affects the emotional landscape. Elves are a great way to deliver thoughts about class struggle and interdependence. They also offer a voice where clues can be delivered in a nearly unintelligible fashion, and self-deprecation can be made humorous is a way that wouldn't be so funny without character distance.

The elves control their masters as well. Winky controls Crouch; her self-deprecation is a butterbeer addiction. Kreacher enshrines the Blacks and does real harm to Sirius. I wish Sirius had given Kreacher a good sock! Dobby undermines the Malfoys. Dobby and Kreacher are flip sides of the same class dynamic.

The elves at Hogwarts have a huge community, a real advantage over the upper class and isolated and neurotic house-elves of the wealthy purebloods. Food for thought. Maybe Hermione will find out that the elves are refugees and not prisoners.....

Solitaire - Aug 12, 2004 10:16 pm (#50 of 735)

Maybe Hermione will find out that the elves are refugees and not prisoners...

She might find out a lot of things if she would ASK and LISTEN rather than constantly "spew"ing her rants that they MUST be liberated. I think that is what MUST happen before anything positive can happen with the elves.

I agree about the difference between the Hogwarts elves and the "neurotic" house-elves of the upper classes ... good points.

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #51 - #100)

Post  Potteraholic Thu Jun 30, 2011 2:34 am

Madame Librarian - Aug 13, 2004 5:04 am (#51 of 735)

Quick question--I raised it a long time ago, but think the new gang of members might have some good insight:

House-elves. We almost always see them referred to as house-elves. Does that imply to you that there are other groups of elves that are free or living underground? What about forest-elves? Mountain elves (way too little for the giants to even see). And, even other enslaved groups like office-elves (sounds like a good name for a temp firm).

Based just on the way JKR has so specifically named this group, I get the feeling that there are other kinds of elves, and maybe they're free.

Ciao. Barb

T Brightwater - Aug 13, 2004 5:21 am (#52 of 735)

There used to be, but they all went into the West! (oops, wait a minute, what fictional universe are we in here?)

Occasionally they are referred to as just "elves" - Amos Diggory calls Winky "Elf;" SPEW is "the Society for the Preservation of Elvish Welfare" (and it's so typical of Hermione that she doesn't think about the acronym.) Maybe "house-elf" is JKR's way of making sure that we don't even think about Galadriel or Legolas when we picture Dobby or Winky.

Office-elves? I shudder to contemplate.

Hollywand - Aug 13, 2004 7:57 am (#53 of 735)

That's a great distinction to ponder, Madame Librarian.

I was thinking that the elves at Hogwarts have found a sort of relatively nice level of liberation in an educational institution.

After all, Harry can sympathize with Dobby because his own beginnings were under the stairs with the spiders at the Dursleys. Harry achieves his real liberation and community at an educational institution and not with his "adopted" family.

Solitaire - Aug 13, 2004 3:03 pm (#54 of 735)

I could use an office-elf. My desk looks atrocious, and I hate to be bothered with shredding all the junk mail I get. I'll take one and even pay wages and give holidays and days off! A classroom-elf would be nice, too. I hate decorating my classroom.

MickeyCee3948 - Aug 13, 2004 10:16 pm (#55 of 735)
Edited Aug 13, 2004 11:17 pm

I believe the removal of the slave status that the house-elves currently exist under will take far longer to accomplish than the two remaining books will allow even if it was JKR's main goal. After all as many of you have pointed out in your excellent posts, the problems need very careful consideration and action. I don't believe that the Dark Lord is going to give Hermione or DD that kind of time in the next two books.

I believe the most we can expect are the initial steps in improving the ways elves are treated by those who control their existence at the present time. I like many of you believe that the results will prove very beneficial to Harry and the others destined to fight the DL in the last books as the elves' magic and knowledge would be invaluable.

I have an observation. In my current reading of GoF, I noticed that when Hermione, Ron and Harry are in the kitchen the first time, that Dobby states "Dobby could tell Harry Potter that his old masters were--were--bad Dark wizards!" Did anyone else pick up that he appears to be talking about both Lucius and Narcissa? Were they both DE's?


Solitaire - Aug 13, 2004 11:24 pm (#56 of 735)
Edited Aug 14, 2004 12:25 am

Well, Mikie, remember that Dumbledore told Harry that Kreacher went to Narcissa Malfoy, "the only Black family member for whom he had any respect left." DD goes on to tell Harry, "The Malfoys--undoubtedly on Voldemort's instructions--had told him [Kreacher] he must find a way of keeping Sirius out of the way ..." and so forth. He mentions both Malfoys. I think she is a DE. Her sister Bellatrix certainly is.


Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 15, 2004 10:27 am (#57 of 735)

I wonder how Narcissa has managed without her house elf? What, if anything, did they tell people about losing Dobby? I agree, I think she is a DE.

I'm with you Solitaire I could use a house-elf at school. I wonder if we could advertise in the Daily Prophet? LPO

T Brightwater - Aug 15, 2004 2:50 pm (#58 of 735)

I wouldn't be surprised if Kreacher ends up with the Malfoys.

Solitaire - Aug 15, 2004 4:06 pm (#59 of 735)

I thought Dobby said house-elves stay with the house and the family until they die--or are given clothing (or in the case of the Blacks, they are beheaded). In the very strictest sense of the word, there are no more descendants who actually called 12GP home.

Bellatrix, Narcissa and Andromeda (Tonks' mom) are the next closest surviving relatives, but I feel very sure Kreacher would not want to serve Andromeda, considering her Muggle-born husband. I wonder if the three sisters "count" as family, since they are cousins. Even so, could Kreacher leave GP? There is no literal family member there to set him free, remember. Even Dobby had to be given clothes by Lucius in order to be set free.

Can you imagine the Malfoys taking up residence in GP? They seem a bit "highbrow" to live there, although it would give Draco a chance to kill Buckbeak. I sometimes wonder if Bella won't wind up there, now that she is out of Azkaban. Kreacher would love her. It would seem too risky for her to live with Narcissa--although I bet she would find some useful things in the Malfoy house. Then again, perhaps she is living with Voldemort in the Riddle House. I confess, I'm sort of hoping for a showdown that somehow involves the three Black sisters--like the witches in Macbeth.


weasley by nature - Aug 15, 2004 7:33 pm (#60 of 735)

"Say you're the head of a reasonably successful wizard family and you decide to get a house-elf. Where do you go? How much does it cost? Who gets the money?" Madame Librarian, I don't think that you buy house-elves. I think that they are inherited (weasley by nature 8/9/04 1:13am). The department of house-elf re-location could then be there to find homes for the children of house-elves or for house-elves that have no relatives of their master's family left. They could sell them permanently or temporarily to raise money for the ministry. Well, so I guess some house-elves are sold.

Archangel - Aug 15, 2004 11:12 pm (#61 of 735)

Does the ministry have a list of house-elves? Could be useful to track which elf serves whom. I would imagine that their owners would be deemed responsible for their elf's action re: Crouch's reaction during the WQC. Also, how are house-elves named -- do the masters of the house name them as they please or do these creatures have names given to them by their own kind? Smile

ex-FAHgeek - Aug 16, 2004 9:28 am (#62 of 735)

---quote--- Also, how are house-elves named -- do the masters of the house name them as they please or do these creatures have names given to them by their own kind? ---end quote---

I honestly can't imagine any member of the Malfoy family naming anything as cutesy as "Dobby." "Scumbucket" would be more likely.

Solitaire - Aug 16, 2004 10:54 am (#63 of 735)

LOL ex-FAHgeek !! Scumbucket indeed! I should think Toadstool, Fungus, or Slugbait would have been their choice. A name like Dobby is actually kind of cute. This suggests that--if the wizard families name the elves--perhaps there may have been some less reprehensible members farther back in the line. I suppose it is also possible that the elves' parents name them.

Kreacher seems to fit him rather well, don't you think? Even the spelling is kind of creepy.


T Brightwater - Aug 20, 2004 5:58 am (#64 of 735)

Speaking of Dobby, he's the proud possessor of a Weasley sweater. (Ron gave him his in GoF) I wonder if this will turn out to be significant? Sweaters seem to be an important part of Weasley identity.

Chris. - Aug 20, 2004 9:41 am (#65 of 735)

Hmmm... could it be foreshadowing that Dobby will go and work for the Weasleys?

LooneyLuna - Aug 20, 2004 12:01 pm (#66 of 735)
Edited Aug 20, 2004 1:16 pm

Kreacher = Creature

Kreacher has been made into a creature by the wizard family he served, specifically lovely Mrs. Black. I shudder to think what will happen if Kreacher goes to work for Bellatrix or the Malfoys.

Ooh, he loved Bellatrix, I wonder if he'll seek her out. Can Kreacher spill the beans on Snape or will he still be bound to his old master?

I also would love to know the circumstances of the elves' enslavement. I was thinking that Hermione should form a house-elf Union. As the Dobby/Dumbledore relationship can attest to, you can have the same binding magical contract with the elf getting wages and benefits (vacation in this case).

Solitaire - Aug 20, 2004 12:42 pm (#67 of 735)

Good call, Brightwater! Prongs ... maybe Dobby will save "the Wheezy who gave Dobby his sweater." Or perhaps it will be the other way around ... Ron will save Dobby and Dobby will be so pleased he will work for Ron. Just a thought ...

I foresee something ugly happening between Kreacher and Dobby ... over Harry Potter.


constant vigilance - Aug 20, 2004 1:50 pm (#68 of 735)

I'm not sure I see anything actually happening between Kreacher and Dobby, but I do think it's quite significant that they are so parallel to each other and at the same time such polar opposites.

Both have served the Malfoys, and both have bent the rules of their enslavement to act upon their own personal causes. It seems that house-elves typically tend to agree with what their masters say/do, and even if they don't agree they know better than to voice their opinion. Yet here are two very independent-minded elves, and this exhibition of free thought suggests that they will play some role in the future of the story.

Madame Librarian - Aug 20, 2004 3:32 pm (#69 of 735)
Edited Aug 20, 2004 4:47 pm

Interesting--I had always gotten the pun of Kreacher's name, but it just occurred to me that the tragedy of Sirius was partly due to the fact that to him Kreacher was just a creature--a word (concept) sometimes used to connote a lesser being, something one need not concern oneself with, as in lowly creature or lesser creature or vile creature (think slug). Oh, what good stuff JKR can build into a simple name!

Is Dobby slang for anything? I shall search the Net for an answer...

Ciao. Barb

EDIT--Back again with this stuff on Dobby:

1)--From a mail-order clothing catalog. It looks like an ordinary white woman's shirt.

TILT GIRLS WOVEN TOPS BIRDSEYE 3/4 SLEEVE DOBBY Tilt 3/4 sleeved white shirt has 5 button snap down front. Features allover woven ribbed pattern. Read full description at Pacific Sunwear.

2)--A few sites said Dobby is the name of an elf that comes in the night a does your household chores in secret as in the fairy tale "The Elves and the Shoemaker." Some just said it's an old English name for elf.

3)--One site said it's an archaic nickname for Robert.

4)--One very arcane site went on and on about computerized looms for making blankets and somewhere buried in the text a dobby was mentioned. Some sort of bobbin perhaps, or type of weave? Maybe this relates to that woman's shirt up above.

I suspect JKR was just using the affectionate term for elf as a perfect name for this character, and I've just expounded way more than anyone wanted to know. Oh well...time to throw the chicken on the bar-bie.

Ciao. Barb

LooneyLuna - Aug 20, 2004 5:23 pm (#70 of 735)

From dictionary.com:


n 1: a living organism characterized by voluntary movement [syn: animal, animate being, beast, brute, fauna] 2: a human being; 'wight' is an archaic term [syn: wight] 3: a person who is controlled by others and is used to perform unpleasant or dishonest tasks for someone else [syn: tool, puppet]

#3 really jumps out at me as who/what Kreacher really is.

weasley by nature - Aug 20, 2004 8:40 pm (#71 of 735)

Constant Vigilance, when did Kreacher serve the Malfoys?

Solitaire - Aug 20, 2004 10:07 pm (#72 of 735)

Kreacher served the Black family. He did go to Narcissa Malfoy around Christmas when Sirius told him to get out ... and he gave some critical information to the Malfoys which was used to lure Harry to the Dept. of Mysteries.

It is interesting that Narcissa was "the only Black family member for whom [Kreacher] had any respect left" while Dobby knew at once they were bad, evil wizards.


MickeyCee3948 - Aug 21, 2004 8:57 pm (#73 of 735)

Do we know anything about the condition of Kreacher? Do we know what DD's "persuasion" consisted of?

Solitaire - Aug 21, 2004 10:17 pm (#74 of 735)

I've wondered that myself, Mickey ... but I sure can't see Dumbledore harming him, really. Can you?

LooneyLuna - Aug 22, 2004 5:59 am (#75 of 735)

Dumbledore said he was a pretty good Legilimens himself, so when he questioned Kreacher, he got more of the story than what Kreacher said, I'm thinking.

I wonder what will become of Kreacher, too.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 22, 2004 2:47 pm (#76 of 735)
Edited Aug 22, 2004 3:47 pm

Wizards can modify the memory of Muggles. I wonder if they can do the same with house elves? DD could remove any dangerous information from Kreacher's mind then he would be free to serve Narcissa or Bellatrix. LPO

MickeyCee3948 - Aug 22, 2004 9:06 pm (#77 of 735)
Edited Aug 22, 2004 10:06 pm

Solitaire-I wouldn't expect DD to hurt him badly. But remember at the time Harry's life was at risk and I imagine DD was slightly impatient with him.

LPO-I agree wizards can modify the memory of us mere Muggles but since house-elves have powers of their own and we saw with Dobby can be formidable if provoked, I don't know if DD would attempt it. Besides if he altered the memory too much, Kreacher might not be able to reveal any Black family secrets that he knows.

I definitely cannot see Kreacher being let go. He just knows too much and even with the charms and spells that were cast on #12. He was able to leave and return in OotP.


Solitaire - Aug 22, 2004 9:41 pm (#78 of 735)
Edited Aug 22, 2004 10:42 pm

That is true, Mickey. We know that Dumbledore CAN be impatient when it is warranted, and we also know by now that he deeply loves Harry. So I suppose it is possible ...

I also agree that Kreacher cannot be freed to serve anyone else. It would be too dangerous. I wonder what will become of him ...

Archangel - Aug 23, 2004 12:39 am (#79 of 735)

Memory charms wouldn't work. They can be broken by powerful wizards and considering Kreacher's last tip turned out to be a goldmine for Malfoy and Voldemort, I'm pretty sure they would want to know everything Kreacher knows.

I still think Kreacher will either die by natural death (since he's very very old) OR he'll die in a house-elf duel with Dobby. I wonder if elf duels are permitted by the elf laws, though, and if they are permitted under what circumstances.

MickeyCee3948 - Aug 23, 2004 6:35 am (#80 of 735)

Can a house-elf use elf do himself in? Or maybe Mundungus will knock him off. He was real good buds with Sirius and is probably quite perturbed about having to find a new storage spot for his goods.


Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 23, 2004 6:41 pm (#81 of 735)

A house-elf duel sounds interesting. They can't use wands so I wonder how it would look. I like the idea of Dung taking care of the problem. LPO

Archangel - Aug 23, 2004 8:26 pm (#82 of 735)

Dung, at the topmost stair, drops stolen cauldron on Kreacher, hitting him on the noggin, while he's walking underneath them. End of story. Works for me. Smile

Solitaire - Aug 23, 2004 10:03 pm (#83 of 735)
Edited Aug 23, 2004 11:03 pm

Oh, Archangel! Wasn't Percy whining about the cauldron bottoms not being thick enough? Surely Dung's flimsy cauldron bottoms wouldn't really hurt a little hard-headed "toe-rag" like Kreacher! The cauldron would probably break through the bottom and Kreacher would go on his merry way, totally unfazed. (Just kidding ... the quality of this post tells me I need to be in bed!)

Archangel - Aug 23, 2004 11:02 pm (#84 of 735)

LOL Solitaire! Well you'll never know, Dung could get lucky Smile

TwinklingBlueEyes - Aug 24, 2004 5:35 am (#85 of 735)

Maybe he could get hit with the edge of the cauldron instead of the bottom? :-)

LooneyLuna - Aug 24, 2004 1:54 pm (#86 of 735)

Or maybe Fred and George will have invented the decapitating frisbee and they can throw it at Kreacher.

Just kidding! We know Kreacher's greatest ambition is to have his head displayed on the wall next to his dear old mum. Perhaps one of the Order can oblige him.

T Brightwater - Aug 24, 2004 8:34 pm (#87 of 735)

All Kreacher needs to do is insult Buckbeak...

TwinklingBlueEyes - Aug 25, 2004 3:58 am (#88 of 735)

Kreacher is the one who injured Buckbeak...

T Brightwater - Aug 25, 2004 1:23 pm (#89 of 735)

Actually, I'm not sure I'd wish that on Buckbeak - Kreacher sounds like a bad case of indigestion in the making. :-)

Ludicrous Patents Office - Aug 25, 2004 6:46 pm (#90 of 735)
Edited Aug 25, 2004 7:46 pm

Buckbeak may have tolerated Kreacher while Sirius was alive. Now that Sirius is gone Kreacher better look out. I agree T, I think Kreacher would be pretty foul to digest. I still wonder what DD did to Kreacher after he got the information from him. He would have to protect the secrets of the Order. LPO

Magical Llama - Sep 1, 2004 10:42 am (#91 of 735)

Is Kreacher free now that he no longer serves Sirius?

weasley by nature - Sep 1, 2004 12:53 pm (#92 of 735)

Probably not, Magical Llama. We know that Sirius inherited the house and therefore, Kreacher. So Kreacher is probably the servant of whoever inherits the house, or whoever is next in the Black family line (Bellatrix Lestrange?).

Chris. - Sep 1, 2004 1:54 pm (#93 of 735)

Does the Elf go with the family or with the house?

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 1, 2004 5:33 pm (#94 of 735)

Good question Prongs. I think they go with the family. Kreacher turned to other family members. He left the house. But then they are called House Elves!

I Am Used Vlad - Sep 2, 2004 6:03 pm (#95 of 735)

Dobby doesn't offer much help. He says "Dobby is a house-elf--bound to serve one house and one family forever..." CoS p.14 US

I would say that from the families we've seen with house-elves (Black, Malfoy, Crouch), it would amount to the same thing. The families probably continue to live in their ancestral homes.

The Hogwarts house-elves must be bound to the location, as Headmasters and Headmistresses come and go.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 3, 2004 4:21 pm (#96 of 735)

Kreacher lived in the house for 10 years alone. Why didn't he go to other family members? Was it because he is bound to the house or that Sirius was alive? LPO

TwinklingBlueEyes - Sep 3, 2004 5:29 pm (#97 of 735)

LPO, I believe it was the attachment to Sirius's mother that kept him there. Consider these passages...

"He's been alone too long," said Sirius, "taking mad orders from my mother's portrait and talking to himself, but he was always a foul little -" And, "It was my father's," said Sirius, throwing the ring into the sack. "Kreacher wasn't quite as devoted to him as to my mother, but I still caught him snogging a pair of my father's old trousers last week." pp.91 & 99 OoP US

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 4, 2004 10:31 am (#98 of 735)

Thank you TwinklingBlueEyes. If that is a hint #12 will be stuck with Kreacher for a while. Or maybe he will move on because it has been "contaminated." LPO

Gerald Costales - Sep 7, 2004 3:54 pm (#99 of 735)
Edited Sep 7, 2004 4:55 pm

Does anyone think with 100 house-elves at Hogwarts, that they will be a force against Voldemort in the coming war? I certainly do. And can Dobby be the only house-elf who wants freedom. GC

American slaves had the Underground Railroad. Could there be something similar for runaway house-elves (that is if they exist)?

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 7, 2004 5:19 pm (#100 of 735)

I think Dobby will play a part. He is very fond of Harry. In CoS Harry asks Dobby to not try and save his life again. Dobby does not promise that. Though Harry was joking I don't think Dobby was. 100 house-elves could be a very powerful force. I'm not sure most house-elves desire freedom. Maybe SPEW will turn into the Underground Railroad! LPO

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #101 - #150)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:34 pm

Phoenix song - Sep 7, 2004 8:50 pm (#101 of 735)

This may be way of the mark, but I can see similarities between the house-elves and the encapsulated people in the Matrix. Most of these people are happy just to "live" their lives never realizing the truth of those lives (that they're "coppertops"). They are content in accepting the version of truth and life that they are offered, and they don't seem to care very much that their life is being managed beyond their control.

Then there is the house-elf like Dobby who wishes to "choose" how he will live his life. He experienced a difficult time after being freed, as he could not find work. However, he was too happy with having freedom to return to his former state.

In the Matrix, the architect describes that he can only successfully enslave so many people if upon some unconscious level they feel as if they have a choice in the matter. Maybe this is a key to uniting the house-elves into battle??

I see Dobby in this light. He was the extremely rare house-elf that chose to lead his own life. In this way I see him as a type of "The One" from the OTHER prophecy. He desired freedom and wanted to obtain his own choice in the matter.

Does any of this make any sense or is it just the ramblings of a seriously sleep-deprived woman who is up too late again tonight?



Solitaire - Sep 7, 2004 9:35 pm (#102 of 735)

Perhaps the pipes and tunnels will become an "Underground Railway" INTO Hogwarts (which represents a kind of freedom) for house-elves who wish to live a better life. They all seem to love being at Hogwarts ... well, except for Winky, who is miserable anywhere.


Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 8, 2004 6:23 pm (#103 of 735)

Barbie, What an interesting idea. That fits what we see of the house elves. I hope we get more background information on their enslavement. Was there ever a choice? It is such a matter of pride, what do they gain from it?

Solitaire now that the basilisk is gone that would work real well! LPO

Gerald Costales - Sep 9, 2004 5:06 am (#104 of 735)
Edited Sep 9, 2004 6:09 am

The topic of creating house-elves was brought up a while ago. I want to revisit that.

A close comparison could be the domestication of your typical housedog. The dog was wild and over 1000’s of years has become a family pet.

Could the first house-elves been wild magical creatures. Through careful breeding and elimination, you would get the qualities you want loyalty, intelligence, etc. Winky knew Dobby. Wizard families need to produce new House-Elves. Why not breed them to produce your replacement house-elf ?

I was thinking of the mini-series Roots, where Alex Haley is tracing his family. Records of Haley’s lineage are found in the breeding records of Haley’s great great grandfather’s former (slave) owner’s thoroughbred breeding records. The breeding of slaves was equal to the breeding of their racing horses. (The ex-owner’s great great grandson had first checked the family bible and there were no records of slave births there.)

Not a happy image. But, the comparisons to slavery and house-elves have already been made. :-( GC

PS With a small gene pool, house-elves like Kreacher could be easily be explained.

Solitaire - Sep 9, 2004 4:33 pm (#105 of 735)
Edited Sep 9, 2004 5:34 pm

When I first read that suggestion, it made little sense. Then I read a post by someone who suggested that perhaps Voldemort's temporary "travel" body was a Golem. I'd never heard the term, so I did a bit of Googling. What I found reminded me of the suggestion that house-elves had been created.

If anyone is interested, here is the Legend of the Golem. It isn't really like the house-elves, but it did make me think that perhaps that theory had some merit, after all.


Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 9, 2004 6:38 pm (#106 of 735)

"Kreacher is what he has been made by wizards..." OoP p. 832 Scholastic hardback edition. If house-elves were created by wizards they must have been very sadistic. They built in a self-punishing ways to moderate the elves behavior. JKR gets a lot of information from folklore. I can see where Golem is similar.

If they were wild and tamed or enslaved by wizards that would explain how they have their own brand of magic. House-elves have their own culture. We do not know how far back it goes. They are so closely bound to wizards some enchantments must have been used to "keep them in their place." They are the "peculiar institution" of the wizarding World. It will be interesting to see of selective breeding is a part of the enslavement. LPO

Gerald Costales - Sep 10, 2004 4:56 am (#107 of 735)
Edited Sep 10, 2004 6:01 am

LPO, thanks for the response. I know JRK worked for Amnesty International. And there was her recent objection to the mistreatment of orphans in Romania (I think). I believe JKR belief in human rights is related to house-elves rights issue in the book.

The origin of house-elves is so unknown. I still think house-elves will be a powerful force against Voldemort in the coming war. Certainly there are other house-elves like Dobby yearning to be free just waiting for the right time and right place. Could the HBP be the rallying point for house-elves and other Magical Creatures to join the fight against Voldemort? (I know I sound like a Cold War propagandist. But, there is the feel of a CIA/KGB dynamic that is similar to the feel Order of the Phoenix/Death Eaters dynamic.)

I still think house-elves breed. Dobby is male and Winky is female. They aren't asexual. Of course they could be mules. The non-breeding result of the cross between two other magical creatures. (You guys keep bringing points, I'll be more that happy in supplying the counterpoints to keep the discussion fresh and going.) Bye :-) GC

The mule idea is from the Foundation series by Asimov. There was the character "the Mule" who was a very powerful person but couldn't produce an heir. Sound familiar, Voldemort is powerful and "the Last Heir of Slytherin" can Voldemort possibly be incapable of reproducing (biologically)? :-) GC

Gerald Costales - Sep 10, 2004 6:10 am (#108 of 735)
Edited Sep 10, 2004 7:11 am

Here's a thought, if house-elves breed maybe Kreacher's father was Grindelwald's house-elf . (I think Kreacher's mother served the Black family and there is no mention of Kreacher's father.) Dark wizards would probably have their house-elves breed with other Dark wizard's House-Elves.

After Grindelwald was defeated, then his house-elf could be inherited by another Dark wizard family. I think the Malfoys or other Death Eaters would be more than happy to take in an abandoned house-elf . Does a house-elf keep the secrets of a death master? What terrible secrets could Grindelwald's house-elf reveal to any new owners?

This thread has had some discussion about the buying and selling House-Elves. Also, who would care for abandoned house-elves and if the MoM had a department that dealt with the relocation and placement of abandoned house-elves with a new wizard family. :-) GC

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 10, 2004 3:00 pm (#109 of 735)

CG I agree that house-elves produce young. We see the example of Kreacher's family. Winky thinks it is important to keep her masters secrets. As far as we know Dobby has not revealed any of Malfoy's secrets. If the wizards created or made them what they are they probably put some very strong enchantments to not reveal secrets.

The HBP prince could be a rallying point for house elves. I think Harry will be.

I don't recall any mention of Dobby getting help finding a job. Knowing the MoM they probably do have a house-elf department. It works as well as the others! LPO

rebecca dorgelo - Sep 19, 2004 7:17 pm (#110 of 735)

I know that this isn't specifically about breeding, and I'm sure it's been mentioned before, but Ron says that Molly would love a house-elf to do the ironing - is it possible for them to wash, iron, hang out clothes on the line etc - would they be automatically freed? Can they be freed against their will? e.g. accept doing the ironing and clothes, but still serve because that's what they want to do. I know Winky was sacked, but in terms of poor Mrs Weasley getting the chores done...

in short, can house-elves choose to work with clothes - do they have power over this aspect of their employment contract, or are they bound by it in illogical ways?

Any thoughts?

Solitaire - Sep 19, 2004 8:29 pm (#111 of 735)

I would think asking an elf to take care of YOUR clothing is quite different from presenting the elf with clothing of his/her own to wear. I could be wrong, but I'd think an elf would know the difference.

Frankly, I think Dobby could have chosen to interpret Malfoy discarding the sock in a different way, had he wished to remain in his employ. But Harry knew he wished to be free of the Malfoys and gave him the opportunity. Dobby cleverly seized that opportunity and used the tossed sock as the means to gain his freedom.


rebecca dorgelo - Sep 19, 2004 8:43 pm (#112 of 735)

very well put, Solitaire Smile

ruthlesspenguin - Sep 20, 2004 3:46 am (#113 of 735)

I think there is also the point about the clothes being presented. If the clothes were left in a clothes basket and not given directly to the house-elf it would probably not count as freeing the house-elf. The Malfoys probably took advantage of this, as I can't see them doing their own washing in order to keep Dobby.

If the above is correct, it makes Hermione's hats seem rather pointless. If all a house-elf needs to do to become free is 'accidentally' discover some clothes, then you really couldn't call it slavery.

Finally, does anyone have any ideas about why Lucius Malfoy reacted so violently when Dobby was freed? I know you could argue that he had just had a bad day and loosing his house-elf was probably the last straw and that his actions in the book were not as extreme as they were portrayed in the movie. Even so, attacking Harry Potter just outside Dumbledore's office does seem a bit out of character for Lucius 'I never meant any of it because I was under the Imperius spell the entire time' Malfoy.


Paulus Maximus - Sep 20, 2004 6:38 am (#114 of 735)

I'm thinking that Dobby was the only house-elf the Malfoy family had, and that they depended on him for a lot of work.

Anyone who lost his most valuable possession would be a bit... irritated.

Madame Librarian - Sep 20, 2004 9:09 am (#115 of 735)

I'm thinking that ancient and special magic that elves possess makes a household run in a particular way--smoothly and efficiently. Dobby seems a quite powerful little guy and any personal feelings about his master aside, he took his job seriously (unlike Kreacher). Another point is a bit tongue in cheek, but maybe not--poor Lucius was going to have to tell Narcissa the news. Man, oh man, he was going to have one furious wife.

Can't you just hear it, "You what! How stupid can you be? Well, you're just going to have to make your own arrangements for pressing your precious robes; you can't seriously expect me to do anything about it. What an idiot! Oh, Mother, dearest, can Twinkles come over tomorrow and do a few light chores?"

Ciao. Barb

TwinklingBlueEyes - Sep 20, 2004 10:42 am (#116 of 735)

I don't do windows...whatcha think I am, a common house-elf?

mike miller - Sep 20, 2004 11:45 am (#117 of 735)

It would seem that one house-elf is sufficient to keep up with the chores around the normal wizard manor. I'm sure dear Lucius has the resources to obtain a replacement; although, he might have been a bit upset given all that Dobby knows about the Malfoy family.

Solitaire - Sep 20, 2004 3:52 pm (#118 of 735)
Edited Sep 20, 2004 4:54 pm

I think there are probably a couple of reasons why Lucius was irritated. First, he was outwitted by Harry Potter. That had to kind of stick in his craw.

Second--and I would assume more importantly--Dobby had probably been with the family a long time. This could be sticky, given the nature of the Malfoys' activities. Remember the problems that Kreacher has made us consider.

Lucius seems already to have figured out that Dobby had attempted to help Harry; we see him (in the movie) kick Dobby like a football and tell him "I'll deal with YOU later." I'll just bet Dobby knows enough information to put the Malfoys away indefinitely if it were ever to come out. He could probably lead Arthur Weasley to a treasure trove of Dark Magic items.

Dobby could probably finger many of the DE families and might very well know if there are traitors within the Ministry--and who they are. To make matters more serious for the Malfoys, Dobby seems to have a fairly highly developed sense of ethics and fair play. We already know he risked and endured some pretty serious punishments in an effort to keep Harry safe.

It is probably almost more than Malfoy can bear to know that HIS house-elf loves Harry Potter and has now been set free through Harry's interference. And once free, who knows what Dobby might not be willing to spill ... especially now that he works as a free agent for Dumbledore?


Madame Librarian - Sep 20, 2004 6:26 pm (#119 of 735)

Isn't there a ministry office for elf re-assignment, not assignment? That makes me think that there are now a limited and dwindling number of house elves. If your family has had one for years and years, and he or she dies, maybe it's no longer possible to replace him or her.

I wonder how those arrangements way back when were made for a family to have a house elf.

All very mystifying, don't ya know.

Ciao. Barb

TwinklingBlueEyes - Sep 21, 2004 4:28 am (#120 of 735)

Soli, for all the reasons that you just cited, it makes me wonder just how strong a house-elves magic is. Dobby is certainly is a dangerous position with Lord Thingy and the DE's with what he knows, as well as Winky. I wonder if they also need the additional protection of Hogwarts and Dumbledore, similar to Trelawney?

ex-FAHgeek - Sep 21, 2004 9:05 am (#121 of 735)

---quote--- Dobby is certainly is a dangerous position with Lord Thingy and the DE's with what he knows, as well as Winky. ---end quote---

Actually, Winky probably isn't in too much trouble. She had no idea about Barty Crouch Jr.'s activities after she was fired by Crouch Sr., and was utterly mortified when she learned that he murdered her former master.

I don't think Winky knows much (if anything) about Crouch Jr.’s activities with the Death Eaters; her big secrets revolve around the single act of mercy and compassion by Crouch Sr. that resulted in his death.

By the way, did anyone else find it kind of weird that Winky had an outfit tailored to her size? What, did Crouch Sr. take a week before firing her while her new suit was on back-order? After all, since house-elves don't own clothes, that can't possibly be something you buy off the shelf. It's almost like some bizarre sort of unemployment compensation: here's something so you look nice for your next job interview. Good luck! It certainly makes sense with Crouch Sr.'s immaculate, play-by-the-rules personality, but it still seems... odd.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 21, 2004 7:47 pm (#122 of 735)

I agree with Solitaire's reasons for Lucius anger. House elves' magic must be pretty powerful. Barty Sr. used Winky's magic to keep his son under control. I'm sure Lucius lost a lot more than a house cleaner when he lost Dobby. I'm sure Dobby and Dumbledore have had a few conversations. It is hard to say what Dobby could reveal though.

In OoP when Dobby warned the DA about Umbridge he still punished himself for disobeying her order. It is interesting that even though he is paid and free he is compelled to obey orders or hurt himself. Does that mean he is still bound to keeping his former master's secrets? Or does he need to learn how to be free? LPO

TwinklingBlueEyes - Sep 21, 2004 9:28 pm (#123 of 735)
Edited Sep 21, 2004 10:32 pm

Or did he see her as a superior of the institution that employed him?

I think not only does Dobby need to overcome his house-elf/slave mentality. Just as Harry, and all the kids he needs to mature and grow as do others, Snape and house-elves included.

Solitaire - Sep 21, 2004 11:24 pm (#124 of 735)
Edited Sep 22, 2004 12:30 am

Geek, since Crouch, Sr., is an experienced wizard, I doubt modifying (transfiguring?) one of Mrs. Crouch's old suits to fit Winky would be too difficult. McGonagall could do it in a flash. I don't see that as a major obstacle.

Twinkles, good point. It makes me wonder whether there might not be more house-elf "refugees" from other Dark wizarding families being given sanctuary at Hogwarts. They would certainly be in danger from former masters due to all of the family secrets that they would HAVE to know from years of working for Dark wizards.

LPO, you also make a good point about Dobby. He may be technically free, but he seems not to have completely thrown off "the enchantments of his kind" just yet, does he? We have all discussed ad infinitum--on the SPEW and Hermione threads--the fact that there is more to becoming free than just being set free. Being free is a state of mind, and becoming free would seem to be a process. I guess Dobby is still "in process."

There are probably some house-elves who will never be free, no matter how many pieces of clothing they are given, no matter how much or how long they are paid for their labor, and no matter whether they are allowed to go where they choose and do as they choose ... They simply can't wrap their minds around a new way of life that easily. They can't understand the concept of being free.

I think Winky may be one such elf. The circumstances of her freedom have "damaged" her, as they are perceived by her as a punishment for failing at her job rather than as a reward or the achievement of a dream.


Gerald Costales - Sep 22, 2004 4:52 am (#125 of 735)

Great post Solitaire. Great ideas.

On Winky's clothes, I just imagined Crouch Sr. buying doll clothes at a toy shop.

Here's fly in the ointment post. Here goes.

house-elf rights and slavery are just too similar. house-elves are the peculiar institute of the wizarding World.

American slaves were freed after a Civil War (1861-1865) and an Amendment to the Constitution. Slavery existed in Brazil until 1888. And slavery still exists in some countries today.

Could house-elves be free in other wizarding countries? Just a thought.

Since there is a limited number of House-Elves, I've argued that house-elves are breed to be replaced. There is no evidence of a house-elf Store. Couldn't Malfoy just of asked two Pure Blood friends to have them produce him a house-elf pup to replace Dobby?

The Magical relationship between wizards and house-elves is probably more complicate than we know right now.

On the anger Lucius had when he lost Dobby, I believe it was JKR showing us how powerful house-elf "Wandless Magic" can be. Dobby speaks to Lucius and he backs down. ;-) GC

Madame Librarian - Sep 22, 2004 1:53 pm (#126 of 735)
Edited Sep 22, 2004 2:56 pm

It's a sad and eloquent point that JKR is making every time we see Dobby continuing to punish himself for not following instructions or Winky spiraling down into the depths of depression and alcoholism. The point being that effecting a beneficial change in someone's world is much more complicated than snapping a finger and saying, "Congratulations! You're now free," to a person (elf) or group of people who have spent their lives enslaved and come from a culture with a long tradition of slavery for their kind. It's completely absurd to expect them to go cheerily on their way without a care. Their old habits and customs, good and bad, are deeply etched on their personalities and not so easily ignored. It may even take a few generations to completely shake off the stigma of slavery.

For all JKR's past work with Amnesty International, I believe she would not approve of Hermione's approach. JKR herself probably learned the truth of what I said above.

However, on the other side of the coin, there are situations and times where the only way to accomplish a worthy goal is to take the abrupt approach. This may be the tricky and delicate choice that the wizarding world is facing with the new war getting under way. This, too, is a sad reflection of the way many things are in the real world.

Ciao. Barb

Gerald Costales - Sep 23, 2004 4:58 am (#127 of 735)
Edited Sep 23, 2004 6:24 am

Madame Librarian

"The point being that effecting a beneficial change in someone's world is much more complicated than snapping a finger and saying, 'Congratulations! You're now free,' "

The books are children's books with adult themes death (parents, classmate (Cedric), friends (Sirius), strangers (Frank Bryce, Bertha Jorkins, etc. have been killed), betrayal, Human rights, etc.

The US was in the Philippines from 1900 to 1946 before granting Self-Government. They establish public schools, hospitals, etc. the infrastructure for Democracy (freedom). Even the Crown Colonies India, etc. had British Colonial rule for several years before being granted Self-Government. (Being a British subject in a Crown Colony was not equal to slavery. I'm Filipino and don't believe American rule hurt Filipinos either or was equal to slavery.)

The question isn't the difficulty of freedom or the method of freedom but whether house-elves deserve Freedom. Dobby isn't Fredrick Douglass nor Winky a Harriet Tubman, BUT . . .


Just because granting house-elves freedom is difficult doesn't mean in shouldn't be attempted. Dare to struggle, dare to win. A 100 house-elves are happy at Hogwarts, shouldn't that be the model that's given and repeated with other House-Elves.

The Hogwarts house-elves have some limited freedoms. Dobby can call Dumbledore names if he chooses. After a generation or two of limited freedom, house-elves will be ready for complete Freedom. Compared to 1000's of years of servitude, 40 years plus of limited freedoms couldn't be too long for house-elves to struggle through. ;-) GC

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 23, 2004 6:54 pm (#128 of 735)

There are many different cultures and values. What one group values another may despise. I value freedom. So far we have only seen one house-elf value freedom. Choices are very important. Is there a choice with the house elves? Do they choose to serve their masters? They are intelligent and powerful. Their brand of magic is something to be reckoned with. Would education and freeing them be enough convince them to change their values? GC you are right in weighing centuries with decades. If house-elves learn to be free they will have to change their whole culture and value system. That is not an easy task. LPO

Gerald Costales - Sep 24, 2004 4:00 am (#129 of 735)
Edited Sep 24, 2004 5:08 am

LPO - The Moral choice isn't always the easiest choice. The Moral choice was to spare Peter Pettigrew; the easy choice would have been to kill Wormtail.

Look at how Amos Diggory treated Winky calling her "Elf" when questioning her. Winky has a name and rights. Change is not easy. But the struggle to do the right thing, the Moral thing, is what determine what a person, culture, nation, or world truly stands for. Not the idyllic image of the "Fountain of Magical Brethren" but a real union of Magical Brethren that provides real human values and choices.

Yes, there is a choice for House-Elves. But, most have not been given the chance to make a choice for freedom or servitude. The house-elf issue is a Human Rights issue in disguise. If you look at house-elves as intelligent beings, then the question of involuntary servitude must be raised. ;-) GC

PS I know it's just a children's book, but I'm just moved by the issues house-elves rights represent. I'd think wizards have probably killed their house-elves to prevent them from leaving service, Dobby maybe just the lucky one who made it. ;-) GC

T Brightwater - Sep 24, 2004 4:49 am (#130 of 735)

I see your point, Gerald, and I agree that the house-elves deserve freedom, but do they want it? Dobby did want it, and he is now a free worker, but none of the other house-elves we've met have wanted freedom; in fact, they consider it shameful. I admire and share Hermione's sense of justice, but she's trying to force her own values on people who don't even understand them. I think if you asked a house-elf what he or she wanted most, it would be appreciation and respect.

Dobby's own desire for freedom seems to have a lot to do with the way he feels about Harry. I wonder, how did he find out about Harry in the first place? Certainly he never heard anything good about him from the Malfoys. Did he first decide that his masters were bad wizards?

It's interesting that in CoS Dobby decides on a course of action that is not only against his masters' wishes, but against Harry's own wishes. Dobby was capable of independent judgment and action even while technically still enslaved to the Malfoys - in a way, he was already free. Winky, on the other hand, is technically free but still considers herself bound to the Crouch family, even after being badly and unfairly treated.

Hermione and anyone else interested in elf rights would do better to talk to Dobby and find out how his consciousness and independence developed, see if there are any more like him around, and get some ideas on how to encourage those qualities in other elves, instead of assuming that giving them clothes will automatically solve their problems. Even then, many may choose to stick to their old way of life.

I'm hoping that Dobby will play an important part in VWII, gain the respect of the wizard community, and become a role model for his fellow house elves.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 24, 2004 5:44 pm (#131 of 735)

GC isn't it wonderful that "just a children's book" can give us the opportunity to discuss this?

You are right about making the moral choice. I like to think there are a set of morals that apply to all beings. One of them is freedom. To me freedom is the right to choose. I do not know what house-elves consider as freedom. Dobby has a concept of it. It seems from his background it is innate. Kreacher has his ways of working around his enslavement. He clearly preferred his former mistress to his current master. He made a choice that had terrible consequences for his master. LPO

Gerald Costales - Sep 24, 2004 6:56 pm (#132 of 735)

I have a feeling many of the post are from mature adults, like me, who have been captivated by Harry and the gang and their adventures. We are reading a Classic story that will be read by future generations to come. And reread by current readers.

The scope and depth of the posts just show the great emotional and intellectual investment we have placed in these Adventures of Harry Potter. ;-) GC

PS Thank you Jo. From one of your many fans.

Gerald Costales - Sep 25, 2004 5:01 am (#133 of 735)

Back to work and on task. (Sounds like a Teacher's prompt.) ;-)

T Brightwater (re: post #130)

. . . . . . ‘giving them (House-Elves) clothes will (not) automatically solve their problems. Even then, many may choose to stick to their old way of life.’

This reminds of a is scene from an old movie where a master is freeing her servant. The servant crying pleads, ‘Who will tell me what to do? Who will keep me from drinking too much?’ Just freeing house-elves will not solve their problems. I advocate a gradual process (40 years plus) of granting house-elves rights based on how Dumbledore treats the 100 house-elves at Hogwarts. That is assuming that Dumbledore is treating house-elves fairly and that they’re happy. Why 40 years? That should be approximately two generations. Assuming a generation is approximately 20 years.

The mounted house-elf heads at Number 12 Grimmauld Place seems to suggest that several generations of house-elves have served the Black family. There is also an implication that only one house-elf family serves just one wizard family.

Where the 100 house-elves at Hogwarts came from or how they came to serve at Hogwarts is something that has yet to be revealed in the Books.

Lucius Malfoy’s reaction to losing Dobby also suggested that house-elves are small in number and not easily replaced. There was also the conversation Ron had with Harry at the Burrow. The Weasleys only have a ghoul in the attic but Molly wouldn’t mine having a house-elf to help with chores. house-elves according to Ron are only found in old Pure Blood wizarding families. And there are only a small number of Pure Blood families left. There is no suggestion that house-elves can determine the family they serve for. (Unlike wands that some how choose the wizard.)

Freedom is a concept that is only partially obtained by Dobby. While freedom is ignored by Winky as she sinks into a Butter beer stupor and mourns the lost of her former life. But, like happiness the concept of freedom is never fully obtained and is in constant flux.

To return to something I posted previously (in post #127), when the United States obtained Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam after the Spanish-American War. Rudyard Kipling congratulated the US for finally accepting the ‘WHITE MAN’S BURDEN’ (http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5478/). Keeping house-elves is the wizarding World’s burden. The paternalistic viewpoint most wizard have for house-elves unfortunately is shared by some of us Muggles.

Self-determination - The principle of free will; decision by oneself.

If house-elves are thinking beings, they have a right to Freedom and Self-determination. If house-elves choose their former lives than so be it, as long as they had a chance to choose it on their own. ;-) GC

PS It scares me even what I know. I read more then Harry Potter, some historical non-fiction. ;-) GC

T Brightwater - Sep 25, 2004 5:01 am (#134 of 735)

Not only do I (forty-something) love these books, so do my husband, most of my friends, and my 79-year-old mother!

Dobby has an independent moral conscience - he is not going to use "following orders" as an excuse to do something he knows is wrong.

Gerald Costales - Sep 25, 2004 5:45 am (#135 of 735)
Edited Sep 25, 2004 6:46 am

If only some people could just listen to that Moral voice and do the Right thing more often (are you listening Peter Pettigrew). Dobby saved Harry once and helped him save Ron during the Triwizard Tournament. Dobby may have some heroics before the end of the Story and help Harry at least one more time. ;-) GC

Solitaire - Sep 25, 2004 5:27 pm (#136 of 735)

We have not yet seen enough of the other elves to know whether Dobby is an anomaly or not. The only other elves on whom we have any real background are Winky and Kreacher. Are they typical of most house-elves? They have a reverence for and devotion to their former masters that Dobby never did possess. It makes me wonder more about Dobby ...

Dobby certainly seemed to know when he was acting in opposition to what was considered appropriate for house-elves. He knew he was "bending the rules" by trying to help Harry, as he frequently said he would have to shut his ears in the oven or iron his hands. Yet, he always seemed to act in accordance with what he believed to be right and appropriate, despite the subsequent punishment he knew he would have to endure. In this respect, he seems different from Winky and Kreacher.

Kreacher, of course, has imbibed too much of the Dark wizard philosophy. His comments reflect what he must have continually heard. In some ways, he reminds me of a little kid who parrots things his parents must talk about at home. The fact remains that he is deceitful and hateful, just as they were.

Winky seems to have had some pretty serious responsibility in her household, as she was in charge of Barty, Jr. Her fall from grace was a pretty long drop, and it's little wonder she has been so negatively affected by it. She worshipped Mr. Crouch and loved Barty.

It's difficult for me to tell if ANY one of these three elves is "typical" of the house-elves in general, since the three are so diverse. Then again, perhaps they are typical in that each house-elf is completely unique, despite his or her enslaved status, and is a reflection of the family he or she serves. If this is the case, then the Hogwarts elves must be mainly happy, generous, and well-adjusted, since Dumbledore fits that mold. It's little wonder they don't feel particularly enslaved!


Gerald Costales - Sep 26, 2004 4:50 am (#137 of 735)
Edited Sep 26, 2004 5:56 am

Dobby, Winky and Kreacher could all be exceptional for all we know. And other house-elves could be tame as kittens.

The basis of looking at house-elves must be determined by their true nature. If house-elves are just overachieving pets, than issues of Freedom or Self-determination are moot. You wouldn't necessarily give a talking chimp or gorilla equal rights to a human.

If house-elves were granted equal status to wizards, then there would be other issues, like would you let your child go to school with a house-elf , etc. Goblins and wizards must be partially segregated. Goblins own and run Gringotts, but there's no evidence of Goblin schools, etc. And there isn't any Goblins at Hogwarts, do Goblins have separate but equal Goblin schools?

Could house-elves be a conquered race? The Romans, Aztecs, etc. used conquered and captive people as slaves all the time. The origins of the house-elf and wizard relationship are shrouded in mystery and time with either side having lost the understanding of the true nature of that relationship. Both house-elves and wizards have accepted the status quo with the exception of Dobby. (Of course other house-elves may not have been as fortunate as Dobby.)

But, what if a house-elf is the product of cross-breeding? There is a ban on unauthorized cross-breeding. Remember Hagrid and the Blast-ended Skrewts. According to JKR the Basilisk is also an example of a cross-breed produced beast. And products of cross-breeding are sometimes infertile. The mule is the product of a cross between a horse and donkey. Mules are infertile and cannot produce other mules.

If house-elves deserves equal status with wizards, then Dobby is really not exceptional. Dobby would just be displaying what any human would do if held captive (remember Planet of the Apes). ;-) GC

PS Why are there 100 house-elves at Hogwarts? Imagine them with wands fighting Voldemort and Death Eaters. ;-O GC

Solitaire - Sep 26, 2004 7:36 am (#138 of 735)
Edited Sep 26, 2004 8:37 am

I tend to balk at house-elves as pets. First, they do have their own brand of powerful magic--so powerful that Lucius did not pull his wand on Dobby in retaliation when Dobby sent him flying down the stairs. Should we ask why not?

As for house-elves being unable to reproduce ... I'm unclear there. We haven't heard them refer to any parents or offspring, but I thought Sirius said something about Kreacher wanting to be decapitated and have his head mounted when he died, as his ancestors had. Or did Sirius just call them his predecessors? I can't remember, and I can't find it in the book.

Whatever the case, house-elves DO seem to have a certain amount of power that they can use as they see fit, and they are not stupid--at least, Dobby is certainly intelligent. I would assume that there are other intelligent house-elves, too. I'm not sure where that would place them in the overall hierarchy of things.


Phoenix song - Sep 26, 2004 9:47 am (#139 of 735)

Doesn't Winky tell that her mother and her grandmother served the Crouch family? I don't have time to look it up now, but I'll check it later. I'm pretty sure that I remember this, though.


Julia. - Sep 26, 2004 5:57 pm (#140 of 735)

Well Phoenix song, either you're right, or we're both imagining the same thing. *a few minutes later* I just checked both the Lex and GoF and you're right.

"I is looking after the Crouches all my life, and my mother is doing it before me, and my grandmother is doing it before her...oh what is they saying if they knew Winky was freed?" (GoF ch. 21, pg. 381 US)

Solitaire - Sep 26, 2004 6:34 pm (#141 of 735)

I just re-read that passage and I was a lot more disturbed by her comments about Bagman than anything else. Her comments about him do not sound like things from the distant past; they sound more current, to me. I think Dumbledore needs to have a serious talk with Winky ... immediately!


Gerald Costales - Sep 27, 2004 3:53 am (#142 of 735)

"...oh what is they saying if they knew Winky was freed?"

Is it me or does anyone else think that Winky way of speaking is similar to a stereotypical Southern Black slave? (Like someone from Gone with Wind, etc.)

A house-elf 's way of speaking should reflect their Master's way of speaking. And neither Dobby, Kreacher, or other house-elves speak like a Southern Black slave.

My son and I thought Winky spoke in a American Southern dialect, but the Crouches are British. Could Winky's family be originally from the Southern US? ;-) GC

T Brightwater - Sep 27, 2004 7:56 am (#143 of 735)
Edited Sep 27, 2004 8:59 am

The house-elves seem to have their own dialect, and one thing they have in common is a reluctance to use the first or second person singular pronoun. A house-elf normally refers to both him/herself and the person he/she is addressing in the third person singular, and seldom uses pronouns: "Socks are Dobby's favorite, favorite clothes!" "Can Dobby come to visit Harry Potter?" and they most often use the third person singular form of verbs (except for "to do," oddly) no matter what person the subject is in. "Mostly people stumbles across it when they needs it, sir, but often they never finds it again, for they do not know that it is always there waiting to be called into service, sir."

Dobby often uses "sir" instead of his name when addressing Harry, and the one time we hear him use "you" is to Lucius Malfoy, just after he has been freed. Winky uses "I" on only one occasion, under extreme stress: "I is not making the Dark Mark! I is not knowing how!" Winky also uses "you" when speaking to Barty Crouch: "Master Barty, you is a bad boy."

Kreacher is a bit of an exception. He always speaks of himself and the person he's addressing in the third person, but otherwise his grammar and vocabulary are more sophisticated. "...unnatural beasts they are." I suspect Mrs. Black spent more time talking to Kreacher than most people do to their house elves, and he picked up a lot of her style.

I don't think JKR is deliberately imitating any particular ethnic or class dialect. I think there are or were cultures in which it was a mark of respect to use the third person either in address or in referring to oneself. "Your Majesty," "His Holiness," etc. are survivals of this. I don't know how accurate Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries are in depicting details of medieval China, but often characters who come before Judge Dee's court refer to themselves as "this person." Are there any anthropologists or linguists on this thread who can confirm or deny?

Gerald Costales - Sep 28, 2004 4:39 am (#144 of 735)

Great post T Brightwater thanks for the .

I really didn't think JKR would rely on a slave stereotype, but it was a question that was bothering me.

Back to Julia's post #143 -

"I is looking after the Crouches all my life, and my mother is doing it before me, and my grandmother is doing it before her...oh what is they saying if they knew Winky was freed?" (GoF ch. 21, pg. 381 US)

With the mention of a Grandmother and a Mother for Winky, what could that mean? Could Kreacher be a Father or Grandfather *SHUDDER*?

Or is the breeding of house-elves regulated by the Ministry. Is there some ban on House-Elves? There was a ban on the import of slaves in the US. (See the movie "Amistad") The only way to get slaves was for slaves to have more slaves.

Where do house-elves come from or what are their origins?

Even without complete answers to the above questions, the fact is house-elves are intelligent beings. They deserve Freedom and Self-determination. (Back on the old Soap Box) ;-0 GC

Madame Librarian - Sep 28, 2004 7:51 am (#145 of 735)
Edited Sep 28, 2004 8:53 am

When I first read CoS and met Dobby, I thought immediately of Gollum from LotR. We know JKR pays homage to other great authors who influenced her writing in many ways, so I just thought that's what's happening here. I also think the particular dialect or idiom that the Elves use in HP sounded familiar, more familiar that the LotR link, but I can't place other characters--oh, wait! Yes, yes---though not exactly the same, doesn't Yoda speak in an odd manner, using the third person pronoun or his own name instead of "I?" Indeed, I do believe that's it!

Another point--when Hermione and the boys visit the kitchens at Hogwarts and the other Elves meet her, I always felt they behaved with a certain cool dignity and authority that seemed to different than the way either Dobby or Winky behaved. At that point we hadn't yet met Kreacher. What I'm trying to say is that is it just DD's "hands off" approach to letting the Elves run the show as far as Hogwarts cooking and cleaning that give them the freedom to have a certain self esteem and sense of control that is apparent when they meet the kids, or do Elves in general present that aloof dignified face to their wizard masters? Part of me says it's only when extremely well treated and left to manage their own tasks that they can blossom into the dignified characters we meet at Hogwarts. But I also like the idea that despite the exceptions presented by the three Elves we really get to know, in general most members of the Elf community are intelligent, capable and slightly aloof.

Ciao. Barb

Catherine - Sep 28, 2004 9:09 am (#146 of 735)

Another point--when Hermione and the boys visit the kitchens at Hogwarts and the other Elves meet her, I always felt they behaved with a certain cool dignity and authority that seemed to different than the way either Dobby or Winky behaved. At that point we hadn't yet met Kreacher. What I'm trying to say is that is it just DD's "hands off" approach to letting the Elves run the show as far as Hogwarts cooking and cleaning that give them the freedom to have a certain self esteem and sense of control that is apparent when they meet the kids, or do Elves in general present that aloof dignified face to their wizard masters?--Madame Librarian

I don't think that the Hogwarts Elves do present an "aloof, dignified" front. In Chapter 21 of GoF: "At least a hundred little elves were standing around the kitchen, beaming, bowing, and curtsying as Dobby led Harry past them." Later, "Instantly, about six house-elves came trotting up behind him, bearing a large silver tray......but the elves all looked delighted; they bowed very low and retreated." When they left, "many of the elves pressed in upon them, offering snacks to take back upstairs. Hermione refused, with a pained look at the way the elves kept bowing and curtsying..."(pp 376-382, GoF, Scholastic hardback).

In Chapter 28, when the Trio goes to give Dobby his socks, "The house-elves gave them a very cheery welcome, bowing and curtsying and bustling around making tea again." When Harry asks for more food, the elves "bow delightedly" and "hurried off" to get more food. (GoF, pp535-6).

I really don't see that the Hogwarts house-elves act in an aloof manner.

Loopy Lupin - Sep 28, 2004 1:07 pm (#147 of 735)

I have to agree with Catherine. I don't see anything aloof about someone who would get you a roast ox if you said you were feeling peckish.

Speak backwards, Yoda does. So I don't think that he was the inspiration for the Elves dialect. To me, the Elf dialect is reminiscent of the slave dialect of the antebellum South. It does not come across when you imagine it in a squeaky elf voice or in an English accent from the Jim Dale tapes. However, the syntax, the incorrect grammar, the incorrect tense, etc. would fit perfectly if read in the stereotypical manner associated with that dialect. I'm not even sure that this is what JKR intended or if it just sort of worked out that way, but it is there on the page.

Madame Librarian - Sep 28, 2004 3:38 pm (#148 of 735)

Catherine, I should have double-checked the references. What you cited does not reflect aloof authority, but wasn't there a head Elf in the kitchen scene who is answering Hermione's queries about Winky who is as I described? I don't have time this minute to check, but will do so later.

Loopy Lupin, I didn't mean that Dobby sounded just like Yoda. Rather, just the referring to himself in the third person is similar. Hey, for that matter, didn't Bob Dole do it, too?

Ciao. Barb

Catherine - Sep 28, 2004 3:54 pm (#149 of 735)

LOL, Madame Librarian! We'll have to ask ol' Libby (Elizabeth Dole, his wife and senator to those outside the USA) if Bob does that at home! (Off topic note: Elizabeth Dole is a US Senator from NC, my state of residence).

Barb, the house-elves did get upset when Hermione started the "Freedom" speech, but even so, I never saw them as being dignified or aloof. Their little hands might have pushed them out of the door, but were always polite.

One reason I perhaps leapt onto your post is that we all "want" (maybe ala Hermione?) the elves to be more dignified, intelligent, and independent. You were "remembering" them this way because you, perhaps (and please DO NOT let me put thoughts or words that do not fit you here) and others see them as worthy. We all know that they possess powerful magic of their own, that they have an amazing capacity for loyalty, and that they have very strong feelings that may be overlooked by wizards.

One elf did "speak up," and told Hermione that elves have no right to be unhappy when there is work to be done. I don't really see that as aloof, or dignified, either.

So, I'm not sure that I am coming to a real point here, but that I think it is important to go to the text before drawing conclusions, no matter how flattering or well-meaning they are.

If your description of "aloof elves" doesn't fit, then I still think we have a lot to talk about elves as servants, how they fit at Hogwarts and other "houses," and what JKR might have been trying to accomplish with the elves as characters in the first place.

I'm still intrigued by Loopy's post about slave dialects, and what that might say about elves in general.

Madame Librarian - Sep 28, 2004 7:25 pm (#150 of 735)
Edited Sep 28, 2004 8:26 pm

Yes, I was remembering the one Elf who spoke up to Hermione, though I just had a frustrating experience trying to find the citation (darn long book, that GoF is). I imagined the scene as if this Elf was just on the edge of still being polite, but aloof and dignified in the sense that she (he?) was telling the young miss to butt out of the affairs below stairs. She seemed to have a certain pride in her role as providing service. That's what I meant. I just didn't take in to account all the other interactions with the Elves that were servile and juvenile. Sorry.

I come to a repeating theme on this thread--the secret of Elf magic, an ancient and very powerful sort of magic. Whatever caused the enslavement of the Elves--for some reason I imagine it as a forced bargain, or devil's contract with slavery being the lesser of two evils, it does not negate the fact that they always have this power and may chose to use it someday under the right conditions. Humans have gotten so used to the way things are, with Elves being submissive and working away quietly in the background, that they (the humans) have conveniently forgotten that there might be an out for the Elf population and the decision to rise up could come at any time. At least I make myself feel better about their conditions by holding out this idea of secret power.

Ciao. Barb

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #151 - #200)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:38 pm

Gerald Costales - Sep 29, 2004 4:14 am (#151 of 735)
Edited Sep 29, 2004 5:16 am

The posts on how house-elves speak are great. But, I wanted to post this quote and question again. Here goes - -

"I is looking after the Crouches all my life, and my mother is doing it before me, and my grandmother is doing it before her...oh what is they saying if they knew Winky was freed?" (GoF ch. 21, pg. 381 US)

With the mention of a Grandmother and a Mother for Winky, what could that mean? Could Kreacher be a Father or Grandfather *SHUDDER*?

Any thoughts on this question. ;-) GC

PS This quote from Winky is rather slavish sounding. ;-) GC

T Brightwater - Sep 29, 2004 6:07 am (#152 of 735)

Gerald, to me it sounds like the house-elves consider their service to a family or institution to be an honorable tradition, though it might be a defense mechanism. They find their personal fulfillment in looking after humans.

Hagrid tells Hermione when she tries to get him involved in S.P.E.W.: "It'd be doin' 'em an unkindness, Hermione. It's in their nature to look after humans, that's what they like, see? Yeh'd be makin' 'em unhappy ter take away their work, an' insultin' 'em if yeh tried ter pay 'em." Hagrid is not an infallible source, but he has a lot more understanding of non-humans than most wizards.

Even Dobby, who is free and enjoys it, finds another job, and tells Hermione "Professor Dumbledore offered Dobby ten Galleons a week, and weekends off, but Dobby beat him down, miss....Dobby likes freedom, miss, but he isn't wanting too much, miss, he likes work better."

I get the feeling that what house-elves really want is to work for good masters who appreciate and respect them. I'm not sure slavery is the real model here - as far as we know, house-elves aren't bought or sold; they weren't dragged out of their own lives, families, and cultures, shipped to another country, and forced into labor. They're doing exactly what they want to do.

I'd better practice my Shield Charm before I post this...house-elves to me seem almost like...the stereotype of a 1950's housewife. (Protego! Protego! Put down the tomatoes for a moment and let me explain!) I'm not saying women are like house elves! (I'm a woman myself, and I'm no house elf!) I do not mean any disrespect at all to homemakers, who have a tough but rewarding job and deserve much more respect than they get! (like house elves, come to think of it...) That's why I said stereotype; caricature might even be a better word.

The obsession with cleanliness and the great pleasure taken in serving food; the fact that most elves consider being freed to be a disgrace (like divorce used to be), and the fact they do have considerable powers of their own but are expected to use them only for their families - doesn't that sound more like the old-fashioned stereotypical housewife than the stereotypical southern plantation slave?

I think JKR may be poking a little gentle and affectionate fun at the early days of the Women's Liberation movement, with Hermione playing the Betty Friedan role. The parallel is certainly not exact in every detail; Hermione is not a house elf, for one thing, which suggests that maybe there is a little gentle fun being poked at the animal rights movement as well. (uh-oh, now I'm really in for it....)

Before the deluge, let me just say that I don't see any contradiction between being in agreement with the aims of a movement and finding some of its tactics (especially those of the extremists) a little amusing or even embarrassing, and I think JKR's female and non-human characters are a better indication of how she feels about sexism and speciesism than S.P.E.W. is.

TwinklingBlueEyes - Sep 29, 2004 6:16 am (#153 of 735)

50 points for your house TB! More thoughts on this when I get home with my computer!

Gerald Costales - Sep 29, 2004 6:55 am (#154 of 735)

Great post T Brightwater.

I agree the roles and purposes of house-elves in the wizarding World is set. SPEW may not be a real alternative for house-elves since most if not all house-elves need to serve wizards and house-elves need the satisfaction they get from serving wizards.

But, let's try this again. Winky has a mother and grandmother. Can we expect to see baby house-elves in the Book? (This not a ship post.)

Whether restrictions or bans exist that limit or control the number of House-Elves, there are no children House-Elves. Maybe house-elf children are home schooled or stay at home cared by retired house-elf grandparents or have child care or are there house-elf schools for house-elf children? Hogwarts is big enough to have child care and retirement facilities for House-Elves.

Does there have to be a Full-Moon or High Tide or a certain alignment of the Planets that causes them to reproduce?

Again, there is so little that is present in the Book about House-Elves. ;-) GC

T Brightwater - Sep 29, 2004 11:19 am (#155 of 735)

Thanks, TBE and GC!

Gerald, here's my best guess for what it's worth. I think most house-elves are all but invisible to their masters. HRH found out about the existence of house-elves in their second year, but didn't realize that there were any actually working at Hogwarts for another two years, and then only because Nearly Headless Nick mentioned them in passing. NHN also says, "I mean, you're not supposed to see them, are you? That's the mark of a good house-elf, isn't it, that you don't know it's there?"

Given that, and the fact that they are capable of something like Apparition, even into and out of Hogwarts, I think house-elves would have no difficulty in carrying on relationships of various kinds with each other, and as long as the work got done and the children didn't get underfoot, nobody would mind or even notice.

The three individuals we've met may be the exceptions. The Malfoys seem to have kept a fairly close eye on Dobby - was that part of the reason for his resentment towards them? And was he particularly inept, absent-minded, or independent, or did they have some other reason for not trusting him? Even given that, he had enough time, power, and motivation to work against them. (I'd still like to know how his hero-worship of Harry developed.) Winky was in a position of unusual importance, and even offered advice to Crouch Sr. - which made her a convenient scapegoat for him when Barty almost escaped. Kreacher may have been the only person Mrs. Black had to talk to in her last years. I suspect most families take their house-elves for granted and have no idea of, or interest in, what goes on between them.

So yes, I think Kreacher could have been a father, but maybe he's as snobbish as his mistress and nobody came up to his standards - or perhaps none of the female elves of his acquaintance could stand him.

Catherine - Sep 29, 2004 11:20 am (#156 of 735)
Edited Sep 29, 2004 12:21 pm

But, let's try this again. Winky has a mother and grandmother. Can we expect to see baby house-elves in the Book? (This not a ship post.)...Does there have to be a Full-Moon or High Tide or a certain alignment of the Planets that causes them to reproduce? --Gerald

Um, you mean by cloning? Or budding? I hope so, because I really don't want to have to think about a house-elf "birds and bees" situation.

Let me ask you if you think that seeing baby house-elves will advance the plot of the last two books?

Loopy Lupin - Sep 29, 2004 1:10 pm (#157 of 735)

I think JKR said that house-elves would play a larger role in the future books which, obviously, means that we would learn more. However, there are plenty of things that I would prefer not to know. Nevertheless, I can sort this out. Of course baby Elves come from the Elf stork. Simple as that.

Catherine - Sep 29, 2004 1:18 pm (#158 of 735)

Are you sure that Elves don't come from underneath the school cabbages?

Madame Librarian - Sep 29, 2004 1:54 pm (#159 of 735)
Edited Sep 29, 2004 2:58 pm

Cabbages? Aren't they being attacked by those slugs? Or is there some other plant?

OK, here's a slight shift in direction. It just occurred to me how odd it is that Dobby punishes himself. Does Winky do this too? I can't recall. I mean, of course, other than her self-destructive drinking. This is really bizarre the more you think about it. I know it's become a gimmick which we use here as a way to admit a mistake or something (...and now I'll go iron my hands....). Both in the book and the film (CoS) Dobby's antics in trying to bang his own head is a source of great hilarity (which I think we should really wonder about--why is that so funny?). When Dobby thinks he's misbehaved or acted against what a master would want, he seems to fear his own self-administered punishment almost more than he might a punishment given by Malfoy himself.

Is this a general practice throughout the Elf world? How do you think it evolved? When Malfoy kicks Dobby near the end of CoS, we see the only time a master directly punishes an Elf with physical abuse unless I'm forgetting something. I wonder if that's rare in the wizarding world, or a common practice.

Golly, I'd love to have a long teatime sit-down with Jo and just chit-chat about all these little details. Yeah, in my dreams, I know.

Ciao. Barb

Gerald Costales - Sep 29, 2004 5:44 pm (#160 of 735)

Dobby is an exceptional house-elf . He defied his master and tried to save Harry from possible harm. Dobby doesn't to a good job of protecting Harry but Dobby's heart is in the right place.

What would cause a house-elf to betray the trust of his Master? Dobby must know, heard, or seen things that a good-hearted house-elf , like Dobby, couldn't stand.

I believe the Malfoy's mistreated Dobby. So, Dobby mistreats himself when he feels guilty, etc. Crouch Sr. trusted Winky. And Kreacher no matter how unlovable adored Mrs. Black. All the house-elves are loyal to their Masters. Even Dobby has revealed none of the Malfoy's secrets. ;-) GC

PS Maybe the reproducing thing isn't important. But, 100 house-elves at Hogwarts is. ;-) GC

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 30, 2004 7:12 pm (#161 of 735)

T Brightwater you gave me a whole new perspective on house elves. Thank you! I won't be throwing any tomatoes or dung bombs at you. So many times when I read the books I love how JKR pokes fun at the "real" world (Rita Skeeter is my favorite). Your interpretation makes Hermione all the more oblivious as to who house-elves are and what they want from life.

House-elves may have their own language. Their English may be a pidgin variety. LPO

Gerald Costales - Oct 1, 2004 3:53 am (#162 of 735)

"Their English may be a pidgin variety." LPO

Oh, not Jar Jar Binks. ;-) GC

Greaves - Oct 1, 2004 12:17 pm (#163 of 735)

Just thinking house-elves magic powers must be very strong and powerful. I mean Dobby can Apparate inside Hogwarts somehow and the way he used his magic to protect Harry from Lucius Malfoy in CoS at the end of the book and DVD was unbelievable, it sent Lucius flying. Could the house-elves uniting together be a way to stop Voldemort. There powers so far seem very powerful, also there must be hundreds of them working in the school kitchen under Hogwarts.

T Brightwater - Oct 1, 2004 3:38 pm (#164 of 735)

"T Brightwater you gave me a whole new perspective on house elves."

Gosh, thanks, LPO! **blushes**

What started me off on that train of thought (see post #152) was remembering what a friend once said about her un-housebroken husband: "I think he believes that little elves take care of the dishes overnight."

JKR's most likely models for the house-elves are the "little people" known as brownies, not to be confused with young Girl Scouts. The story I vaguely remember about them was how a poor, struggling shoemaker would cut out pairs of shoes every day, leave the shop planning to sew them in the morning, and come back the next day to find them already finished. One night he hid himself in the shop and saw the brownies working all night making up the shoes he had cut out. He noticed that their clothes were ragged and worn, and out of pity and gratitude he made new ones for them and left them in the shop. The elves were delighted with the clothes and never returned. (Fortunately the shoemaker was back on his feet, so to speak, by then.) There are a few variations on the story, including brownies that did housework if a bowl of milk was put out for them, but that's the one I remember.

What I don't know is if the brownies worked to return favors, or if they just took pity on poor, hardworking folk, or if they were required to do this by some spell. Maybe someone else remembers one of these stories better than I do.

JKR has refined this in that the house-elves are bound to particular families (or institutions), and their masters know that giving them clothes releases them from their service. An interesting twist is that house-elves (except for Dobby) consider getting clothes and being freed as a punishment rather than a reward.

It's possible that wizards are used to magical beings of all kinds who have their own cultures and agendas, and take them for granted, just as they do owl post or the Floo Network, but Muggle-born Hermione can only think of them in human terms - as she would think of slaves or oppressed housewives. When she gets upset about Crouch's treatment of Winky and says, "It's as if she weren't even human," Ron comes back with, "Well, she's not." I think this is one of those profound things Ron occasionally says without thinking. Hermione is right, however, in her rejoinder, "That doesn't mean she hasn't got feelings."

Sorry about the long post.

ruthlesspenguin - Oct 1, 2004 4:59 pm (#165 of 735)
Edited Oct 1, 2004 6:02 pm

T Brightwater, I had a picture book of that story when I was a child and it was one of my favourites, but I had not made the connection with house-elves. I also don't remember any mention of a reason why the elves were being helpful.

Perhaps house-elves originally filled a role similar to that in the story; they would seek out a struggling wizarding family and help out with odd jobs for a while. When the family was back on their feet they would present the elf with clothes as a sign of their gratitude and the elf would move on.

Over time this evolved into a more permanent relationship. In some cases the family and the house-elf became attached to one another and the family would provide other things like food and shelter in exchange for the house-elf's service. In other cases the family was simply lazy and refused to present clothes to the house elf, thereby enslaving them.


Ludicrous Patents Office - Oct 2, 2004 3:51 pm (#166 of 735)

No Not Jar Jar Binks GC! LOL

T Brightwater I love that story. JKR does a great job of combining folklore and mythology with her wonderful imagination. House-elves are a new magical creature to add to the list. Once again you broaden my perspective. Thank you.

Ruthlesspenguin I like your scenario. It is much gentler than a brutal enslavement or conquering. LPO

Grimber - Oct 2, 2004 5:42 pm (#167 of 735)
Edited Oct 2, 2004 6:46 pm

I think many people also miss an important point to WWs. Most seem to be pretty pathetically helpless without any sort of servants. If you took away many of the witches and wizards magic and house-elves they would be beside themselves on how to do much of anything manually. ( even Hagrid, who has a very physical demanding job says he can't see how Muggles can get along without magic.)

I think the house-elves know this, they ARE needed by wizards and witches to handle their daily lives. It gives them a sense of purpose.

This WW - house-elf relationship may also be for fulfilling a need for the house-elves. They seem very meek and timid other than for protecting their masters, making them ideal targets of creatures like Goblins/vampires/hags and so on.

IF house-elves could Apparate into and out of Hogwarts and they been staffing the school for a long time, obviously more WW would know this. It would then surmise some of the Dark Arts WW would do what ever it took to learn house-elves secret of how they could do it. Instead I think what we think is them Apparating is more of becoming non-corporal (invisible and non physical, like a ghost/Peeves ). outside of Hogwarts they most likely can. House-elf magic seems to be natural, not learned. They even may be one of the sources where humans learned magic way in the past in the first place.

Would they fight Vold? Well I think Dobby would stand up to protect Harry. But I don't think the rest would unless the confrontation occurred in the school itself.

Gerald Costales - Oct 3, 2004 5:41 am (#168 of 735)
Edited Oct 3, 2004 6:43 am

Great post, Grimber.

Nearly Headless Nick makes a comment about not noticing house-elves being a sign of a Good house-elves doing their job. If house-elves can become invisible and do there tasks, it would help explain them not being noticed.

Also, Dumbledore doesn't need an Invisibility Cloak to become invisible. Knowing Dumbledore, he could have learned becoming invisible from the House-Elves, that is if house-elves could become invisible.

I also like the idea of wizards learning magic from House-Elves. ;-) GC

Madame Librarian - Oct 3, 2004 7:19 am (#169 of 735)
Edited Oct 3, 2004 8:20 am

Maybe the devil's bargain the house-elves made with Wizarding society was a choice of the lesser of two evils. There's a protection provided to the Elves as long as they are sheltered and/or in the service (not necessarily enslaved, but serving) of Wizards. I'm thinking a truly horrid alternative like being the most favorite food of Goblins or Giants (or some other being). Over time the Wizard families that had agreed to shelter the house-elves became less and less aware of their hard work, and took them for granted. A de facto enslavement was the result, and that became formalized during some cataclysm that served as a reminder of the original, ancient bargain. Even among the Elves themselves the fine details of all this may be lost in the mists of time; all they know is that being attached to a Wizard family (or institution) is key to their survival and safety.

Ciao. Barb

Ludicrous Patents Office - Oct 3, 2004 6:03 pm (#170 of 735)

It would make more sense if their enslavement gave them some kind of protection/safety. I think their attachment to wealthy, pureblood families play into it somewhere. Not just anyone can have a House Elf. Over time the relationship evolved. LPO

Greaves - Oct 6, 2004 9:31 am (#171 of 735)

I agree house-elves can only belong to pureblood families.

Catherine - Oct 6, 2004 11:54 am (#172 of 735)

If house-elves can only belong to pureblood families, then how does one explain their presence at Hogwarts?

Greaves - Oct 8, 2004 9:54 am (#173 of 735)
Edited Oct 8, 2004 10:57 am

Rushed my answer. I mean house-elves can only belong to pureblood families in the WW and there are lots at Hogwarts because they have no pureblood families to belong to e.g. because Winky belonged to the Crouch family but they all died in book 4 and then Winky went to Hogwarts, and Dobby was freed and went to Hogwarts. This makes me wonder whether Kreacher will be forced to go to Hogwarts or the Malfoys, my best guess is the Malfoys cause they are pureblood and are related to the Blacks.

timrew - Oct 8, 2004 6:01 pm (#174 of 735)

Aren't the Weasleys purebloods? Yet they don't have a house-elf. It's not as if they can't afford one, because the elves give their services for free.

Or are they only interested in working for rich families for some reason.....

Madame Librarian - Oct 8, 2004 6:54 pm (#175 of 735)

I know that by virtue of the fact that they are enslaved, that once a family has a house-elf , no salary is paid. Other than the little bit of food he or she may require, Elf upkeep is probably minimal. However, just as the slave trade in the New World made gobs of money for the dealers, there must be some people or agency in the Wizarding world that benefit. Unless there is some completely weird way that's handled in the Potterverse. I mean, even if the Elves are conjured by a Wizard Elf-maker (unlikely, but just for the sake of argument), he's probably going to charge a tidy bundle. So, a Wizarding family of pureblood who wish to have the services of a house-elf , must shell out some galleons initially to buy one. The Weasleys are strapped for money, and an Elf is beyond their means regardless of any ethical position they may hold on the morality of having one.

Ciao. Barb

Dr Filibuster[/b] - Oct 12, 2004 2:17 pm (#176 of 735)

Barb, I'm shuddering at the thought of a house-elf trader.

I popped on here because of a question Legolas raised in the recipe thread. Why don't the Hogwarts kitchen elves make traditional Scottish food?

1) I'm sure if you went to Hogwarts Legolas, the house-elves would be delighted to make you mince, tatties and neeps. They wouldn't stop there either....everything even slightly Scottish would be heading your way. Perhaps we should glance at the food around Minerva?

2) Maybe they do provide haggis etc, but we only get to hear about the food that Harry focuses on. He was over-awed by the feasts when he arrived as a half-starved 11 year old, so we got lots of details. Perhaps mince and tatties are just for ordinary school dinners and not worthy of special mention? Some people say the food is unhealthy, but I reckon we just don't get to hear about the lettuce and celery.

3) Do the kids tend to sit in the same places along their house tables? Perhaps the elves know which child sits where and aim to please them by providing them with their favourite meals. A Scottish pupil may always find salty porridge nearby at breakfast....their softy English classmate would always find sugary porridge within arms reach?

Remember the effort elves made with the Beauxbatons' bouillabaisse and unfamiliar puddings? They would have been very hurt by Fleur's comments about the food being too heavy.

legolas - Oct 12, 2004 2:29 pm (#177 of 735)

I feel a little stupid. I had posted the recipe on how to make Mince and Tatties under my previous name.

I am sure that house-elves would try and please the kids with traditional Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish dishes.

Mince and tatties isn’t the most exciting of dinners as it is rather plain. I guess I would concentrate on the nice food stuffs if I had grown up with not enough food/food that I did not like.

I seem to remember reading somewhere an article that asked why doesn’t the wizarding world suffer from High cholesterol/heart attacks etc.

I am going to go to toddle off to bed before I double post a year apart again.

Grimber - Oct 12, 2004 6:07 pm (#178 of 735)

Was thinking the money needed to have a house elf. May not be money that ever goes to the elves but is fees the Ministry charges to register a house-elf family to a wizard family. may also be the means to prove you can provide for one ( like an adoption you have to prove proof of annual stable income to support said child) even though obviously wizards families don't seem to provide anything to their house elves. rather like some old standard government that just has never been changed in 100s of years.

T Brightwater - Oct 13, 2004 5:37 am (#179 of 735)

Could it be, also, that the house-elves have their own brand of snobbishness? If they are based on Brownies, it could be that long ago they worked freely for people who needed their help, but eventually they became interested in status and decided that it was classier to work for rich pure-bloods with big houses. Perhaps the house-elves who belong to families look down on the Hogwarts elves and vice-versa, since the Hogwarts house-elves probably have the more challenging job and are privy to more secrets.

timrew - Oct 14, 2004 3:01 pm (#180 of 735)

None of this answers the question..... if house-elves work for nothing.......then why do they work only for rich families......?

Steve Newton - Oct 14, 2004 3:51 pm (#181 of 735)

Because you still have to feed them?

Madame Librarian - Oct 14, 2004 4:09 pm (#182 of 735)

Do you think they eat that much? No, I believe there's a large price to get one initially. After that the Elf stays with the main heir of the family--the one who gets the house probably. Another branch of the family, the younger sibling who establishes his or her own household, must purchase or be given another. Now we do know from Winky that Elves have children and even train their kids to be proper servants. It's possible that the new households are bequeathed one of the Elf offspring. This is all speculation of how the system may work. Obviously I'm guessing it's pretty similar to how many slave systems worked.

What I'd be curious to know is who is it that sells the Elf in the first place--an individual or an agency of the MoM. Can't you just see someone like Lucius being involved in terrible business like the slave traders of the 17th and 18th century? If that were so, he'd not have trouble replacing Dobby, I suppose.

The hitch to my theory is that the Potterverse may seem to run like our world, but in some areas there is a critical difference due to the influence of magic. Is there some special spell or charm or brand of magic that is part and parcel of owning a House Elf? Is it something to do with ancient magic? Something the Elves brought upon themselves and involved only certain families, a fact that is unchangeable (I.e., no new families can buy into the system)? All possible and good for juicy storytelling on JKR's part.

Ciao. Barb

Steve Newton - Oct 14, 2004 4:31 pm (#183 of 735)

Madame, obviously you are right, the getting of the elf would be the expensive part.

TwinklingBlueEyes - Oct 14, 2004 5:00 pm (#184 of 735)
Edited Oct 14, 2004 6:01 pm

I don't quite buy the slavery imagery circa 1700,1800's esp. as related to the United States (slavery is still alive and well), as it seems to be applied to the house-elf situation. Nothing supports this but my feelings, but I think the nature of the house-elves servitude is more related to the lies (ie: Wizards) the Fountain of Magical Brethren portrays.. The very name itself is contradictory to the attitudes the statues portrayed. I have more thought on this, please forgive me, I have more pressing matters...but I'll be back.

Solitaire - Oct 14, 2004 9:35 pm (#185 of 735)

Do we know for certain that the elves have been bought and/or sold?

Muggle Doctor - Oct 14, 2004 11:41 pm (#186 of 735)
Edited Oct 15, 2004 12:43 am

I find it interesting that while it is Hermione who desires to free the house-elves, it is Harry (who disagrees with her) who has seen the hard edge of brutality against them (e.g. Dobby).

I wonder if the house-elves haven't given themselves over to their eternal servitude to man in exchange for some great favour that wizards did for them - say, prevented their extermination at the hands of something else?

I like the idea of Dobby being the one to put the nails in Kreacher's coffin (figurative or literal). I also suspect that Sirius has probably given Buckbeak particular orders about Kreacher, or at least permission to do something final about him if something should happen to Sirius - e.g. "so long, Bucky; and if I don't come back..." (Draws hand across throat) "you know what to do about Kreacher." Kreacher may have gone through all the motions such that Buckbeak would let him close, but I don't think Bucky will take the chance again. I think Buckbeak also realised that Kreacher was Sirius' "property" (at least in the simple terms that a Hippogriff would understand), but with Sirius dead, the inhibitions are gone (and Kreacher soon will be too, we hope)

When Hermione finds out about Kreacher's treachery, and what it's cost Harry, I think any feeling of pity she has for him will change (or she will not object so much to his extermination when it happens).

T Brightwater - Oct 15, 2004 12:03 pm (#187 of 735)

Timrew, I thought I was answering your question, at least with a possibility. Perhaps the elves themselves are snobbish. Ron seems to imply that when he tells Harry that house-elves come with big old mansions, not in places like the Burrow. It almost seems as though most house-elves would consider working for the Weasleys to be beneath their dignity.

Their binding to a particular family seems to be in at least some cases hereditary (both Winky and Kreacher have ancestors who served the same family) and considered perfectly appropriate and honorable by the elves in question. They may even think of themselves as the equivalents of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves (or the average academic department secretary) - nominally in a menial position, but actually running the whole show. Considering what we've seen from Winky, Dobby, and Kreacher this may not be too far off - each of them had an important role to play in either carrying out or thwarting their masters' plans.

timrew - Oct 16, 2004 2:29 pm (#188 of 735)

It still leaves a lot to be explained. Why would a house-elf such as Dobby, go to work for a family that are going to kick him around, treat him like some form of low-life, and generally 'slave-drive' him from dawn to dusk; when he could instead go and work for a pure-blood family (if that has anything to do with it!) like the Weasleys, who would treat him with nothing but kindness; and where he would be accepted as another family member?

It's a heck of a price to have to pay for the 'snob' value of working for an odious family like the Malfoys. Just my two knuts.

Solitaire - Oct 16, 2004 7:39 pm (#189 of 735)

I don't think Dobby chose to work for the Malfoys. I suspect he was born into the family who served them. Or could he have been sold, stolen, or won in a bet of some kind?

Dobby does not seem to mind working for a family; he simply seems to have a more highly developed sense of right and wrong than Winky and Kreacher, and he does not approve of the kind of Wizards the Malfoys are. He is quite aware that they are Dark Wizards and have done evil things. He MUST abide by "the enchantments of his kind," but he seems willing to risk and endure punishment in order to do what he believes to be "the right thing." And he seems to be more savvy than the other two about what that "right thing" probably is.

Frankly, I believe Dobby would have loved to work for the Weasleys, if he'd been given the choice. He doesn't seem to care much about money; what is important is what the wages represent--his freedom and ability to choose his own master.

Perhaps, just as there are Muggles and Wizards who are good and bad, socially aware and socially inept, intelligent and uneducated ... so there are house-elves who fall into similar categories. Why must they all be the same?

Anyone who has studied ancient history knows that captives often became slaves of their captors. Obviously, some of those "slaves" would have been among the nobility in their own countries. In some cases, they might have been more intelligent and educated than their captors. It makes sense that there might be different social levels among house-elves.


T Brightwater - Oct 18, 2004 7:16 am (#190 of 735)

"Perhaps, just as there are Muggles and Wizards who are good and bad, socially aware and socially inept, intelligent and uneducated ... so there are house-elves who fall into similar categories. Why must they all be the same?"

Solitaire, ten points for your house! You've put your finger on the central flaw of prejudice - the assumption that all the members of a racial, ethnic, social, religious, etc category other than your own must all be the same. Hermione makes the opposite mistake - assuming that the house-elves are just like her and are as resentful of their conditions as she would be.

I suspect Dobby's family served the Malfoys unquestioningly for generations, and then for no apparent reason, Dobby developed an independent moral sense. He's rather like Sirius in that way. We don't know what happened to Sirius that sent him off in a different direction from most of the rest of his family; for that matter we don't really know why Firenze chose a different response to "what has been foretold" than his fellow centaurs. On the other side there's Percy Weasley and Crouch Jr.- rebellion against tradition, whether of the family or the "race", does seem to be rather a recurring theme in the series.

Madame Librarian - Oct 18, 2004 8:43 am (#191 of 735)
Edited Oct 18, 2004 9:45 am

T, I'm detecting a sub-theme here. Your post was on a roll there with examples--good and bad--of characters who broke the mold of their families. They thought for themselves and made choices (!) quite different from those before them.

Uh oh, I don't mean to capture the topic and send it off on a different direction, but--YOINKS!--(whew, back on track) Dobby certainly is a perfect example. Winky, on the other hand, was the opposite. The irony of this contrast comes when you consider that the Crouches provide an example of a family on the good side with a son who made a choice to go another route. Regardless, Winky stuck by Crouch Jr. with unquestioning loyalty.

I do believe Hermione is guilty of a very dangerous assumption that all Elves think alike...in her view, like Dobby, not Winky.

Ciao. Barb

T Brightwater - Oct 18, 2004 9:00 am (#192 of 735)

Kreacher shows that there is a third "opposite direction" - he's loyal to his family's tradition rather than to the renegade who is technically his master.

Pity Dobby and Kreacher couldn't have traded jobs. Sirius would have loved to have a house-elf who idolized Harry, and perhaps Kreacher could have assigned himself to the Slytherin dorm.

Madam Librarian, I think that JKR is reinforcing her theme of choices by showing that genetics and upbringing, however much they may influence a person's choices, do not completely determine them.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Oct 20, 2004 6:38 pm (#193 of 735)

Good point T, it is about choices. It will be interesting if there are more house-elves like Dobby. He does not seem to mind the scorn he receives from his own race. Like Hagrid says there are weirdoes in every breed! LPO

T Brightwater - Oct 21, 2004 5:22 am (#194 of 735)

Like Hagrid says there are weirdoes in every breed! LPO

And Dumbledore has most of them at Hogwarts!

TwinklingBlueEyes - Oct 21, 2004 1:03 pm (#195 of 735)
Edited Oct 21, 2004 2:04 pm

"And Dumbledore has most of them at Hogwarts!"

hem-hem! Mayo on that stoat sandwich?

T Brightwater - Oct 21, 2004 6:55 pm (#196 of 735)

I'm not the first person to notice that Hogwarts is something of a refuge for renegades and social misfits - Dobby, Hagrid, Firenze, Lupin, Snape... :-) It's actually one of DD's strengths - he doesn't reject people of any kind who are "different."

TwinklingBlueEyes - Oct 22, 2004 12:52 am (#197 of 735)

hem-hem...I was thinking that also most of us seem to be attracted to Hogwarts too! :-)

Ludicrous Patents Office - Oct 22, 2004 3:43 am (#198 of 735)

TwinklingBlueEyes I'll have some Treacle Fudge...

T I agree it is DD's strength. I wonder if he knows about Grawpy? I assume he does. If house-elves want to break free of their enslavement Hogwarts will be the place to do it. With every weirdo DD brings in it makes him and his cause stronger. If we can judge Harry by his relationship with Dobby he is learning to do the same thing. Which can only be a good thing. LPO

Gerald Costales - Oct 22, 2004 5:31 am (#199 of 735)
Edited Oct 22, 2004 6:33 am

Imagine 100 Hogwarts' house-elves with wands fighting Voldemort and the Death Eaters.

The fact that Hogwarts has so many house-elves is important. If they are loyal to Dumbledore, wouldn't they take up arms and help defeat Voldemort and Death Eaters.

Can we assume that house-elves are enslaved throughout the whole Wizarding World? The US fought a Civil War to end slavery but Brazil didn't stop slavery till 1888. The British and French stopped Slavery before the US, also.

What if Free house-elves exist in other countries? Even Roman slaves could buy their freedom. ;-) GC

PS And Jefferson freed his slaves when he died.

T Brightwater - Oct 22, 2004 6:30 am (#200 of 735)

"hem-hem...I was thinking that also most of us seem to be attracted to Hogwarts too! :-)"

Of course, TBE - I was including myself in that category!

Gerald, it's interesting that the only house-elf we hear referring to "enslavement" is Dobby - all the others think they are in a position of honor, with important responsibilities.

I'm sure this was discussed before, but what if Dobby didn't originally "belong" to the Malfoys? Someone asked earlier what happens to a house-elf when all the members of his/her ancestral family die. There's a house-elf Relocation Office at the MoM; I would think that would be their job.

Here's my theory: Dobby and his ancestors were bound to a family whose last members died at the hands of Voldemort. The Relocation Office assigned him to Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, who had either lost their own house-elf or perhaps didn't have one in the first place; I can see Lucius regarding that as a great status symbol.

This would account for the mutual hostility between Dobby and the Malfoys, including Dobby's resentment at being bound to them; for Dobby never referring to his ancestors, which Winky and Kreacher both do; and probably for Dobby's admiration for Harry. It would also serve to raise Dobby's consciousness about his own situation.

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #201 - #250)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:46 pm

TwinklingBlueEyes - Oct 22, 2004 8:31 am (#201 of 735)

Oh my, TB! What an interesting thought! 20 points for your house!

Solitaire - Oct 23, 2004 7:07 pm (#202 of 735)

Brightwater, that doesn't really sound like the scenario Dobby gives Harry when telling him about house-elves back in CoS. Also, I am curious about the Relocation Office. Did I miss something in the books? I do tend to zoom through them at warp speed, so it is possible.

I've often wondered whether Dobby was sent off to school with one of the Malfoy kids--Lucius, perhaps?--and there came face-to-face with Dumbledore's more progressive and fair ideals and his belief that the WW should be a place where all magical people and creatures co-exist peacefully.

LPO, you are correct that Harry has become a force for uniting different groups. He himself is a Half-blood, and look at his closest friends: a giant, a house-elf, a Werewolf, a Centaur, a Muggle-born, and a few Purebloods (Sirius, Neville, the Weasleys). Now he has befriended a Squib (Figgy) and has begun to add students from both Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff to his cadre of friends.

Since he is able to get his own money from Gringotts, perhaps he will have an opportunity to befriend some of the Goblins; or maybe Bill will bring them and Fleur (a Veela) to the "party" via his Gringotts job. At any rate, Harry certainly has the potential to be a "rallying point" in the Wizarding World.


Gerald Costales - Oct 24, 2004 5:11 am (#203 of 735)
Edited Oct 24, 2004 6:13 am

(re: post #200) "There's a house-elf Relocation Office at the MoM"

In Fantastic Beast & Where to Find Them, in the About the Author section -

" . . . Mr. Scamander joined the Ministry of Magic in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. After two years at the Office of house-elf Relocation, year he describes as "tedious in the extreme," he transferred to the Beast Division, . . ."

Just recently read this over the Summer, but didn't post anything about it.

Solitaire, it would appear that house-elves aren't sold in stores or produced by a house-elf Maker/Breeder. I do agree with you that,

"At any rate, Harry certainly has the potential to be a "rallying point" in the Wizarding World."

Dobby could have been "Relocated", which would explain his reluctance in serving the Malfoys' or even some House-Elves, like Dobby, resent serving "Dark Wizards". With Sirius' death, that does raise the question of where Kreacher will be "Relocated".

It could be "tedious" locating the next of kin to inherit a dislocated house-elf or settling Probate disputes on the ownership of a dislocated house-elf . Could a Squib inherit a house-elf ? Maybe throughout the years of Hogwarts' existence, former alumni have bequeath their house-elves to Hogwarts? Hogwarts could possibly just steadily inherited a 100 house-elves or if house-elves reproduce, the offspring of a dozen or so house-elves could account for the current 100 or so house-elves now at Hogwarts.

I still wonder if Dobby isn't the only freed house-elf . Again, Jefferson freed his slaves when he died, couldn't a extremely progressive or grateful Wizard or Witch have freed their house-elf on their death. Also, in the whole Wizard World couldn't there be one Wizarding country that has banned the ownership, trade, and importation of House-Elves? ;-) GC

T Brightwater - Oct 24, 2004 11:27 am (#204 of 735)

"Jefferson freed his slaves when he died, couldn't a extremely progressive or grateful Wizard or Witch have freed their house-elf on their death."

That might be the final blow to a grieving house-elf. I think most house-elves would see such a gesture as being ingratitude.

I don't want to offend you, Gerald, but I think you're making Hermione's mistake - applying just and honorable human standards to beings who don't see things the same way we do.

I think old-fashioned conventions of marriage are in some ways a better model for house-elf binding than slavery. Most house-elves consider being freed a disgrace equal to the stigma that used to be attached to divorced women. Is a "self-made" businessman who divorces the wife who helped him become successful (so he can marry a younger and more glamorous woman) doing her a favor? In some ways, she might be better off without the son of a Bludger, but I think most people would agree that this is not good behavior on his part.

Dobby is considered a bit scandalous by other house-elves not only because he is free but because he enjoys his freedom. (Was it JKR who said something to the effect that most people find happy weirdos threatening?)

I suspect that the house-elf Relocation Office is boring because it doesn’t get a lot of business - only slightly more than the Centaur Liaison Office.

In medieval times, widows were sometimes forcibly married off by their families, especially if the families were of political importance. I'm thinking in particular of the Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England, who was forced to marry a "mere" Count, Geoffrey Plantagenet, after her husband's death.

Dobby's resentment could just be that the Malfoys are mean to him, and that this isn't usually the case with house-elves and their families. I still like the idea that Dobby was not originally theirs, though I realize there isn't any hard evidence for it.

Solitaire - Oct 24, 2004 2:29 pm (#205 of 735)
Edited Oct 24, 2004 3:31 pm

LOL@"happy weirdos" ... What a giggle that gave me! I'm still giggling ...

Going back to my previous post, the way Dobby describes his plight--"The wizard family Dobby serves, sir ... Dobby is a house-elf--bound to serve one house and one family forever ..." and "A house-elf must be set free, sir. And the family will never set Dobby free ... Dobby will serve the family until he dies, sir ..."--makes me believe that Dobby has always been with the Malfoy family.

Before this, when Harry asks him to sit down ... To his horror, the elf burst into tears--very noisy tears. "Never ... never ever ... Dobby has never been asked to sit down by a wizard--like an equal--"

It sounds to me like Dobby has been with the same family for years ... and treated the same way for as long as he can remember.

The fact that Dobby does mention elves being freed probably means that it has happened before ... but judging from the elves we know, it would seem to be something rare.


T Brightwater - Oct 26, 2004 5:24 am (#206 of 735)

"It sounds to me like Dobby has been with the same family for years ... and treated the same way for as long as he can remember."

I've just re-read that part of CoS, and yes, your reading does seem more likely. Thanks! (Oh well, it was a nice theory while it lasted!)

I want to make it clear that I'm not trying to justify the enslavement of other beings by wizards (or the oppression of any human group by any other human group); it just seems to me that the house-elves themselves, for the most part, don't see it as slavery.

Hermione's instincts are good, but, to use another Muggle-world analogy, it's hard to unionize the employees of a company which treats them well; it's much easier when the workers have genuine grievances and want to change their situation. The house-elves at Hogwarts "think they have the best job in the world," so it's not likely that they will listen to Hermione. The ones she needs to find are the disaffected house-elves like Dobby, who - want- to be free, and then make sure that they have other options once they are free.

As for the ones who don't want to be free, Hermione could do more good by encouraging all wizards to treat them with consideration and respect. Maybe Dobby could go on the lecture circuit, or the Quibbler could publish an interview with him. I think most wizards really aren't aware of house-elves as individual beings with feelings of their own.

Solitaire - Oct 26, 2004 10:18 am (#207 of 735)

Brightwater, how would elves like Kreacher be handled? He certainly did not live in a "happy" environment--if Sirius is to be believed--but I bet one would be hard-pressed to get him to leave it.

In all honestly, Kreacher seems mentally ill to me (Could he be psychotic? I'm not up on all my psychiatric terms). I'm sure it must happen among the house-elf population, just as it does among Wizards and Muggles. After all, Winky has a substance abuse (butterbeer) problem and suffers from depression, both very real problems in the Muggle world.

Hermione needs to do more one-on-one interviewing of the Elves, if she ever hopes to understand their mind-set.


T Brightwater - Oct 26, 2004 11:22 am (#208 of 735)

Solitaire, I think you're right about Kreacher being mentally ill. Even other house-elves would think there was something wrong with him.

There's a sort of syndrome in which people who have been abused sometimes end up identifying with their tormentors. (There's bound to be someone on this thread who knows more about it than I do; please set me straight on this.) I wonder if that's what happened to Kreacher. I can't imagine that he became so attached to Mrs. Black because she was such a sweet kindly old lady.

There's been a lot of discussion about how Sirius treated him, but Kreacher didn't treat Sirius very well either. It was bad enough for Sirius to be locked up in his old family home, but having Kreacher muttering at him all the time and using a lot of passive-aggressive behavior to thwart him had to have made it worse. Hermione - was- trying to be nice to Kreacher, and if anything it made him despise her even more.

Dobby responds effusively to any kindness; Winky only feels worse because she believes she doesn't deserve it; Kreacher sneers at it. There isn't going to be a universal "solution" for the house-elf "problem;" wizards (including Hermione) have to realize that they're individuals and learn to respect them as such.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Oct 26, 2004 6:11 pm (#209 of 735)

Kreacher is old. He may have the house-elf version of dementia. T Brightwater I agree house-elves must be seen as individuals. Some of them truly do not want to be free. It is a stigma. The individual must decide for her or himself. LPO

Solitaire - Oct 26, 2004 11:25 pm (#210 of 735)

There really isn't a universal solution, is there?

Dementia does sound right, LPO. There used to be an old lady in my town who was a survivor of a German death camp in WWII. Once she came into the restroom of a restaurant when I was there. She kept talking to herself (well, I'm sure she was talking TO someone in her mind) about "hitting him and taking his gun" ... it freaked me out. I went to the manager and reported what I'd heard--which is how I came to know who she was. She apparently had "flashbacks" all of the time, particularly as she got older. Anyway, Kreacher has always reminded me of her.

Brightwater, I know what you mean about identifying with the captors. Kreacher had probably never heard anything different from the trash Mrs. Black talked until Sirius and the Order moved into 12GP. It's probably burned into his brain.


Gerald Costales - Oct 29, 2004 5:25 am (#211 of 735)
Edited Oct 29, 2004 6:28 am

‘There's a sort of syndrome in which people who have been abused sometimes end up identifying with their tormentors. (There's bound to be someone on this thread who knows more about it than I do; please set me straight on this.)’ T Brightwater

Stockholm Syndrome is where captives begin to identify with their captors. The defense Patty Hearst used to explain her defection to the SLA.

(Re: post #204) ‘I don't want to offend you, Gerald, but I think you're making Hermione's mistake - applying just and honorable human standards to beings who don't see things the same way we do.’

No offense take, T Brightwater. I did make a mistake about Jefferson, though. Jefferson only freed three of his slaves on his death. (Kindly, pointed out by someone who did some research on Jefferson and was recently in Virginia touring Jefferson’s home.)

Which goes back to a previous point I’ve made about House-Elves, they should have the right of Self-determination. Those house-elves like Winky can work for Wizards and those house-elves like Dobby could be freed.

During the Korean War the US and UN had the problem of POW’s and where to sent them. Do they force some soldiers back to a government they don’t want to live under? There were ex-Chinese Nationals, North Koreans, and South Koreans forced into the Red Army that didn’t want to live under Communism. Of course, there were ex-Chinese Nationals, North Koreans, and South Koreans that wanted to live either in North Korea or China. And some ex-Chinese Nationals who wanted to go to Taiwan. Everyone including our soldiers were given a choice. A handful of Americans and one British soldier remained in North Korea. And a three month or so program to free the US and UN captives took a year.

There is no simple solution. But, Self-determination would be fair to House-Elves. And wizards who lose their house-elf could be put on a waiting list or some compensation system could be set up. A house-elf like Winky could go to another Wizard household and dry up and be useful again. ;-) GC

Elanor - Oct 29, 2004 7:50 am (#212 of 735)
Edited Oct 29, 2004 8:50 am

Great post Gerald! This thread is very interesting. There is one thing that always made me think: it is that DD uses the verb " to enslave" while speaking about Kreacher.

"'Kreacher is what he has been made by wizards, Harry,' said Dumbledore. 'Yes, he is to be pitied. His existence has been as miserable as your friend Dobby's. He was forced to do Sirius's bidding, because Sirius was the last of the family to which he was enslaved, but he felt no true loyalty to him." (OotP paperback p.733) and later "We wizards have mistreated and abused our fellows for too long, and we are now reaping our reward." (p.735)

He, certainly, would certainly wish that some things change in the WW. I hope he will be able to act upon this situation. Great man, DD.

T Brightwater - Oct 29, 2004 12:11 pm (#213 of 735)

Thanks, Gerald, and this time I'm with you all the way! Wizards (including both Hermione and Amos Diggory) shouldn't be determining what is best for house-elves; each individual house-elf should decide that for him- or herself. If they had the right to give notice and leave, I bet wizards would have a lot more respect and consideration for them.

Solitaire - Oct 29, 2004 7:17 pm (#214 of 735)
Edited Oct 29, 2004 8:18 pm

The interesting thing is that many of the house-elves, given a choice and wages, would probably choose to stay exactly where they are. Not all families are Malfoys and Blacks. There are probably many families who treat their elves kindly. Or is the consensus that most elves are bound to rich, old pure-blood families who--even if they aren't Dark Wizards or DEs--still do not treat their house-elves with much respect or consideration?

The thing is, Winky seemed to have rather a high level of "security clearance" and responsibility where Barty Jr. was concerned. Until she was dismissed, she seemed to have been a valued and trusted member of her household. If we consider her in that light, it's no wonder she feels disgraced.


Madame Librarian - Oct 30, 2004 5:35 am (#215 of 735)

I think we should keep in mind that Winky might not look at the idea of self-determination and family re-assignment as anything helpful. I got the feeling that her misery was mostly a factor of betraying (or failing) a family she loved. Her tone when she spoke of Crouch, Jr. was very much like that of a trusted nanny who took care of all the children in the master's house. Very often that nanny was more a parent to the children than the real parents.

Whether it's love or a sense of loyalty to which they are honor-bound to give--perhaps an elemental, unchangeable piece of Elf nature--I don't think they easily switch these emotions to another master/family. Even Dobby holds back a great deal about his ex-master almost as if there's some magic mechanism that prevents him from spilling all the beans.

Ciao. Barb

Ludicrous Patents Office - Oct 30, 2004 2:37 pm (#216 of 735)
Edited Oct 30, 2004 3:38 pm

T Brightwater and GC how can house-elves choose when they are bound by enchantments? Is there away to release the magical binding on them so they can freely choose? Dobby chose to go against his Master. He was compelled to hurt himself. Is their enslavement a magically binding contract that cannot be undone? I agree it seems like they should be able to choose and some elves are very content to remain where they are. I question their ability to choose due to the enchantments binding them. I also do not think Hermione or anyone else really knows what is best for the house elves. LPO

Solitaire - Oct 30, 2004 3:16 pm (#217 of 735)

Barb, I think it would be interesting to talk to Dobby now that he is free of the Malfoys. If he gives information freely, we would know that he was not bound forever to keep the secrets. If he still keeps back some secrets or says he cannot tell them, we would know that something stronger than mere will was involved.


T Brightwater - Oct 30, 2004 7:37 pm (#218 of 735)

"How can house-elves choose when they are bound by enchantments? Is there away to release the magical binding on them so they can freely choose?"

Good question, LPO. Dobby was certainly aware that he wanted to be free, but he seems to be something of an exception in a lot of ways. It would be interesting to find out just how he became aware in the first place - most house-elves don't seem to consider freedom as anything but a disgrace. Were the Malfoys that much worse than the rest of wizard-kind?

Madame Librarian - Oct 30, 2004 8:22 pm (#219 of 735)

Solitaire, I have to try to find this passage of dialogue between Dobby and Harry (I think it's Harry). It occurs well after Dobby is freed, in GoF or OoP, and there's and exchange of dialogue where Harry or whoever comes right out and asks Dobby some direct question about dark goings on at the Malfoy's. Dobby repeats what he always says, something to the effect of "Malfoys is filled with dark magic, it is, and Dobby, sir, is not liking it one bit," but he seems to falter on the brink of saying anything specific or additional. I got the feeling when reading that bit that Dobby just couldn't say anything more than generalities. Couldn't or wouldn't. I'll try to check for this tomorrow (it's way too late now, and my head is sleepy and needs to meet its pillow).

Ciao. Barb

legolas - Oct 31, 2004 12:15 am (#220 of 735)

Isn't there a passage somewhere that says something along the lines that Dobby likes being free but likes work better.

This could be taken a number of ways 1)He likes being free of the Malfoys 2)He likes being free to choose a master that would treat him well-a good employer 3)house-elves like looking after people 4)house-elves have to look after people to get fulfillment suggesting some kind of magical bond.

I am sure that there are many more ways,

Gerald Costales - Oct 31, 2004 6:11 am (#221 of 735)
Edited Oct 31, 2004 7:16 am

"Is their enslavement a magically binding contract that cannot be undone?" LPO

I had a very similar thought. The origin of this house-elves and Wizard contract have been discussed before but maybe should be reopened.

I recently thought, the contract would be similar to that of an indentured servant. Both master and servant benefit, the master has a servant and the servant is working for his/her freedom. But, with House-Elves, they never get their freedom. Was the debt so great that house-elves and several generations since can never fully pay this back? Or are Wizards ignoring the fact that as indentured servants, ultimately freedom needs to be granted to House-Elves?

The escape clause, so to speak, is the granting of clothes to a house-elf . But, either through a Wizard's need for a servant and the house-elf 's great desire to work, and probably the house-elves needs to be protected, sheltered, and feed, the granting of clothes has been forgotten but still remains a part of this original magical contract. Mostly house-elves are happy.

Here's another thought, look at the term house-elf was there at one time a Field-Elf? There were House Slaves and Field Slaves at one time. Dobby could be equal to a common Field Slave assigned menial, physical, and dangerous tasks. While Winky was equal to a House Slave assigned important, less physical, and safer tasks. Dobby wore a dirty pillow case. Winky wore a nice tea cozy.

For the most part wizards hopefully treat their house-elves well. Most house-elves are probably treated the way the Crouch family treated Winky. Most people treat their pets well. But, just like Muggles, there is that occasional cruel Wizard master that abuses his/her house-elf , like Dobby was maltreated by the Malfoys.

Why Dobby, and possibly a few others, wanted freedom is the question to be answered. And may not be answered in either Book 6 or 7.

"Were the Malfoys that much worse than the rest of wizard-kind?"

T brightwater

Probably, yes, just look at them. Neither Draco or Lucius Malfoy are likeable and both are sometimes vicious, nasty and evil. ;-) GC

Ludicrous Patents Office - Oct 31, 2004 7:03 pm (#222 of 735)

Most people treat their pets well. GC

house-elves may have evolved beyond pets and slaves. The Wizarding community, with the exception of DD, may not realize that house-elves are fully sentient beings that deserve rights. It is a Planet of the Apes idea. Dobby may be the first of many who wish for and get independence. LPO

Gerald Costales - Nov 1, 2004 5:49 am (#223 of 735)

"The Wizarding community, with the exception of DD, may not realize that house-elves are fully sentient beings that deserve rights. It is a Planet of the Apes idea. Dobby may be the first of many who wish for and get independence." LPO

LPO, great post. I agree that Dobby could be the first of his kind. The "Planet of Apes" reference really puts a different spin on the house-elf issue. ;-) GC

Solitaire - Nov 1, 2004 7:22 am (#224 of 735)

The fact that Dobby and Winky both know that presenting a house-elf with clothing sets him or her free makes me wonder if it hasn't happened at some point in the past--at least once. In Winky's case, being set free seems to have been a badge of dishonor--quite the opposite of how Dobby views being set free.

If house-elves have parents who "show them the ropes" as they grow up, they probably hear stories about their own house-elf ancestors--at least, I would think so. This could account for the different attitudes, etc. And if house-elves live long lives, there are surely some who remember better or worse masters than the current ones and tell those tales, as well.


Madame Librarian - Nov 1, 2004 8:54 am (#225 of 735)

Consider this: In CoS Lucius was tricked into handing Dobby a sock. Harry had stuffed the diary into it (book version; in the film he slips the sock inside the diary). But the bond of enslavement was still broken nonetheless. This leads me to ask if the use of trickery is OK to gain freedom, why isn't it done more often? Why aren't masters like Lucius (I.e., very pro-slavery) more vigilant in their contact with their Elves--you know, hyper cautious about being tricked? Can another Elf initiate the ruse--"Here Master Malfoy, please sir, my mistress is asking that you accept this basket of elderberry tarts as a token of thanks. I is daring not to give it to that elf Dobby, she is strict instructioning me to give it straight to the master." (Guess what's in the basket. And guess what Master does with it next.) You see?

It seems like clever Elves who wish to be free (assuming there are others besides Dobby) and possibly wizards who are against the slave system would (again, assuming there are others besides Hermione) would put their heads together on this.

Ciao. Barb

Ludicrous Patents Office - Nov 2, 2004 5:11 am (#226 of 735)

I think most elves do not want to be free. So they do not resort to trickery. Dobby had Harry help him. Harry was acting on knowledge that Dobby wanted to be free. Winky had no wish to be free. Even Sirius threatened Kreacher with clothes. Freeing them is a disgrace. They have to want to be free. LPO

Gerald Costales - Nov 4, 2004 8:23 am (#227 of 735)

But, those house-elves who want Freedom, I can't believe only Dobby would want Freedom, don't have a choice and are still enslaved.

The cry should not be "Free all House-Elves" but "Give house-elves a Choice". ;-) GC

PS This means I don't support Hermione but I support all house-elves having the right to choose their own destiny.

T Brightwater - Nov 4, 2004 9:03 am (#228 of 735)

I would add, "And make sure there are options available to them after they're free."

Ludicrous Patents Office - Nov 4, 2004 7:59 pm (#229 of 735)

I agree, give them choices and options. Freedom is an awesome responsibility. I think wands are connected to their enslavement. If they were allowed wands they may be able to develop their magic and a sense of self not connected to serving a family. LPO

Gerald Costales - Nov 7, 2004 10:43 am (#230 of 735)

"I think wands are connected to their enslavement. If they were allowed wands they may be able to develop their magic and a sense of self not connected to serving a family." LPO

I got the impression that wands in the hands of a house-elf would be considered weapons. Remember how Amos Diggory treated Winky after the Dark Mark was conjured. Diggory questioned Winky like a policeman questioning a criminal toting a gun. ;-) GC

PS What happened to the Wand thread? It was under the Magical Items list in the Lexicon Forum index. ;-( GC

Ludicrous Patents Office - Nov 7, 2004 5:48 pm (#231 of 735)

Wands are the best "technology" for doing magic. The best way to make sure you remain the dominant race is to refuse other beings the use of that weapon. Wizards consider themselves the only race advanced enough to have wands. Amos was scared of Winky having a weapon. LPO

T Brightwater - Nov 8, 2004 6:31 am (#232 of 735)

Consider what Dobby was capable of doing even without a wand, even before he was freed. Do they really need wands? In some ways their own magic seems to be more powerful than that of wizards.

Having said that, I think they should be allowed the choice, though I shudder to think of a wand in the hands of Kreacher.

Now I'm wondering, is there any way house-elf magic could be taught to wizards? Most wizards would think it was beneath them, but Harry wouldn't, and Dobby would just love to be able to do him another favor!

Solitaire - Nov 8, 2004 3:35 pm (#233 of 735)

house-elves seem to be capable of doing wandless magic--powerful wandless magic, it would seem. You will remember that Dobby sent Lucius flying down the stairs, and you notice Lucius did not strike back.

Has anyone ever asked or suggested why Lucius didn't take his wand and blow Dobby into oblivion? There must be some compelling reason, since Lucius doesn't strike me as the type to walk away from a fight he thinks he can win.


T Brightwater - Nov 8, 2004 3:44 pm (#234 of 735)

I think Lucius had just realized that Dobby was more powerful than he knew, and wasn't keen to find out exactly - how- powerful. Also, wouldn't performing a Dark curse practically under Dumbledore's nose blow his cover somewhat? (I know DD wasn't right there, but he wasn't too far away, either.) At that point Lucius was still pretending to be respectable, wasn't he?

Solitaire - Nov 8, 2004 3:47 pm (#235 of 735)

Well, he pulled his wand and was about to curse Harry, wasn't he? Or is that movie contamination? Again, no books here at school.


T Brightwater - Nov 8, 2004 4:04 pm (#236 of 735)

Hi Solitaire, here's the scene from CoS:

--- "Got a sock," said Dobby in disbelief. "Master threw it, and Dobby caught it, and Dobby - Dobby is free." [sorry, haven't learned how to do italics etc. yet]

Lucius Malfoy stood frozen, starting at the elf. Then he lunged at Harry.

"You've lost me my servant, boy!"

But Dobby shouted, "You shall not harm Harry Potter!"

There was a loud bang, and Mr. Malfoy was thrown backward. He crashed down the stairs, three at a time, landing in a crumpled heap. He got up, his face livid, and pulled out his wand, but Dobby raised a long, threatening finger.

"You shall go now," he said fiercely, pointing down at Mr. Malfoy. "You shall not touch Harry Potter. You shall go now."

Lucius Malfoy had no choice. With a last, incensed stare at the pair of them, he swung his cloak around him and hurried out of sight. ---

I can't tell from that whether Lucius was about to attack Harry or Dobby when he pulled out his wand, but it was after he was thrown down the stairs and he obviously didn't want to fight it out with Dobby at that point.

Madame Librarian - Nov 8, 2004 4:17 pm (#237 of 735)

In the movie it looks like Lucius is just about to utter, "Avad...." That is definitely not in the book. And, of course, no wand.

T Brightwater, about your question whether wizards could be taught elf magic. Well, perhaps, exceptional wizards like DD could, but in my version of things, I always figured that just as a Muggle or squib could not be trained to do wizardry (yes, they could, perhaps, be taught to use magical objects), because whatever it is that makes a wizard a wizard (brain function, essence, some vague genetic principles) is simply not there. So whatever it is that allows elves to perform their kind of magic is not in the typical wizard makeup.

But, since Madame Author has not seen fit to share her vision of how these things all work, I could be very, very wrong.

Ciao. Barb

Ludicrous Patents Office - Nov 8, 2004 6:53 pm (#238 of 735)

I agree Madame Librarian. I'm sure house-elf magic is their own kind and cannot be fully taught to another species. Though I like the idea of Harry learning how it use it! LPO

Solitaire - Nov 8, 2004 8:28 pm (#239 of 735)

Lucius Malfoy had no choice. With a last, incensed stare at the pair of them, he swung his cloak around him and hurried out of sight. ---

Why didn't he have a choice? Just wondering ...

And thanks, Brightwater, for the info. It is so hard to sneak onto the Lexicon at school, start posting ... and then not have my books when I need them!


T Brightwater - Nov 9, 2004 6:16 am (#240 of 735)

"Why didn't he have a choice? Just wondering ..."

Well, as I see it, if Lucius used an illegal curse he'd blow his own cover as a "reformed" DE, and bring Dumbledore after him like an avenging Fury. Also, if it came to a duel between him and Dobby, it wouldn't be much to his credit if he won, but it would make him an absolute laughing-stock if he lost. At that moment he has realized that he doesn't know just how powerful Dobby is, so it makes sense that he wouldn't want to risk it.

Annika - Nov 9, 2004 10:13 am (#241 of 735)

The house-elf 's Enslavement seems like an odd thing to be naturally bred into a race of magical creatures. I wonder if it was a charm cast upon the house-elves many years ago that cursed them into servitude as a way of controlling magical beings that have power to rival that of wizards.

(Sorry if this doesn't make sense. Sounds great in my head but when typed out, sounds like gobbledygook.)


Madame Librarian - Nov 9, 2004 11:51 am (#242 of 735)

I think the "no choice" phrase might be referring to the magical contract between humans and elves. It is binding to the point that to break the terms of the contract would be a serious mistake on Lucius' part. Maybe cause instant agony or reversal of fortune, you get the idea.

Every time this human-elf relationship is alluded to in the story either by Dobby or other human characters, I hear a faint echo of some huge piece of the puzzle buried within the history. It's just a feeling I get when I read, could be a false sense of importance. So Lucius' loss of Dobby's services is presented as an inconvenience on first reading, something that naturally makes him angry and us feel wonderful, but there's something more, I think. His hesitation at the last moment, this "no choice" phrase, make me read his reaction as angry on the surface, terrified underneath.

Ciao. Barb

Gerald Costales - Nov 11, 2004 6:55 am (#243 of 735)

We know Dumbledore doesn't need an Invisibility Cloak to become invisible. And Nearly Headless Nick said the sign of a good house-elf is not being noticed. Maybe house-elves become invisible to be unnoticed.

If that's the case, I wouldn't put it past Dumbledore to have learned how to become invisible from House-Elves.

Back on topic - We don't know anything about the - apparent- Magical Contract between Wizards and House-Elves. But, we do know Dumbledore had "no choice" but to let Harry be a Champion in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. The selection by the Goblet of Fire created a Magical Contract that could not broken.

Was there a Magical Contract created by Marietta E. when she signed the DA membership list? Could be. Just as an oral contract can be legal and binding in the Muggle World, the selection by the Goblet of Fire created a legal and binding Magical Contract in the Wizarding World. Could the signing of the DA membership list created another legal and binding Magical Contract?

We know what happen to Zit-faced Marietta when she broke this - apparent- Magical Contract. We don't know the small print on the - apparent- Magical Contract between Wizards and house-elves but Lucius had "no choice" but to walk away. Just as Dumbledore had "no choice" when Harry was selected by the Goblet of Fire.

Maybe book 6 & 7 will reveal more about the relationship between Wizards and House-Elves. And also the hidden and compelling powers of a Magical Contract. ;-) GC

Steve Newton - Nov 11, 2004 10:30 am (#244 of 735)

Gerald, Marietta signed more than an 'apparent' contract. It was a real and obvious contract. The text reinforces this by saying that, "There was an odd feeling in the group now. It was as though they had just signed some kind of contract.) (OOTP chapter 16)

"as though" There is a little wiggle room there.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Nov 11, 2004 8:16 pm (#245 of 735)

Something is holding the house-elves in their enslavement. LPO

Grimber - Nov 13, 2004 5:33 pm (#246 of 735)

Thinking about the house-elf situation. Why bond themselves to a WW family? Protection, though they can use magic to defend themselves, most of them seem too meek and timid to do anything outside of a normal lifestyle routine of manual labor. More likely to flee or cower from a foe then defend themselves. So they opt for servitude to a family that will protect them from natural enemies.

But we know money seems to be a factor in this bond. (Mrs. Weasley does not have enough money to afford one). House-elves themselves seem to have no need, or want for any monetary gains, so there must be a middleman that seals this bond/contract between elf and family for a fee.

My guess is 2 possible ideas at this. MoM charges to bond an elf to a family ( house-elf relocation office), or the Goblins. Goblins may be natural enemies of the elves, bonded to the goblins in slavery, those slaves can be sold to WW families for a serious greedy goblin fee.

haymoni - Nov 13, 2004 6:21 pm (#247 of 735)

It doesn't seem that house-elves multiply much. Winky speaks of her mother and grandmother serving the Crouches. It doesn't look like Kreacher had any siblings, Dobby doesn't mention any.

I'm guessing you inherit the house-elf like you would any other piece of property - it probably goes to the eldest.

Steve Newton - Nov 14, 2004 5:45 am (#248 of 735)

Well one offspring per family seems to be pretty common in the WW. Lets see, the Potters, the Longbottoms, the Grangers, the Malfoys, the Crouch's, probably some other obvious ones. I think I see why Ron said that the WW would have died out it they hadn't married Muggles.

Gerald Costales - Nov 26, 2004 7:45 am (#249 of 735)

"Something is holding the house-elves in their enslavement." LPO

I couldn't agree more. Hopefully that "something" will be revealed in the next two Books.

I've posted on the Dumbledore thread that if Dumbledore hired another non-Wizard, that Dobby for the next DADA could be a possibility. Yes, the scene of Lucius backing down from Dobby is a hint of the strong Magic that house-elves are capable of doing.

Here's another example of house-elf magic -

This is Barty Crouch Jr. speaking," . . . They were not enslaved, as I was. They were free to seek him, but they did not. They were merely making sport of Muggles. The sound of their voices awoke me. My mind was clearer than it had been in years. I was angry. I had a wand. I wanted to attack them for their disloyalty to my master. My father had left the tent; he had gone to free the Muggles. Winky was afraid to see me so angry. She used her own brand of magic to bind me to her. She pulled me from the tent, pulled me into the forest, away from the Death Eaters. I tried to hold her back. I wanted to return to the campsite. . . ." (pages 686 & 687, GoF, American hardback edition)

The fact that Winky can bind and pull a full grown Wizard is proof that house-elf Magic must be very powerful. So, maybe Lucius as well as Barty Jr. had no choice in the face of this "brand of magic". ;-) GC

T Brightwater - Nov 29, 2004 4:11 pm (#250 of 735)

I wonder if part of what keeps house-elves "in their place" is wizards' fear of losing their jobs to them. If Dobby is any indication, free elves would be quite happy to work for miniscule wages and almost no time off; perhaps they are only allowed to do very menial jobs because of the uproar that would be caused if they were hired for more skilled work. An unscrupulous wizard entrepreneur could easily use them as sweatshop labor, so perhaps binding them to a family is protection for them as well as for wizard workers - or at least, wizards would like to think so.

There must be something they could do that wizards can't or don't want to do, so that there would be a way for freed elves to find honorable and decent employment without posing a threat (at least a perceived one) to the wizard labor pool. If Hermione could figure that out, she might find more elves willing to listen to her. I suspect there are at least a few who would like freedom if they had somewhere to go and something to do after being freed.

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #251 - #300)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:51 pm

Ms Amanda - Dec 23, 2004 8:45 am (#251 of 735)

My guess is there are a lot of jobs house-elves could do.

They could work as messengers at the MOM. (I'd hate the flying memos. How annoying!)Dobby has proven that he'll go to great lengths to deliver messages. And Azkaban needs guards now. Think of how Winky and Dobby have proven themselves against powerful wizards.

But really, more than the enchantment that binds them to the family, house-elves love to love the people they serve. They want to belong, and it just seems to me that they misunderstand their desire and become belongings. I don't think many jobs will fulfill their need to love.

I think that the house-elves we've met (Dobby, Winky, and Kreacher) all demonstrate that if a house-elf can't love the family he or she serves, there are serious consequences. Dobby decides he'd rather be free and branded a weirdo. Winky becomes an alcoholic after her love is thrown away. Kreacher becomes insane after living alone and then betrays his enchantment as far as he can once he's forced to serve a master he does not love. Setting the elves free is probably a good idea, but we have to take into account their needs, too.

Gerald Costales - Dec 23, 2004 9:22 am (#252 of 735)

"There must be something they could do that wizards can't or don't want to do, so that there would be a way for freed elves to find honorable and decent employment without posing a threat (at least a perceived one) to the wizard labor pool. If Hermione could figure that out, she might find more elves willing to listen to her. I suspect there are at least a few who would like freedom if they had somewhere to go and something to do after being freed." T Brightwater

We are aware of only two freed house-elves - Dobby and Winky. And both have ended up at Hogwarts. How the other 100 or so house-elves came to Hogwarts is a mystery.

I've always suspected that Dumbledore will use the house-elves in the War against Voldemort & the Death Eaters. All the house-elves even Dobby, value work over freedom. So, you couldn't expect a house-elf to fight for their freedom.

. . . . ‘Professor Dumbledore offered Dobby ten Galleons a week, and weekends off,’ said Dobby, suddenly giving a little shiver, as though the prospect of so much leisure and riches were frightening, ‘but Dobby beat him down miss. . . . Dobby likes freedom miss, but he isn’t wanting too much, miss, he likes work better.’

(page 379, GoF, American hardback edition)

Besides working for their masters. The second duty of a house-elf is ‘to keep their Master’s secrets’.

. . . . ‘Can’t house-elves speak their minds about their masters, then?’ Harry asked.

. . . . ‘Oh, no, sir, no,’ said Dobby, looking suddenly serious. ‘Tis part of the house-elf’s enslavement, sir. We upholds the family’s honor, and we never speaks ill of them -- though Professor Dumbledore told Dobby he does not insist upon this. Professor said we is free -- to --’

. . . . Dobby looked suddenly nervous and beckoned Harry closer. Harry bent forward. Dobby whispered, ‘He said we is free to call him a -- barmy old codger if we likes, sir!’

. . . . Dobby gave a frighten sort of giggle.

. . . . ‘But Dobby is not wanting to, Harry Potter,’ he said, talking normally again, and shaking his head so that his ears flopped. ‘Dobby likes Professor Dumbledore very much, sir, and is proud to keep his secrets and our silence for him.’

(page 380, GoF, American hardback edition)

This second excerpts makes me wonder is the house-elf ’s enslavement simply a Fidelius Charm and a house-elf is merely a Wizard’s family Secret Keeper?

Hermione would need to find what would make a house-elf break his duty of silence. And also provide a house-elf something more honorable than working for a Wizarding family. Duty and Honor, two Victorian concepts that seem to be held by the Modern house-elf but not necessarily by the Modern Wizard family. ;-) GC

Ludicrous Patents Office - Dec 23, 2004 4:03 pm (#253 of 735)

GC I would love to know what secrets Dobby is keeping for DD. Or any of the House Elves! Bet he has some good secrets. I agree, the house-elves will play a part in the war. I think Dobby is going to save Harry's life. Promises made and not made are important. Dobby refused to promise he never try to save Harry's life again. LPO

Gerald Costales - Dec 26, 2004 5:33 pm (#254 of 735)

"I agree, the house-elves will play a part in the war. I think Dobby is going to save Harry's life. Promises made and not made are important. Dobby refused to promise he never try to save Harry's life again." LPO

I think Dobby will be present in Book 6 and probably Book 7 also. The War against Voldemort and the Death Eaters should last the two last books. And I could see Dobby saving Harry again. But do all wizards have secrets? I'm not sure Dumbledore has that much to hide. Now, there are things about the Prophecy that I believe Dumbledore hasn't revealed. But, if Dumbledore discusses the Prophecy, I'd think Dumbledore would be confiding with the portraits on his office walls and not with a Hogwarts' house-elf , not even Dobby. ;-) GC

Ludicrous Patents Office - Dec 28, 2004 9:05 pm (#255 of 735)

DD gathers all kinds of information from many different beings. I agree, I'm not sure he has any secrets but I imagine he associates with beings that the established community would not agree with. I doubt Dobby knows a lot about what goes on in DD's office. Though in CoS it was very important to Dobby to keep Harry safe. I get the impression there was more to it than Harry's past deeds. LPO

Gerald Costales - Dec 29, 2004 7:15 am (#256 of 735)

"Dobby could tell Harry Potter that his old masters were -- were -- bad Dark wizards!"

(page 381, GoF, American hardback edition)

Do you think the fact that Dobby thought the Malfoys were "bad Dark wizards" was the initial reason for Dobby to seek his Freedom?

It's one thing to be a house-elf and work for a Wizard family but to work for "bad Dark wizards" is another thing. The idea of working for "bad Dark wizards" doesn't affect Kreacher. But, Dobby thankfully isn't Kreacher.

The additional fact that Harry survived an attack by Lord Voldemort, a Dark Wizard. Gave Dobby hope in Dobby's quest for freedom from "bad Dark wizards".

". . . Dobby has heard of your greatest, sir . . ." also

. . . "Harry Potter is humble and modest," said Dobby reverently, his orb-like eyes aglow. "Harry Potter speaks not of his triumph over He-Who-Must-Be-Named --"

and finally

. . . "Dobby heard tell," he said hoarsely, "that Harry Potter met the Dark Lord for a second time, just weeks ago . . . that Harry Potter escaped yet again."

. . . Harry nodded and Dobby's eyes suddenly shone with tears.

(page 15, CoS, American hardback edition)

The use of the word "escaped" by Dobby in this final quote is telling and I think hinted to Dobby's quest for personal freedom from "bad Dark wizards". ;-) GC

Gerald Costales - Jan 14, 2005 5:45 am (#257 of 735)

Just posted this in the Hermione thread. Thought it would fit here nicely. ;-) GC

"I think Dumbledore does support Freedom for House-Elves. But, I don't think Dumbledore would approve of SPEW. Dumbledore I think is establishing a generation of house-elves that may be ready to accept Freedom. Why else have a Hundred Happy house-elves working at Hogwarts. :-) GC

PS Unless Dumbledore is planning to arm them and have them fight in the War against Voldemort and Death Eaters. Look how Wizards reacted with Winky when they thought Winky had a Wand! A Hundred Wand wheeling House-Elves, they might not fight for Freedom but they'd fight to protect their lives and Hogwarts their Home." ;-) GC

Joanne R. Reid[/b] - Jan 14, 2005 9:13 am (#258 of 735)


I agree with you regarding the relationship between wizard-kind and elf-kind. Elfves appear to have a need to serve and protect magical humans. They consider any attempt to interfere with this as not just a violation of their rights but as a violation of their intrinsic elf-ness.

I think the example of Dobby returning Hedwig is telling. Dobby relates that none of the other elves will enter Gryffindor Tower - not because they fear Hermione's hats, but because they are insulted!

As for elves defending the castle, I'm not sure. We know that an elf can and will defend its family. We have observed Dobby defend Harry. But, in this case, I think I can make the point that Dobby has already accepted Harry as his "master." That is, when Harry comes of age, he need only ask, and Dobby will eagerly join his household.

However, this is a long way from an organized elf army. Hermione's literature search has shown that there is virtually no record of elves doing anything worthy of note. She notes that goblins are certainly capable of acting as a group to defend their interests, while elves don't. Further, it would seem that some wizard in the past would have organized them into an army if it were possible.

Perhaps they would act in defense of the castle if DD required it. However, even then I can see them acting to prevent an assault, but not to defeat a siege or to go onto the offensive.


sere35[/b] - Jan 14, 2005 5:16 pm (#259 of 735)

I don't think it is possible to organize the house elves. I don't think some one has owned enough house-elves or been the master of enough of them to make it worth while. I mean how many house-elves does a average family need. Three at the most and that is stretching it. So a three house-elf army is hardly worth the effort.

On to the Hogwarts house elves. I think they will do anything Dumbledore tells them to.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 14, 2005 8:09 pm (#260 of 735)

sere35, I agree they will probably do what Dumbledore tells them. I cannot see him telling them to create an army and fight. If they offer it may be another thing. I think Dumbledore is well aware of house-elf society and he will not violate it by ordering them to do something they do not choose to do. LPO

Madame Librarian - Jan 14, 2005 8:38 pm (#261 of 735)

Sere, that's an interesting point about how most typical Wizards homes might have at most 3 house-elves. Hogwarts' staff by comparison is huge. It's an opportunity for a more cohesive elf community and calls upon communication and organization. Not that they would ever rebel under normal circumstances, but should a crisis change things radically (or threaten their niche in the society), the framework of cooperation is already in place at Hogwarts.

I also believe that DD would be just the man to gently guide the elves toward a gradually increasing system of self-rule and independence. A little bit of powerful charm work combined with a big chunk of knowing how to get people to do what's best would be his method. Hermione might not be able to pull her S.P.E.W. dreams off, but DD probably could get the ball rolling at least. As LPO pointed out, DD would never force it upon them, or go about it in a way that would offend them.

Ciao. Barb

timrew - Jan 17, 2005 2:02 pm (#262 of 735)

It's something I've mentioned before, but not for a while. It's a shame that the house-elves can't be organised into an army; because I actually think they're more powerful than most wizards.

When Lucius Malfoy is about to launch a curse on Harry, he is blasted down the stairs by Dobby; and he scuttles off with his tail between his legs rather than retaliate.

Dobby can Apparate within Hogwarts grounds. No wizard can do that (except maybe DD).

The Wizard and Witch community should be glad that the house-elves have dedicated themselves to serving them, and haven't decided to become 'free agents'.

Gerald Costales - Jan 19, 2005 8:08 pm (#263 of 735)

"The Wizard and Witch community should be glad that the house-elves have dedicated themselves to serving them, and haven't decided to become 'free agents'." timrew

timrew, I certainly agree with this comment. That being said whose to say when the second war with Voldemort and the Death Eaters breaks that something might happen to shake the Hogwarts' house-elves to the core and spur them eagerly and willingly in action.

Thing big, I believe Voldemort is capable and willing to do something Big in Book 6. ;-) GC

Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 20, 2005 7:00 pm (#264 of 735)

I am sure most people in the Wizarding community do not stop to consider how powerful house-elves are. The mark of a good house-elf is to not be seen. Dobby not only nailed Malfoy but he blocked the portal on platform 9 3/4 and he bewitched a Bludger. Bludgers are supposed to be well protected from tampering. If all house-elves have that kind of magical power they are a force to be considered. If something big happens in book 6 and the house-elves get involved they will turn the tide of the battle. Perhaps they will wake up and find they are strong! LPO

Prefect Marcus[/b] - Jan 20, 2005 9:30 pm (#265 of 735)

LPO - I am sure most people in the Wizarding community do not stop to consider how powerful house-elves are.

Don't be too be sure of that. In every slave-holding society that has every existed, the slave-holders lived in fear of a slavery rebellion.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 21, 2005 7:34 pm (#266 of 735)

Prefect Marcus, how true. We see that in how paranoid the Wizards are about house-elves having wands. house-elves are powerful without wands. I don't think the Wizarding community considers wandless magic a threat. LPO

Solitaire - Jan 22, 2005 12:55 am (#267 of 735)

Lucius may not have considered it a threat before Dobby sent him flying backwards down a flight of stone stairs. Perhaps he has revised his opinion. Dobby almost seemed to have been issuing an ultimatum in the circumstance.


Gerald Costales - Jan 22, 2005 7:07 am (#268 of 735)

Look at the damage one Death Eater did when Wormtail framed Sirius for the murders of James and Lily. Even the Muggle abuse at the end of the Quidditch World Cup will pale to some Terrorist act plotted and executed by Voldemort and his Death Eaters. I believe Voldemort will unleash his fury against both the Wizarding and Muggle world. And what better place to vent his initial fury than Hogwarts.

If Voldemort targets Hogwarts with an act of terror, how can the house-elves not be affected? I believe something will spurn the house-elves into action. While Dumbledore doesn't openly court the house-elves support, Dumbledore will certainly accept any offer of support by his House-Elves. (Or should that read Hogwarts' House-Elves?)

The second war against Voldemort hasn't broken. But when it does I expect some total destruction and the blood to flow indiscriminately. And I doubt house-elves will stand idly by when places and people loved and cherished are torn asunder or killed and maimed. ;-( GC

PS "War is horrible, but slavery is worse" Winston Churchill

The house-elves will not fight for their freedom but they most certainly will fight and protect their Masters' freedom, lives, and property. ;-) GC

Solitaire - Jan 22, 2005 4:53 pm (#269 of 735)

GC: The second war against Voldemort hasn't broken

Gerald, I found the following on Mugglenet's Facts about Book 6 page: The wizarding world is really at war in the sixth book. According to the information at the top of the page ... "These are facts straight from the mouth of J.K. Rowling, and were gathered from numerous online chats and her personal website. Everything here is confirmed."

It sounds to me like the war has broken--or will have broken by the time Book 6 begins.


Gerald Costales - Jan 24, 2005 6:18 am (#270 of 735)

Solitaire. Thanks for the correction.

The point of my recent posts in this thread is that there could be some event that will galvanize the house-elves into action. house-elves are generally passive but look at Neville when the right situation happened at the MoM, Neville reacted with a passion.

house-elves are a force that will be reckon with! ;-) GC

Pleiades Moody[/b] - Jan 31, 2005 9:24 am (#271 of 735)

I would imagine that house elves, out of loyalty to their families would engage in battle to protect them. Winky was willing to put herself at risk to preserve her family and family secrets, she fought the "orders" holding her to the Crouch tent to go after Barty Jr. when he escaped. Dobby seems something of an unusual sort, in acting to save Harry but there may be connections that we do not know of yet. I agree they are very powerful, though Hermione frequently points out that one cannot Apparate or Disapparate on the Hogwarts grounds, Dobby does. How or why could such powerful magical creatures become so suppressed? I have a thought that they traded their freedom for protection in the past, hunted by some greater enemy, or during some conflict between some other group of elves and wizards, going to the wizards and offering service to escape involvement in the conflict, and being industrious and not very independent, found it to their liking, or at least a comfortable acceptance. Hermione will not "free" the house elves. They really are quite happy-home-makers. Even wearing cloths and accepting wages, they will still serve. P

I want to know what secret it is that Dobby keeps about Prof. Dumbledore.....

Solitaire - Jan 31, 2005 11:36 pm (#272 of 735)

Even if they are freed, the ones who free them have to be the ones who have enslaved them ... right? This is why Harry could not free Dobby. Malfoy freed Dobby. Harry simply provided the means and opportunity, and Malfoy played into his hand, so to speak. Harry tricked him into doing it.


Pleiades Moody[/b] - Feb 1, 2005 7:13 pm (#273 of 735)

Oh good thinking! Now how could "all knowing" Hermione have missed that? Unless....could Hermione be considered "part of the school"...and the school employs the elves?....clearly it can't be the original employer, since it's generational. And Kreacher can give his loyalty to any member of the family.......P

Wand Maker - Feb 1, 2005 7:18 pm (#274 of 735)

I was always surprised that Hermione never connected with the fact that she could not free house-elves just by getting them to pick up clothing she left for them.

I think that only the Headmaster has the ability to give an elf clothes.

Archangel - Feb 2, 2005 7:03 am (#275 of 735)
Edited by Feb 2, 2005 7:03 am

Perhaps, Harry will tell her in Book 6...

Or perhaps, she knows that that's the usual case and a special case applies to the house-elves employed by institutions like Hogwarts, MoM, etc.

Since the elf serves the institution, it is bound to follow and serve all the people from that institution (for Hogwarts, its students; for MoM, its employees) and consequently, all people from that institution can liberate the elves should they want to.

I mean, why would the elves be scared of cleaning the Gryffindor rooms if they knew that they can only be freed by the Headmaster?

Steve Newton - Feb 2, 2005 3:50 pm (#276 of 735)

I don't believe that they were scared to clean the Gryffindor rooms. Dobby says that they were insulted.

Wand Maker - Feb 2, 2005 6:20 pm (#277 of 735)

Right Steve.

Ludicrous Patents Office - Feb 2, 2005 7:50 pm (#278 of 735)

I am sure the house-elves know who is doing the knitting. I think Hermione is making more enemies instead of "educating" them to their plight. It will make it even harder for her to talk to any of the House Elves. They have pride and will not be talked down to (pardon the pun). LPO

Solitaire - Feb 4, 2005 9:40 pm (#279 of 735)

I am sure that the elves are given a general kind of freedom to do certain things that are asked of them by students and teachers. However, I cannot see them being given carte blanche to do things of which the Headmaster would not approve. Given the nature of some of the people who have passed through Hogwarts (I'm thinking of Riddle, Umbridge, Malfoy, and Draco), that would not be especially wise of the Head, would it?


T Brightwater - Feb 5, 2005 9:03 am (#280 of 735)

I think the Hogwarts elves have to obey first the Headmaster/mistress and then the teachers (remember Dobby collecting robes for cleaning on Crouch/Moody's request). They will do things for individual students (especially those who show up at the kitchen looking for extra food) but I'm not sure they would take orders from students; I admit it's a rather fine distinction.

Dobby is in an unusual position. He's a free elf working for wages, but voluntarily abides by the usual strictures. When Umbridge usurps the Headship, Dobby's loyalty to Harry definitely takes precedence over Umbridge's orders. I wonder what would happen if DD gave him an order that he believed might put Harry in danger?

Gerald Costales - Feb 5, 2005 9:32 am (#281 of 735)

Just posted this in the HBP thread. I really think it could be placed here. Enjoy. ;-) GC

"Why assume the HBP is a Wizard? Couldn't Dobby be the HBP. Dobby being the HBP could explain Dobby's abnormal need to gain Freedom while all other house-elves are content with serving Wizards and their families." ;-) GC

Solitaire - Feb 5, 2005 3:54 pm (#282 of 735)

I don't really believe anyone is assuming anything about the identity of the HBP. I've seen Dobby, Hagrid, Remus, and a host of others put forth as candidates for the title role. Dobby was one of the first I heard mentioned.


Wand Maker - Feb 5, 2005 7:50 pm (#283 of 735)

house-elves are not automatons. They are sentient beings. As thus, they have a certain amount of free will unless they are specifically forbidden to do, say, or reveal something. As part of their job is to cook food for the staff and students, students coming to the kitchen asking for food could easily be considered as part of their job. Same goes for washing robes. Moody had made a specific request that could be seen as a personal preference (how often are robes washed?)

I don't think that Hermione leaving knitted elf clothing for them would turn them against her at all. They just don't like her intention for leaving the clothes. They probably think of Hermione's intentions the same way that Hermione thinks of their desire to not want to change the status of their station.

Solitaire - Feb 13, 2005 10:28 am (#284 of 735)

The issue of Hermione's attitude toward house-elf freedom just came up again on her thread. Rather than pursue it there, I thought I would address it here.

One thing I find interesting is that the only house-elf we have seen thus far who seemed to DESIRE freedom while still enslaved is Dobby. It was one of the first things he mentioned to Harry in the course of their conversation. Of course, I realize this was probably necessary so that we would understand a bit about house-elves and why they stuck with abusive or evil masters. Still, Kreacher never mentions the desire to be free or have a different home or master.

Winky is positively humiliated to have been "turned out" of the Crouch home. She seems to view being "given clothes" (set free) as even worse than we would view being fired from our jobs. She clearly felt she was an integral part of the Crouch household ... and perhaps she was, since she was actually responsible for keeping Barty Jr. in line. In fact, yesterday when I was reading that part of GoF, a thought struck me about Winky and Barty Jr./Fake Moody.

I realize Winky has been either intoxicated or hung over during most of her tenure at Hogwarts. Is it possible that she never had the occasion to see Fake Moody? If she had, might she have recognized him as Barty Jr., despite the Polyjuice Potion? house-elves certainly do seem to have some extraordinary powers, and I wonder whether the ability to know Barty Jr. in any guise might not be one of them.

I also wonder whether Dumbledore has ever had a serious conversation with Winky since the night of Voldemort's rebirthing. She is now Dumbledore's house-elf, and I believe it is possible that she might well be a mine of information about some of the comings and goings not only of Barty Jr. but other DEs. Who knows who else she could finger. She certainly had plenty to say about Ludo Bagman, and it did not all seem like "old news," did it? She seemed to feel he was still a "bad, dark wizard," which makes me wonder whether he might have come calling on Barty Jr. more recently. I hope Dumbledore has a little talk with Winky in Book 6. I bet she has a lot to say!


Solitaire - Feb 13, 2005 11:10 am (#285 of 735)

Oops! I forgot to address the Hermione issue which led to my above tirade. I have to agree with Mandy that Hermione is not really prejudiced but rather misguided. In her all-consuming passion to free the house-elves, she has not bothered to ask any of them if they want to be free! Some certainly do not. Even in true slavery situations, there are always going to be some who prefer to stay where they are rather than gain their freedom. The Bible addresses this issue in Exodus 21 and makes provision for the one who chooses to remain a slave; he must have his ear pierced through with an awl, as a mark that he has chosen to remain a slave indefinitely. Perhaps those with benevolent masters would choose this option; it might seem better to them than an uncertain alternative.

Remember that, after he was free, Dobby could not find employment because he wanted wages ("That's not the point of a house-elf"). This is why he came to Hogwarts. Dobby certainly had freedom on his mind from the get-go and actually seems to get the concept of freedom. He doesn't mind the work; in fact, he likes it. I suppose he just wants to be free to choose WHICH Wizards he serves, to wear clothes, and to receive wages.

Of course, Winky considers his attitudes and behavior to be disgraceful. She does not yet understand the concept of freedom ... and perhaps she never will. The other Hogwarts elves sort of back away from him when he talks about freedom, "as though he were carrying something contagious." I rather think the Hogwarts elves will be a difficult lot to convince, since no one is probably ever mean to them. They probably love Dumbledore and Hogwarts and wouldn't leave given the choice. (Actually, this makes me wonder how they did with Dolores Umbridge ... how did she treat them?)

Hermione needs to talk to Dumbledore about the Elves and see what he has to say on the subject. I am surprised she has not yet done this.


Gerald Costales - Feb 13, 2005 11:11 am (#286 of 735)

This is also a post about Hermione's attitude toward House-Elves. And not a response to Solitaire's posts #284 & #285.

I believe Hermione's misguided attitudes for house-elves is similar to Dumbledore's attitudes. Though Dumbledore doesn't openly advocate freedom for House-Elves, he has hired a freed Dobby (a very radical and liberal attitude) and sheltered an abandoned Winky (a sympathetic and generous attitude, that could prove dangerous).

Winky has only a marginal loyalty to Dumbledore. And if approached by a Kreacher-like house-elf , could Winky become a rouge and master less house-elf ? At present, she sits drunk on butterbeer and seems harmless. But even a drunk can prove dangerous and deadly (think drunk driver). And it would take only a small amount of convincing to have Winky willing or unwilling do a task to harm (think suicide bomber) or help undermine Dumbledore, Harry, etc. Also, a drunk can unknowingly provide useful information (loose lips sink ships).

If Hermione wants to help House-Elves, Hermione should start by reforming and drying out a drunk Winky. But, I don’t see Hermione taking the time to help Winky. Nor do I see Winky being too important to the main storyline. But, the issue of the relationship between Wizards and house-elves I believe will come to a head in Book 6. If there are more house-elves like Dobby and more Wizards/Witches like Dumbledore, the choice of supporting the MoM or Voldemort could be important.

Look at the American Civil War both slaves and slave owners had to choose sides. This Second War between the Government and Voldemort is a Civil War. I’m hoping more house-elves like Dobby reject the past and finally stand up for themselves. What will it take for house-elves to reject servitude? I really don’t know. But, who is the Half-Blood Prince? Could he be the one that rallies the house-elves for freedom? Only Book 6 can answer these questions. ;-) GC

PS Solitaire, I have been reading the Hermione thread too. ;-) GC

PPS This post is influenced by the -Is Dobby a Communist?- by Morag Traynor essay featured on the "What's New" section of the Lexicon. ;-) GC

Solitaire - Feb 13, 2005 7:21 pm (#287 of 735)

Is Dobby a Communist? Hm ... never thought about it! He just seems like an intelligent house-elf who somehow managed to rise above the servitude to which he was consigned and either acquire or develop a strong set of positive personal values--something which can't have been easy in the Malfoy household (never having seen them from his masters). Then again, perhaps his positive values come from observing their opposites in the Malfoy family.

I agree that Winky's continued allegiance to the Crouch family could prove problematic. Right now, the only remaining Crouch is Barty Jr., who has been soul-sucked and is in Azkaban. I'm sure Winky feels responsible for this, a contributing factor to her butterbeer addiction. If an evil Wizard or elf (aka Kreacher) got hold of her, it is possible that he could convince her that she could regain her lost dignity and reputation among other elves if she would only _________ (fill in the blank with some treasonous action against Dumbledore).

I, too, believe the house-elves are going to prove an important force in the War. There are too many of them not to be important. The question is, which side will they serve? Is it fair to expect them all to choose "the same side"? I think we must accept that some house-elves are and will remain wicked, just as some Wizards are wicked. Some elves will serve Voldemort, and some will work against him, on the side of good.


Gerald Costales - Feb 14, 2005 2:25 pm (#288 of 735)

"The question is, which side will they serve? Is it fair to expect them all to choose "the same side"? I think we must accept that some house-elves are and will remain wicked, just as some Wizards are wicked. Some elves will serve Voldemort, and some will work against him, on the side of good." Solitaire

Solitaire, as always excellent points. We only have three house-elves to base our knowledge of their race (hope that was a good choice of wording "race"). Kreacher serves a dead mistress, Winky mourns her former masters (and is a drunk), and Dobby. If Dobby is a normal house-elf maybe there will be more house-elves than you think joining Dumbledore (the Good Guys).

The Hogwarts house-elves are extremely happy. But, they serve Dumbledore not the Malfoys or Blacks. I've raised the question before as to why Hogwarts has so many house-elves? I could dredge up some old arguments I've already made in old posts, but I'm more interested to what others think. ;-) GC

T Brightwater - Feb 14, 2005 3:48 pm (#289 of 735)

If you consider that house-elves apparently do all the laundry, make the beds, lay the fires(and presumably sweep the chimneys), keep the bathrooms stocked with towels, cook and serve all the meals (and extras) and wash up afterwards, and clean the student and common rooms for all the dorms, besides running errands for the teachers...well, a hundred house-elves seems like almost enough. Filch seems to be responsible for the corridors and at least some of the schoolrooms, but it's possible some of the house-elves help out there, too.

Maybe the house-elf Relocation Office sends house-elves to Hogwarts if they don't want to be assigned to another family when the last member of their original family dies....oh, mercy, in that case Kreacher could end up at Hogwarts, couldn't he?

Solitaire - Feb 15, 2005 1:17 am (#290 of 735)

A frightening thought, Brightwater! Then again, perhaps Dumbledore could win him over. I can't think of anyone else who could.


Steve Newton - Feb 15, 2005 6:09 am (#291 of 735)

Somehow, I think that there is a wall in Kreacher's very near future. His continued existence seems to put many complications into the story.

Madame Librarian - Feb 15, 2005 8:06 am (#292 of 735)

Remember at the end of OoP, DD found out why things all went awry with communications between Harry, Sirius and Lupin? It was Kreacher's doing. So, DD is fully aware of the little elf's treachery. If he was on staff at Hogwarts, I can't believe that DD would just let him have the run of the place.

Unless that ancient elf magic includes something akin to the Polyjuice potion that would get Kreacher down in the kitchens as a Winky look-alike or some such thing. This would be something Bella and Narcissa had cooked up earlier. You know, it would be like this:

"In the case of ______'s arrest, Kreacher shall become house-elf in disguise to Hogwarts. The more closely he can serve DD himself, the better."

Ciao. Barb

T Brightwater - Feb 15, 2005 11:51 am (#293 of 735)

Dumbledore's a great one for giving second chances, though...

Solitaire - Feb 15, 2005 11:03 pm (#294 of 735)

I'm not sure Dumbledore would give a second chance here. He has already seen the results of Kreacher's treachery to both Buckbeak and Sirius ... and by extension, Harry.

Joanne R. Reid - Feb 16, 2005 11:20 am (#295 of 735)

I agree that Kreacher is a huge problem and one that must be resolved.

Let's consider what we know:

1. He is devoted to the Black Family.

2. He believes in the dogma of Blood Purity.

3. He is proud to be a part of that Pure Blood society.

4. He considers himself to be a guardian (a Dewar) of the Black family's heritage.

5. He no longer has an owner, other than the raving picture of Mrs. Black.

6. He knows everything there is to know about everything that was said or done at 12GP.

7. He has already shown greater loyalty toward Narcissa (Black) Malfoy than he had toward Sirius.

8. He will not be loyal to anyone other than the true heir of the Black's, who at this time is Narcissa Malfoy.

9. He represents a clear and present danger to the WW in general, the Order of the Phoenix, DD, HP and the DA.

10. He is the obvious choice as a spy for LV and the DEs.

I don't know if DD, et al, will kill Kreacher. Obviously, they should. However, I doubt they will. Hermione would go berserk. Neither Ron nor Harry would condone it. DD would be dead set against it. And, this book is being read by children, too.

Yet, this, once again, emphasizes the role of the house-elf in these stories. Dobby, Winky and Kreacher are three small cogs in a gigantic wheel. Yet, they and their kind are as intrinsically important to this story as are DD, LV and Harry.

Accio, Half-Blood Prince!


MickeyCee3948 - Feb 16, 2005 7:11 pm (#296 of 735)

A simple Obliviate charm or send him to Azkaban with Lucius. I guess sending him to prison wouldn't work as the order would have to admit that they knew about Sirius for more than a year and would have to admit where #12 is so a nice charm seems to be the real fix.


Madame Librarian - Feb 16, 2005 7:57 pm (#297 of 735)

A part of me thinks that Hermione is especially vulnerable here. Kreacher runs from 12GP, fearing reprisals from the Order or Harry himself. He remembers Hermione's sympathetic mewling from when she visited the house. He seeks her help. She agrees out of pity to hide him, and, of course, wretch that he is, he takes advantage of this by spying on what's happening at Hogwarts. I hope this is not the case, but it has crossed my mind that Hermione's blind attitude towards the house-elves will turn out to be a major problem.

On the other hand, this could be just the thing--learning of Kreacher's treachery--that shows Hermione how badly she's handled the whole S.P.E.W. thing, and how risky it was to meddle in areas not well understood. Even experienced Wizards seem oddly ignorant of the house-elf culture, power and desires, so it was foolish for a young Muggle-born to imagine she could "fix" the system so easily.

As usual, I argue both ways all by myself. Good night, all.

Ciao. Barb

T Brightwater - Feb 18, 2005 5:56 am (#298 of 735)

I can't imagine Kreacher taking shelter with Hermione - wouldn't it be beneath his dignity? However, I can see a shouting match brewing between her and Harry, if she doesn't know yet that Kreacher betrayed Sirius.

Hermione's attitude towards house-elves is just prejudice in disguise - she doesn't really see them as individuals who differ considerably from one another.

[Barb, are you a Libra by any chance? :-) ]

Ludicrous Patents Office - Feb 18, 2005 4:13 pm (#299 of 735)

Remember how shocked Hermione was when they found Bella's picture in Kreacher's den? I don't think she would shelter him. Barb I agree Hermione's blind spot may cause some problems later. I'm not sure she would go so far as to protect Kreacher. LPO

Madame Librarian - Feb 18, 2005 6:34 pm (#300 of 735)

Well, maybe not shelter him, but I can see a knee-jerk reaction to help him get away or something. Ah, well, not likely, I think.

(T, nope--Aquarius. In fact today's the day. Do Libras take both sides in an argument? Oh...duh...I guess as the sign for the scales of justice, etc. they'd be prone to do that.)

Ciao. Barb

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #301 - #350)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:56 pm

Gerald Costales - Feb 19, 2005 5:49 am (#301 of 735)

(Re: post# 295)

"Yet, this, once again, emphasizes the role of the house-elf in these stories. Dobby, Winky and Kreacher are three small cogs in a gigantic wheel. Yet, they and their kind are as intrinsically important to this story as are DD, LV and Harry." Joanne R. Reid

Of the three House-Elves, I believe Dobby thus far has proved to be the most important. Dobby was willing to risk torture and possibly death to help Harry in CoS. Dobby again returned in GoF to help Harry in the Triwizard Tournament. Also since GoF, Dobby has been working at Hogwarts. And Dobby knows secrets about the Malfoys. But whether those secrets are important and if Dobby reveals them should soon hopefully be known in either books 6 or 7. (I suspect that Dobby could and would teach Harry "Wandless Magic". I also believe "Wandless Magic" maybe needed to finally defeat Voldemort.)

Winky knows the secrets of the Crouches. And with their deaths will Winky ever reveal them? I suspect Winky's loyalty to Dumbledore and Hogwarts. Especially if Winky remains a Drunk that mourns the deaths of her Masters and the end of the Crouch family. A Sober Winky, that finally accepts the Crouches passing and moves on, could be an asset to Hogwarts. But, I doubt Winky will have a major role in last two books.

Finally Kreacher will be the house-elf that could side with Voldemort and the Death Eaters. With the death of Sirius, I doubt Kreacher will queue up at the house-elf Relocation Office to inquire about being placed with another Wizard family. (Would Molly even want Kreacher? I think the Weasleys would be more than happy with their ghoul in the attic than take in a free but masterless house-elf.) As a masterless house-elf, can Kreacher just chose a new Master? Kreacher choice of a new Master could be important. I suspect Kreacher would be more than willing to pledge his loyalty to Narcissa (Black) Malfoy. Kreacher would then reveals the Black’s family secrets to Narcissa and the Malfoys. (In that case, I suspect there maybe some Black family secrets or artifacts that should prove dangerous to Harry, Dumbledore, the Order, etc. Remember the odd items that were in 12GP. Kreacher could have saved something lethal from the items being tossed into the dustbin. I doubt Kreacher was just happy snogging his death Master's slippers.)

Kreacher is evil and would more than likely harm Muggles, Mud-bloods, Half-breeds, etc if given the chance. I could see Dobby and Kreacher in a house-elf showdown. Dobby maybe younger but Kreacher would fight dirty. ;-) GC

Madame Librarian - Feb 19, 2005 7:07 am (#302 of 735)

To continue the house-elf analysis above:

The three Elves we have met close up represent three different Elf-Wizard relationships. Dobby is a good sort who though legally (magically?) bound to his family, abhors their philosophy and covert actions. We can only imagine what standing laws he broke and risks he took to help Harry.

Winky, again a good, but pitiable sort (so far) stands by her master no matter what, and does not question activities that she may (and may not) recognize as wrong. Though she followed orders from the junior master and thereby broke internal family laws, she generally maintained her subservient place.

Kreacher, the polar opposite of Dobby, sees the Black family for what they are and whole heartedly supports them to what extent we can only guess. (Will he become a renegade and act without a master against the OoP? Time will tell. Not quite the point I'm aiming at here, but an interesting question nonetheless.)

So three "categories" of Elf, each offering possible clues as to how the larger population of Elves will position themselves in the big conflict tell us very clearly, I think, that we should not expect a unified group response here. Symbolically the three Elves we know up close could be hinting at how the three factions of Elf society align themselves in the future.

Ciao. Barb

Solitaire - Feb 19, 2005 6:01 pm (#303 of 735)

Is it possible that Obliviate! does not work on house-elves? They have their own powerful magic that is different from Wizard magic. Could they also be immune in some way to certain Wizard spells? I ask, because Obliviate! seems way too obvious a way to fix the "Kreacher problem"--yet it has not been used.

I agree that the house-elves represent different ways of thinking. Winky, for example, represents blind allegiance. She stays loyal to the family she loves, despite the fact that they do many illegal things. Substituting Mrs. C in Azkaban and springing Barty, Jr., constitute a HUGE betrayal of public trust by a ministry official. So does continuing to conceal Barty, Jr., at home, with an elf to keep an eye on him. By trusting a house-elf to keep Barty, Jr.--the illegally escaped son Mr. C fully believes to be a DE--in check, Crouch really drops the ball on his responsibilities.

Winky's actions with regard to Barty really do set the stage for his father's murder and Voldemort's rebirth and return to power. Instead of lamenting the misfortune of father and son, she needs to look at the role she played in what ultimately became of them. But perhaps that is why she drinks ... to forget it.

Kreacher is a case of the servant being as evil as the master. He has been warped by generations in his Dark Wizard family, and he is also insane, IMO. I think his days may be numbered--but not before he brings down even more Order members.

Dobby seems to be the most enlightened house-elf we have seen. Are there others like him? As evil as Lucius is, he is smart, and perhaps that intelligence helps to account for a smart house-elf. However it happened, Dobby seems to have an innate sense of right and wrong, of good and evil. Intellectually, he knows he is bound to the Malfoys; emotionally, he seems unwilling to allow evil to hurt those he esteems, if he can prevent it--even if it results in his own suffering at the hand of his master. Appropriately, Dobby's willingness to put his own comfort last leads to his becoming free.

It's kind of funny when you think of it ... Dobby, Harry, Hagrid, Remus--all three put their own needs and necks aside when it comes to protecting others.


T Brightwater - Feb 19, 2005 9:21 pm (#304 of 735)

"It's kind of funny when you think of it ... Dobby, Harry, Hagrid, Remus--all three put their own needs and necks aside when it comes to protecting others."

And all [four] of them are misfits in one way or another.

dizzy lizzy - Feb 19, 2005 10:05 pm (#305 of 735)

And in some way they all recognise they are misfits to a extent. But it hasn't stopped them from doing what is right.


Madame Librarian - Feb 20, 2005 8:26 am (#306 of 735)

Three of the four have BIG secrets (or had). Dobby=breaking family loyalty; Hagrid=giant mother; Remus=werewolf. Harry's secret? Does he have one really? Would getting Voldemort into his head at various occasions qualify? Not sure. Interesting question, but, alas, not for this thread. Sorry for the OT drift.

Ciao. Barb

Ludicrous Patents Office - Feb 23, 2005 7:21 pm (#307 of 735)

"...Life has improved for my kind since you triumphed over He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Harry Potter survived, and the Dark Lord's power was broken, and it was a new dawn, sir, and Harry Potter shone like a beacon of hope for those of us who thought the Dark days would never end,..." CoS p. 178 Scholastic Hardbound. Dobby is a misfit but he is speaking for his race in CoS. I hope that means that most of the house-elves will support Harry. They would not see a return to the days when the Dark Lord was powerful. LPO

T Brightwater - Feb 24, 2005 6:19 am (#308 of 735)

I wonder, how much do house-elves actually communicate with each other? If Dobby was aware of other house-elves' situations, that implies that there is some sort of communications network that can be tapped into - and perhaps DD has already done it.

It's also possible that Dobby is a revolutionary cell of one (a bit like Terry Pratchett's Reg Shoe in - Night Watch- ) and was simply assuming that all other house-elves were treated as badly as he was.

Solitaire - Feb 24, 2005 10:18 pm (#309 of 735)

I don't know, Brightwater ... I tend to think of Dobby as fairly bright and aware among the house-elf set. In GoF, Dobby went to visit Winky (either he knew where to find her, or he went to the Crouch house and was "redirected") and discovered she had been fired. It sounds like he gets around!

It is possible that the kind of treatment Dobby got was fairly standard, and that Winky was the exception in having so much of Barty Sr.'s confidence. It sounds like she was probably the family's secret-keeper ... or am I woefully off here? Even bad treatment could still be better than the Malfoys.

We really do not know how Kreacher was treated by the Blacks in general, because we never saw him with any of the Blacks other than Sirius--who hated them and him--and he was old and insane by this time. The fact that they were all beheaded does not bode well for their treatment of House-Elves, however, if you ask me.


ruthlesspenguin - Feb 26, 2005 4:32 pm (#310 of 735)

When Dobby visits Harry in the hospital wing he describes what life was like when Voldemort was in power.

'We house-elves were treated like vermin, sir! Of course Dobby is still treated like that, sir, ... But mostly, sir, life has improved for my kind since you triumphed over He Who Must Not Be Named.' (The Rogue Bludger, CoS)

While Dobby may be assuming the experiences of a small number of elves are typical of their race in general, I think the reference to elves whose life has improved implies he is not speaking solely from his own experiences.

I have also wondered why elves were treated worse when Voldemort was in power and by whom.

If it was Death Eaters who found they enjoyed inflicting pain, why would they stop once Voldemort was defeated? If it becomes unwise to torture Muggles and Mudbloods, why not compensate by turning on you house-elf, who, as far as we know, has no way of complaining?

It is possible that normal wizarding families, who were enduring great suffering, were taking this out on the house-elves, unaware of any losses they may also have suffered from Voldemort. However this does not seem to fit with Dobby's statement they were treated like vermin. Surely Dobby could sympathise with families who were afraid/grieving for relatives that would be/had been murdered.


Solitaire - Feb 26, 2005 11:50 pm (#311 of 735)

If it is mostly old, pure-blood wizarding families who have house-elves, is it fair to assume that the larger percentage of such families would hold sympathies like the Malfoys rather than the Weasleys? Just wondering ...

If it is so, then it is understandable that Dobby would believe most house-elves are treated about like he is. Supposing, however, such old families to be more like the Weasleys than the Malfoys, perhaps more of them were killed during the last war ... and maybe some of their elves fled to Hogwarts and the safety of Dumbledore's protection???????? Just a thought ...


Mellilot Flower. - Mar 6, 2005 8:18 am (#312 of 735)

Most house-elves live with old wizarding families, but just think of the different wizarding families we've seen that we know owned house elves; The Malfoys who mistreated Dobby and used him as a plaything and made him think that he deserved to be punished all the time, probably delighting in his pain. Then there's the Crouch's who similarly seem to have a blind spot when it comes to peoples and creatures feelings, though Winky did seem to be treated with some respect so long as she brought the family respect. Finally we come to the Blacks, and we see similar devotion in Kreacher as in Winky, only more, um, sickly and perhaps less wisely placed.

Hm, something has just occurred to me - we have never heard any mention of Dobby's parents, have we?? Both Winky and Kreacher have mentioned their ancestors and the fact that they have worked for their respective families for as long as can be remembered. But Dobby's parents or ancestors have not been mentioned (if I'm right) this might suggest that the Malfoys have only just recently acquired a house-elf in their service, and Dobby's parents did not work for the Malfoys... Which in turn might suggest that the Malfoys are new money... that they haven't always been as rich as they are now. This might be why they hate the Weasleys so much, because they used to be like that. Sorry, I'm probably stretching things a little too far, so where was I?

Ah, yes - it seems to me like house-elves are generally happy with their families, no matter how they are treated. They were perhaps happy with the way they were treated during Voldemort's reign, and only Dobby has seen that it was bad then...

Wendelin the Weird - Mar 6, 2005 12:51 pm (#313 of 735)

Although I have read this thread before months ago, I don’t recall anyone else asking this question. How is it that no one can find Harry at #4 Privet Drive (in theory) yet Dobby, (a Malfoy house-elf no less!) waltzes right into his bedroom like it was nothing?!

Does this mean that either Dumbledore gave him permission to go there, or do you think maybe the charm only works to guard him against anyone who means to do him harm, or is it that house-elves powers are strong enough to get past whatever protective charms are in place to guard Harry?

I find this very befuddling... Is it just me? Am I missing something very obvious?

Steve Newton - Mar 6, 2005 1:37 pm (#314 of 735)

Wendelin, I don't think that anyone has uncovered any evidence that 4 Privet Drive is protected by a Fidelius Charm. So it is not surprising that Dobby can get there.

Pleiades Moody[/b] - Mar 6, 2005 2:05 pm (#315 of 735)

"""""'Just posted this in the HBP thread. I really think it could be placed here. Enjoy. ;-) GC

"Why assume the HBP is a Wizard? Couldn't Dobby be the HBP. Dobby being the HBP could explain Dobby's abnormal need to gain Freedom while all other house-elves are content with serving Wizards and their families." ;-) GC """"""" No Wendelin, I don't th9ink you've anything, you've got it right, house-elves have powers beyond many wizards. Dobby Apparates and Disapparate in Hogwarts, after blasting LM....it will be interesting to see what else they can do.....I wonder if other elves will "deal" with Kreacher for bringing about the death of the last of his "House", I wonder if they police their own, I'd bet they do......P

Wendelin the Weird - Mar 6, 2005 2:41 pm (#316 of 735)

So Steve, are you saying that Dumbledore wouldn't consider that Malfoy or Lord Voldemort could send a servant like Dobby to harm Harry in some way? I guess I just assumed that if Dobby could find Harry then Malfoy could find out where Harry was. I think you mean that the protection isn’t about where he is (Fidelius Charm), but just that he has to be near Petunia? I just assumed that there would have been more efforts to get him at Privet Drive if that were the case, but then again... I guess it would explain the cats watching for him to leave #4. It seems they would have more guards up for people coming in as well though.

And I agree, I think much of it has to do with house-elves having magic that goes beyond the scope of what the Ministry can regulate. They can take their security from them for acting up, but somehow it doesn’t seem that the Ministry is aware that Dobby (not Harry)cast the Hover Charm. Very interesting indeed.

I agree too about policing their own. They seem so tied to tradition and look down on any house-elves that break it.

Steve Newton - Mar 6, 2005 6:01 pm (#317 of 735)

Wendelin, there is some protection from harm but Harry seems to be eminently findable. Think Dementors.

Of course, it certainly looked as if Harry was about to be harmed. But, he also was able to do the Lumos charm without holding his wand. More thought needed.

Mellilot Flower. - Mar 7, 2005 1:58 am (#318 of 735)

Voldemort knows where Harry lives, it’s just that he can't break through the protections (I'm thinking GoF speech here). We're not sure what the nature of the protection is though, it could be specifically the Dark Lord who can't access Harry, or it could be all of those that have sworn alliegance to him. Or perhaps all those intent on doing him harm... we don't know (if it was all those intent on harm I think that Dementors would get around this because of something fundamental about what they are). We know that Dobby is strong, we also know that most people think that house-elves can't leave their homes, I think we can safely say that Dobby is good at getting around silly clauses in magic.

Solitaire - Mar 7, 2005 11:23 am (#319 of 735)

Harry does seem to be pretty generally accessible. How can we forget Mr. Weasley connecting the Dursleys’ fireplace to the floo network? The Advance Guard also knew exactly where to find Harry ... although Dumbledore would have given them instructions, even if there were a Fidelius Charm in place. I think there must be additional protections "of which we know not."


Wendelin the Weird - Mar 9, 2005 8:18 pm (#320 of 735)

Yeah, I was also thinking of how Kreacher manages to get to Bellatrix against Sirius' will similar to how Dobby gets free of the Malfoys.

The funny thing about Dobby's behavior is that when he is doing something he shouldn’t or saying something he shouldn’t he gets violent on himself, yet much of the time he visits Harry in CoS he isn’t beating himself up. I'm just wondering if he wasn’t actually on orders to be there from the Malfoys.

Could Malfoy have sent Dobby to prevent Harry from returning so he could get Riddle's diary into the right hands and have the dark lord return to power without Harry meddling? He isn’t banging his head when he tells Harry he must not return. He also isn’t banging his head mostly when at Hogwarts bewitching the Bludger (again, one of Malfoy's orders?)

Maybe not all of his actions we of his own will after all?

pottermom34 - Mar 9, 2005 8:31 pm (#321 of 735)

I don't think Dobby was there on Malfoy's orders, if he were he wouldn't have defended Harry when Malfoy pulled his wand on Harry after Harry freed him.

Wendelin the Weird - Mar 9, 2005 8:37 pm (#322 of 735)

But when he defended Harry he was no longer under Malfoy's employ. House-elves are bound to do their masters' bidding when in their employ, although they can fight it apparently.

I’m just picturing Dobby wanting to follow orders yet tweaking them a bit to his own liking. Kind of like Crouch Sr. fighting the Imperious Curse, Dobby could fight it some of the time but not always. He never did anything to Harry that he didn’t think was for his own good, but still he was on orders. Don’t know if that makes sense to anyone or not.

The other question though is whether they are bound to the family by magic or house-elf honor. If only by honor then I could see Dobby heading his own way - if they are bound by something similar to the Imperious Curse than it seems that Dobby is all the stronger than many others of his kind.

Albus Silente - Mar 10, 2005 12:54 am (#323 of 735)

The funny thing about Dobby's behavior is that when he is doing something he shouldn’t or saying something he shouldn’t he gets violent on himself, yet much of the time he visits Harry in CoS he isn't beating himself up. I’m just wondering if he wasn’t actually on orders to be there from the Malfoys.

Sorry, but I remember that he tried to beat himself up quite often.

1) Sit down-> being treated like an equal: Dobby burst in tears (ok, that's not punishing)

2) "No decent wizards": Dobby bangs his head furiously on the window shouting bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!

3) "Do they know where you are?": Dobby will have to punish himself afterwards (explanation why, what house-elves are and that his masters remind him to do extra punishments)

4) Harry asks if he can help: Dobby solves yet again into tears

5) Harry asks who is plotting: Dobby bangs his head madly against the wall

6) Talking about Dumbledore "there are powers Dumbledore doesn't ... powers no decent wizard...": Dobby hits himself with Harry's lamp.

In my opinion, these are quite a lot of auto-punishments for Dobby, every time he speaks ill of "his family" and every time he gets to near to saying something "useful" to Harry. If it was a Malfoy-plot to send Dobby to Harry, then they would have told Dobby the things to tell more clearly. But that's just my opinion.

Mellilot Flower. - Mar 10, 2005 3:18 am (#324 of 735)

I don't think that Harry was necessary to Malfoy’s plans, I really doubt that Malfoy could have guessed that one of the main things Ginny would talk about in the Diary would be Harry because of her crush on him. And I doubt he could have predicted that the Tom Riddle memory would have thirsted so much to meet Harry. As far as Malfoy was concerned Harry could go hang and get on with whatever meddlesome things boys get up to. As such he would not have forbidden Dobby to go and talk to Harry, other than forbidding him to tell anyone of the plans. This is why we see him auto-punishing whenever about to speak of his family, or when telling more of the plans than is perhaps deemed somehow okay. But he doesn't need to punish himself when trying to protect Harry because he hasn't been told not to.

Choices - May 1, 2005 10:34 am (#325 of 735)

Have you ever thought about the possibility that Dobby is part goblin? Dobby seems to have features that other house-elves don't have - the long pointed nose, long feet and long fingers. Winky has a nose that looks like a large "tomato". Goblins have long pointed noses and long fingers. Then there is Dobby's uncharacteristic desire for freedom, getting paid and wearing clothes - all the other house-elves are ashamed of him. Winky says in GOF that if Dobby keeps on with his odd beliefs about getting paid and being free, that he will end up being brought up before the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures "like a common goblin". So, what do you think....could Dobby be part goblin?

T Brightwater - May 2, 2005 6:32 am (#326 of 735)

It's possible, but considering that we've got detailed descriptions of only three house-elves, and those three are quite dissimilar in character as well as appearance, I don't know that we have enough idea of what constitutes "normal" for a house-elf. Jo makes the point many times that it isn't a person's ancestry but his choices that make him what he is.

Solitaire - May 10, 2005 3:25 pm (#327 of 735)
Edited May 10, 2005 4:28 pm

In responding to a post on the DA thread, I brought up Hermione and the house-elves, so I thought I'd continue my train of thought over here, where it belongs.

I wonder if Dumbledore ever has heart-to-heart talks with any student besides Harry. What are your thoughts? The reason I ask is that someone suggested he may have talked privately to Hermione about certain issues concerning Harry. I definitely believe he needs to talk with her about her involvement in the house-elves' liberation.

Because of the precarious nature of things in the magical world at the moment, it is important not to alienate those who could be critical allies in the War against Voldemort and his forces. I would hate to see Hermione put her foot in things to the point where she managed to alienate the Elves.

Hermione needs to be shown that by insisting house-elves would like freedom and wages if they understood the concepts, she is--however unintentionally--implying that they are lacking in understanding. She is also putting them in the disrespectful position of criticizing their masters if they suggest that they would like their freedom.

Although Dobby seems to be a bit of an anomaly among house-elves, is it possible that there are more like him out there? Then again, perhaps he became aware of a disparity of treatment among house-elves, because the Malfoys took him along on their travels, and he had the opportunity to see that not all families abuse their House-Elves. While Winky left the Crouches in disgrace, it is obvious that she had been considered--and seemed to consider herself--an important part of that family. She was trusted with some pretty important responsibilities ... and I suspect she knows rather a lot about what was going on behind the scene. She seemed to have adored her family, and she sees herself as needing to keep their secrets long after all three of them have died. I wonder if Dumbledore has talked to her yet.

I suppose the bottom line is that, while her intent is certainly admirable, I feel Hermione is displaying rather a lack of respect for the house-elves. I hope she wises up before it is too late.


Choices - May 10, 2005 5:52 pm (#328 of 735)

I think the only student we have heard say he was in Dumbledore's office is Terry Boot - he mentioned being in there and said a portrait told him about Harry killing the basilisk with Gryffindor's sword. He is the only student, other than Harry and Ron, that I know has been in the office (Ron was there with Harry, not alone). What Boot was there for I don't know, since he doesn't say, but it would appear he was there alone. I just have a feeling that if Hermione had gone to Dumbledore's office for a chat, she would have mentioned it. I am not overlooking the fact that Luna, Neville, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Marietta, etc. were there after being caught at the DA meeting, but they were not there for a private chat with the headmaster.

Joanne R. Reid - May 11, 2005 8:39 am (#329 of 735)

Hi, Solitaire,

My guess is that DD doesn't have these heart-to-hearts with many students. Obviously, it would be impossible from both a pragmatic side and from a personal side.

I'm sure we can all remember being "called to the office" for even the most trivial or benign reasons. Regardless it was a traumatic event. My first, last and only thought was to get out of there as quickly as possible! At that age, I couldn’t imagine revealing my thoughts to a teacher or principal. And, for a Hogwarts student to reveal them to the foremost wizard of his age? No way!

So, DD would have to initiate such a discussion. But, to do so would mean that something really important had come to his attention and that it required his direct and immediate intervention. So far, Hermione has only played around the edges and has not caused any damage. Dobby has intercepted all the hats, scarves, etc. Hermione has not gone into the kitchens to advocate her position. She has not taken advantage of her relationships to interfere with Dobby, Winky or Kreacher.

My guess is that DD is sitting back, watching. He's doing what he always does. He's letting his students learn in a protective environment, while not interfering with their growth.


Ludicrous Patents Office - May 11, 2005 5:04 pm (#330 of 735)

I think Dumbledore has talked to Hermione but about different things. I agree with Joanne that the issue has not become a major problem yet. Sometimes the best lessons are learned the hard way. Dumbledore may be perfectly comfortable with letting the house-elves teach Hermione. I think him stepping in would be an insult to the House Elves. LPO

Solitaire - May 14, 2005 3:03 pm (#331 of 735)

I just reread the section of OotP where Dobby tells Harry that the other elves are insulted by the clothing being left around the Gryffindor Common room and refuse to clean it anymore. Hermione needs to know this information, and she must hear it from someone whose opinion she respects. She may not have made any major trouble to this point, but things in the WW are changing.

I do not believe Hermione will take seriously anything Harry or even Dobby or the elves themselves say to her. She will just think she knows better and continue on her way. I love Hermione and think she is a pretty insightful character most of the time. She does, however, seem to have a HUGE blind spot in this particular area. I believe any teaching or correction in this area must come from either Dumbledore or McGonagall, two Wizards whom she respects enormously.


T Brightwater - May 15, 2005 5:49 am (#332 of 735)

You'd think she'd have listened to Hagrid, but she didn't, at least not to the point of changing her mind. But you're right, Solitaire; I doubt she could dismiss anything she heard from Dumbledore or McGonagall as being just prejudice talking.

Miriam Huber - May 15, 2005 8:27 am (#333 of 735)
Edited May 15, 2005 9:29 am

But do you really think Hermione’s idea is COMPLETELY rubbish?

I mean, the way she puts it into action of course is (and typical for a teenager, isn’t it?). But don’t you think house-elves are mistreated? Yes, they like it. But isn’t that also a question of - not brainwashing, no! - but education? If you have learned that the ideal of a house-elf is to work hard, never speak ill of your masters, get no pay and no proper clothes, not to be seen and punish yourself for your mistakes, I think it rather normal that you won’t listen to Hermione.

But weren’t there ever in history slaves who didn’t want to be freed? Of course, if the individual is happy with that, be careful not to "force him to be free". But looking on the house-elves in general, isn’t it time for wizards to change their behaviour?

I am proud to add that I seem to have Dumbledore on my side (especially his comment about the Fountain of Magical Brethren who told a lie)

GryffEndora - May 15, 2005 9:06 am (#334 of 735)
Edited May 15, 2005 10:06 am

Miriam Huber - I agree with you. Hermione's intentions are noble but her methods are seriously misguided. By not bothering to find out what the house-elves want, like and need, by not opening up a dialogue with them about their role in wizard society and what they might like to do to improve that role, she is disrespecting them just as much as other oppressors who are telling them how to behave.

Solitaire - May 15, 2005 9:13 am (#335 of 735)
Edited May 15, 2005 10:17 am

Miriam, I do not know whether all house-elves are mistreated or not. Those at Hogwarts seem to be happy enough. They also seem to be allowed to choose whether or not they will "serve" certain people without repercussion (consider those who refuse to work in Gryffindor). house-elves who serve masters like the Malfoys are probably unhappy and mistreated; or else they are insane, like Kreacher, from years of mistreatment and living in a dark environment.

There were indeed slaves who, when given the option of freedom, chose to stay with their masters. Even the Old Testament (Exodus 21:6) makes provision for such situations. I suppose that serving a wonderful person like Dumbledore is an honor and a joy rather than a hardship. I would agree, too, that he is probably the exception rather than the rule.

Dobby seems to enjoy the actual work he does. For him, there seem to have been a matter of an evil master and a desire to be free to make his own choices about whom to serve. I wonder sometimes if he is a younger house-elf who may have been separated from his parents early and therefore has not had a lifetime of parental "indoctrination" to throw off.

I do not believe Hermione is wrong in her desire to see the house-elves attain independence. I do think it is a bit arrogant to assume she knows what is best for them, although perhaps this stems from her own identity as a minority (Muggle-born) in the Wizarding World. I also think that it is important to make sure that house-elves are properly prepared to handle freedom. We have all seen what happens when a society of people are freed from years of oppression and then left to deal with the consequences of freedom without having had the proper preparation. Setting a people free is an important and delicate process.


GryffEndora - May 15, 2005 9:29 am (#336 of 735)

Solitaire, that post is wonderfully worded and thought out! What a wonderful connection to make between people freed without proper foundation of how to deal with that freedom.

Solitaire - May 15, 2005 9:38 am (#337 of 735)

Thanks, GryffEndora. It is certainly an issue that bears examining and understanding, even in our society today. I am always surprised that someone as intelligent and perceptive as Hermione is not quicker to draw parallels between the magical and Muggle worlds, having lived in the Muggle world for more than eleven years--although perhaps she is too young to have seen much of this in the Muggle world before she made the move to the Wizarding World.


T Brightwater - May 16, 2005 4:53 am (#338 of 735)

Great post, Solitaire!

The only "normal" house-elves we've met so far are the ones working in the Hogwarts kitchen, and what - they- like best (besides work) is being appreciated. (Who doesn't?) Hermione might have better luck raising wizard consciousness in that area; I think most wizards tend to take them for granted.

Joanne R. Reid - May 16, 2005 6:51 am (#339 of 735)


My thoughts keep returning to the scene in which Hermione brings Harry and Ron to the Hogwarts' kitchens. When Hermione begins her discourse on freeing the House Elves, Dobby warns her not to say such things. When she continues, the house-elves gather together and push her out of the kitchen.

The house-elves of Hogwarts are not under duress. This is evident from Dobby's discussion of his negotiations with DD. Dobby wanted to be paid, but had to beat DD down to 1 Galleon, etc.

It appears that house-elves serve. They serve because that is what they do. When a house-elf is not in service, they are disturbed. They seek out a family or an institution to serve.

Their lives are spent in service. They are unhappy if they are not serving. Therefore, to force them NOT to serve would be the cruelest and most heartless torture one could define for a House Elf.

Hermione does not understand that house-elves are NOT humans. She seems to have as huge a blind spot regarding non-humans as does Hagrid. Hagrid doesn't sense that critters are dangerous. Hermione doesn't seem to sense that non-humans do not act like humans. Instead, she seems to want to force non-humans to act more like humans.

I am reminded of the colonial Britisher who would proclaim, "If you speak English to them, loudly enough and clearly enough, they must understand you!" Hermione seems to feel that if she can force non-humans to act in a manner entirely contrary to their natures, but consistent with what she believes is human, then non-humans will become humans, removing what she believes to be discriminatory actions.

I love Hermione, because I see myself in her. I just wish she'd walk a mile in their shoes and live for a night in their hogan before she begins running other people's lives.


T Brightwater - May 16, 2005 2:19 pm (#340 of 735)

I wish Hermione would realize that quite a few wizards could actually learn a thing or two from house-elves, like the joy of doing a job well. (The exact opposite of comic slackers like Calvin of "Calvin and Hobbes"; if he put half the energy and imagination into doing his homework that he does into trying to get out of doing it, he'd be an honor-roll student!)

Solitaire - May 16, 2005 3:22 pm (#341 of 735)

Actually, Hermione of all students should understand the joy of doing a job well, as much effort as she puts into her studies ... don't you think?


T Brightwater - May 16, 2005 4:11 pm (#342 of 735)

I wonder if Hermione isn't mostly motivated by the fear of failure. She works hard, but I don't know if she feels real satisfaction in her work, though she is pleased when her talents are appreciated, however hard she tries not to show it.

Gerald Costales - May 17, 2005 4:24 am (#343 of 735)
Edited May 17, 2005 5:33 am

(re: post# 339)

"Hermione does not understand that house-elves are NOT humans. She seems to have as huge a blind spot regarding non-humans as does Hagrid. Hagrid doesn't sense that critters are dangerous. Hermione doesn't seem to sense that non-humans do not act like humans. Instead, she seems to want to force non-humans to act more like humans.

I am reminded of the colonial Britisher who would proclaim, "If you speak English to them, loudly enough and clearly enough, they must understand you!" Hermione seems to feel that if she can force non-humans to act in a manner entirely contrary to their natures, but consistent with what she believes is human, then non-humans will become humans, removing what she believes to be discriminatory actions.

I love Hermione, because I see myself in her. I just wish she'd walk a mile in their shoes and live for a night in their hogan before she begins running other people's lives.


Joanne R. Reid

What a Great post!!!!! Dobby does seem to be an exception in wanting Freedom or at least the right to choose who he serves. The need to work and serve seems to be the essence of a House-Elves' life, their purpose in life.

The 100 plus house-elves at Hogwarts I believe will have an impact in the present War against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. And Dobby will do another "favor" for Harry. Dobby is drawn to Harry and will "help" Harry again. (I believe Dobby will help Harry to learn Wandless Magic.)

Hermione will probably devote less time to SPEW with school becoming more difficult (NEWTS, etc.) and there is also the DA. I don't believe the DA will vanish in Book 6. And Hermione and Harry will be involved in the running of the DA in Book 6. (Besides the DA will be needed to counter Malfoy and his Death Nibblers. The Slytherins will be causing trouble in Book 6. Malfoy will have an axe to grind with Lucius in Azkaban.)

Maybe as other characters (Ginny, Neville, etc.) are growing and becoming more important, Dobby will also have a more important part to play in the Series. ;-) GC

PS We know want Dobby can do against a Wizard (remember Lucius). Imagine a 100 Hogwarts house-elves against a group of Death Eaters. The DE won't know what hit them!!! ;-) GC


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ..."

Why not Wandless Magic!?!?!? That Brother Wand thing was done in the Graveyard!!! Harry and Voldemort battling with Wands is old news!!! Yeah, and Scabbers is really a Wizard!!! Wait Scabbers was a wizard. Expect the unexpected from JKR. ;-) GC

Choices - May 17, 2005 8:42 am (#344 of 735)
Edited May 17, 2005 9:48 am

I honestly do not understand the preoccupation with wandless magic. house-elves use wandless magic yes, but Harry is not a house elf. house-elves are not allowed to have wands - who knows how much more powerful they might be with a wand. Dumbledore does some wandless magic, but when it is really important - like the MOM battle - Dumbledore uses a wand, and he is the Greatest Wizard in the World. Why would Harry want to try something "iffy" like wandless magic, when he can be more powerful using a wand? So far, we have only seen wizards do small things without a wand - like light fires and change decorations in the Great Hall, etc., when it comes to doing battle or other important things, they have a wand in their hand. So far, we have not seen or heard of any instances of wandless magic being taught at Hogwarts. If it was a viable option to using a wand, I think we would have heard of it being taught at Hogwarts or practiced by the DA or used by DE's or members of the Order.

GryffEndora - May 17, 2005 9:33 am (#345 of 735)

Choices, thank you for your post. I have agree with you completely. In JKR's world witches and wizards use wands to perform magic. That is how it works. I think we need to stop trying to rewrite her rules.

house-elves are powerful and have their own brand of magic. Can/do house-elves use their magic to defend the home of their masters? If Hogwarts is attacked will the house-elves defend her with the rest of the staff or will they simply support the defenders in any manner they need, food, healing etc...? Is Dobby, the free elf, the only one in a position to choose to defend the school or Harry? What do you think?

Solitaire - May 17, 2005 10:09 am (#346 of 735)
Edited May 17, 2005 11:13 am

Choices: I honestly do not understand the preoccupation with wandless magic.

I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I'm glad to have such distinguished company as the two of you. I confess, I'm in about the same camp when it comes to the emotional magic issue, as well. Some of us do seem to have become "fixated" on these two things. The bottom line--in combat, both Dumbledore and Voldemort used wands.


Choices - May 17, 2005 10:32 am (#347 of 735)

Wow, Solitaire and GryffEndora - thanks for your support. I was expecting something more along the line of dung bombs. LOL What a nice surprise. :-)

Miriam Huber[/b] - May 17, 2005 10:46 am (#348 of 735)

You know, Choices, I think you might upset both Prof. Snape and Prof. Trelawney with your comment that wizards use wands to perform magic. If I remember correctly, both pointed out that their respective teaching subjects were much more subtle than just waving wands, bringing about explosions and disappearances

(End joke, serious comment: I think you are right)

Solitaire - May 17, 2005 4:52 pm (#349 of 735)

Pssssssssst! Choices, I will tell you a secret: dung bombs aren't fatal ... just a little smelly and embarrassing. But it hasn't stopped most of us from posting an unpopular idea now and then. So I don't worry about them too much anymore. I just perform the bubblehead charm on myself first.


Choices - May 17, 2005 4:54 pm (#350 of 735)
Edited May 17, 2005 5:59 pm

Mirium - "I think you might upset both Prof. Snape and Prof Trelawney".....

LOL Professor Trelawney can just get upset, but Professor Snape is another story - I sure wouldn't want to upset him. {{shivers uncontrollably}} Do you think I might get detention? {{tries to wipe smile off face}} LOL

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #351 - #400)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:10 pm

ruthlesspenguin - May 17, 2005 8:36 pm (#351 of 735)
Edited May 17, 2005 9:38 pm

In defence of wandless magic the evidence we have so far seems to suggest the charm Lily used in her final encounter with Voldemort did not involve a wand. However if you are taking wandless magic to refer to spells usually performed with a wand being performed without one, then I agree with you. Wandless magic is such a broad category, covering areas as different as potions, divination, Lily's sacrifice and the magic of creatures such as House-Elves, that I don't think the fact that house-elves don't use wands is reason to connect them with Lily's charm any more than I believe house-elves were the first potions experts.

Short pause to recover from mental image of Dobby giving Snape private potions lessons.

Also, given that the ministry goes to such trouble to ban non-humans from having wands, I wonder if house-elves would be more powerful if they were granted permission to use wands. I wonder if this is something we will see in book 6 or 7.

Finally, going back to Hermione and S.P.E.W., I find it surprising how little thought Hermione appears to have given to her actions. Despite demonstrating a large amount of understanding about the actions of the ministry and of Cho, she doesn't appear to have given any consideration to what the house-elves who were freed would do. If the wizarding world doesn't treat house-elves who provide them with a highly useful service well, why would she suppose they would treat house-elves who are unable to provide such a service any better?


Gerald Costales - May 18, 2005 6:53 pm (#352 of 735)
Edited May 18, 2005 8:03 pm

house-elves like a lot of things are taken for granted. When we first read that scene of Harry talking to the Boa in the Snake House, did any of us think Harry is a Parseltongue? Even during the Dueling Club when Harry stopped the snake from going after Justin Finch-Fletchley, did anyone think Harry was hissing in Parseltongue and not just talking with the snake?

JKR doesn't give us red flags that say - Hey this is an important clue pay attention, it will be important later. I could be wrong about the "power" the Dark Lord knows not. If that "power" is "Love, Heart, Emotion, etc.", I really wouldn't be disappointed. I think suggesting that "Wandless Magic" is that "power" is just "thinking outside of the box".

Now, "thinking outside of the box" would have you suggest that Snape could be a Double Double agent (Do you really trust Snape?) or Draco could be the HBP (Do you really think Draco is a Pure Blood?). 100 happy and loyal house-elves at Hogwarts are not going to stand idly by if Hogwarts is attacked by Voldemort and the Death Eaters. I believe Dobby will "help" Harry again before the end of the Series. Dobby will defend Harry if given the chance. ;-) GC

PS If I'm wrong, so what. It won't be the first time. ;-) GC

PPS Since it's not July 16th yet, I'll being watching Episode III with the by kids Sunday afternoon. May the Force be with you. ;-) GC

Solitaire - May 19, 2005 8:57 pm (#353 of 735)

the evidence we have so far seems to suggest the charm Lily used in her final encounter with Voldemort did not involve a wand

What charm was that? She certainly sacrificed herself for Harry, but I'm not sure that is a Charm. Many parents have sacrificed their own lives to save their children. I do not think that act would be called a charm.


hells456 - May 20, 2005 1:17 am (#354 of 735)

I agree Solitaire, I don't think Lily put a charm on him. Her sacrifice enabled him to survive the AK, but it was Dumbledore who put a charm on him afterwards to protect him at 4PD.

Choices - May 20, 2005 9:50 am (#355 of 735)

We were told that Lily's wand was very good for charm work, so I think from that hint or clue, people have assumed she placed some sort of protective charm of her own on Harry and that the sacrifice of her life is what sealed or activated the charm.

DobbyFan - Jun 19, 2005 5:47 am (#356 of 735)

Hi All,

I just found this thread and think this is the proper place to put my question.

I am wondering why Dobby was able to leave his master's in the beginning of CoS to visit Harry potter at Privet Drive. I mean Sirus said in OoP "get out" to Kreacher so he was able to go and talk to Narcissa but how did Dobby gain access to Harry? I can't find it in any threads that I have been looking at.

What are you theories to the importance of this? Does anyone else think this is important?

Thanks, DobbyFan

Solitaire - Jun 19, 2005 9:02 am (#357 of 735)
Edited Jun 19, 2005 10:04 am

I think Dobby is probably an exception when it comes to House-Elves. He was indeed "bound by the enchantments of his kind" as far as being enslaved to the Malfoys. He even had to punish himself for speaking ill of them or acting against what he knew to be their wishes. None of this, however, seemed to deter him from what he felt was the right thing to do--attempting to save Harry from danger. He seems to be a house-elf with both a conscience and an independent mind.

This does make one wonder about Dobby's past. Was he born into the Malfoy family? It would seem so, based on comments he has made. Why, then, does Dobby seem aware that there are better ways for house-elves to live? Perhaps Lucius has taken him to Hogwarts on other occasions--might Lucius have kept Dobby with him when he was a student?--and he discovered that a house-elf 's life did not have to be a horrible enslavement if he had a decent master. Even if he only visited Hogwarts during Lucius's tenure on the Board of Governors, he might have had the opportunity to interact with the Hogwarts Elves.

I do hope we get more on all of the house-elves we have seen. I'd like to find out more about the histories of some of those serving at Hogwarts. How many were born into servitude there? How many escaped to Hogwarts? How many, like Winky, were banished from their homes and wound up at Hogwarts?

Of the individual elves we have met, Winky and Kreacher seem most alike (to me), meaning they are/were dedicated to their masters and even seem bound to serve them after the deaths of their masters. Dobby is the anomaly. The Hogwarts Elves are seen only as a group ... and all of them seem proud of what they do and love doing it. I hope we learn more of this group in HBP.


Phoenix song - Jun 19, 2005 9:02 am (#358 of 735)
Edited Jun 19, 2005 10:07 am

DobbyFan, a house-elf is supposed to be tied to his house and to his family. But with Dobby we're seeing a house-elf that chooses to disobey his family in an effort to do something that he feels is vitally important.

The way that I understand it, if the will of the house-elf is strong enough, and their desire to disobey is powerful enough, they can break the traditional ties that bind them. They will be forced to later punish themselves for their disobedience (as we've seen with both Dobby and Kreacher). But they can actually leave if they feel that it's important enough.

Dobby isn't the only house-elf that has broken their magical "barrier" and strayed out of their given location. Remember as well that Winky was told by Mr. Crouch to stay in the tent with Barty Jr. She disobeyed when she felt threatened enough. I'm sure that she would have been forced to punished herself afterwards, but when the pressure became great enough she was able to force herself to leave her designated area.

I hope that this helps you!


Edit: I've cross-posted with Solitaire! Great thoughts on house-elves!

DobbyFan - Jun 19, 2005 11:12 am (#359 of 735)

I would like to continue this train of thought concerning Dobby... I am wondering why since he is now free can he reveal the secrets of the Malfoys'? I understand Winky's unbounded now but still feels the loyalty for the Crouches and wouldn't betray them or their secrets. However, Dobby is different. It seems to me he is more concerned about right and wrong and now that he is free do you think it's possible for Dobby and Dumbledore or Dobby and Harry to have a heart to heart on the inner workings of Malfoys' involvement with Voldemort when he was bound to them.

I am sure this was covered before I got here. However, I can't go through all the threads. So please forgive my newbie status. Yet, I have been reading the HP Lexicon for over a year now as well as the posts.

Since rereading the entire series I am starting to really pay attention to the details for when HBP comes out.

Thanks, DobbyFan

Solitaire - Jun 19, 2005 2:56 pm (#360 of 735)

DobbyFan, I have often wondered why this conversation has not taken place, now that Dobby is free of the grip of the Malfoys. At least, as far as we know it has not taken place.

Perhaps Winky still feels bound to keep the Crouch family secrets because she did not leave of her own free will ... she still loves them. Also, she was framed in the matter of stealing Harry's wand and using it. Dobby wanted to leave ... he sought freedom. I suspect his life with the Malfoys was more like a prison sentence with hard labor. Winky, on the other hand, seems to have been treated as a member of the family and given quite a bit of responsibility. Being banished by Barty Sr. was like being kicked out of the family to her ... and for something she didn't even do.

I also get the idea that Dobby is fairly intelligent. Could he be an educated house-elf ?


Choices - Jun 20, 2005 10:46 am (#361 of 735)

Phoenix Song - "Remember as well that Winky was told by Mr. Crouch to stay in the tent with Barty Jr. She disobeyed when she felt threatened enough."

I think Winky would have stayed in the tent, but she felt compelled to follow Barty, Jr. who went into the forest and shot up the Dark Mark. I think she felt he was her responsibility, so she followed him when he left the tent to try to take care of him and keep him out of trouble.

Eponine - Jun 20, 2005 9:35 pm (#362 of 735)

Actually, I believe that Winky dragged Barty Jr. out of the tent.

GoF, UK Hardback, p. 596, '...I wanted to attack them for their disloyalty to my master. My father had left the tent, he had gone to free the Muggles. Winky was afraid to see me so angry. She used her own brand of magic to bind me to her. She pulled me from the tent, pulled me into the forest, away from the Death Eaters. I tried to hold her back. I wanted to return to the campsite....I used the stolen wand to cast the Dark Mark into the sky....One of the Spells came through the trees where Winky and I stood. The bond connecting us was broken.'

Choices - Jun 21, 2005 8:09 am (#363 of 735)

OK, I didn't reread that passage before I posted - I just remembered she was with Barty, Jr. I still maintain she didn't leave the tent for herself, but perhaps to protect Barty and get him out of harm's way or to prevent his presence from being discovered.

T Brightwater - Jun 21, 2005 10:02 am (#364 of 735)

This seems to be a case where a direct order came into conflict with Winky's general mission to protect her family. It's tragic that she ended up being dismissed because of it.

I wonder, if Winky had stayed with the Crouches, could Barty Sr. have sent her as a messenger to Hogwarts with the news about Voldemort?

Solitaire - Jun 21, 2005 10:22 am (#365 of 735)
Edited Jun 21, 2005 11:23 am

I think Barty Sr. dismissed Winky because he felt cornered. Amos Diggory and other Ministry Wizards caught her red-handed with Harry's wand. She took the rap for Barty Jr. rather than tell what really happened.

If it had happened at home or out of the reach of other Ministry Wizards, Barty could have gotten to the bottom of it all in private. Having everything happen in such a public way made that impossible. He felt he had no choice, so he sacked her. Well, that's my opinion, anyway ...


T Brightwater - Jun 21, 2005 11:27 am (#366 of 735)

Winky's choice of words when she is found is interesting. Doesn't she say "I is seeing nobody" or words to that effect? She was telling the exact truth but trying to signal Crouch Sr. that she knew Jr. was there, in the Invisibility Cloak. It reminds me a bit of Harry trying to signal Snape in Umbridge's office.

Joanne R. Reid - Jun 28, 2005 7:53 am (#367 of 735)


Happy Birthday, Dobby!

Accio! Half-Blood Prince!


haymoni - Jun 28, 2005 4:55 pm (#368 of 735)

How are house-elves created?

And no, I don't need a biology lesson!

If Winky's family served the Crouch family and Dobby's family served the Malfoys and Kreacher's family served the Blacks, how do they decide which offspring serves where?

Solitaire - Jun 28, 2005 7:03 pm (#369 of 735)

haymoni, I suspect we will learn more about house-elf family trees, their magic, and the secrets which bind them into servitude in HBP ... at least, I hope we will!


lkb - Jun 29, 2005 8:58 am (#370 of 735)

I've always wondered, after Dobby protected Harry from L. Malfoy, how much power do they have? Could they be a combined force at the end?

Fawkes-The-Phoenix - Jul 3, 2005 10:44 pm (#371 of 735)
Edited Jul 3, 2005 11:45 pm

Choices>I suppose the bottom line is that, while her intent is certainly admirable, I feel Hermione is displaying rather a lack of respect for the house-elves. I hope she wises up before it is too late.

Yeah, I can imagine the headlines: "Mass house-elf revolt, elves say they will fight to lose their freedom!"

Joanne R. Reid - Jul 4, 2005 10:14 am (#372 of 735)
Edited Jul 4, 2005 11:15 am


I was just thinking about the attributes of a happy house-elf.

1. Gainfully employed.

2. Employed by a good family.

3. Trusted with the family's secrets.

4. Responsible for the health, welfare and happiness of the family.

5. Responsible for the protection of the family.

6. Performs duties without being noticed.

7. On call 24/7 for any purpose, large or small.

8. Needed by the family.

9. Properly enslaved by their family.

10. Proud of begin in servitude to their family.

I'm sure there are other attributes, but these leapt off the top of my head. It doesn't seem to me that any of these attributes are consistent with freedom, self-will or independence.


Finn BV - Jul 4, 2005 10:20 am (#373 of 735)

Of course, Joanne, you mean to exclude Dobby serving the Malfoys, for they are the exception to this list, I presume?

Joanne R. Reid - Jul 4, 2005 10:42 am (#374 of 735)

Hi, fbc807,

Indeed, you are completely correct. To my way of thinking, Dobby is the exception in the world of House Elves. In fact he's on the very edge of house-elf society. He doesn't dare speak his mind regarding his freedom in front of the other house-elves for fear of being shunned or worse ... ostracized with a dull ostracizer!

In this regard, both Winky and Kreacher are well within the norms of house-elf society. Both are completely devoted to their families. Winky is thoroughly ashamed of her clothes, and she is despondent about her freedom. Kreacher's goal at this time in his life is to end his life in service to his mistress and to have his head placed on a plaque beside his forebears.


Mrs Brisbee - Jul 5, 2005 7:17 am (#375 of 735)
Edited Jul 5, 2005 8:20 am

In this regard, both Winky and Kreacher are well within the norms of house-elf society. Both are completely devoted to their families.

Winky is devoted to her family, but Kreacher is only devoted to certain members of his family. Sirius said that he refused to obey orders from Tonks, probably because she had been blasted off the tapestry. Sirius was also blasted off the tapestry, but Kreacher was compelled nonetheless to obey his orders. Kreacher definitely was not happy serving Sirius. He did his best to betray Sirius, and his betrayal helped lead to Sirius's death and Kreacher's "freedom" to go serve the Black he wanted to: Narcissa.

Also, the house-elves at Hogwarts have stopped cleaning Gryffindor tower because they find the clothes Hermione leaves out insulting. So in a way they have stopped serving their "family" because they are disgruntled.

Joanne R. Reid - Jul 5, 2005 8:20 am (#376 of 735)

Hi, Mrs Brisbee,

Yes, the Hogwarts' house-elves have stopped cleaning Gryffindor Tower. I see this as a confirmation of my premise. That is, they are happy doing their work. They are loyal to the Headmaster.

The students are temporary, and they are learning. The house-elves have, no doubt, been warned that some students will attempt to play tricks on them. The house-elves are prepared for these tricks and are refusing to be hoodwinked.

They are good House-Elves. They are proud to keep Dumbledore's secrets. Nothing could be worse for any of them than to be given clothes. So, they've done what any good house-elf should do. They've avoided any chance encounter that might free them against their will.

Yet, they haven't complained. Besides, Dobby is happy to do it, since he is free already, and he has the opportunity to visit with Harry.


Solitaire - Jul 5, 2005 5:51 pm (#377 of 735)

If Harry survives, I wonder if Dobby will leave Hogwarts to work for him. I think Dobby loves Harry in the same way Winky loves the Crouches.


Mrs Brisbee - Jul 5, 2005 7:04 pm (#378 of 735)

I wasn't taking issue with your list, Joanne. I think you named a lot of things that do make house-elves happy. But it struck me that both Dobby and Kreacher were not happy in the service of their masters, and both worked very hard to circumvent the magic that compels them to serve in order to betray their masters. Both TRIED to exercise free will despite their enslavement.

Winky was very devoted, but in the end that didn't make her happy either, because her master didn't think he had to uphold his obligations toward her.

The enslavement system certainly has not made the three house-elf characters happy.

Dobby said that the Hogwarts house-elves wouldn't clean Gryffindor tower because they were insulted by the clothes, not because they feared they would be set free.

In GoF when the trio visit the kitchens, the house-elves seem incredibly pleased when Ron keeps praising their good service.

I think this shows that the house-elves take pride in their work. They take issue with the clothes because it belittles their work, but they also do like being praised and appreciated by those they serve. That did seem to make them happy. But right now they are trapped in a system where they are compelled to serve, but their masters are not compelled to offer reciprocal obligation.

MickeyCee3948 - Jul 5, 2005 7:29 pm (#379 of 735)
Edited Jul 5, 2005 8:29 pm

I think Harry will settle down after he & the DOM5 take down Voldemort and he will take both Dobby and Winky with him. He and his significant other who shan't be named for fear of being told to move to the ship thread will have several children with very good teeth and live in peace for many years. I'm looking for more dung bombs so I will now be ducking behind my computer screen so let them fly.


P.S. I think his house-elves may also have a few young uns. Ducks very fast

Solitaire - Jul 5, 2005 10:47 pm (#380 of 735)

It sounds charming to me, Mickey. I hope everyone lives--well, everyone except Voldemort, the DEs, and maybe Kreacher. I wouldn't mind if Malfoy left the country, though. Hopefully, Kreacher will get his fondest wish sometime in the next book. Then I can stop worrying about what havoc he is going to cause!


Ludicrous Patents Office - Jul 6, 2005 11:15 am (#381 of 735)
Edited Jul 6, 2005 12:16 pm

Nice scenario Mickey. I'm sure Dobby would love the opportunity to work for Harry. I'm not sure Harry or his bride would like it. Hopefully Dobby won't try to save any of the children. I don't think Winky will be happy anywhere. Her family is gone.

Solitaire I am also concerned about Kreacher. Only 9 more days. Wow I can't believe it. LPO

Madame Librarian - Jul 14, 2005 7:23 am (#382 of 735)
Edited Jul 14, 2005 8:29 am

Just an odd thought here about the loyalty a house-elf would have toward a family member.

In the case of Winky we see a dedicated and loving attitude towards the child of the family, I.e., Barty, Jr. much as a nanny in an Old South plantation family would have. As an adult, Barty seems able to order Winky around somewhat, but the primary directives still come from Barty, Sr.

With the Black family, we see Kreacher reluctantly take orders from his new master now that Sirius is back at Chez Black and Mrs. Black is no longer among the living.

So in these two families we observe the servant interacting with the "children" of the house in vastly different ways. What's interesting is that both Barty, Jr. and Sirius have taken opposite life paths than their parent with regard to whom to side with in the struggle. Is it merely a matter of Winky being female and more maternally involved with child raising? Don't know.

There's another example, or rather a glaring lack of one...the Malfoys. Dobby, though taking contrary action to his bond of service to his family, is still mysteriously protective of their secrets even a year or two after his freedom. Can't remember which book, which chapter, but there's a teeny interchange with Harry, with Harry attempting to get Dobby to tell all about Malfoy's doings. All Dobby will say (and he seems to be reluctant to do even this) was that (paraphrasing), "was bad wizards." So this leads me to wonder what Dobby may feel about Draco, the child of the family. We never, ever see any interaction between Dobby and Draco, do we? What do you guys think Dobby feels about the ferret-y boy? Is this just something JKR chose to avoid dealing with?

Oh, well, not an earth-shaking issue here, just something to occupy our minds for another day and a half (yikes! oh, boy!).

Ciao. Barb

HungarianHorntail11 - Aug 11, 2005 7:47 am (#383 of 735)
Edited Aug 11, 2005 8:48 am

I couldn't find a Kreacher thread, so I will post my thought here. I was rereading the Unknowable Room chapter and came across this:

"Get out of it," Harry snapped at him, and Kreacher made one last deep bow and Disapparated.

Dobby leaves, then JKR writes: "How good's this?" said Harry enthusiastically, turning to Ron and Hermione the moment the room was elf-free again.

Remember the last time Kreacher left on a 'get out' command? JKR played upon the warnings using the hospital name. Now she writes, [elf-free again]. That worries me. Harry's treatment of Kreacher parallels those of Sirius - shame he didn't learn from Sirius' mistakes.

How carried away could we get with the ramifications? Could Kreacher divulge information about the Order to Narcissa or Bellatrix? What would Narcissa do with the information if it condemns Snape?

SPEW Supporter - Aug 11, 2005 10:18 am (#384 of 735)

I like your thinking HHorntail.

Could Kreacher have taken Harry's "get out of it" phrase literally?

Perhaps, however, I'm inclined (hopefully) to think that it might be harder for him to leave Hogwarts then 12 GP.

Would a Hogwart's portrait allow a house-elf in, in order to skip on over to another portrait outside of Hogwarts? I hope not.

If Hermione isn't going to keep an eye on him, I guess I'll have to take the challenge. After all I AM THE SUPPORTER OF ALL THINGS S.P.E.W.

HungarianHorntail11 - Aug 11, 2005 12:04 pm (#385 of 735)
Edited Aug 11, 2005 1:05 pm

SPEW Supporter, if you are not hot on Kreacher's tracks, I sure hope Dobby is! Unless, of course, he is still tailing Draco. But then, Dobby could warn Harry of Kreacher's absence - which is the only thing that may hinder Kreacher. Elves seem to have no problems Apparating and Disapparating in and out of HW grounds.

Solitaire - Aug 12, 2005 10:07 am (#386 of 735)

"Get out of it!" is different from "Get out!"

HungarianHorntail11 - Aug 13, 2005 4:37 am (#387 of 735)

What about "elf free again"?

Berty Bott - Aug 25, 2005 6:46 am (#388 of 735)

Ok. A while back I made a reference to the fact that Dobby told Harry that he would "throw himself from the highest tower" if he didn’t watch/tail Malfoy correctly. Then Dumbledore gets thrown from that tower. I think that’s realllllllly weird and significant in some way. So I’ve been reflecting on the similarities between Dumbledore and Dobby. First, they both inadvertently harm Harry when they are trying to protect him. Second, though it seems a small detail I think its important......they both LOVE socks. Can anyone else think of ways they are connected?

Dame Peverell - Aug 27, 2005 9:14 pm (#389 of 735)

Very nice take, Berty Bott.

Anybody got a good reason why Dobby is going around in a tea cozy now instead of a sweater and socks? (The Unknowable Room)

timrew - Aug 27, 2005 11:52 pm (#390 of 735)

Anybody got a good reason why Dobby is going around in a tea cozy now.................?

He hides his watch under it?

Dame Peverell - Aug 28, 2005 4:56 am (#391 of 735)

Ah yes. Silly me. Tea cozy and sweater and socks.

RoseMorninStar- Sep 9, 2005 10:54 pm (#392 of 735)

I am currently re-reading all of the books and I am currently near the end of OotP. I think we really aught to have a thread called 'Kreacher Feature'. I definitely think Kreacher (and Dobby) will have an important roll to play in book 7.

In chapter 32 (OotP) 'Out of the Fire', when Harry tries to contact Sirius a second time using Umbridge’s fireplace via Floo powder, he definitely intentionally leads Harry astray-tells Harry that Sirius is gone from the house when he obviously was not...AND Kreacher’s hands are bandaged. Like he had to punish himself severely for disobeying a direct order.

Earlier in the book, at Christmastime, he is missing for a long period of time, and through some spy...Voldemort finds out that Harry is somehow 'channeling' Voldemort’s thoughts and feelings.

Kreacher is tipping off Voldemort directly... or the Death Eaters. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Ana Cis - Sep 13, 2005 6:44 pm (#393 of 735)

HungarianHorntail11, "House-Elves" #387, 13 Aug 2005 5:37 am "Remember the last time Kreacher left on a 'get out' command? JKR played upon the warnings using the hospital name. Now she writes, [elf-free again]. That worries me. Harry's treatment of Kreacher parallels those of Sirius - shame he didn't learn from Sirius' mistakes."

"How carried away could we get with the ramifications? Could Kreacher divulge information about the Order to Narcissa or Bellatrix? What would Narcissa do with the information if it condemns Snape?"

I'm with you on this one. You were really sharp in picking that up! I think Harry screwed up. Jo doesn't put something that obvious, unless it means that Kreacher is free to go to Bellatrix or Narcissa somehow since he's so calculating. Harry's temper has gotten him in trouble again.

In another thread, someone said that Kreacher maybe spying for Snape. I thought no way. Kreacher is bound at the school. However, when I saw your post, it makes a lot of sense. Let's hope Dobby picks up on it and warns Harry ASAP! But I think this will be one hard lesson for Harry.

Esther Rose - Sep 14, 2005 6:01 am (#394 of 735)

I think Kretcher and Dobby are still tailing Draco. hehe...

Now wouldn't that be funny if the two showed up for another Draco report on the Hogwarts Express.

Dame Peverell - Sep 14, 2005 7:31 am (#395 of 735)

Yeah. Trailing Draco. That's what I thought. Wouldn't that have put Dobie on top of the Astronomy tower though where he could have helped Dumbledore??? Never mind... just a pointless wish it were so ...

Truly tho, isn't it a good thing that JKR has set Kreacher and Dobie on one another? I mean, it saves us from wondering why Dobie doesn't do more to be helpful. He has his hands full just keeping up with Kreacher!

HungarianHorntail11 - Sep 14, 2005 8:24 am (#396 of 735)

Thanks, Ana Cis. Don't give me too much credit though, as there is much that I've missed before! I know most people think it is a false alarm, but there are so many less awkward ways to tell someone to get lost than "get out of it".

Also, look at the Kreacher Dangerous sign in St. Mungos, Book Five. I know I'm being redundant, but it really reeks of havoc in my estimation. Look at the trouble Sirius caused by not treating Kreacher with kid gloves. Harry can be just as much of a loose cannon, sometimes. God only knows what will come of this, oh yeah, and JKR.

RoseMorninStar- Sep 14, 2005 8:21 pm (#397 of 735)

Kreature Dangerous sign in St. Mungo's... did I miss something?

Choices - Sep 15, 2005 9:09 am (#398 of 735)

It was the sign on the ward in St. Mungo's where Arthur Weasley was taken after he was bitten by the snake. It read....."Creature Induced Injuries" - "Dangerous" - "Dei Llewellyn Ward" - "Serious Bites" Many people believe there is a message in that sign - take the first word of each line and it reads....Creature (Kreature) Dangerous, Dei (die) Serious (Sirius) By the end of book 5, we know that Kreature is dangerous and Sirius dies.

RoseMorninStar- Sep 15, 2005 11:50 pm (#399 of 735)


Oh my word! :O

T Brightwater - Oct 14, 2005 11:35 am (#400 of 735)

Except that the word breaks don't work quite like that. "Dangerous" Dai Llewellyn is the name of the person in whose honor the ward was named. He's in - Fantastic Beasts...- . "Dai" is a common Welsh nickname for David.

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #401 - #450)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:18 pm

Choices - Oct 14, 2005 5:13 pm (#401 of 735)

Well, whoever figured this out, must have put it all together and had "Dangerous" on one line and "Dei Llewellyn Ward" on another line. Actually the "Creature Induced Injuries" was on the sign above the corridor as Harry and the Weasleys entered and the rest of it was on a door I think. "Dangerous Dei Llewellyn Ward" is rather long so it makes sense it would be written on two lines.

Creature Induced Injuries


Dei Llewellyn Ward

Serious Bites

You take the first word from each line and you get the mysterious message.

HungarianHorntail11 - Oct 14, 2005 5:37 pm (#402 of 735)

Kind of like playing a record album backwards?? LOL.

Finn BV - Oct 14, 2005 5:50 pm (#403 of 735)

Creature Induced Injuries

That's a good enough foreshadowing for something else, too.

Mrs Brisbee - Oct 15, 2005 5:04 am (#404 of 735)

I agree, however you read the message it is great foreshadowing.

Doesn't Llewellyn mean "resembling a lion," or "like a lion" in Welsh? Die like a lion?

Ward means protect. And since Sirius is Harry's godfather, Harry is his ward.

All sorts of possible word play.

HungarianHorntail11 - Oct 18, 2005 7:44 am (#405 of 735)

The original part that gave me a start was elf free again. It didn't seem anywhere nearly as well hidden as the Book 5 clues. That's probably why I was able to catch it.

GeorgeIvey - Nov 2, 2005 5:02 am (#406 of 735)

"Ok. A while back I made a reference to the fact that Dobby told Harry that he would "throw himself from the highest tower" if he didnt watch/tail Malfoy correctly. Then Dumbledor gets thrown from that tower. I think thats realllllllly weird and significant in some way. So Ive been reflecting on the similarities between Dumbledor and Dobby. First, they both inadvertantly harm Harry when they are trying to protect him. Second, though it seems a small detail I think its important......they both LOVE socks. Can anyone else think of ways they are connected? "

Ouch! Now that's just wacko enough to be scary!

Madame Librarian - Nov 2, 2005 6:44 pm (#407 of 735)

OK, let's start a list!

DD and Dobby are alike because they both...

# tried to protect Harry and inadvertantly harmed him

# love socks

# work at Hogwarts

# possess ancient, powerful and unique magical powers

Any more?

Ciao. Barb

Liessie - Nov 2, 2005 7:50 pm (#408 of 735)

...both told Harry about using the RoR

Ana Cis - Nov 3, 2005 7:23 pm (#409 of 735)

They both give Harry advice

They both love Harry

me and my shadow 813 - Nov 3, 2005 7:44 pm (#410 of 735)

GeorgeIvey - I don't know if you're insinuating that DD transforms into Dobby/they are the same "person", but just thought I'd mention that they are in the same room together at end of CoS in DD's office with Lucius and Harry. So I don't see that being possible. But I do see the similarities and I'd like to add that in GoF Dobby says how happy he is to keep DD's secrets.

I posted earlier that Dobby could have been blond DE at end of HBP but at the very least I easily see Dobby involved in the plans for and after DD's "death".

Choices - Nov 4, 2005 6:17 pm (#411 of 735)

I don't think we have any canon evidence that house-elves can turn into humans - at least none that I can remember.

Ana Cis - Nov 4, 2005 8:54 pm (#412 of 735)

I don't believe that DD and Dobby is the same person, but there are a lot of similarities between them. So it makes sense to see what they are and try to find the connection.

Is Dobby a secret member of the order? I wouldn't put it past DD since he has so few prejudices.

me and my shadow 813 - Nov 5, 2005 2:47 pm (#413 of 735)

Choices - I know it isn't precisely human-elf, but a quote from GoF chapter 22, Transfiguration class assignment: "describe with examples the way in which transforming spells must be adapted when performing cross-species switches". In the chapter she is referring to animal-animal though.

But here's what I think about canon evidence -- If JKR hadn't been asked in an interview about Lily's death, we would have no knowledge of her "choice" to die, and yet we have many threads (your posts included) dedicated to this notion which was exposed merely because mugglenet happened to ask JKR about backstory. So while "canon" is good policy/guidelines for the forum, the rule seems to bend plenty. In book 7 we'll find out all about Lily's "intentional" death without a word about it in books 1 through 6. I may be mistaken here but that's my thought on it for now.

I'm not trying to prove Dobby turned into anything with the above, but I am saying something like it is possible given what we know about polyjuice, transfiguration and the powerful magic of elves, especially free ones. Backstory is a tricky and elusive thing. Instead of asking about Lily's death, Mugglenet could've said, "So, Jo, can elves polyjuice into humans?" JKR: "No comment."

me and my shadow 813 - Nov 5, 2005 4:12 pm (#414 of 735)

Continuation of above -- I do recall canon on Lily's death -- always nice to contradict oneself -- it's HBP Secret Riddle chapter. When Harry finds out about Merope, DD says "Your mother had a choice, too."

So, bad example on my part but you get my meaning. There's plenty of non-canon discussion on this forum. But I will try to find canon to support my ideas, of course. It just seems with half-breeds like giant/human Hagrid, and Veela/human Fleur that magical creatures and humans may be less of a stretch than human-animal transfigurations or mixing which are either permanent as a separate breed (centaur) or temporary/intentional (werewolf/animagi). Given this, it may not be difficult for elves to transform into humans versus what happened to Hermione.

With all the reference made in GoF & OoP about mistreatment of elves, Winky/Crouch, SPEW, Kreacher/Sirius, etc., I've felt like Dobby and other freed elves would need to show their power in a big way. Otherwise, why go on about it?

In the end, I don't really care if Dobby was blond DE. Maybe it was Mad-eye. Maybe it was Aberforth. Maybe it was just a blond DE who forgot his hood.

Choices - Nov 5, 2005 5:52 pm (#415 of 735)

Shadow - I agree it is certainly possible. I guess I was just thinking that usually (but not always) when JKR is going to introduce something like that, she gives us a "lesson" or a hint about it. She prepares us for the introduction, sometimes even a book or two ahead of time. If Dobby can chance into another form, then I guess JKR is going to spring it on us with no preparation.

Berty Bott - Nov 9, 2005 8:15 am (#416 of 735)

This is killing me!!! I brought up this idea a long time ago and everyone thought I was too nuts to respond to. I think the connection between Dobby and Dumbledor is too strong to ignore. The socks thing is huge as socks as a general theme keeps coming back over and over. How about the fact that Dobby used to get a lot of death threats, and Dumbledor did too. And how about the ways that they are exact opposites? In GoF, Dumbledor is "high minded" and doesnt help Harry complete tasks, but Dobby does. In HBP, Dumbledor does not (seem to) take Harry's concern about Malfoy seriously but Dobby does. Can you think of any others?

me and my shadow 813 - Nov 9, 2005 9:06 am (#417 of 735)

Berty Bott -- yes all arrows might seem to point to DD transforming into Dobby but we see them together in CoS at the end in DD's office. So it may just be an amusing parallel that JKR wove in.

But I applaud you for coming up with the very astute observation. There is no doubt the similarities are there, so perhaps there's another explanation other than transfiguration. Maybe ever since Dobby was freed and started working at Hogwarts, DD knew of Dobby's devotion to Harry and began training him in various skills and shared plans with him. Dobby makes a point of saying that he likes keeping DD's secrets. What do you think?

Choices - Nov 9, 2005 9:30 am (#418 of 735)

Yes, the similarities are there - both desire to keep Harry from harm and both are very high-minded individuals which sets them apart. I still think they are very separate - Dumbledore doesn't become Dobby - but they represent the best of their kind.

Snuffles - Nov 10, 2005 3:56 am (#419 of 735)

I'm hoping that now(apparantly!)DD is no longer with us, that Dobby will take it upon himself to keep a very close eye on Harry and be able to help when necessary.

The magic Dobby is able to do may help him in his final quests!

Berty Bott - Nov 10, 2005 7:33 am (#420 of 735)

I am not suggesting that Dobby=Dumbledor, I mean, I remember the scene in COS too, just that there is a very strong connection between the two that we havent been told about. I actually think the "opposites" are more telling thant the similarities. I think maybe that Dobby does the things that Dumbledor wishes he could do, like helping him with the tri-wizard tournament, but cant, because of his position in the WW. I also think that Dobby may have the relationship with Harry that Dumbledor wishes he had......for instance, Dobby is subserviant to Harry, loves him very openly, shows him favor above all others, totally flouts his "place in life" to protect him and so on. I think Dumbledor would very much like to do all of these things but cant. I think he feels what Dobby feels towards Harry but can not show it like Dobby can. What does that mean? I have no idea. Here's a thought though. Instead of going down the dead end of Dumbledore=Dobby, maybe they have a different relationship. Maybe Dumbledor CREATED Dobby. He created him almost as a clone to himself in order to do the things he couldnt do, and perhaps to carry on his work after he is seemingly gone.

Choices - Nov 10, 2005 6:30 pm (#421 of 735)

If Dumbledore created Dobby, then why did he let Dobby work for the Malfoy's all those years and be so abused? That just doesn't seem likely to me. Dobby was freed by Harry at the end of COS and came to work at Hogwarts during Harry's third year. We have no evidence that Dumbledore even knew of Dobby before that. Sorry, but I just can't imagine Dumbledore being envious of a house-elf's relationship with Harry.

Finn BV - Nov 10, 2005 6:40 pm (#422 of 735)

Well, Dumbledore sent Harry off to live with the Dursleys. Maybe it was just one of those things that "had" to happen.

Choices - Nov 10, 2005 6:51 pm (#423 of 735)

Living with the Dursleys was for Harry's protection - his very life depended on it, but I don't think Dobby was with the Malfoy's for any sort of protection that we know of.

Ana Cis - Nov 10, 2005 7:39 pm (#424 of 735)

Me and my shadow, Betty Bott, Finn, Choices: I agree with everything you're all saying! I know it sounds weird, but I'll explain it below.

Also, I don't believe that either Dumbledore or Dobby have a jealous bone in their body.

There's a paradox here. At a subconscious level we're all picking up that there's a significant connection. However, it's frustrating because, as Choices says, we can't seem to logically connect the dots.

Maybe there needs to be a list of similarities and one of differences. Then see if the differences are polar opposites, but going towards the same direction (I.e., helping Harry).

Also, think of this. Dumbledore knew that Harry freed Dobby, and the consequences would be Dobby's adoration for Harry. DD hired Dobby to work at the school. Maybe part of Dobby's job is to look after and help Harry where Dumbledore is unable to.

DD is sort of like a puppeteer, or web spinner, but in a benign way. He's seems to have a hand in everything that's going on, especially at Hogwarts. I don't see DD as an arrogant person; he knows his limitations and has plainly admitted them. Thus, he wouldn't consider it beneath him to ask for Dobby's help. If anything, he would find joy in it because of Dobby's "Love" for Harry.

In Round Pink Spider's collection of running bits, it identifies socks as symbolically implying protection. From what I have read, this running bit is consistent. I can see why both Dobby and DD love socks... they both love to protect Harry.

Hence, me and my shadow, your comment in post #417 about DD training him and sharing plans would make complete sense.

Betty Bot, I would see it as DD noticing a great opportunity when Harry freed Dobby and taking full advantage of it, because DD knows how elf-magic works.

Finn, your point makes sense. I have asked myself, how did Dobby find about Harry been a wonderful and kind person before he met him. Did he find this out through Dumbledore? Did Dumbledore have any influence over this situation that would provide the opportunity for Harry's compassion to free Dobby. DD always seems to find the right instrument/tool that Harry needs to succeed.

A little off the subject: It wasn't by chance that Harry found the HBP book. It wouldn't surprise me at all if DD had anything to do with that textbook finding its way into Harry's hands...the same with Harry and Dobby's relationship.

However, Choices, I can't prove it logically, yet; however, I'm working on it.

Choices - Nov 10, 2005 7:43 pm (#425 of 735)

Great post Ana - I wish I'd said it so well. :-)

Ana Cis - Nov 10, 2005 8:22 pm (#426 of 735)

Thanks. You keep making blush!

These are great concepts...the type of things that seem fit within JKR's way of thinking. She wasn't kidding when she said we wouldn't get it all in just one reading. I'm starting to lose track of how many times I've read her books, and I continue to learn new things! I mean, in this thread, we're basically talking about two elves in the whole story! Look how much discussions they generate, yet they still remain a mystery in many ways.

Solitaire - Nov 13, 2005 2:37 pm (#427 of 735)

I thought Dobby came to Hogwarts with Winky, when she was sacked by Mr. Crouch. I do not remember him coming in Harry's third year. In fact, I may be forgetful (I often am lately), but I do not remember seeing Dobby in PoA. Anyone?

How did Dobby find about Harry been a wonderful and kind person before he met him

I do not see this as any surprise. It seems house-elves manage to get out of the family abode when they need to do so. Dobby made trips to Privet Drive and Hogwarts while he was in the employ of the Malfoys. Perhaps house-elves travel with their families when they go somewhere, too ... like personal servants do in the Muggle world. We know Winky went to the QWC. If Dobby managed to keep in touch with other House-Elves, he would surely hear tales of Harry's exploits.

An even more likely scenario: I'm sure Harry was a frequent topic of conversation in the Malfoy household at the time of Voldemort's disappearance. Once Draco entered Hogwarts, you can bet Harry and his exploits once again became a staple topic of conversation. We know that Draco complained and whined about him plenty from Lucius's remark to him about this in B&B at the beginning of CoS. Since house-elves know all of the family secrets, you can bet Dobby took in every word that was said about Harry!


Finn BV - Nov 13, 2005 2:53 pm (#428 of 735)

Nope, Dobby's not in PoA.

Living with the Dursleys was for Harry's protection - his very life depended on it, but I don't think Dobby was with the Malfoy's for any sort of protection that we know of. --Choices

Of course, I understand, but as I say, it may have been one of those things that just "had" to happen ñ it may have been genetic, he may have been sent there accidentally, he may have been sent by Dumbledore (he does know a lot about him) to spy because DD knew that Dobby was okay with "ironing his fingers," etc., Dobby may even be Dumbledore, for all I know!

how did Dobby find about Harry been a wonderful and kind person before he met him --Ana

I would agree with Soli, additionally, Dobby could have learned about Harry from Dumbledore, or have learned over time that when the Malfoys say something bad about people, it probably means they're good people.

Choices - Nov 13, 2005 5:10 pm (#429 of 735)

You are so right about Dobby, Solitaire. He was freed at the end of COS, but did not come to work at Hogwarts until Harry's forth year - GOF. I guess it took him a year to "find" himself. LOL

Berty Bott - Nov 14, 2005 11:29 am (#430 of 735)

I am certainly not suggesting Dumbledor feels ENVY, just that there are surely things he cannot do because of his position and/or his personallity that Dobby can. Perhaps he is very happy that there is SOMEONE out there showing Harry the level of devotion he thinks he deserves. Im sure he isnt sorry that Dobby helped him with the tournement.

Also, who's to say that Dobby wasnt planted at the Malfoy's? Why not? It wouldnt be the strangest twist we've seen so far.

But you are right. There seems to be a connection and we are struggling to put our finger on it.

timrew - Nov 14, 2005 4:03 pm (#431 of 735)

Choices:- I guess it took him a year to "find" himself. LOL

Maybe he took a 'gap' year. Y'know, backpacking in Peru, scuba-diving off the Great Barrier Reef............that sort of thing.

Choices - Nov 14, 2005 6:19 pm (#432 of 735)

LOL Tim - I'm sure Dobby deserved a great year off after all the abuse he took from Lucius Malfoy. Hope he had fun!!!

Madame Librarian - Nov 18, 2005 6:05 pm (#433 of 735)

Wasn't there a very brief mention by Dobby of how he tried to hire himself out somewhere, but no one was interested in paying a house elf? I might have made that up...

Wait! I found the bit I was thinking of:

"How long have you been here, Dobby?" Harry asked as Dobby handed around the tea.

"Only a week, Harry Potter, sir!" said Dobby happily. "Dobby came to see Professor Dumbledore, sir. You see, sir, it is very difficult for a house-elf who has been dismissed to get a new position, sir, very difficult indeed--" [...]

"Dobby has traveled the country for two whole years, sir, trying to find work!" Dobby squeaked. "But Dobby hasn't found work, sir, because Dobby wants paying now!" (GoF, chapter 21, page 377, US hardcover.)

Whew! Thank goodness, I thought I had made it up.

Ciao. Barb

Solitaire - Dec 22, 2005 8:03 pm (#434 of 735)

Over on the apparition thread, Choices posted the following: In one place it mentions there being warming pans in the beds on a cold winter night - the elves must do that, plus keeping the fires going and the torches lit, candles replaced, etc. Since my response had more to do with house-elves than apparition, I moved it over to this thread ...

I agree, Choices. They must be pretty busy. Winky is an anomaly, I think ... because of her problems. (She reminds me of the house-elf version of Trelawney.) Dobby seems to watch after her as well as doing other little things, like cleaning the Gryffindor Common Room.

After seeing how Kreacher behaved in OotP, don't you wonder exactly what it is that he does at Hogwarts? I wonder how the other house-elves feel about him and the attitudes he expresses. I hope we get to see Harry interact with the Elves a bit more in the next book.


Choices - Jan 18, 2006 6:32 pm (#435 of 735)

I am re-reading HBP and thought the following was interesting. We have discussed many times the power of house-elves.....

Hepzibah Smith is speaking to her old house-elf Hokey - "Here, Hokey, take these away and lock them up again.....the usual enchantments..."

I think this is the first time in the books I have noticed a "master/mistress" directing a house-elf to perform magic. She tells Hokey to lock up the cup and necklace and to place the "usual enchantments" on them as protection. So, Hokey is able to do enchantments without a wand, just as Dobby was able to knock Lucius Malfoy off his feet (sans wand) with a spell to protect Harry. It will be advantageous to have the house-elves on the good side when the war heats up.

HungarianHorntail11 - Jan 18, 2006 8:15 pm (#436 of 735)

Solitaire, now you have me thinking again. If Trelawney is the human equivalent of Winky and DD "watches over" Trelawney, then if logic dictates, Dobby is doomed in Book 7.

Solitaire - Jan 18, 2006 10:27 pm (#437 of 735)

Oh, dear, HH! I don't want any more good guys doomed!

HungarianHorntail11 - Jan 19, 2006 7:23 am (#438 of 735)

I never did like logic.

TwinklingBlueEyes - Jan 19, 2006 10:16 am (#439 of 735)

Just keep in mind JKR is not the most logical writer we know of.

me and my shadow 813 - Jan 19, 2006 7:23 pm (#440 of 735)

I can't help but think -and I've stated it before- that as Choices pointed out with the wandless power of house-elves, the wizards may be under a handicap with having to pull out a %$#@^ wand every time they want to do something magical... I've always thought it would be WW evolution if the humans of the WW could eventually be wandless. There was a quote from CoS when Quirrel conjured ropes with a snap of fingers or something... I think with dark magic and "light" magic unifying, there may be a potential for a new magic without props. Maybe the elves will meekly offer guidance about such a thing.

dhpottrerfan - Jan 26, 2006 6:45 pm (#441 of 735)

I have just a few thought on the house-elves.

1. The power of their magic makes them enslaved to their master unless released by their master. Just like a genie is enslaved in his lamp until he is released by a master as within the story of Alladin.

2. Kreacher can only and must obey Harry because he was willed to Harry by Sirius.

3.Sirius's last command must be obeyed by Kreacher even if Kreacher does not want to obey.

4. Doby is free to obey who he wants since he was freed by his previous master through Harrys' actions. I believe since Harry was pivitol in releasing Doby, Doby feels in debt to Harry.

5. It may not take an Army of elves to do battle with Voldemort and the DE's so Harry may not need many house-elves with him.

Based on this, I believe 2 or 3 house-elves will play an important part in the last book. Winky may also be in there but as a reluctant participant, perhaps because she feels at least she is serving someone, possibly Harry. As a result Harry will have the ability to gives order or get information from three elves, that is a lot of elves for any one wizard to have. The only place in the books where there are more that one house-elf is in Hogwarts and they serve the school.

Another thought that pops into my mind is where these house-elves come from in Hogwarts? My theory is that they are descendents of the founders' elves and they serve the school under direct order of the original founder, that order could have been "You and your descendants are to serve Hogwarts and their students until.....". There may be a way for the descendants of Godric Griffindor to listen to Harry if Harry is the last descendant of Godric Griffindor. Maybe Hermione will find out that because she is so fervant about S.P.E.W.

These are just some of the thoughts about house elves. I may have more but I would like to see what others think.


Solitaire - Jan 28, 2006 9:17 pm (#442 of 735)

The problem with Winky is that she is still loyal to the Crouches, even though Barty Sr. is dead and Barty Jr. has been Dementor-kissed. I often wonder ... did she recognize Barty Jr. when he was impersonating Moody? Or did they ever come into contact with one another? It has been a while, and I can't remember.


Gerald Costales - Jan 29, 2006 9:28 am (#443 of 735)

I don't think Winky will have anything to do in Book 7. Winky was drunk on butterbeer and didn't do much at Hogwarts. She could have recognized Moody as really Crouch Jr., but never had the chance.

I thought the house-elves were going to be important in the last two books, but I am not as certain now.

I thought the house-elves at Hogwarts were like Dobby. Masterless house-elves in need of work.

Kreacher if any house-elf will be in Book 7 even if it's just to muck up Harry's destroying the Horcruxes and defeating Voldermort. GC

PS Will we ever see Fawkes again? GC

Solitaire - Jan 29, 2006 9:35 am (#444 of 735)

Will we ever see Fawkes again?

I hope so, Gerald. I still think Fawkes may have some role in helping Harry defeat Voldemort. The connection between Fawkes and Harry seems so strong ... I can't believe we have seen the last of Fawkes.


Gerald Costales - Jan 29, 2006 2:02 pm (#445 of 735)

This should probably be in the Fawkes thread, but we also know that both Voldermort and Harry share a tail feather of Fawkes as their wand cores. Also, I believe we both think that Fawkes was owned by Godric Gryffindor. So, Fawkes should be back.

Fawkes' phoenix song inspired Harry at the Graveyard, Fawkes peaked out the Basilisk's eyes, and then Fawkes' tears also cured Harry's wound in the Chamber. But, there were some many surprises in Book 6. (At else Book 6 held many surprises for me.)

I thought there would some pitch battle between the house-elves and Death Eaters or Giants, etc. I expect the unexpected in Book 7. GC

PS Isn't still all about Fawkes? Or will Book 7 just be about the hunt for Horcruxes and the destruction of Voldermort? GC

PPS Hogwarts must reopen in Book 7. GC

Steve Newton - Jan 30, 2006 6:25 pm (#446 of 735)

I am rereading SS. When the trio goes to save the Sorcerers Stone they need to catch and use a winged key. It seems a stretch but this seems to sound a lot like Winky. Is this a hint that Winky, or the house elves, will play a part in the end? I probably need a hobby, besides Harry Potter.

Solitaire - Jan 31, 2006 7:08 am (#447 of 735)

I like that, Steve!

Choices - Jan 31, 2006 12:08 pm (#448 of 735)

Steve - please explain how that sounds like Winky. My brain is a bit off today. LOL

Esther Rose - Jan 31, 2006 12:11 pm (#449 of 735)

If you speak the words "Winged Key" out loud it sounds like you are saying "Winky". Well, in some accents it will. =)

Choices - Jan 31, 2006 12:12 pm (#450 of 735)

OK, thanks Esther. I guess my Southern accent didn't work. LOL

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #451 - #500)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:30 pm

Steve Newton - Jan 31, 2006 1:07 pm (#451 of 735)

Yes, I was going for the sound of the words. Actually, I noticed it while listening to the books read by Jim Dale. Since he was born in the UK it would seem that this might work even when you sound like the queen.

Steve Newton - Feb 1, 2006 6:03 am (#452 of 735)

After giving it some more thought I suspect that the Winged Key/Winky connection was real but I think that we have already seen it. I think that Winky was the key in GOF. She had the key knowledge that would have made things much simpler.

Gerald Costales - Feb 14, 2006 7:41 am (#453 of 735)

I was looking for some pitched battle between the Death Eaters and the Good Guys. I just imagined a brigade of house-elves using Wandless Magic and turning the tide.

I think book 7 will be smaller in scope. Snooping, getting clues to the Horcruxes, etc. I don't know how important the house-elves will be in that regard. Kreecher may help with some clues to a Horcrux. I think that locket at 12 GP was the Horcrux RAB took.

Whether we see Winky or Dobby, I'm not to sure. Book 7 maybe too busy just dealing with the defeat of Voldermort. There was only a small part for Kreecher and Dobby in Book 6. And of course no mention of Winky.

I am a house-elf fan and want more of them in Book 7. Any hints to when Book 7 will be published. GC

PS I need some another hobby beside Harry Potter, too. GC

Choices - Feb 14, 2006 10:03 am (#454 of 735)

Didn't JKR promise to have the book completed by the end of this year and it would be published during the summer of 2007 - in July sometime??

Gerald Costales - Feb 15, 2006 12:19 pm (#455 of 735)

July of next year!!!!!!!!!!

I think that's when the 5th Movie is set to release, mid-2007.

Thanks Choices.

PS I definitely see some Kreecher in Book 7. And maybe Dooby, but Winky like Gilderoy I believe are gone from the Books. GC

Choices - Feb 15, 2006 5:39 pm (#456 of 735)

Don't get too excited Gerald - I think I remember reading that somewhere, but it could be wrong. Maybe someone else knows for sure.

Solitaire - Feb 15, 2006 7:25 pm (#457 of 735)

I don't think Winky is gone just yet. I see her--unwittingly, perhaps--making some trouble for Harry. She spent far too much time in the company of Barty Jr. and loved him too much. I think she could be used as a pawn by any of the DEs who know about her.


dhpottrerfan - Feb 15, 2006 8:45 pm (#458 of 735)

Well, getting a little back on track, I am currently re-reading the whole series, I am about 1/3 through GoF and HG is starting her house-elf research. As much as she has a problem with the slave labor she certainly has no problem enjoying the comforts of that slave labor (food, warmth, cleanliness, etc). Any way, back to my point that the elves will play a part in the last book, I still am convinced they play a larger roll. Doby has always wanted to protect Harry and I am not sure if Voldemort harmed many elves, he may even fear their power as much as he feared DD. I could see Doby being there in the final battle, may even loosing his life and in the process giving some of his powers to Harry (like Voldemort did in trying to kill Harry) tipping the balance towards Harry's final defeat of Voldemort. An off the subject point but maybe Harry will refer to Voldemort As Tom Riddle and this will help in him defeating him. I do not know though, just grasping at straws.

Gerald Costales - Feb 16, 2006 7:58 am (#459 of 735)

The Leaky Cauldron had that a 7/7/07 released date for book 7 has been widely rurmored.

I believe Wandless/house-elf magic is powerful. So, house-elves in book 7 makes sense. But, there was so little of Kreecher and Dobby in book 6.

Kreecher I believe will help Harry find the Horcrux RAB took. Dobby is devoted to Harry and may help too. Winky, I don't know.

I think book 7 will be more about the hunt for Horcruxes and that will lead eventually to the destruction of Voldermort.

I hope Ginny is at Hogwarts attending school. Ginny would be in her 6th year. Harry, Hermione, and Ron will be Horcrux chasing of course.

I just can't imagine a HP book without Hogwarts in it. GC

PS What part will the Giants have in Book 7? GC

PPS Oh where, oh where has Fawkes gone? GC

me and my shadow 813 - Feb 16, 2006 3:52 pm (#460 of 735)

dhpotterfan, I like the idea of Harry calling Vold "Tom". In DD's pensieve memory, Harry noted this and was impressed how DD didn't allow Vold to control their meeting.

Solitaire, how true, it's possible that Winky will cause trouble in Hogwarts in book 7. I think the Apparition thread was started with a question regarding the elves having so much access to students, and possibly one of them could poison the food made in the kitchens, etc. Winky doesn't seem to be adjusting very well, and we might see her becoming the "DE" of the elf community, or at least becoming a pawn, as you said, by a DE.

dhpottrerfan - Feb 16, 2006 4:52 pm (#461 of 735)

I know this has nothing to do with elves but I have to respond to Gerald question of where's Fawkes since I really like Fawkes. I think he will be back, for Harry. Why? In CoS he came and helped him and healed him and may come back to help Harry again. His tears heal and Fawkes may heal his scar. It might even be that Harry is seriously wounded again and Fawkes heals him to the point of even healing the scar. The last word of book seven is scar as stated by JKR, Harry could be looking in a mirror and saying "I have no scar" or something to that effect

Gerald Costales - Feb 17, 2006 7:28 am (#462 of 735)

The scar I believe marked Harry as the "One". So, if Harry survives then the scar wouldn't need to exist. But, I still see the scar remaining. Just to remind Harry about all that he'd done.

What will we do after Book 7 besides reread the Series? GC

haymoni - Feb 17, 2006 7:39 am (#463 of 735)

I'll be here, Gerald, wondering how I could have missed the big clues that culminate in Book 7.

We'll have a few movies to trash also.

I still wonder what will happen when Dobby makes his next appearance. What will he be able to tell Harry?

If Minerva is made Headmaster, will the house-elves belong to her?

Choices - Feb 17, 2006 11:07 am (#464 of 735)

In book one Dumbledore tells McGonagall that Harry will have the scar forever and that he (Dumbledore) wouldn't remove it even if he could. Evidently Dumbledore died (??) with his scar still intact on his knee.

HungarianHorntail11 - Feb 17, 2006 3:17 pm (#465 of 735)

We'll have a few movies to trash also.

LOL, haymoni!

timrew - Feb 17, 2006 4:59 pm (#466 of 735)

haymoni:- We'll have a few movies to trash also.

Especially, in the last book, if it goes on about Harry's green eyes being so important.

Well, in the first couple of films they were blue.................or, at least, one was blue, and one was grey...............but in the third film they were red (or was that Voldemort or Mrs. Norris?)...................and in the fourth film, they were a sort of yellow..........or was that puce? Oh, I don't know.............

I suppose we'll have to make the films all over again..........bugger!

Gerald Costales - Feb 22, 2006 8:40 am (#467 of 735)

Kreacher is now under Harry's authority. So, that relationship should be more eventful than Harry's relationship to Dobby. And Harry used both Kreacher and Dobby in Book 6.

Kreacher is still undependable to say the least. Would Kreacher betray Harry? Yes, in a heartbeat. But, Kreacher I believe is the key to uncovering at least one Horcrux.

Again, I want a battle between the Death Eaters and House-Elves. Remember what Dobby did to Lucius Malfoy. Giants vs. House-Elves, now that maybe different. But, do Giants do Magic or are they just resistant to it? GC

Die Zimtzicke - Mar 6, 2006 3:59 pm (#468 of 735)

I really don't think the house-elves will be that important. I used to think they would, sort of like the Ewoks in Star Wars...the little creatures that everyone overlooked that turned out to make a difference. But now I don't. I do think the house-elves at Hogwarts are more tied to the castle than to the headmaster. The castle seems to be almost an entity of itself. Besides, if they left, where would they go? Dobby roamed around jobless for ages before he came to Hogwarts.

I think Dobby had to be there in CoS, because of the diary, but I can't see any scene with the house-elves after that one that really makes a huge difference to the plot.

I have to admit, that's colored by the fact that they are so completely being removed from the films. If they were going to make a huge difference, I think Jo would have told them to leave them in, or at least mention Winky or SPEW.

Solitaire - Mar 7, 2006 9:31 am (#469 of 735)

Dobby, Kreacher, and Winky have all been responsible for some pretty key events in the various books. I do not think we have seen the last of them. I still look for Kreacher to make some big trouble, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of the three dies in Book 7.


Catherine - Mar 7, 2006 11:51 am (#470 of 735)

I am intrigued by the possibility that Kreacher or Dobby (poor Winky isn't lucid most of the time)knowing an important secret that will prove important to Harry's quest.

Gerald Costales - Mar 12, 2006 9:59 am (#471 of 735)

Rented the GoF video/movie and watched it Friday night. The lack of house-elves makes you wonder how important house-elves will be in Book 7. I believe the Books and Movies are related. If Winky is important then where was she in the GoF video/movie? Dobby has only been in the CoS video/movie. When Movie 5 is released will there be either Kreacher or Dobby?

If something is important to the total story wouldn't JKR make sure that it was in the movie? The future Ron and Hermione relationship, I believe is hinted at in both PoA and GoF videos/movies.

I want to see house-elves play an important role in Book 7, but I have some doubts that they will. GC

PS In the GoF video/movie, Neville gives the gillyweed to Harry not Dobby. A small change but doesn't this change show how unimportant the house-elves may truly be in Book 7. GC

PPS Oh, for a Book 7 release date. GC

Die Zimtzicke - Mar 12, 2006 1:00 pm (#472 of 735)

I can't think of a single house-elf scene that is so vital in OotP or HbP that it couldn't be written around, and the ones that I'm even slightly on the fence about could be handled by Dobby without Kreacher and Winky. Does anyone have any scenes with Kreacher that they think can't be tweaked?

I just watched GoF again, too, and if they could leave out Winky's part in GoF, I am more firmly convinced that they can write around Kreacher if they want to.

Choices - Mar 12, 2006 1:16 pm (#473 of 735)

I'm one who likes Dobby and the house-elves, but I must admit that in the movie GOF I very much liked the switch to Neville and him giving Harry the gilly-weed. I thought it worked very well.

HungarianHorntail11 - Mar 13, 2006 3:36 am (#474 of 735)

The lack of house-elves makes you wonder how important house-elves will be in Book 7.

That is a very good point, Gerald C. Shame, though. I would have enjoyed seeing their rendition of Kreacher and Dobby having it out.

haymoni - Mar 13, 2006 5:53 am (#475 of 735)

Dobby could be in HBP. His whole story about trying to find employment and ending up at Hogwarts could be introduced then.

HungarianHorntail11 - Mar 14, 2006 8:50 am (#476 of 735)

My guess is that Dobby is following Kreacher who has been told to "Get out of it" (paraphrasing) and will report any misdeeds to Harry. It would be fun if Kreacher had recovered the locket and Harry had to try and get it from him.

dhpottrerfan - Mar 14, 2006 9:20 pm (#477 of 735)

I am not sure why the house-elves are written out of the movie version of GOF but just because they are not in the movie does not mean that they are not going to be used in the last book. SPEW is mentioned many times by Hermione and there are many scenes with the elves that are completely ignored in the movie. I think that the writers wanted to concentrate more on the tasks and the rebirth of Voldemort, not the elves. They only have so much time in the movie. If they included the elves in this movie, it would have been a 4 1/2 hour movie. You have Winky being sacked by Crouch. Hermione being disturbed by how elves are treated and finding out that elves work in the kitchen, clean the castle, tend to the fires, etc. The formation of SPEW and I could go on and on. Anyway, just because the movie writers did not include it in the movie does not mean that they will not become more involved in later movies, they almost have to. Kreacher in OoP and in HBP as well as Dobby in HPB and how Kreacher and Dobby assist Harry in HBP. I know that they had Longbottom give Harry the gillyweed instead of Dobby, but Longbottom's best subject is herbology so it is not far fetched to have him give it to Harry instead of Dobby since Dobby or any of the other house-elves are not in this film. I still say that even though the movie does not make a big deal out of the elves does not mean that JKR does not have a task for them in the final book. GOF was only the fourth year, that means that there are two more movies to bring in the house-elves and I would be very surprised if they are not includee in the next two movies. Oh well, I guess we could remake all the movies and include the elves more.

frogface - Mar 15, 2006 2:13 am (#478 of 735)

I'm pretty sure Kreacher will be in OotP. I vaguely remember seeing an article with pictures designing how he would look. Very grotesque! I think he needs to be in OotP because he is the one that sells out to the Malfoy's and gets Sirius killed. Thats quite an important role, and I can't see how anyone else would do it.

Die Zimtzicke - Mar 15, 2006 8:00 am (#479 of 735)

They could, in my opinion, just drop the whole bit where Harry checks to see if Sirius is at Grimmauld Place, instead of having Kreacher there lying to Harry.

Malfoy could realize Harry is close to Sirius by seeing Sirius in dog form with Harry at the train station. Then it's done without any elves at all.

frogface - Mar 15, 2006 10:05 am (#480 of 735)

I suppose, but there would be no motive to make it look like Sirius of all people had been somehow kidnapped if Kreacher hadn't told someone that Harry would go to any lengths to rescue Sirius.

Die Zimtzicke - Mar 15, 2006 11:23 am (#481 of 735)

Harry has a saving people thing. All you'd need was the indication someone had been kidnapped to get Harry's attention. Harry would go after Sirius because he would go after anyone, even more so if it was someone he knew. Once you establish there is a link between them, you've got it. Harry wanted to save Fleur's little sister and he didn't even know her. At least by having Sirius seen by Lucius on the platform, with his paws on Harry's shoulders, you've got a good presumption they are close.

That is all you need for a film.

frogface - Mar 16, 2006 4:35 am (#482 of 735)

Ok you've got me there. But I still think Kreacher will appear in the film, given the evidence I've seen that they're actually creating him.

frogface - Mar 16, 2006 4:36 am (#483 of 735)

Ok you've got me there. But I still think Kreacher will appear in the film, given the evidence I've seen that they're actually creating him. Plus I think fans would be too upset if he didn't appear, its not like he's Mungdungus or Winky. He actually adds something significant to the story in a way that they don't.

Solitaire - Mar 16, 2006 11:11 am (#484 of 735)

Kreacher seems a rather pivotal character in OotP. I will be surprised if he is cut from the movie.

As to the characters not being in the last book because they were not in the GoF movie ... That certainly didn't stop Jo from putting house-elves in OotP and HBP. I do not see why it should possibly determine that they will not be in book 7.

I suspect there will be many things in Book 7 that never show up in many movies ... just as I am sure there will be a lot of things from OotP that do not show up in that movie. Movies combine characters and events for time's sake. In the books that is not necessary.


Die Zimtzicke - Mar 19, 2006 10:52 am (#485 of 735)

Does anyone one think the biggest house-elf question at this point is whether or not Dobby and Kreacher are still tailing Draco Malfoy?

TheSaint - Mar 19, 2006 12:43 pm (#486 of 735)

# Laughs Aloud*

Excellent point. I guess Harry will have no trouble finding them.

Finn BV - Mar 19, 2006 1:03 pm (#487 of 735)

Actually - if they're still tailing Malfoy, they'll know where he and Snape and the rest have gone to now, won't they?

geauxtigers - Mar 23, 2006 10:05 pm (#488 of 735)

Good point I never thought of that before! I hope so for Harry's sake, Dobby may be able to give Harry info in between head bashings!

Solitaire - Mar 26, 2006 9:47 am (#489 of 735)

I wonder ... Given Dobby's previous enslavement to the Malfoys, would it be hard for him to help Harry and undermine Draco? Of course, he managed to do just that in CoS, so I guess he is able to do so without punishment, now that he is free.

But Kreacher ... he does not like Harry and may not consider Harry his true master. I suspect he will be guilty of treachery at some point. I look for Kreacher's head to be mounted on the wall at 12GP before Book 7 is finished!


Finn BV - Mar 26, 2006 5:46 pm (#490 of 735)

Yeah, the thing about house-elves that bugs me is that they're not incapable of betraying their masters. There's no charm that doesn't allow them to do so. So while Dobby may remain loyal to Harry, even though Harry's not his master, I'm afraid Kreacher may do a little hand-wringing to alert the DEsÖ

Magic Words - Apr 6, 2006 10:07 am (#491 of 735)

Kreacher has already shown that he can betray his master, but I don't think he can disobey a direct order even if he punishes himself afterwards. That's why Harry had to be so careful giving his orders in HBP- don't tell Malfoy what you're up to, or give him hints, or contact him in any way. Kreacher needs loopholes to work with.

I wonder what would be the result of a general command like "don't try to betray our cause."

HungarianHorntail11 - Apr 7, 2006 3:55 am (#492 of 735)

That seems as though such a command would be open to the interpretation of the receiver, Magic Words, (I.e. one big loophole).

Finn BV - Apr 9, 2006 10:16 am (#493 of 735)

How about, "Don't do anything worthy of ironing your hands" or "Don't do anything that, if you told me, I would punish you for." Or something like that??

Solitaire - Apr 9, 2006 3:59 pm (#494 of 735)

Kreacher needs loopholes to work with

Yes, and that is scary. It means Harry will always have to be 100% clear-headed and far-thinking when he is talking to and around Kreacher ... not exactly Harry's strong suit.

BTW, does anyone remember Kreacher ever punishing himself for talking trash about Sirius or Harry, as Dobby often did when he spoke negatively (yet truthfully) about the Malfoys?


geauxtigers - Apr 9, 2006 8:07 pm (#495 of 735)

Good point Solitaire, I don't think he ever has! I wonder if thats signifigant. I think it shows that disobeying his master isn't hard for him to do, and he doesn't feel the necessity to do so. Thats odd, because house-elves are basically born punishing themselves for wrong-doings.

Solitaire - Apr 9, 2006 8:27 pm (#496 of 735)

Yeah, geauxigers ... that failure to even acknowledge that he has gone against the bonds of his enchantments bothers me. He feels his true mistress is Bella, as we know, so I wonder whether he would feel justified in betraying Harry. I still think Kreacher is a really nasty little loose end that is going to cause things to unravel for Harry before he meets his own doom.


HungarianHorntail11 - Apr 10, 2006 4:04 am (#497 of 735)

Weren't Kreacher's hands bandaged when Harry spoke to Kreacher via the fireplace?

Steve Newton - Apr 10, 2006 4:58 am (#498 of 735)

I think that you're right, HH11. I'm not sure that we are ever told that he had punished himself but that was the impression that I got.

Laura W - Apr 13, 2006 5:14 am (#499 of 735)
Edited Apr 13, 2006 6:18 am

I don't know whether this will clear anything up or just muddy the waters further - I feel I've been hit by a Confundus Charm regarding this myself - but ...

In OoP, chapter The Lost Prophecy, when Harry and Dumbledore are discussing Kreacher, DD says, "Kreacher,I am afraid, has been serving more than one master for months. ... Kreacher seized his opportunity shortly before Christmas, when Sirius apparently, shouted at him to 'get out'. ... He went to the only Black family member for whom he had any respect left...Black's cousin Narcissa...".

Later in the conversation he says: "Kreacher is what he has been made by wizards, Harry. ... He was forced to do Sirius's bidding, because Sirius was the last of the family to which he was enslaved, but he felt no true loyalty to him....".

And finally, "The Malfoys - undoubtedly on Voldemort's instructions - had told him he must find a way of keeping Sirius out of the way once you had seen the vision of Sirius being tortured. Then, if you decided to check whether Sirius was at home or not, Kreacher would be able to pretend he was not....".

Because he was obeying the mistress he was *truly* loyal to (Cissy - hee, hee), technically the house-elf was not breaking the bonds of his enchantments. Just a theory, as I try to work this out in my head.

Bottom line: Regardless, I think we all agree that Harry will have to be VERY careful in how he words his instructions to Kreacher. (Dobby, he isn't!)


HungarianHorntail11 - Apr 14, 2006 10:18 am (#500 of 735)
Edited Apr 14, 2006 11:18 am

Laura, I posted this a while back and it seems as though we've come full circle. It goes along with the last line of your post.

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #501 - #550)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:35 pm

Soul Search - Apr 14, 2006 11:19 am (#501 of 735)

I don't see the problem; I think we have seen the last of Kreacher.

Kreacher has be moved from #12 Grimmauld place, where he could cause problems, to the Hogwarts kitchens.

What scenario would bring him back into the storyline?

HungarianHorntail11 - Apr 14, 2006 11:51 am (#502 of 735)

Well, if they still intend to use 12GP for the Order's meetings, if Kreacher takes Big V to it, (perhaps on Cissy's orders in an effort to save her son and/or slippery husband) that would be a nifty surprise for Harry.

journeymom - Apr 14, 2006 1:15 pm (#503 of 735)

# Waves hello* Hi, this is my first time on this thread. Didn't Harry tell Dobby to go get some sleep at the end of the book, since Kreacher and he had been trailing Draco nonstop for a while and Dobby was exhausted? But inadvertently he did not tell Kreacher to go take a nap. Which to me means Kreacher is out there on his own, not even being watched by Dobby. So Kreacher is up to who knows what. That to me tells me we haven't seen the last of him.

There is hope for the Order where Kreacher is concerned, though. Narcissa is an unknown quantity now. She's shown she puts the love for her son above any of this loyal Death Eater nonsense. She might reign Kreacher in simply because she needs to lie low.

(Off Topic: which leads me to the thought that Kreacher is going to be the communication link between Harry and Snape. Kreacher is ostensibly Harry's elf but will be in contact with his preferred Black relative, Narcissa, who is in contact with Snape regarding Draco.)

Magic Words - Apr 14, 2006 1:46 pm (#504 of 735)

Ooh, journeymom, that's terrific. Kreacher obeys Harry and Narcissa.... and I agree that we'll have to watch Narcissa and Draco; they both seem slightly disillusioned with Death Eatership at the moment. Mix in Lucius's absence and the fact that they've turned to Snape.... very good. Very neat.

What do we know about Kreacher's opinion of Bellatrix? That's the only flaw I can see - the risk that if Narcissa has a change of heart and Kreacher realizes it, he'll abandon her for the other Black sister.

HungarianHorntail11 - Apr 14, 2006 2:11 pm (#505 of 735)

That is not OT, journeymom, that is a good point.

journeymom - Apr 14, 2006 2:49 pm (#506 of 735)


Laura W - Apr 15, 2006 2:12 am (#507 of 735)

Re post #500:

Sorry about that HH11. Guess I didn't check back far enough. (sheepish grin)

Gee, I did all that looking up stuff, putting together an argument to prove my point and typing for nothing. We'll just call it a detention, shall we?

HungarianHorntail11 - Apr 15, 2006 3:20 am (#508 of 735)

Oh, I was just posting the link because it applied to the topic at hand and it was so many posts back. I suppose the tone of my post suffered in an effort to be terse. I certainly did not mean it to seem that way. I think we have all had those times of playing "catch up" on posts, which could be overwhelming at times.

Pinky Prime - Jun 9, 2006 7:59 pm (#509 of 735)
Edited Jun 9, 2006 9:12 pm

Are we forgetting Hokey - Hepzibah Smith's (spelling?) House Elf. It was her memory that was extracted by DD. She also used enchantments(I thought only wizards could do that) to lock up the Cup and the Locket. She kept her master's secrets about the items she showed Tom Riddle in the pensive scene. Yet Heps family looked for the items and did not questioned her as to their whereabouts. I would have thought even though she had been charged by the MoM and put away, the family that she was bound to (in this case) and supposedly still serving would have asked her where those items were located first before tearing the house up. Hokey simply would have been obligated to give them an answer as her loyalties pass from family member to family member.

I didn't even see her mentioned in the LEX under House Elves. Dobby knowing about the mischief of the diary may tell us that these creatures may know more of magic than they let on. They most certainly have been put in circumstances where they could not share their knowledge. However they find ways to let things slip.

Kreacher may have indeed hidden the Lockett. He may have been lead by the tradition of his house and that of his house-elf ancestors to uphold the evil prejudices and faithful secrets of the dark artifacts to ever change.

Maybe Dobby fears the dark side because pf what may have happened to Hokey. They are forced to be accomplices to crimes because of their oaths to serve. Dobby may feel Kreature is a disgrace to house-elf kind. Which is the reason why he wants to keep an eye on him for Harry even though Harry isn't his master.

Winky is still a mystery but she had to have been privy to information on Barty Crouch Jr. While under the Imperius Curse he may have been questioned by his father with Winky present. She also may know more than what was being told. If only Fudge could have stayed the Dementors' kiss. We would know much more because she was in BC Jr's presence. DD strategically put her there to put her on the spot. After all, if Voldemort named BC Jr his most loyal servant that would mean that he trusted him more so than the others. Considering that he put his Diary Horcrux in Lucias Malfoy's hand to safeguard, do we not put it past him to do the same with BC Jr. Winky might know something. That is my theory anyway. They are all connected to Voldemort's Horcruxes in some way.

Gerald Costales - Sep 1, 2006 7:53 am (#510 of 735)
Edited Sep 1, 2006 8:57 am

I don't expect to see Winky in Book 7. Now, Kreacher and Dobby I believe are different.

Kreacher probably knows something about the locket RAB took. Also, when HRH were cleaning 12 GP a locket that couldn't be open was found. I think that these are one and the same locket.

Dobby most likely will help Harry in Book 7. And Kreacher's hatred of Harry may cause Kreacher to seek another Master/Mistress if Kreacher doesn't already have another Master/Misstress (Narcissa).

Are house-elves tied to a family or a place? If 12 GP was destroyed would Kreacher be freed? Harry is master of Kreacher because of 12 GP not because of family ties. It appears that house-elves (like slaves) are property that can be willed from one person (Sirius) to another (Harry).

Dobby as an ex-house-elf for the Malfoys brings up another interesting twist. Could Dobby somehow help Harry find Draco? Draco could certainly be helpful to Harry in Book 7.

Don't know where I read it but Dobby comments that Dobby is happy keeping Dumbledore's secrets. (Someone will probably find the line from the Books.) If Dumbledore gave Dobby secrets - What could they be? And with Dumbledore's death, who would Dobby share the secrets with? Besides Dobby is not obligated to keep Dumbledore's secret's. Dobby is free and being paid. ;-) GC

Choices - Sep 1, 2006 9:33 am (#511 of 735)
Edited Sep 1, 2006 10:33 am

Gerald - "Could Dobby somehow help Harry find Draco?"

If I remember correctly, Dobby at least (and possibly Kreacher) is still tailing Draco. Dobby should have followed Draco even when he left Hogwarts with Snape and will be able to tell Harry where he has gone.

Solitaire - Sep 3, 2006 8:17 am (#512 of 735)
Edited Sep 3, 2006 9:19 am

Choices is probably right. Since I do not believe Harry has told Dobby to stop following Draco, he probably still is. I worry about Kreacher following him, though ... I think Harry (and everyone else) is safer if Kreacher remains within the environs of Hogwarts. Even though Kreacher could not tell the location of the Order headquarters, he might give information that could allow Bella or Narcissa to work it out.


Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 3, 2006 6:33 pm (#513 of 735)

If Hogwarts does not reopen that could cause a problem for Harry. What will he do with Kreacher? What will all the house-elves do? LPO

HungarianHorntail11 - Sep 3, 2006 7:09 pm (#514 of 735)

From what I gathered, LPO, if they plan to keep the school open for even one student, chances are, it will remain open.

Olivia and Solitaire just made me think - if Kreacher could give away valuable information, such as what he did in OotP to the dark side, could that not work in the opposite direction (I.e., give info to Harry)? He has been around for a long time and may know where the locket came from and also what Narcissa and even Bellatrix or others may have been up to that may be of help to Harry. Just some food for thought.

Solitaire - Sep 3, 2006 8:38 pm (#515 of 735)

He probably could give lots of useful information to Harry, if he chose. I doubt that is going to happen. Harry would have to order him to give it ... and then he would have to know what to order him to spill. It wouldn't be easy ...


HungarianHorntail11 - Sep 4, 2006 5:45 am (#516 of 735)

Since Harry ordered him to shut up and couldn't fight it, what if he orders him to tell him everything he knows about one in particular? I thought that scene was a telling moment that showed how much power Harry could exert over Kreacher.

LOL, I'm now envisioning Kreacher banging his head against a wall while spewing out information. Oh, maybe SPEW isn't an acronym after all!

I agree it wouldn't be easy, Solitaire!

Gerald Costales - Sep 5, 2006 4:34 pm (#517 of 735)
Edited Sep 5, 2006 5:51 pm

Here’s an excerpt about House-Elves, it appears that keeping secrets and silence is part of a house-elves enslavement. So, Harry if he needs to get some important information (probably about a Horcrux) would get it from Dobby. Of course, Harry could trick Kreacher into spilling his guts. ;-) GC

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ‘Winky is having trouble adjusting, Harry Potter,’squeaked

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dobby confidentially. ‘Winky forgets she is not bound to Mr.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crouch anymore; she is allowed to speak her mind now, but she

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . won’t do it.’

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ‘Can’t house-elves speak their minds about their masters, then?’

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harry asked.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ‘Oh no, sir, no,’ said Dobby looking suddenly serious. ‘Tis

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . part of the house-elf’s enslavement, sir. We keeps their secrets and

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . our silence, sir. We upholds the family’s honor, and we never speaks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ill of them --- though Professor Dumbledore told Dobby he does

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . not insist upon this. Professor Dumbledore said we is free to ---

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . to ---’

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dobby looked suddenly nervous and beckoned Harry closer.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harry bent forward. Dobby whispered, ‘He said we is free to call

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . him a --- barmy old codger if we likes, sir!’

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ‘But Dobby is not wanting to, Harry Potter,’ he said, talking

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . normally again, and shaking his head so that his ears flapped.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ‘Dobby likes Professor Dumbledore very much, sit, and is proud

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . to keep his secrets and our silence for him.’

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (page 380 GoF American edition)

PS The last line of this excerpt is interesting, is it possible that Dobby has a secret from Dumbledore to keep and with Dumbledore's death Dobby could now give it to Harry. ;-) GC

Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 5, 2006 5:27 pm (#518 of 735)

GC I've often wondered about that line. I wouldn't be surprised if Dobby does have some secrets from Dumbledore to give to Harry. Dumbledore is very aware of how much Dobby admires Harry. LPO

PS. It is great to read your posts again!

Gerald Costales - Sep 5, 2006 6:27 pm (#519 of 735)
Edited Sep 5, 2006 8:35 pm

.**blush** Thanks LPO

I picture a Dobby vs Kreacher scene in Book 7.

I've thought that the house-elves Wandless Magic could really be an asset to the Good Guys. And there are One Hundred house-elves at Hogwarts.

The image of Dobby blasting Lucius Malfoy down the stairs at the end CoS; I think proves that a house-elf vs Wizard match would have a house-elf winning Wandless hands down. ;-) GC

PS I was hoping Dobby could be a possible HBP and that Dobby would have lead a revolt against their Wizard Masters. Dobby is the only house-elf it appears that longs for freedom from his Masters (which seems to be very usual trait for any house-elf ). ;-) GC

haymoni - Sep 6, 2006 5:18 am (#520 of 735)

I always thought that was the reason why house-elves could not use wands - if they are that powerful without them, I could see the MOM passing laws to make certain that they were not able to use them.

Gerald Costales - Sep 6, 2006 5:50 am (#521 of 735)
Edited Sep 6, 2006 6:50 am

Similar to banning the teaching of reading and writing to slaves. Wands could give too much power to the House-Elves. Was Diggory's questioning of Winky heavy handed to just get information or to scare Winky never to go near Wands again? ;-) GC

Solitaire - Sep 9, 2006 7:40 pm (#522 of 735)
Edited Sep 9, 2006 8:41 pm

Harry could trick Kreacher into spilling his guts.

Kreacher was a house-elf in a house of Wizards who were not particularly nice people. I suspect he is pretty cagey and careful. I rather doubt he would be easy to trick. He also does not appear to feel guilty about violating his house-elf "code of ethics." We certainly do not see him rushing off to slam his ears in the oven door or iron his hands after he ran to the Malfoys and shot off his mouth ... do we?


Steve Newton - Sep 9, 2006 9:21 pm (#523 of 735)

I'm not sure. We do see him with his hands wrapped when Harry talks to him from the hearth. Perhaps he did punish himself.

Why would Harry have to trick him? Kreacher will tell Harry anything...if he asks the right question.

Gerald Costales - Sep 14, 2006 4:28 am (#524 of 735)

"Kreacher will tell Harry anything...if he asks the right question." Steve Newton

But, what if Harry says the wrong thing like when Sirius told Kreacher to leave? Didn't Kreacher go looking for a Black family member? It won't take too much for Harry to misspeak or not carefully order Kreacher properly. Kreacher will twist every word Harry uses in order to disobey, circumvent a direct order, and eventually try to betray Harry. Kreacher betrayed Sirius. Kreacher is a liability not an asset. ;-) GC

haymoni - Sep 14, 2006 4:37 am (#525 of 735)

Harry isn't going to talk to Kreacher unless he absolutely has to.

Dobby will be much more helpful.

legolas returns - Sep 14, 2006 1:19 pm (#526 of 735)

When Harry asks Kreacher and DObby to trail Malfoy in HBP he makes sure of every possible eventuality so that Kreacher cant betray him.

HungarianHorntail11 - Sep 14, 2006 8:28 pm (#527 of 735)
Edited Sep 14, 2006 9:30 pm

Since we're back on this, thought I'd post this link from a previous post.

Gerald Costales - Sep 15, 2006 5:03 am (#528 of 735)
Edited Sep 15, 2006 6:13 am

The "elf-free again" comment is troubling because it's about Kreacher. Harry can trust Dobby. And I don't know if there is anything that Harry can do to insure Kreacher's silence let alone Kreacher's undivided loyalty. Kreacher's first loyalty is to the Black family not Harry.

If Harry could perfectly word a command that keeps Kreacher busy and out of trouble that may work. But, I expect more trouble than help from Kreacher in Book 7. ;-) GC

Die Zimtzicke - Sep 15, 2006 7:57 pm (#529 of 735)

I don't know if Harry can trust Dobby. Dobby adores Harry and would never intentionally betray him, but couldn't he possibly be tricked into doing something that didn't work out well for Harry, if the person confusing him was cunning enough?

Gerald Costales - Sep 16, 2006 6:49 pm (#530 of 735)
Edited Sep 16, 2006 7:58 pm

"But couldn't he possibly be tricked into doing something that didn't work out well for Harry, if the person confusing him was cunning enough?" Die Zimtzicke

But, hopefully Harry can be cunning enough to trick Kreacher into something that will work out well for Harry. Don't forget Sirius caught Kreacher "snogging" (kissing) Sirius' father's slippers (if I'm recalling it correctly). But, my point is Kreacher hated Sirius' father and only really loved Mrs. Black. Sirius was a "blood traitor" according to Mrs. Black and you know Kreacher loathed Sirius as well.

I believe Kreacher will be the key to finding the locket R.A.B. took. (Many people believe R.A.B.is Regulus Black, Sirius's younger brother.) ;-) GC

PS Despite his shortcomings I'd trust Dobby anyday over Kreacher. ;-) GC

Solitaire - Sep 17, 2006 11:14 am (#531 of 735)
Edited Sep 17, 2006 12:16 pm

Dobby is a free agent, so to speak, so he is not bound to obey anyone. Hopefully, he knows enough not to agree to help any of Harry's enemies. The fact that he was willing to suffer the consequences (in CoS) of helping Harry while still belonging to the Malfoys makes me believe that he has a highly developed sense of right and wrong that supersedes even the house-elf code of honor. Because of this, I certainly cannot see him doing anything deliberately to hurt Harry. I even think his level of intelligence will probably prevent him from inadvertently hurting Harry. He does seem to think things through. Does this make sense?


Gerald Costales - Sep 17, 2006 6:11 pm (#532 of 735)
Edited Sep 17, 2006 7:43 pm

"The fact that he was willing to suffer the consequences (in CoS) of helping Harry while still belonging to the Malfoys makes me believe that he has a highly developed sense of right and wrong that supersedes even the house-elf code of honor." Solitaire

I really agree with this comment. And Dobby seems to be the only house-elf that really longs for his freedom. (Why? Maybe we'll finally learn the reason for Dobby's need for freedom in Book 7.) Dobby does call the Malfoys Dark Wizards when Dobby has the chance to make an honest comment about his former Masters.

"I even think his level of intelligence will probably prevent him from inadvertently hurting Harry. He does seem to think things through. Does this make sense?" Solitaire

Dobby did go to a lot of effort and planning in CoS to contact Harry; prevent Harry from going to Hogwarts; etc. Dobby sending that Rouge Bludger after Harry was certainly not helpful or well thought out. But, to Dobby it was better to have Harry injured then to have Harry killed or crippled by Lucius. Something that Dobby probably had overheard from Lucius caused Dobby to contact Harry. And what Dobby overheard was most likely Lucius plotting against Harry. Dobby was probably risking his life and not just hand ironing in defying Lucius. ;-) GC

HungarianHorntail11 - Sep 18, 2006 12:35 pm (#533 of 735)
Edited Sep 18, 2006 1:36 pm

When thinking about the house elves' behavior, I can see how you have grounds for concern, Die. Though their motives are sincere, they can backfire. Winky remained loyal even after being 'sacked' to a fault. Dobby's attempts to keep Harry safe in CoS were not only unconventional (if there is such a thing in their world) but downright hurtful with the exception of his face off with Lucius. Not exactly reliable, is it?

Die Zimtzicke - Sep 18, 2006 7:46 pm (#534 of 735)

Dobby will not knowingly betray Harry. But I still fear he can be tricked, confused or conned into saying something he shouldn't, since as a free elf, he is not under any spell to prevent him from telling secrets.

Although I am intrigued by the fact that he said he was glad to keep Dumbledore's secrets, even though he didn't have to. What secrets could Dumbledore have told him?

legolas returns - Sep 19, 2006 11:11 am (#535 of 735)

I cant imagine that Dumbledore would talk individually to each elf and tell them something. The house-elf might overhear stuff in there duties. Keeping quiet about this would come under the heading of secrets.

Gerald Costales - Sep 20, 2006 5:23 am (#536 of 735)
Edited Sep 20, 2006 6:26 am

I believe that Dumbledore may have had a REAL conversation with Dobby. Remember, Dobby and Dumbledore had an employment interview. Dumbledore just didn't hire Dobby on the spot. And Dobby had to talk Dumbledore down on both pay and days off.

Dumbledore spoke Merish and read the Muggle papers (that's how he knew about Frank Bryce's murder at the old Riddle Mansion). Unlike other Wizards and Witches, I believe if anyone would take the time to have decent conversations (not mere chit-chat and pleasantries) with a house-elf , it would be Dumbledore.

Dumbledore is open-minded even having a Squib in the Order of the Phoenix. Facts like Dumbledore trust of Hagrid, showed how Dumbledore treated other beings. (I don’t believe Dumbledore cared that Hagrid is Half-Giant or half anything else.)

Besides if Dumbledore needed a secret passed on to Harry after his death, who better than Dobby (a mere house-elf )? NO one would suspect Dobby having any secrets (especially Voldermort and his Death Eaters)? And Dobby would keep Dumbledore’s secrets? ;-) GC

PS Isn't tolerance something Dumbledore would want? And Tolerance and Acceptance of all Beings was what Dumbledore practiced? Just ask people like Mrs. Figg, Hagrid, and Lupin, all outcasts in the Wizarding World but trusted and respected by Dumbledore. ;-) GC

Solitaire - Sep 24, 2006 6:27 pm (#537 of 735)

Dumbledore certainly did not underestimate Kreacher. He tells Harry in OotP that he had warned Sirius, when the Order adopted GP as its headquarters, that Kreacher needed to be treated with kindness and respect. I can see Dumbledore entrusting Dobby with information or something to pass on to Harry at some point in the future, just as he entrusted Mrs. Figg (and she Mr. Tibbles) with keeping an eye on Harry. Dumbledore knew Dobby's level of love and loyalty to Harry, so it makes perfect sense to me.


Ludicrous Patents Office - Sep 25, 2006 4:29 pm (#538 of 735)

GC I love Dobby. It would be a neat story line for him to have some of Dumbledore's secrets to share with Harry. I just hope Harry would listen. LPO

Eroej Kab - May 4, 2007 9:30 am (#539 of 735)

Please help me.

Does anyone know if DD ever specifically and explicitly spoke out against house-elf enslavement (or any other form of slavery for that matter)?

Thanks for any help you can lend.

journeymom - May 4, 2007 10:13 am (#540 of 735)

My impression, without doing any research, is that No, he did not. But he clearly made the point about how the way a person treats someone with less power reflects on that person, and that was in reference to house elves.

haymoni - May 5, 2007 3:54 am (#541 of 735)

And he seemed to have no qualms about paying Dobby.

Solitaire - May 5, 2007 10:11 pm (#542 of 735)
Edited May 5, 2007 11:12 pm

Given his attitudes about the giants--that they needed to be recognized and treated with respect--I don't have any difficulty believing he may have suggested that house-elves needed to be treated with respect, as well.

Dobby, of course, wanted wages and freedom ... but didn't the other house-elves think he was kind of disrespectful for this? I've often wondered whether the house-elves at Hogwarts are there because they were enslaved or because they sought refuge where they would be treated with kindness and respect.

Question: If the house-elves take pride in and value their place in the magical world, is it kind to try and emancipate them? They do not seem to like Hermione's overtures much. Just curious to know what others think ...


rambkowalczyk - May 6, 2007 10:06 am (#543 of 735)

House-elves in general like to serve and seem to be insulted if you try to pay them. Like people they have standards on who is worthy of such service. Kreacher doesn't think Harry is worthy and Dobby doesn't think the Malfoys are worthy.

But I remember a scene from GOF where the house-elves clearly disapproved of Winky because there was work to be done and she wasn't doing it. It seems they have a strong code of honor that requires them to keep busy.

frogface - May 12, 2007 5:04 am (#544 of 735)

Can a being technically actually be a slave if you treat them as an equal? My answer would be no. The only house-elves that are slaves in my view are the ones whose nature is abused, such as Dobby. Dumbledore treats the Elves as equals and gives them what they want, rather than what he thinks they should want - like the way Hermione insists they should be paid, even though they clearly don't want to be. Dobby wants paying, so he gets paid, other Elves just want to get on with their job, so he lets them. I think this is the way JKR sees it as well. Hermione means well, but ultimately falls short because she doesn't look at things from the Elves point of view.

journeymom - May 13, 2007 1:00 pm (#545 of 735)

I think it's interesting that Dumbledore seems to have talked privately to Hermione about house elves.

And, frogface, I like what you said. Dumbledore treats the elves with respect. Maybe we're supposed to conclude that Hermione is condescending to the elves, however well intentioned she is? She assumes she knows best?

Sigh. I'll be honest, I still don't quite get what we're supposed to think about the elves.

Solitaire - May 13, 2007 7:01 pm (#546 of 735)
Edited May 13, 2007 8:02 pm

Journeymom: Maybe we're supposed to conclude that Hermione is condescending to the elves, however well intentioned she is? She assumes she knows best?

I believe that is true, Journeymom. The House-Elves, with the exception of Dobby, seem insulted by her actions. I believe they value their role at Hogwarts (and elsewhere). I also think Hermione's sort of do-gooding is problematic. What if all house-elves were to leave their masters. Where would they go? What would they do? How would they live? Has she worked out a plan of action to deal with hundreds--perhaps thousands--of suddenly-freed house-elves around the Wizarding World? Surely they can't all come to Hogwarts! Such things must be considered, or they could wind up in worse situations than they currently find themselves. JM2K ...


Die Zimtzicke - May 15, 2007 8:19 am (#547 of 735)

Where Hermione went wrong with the elves, in my opinion, is when she stopped trying to educate them and started trying to trick them. If some of them were freed by trickery, how would they react? Where would they go? What would they do? How would they survive? We know it took Dobby ages to find a job, because no one wanted a free elf.

But alas, this had kind of been tabled, not permanently I hope. I would love to see the elves like the Ewoks in Star Wars, who were ignored for a long time as insignificant, but played a big role in the end.

journeymom - May 16, 2007 10:49 am (#548 of 735)

Where Hermione went wrong with the elves, in my opinion, is when she stopped trying to educate them and started trying to trick them.Die Zim, good point.

Nathan Zimmermann - May 16, 2007 7:42 pm (#549 of 735)
Edited May 16, 2007 8:49 pm

In an Adlerian context I would argue that the behavior especialy the trait of loyalty of the house-elves has been conditioned over the ceturies through the use positive and negative reinforcement and that independent action is for the most part uncommon amongst House-Elves.

Consider the actions of Bartimaeus crouch sr. who dismissed Winky from his service for failing to fulfill her duties and yet, at the end of GoF in spite of all Barty Crouch Jr.'s evil deeds including patricide Winky remains loyal to Brty Crouch Jr. and bemoans his fate.

I doubt Hermione at the time possessed the maturity and skill necessary to effect changes within the culture of the house-elves.

Eroej Kab - May 30, 2007 6:07 am (#550 of 735)

There must be a reason for their enslavement. Reading Red Hen's discussion of the folklore behind house-elves (http://www.redhen-publications.com/Servants.html) it may be that some major threat to their existence (maybe physically, maybe psychologically) was abated by a compromise with wizards several hundred years ago, in which the wizards gave them places to live in return for their acceptance of imperatives to service, loyalty and secrecy. It seems the elves do like to serve but can also be mischievous, devious and willful (as witnessed by the actions of Dobby and Kreacher relative to their masters and Winky’s actions from the distorted point of view of Mr. Crouch). The wizards took them in only because this mischievous nature was controlled by magical imperatives. No one would want a house-elf that wants ‘paying’ because it is a sure sign that the elf in question would be disruptive, as his willful nature is not in check. Even the fact that an elf was freed would be a stain on them that would indicate they are devious to the point of banishment by some other wizard.

Maybe the elves reject Hermione’s attempts to ‘liberate’ them out of fear of the ancient threat that caused them to accept enslavement in the first place. Perhaps she should be addressing herself to the slave owners who have the power to act instead of the enslaved who are relatively powerless (although Dobby demonstrated quite some power against Lucious Malfoy after he was freed).

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #551 - #600)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:44 pm

Chemyst - May 30, 2007 10:39 am (#551 of 735)

...the enslaved who are relatively powerless

But the Hogwarts house-elves were not relatively powerless unless from fear or by choice. All they would have had to do to achieve freedom was to volunteer to clean the Gryffindor common room for one night. Or they could have, as Dobby did, struck a deal with Dumbledore. There are at least three elements other than their masters that are keeping them enslaved.

One is peer pressure; which was illustrated in GF21 by the tribal behavior the house-elves displayed in the Hogwarts kitchen.

Secondly, there is the "better red than dead" mentality where they willingly, even gladly give up freedom for the protection of having a master. If the only thing you are good at and the only thing that makes you happy is keeping house, then having a house to serve becomes the critical point of job security.

And thirdly, house-elves crave the status of serving a good wizarding family. That desire for status is the one thing Winky had in common with Kreacher; they both found their self-esteem from the family they served. It is also the thing that disenfranchised Dobby; he did not think the Malfoy's were worthy.

Soul Search - May 30, 2007 1:10 pm (#552 of 735)
Edited May 30, 2007 2:11 pm

I seem to see a parallel between house-elves in the wizarding world and the staff of large English manor houses in the late nineteenth and early twentyith centuries. Now, my only knowledge comes from BBC shows and P.G. Wodhouse, but there seem to be similarities in all three of Chemyst's "elements."

Solitaire - May 30, 2007 10:15 pm (#553 of 735)
Edited May 30, 2007 11:17 pm

One of the things I've learned while teaching ancient history is that all people have a history. I'm betting the house-elves have either a written history or an oral tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. This is why I've felt it is so critical for Hermione to do some extensive interviewing with a broad variety of House-Elves.

I believe the house-elves we have seen--Dobby, Kreacher, Winky, and the Hogwarts Elves--represent the spectrum of attitudes and opinions that exist among the house-elves about their position in the magical world. I suggest that Dobby is younger and more independent. He seems willing to violate his "house-elf Code" and risk punishment in order to take a stand against evil and injustice. He also likes being able to choose whom he will serve.

Winky is an Elf whose devotion to her family completely defines her. Unlike Dobby, she will protect her masters even if they break the law. When her efforts are rewarded by dismissal, she is unable to cope and falls apart. Kreacher seems evil to me, but it could just be that he lived among people whose values were twisted. He has completely imbibed their prejudices and repeats what he has "ingested" over the years. At any rate, he cannot be trusted. We have seen him injure Buckbeak and set in motion a chain of events that led to Sirius's death. He doesn't seem fazed by that.

The Hogwarts Elves seem to represent house-elves who seem fairly content with their place in the world. They enjoy caring for the kids and respect Dumbledore. Perhaps they are representative of house-elves who have decent masters and feel like a part of the family. The other three seem to be different from this group. Perhaps they are the "minority groups" within the House-Elves.

Just some thoughts on the situation ...


Solitaire - Jun 2, 2007 8:28 am (#554 of 735)

This is a response to post #2170 by Die Zimtzicke on Hermione's thread. Since my response focuses less on Hermione than the House-Elves, I felt I should answer here.

Die, that has been one of the key issues I've discussed in my posts. Plans must be in place before the emancipation to make sure the house-elves are safe--housed, fed, employed. Otherwise, they could be exposed to dangers that are just as serious as those many are currently enduring. Their lack of wands coupled with any restrictions that may have been placed on them with regard to using magic against Wizards--even evil ones intent on harming them--could expose them to more serious dangers.


Chemyst - Jun 2, 2007 5:40 pm (#555 of 735)
Edited Jun 2, 2007 6:57 pm

I went back and read that section of OP18 again where Dobby says that the Hogwarts elves found Hermione's socks and hats insulting. They don't see Hermione's action as helpful. They see it as if she is trying to fire them! And even though it was their job to clean the Gryffindor common room, these elves apparently have enough power to stage a boycott. They seem to be snobbish that way.

The deceit and trickery Die brought up is interesting from another angle too. That demonstrates how very little Hermione trusts them.

Yes, it took Dobby a while to find a job, but he attributes that to his expecting to be paid. Which got me to wondering- Ron Weasley once said they could not afford a house elf; all they had was a ghoul in the attic. So, if the money is not going to a salary, and it is not going for clothes, then what is so expensive about keeping a house elf? That is why I think the house-elves crave the status they derive from the standing of their owner. They don't seem to want to be owned by any one who is not from an old, upper crust, wizarding family. Apparently Weasley pure-blood is not enough.

Solitaire, I know we have seen them only via the Pensieve, but how do Hokey and Hepzibah fit into your "spectrum of attitudes and opinions" theory?

ÖCome to think of it, Hepzibah had a variety of hiding places in her home. Maybe Hermione would have had better luck freeing elves there!

Solitaire - Jun 2, 2007 7:55 pm (#556 of 735)

You know, Chemyst, I'd forgotten about them, because we see them so briefly. I'll have to go back and reread. You're right about Ron's comments ... although perhaps he just means that since house-elves seem to be attached to large manor houses, they'd have to live in a manor house to have a house-elf ... and they can't afford that. Just a thought ...


Die Zimtzicke - Jun 3, 2007 7:42 pm (#557 of 735)

I don't think the expense with having an elf comes from any idea that you have to pay the elf. I think what Ron meant was that it was hard to find an elf without a home who would be able to come work for the Weasleys. If an old wizarding family has to get rid of an elf for some reason, I think they would ask for a lot of money to compensate them for switching the elves allegience to another house. I think that's where the idea of comparing them to slaves comes from. It would be more like slavery, if an owner didn't want the elf anymore, and rather than free them, tried to palm them off on someone else, expecting compenstaion.

UNLESS Solitaire is right and elves only work in large buildings, and can only attach themselves to something substantial, and therefore more extensive than the Burrow?

Michael Franz - Jun 18, 2007 4:15 pm (#558 of 735)

I find it interesting that most HP fans think the Imperius Curse is 100% pure evil, yet have absolutely no moral qualms about the magical compulsion that binds house elves. Make no mistake, it is a magical compulsion -- otherwise, Kreacher wouldn't have shut up the moment Harry ordered him to. Yes, the house-elves "like" to serve -- just as someone under the Imperius Curse "feels good" about doing anything they're told. I doubt there's a single Ella Enchanted fan who actually believed her obedience was a "gift" -- so why do HP fans believe differently?

Solitaire - Jun 18, 2007 5:34 pm (#559 of 735)
Edited Jun 18, 2007 6:36 pm

I find it interesting that most HP fans think the Imperius Curse is 100% pure evil, yet have absolutely no moral qualms about the magical compulsion that binds house elves.

This is rather a sweeping generalization, Michael. I think you have misunderstood the comments on this thread and this Forum if that is the impression you have. I do not believe anyone on this Forum (I cannot speak for fans on other forums) thinks that the House-Elves' enslavement is a good thing. Some posters on the Forum have taken issue with Hermione's way of going about things, which you must own is not too effective, but that is not the same thing as you describe. No one denies that Hermione's heart was in the right place.

Most readers, I think, believe the house-elves should have the freedom to choose where they work and what they do. However, steps must be taken to enforce those freedoms and "civil rights" and ensure that the house-elves do not suffer retaliation at the hands of a Wizarding population that is angry over and unprepared for the change. Also, care must be taken to educate house-elves themselves, since many are downright resistant to such changes.

House-elves like Dobby would no doubt welcome the freedom and eventually find a way to provide for themselves. But what about the Winkies and the Kreachers among the world's house-elf population? Turning them loose without some education and a plan to see that they are safely housed and employed would be cruel rather than kind.

I do not deny that this is a critical issue which the Ministry needs to address at once. But it needs to be carried out in such a way that the Wizarding World accepts the change graciously and the lives of the house-elves are better rather than worse.


Michael Franz - Jun 18, 2007 6:08 pm (#560 of 735)

I admit, I was way off base when I said "absolutely no moral qualms." Clearly, many people do consider this a moral issue. My point is, though, that there is really no debate about whether or not the Imperius Curse is evil. If Harry were to use it on Uncle Vernon to make his life at Privet Drive happier, that would make him almost as bad as a Death Eater. Yet, the idea that house-elves "like" to serve is still presented as a reason to explain why they're not "really" slaves. Dobby likes serving Harry, it's true -- but Dobby and the other house-elves have a pathological need to serve someone, and that need was most likely created by magic. It's also true that they can't all just be freed in an instant; however, the fact that they need to be freed at all indicates that the status quo is a problem that needs to be solved. It may take the work of generations -- but the status quo for house-elves is not good. That part, I feel, shouldn't need a debate.

Solitaire - Jun 18, 2007 8:22 pm (#561 of 735)
Edited Jun 18, 2007 9:23 pm

I agree, Michael, that the enslavement issue does not need a debate ... but I don't think there really IS a debate, at least on this forum. Most fans here, I think, agree that the Elves need to be free. The real sticker in the patch is going to be getting people like Scrimgeour to focus on the house-elves at this particular time. Their attention is obviously focused in a different direction.

If Hermione lives through the war, I have no doubt the House-Elves' freedom will be the first thing she tackles. Hm ... perhaps SHE should run for MoM. Werewolves, House-Elves, Giants, and Centaurs would then have some representation in the decisions affecting the magical world.

Let's hope it does not take GENERATIONS for the problem to be fixed. I am hoping it will be resolved by the end of the series. Perhaps the vanquishing of Voldemort holds the key to breaking the House-Elves' enslavement in some way. Just a thought ...


Ludicrous Patents Office - Jun 26, 2007 6:14 pm (#562 of 735)

One of the main issues confronting the wizarding world is how they have treated other intelligent beings. I think that there will need to be a major transformation. One of those is Hogwarts accepting students from the different beings (goblins, house elves, centaurs, werewolves, giants) It would be one way to help the house elves. If they could use wands and get a magical education like wizarding children they would be better able to create free lives for themselves. LPO

Solitaire - Jun 26, 2007 6:28 pm (#563 of 735)

Good pointk LPO. Apparently, though, some house-elves have prejudices of their own. Remember Winky's comment about Dobby wanting pay for his work: "You goes racketing around like this, Dobby, I says, and next thing I hear you's up in front of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, like some common goblin."

It sounds like Winky doesn't have a very high view of Goblins.


Ludicrous Patents Office - Jun 27, 2007 7:31 am (#564 of 735)

The sorting would be very interesting. Having Goblins and house-elves in the same house might be entertaining. Oh I wish Jo would write more books. There is so much she can do with this world. Can you imagine the humor with house-elves and Goblins? I do think that many older house-elves would remain bound to their families by choice. That kind of change would be too much. LPO

TwinklingBlueEyes - Jun 27, 2007 7:38 am (#565 of 735)
Edited Jun 27, 2007 8:38 am

"Oh I wish Jo would write more books. There is so much she can do with this world." Indeed! And I wonder if a house elf's magic would be strong enough to make that happen.

...toddles off muttering to self, see, you did stay on topic...

Solitaire - Jun 27, 2007 8:54 am (#566 of 735)

I agree that it might be very entertaining to pursue the stories of some of the key house-elves and Goblins. For example, how did the Goblins come to be in control of the money? And why did the Black house-elves aspire to "beheadedness" at the end of their careers ... or did they?


Ludicrous Patents Office - Jun 27, 2007 12:30 pm (#567 of 735)

I would like to know more about house-elf marriage and child rearing. Do they chose their partners? I would also like to know if other families behead their elves. LPO

Solitaire - Jun 27, 2007 2:28 pm (#568 of 735)
Edited Jun 27, 2007 3:29 pm

Yeah, beheading the Elves sounds so gruesome and disrespectful--I wouldn't do it to my worst enemy.

Allison R - Jun 27, 2007 6:53 pm (#569 of 735)

Soli-- it epitomizes for me the attitude that they are seen by the Black family (with a couple of notable exceptions) as "things" and "objects" and "possessions" instead of sentient beings...

journeymom - Jun 28, 2007 12:57 pm (#570 of 735)


Ludicrous Patents Office - Jun 28, 2007 3:10 pm (#571 of 735)

I hope this means Dobby survives. LPO

Hagsquid - Jul 4, 2007 7:47 am (#572 of 735)

A couple of things.

1. I don't know if this has been mentioned or not, but the attitude Ron et al have towards house-elves "they like it" "they don't want to be free", and the attitudes of the house-elves themselves are very similar to the slaves of old U.S. Some of them did not want to be freed; of course, that later changed.

2. Has anyone ever considered the idea that Dobby didn't want to be freed, and will try to seek revenge on Harry for getting him clothed? Very Happy

Choices - Jul 4, 2007 9:43 am (#573 of 735)

I have never considered that - Dobby loves Harry and has thanked him for setting him free. Dobby says the fate of all house-elves has improved since Harry came along. Why on earth would Dobby want revenge on Harry? That makes no sense to me.

Hagsquid - Jul 4, 2007 11:50 am (#574 of 735)
Edited Jul 4, 2007 12:51 pm

All other house elves, without exception thus far, do not be wanting to be freed. They are liking being slaves.

What makes Dobby different? Why is he the one elf who *wanted* freedom. At the end of CoS, we assume that it's normal for a house-elf to want freedom, but then we meet Winky and the kitchen elves, and it becomes apparent that most elves would be angry at Harry if he were to trick them into taking clothes. Then we assume that Dobby wanted freedom because he had an abusive family, but, if you think about it, Winky's family wasn't exactly nice to elves...

I'm surely not saying that I think Dobby *will* get revenge on Harry, just that it would be a fun theory to pursue.

I figure if I throw out five hundred wild theories, and one of them hits, then I can say "HA! TOLD YOU!" while ignoring the other 499 that missed. Wink

Ludicrous Patents Office - Jul 4, 2007 7:21 pm (#575 of 735)

I agree with Hagrid on this one: There's weirdos in every breed. I hope Hagsquid that this theory is one of the 499 misses! I like Dobby too much to see him as a traitor.

At the end of CoS Harry asks Dobby to promise not to save his life again. Dobby does not promise in the book or movie. Of course Dobby has came to Harry's aid a couple times: Gilly Weed and tipping him off about Umbridge coming. I think there will be a significant moment when Dobby does save Harry's live. LPO

Hagsquid - Jul 4, 2007 7:28 pm (#576 of 735)

In the movie... Harry says "just promise me something" to which Dobby replies "anything sir."

This could be construed as agreement to the promise.

In the book, however, it's very clear that the promise was not made, and that Dobby knew this to be a joke.

On a side note, I seriously doubt that this theory would pan out, and would be very disappointed if it did. I was just wondering if anyone had ever pondered the point. Wink

Solitaire - Jul 4, 2007 7:47 pm (#577 of 735)

Winky's family wasn't exactly nice, Hagsquid, but Barty, Sr., did seem to place a certain amount of confidence in her. He valued her enough to put her in charge of Barty, Jr.--in retrospect not a great idea, but it does show he trusted her. We do see him mistreat her at the QWC, but I believe he did that to save face before the other Wizards from the Ministry. I have no doubt he knew Winky did not steal Harry's wand and fire off the Dark Mark.

I'm in the "Dobby loves Harry" camp on this one. Money or no money, I think Dobby would serve Harry willingly. There is no way he will deliberately and knowingly betray Harry. Having said as much ... we saw Dobby's attempts to protect Harry in CoS go awry, and I can see this happening again in DH. It is possible that Dobby's attempts to help could backfire.


sstabeler - Jul 8, 2007 9:34 am (#578 of 735)

Personally, I would be more worried about Kreacher than Dobby. after all, Dobby can do very little to harm Harry, while Kreacher knows a ton about Harry and the order's plans. as an aside, does Kreacher still have to obey the orders Sirius gave him RE: the order's secrets? as if he doesn't have to, then Kreacher could betray the whole order. and as there has been a period of at least a couple of weeks between Sirius's death and Kreacher definitely passing into Harry's ownership, thus again being unable to betray the order as it would betray his master, remember Dobby could never outright say what was going to happen at Hogwarts, and that was one elf determined to find a loophole in his restrictions, and in those two weeks, he could have spilled as much as Snape could have, and probably more.

Solitaire - Jul 8, 2007 8:57 pm (#579 of 735)
Edited Jul 8, 2007 9:58 pm

I can't imagine Dumbledore wouldn't have addressed any possible lapse in the "orders" that Sirius gave Kreacher on behalf of the Order due to Sirius's death. I believe all commands that Sirius gave to Kreacher are probably still in effect, until such time as Harry countermands them. JM2K ...


Gina R Snape - Sep 25, 2007 7:12 pm (#580 of 735)

For one of my classes, we had to define "personhood" and the consequences for ethical decision making. It got me thinking about house-elves (largely to amuse myself and keep from getting too annoyed).

Kant defines personhood when self-conscious, rational entities are capable of blaming and praising, and who can act as moral agents.

By this definition, I think centaurs and goblins are persons. They just do not subscribe to the same moral rules as humans. But what about house elves? They are self-conscious, rational and capable of blaming and praising. But due to the magical contract they have with humans, are they fully capable of acting as moral agents? Dobby certainly seemed to fulfill this definition when he visited Harry at 4PD. So did Winky and Kreacher in seeking to protect their owners. They did what they thought was right. But they did these things within the context of ownership, concern for betrayal and the 'threat' of an order. Under order, are house-elves completely incapable of acting as moral agents? For example, does Kreacher's passive resistance to Harry's orders constitute action as a moral agent?

Mrs. Sirius - Sep 25, 2007 7:55 pm (#581 of 735)
Edited Sep 25, 2007 8:55 pm

Wow Gina, that is one heavy question! I was discussing Kant the other night, but we didn't ask the big questions.

Off the cuff, the fact that Dobby acted outside of orders to do what he though was right indicates to me that, potentially, all house-elves could make moral decisions. Also wouldn't Kreachers deception in OoTP also constitute a "morale" decision?

PeskyPixie - Sep 25, 2007 8:26 pm (#582 of 735)
Edited Sep 25, 2007 9:28 pm

Hagrid: 'Well, you get weirdos in every breed!'

Sorry, just couldn't resist. It's late here and I really need to get to bed!

Gina R Snape - Sep 26, 2007 7:10 am (#583 of 735)

Heh heh. Weirdos indeed.

Well, Maritza, I was trying to salvage a homework assignment by making it interesting. So, are house-elves capable of outright defying an order? Is passive resistance enough to constitute acting as a moral agent? In FB a destinction is made between magical beings and creatures. Rights and responsibilities are bestowed upon those able to be defined as capable on multiple levels. But house-elves seem so bound to their house and home that it blurs the line. They do things happily for an owner they like and reluctantly for an owner they don't. And they largely tend to take on the values of the family they serve. That might be a simple matter of upbringing influencing them like it would a child.

Well I thought it might generate some interesting debate nonetheless.

Chemyst - Sep 29, 2007 7:37 pm (#584 of 735)
Edited Sep 29, 2007 8:38 pm

If I remember correctly, Kant was one of those "enlightenment" folks who couldn't decide whether or not God existed. Therefore, I'm quite certain his idea of morality would be much different than mine. Enlightenment philosophers in general liked to avoid absolutes. So how would you ever know if 'good' is really good?

(Furthermore, some of his 'reasoning' claimed that mathematic judgments were self-evident. Um, yeah, I don't think he took the same math class I did.)

Anyway, a house elf's "morality" would be determined by whatever his master said. If his master told him to steal, thenÖ stealing is good and moral. For a house elf, morality is obedience.

Mrs. Sirius - Sep 29, 2007 9:36 pm (#585 of 735)

And yet Dobby told (on the Malfoys), and Kreacher lied (to Harry concerning his master).

When FB came out I searched to see if house-elves were listed. They are not although Leprechan are if I remember correctly.

Gina R Snape - Oct 1, 2007 1:07 pm (#586 of 735)

Well I'm just using Kant as a framework in the simplest terms. Kreacher and Dobby both defy their masters when they think something is wrong. So they are capable of degrees of independent thinking beyond direct orders.

Mrs. Sirius, I think I should reread the discussion at the beginning of FB that discusses the distinction between magical 'beings' and 'creatures' as that might reveal something.

Orion - Oct 17, 2007 6:24 am (#587 of 735)

"At the end of CoS Harry asks Dobby to promise not to save his life again. Dobby does not promise in the book or movie. Of course Dobby has came to Harry's aid a couple times: Gilly Weed and tipping him off about Umbridge coming." (Quote LPO) If Dobby hadn't tipped Harry off about Gillyweed he wouldn't have won the bloody tournament and LV wouldn't have got a shiny new body and Cedric wouldn't have died. And if he hadn't tipped him off about Umbridge - this must be in OOP, of course, but is it before they go to the DoM? - then Harry would have stayed put and Sirius wouldn't have died, or am I mixing everything up? It just seems to me that Dobby means well but sometimes he does inadvertedly a lot of damage. Like in CoS where he almost kills Harry when he wants to save his life. His judgement doesn't seem to be the best, and his vision is clouded by this total, unquestioning adoration of Harry. He is capable of independent thinking but a bit bad at it.

Joanna Lupin - Oct 18, 2007 6:26 am (#588 of 735)

You got it wrong, Orion.

If Harry hadn't won the tournament, Voldemort would have used another's blood and Harry wouldn't have survived the second AK.

If Dobby hadn't warned Harry that Umbridge was coming after Marietta had blabbed, Harry would probably have been expelled.

And of course at the Malfoys' they all would have died.

Dobby saves the day!

PeskyPixie - Oct 18, 2007 7:59 am (#589 of 735)

I was once given a servant during my stay in a foreign country. As a modern-day North American I tried to avoid ordering her around and went the extra mile to do everything myself (I was tidying up around the clock so she wouldn't feel obligated to do so!). Needless to say, she began to feel insulted, unappreciated and unworthy of her salary (which, I later learned, was not too much to begin with). Ultimately I gave up trying to understand why she should feel this way and learned to (politely) leave her daily chores. I soothed my guilty conscience by buying her and her family gifts on my outings, to which I eventually received the response, "Miss is too kind. Miss must not spoil me with presents".

I've mentioned the above on a different thread, but feel it applies here. Is house-elf behaviour species-related or cultural (I.e. akin to 'servant culture')?

Orion - Oct 18, 2007 1:28 pm (#590 of 735)

I shouldn't post anything when I have only three out of seven books. They tend to get little feet and wander off the shelf.

totyle - Oct 23, 2007 9:59 pm (#591 of 735)

How do most people view Kreacher after DH? Like JKR I loathe traitors and find it so very difficult to accept Kreacher despite his turnaround in DH. He betrayed Sirius to the point of causing Sirius' death. HOW/WHY does Harry forgive and accept him so readily? Was his act of servitude and bringing back Mundungus for the trio sufficient to cause Harry to forgive? Its something I would personally find it very hard to forgive and forget. They all seemed to suddenly adopt a very Hermionesque attitude towards Kreacher and accept his betrayal of Sirius as Sirius' fault.

Joanna Lupin - Oct 24, 2007 3:53 am (#592 of 735)

Harry pitied Kreacher, and I think that he realised the grave mistake Sirius made in mistreating him. Kreacher didn't love Sirius, but he didn't betray him, not literally. He only told Miss Bella the things Sirius didn't forbid him to repeat.

PeskyPixie - Oct 24, 2007 9:28 am (#593 of 735)

A little kindness goes a long way, especially to a tortured little soul like Kreacher. Imagine the pain he suffers due to the secret he keeps for Regulus. I sometimes find Regulus to be the braver of the two Black brothers. He is the only character motivated to fight (and knowingly sacrifice his life) for a house-elf . I honestly don't know whether even Harry would be capable of this.

Barbara J - Oct 24, 2007 12:45 pm (#594 of 735)

PeskyPixie, I was just thinking along those lines while reading the Sirius thread, where they are discussing why Sirius didn't want to be in Slytherin. Regulus might have been a Slytherin, but he showed a lot of courage at the end of his life...not unlike a certain Slytherin head of house. ; ) If one of the defining characteristics of a Slytherin is self-preservation, then he went against the grain. But my impression was that he was closer to Kreacher than Sirius because he was more comfortable with his family's outlook in general.

As for Kreacher's turnaround, I do think Harry recognized that Sirius helped bring about Kreacher's betrayal of him, but I think part of the reason Harry has more sympathy for Kreacher in DH is that he sees Kreacher's devotion to Regulus.

I still think the transformation from grumbling bigot in OoP and HBP to cheerful housekeeper in DH is a bit of a stretch, but I'm happy to go along with it.

megfox* - Oct 24, 2007 5:54 pm (#595 of 735)

But if we think about the idea that house-elves parrot their master's beliefs, maybe when he had someone that gave him some positive reinforcement (Harry), he was able to quickly fall in line with what Harry believed. There is a little bit of free will there, and we see this in all the house-elves in the series, (even Winky was trying to run away and wasn't doing any work at Hogwarts, just drinking butterbeers), so with the lack of any kind of positive feelings from Sirius, Kreacher decided to remain faithful to his mistress.

I feel like I am not making sense. I can't get words to make the sentences I want.

Orion - Oct 25, 2007 4:26 am (#596 of 735)

There is a lot of free will underneath, just like there is a lot of powerful magic. But they have been brainwashed at one point in their history to believe in what humans told them about being slaves. I don't think it's inbuilt because I can't accept the thought that anywhere there is folk designed to be slaves. Hermione is right - they have to be freed. But it's almost impossible, because if you look at the way we have been brainwashed into consumerism, you lose all faith in people's ability to think for themselves.

PeskyPixie - Oct 25, 2007 6:06 am (#597 of 735)

House-elves need to be freed in small increments, to allow for adjustments in their way of life and thinking.

totyle - Oct 25, 2007 6:04 pm (#598 of 735)

It's hard to have any kindly feelings for creatures who embody what you are against. I had a live in house maid. She gossipped, lied and pocketed valuables. Nothing seemed to work, so we sent her off. Sirius didn't even have this choice, he came out of imprisonment (Azkaban) and went into another (12 Grimmauld Place) and who did he have as a permanent house mate? Kreacher. Vile ol' Kreacher. Of course he was intolerant of that little toe rag! Sirius was literally under house arrest and had to put up with this. It would have driven me crazy. As it did Harry after a spell at that place too. And that toe rag goes and bleats to Voldermort's right hand people. And this leads to Sirius' death. Would I use him. Yes. I could've understood it if Harry had tolerated him but to keep him on as a house-elf seems to be a disservice to Sirius' memory.

It's just that as I reread OotP I feel the terrible injustice Sirius suffered and I just loathe Kreacher for the part he played.

Holly T. - Oct 26, 2007 7:49 am (#599 of 735)

House-elves need to be freed in small increments, to allow for adjustments in their way of life and thinking.

Which is what a lot of people in the U.S. said about slaves.

PeskyPixie - Oct 26, 2007 8:50 am (#600 of 735)

Which brings us back to the question of whether house-elves are beings of (at least) human intelligence or not. Should wizards continue to keep them as cleaning staff but pay them for it, or are they capable of sustaining themselves as a community?

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #601 - #650)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:48 pm

Orion - Oct 26, 2007 9:15 am (#601 of 735)

House-elves are just as intelligent as humans. It's just that they are forced to talk in a foreign language, which they never have the chance to fully learn, which makes them seem more naive and childish than adult humans. They surely have an auld elf language, which I would be delighted to hear. Maybe it sounds a bit like the Gaelic language?

Are they allowed to use the Hogwarts library? Maybe, but the books there hold little interest for them as they are about human wizard magic, which works in a different way than elf magic. Elves don't work with wands, for example. A house-elf let loose in a Muggle library would be lost, too, because all the history, fiction and philosophy would be human-related, too. Anything about natural sciences or maths would be relevant to them, however, and surely gifted house-elves could work them out for themselves, and eventually be scientists or scholars in their own right.

PeskyPixie - Oct 26, 2007 10:24 am (#602 of 735)
Edited Oct 26, 2007 11:25 am

Elves don't work with wands ... -Orion

I have a feeling that it is a wizard-made law which denies wands to house-elves (just as wands are denied to goblins).

haymoni - Oct 26, 2007 6:38 pm (#603 of 735)

Watched part of COS on Disney tonight. The opening scenes with Dobby always annoyed me before.

Now I found myself tearing up and looking for the light in his big eyes.


Holly T. - Oct 29, 2007 10:42 am (#604 of 735)

Daughter and I watched part of COS the other night too and at the end when Harry tells Dobby to promise to never to try and save his life again my daughter and I both started crying. And I've always been annoyed by Dobby in the movie too.

jo bot - Nov 19, 2007 4:27 pm (#605 of 735)

It's just that they are forced to talk in a foreign language, which they never have the chance to fully learn, which makes them seem more naive and childish than adult humans. They surely have an auld elf language, which I would be delighted to hear. Maybe it sounds a bit like the Gaelic language? --Orion

In which book are you getting this information? I'd like to re-read that part.

About the library part, do you think that they can read? Who would teach them? I can't imagine Malfoy teaching Dobby to read, but I can imagine Regulus teaching Kreacher.

Choices - Nov 19, 2007 5:26 pm (#606 of 735)

I think Orion has a lovely thought there - I love the idea of a special "elf language" that sounds like Gaelic. Don't look for it in the books, Jo Bot - it isn't there, but it's a nice bit of speculation on Orion's part. I bet their language would have a musical sound to it, like the lilting sounds of the Irish. :-)

jo bot - Nov 27, 2007 5:28 pm (#607 of 735)

I didn't expect to find it in the books.

Orion - Nov 30, 2007 10:11 am (#608 of 735)

I'd love to see the house-elves "empowered" (do you say so?). They surely had, before they were enslaved, a history, a religion, a genealogy, values, beliefs, songs, myths... I'd love to go to Dobby and say "Hi Dobby, say, what kind of bedtime stories did your mum tell you? And, BTW, I collect folk songs, do you know an old elf song you could sing for me to write up?"

And maybe one day they would come up with stories of the kings of old, of cults and rites and all the old traditions. That would be the first step to freedom.

PeskyPixie - Nov 30, 2007 1:56 pm (#609 of 735)

That's the very heart of this matter, Orion. Are they a highly developed, enslaved culture or are they simpler beings than humans who need to be taken care of to a certain extent even after freedom?

If they were once a great civilization, have they retained any of their own culture or has it all been erased by generations of servitude?

Michael Franz - Dec 1, 2007 10:53 am (#610 of 735)

I believe one of the questions on one of JK's online wizard tests was whether or not a house-elf could kill someone. Was this ever answered? I suspect the answer must be "no", because otherwise, Harry would have been toast.

We already know that house-elves can Apparate into places that wizards cannot. Dobby had no problem paying Harry a visit at 4 Privet Drive. So, if a house-elf could be ordered to kill someone, Lucius Malfoy could have just said:

Dobby, why don't you go over to Harry Potter's house and smother him with a pillow in his sleep?

Choices - Dec 1, 2007 5:33 pm (#611 of 735)

I feel sure there is a serious restriction against a house-elf harming a wizard. That is why Dobby, hitting Lucius Malfoy with that curse that flung him backwards, was so brave to do what he did to protect Harry.

Solitaire - Dec 1, 2007 9:29 pm (#612 of 735)

if a house-elf could be ordered to kill someone, Lucius Malfoy could have just said: Dobby, why don't you go over to Harry Potter's house and smother him with a pillow in his sleep?

Such a command might have worked, had Kreacher been working for the Malfoys at that time. Dobby, however, seems to have had a highly developed moral compass that superseded even his loyalty to his owner. Even if he could have been ordered to kill Harry, he would not have done so.


Steve Newton - Dec 2, 2007 6:22 am (#613 of 735)

In COS Dobby says that house-elves were treated particularly badly under Voldemort. Had he been speaking to Kreacher about what had happened in the cave? Is Kreacher's story common knowledge among house elves?

Solitaire - Dec 2, 2007 10:10 am (#614 of 735)

Oddly, Kreacher does seem to have been loved and treated well by Regulus, and he has quite a devotion to Mrs. Black. From Dobby's original comments to Harry, though, it sounds to me like house-elves were generally treated badly by some wizards. It's possible that Kreacher's history is known to other House-Elves. In particular, as the Blacks and Malfoys were related, it is plausible that Dobby would have occasion to learn what went on in the Black household. Perhaps Voldemort used the Malfoy mansion as headquarters in his first reign. If so, then Dobby would certainly have overheard any plans being made there.


jo bot - Dec 3, 2007 3:58 pm (#615 of 735)

I have wondered about the relationship between Dobby and Kreacher.

Since the Malfoys and the Blacks are related and house-elves are inherited (I.e. Kreacher to Harry), does that mean that Dobby and Kreacher are also related?

Solitaire - Dec 3, 2007 9:53 pm (#616 of 735)

I don't know if they are related, but they certainly must have known each other. After all, Dobby knew Winky, who belonged to the Crouch family.

legolas returns - Dec 4, 2007 12:41 am (#617 of 735)

Generally house-elves are found in old pure blood families in big mansion houses. There are only a limited amount of pure bloods left. So the chances are that when owners went to visit other pure bloods they brought along there servants. Hence the reason why most house-elves would know each other.

PeskyPixie - Dec 4, 2007 7:26 am (#618 of 735)

***waves*** Hi, Legolas! I haven't seen you in a while.

I hadn't considered the idea of house-elves knowing one another. Oh wait, Winky knows Dobby pre-GoF, doesn't she? I think you guys may be right.

legolas returns - Dec 4, 2007 12:28 pm (#619 of 735)

Hi PeskyPixie *waves back*.

I have some random questions in relation to house elves.

1) House-elves are happy to keep the masters secrets. Did they know that Snape was a good guy? Did they overhear conversations between Dumbledore and Snape or were they so careful that they were never overhead except by Hagrid in the Forest? I find it hard to imagine that nothing was overheard.

2) How did they view the fact that the Headmaster murdered the previous headmaster? Did they view it as their duty to serve the school regardless of who or what the headmaster was? When the school was under attack and it appeared that Harry was dead they came out and fought the death eaters.

3) Was Kreacher referring to Regulus or Harry when he called his master "defender of house elves!"? Did it apply to both as Harry had said that he wanted to carry on what Regulus had been doing?

4) House-elves have no right to feel unhappy if they have masters to serve - according to one of the elves. They did not want HRH to judge them because of Winky butterbeer antics. Dobby took issue with Kreacher insulting Harry. They fought over it but knowing that Dobby was a little unusual for a house-elf I wonder what the other elves thought? Did they think that he was the way he was because he had no proper master to look after for years? Did they wonder why Kreacher was a reformed character at the beginning of the year? Perhaps they thought that he was happy because he had been properly serving his master over the holidays.

5) Was Dobby no longer safe at Hogwarts because he was so pro Harry? Did he go and serve Aberforth because he was free to serve who he wanted? Did the other house-elves know that he had died and that Harry had dug his grave?

Solitaire - Dec 8, 2007 7:04 pm (#620 of 735)

Was Kreacher referring to Regulus or Harry when he called his master "defender of house elves!"?

I think it was a title that could apply to both Harry and Regulus. I do believe that Kreacher was calling the Elves out in support of Harry at this particular time, though, since Regulus was dead. I think it meant a lot to Kreacher to know that Harry realized Master Regulus was really a good guy and not a creep. Perhaps he felt that in serving Harry, he was helping to clear Regulus' name after all these years.

I think Dobby felt Dumbledore was his master. Once DD was dead, I believe he felt he could serve whom he pleased. Again, I say that Dobby has a pretty strong moral compass. I can't see him supporting anyone he knows is working against Harry ... and Dobby knows a lot.


PeskyPixie - Dec 8, 2007 10:46 pm (#621 of 735)

But doesn't Kreacher tell the house-elves to fight in the name of 'brave Regulus'? Or do you mean that he refers to Harry in his first sentence and Regulus in the second?

haymoni - Dec 18, 2007 5:33 pm (#622 of 735)

I was confused about that as well, but I think Harry is the defender and Regulus is Regulus.

rambkowalczyk - Dec 27, 2007 6:45 am (#623 of 735)

Dobby, however, seems to have had a highly developed moral compass that superseded even his loyalty to his owner. Even if he could have been ordered to kill Harry, he would not have done so. Solitaire

There is no doubt in my mind that Dobby would have died first rather than kill Harry but if he were actually ordered to kill someone, I think the enslavement magic would have taken effect. I think in book 6, Harry tells Kreacher point blank to shut up and though it is clearly obvious that Kreacher is fighting, he is silent. So for Lucius to kill Harry, his command would have to be direct not a suggestion.

Of course this assumes that killing is something a house-elf can do. I don't mean that they have permission from their masters to do so but that they are capable of it--that there is no underlying magic that will prevent a house-elf from killing. In the case of Hokey there is the assumption that a house-elf can kill by means of neglect, by accidently poisoning someone. So I'm not certain it is safe to say that a house-elf can't kill.

In COS Dobby says that house-elves were treated particularly badly under Voldemort. Had he been speaking to Kreacher about what had happened in the cave? Is Kreacher's story common knowledge among house elves? Steve Newton

I don't think Kreacher's story was known. Didn't Regulus tell Kreacher not to tell anyone what he did? I think the implication is that other house-elves may have died because of Voldemort or that Death Eaters became more immoral as a result of Voldemort's presence and it affected the house-elves more than other beings.

1) House-elves are happy to keep the masters secrets. Did they know that Snape was a good guy? Did they overhear conversations between Dumbledore and Snape or were they so careful that they were never overhead except by Hagrid in the Forest? I find it hard to imagine that nothing was overheard. Legolas returns

It is likely that the house-elves knew that Snape was Dumbledore's man and that Dumbledore had given them orders to not talk about it. Dobby who despised the Malfoys nonetheless felt compelled to keep their secrets even though magic didn't enforce it. Witness his difficulty in assenting that Lucius was a dark wizard. If the house-elves thought that Snape murdered Dumbledore, I think it's possible that they would not have given Snape their support. I don't think Snape gave house-elves a second thought because if he did he would have had Dobby send a message to Harry. I

Chemyst - Dec 27, 2007 9:21 am (#624 of 735)

That's a well-reasoned post, Ramb. Your explanation of Regulus telling Kreacher not to tell anyone what he did launched another thought: Voldemort had put out a general call for 'house-elf wanted' when Regulus had volunteered Kreacher. That may well indicate a pattern in LV's general operations- it wasn't the first time he'd misused an elf. As a younger man, Voldemort had used Hokey. It is not inconceivable that Barty Jr. knew LV sometimes used house-elves and copied the idea by forcing Winky to help him. Taken altogether and allowing for a vigorous gossip grapevine among house elves, when Dobby says that house-elves were treated particularly badly under Voldemort, he probably had several examples to support his claim.

Allison R - Dec 27, 2007 9:27 am (#625 of 735)

I think Voldemort valued house-elves (indeed, all other magical creatures and non pure-blood humans as well) about as much as a disposable napkin: to be used as long as it amused and benefited him, and then casually discarded along with the other trash that no longer served his purpose.

Solitaire - Dec 27, 2007 12:16 pm (#626 of 735)

I don't think Kreacher's story was known. It isn't a far stretch for me to believe that the family ties between the Malfoys and the Blacks might have brought Dobby and Kreacher into contact on occasion. If Kreacher was always with Regulus, even at DE gatherings, then there is even more reason to suspect that he'd have encountered Dobby, given that Malfoy was also a DE and probably had Dobby along with him at times (Dobby accompanied him to Hogwarts at the end of CoS). Also, Dobby seemed inclined to poke around a bit, and he might have seen and heard plenty.


PeskyPixie - Feb 10, 2008 8:49 pm (#627 of 735)

I posted the following on the Connections After Rereading thread, but it is applicable here as well:

House-elf magic is witnessed in GoF when Dobby raids Snape's storage cupboard for Gillyweed. I hadn't picked up on that before.

Orion - Feb 11, 2008 3:32 am (#628 of 735)

The trio must give Kreacher money to buy food when they live in 12 GP. Maybe Harry gives him authority to take money from his Gringotts account because he is rich as Creosote. Harry should have taken a large sum out of his account and changed it into Muggle money before they went on their journey, so that they needn't have gone hungry so much in DH.

PeskyPixie - Feb 11, 2008 7:02 am (#629 of 735)

I just assumed Kreacher takes what he wants from the Hogwarts kitchen. (And Hermione should have packed some snacks and worked on food spells - not because she's a girl, but because she knows practically every other spell and has even packed the proverbial kitchen sink into her beaded bag!)

Orion - Feb 11, 2008 8:19 am (#630 of 735)

The Hogwarts kitchen, of course! Apparate, grab, Disapparate. The other house-elves must be applauding, because they are behind Harry.

PeskyPixie - Feb 11, 2008 5:52 pm (#631 of 735)

I wonder whether house-elves take on the surname of the family/establishment they serve? Kreacher Black to Kreacher Potter? Winky Crouch to Winky Hogwarts/Dumbledore? Dobby Malfoy to ...? What would freed elfves revert back to anyway?

Orion - Feb 12, 2008 2:31 am (#632 of 735)

House-elves must have families, dynasties, they must fall in love and marry just like everybody else; it's just that they live in their employers' houses. Is it for them like for servants back in the nineteenth century and earlier, that they cannot marry if they are in service? Can't be, they are not immortal, so they must have children. Can the large population which lives happily in the Hogwarts basement provide enough offspring to provide servants for the whole well-off section of the wizarding community in Britain? Are there "wild" (hem hem), that is, free elf-tribes somewhere in the Highlands? And are they related to the Veela tribes? (Edited, typo)

Solitaire - Feb 13, 2008 4:28 pm (#633 of 735)

Orion, I've often wondered about the house-elves' family lives, as well. Rather than forbidding house-elves to marry, I should think that families like the Malfoys would want their elves to have as many offspring as possible, so that they could work them or sell them. I wish Jo would give us more info about this group of society.


haymoni - Feb 14, 2008 6:17 pm (#634 of 735)

What was that movie with Dennis Quaid - "Enemy Mine"? Was that it?

The "drak" died giving birth - seemed asexual to me.

Maybe house-elves just have one child and that's it. Kreacher was getting up there though. Hepzibah's elf was pretty old also.


shepherdess - Feb 16, 2008 6:59 pm (#635 of 735)

I remember Enemy Mine, Haymoni. I thought the drak was male until I found out it was expecting. But then it's hard to tell with a drak.

With house elves, though, there definitely are males and females.

We need to be careful; this thread is heading in a dangerous direction.

haymoni - Feb 17, 2008 3:37 am (#636 of 735)

I'd hate to think that they give birth when they die.

Winky (I think it was Winky) talked about her mother like she knew her, but maybe it's part of that "Elfin Magic".

Solitaire - Jun 20, 2008 9:56 am (#637 of 735)

As I've been rereading OotP, I've sometimes wondered why Harry didn't ask Dobby to carry some questions or messages to/from Sirius. Dobby is now free, and we know that he, at least, has been able to Apparate into and out of Hogwarts. Do you think he would be able to Apparate and Disapparate without Umbridge knowing? Just wondering what others think ...


Anna L. Black - Jun 20, 2008 11:50 pm (#638 of 735)

I'm sure he would be able to. I guess it's one of those "Why didn't Harry think of it???" questions, like with the mirror Sirius gave him. Somehow, Harry never thinks about using Dobby's help, until Dobby's there for some other reason. It happens again and again - in GOF with the Gillyweed, in OOTP with the ROR, in HBP with tailing Malfoy and in DH with saving them all (though in that case, I admit, thinking about Dobby was a bit far-fetched).

Julia H. - Jun 21, 2008 4:07 am (#639 of 735)

I guess Dobby would be a too powerful supporter (plotwise) if his help were used to often. So there are plot reasons, although specifically in OOTP and regarding messages to and from Sirius, a built-in reason could be that Harry could not tell anyone Sirius's address, since only the secret-keeper could do that. Still, Harry does not think of asking Dobby to help in any way, does not think of using the mirror and does not think of asking Snape to help. There are reasons for all of these but the tendency is a bit annoying. Obviously, JKR wanted him to go to the Ministry just as she wanted Sirius to die.

Solitaire - Jun 21, 2008 9:13 am (#640 of 735)
Edited Jun 21, 2008 10:13 am

You're right about the Secret-Keeping thing. That alone would have prevented Dobby from going to GP. I wonder if he could have gone to the Ministry to see if Sirius was there ... Hm.


Hieronymus Graubart - Jun 21, 2008 10:30 am (#641 of 735)

It's possible that Dobby could have gone to the Ministry, but Harry would never have sent him into danger.

Solitaire - Jun 21, 2008 11:17 am (#642 of 735)
Edited Jun 21, 2008 12:18 pm

I'm just thinking that he might have been able to get there, have a peek, and leave without being seen by anyone. I still wonder why Harry didn't remember the present Sirius gave him, once he'd made up his mind to contact him. I mean, WE all remembered it, didn't we? LOL Oh, well ... I guess if he'd remembered it, we would not have the story we have.


PeskyPixie - Jun 24, 2008 2:37 pm (#643 of 735)

But it's for those very reasons that Harry strikes me as a tad stupid at times. Bravery is great, but surely intelligence is also helpful?

Choices - Jun 24, 2008 5:06 pm (#644 of 735)

I agree Pesky. I know Harry acts stupid at times for the sake of the story, but his stupidity really frustrates me at times. I want to shake him and say, "How could you not see that?" Arrggghhhhh! LOL

Solitaire - Jun 24, 2008 5:15 pm (#645 of 735)
Edited Jun 24, 2008 6:20 pm

I keep wondering why he doesn't make certain associations ... but then I realize he is just a kid. I'm adult, and I've read all the books. LOL

I do become annoyed with him when he seems to "fixate" on certain things (Snape and Draco) and ignores other important issues. For example, right now (I'm reading HBP) he is piddling around following Draco, when his first priority after his studies should be getting that memory from Slughorn. He has already experienced Dumbledore's disappointment once on this score, so I'd think he would get his brain in gear and find a way. Teenagers!


Orion - Jun 25, 2008 8:46 am (#646 of 735)
Edited Jun 25, 2008 9:51 am

On the other hand Harry is quite right to think Draco is up to something during HBP, isn't he? He is proven correct when Draco doesn't only turn out to have been trying to murder DD all the time, but also to be capable of letting DEs into Hogwarts, which nobody could expect. And Draco was indeed using the ROR all the time. So Harry is not always stupid, it's just that he can't follow DD's complicated plans all the time.

So Harry was right and DD was wrong, because Slughorn’s memory wasn't all that important. DD already suspected that there was seven Horcruxes, and the memory didn't show how LV actually DID something, only how he asked a curious question and disappeared looking hopeful, so there wasn't that much information to be gleaned from that scene. Harry ought to have found out about the Cabinet rather than the memory.

Solitaire - Jun 25, 2008 12:29 pm (#647 of 735)

I wouldn't say DD was wrong. I would say they were both right.

HungarianHorntail11 - Jul 10, 2008 10:02 am (#648 of 735)
Edited Jul 10, 2008 11:08 am

Whenever Harry didn't think of using someone, such as Dobby, I attributed it to his character. He didn't often ask for help. It works from a literary standpoint.

Solitaire - Jul 10, 2008 3:17 pm (#649 of 735)
Edited Jul 10, 2008 4:21 pm

You know, it is interesting when the kids go from the Hog's Head into the RoR ... Once the other kids see him and more start arrive, they are all eager to help ... but Harry gets upset and says they need to do this job themselves. Ron asks ... "Why can't they help?" The three have a quick, whispered conference, and then we read the following:

Harry thought fast, his scar still prickling, his head threatening to split again. Dumbledore had warned him against telling anyone but Ron and Hermione about the Horcruxes. Secrets and lies, that's how we grew up, and Albus ... he was a natural. ... Was he turning into Dumbledore, keeping his secrets clutched to his chest, afraid to trust?

It's hard for Harry to ask for help, isn't it? He gets a lot of it, but he is reluctant to ask for it. Unlike fake Moody, I do not attribute it to arrogance and thinking he knows all the answers. I guess I've always attributed it to a mixture of not wanting to put others in danger and simply having grown up with no one but himself to count on. Yes, he has had support since entering the magical world ... but old habits die hard. For 10 years, he was pretty much on his own, with only himself to count on. And now, the things with which he needs help are always life-threatening! I can't blame him for not wanting to endanger more people than he already has (although most of those who died or were hurt did so willingly).


TwinklingBlueEyes - Jul 10, 2008 5:55 pm (#650 of 735)

I agree Soli, it's Harry's people-saving thing.

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #651 - #700)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:50 pm

Solitaire - Jul 10, 2008 7:39 pm (#651 of 735)

Yes ... he just can't bear to think of people dying for him. And there have been quite a few, haven't there? It's good to see some of the other threads active again. I was getting a bit tired of just Snape! LOL

azi - Oct 4, 2008 1:03 pm (#652 of 735)
Edited Oct 4, 2008 2:04 pm

Well, I wanted to post this on the Dobby thread but can't find it. I guess it's got a link to house-elves in general too.

I was reading a book earlier today and it mentioned 'dobby' as meaning 'goblin' (I thought that it was in a negative sense). I checked on the Lexicon later and it has it as meaning a brownie or a benevolent goblin. But meanings aside, what struck me was how Dobby is a literal name, just like Kreacher. I was wondering if people think this is a Black family thing or a general pureblood thing? I don't *think* Winky or Hokey are literal translations, which suggests to me that the Black family possibly have a tradition of using literal names to describe their elves, rather than names which could be described as more...cute (I'm linking the Malfoy's to the Blacks because Narcissa, of course, originally had that surname). A possibility I see is that maybe the Black's, who seem to treat their elves worse than average, use the literal names because they care for their elves less.

Any thoughts?

Choices - Oct 4, 2008 5:15 pm (#653 of 735)

In my Scrabble dictionary it lists dobby as "a fool". Webster's has a dobby as "a loom attachment for weaving small figures". Odd!

azi - Oct 5, 2008 3:17 am (#654 of 735)

I came across the second definition as well, Choices. From what the book and the Lexicon say, the goblin definition originates from northern England (specifically Lancashire and Yorkshire) and I suspect that the loom attachment definition could be the origin of the word since both counties had big textile industries in the 19th century. Maybe the loom attachment was so intricate it seemed to people as if brownies were doing the work for them? Total speculation there. There was a lot of resistance to the mechanisation of the textile mills for various reasons (I'm thinking of the early Luddites, if you've ever heard of them).

Orion - Oct 6, 2008 11:26 am (#655 of 735)

What is a literal name, Azi? Is it a name which means something?

I understand Kreacher/creature, and Winky/one who winks???, but Dobby doesn't mean anything as an adjective, does it?

The name Dobby for that special loom might come from its shape. Like the first tractors for farm work were called "Bulldogs" because their motor looked like a bulldog. We in southern Germany still speak of "bulldogs" when we mean "tractor". (In fact, I own a museum piece, and old Fendt which I'm quite attached to.)

BTW (and back on topic), the Lex says about Dobby:

"Dobby speaks about himself in the third person ("Dobby will have to punish himself most grievously for coming to see you, sir.") and tends to get his verb tenses mixed up ("I has seven now, sir")."

That means that Dobby first says "Dobby" instead of "I", and (later on) learns to say "I", even with wrong conjugation, but he can! Like a child, who only learns to say "I" after a time, Dobby seems to get a more acute sense of self when he is free.

azi - Oct 6, 2008 11:46 am (#656 of 735)
Edited Oct 6, 2008 12:48 pm

Sorry, literal was the best way to describe it (in my head at least). I meant that the name means what the thing is. Dobby, if you take the definition to mean 'benevolent brownie' or 'goblin', is close to what Dobby actually is. Kreacher is a creature. They aren't cuddly names that you'd give to pets, like Snuffles or Binky. More... practical names, maybe? Does that make sense? The names show a lack of compassion towards the house-elves. Better looked after elves, like Hokey, don't have such practical names. Does anyone know of a definition for Hokey by the way? I'm hoping it doesn't mean something practical now... It just strikes me as a more cuddly name, overall.

Interesting about the shape of a Dobby possibly indicating why it got the name. Being not particularly interested in the Industrial Revolution I didn't bother looking too hard when I was dragged to the relevant museums. Perhaps I should have done. (Actually, Wikipedia says an interesting thing about Dobby looms - 'Dobby is short for "draw boy" which refers to the weaver's helpers who used to control the warp thread by pulling on draw threads.' I suppose that could still be a practical definition? A Dobby is a little child doing the dirty, dangerous work. There aren't any references in the article to support that though.)

I also didn't notice a change in Dobby's language usage throughout the books. I admit he was never a favourite character of mine so I didn't take much notice. I suppose being enslaved must limit your ability to be an individual. You have to do what your master tells you, wear what they tell you...

Orion - Oct 6, 2008 11:57 am (#657 of 735)

"'Dobby is short for "draw boy" which refers to the weaver's helpers who used to control the warp thread by pulling on draw threads.'" Now that is a convincing deduction! It smells as if it was correct. Language is so fascinating!

All the house-elves' names seem deliberately ugly to me. They are cheap and grating on the nerves, as if they were designed to be derogatory. They are not like, for instances, pet names. Pets have either completely over-the-top-creative names like Attila or Persephone, or normal names like Spot or Socks. house-elves' names are like plastic.

azi - Oct 6, 2008 12:02 pm (#658 of 735)

All the house-elves' names seem deliberately ugly to me. They are cheap and grating on the nerves, as if they were designed to be derogatory. They are not like, for instances, pet names. Pets have either completely over-the-top-creative names like Attila or Persephone, or normal names like Spot or Socks.

Agreed. I was wondering if there are 'levels' of derogatory names and if the Blacks/Malfoy's were some of the worst for house-elf treatment.

shepherdess - Oct 6, 2008 11:37 pm (#659 of 735)

Hokey: adjective hokier, hokiest.

1. cloyingly sentimental; mawkish.

2. obviously contrived, esp. to win popular appeal or support; phony.

Choices - Oct 7, 2008 7:19 am (#660 of 735)

Shepherdess, you beat me to it. I have heard "hokey" and used it all my life. We always said something was "hokey" if it wasn't quite real or true....ex. He told us a story that seemed sort of hokey to me. In other words, made up or contrived or false.

Orion - Oct 8, 2008 10:46 am (#661 of 735)

It's amazing what one learns here. Of all the meanings, cloyingly sentimental/mawkish suits Hokey's owner best. JKR seems to comment on her through Hokey's name, although for me it's not quite clear why that woman should choose that name. She seems to be one of the better elf-owners. She's perfectly nice to Hokey.

BTW, does anybody know what Winky really means?

shepherdess - Oct 8, 2008 11:10 am (#662 of 735)
Edited Oct 8, 2008 12:11 pm

LOL; apparently nothing!


Winky can refer to:

* Winky Wright, American boxer

* Winky, a house-elf in the Harry Potter series

I suppose it could be used as an adjective for someone who winks a lot, like Blinky could be used as a nickname for someone who blinks a lot? I have no other explanations.

Soul Search - Oct 8, 2008 11:37 am (#663 of 735)
Edited Oct 8, 2008 1:07 pm

We don't get any names for the Hogwarts house elves. Maybe, it just wasn't important enough, or maybe the wizards didn't give them names since there was seldom a need to address them by name.

Dobby, Winky, Hokey, and Kreacher served wizards who would address them regularly, so names were needed. It might have been an honor to be given a name by wizards. House-elves were like that.

The names we do have seem more like names a wizard would give a house elf, rather than a name that would be given at birth. It seems unlikely that Dobby's mother would have given him that name, but maybe she did. No elf mother would name her child "Kreacher." We don't know how house-elves addressed each other, without wizards present.

Goblins had a different language. House-elves probably did too. A house-elf would be named something in that language, rather than wizards' language. No doubt, Griphook and Gornock are English representations of Goblin words or names.

How do you get a house elf? Ron tells Harry that his mother had wanted a house-elf but they were expensive. Only old families in big wizard mansions had them. They don't get paid, except Dobby, and there can't be much upkeep. Do you buy a house elf? From whom? Hermione and S.P.E.W. never got into that.

Orion - Oct 8, 2008 11:54 am (#664 of 735)

I agree, Soul Search. The house-elves communicate in Elvish, that's why they have difficulty with the English grammar, and they get their names from their owners. Every house-elf might get an Elvish name at birth from their mothers, but as soon as they are in service, nobody uses it any more because IMO most owners have only one house-elf. So the elves have little or no contact to other elves. (The dreadfully lonely life that also pets endure if they're kept away from their kind.) And the owner renames them.

Choices - Oct 8, 2008 4:45 pm (#665 of 735)
Edited Oct 8, 2008 5:47 pm

From what I have read about the name Winky, the use of it by JKR was her salute to the Wizard of Oz - the flying monkeys were called Winkies (or Winkys?) if I remember correctly. It's been discussed somewhere on the forum in the past.

shepherdess - Oct 8, 2008 5:02 pm (#666 of 735)

I suppose the Wizard of Oz thing might be a possibility; but isn't it a little unlike JKR? I mean, it seems she gives acknowledgment to American things rather grudgingly. IMO

Choices - Oct 9, 2008 7:24 am (#667 of 735)

I think she loves and respects and salutes "classics" regardless of national origin.

rambkowalczyk - Oct 9, 2008 1:30 pm (#668 of 735)

How do you get a house elf? Ron tells Harry that his mother had wanted a house-elf but they were expensive. Only old families in big wizard mansions had them.

I thought house-elves came with the house. Right now my copy of COS is in hiding, but I think Ron says something to the effect that his house only came with a ghoul (or garden gnomes). You have to buy the house to get the elf. Sirius left Harry his house. Since Kreacher is part of the house, Harry got him as well. Harry could order Kreacher to work at Hogwarts but he still belonged to Harry.

legolas returns - Oct 9, 2008 1:36 pm (#669 of 735)

I thought that Elves came with big posh houses and castles.

Choices - Oct 9, 2008 5:04 pm (#670 of 735)
Edited Oct 9, 2008 6:08 pm

I have always thought that house-elves belonged to families, in spite of what Ron says. Dobby tells Harry that his family has served the Malfoys (not the Malfoy mansion) for generations. I can't imagine that if the Malfoys decided to move, they would leave Dobby behind. I think it seems as if the house-elf belongs to the house because the ones we have seen belong to families who live in one house for generations. Lucius was very upset when Harry freed Dobby - he was furious to lose his house elf. Sirius left Kreacher to Harry. He also left the Black house to Harry. If Kreacher belonged to the house, Sirius would have left Harry the house and Kreacher would just come with it. Harry was able to send Kreacher to Hogwarts to work - he still belonged to Harry. It's sort of confusing and I think this is another thing that JKR is not absolutely clear about. It can really be argued both ways.

Julia H. - Oct 9, 2008 8:42 pm (#671 of 735)

Dumbledore said the best / only way to test if Harry had really inherited the house (regarding any magic that might prevent it) was to see if he could give orders to Kreacher. That implies the house-elf is inherited with the house. However, that does not have to mean that a family must lose their house-elf if they move (I.e. the original owner may be able to keep the elf even if circumstances change) - but I can't think of anything in the books that gives a definite answer to this.

Mrs. Sirius - Oct 9, 2008 9:24 pm (#672 of 735)
Edited Oct 9, 2008 10:27 pm

If the Potter's had had a house-elf and they survived the attack those the house didn't, the house-elf might have followed.

On the other hand, their house-elf may have died the instant the house was destroyed and that is why there was no house-elf for Harry to inherit.

Solitaire - Oct 10, 2008 6:07 am (#673 of 735)

I can't help thinking a Potter house-elf might have come up in conversation between Harry and Sirius at some point, if only as a comparison to Kreacher, whom Sirius hated.

Regarding names of house-elves ... My sister had a cat named Winky when we were little (many decades before HP was ever thought of). I think all of the House-Elves' names sound like names of pets! I may call my next little dog Dobby or Hokey ... maybe!


Choices - Oct 10, 2008 7:26 am (#674 of 735)
Edited Oct 10, 2008 8:27 am

LOL Julia, maybe the house is inherited with the elf, rather than the other way around? If Sirius could leave the elf to Harry, then he was also able to leave the house. So many interesting ways to look at this. :-)

Julia H. - Oct 10, 2008 8:37 am (#675 of 735)

Good point!

rambkowalczyk - Oct 10, 2008 6:51 pm (#676 of 735)

I have always thought that house-elves belonged to families, in spite of what Ron says. Dobby tells Harry that his family has served the Malfoys (not the Malfoy mansion) for generations. I can't imagine that if the Malfoys decided to move, they would leave Dobby behind. I think it seems as if the house-elf belongs to the house because the ones we have seen belong to families who live in one house for generations.

I doubt if this will convince you but:

When Ron is talking of magic tradition he is generally correct.

Dobby said he served the Malfoys for generations because traditional wizards don't change. The Malfoys have probably live there forever. The reason they don't sell their house is because they don't want to lose their servants.

Also when Mrs. Black died, Kreacher never left the house. If Kreacher was just Mrs. Black servant, perhaps he could have gone to Narcissa but he never did nor did Narcissa try to convince him to work for her after Mrs. Black died. Seeing as how Dobby was lost to them and that Kreacher felt a kinship to Narcissa, it is surprising it didn't happen.

Solitaire - Oct 11, 2008 7:49 pm (#677 of 735)

I think Ramb is right. Kreacher didn't leave 12GP until Sirius told him to get out ... did he? Also, Kreacher didn't have any problem betraying Sirius, even though he was part of the Black family.

azi - Oct 13, 2008 1:19 pm (#678 of 735)

I wonder how Kreacher ate if he couldn't leave the house? Presumably house-elves need to eat to live? Then again, I don't remember an elf eating in the books (just Winky drinking butterbeer).

I was at the library today and decided to look up Dobby in the dictionary (The New Shortened Oxford English Dictionary to be precise). The second definition was that a Dobby is 'a spirit or apparition attached to a particular house or locality esp. a household brownie'. I think that's the closest definition we've had to Dobby in HP so far.

shepherdess - Oct 14, 2008 1:15 am (#679 of 735)

I think so too, Azi.

Sinistra - Oct 14, 2008 8:59 am (#680 of 735)
Edited Oct 14, 2008 10:01 am

I hope this hasn't already been said (I couldn't read all the 679 posts).

I think that a house-elf is like a... piece of furniture, when it comes to ownership. Furniture is part of the house, and it is usually inherited with the house (Harry inherited Sirius's house with all its content, which included Kreacher). However, when you move, you would usually bring your furniture in your new house: perhaps the same happens with House-Elves? That is, a house-elf is normally part of the house, but there can be some exceptions, for example if the family moves or if the owner orders the elf to go somewhere.

This could explain why Harry was able to send Kreacher at Hogwarts, in my opinion.

PeskyPixie - Oct 14, 2008 4:37 pm (#681 of 735)
Edited Oct 14, 2008 5:37 pm

Hmmm, I had always assumed that house-elves are like slaves, but I guess the furniture argument works better.

BTW, welcome to the forum, Sinistra!

Solitaire - Oct 14, 2008 7:47 pm (#682 of 735)

I wonder whether Wizards do as much moving as we Muggles do. Who would want to leave a big, cozy house that is well-tended by a house-elf? And after going through all of the rigmarole of making a house unplottable, invisible, and otherwise hidden from the Muggle as well as the Magical world, who would want to leave its safety?

We will never really know if Kreacher would have left the Black house with Regulus if/when he married or set up his own home, despite the fact that Kreacher seemed to really love Regulus. He was certainly loyal to Mrs. Black, but I suspect Regulus is the only one of the Blacks he really did love. That is probably a great contributor to his mental deterioration after Mrs. Black finally died.

I wonder if there is some provision for house-elves who survive a family with no heirs? Do they just stay with the house? What if someone wants to sell the house? Would the house-elf go with it? Hm ... do you suppose there are Wizarding realtors? Just wondering ...


Sinistra - Oct 15, 2008 9:01 am (#683 of 735)

And what if a Muggle inherited the house? That would be interesting...

PS. Thank you, PeskyPixie.

Choices - Oct 15, 2008 1:43 pm (#684 of 735)
Edited Oct 15, 2008 2:44 pm

Sell the house? What if someone wanted to demolish the house? Yikes - what happens to the poor elf then? LOL

Sinistra, that would definitely be interesting!

azi - Oct 16, 2008 4:01 am (#685 of 735)

Maybe the magic breaks if there are no magical heirs left? After Dobby was freed he went around trying to find another post but no one would employ him because he wanted to be paid. Maybe it's the norm for house-elves to seek work (and attachment) to another family if they lose their masters.

I don't think wizards move around that often, Soli. But the Black's certainly moved into Grimmauld place when Sirius was a child because Sirius mentions his father putting all the anti-Muggle spells invented on it when they moved in (possibly in OotP when they're discussing why Grimmauld Place was made the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, but I don't have my books near me to check).

**waves to Sinistra** Welcome!

Hieronymus Graubart - Oct 16, 2008 4:40 am (#686 of 735)

I got the impression that 12GP belonged to the Black family for many generations and that Sirius father put all these anti-intruder (not only anti-Muggle) spells on it because he was especially determined to keep all uninvited guests off the house.

Solitaire - Oct 16, 2008 7:38 pm (#687 of 735)

Unlike us Muggles, Wizards can live anywhere they choose--distance is no object when you can Apparate--and they can certainly "improve" their homes, if they desire to do so, I should think. Why would you even want to move? I hate moving!

Choices, I wonder if Wizard houses could even be demolished with all of those unplottable charms and enchantments around them. The Potters' home in GH was left "as is," and you know that if Muggles had seen it, they would certainly have wanted to get such an eyesore out of the way. Perhaps Muggles are prevented from ever finding Wizarding homes, in the event a death leaves one uninhabited.


shepherdess - Oct 16, 2008 10:58 pm (#688 of 735)

I'm not sure I understand, Soli. Didn't Hagrid have to get Harry out of the ruins quickly "before the Muggles arrived"?

Solitaire - Oct 17, 2008 6:09 am (#689 of 735)

He did say that, shepherdess. In Ch. 17 of DH, Bathilda's Secret, however, Harry and Hermione visit the site of the house where James and Lily died. The narrative says that most of the cottage is still standing, although it was covered in ivy and snow, and part of the top floor had been blasted away.

"I wonder why nobody's ever rebuilt it?" whispered Hermione.

"Maybe you can't rebuild it?" Harry replied. "Maybe it's like the injuries from Dark Magic and you can't repair the damage?"

Even though the Fidelius Charm "must have died with James and Lily," perhaps only Wizards can see the house and Muggles still cannot. What do you think?


Dryleaves - Oct 17, 2008 6:33 am (#690 of 735)

The sign that shows when Harry touches the gate says the house is invisible to Muggles and that it has been left as it is as a monument over the Potters. Maybe it became invisible to Muggles after it exploded, but that would of course require a massive memory-modifying raid by the Ministry. Or the house became visible for a short while after the explosion and then made invisible again? Are wizard houses always invisible to Muggles?

Solitaire - Oct 17, 2008 5:56 pm (#691 of 735)

Could Hagrid have gotten it wrong? Perhaps he assumed Muggles would be swarming all over the house, since that is what they would normally do if they saw such a thing. Is it possible they didn't even realize it had been blasted? Just a thought ...


Orion - Oct 21, 2008 4:31 am (#692 of 735)

Side-along-house-elf-apparition: In one of the polls it was asked "What is your favourite means of transport?" and "Apparition with a house-elf" was one of the options. In DH we see that Dobby can Apparate and take people with him. house-elves are also immune against the ban against Apparition in Hogwarts, because the spell only works on humans. But then, three questions arise for me:

If Kreacher can Apparate in and out of 12 GP to shop for groceries or warn the Malfoys, why can't the DEs kidnap him and force him to take them with him into the house?

If house-elves can Apparate inside Hogwarts, why can't the DEs force their own house-elves to Apparate with them into Hogwarts? Surely the Hogwarts house-elves must shop for groceries, too? Hogwarts doesn't farm its own food, even if Hagrid breeds a few chicken.

Why isn't it possible to storm the Ministry with the aid of a house-elf?

Maybe somebody can explain these problems.

Choices - Oct 21, 2008 7:29 am (#693 of 735)

I think it is because there are enchantments on these places - houses, Hogwarts, etc. to prevent entrance by uninvited wizards. The house-elf could get in, but the wizard would be kept out.

Orion - Oct 21, 2008 8:27 am (#694 of 735)

Heehaw... I'm just picturing Kreacher Apparating into 12 GP and two bulky DEs glued to the wall, cartoon-like, and falling off in slow motion, and then you see a big cloud of dust...

Choices - Oct 21, 2008 4:50 pm (#695 of 735)
Edited Oct 21, 2008 5:50 pm

LOL I sort of pictured it that way myself, Orion. **splat**

Julia H. - Oct 21, 2008 9:35 pm (#696 of 735)
Edited Oct 21, 2008 10:41 pm


But then the Malfoy Manor, also functioning as Headquarters for the DE's, was rather badly protected. Dobby could certainly take all those people with him as he was leaving the place. Kreacher, however, did not take Regulus home from the cave so perhaps the cave had this kind of protection. Why not the Malfoy Manor?

legolas returns - Oct 23, 2008 12:07 pm (#697 of 735)

I don’t think the cave had protection. Kreacher was told by his master to go home. He was given a direct order by his master which he had to obey-he was also told to destroy the locket. He failed so he punished himself.

Solitaire - Oct 24, 2008 5:14 pm (#698 of 735)

I wonder if a house-elf could grade all of my papers. What a lovely thought!

shepherdess - Oct 24, 2008 5:17 pm (#699 of 735)

Soli, are you sure you'd want a house-elf grading English papers?

Solitaire - Oct 25, 2008 12:31 am (#700 of 735)

LOL Good point! Do you suppose he could file?

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House-Elves Empty House-Elves (posts #701 - #735)

Post  Potteraholic Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:53 pm

Thom Matheson - Oct 25, 2008 6:31 am (#701 of 735)

Now we know who took the mysterious "lost homework assignments". "I'm sorry teacher, it must have been intercepted by a house elf, what could I do?"

Solitaire - Oct 25, 2008 9:30 am (#702 of 735)

LOL Thom! I'd keep my house-elf a secret ... and we know that the house-elves pride themselves on keeping secrets.

If Jo ever writes an anthology of stories using the HP characters--which I dearly hope she does--I'd love to see more about the house-elves. I'd like to know how they came to be enslaved by humans. I'd also like to know where Hogwarts procured all of its elves. Surely there is an interesting story there ...

Choices - Oct 25, 2008 2:23 pm (#703 of 735)

I like to imagine that over the centuries, professors have come to teach at Hogwarts and brought their house-elves with them. The professors retire or pass on and the elf stays at Hogwarts. Or perhaps, house-elves, who outlive their owners, are assigned or left to Hogwarts to serve out their years there. Surely the MOM oversees house-elf affairs and places "orphan" elves where they can continue to live useful lives of service to wizard-kind.

Solitaire - Oct 25, 2008 5:36 pm (#704 of 735)

The house-elves (with the possible exception of Kreacher and maybe Winky) seem to love Hogwarts and enjoy being there. Dobby is certainly there of his own free will. Perhaps sane, rational house-elves (which Kreacher was not, when we met him) who survive their families figure Hogwarts will always be able to give them a safe place where they are well-treated. Dobby obviously got the idea to go there from somewhere.

It has always intrigued me that Dobby wanted to be free of the Malfoys, while Kreacher missed Master Regulus (and even Mrs. Black) and Winky was absolutely in mourning over being dismissed by Mr. Crouch. I mean, the Blacks and the Crouches do not seem to have been such wonderful masters. Then again, Kreacher really was devoted specifically to Regulus and loyal to the point of being able to leave that lake of Inferi in the cave and come to him when he called. He was even given the task of destroying what Regulus could not do himself. Winky seems to have been trusted with all kinds of secrets in the Crouch household and was even put in charge of Barty, Jr. Neither of them have talked about having to punish themselves, as Dobby did.

One wonders if Dobby would have been so set on protecting Harry from the evil plans for him in CoS if he had been treated better by the Malfoys. Or did Dobby simply have a more highly developed sense of right and wrong that superseded even the enchantments that bound him to them? He was certainly aware of the pain and punishment he must inflict on himself, yet he continually tried to aid Harry. We need more info on house-elves, don't you think? I wish Jo would write some short stories featuring those we have already met.


Thom Matheson - Oct 28, 2008 7:23 pm (#705 of 735)

Is it possible that elf owners upon passing willed their elves to Hogwarts. I can see that as a certain wizarding custom if there are no immediate heirs.

Chemyst - Nov 8, 2008 9:41 pm (#706 of 735)

Winky seems to have been trusted with all kinds of secrets in the Crouch household and was even put in charge of Barty, Jr.

Winky has some emotional and mental health problems, as is evidenced by her using butterbeer to self-medicate. Being trusted with such a level of confidential information must have been a huge ego boost for her - one of the few things that made her special and gave her self-worth as a "person."

Perhaps sane, rational house-elves figure Hogwarts will always be able to give them a safe place where they are well-treated.

Again, not enough information. They were well-treated under Dumbledore. When Snape became headmaster they were miserable enough to be persuaded join in the revolt. I bet he let the Carrows boss them around. That is not canon, or even a deduction based on evidence, but I think it could be reasonably inferred from the way Snape treated the human students.

Is it possible that elf owners upon passing willed their elves to Hogwarts. I can see that as a certain wizarding custom if there are no immediate heirs.

Aw, now you've got me contemplating wizarding inheritance taxes and estate planning. And even if there are heirs, they may not want the tax liability. I could see the Ministry imposing luxury taxes on elf labor.

Solitaire - Nov 9, 2008 4:37 am (#707 of 735)

Winky certainly does have emotional and mental health problems--not to mention a drinking problem, now that she has been banished from the home she loved--but I think a lot of those problems are due to having been "fired." Essentially, she was abandoned by the master of probably the only home she'd ever known. She felt lost and disgraced.

Many previously healthy Muggles sink into despair and turn to chemical addictions when they are hit with divorce, loss of a loved one, being framed for a crime, being fired from a long-time career, or other traumatic events.

I have to think that Winky was probably already frightened by the fact of Barty Jr.'s growing stronger and throwing off the Imperius curse. Is it possible that Voldemort, even in a weakened condition, may have been in the house? That would certainly frighten and upset her. Then to have Barty Jr. escape, cast the Dark Mark, and betray her by sticking the wand in her hand must have been both horrifying and crushing to her spirit.

I'm not sure that being trusted was an "ego boost." I think it just may have been the normal state of things, and being stripped of it created a loss of identity for her.


legolas returns - Nov 9, 2008 4:52 am (#708 of 735)

Her female relations had been with the family for generations and she felt very ashamed that she had been sacked. I agree that she lost her identity.

Hieronymus Graubart - Aug 13, 2009 2:08 am (#709 of 735)

I wonder what would happen if a forgetful wizard gave some clothes to his house-elf "to put this in the laundry"?

Undoubtedly a desperate house-elf who wanted to leave, like Dobby, could feel free then.

But if a house-elf felt respected (and loved?) and was happy in this house, could she just ignore the implied symbolism and do as she was told: put it in the laundry?

Could she at least ask if she had to take the symbolism serious?

Could a regretful wizard explain that he did not really want her to leave and renew the contract?

Is there an evil "house-elf-removal-curse" which would drive elves out of their home forever as soon as they were given clothes? Or is this as imaginary as the evil "house-elf-enslavement-curse"?

At least I'm sure about this:

To free an elf clothes have to be given (not necessarily "given intentional", but "going from hand to hand"). No elf will ever be freed by finding clothes or by touching clothes just accidentally.

I understand that the house-elves at Hogwarts were offended and annoyed when Hermione ignored their wish to be left alone, and this may have been reason enough to call a strike. Did Dobby really say that they feared to be free if they touched Hermione's knittings?

Should we assume that the Malfoy's kept all clothes (not in use) carefully locked, so that Dobby never found an opportunity to take a hat and walk away forever?

Sirius mentioned (OP 6) that he once found Kreacher canoodling some of his father's old trousers. So Kreacher had found clothes, but still was not free. (Or nobody was aware that Kreacher only pretended to be not free? How would this fit the plot of his Christmas leave?)

What would be the point of having a house-elf, if you couldn't drop your dirty clothes wherever you like, and be sure that somebody would take care of this ? You still would need a wife - arrrgh, don't hex me! I apologize!

Solitaire - Aug 14, 2009 7:23 am (#710 of 735)

I think there is a difference between giving a house-elf one's laundry and presenting him or her clothing. Lucius cast away the sock as trash ... he was throwing it away. That was his error. I would think that handing an Elf a basket of laundry to be washed, ironed, and folded is clearly not the same as idly tossing away clothing. If it were, then surely all of the Hogwarts house-elves would have been flight risks every time they entered a dorm room, because I'm betting some kids left clothing lying all over the place. JM2K ...

Choices - Aug 14, 2009 2:27 pm (#711 of 735)

I think the big difference is between presenting the elf with an article of clothing - actually handing it to the elf, and just leaving the article or articles of clothing around for the elf to pick up and wash/iron, etc.

me and my shadow 813 - Aug 14, 2009 10:59 pm (#712 of 735)
Edited Aug 14, 2009 11:59 pm

I think you're right, Choices. We all might be confused about the "rule", with good reason due to Hermione's strategy with the knit hats. LOL (picturing Dobby with a stack of little hats on his head).

Julia H. - Aug 17, 2009 11:15 am (#713 of 735)
Edited Aug 17, 2009 12:19 pm

So Hermione did all that knitting and infuriated the Hogwarts house-elves ... for nothing? Or was it her intention to give them the hats that counted? Would her intention have freed them if they had touched the hats? Did Hermione (as a student) count as a Mistress to the Hogwarts house-elves at all?

Madam Pince - Aug 17, 2009 11:36 am (#714 of 735)

Oh that's a good point, Julia. I always wondered why it didn't work. But I'd say you're right -- technically Hermione was not their Mistress, so whether or not she gave them clothes was of no consequence. Good catch!

HungarianHorntail11 - Aug 17, 2009 12:29 pm (#715 of 735)
Edited Aug 17, 2009 1:29 pm

I thought of the intention too, Julia, but I don't think our slippery friend intended to free Dobby when he handed him the sock. I think he wanted to take him home and smack him around a bit.

It runs nearly parallel with the relationship Sirius had with Kreacher, though I don't remember Sirius ever hitting Kreacher.

Steve Newton - Aug 17, 2009 12:47 pm (#716 of 735)

One of the reasons it didn't work was because Dobby, already free, collected them. As I recall it the other elves thought that they were insulting. I'm not sure but I don't think collecting the hats would have freed the elves. Of course, Hermione was also not their master. Many problems here.

Julia H. - Aug 17, 2009 2:38 pm (#717 of 735)
Edited Aug 17, 2009 3:39 pm

I don't think our slippery friend intended to free Dobby when he handed him the sock. (HH)

No, but perhaps he intended to throw the sock away, and, by tossing it to Dobby, he perhaps made it possible for Dobby to regard it as his own. Perhaps if Lucius had given the sock to Dobby intending Dobby to carry it home for him, Dobby would not have been freed because he could not have considered the sock his own. Perhaps giving the sock to your house-elf without intending to keep the sock in your possession (which is not always the same as wanting to present your house-elf with a sock) can do the trick. Hermione clearly intended the house-elves to keep the hats, so she did not regard the hats as her own. I.e., perhaps it is a "gap" in ownership at the moment when the elf touches an article of clothing that frees the elf. This would make it possible for house-elves to handle their masters' clothes without becoming free elves - as long as the masters claim ownership of their clothes. Just an idea.

Solitaire - Aug 17, 2009 4:54 pm (#718 of 735)

I think it was discarding (and disregarding) the sock that was Lucius' downfall and Dobby's emancipation. It was Harry's nasty, dirty sock, remember ... the one that was all icky from being down in the Chamber. Lucius just tossed it away without thinking that Dobby would be there to retrieve it.

I doubt that someone like Lucius would ever have handed Dobby his dirty laundry. More likely, he put it in a hamper or something, and Dobby (or some other servant) came and took it to the laundry. I think this is how the house-elves probably handled things at Hogwarts.

I agree that the reason Hermione could not free the house-elves was that they were not hers to free. Harry couldn't have freed Dobby by handing him a sock. Lucius had to do it. Perhaps the Hogwarts house-elves were offended that Hermione thought she had the authority to free them when she did not.

Orion - Aug 17, 2009 11:23 pm (#719 of 735)

Why do we assume that Hermione couldn't free them? They refused to touch her hats, so they had a reason to refuse that. She intended to give the hats away. If they had touched them and kept them, not for washing but as their possessions, they would have been free.

It's a good thought that Hermione might not have had that authority but it is described in such a way that she must have had that authority. Otherwise the Elves could have wearily thrown the hats away.

Solitaire - Aug 18, 2009 12:44 am (#720 of 735)

If they had touched them and kept them, not for washing but as their possessions, they would have been free.

Are you absolutely certain? I think she thought she had the authority, because she thought that Harry had freed Dobby. He did provide the means for Dobby to be freed, but it was Lucius who freed him. If Lucius had taken Harry's sock, stuffed it into his pocket, and tossed it into the laundry--or if he had thrown it into a fire and it burned--Dobby would not have been freed. I believe that only the owner can set a house-elf free. This is one time Hermione may not have had it right.

Remember that Dumbledore could not summon Kreacher and send him to Hogwarts, or he probably would have done so already. Then again, maybe he wanted to see Petunia squirm. I think only Harry could have freed Kreacher once he'd inherited him. I have a feeling Wizard-Elf laws are as complicated as Wand-laws.

Madam Pince - Aug 18, 2009 4:26 am (#721 of 735)

I got the impression that they refused to touch Hermione's hats for two reasons: 1) because they weren't entirely sure whether it would free them or not, (since as Soli says, wizard-elf laws sound pretty complicated to me) and they just didn't want to risk it, and 2) because they were insulted at the very idea in the first place.

Just my impression, though.

me and my shadow 813 - Aug 18, 2009 3:55 pm (#722 of 735)

I have a feeling Wizard-Elf laws are as complicated as Wand-laws.

Well said, Soli. "Complicated" is a diplomatic way of putting it -- I was going to use "vague".

Choices - Aug 18, 2009 5:16 pm (#723 of 735)

LOL I think you're both right - they are complicated and vague.

rambkowalczyk - Aug 20, 2009 5:39 pm (#724 of 735)

Did Lucius know that he gave Dobby the sock? I thought the sock was hidden in the diary.

Hieronymus Graubart - Aug 21, 2009 8:14 am (#725 of 735)
Edited Aug 21, 2009 9:16 am

Not long ago I was proven to be wrong about movie contamination on another thread, but I'm very sure that only in the movie the sock was in the diary.

Harry had put the diary into the sock, so that Lucius had to take it out to see what Harry had given to him. If Lucius had known in advance, he would probably have refused to take the diary, which he had already said was not his property.

Since the hidden object seemed to be the important thing, Lucius threw the "envelope" away carelessly (not realising that this bloody piece of filth was a sock?) and Dobby could catch it. Since the sock went directly from the master's hand to the house-elf's hand, this obviously counted as "giving clothes to the house-elf" (and intent obviously doesn't matter in this case).

Would Dobby be free if Lucius had dropped the sock and Dobby had picked it up from the floor?

Would the movie trick (the sock in the diary) work unless Lucius had touched the sock unknowingly? Or would this then still be Harry sending the "enveloped" sock to Dobby, not Lucius giving clothes to his house-elf (he was only transferring the "envelope")?

Anyway, Movie-Lucius was incredibly stupid to

# take the diary after pretending that it did not belong to him. (But did he pretend this in the movie? I don’t remember.)

# ignore the sock so obviously hanging out of the diary.

But this is not the movie-thread.

Perhaps the Hogwarts house-elves were offended that Hermione thought she had the authority to free them when she did not..

Good catch, Solitaire, another reason to call a strike. Already in GoF, the house-elves had also made it very clear that they didn’t appreciate ‘The house-elf Liberation Front’.

So Hermione did all that knitting and infuriated the Hogwarts house-elves ... for nothing?

Yes, Julia H., this is how I see it. Even if the hose-elves had not refused to take Hermione’s presents, it could never have worked.

Hermione should have known this, but she was so upset about the supposed ‘slavery’ at Hogwarts that she couldn’t be her normal logical self, she had just to do something! I always think of Don Quixote de la Mancha when I read Hermione knitting beyond reason .

Choices - Aug 21, 2009 9:17 am (#726 of 735)
Edited Aug 21, 2009 10:18 am

In the book, the diary is in the sock, not the other way around like it is in the movie. Harry stuffs the diary into the slimy, filthy sock and runs to hand it to Mr. Malfoy. Malfoy rips the diary out of the sock and tosses the sock. Dobby catches the sock and that action frees him from Malfoy. Malfoy didn't even hand the sock to Dobby, Dobby snatches the sock out of the air and is free. Interesting!

Hieronymus Graubart - Aug 23, 2009 7:30 am (#727 of 735)

Julia H. may have a point when she says: ... but perhaps he intended to throw the sock away, and, by tossing it to Dobby, he perhaps made it possible for Dobby to regard it as his own. ... Perhaps giving the sock to your house-elf without intending to keep the sock in your possession (which is not always the same as wanting to present your house-elf with a sock) can do the trick.

But how could Lucius give up possession if this sock had never belonged to him? Should we assume that the sock became Lucius property when Harry gave it away to him, although Lucius never regarded it as his own? There are some legal differences between possessing something and having proprietary rights, but this becomes too complicated

I stick with my opinion that the trick was done by the simple symbolic act of a piece of clothing going directly from the master’s hand to the house-elf’s hand and intent didn’t matter.

Albus Dumbledore could hire free elves like he could hire humans for his staff. But had he the authority to give clothes to the Hogwarts house-elves? The Headmaster is not the owner of Hogwarts. Who is the owner of this house and the master of its house-elves?

mona amon - Aug 23, 2009 8:23 am (#728 of 735)
Edited Aug 23, 2009 9:25 am

I think it's just a matter of mind over magic.

house-elves are magically enslaved, bound by enchantments to do their masters' bidding. When they're unhappy with their masters and have a sufficiently independent mind, like Dobby and Kreacher, they’re always on the alert for, and take advantage of, loopholes and ambiguities in their masters' orders.

Kreacher leaves #12 GP and pays that treacherous visit to Bellatrix and Narcissa when Sirius tells him to "get out" (if I remember correctly). Of course Sirius is not ordering Kreacher to leave the house, and he knows that perfectly well. But it can be interpreted in this way, and that, IMO, gives him the strength of mind to escape the enchantment and disobey Sirius, his master.

Similarly, although technically Dobby cannot be freed by catching Harry's slimy sock when Lucius flings it aside, it gives him the mental strength he needs to break away from the enslaving enchantment.

It's like resisting the Imperius curse. You can do it if you are strong enough mentally. Rebellious house-elves get the help that they need to do it by loopholes and ambiguities.

So I think, if you have a faithful house-elf like Winky, you needn't be afraid to hand her a basket of laundry to wash and iron. But with someone like Dobby, you have to be careful not to pass him even a sock. (COS, Chapter 10). You never know how he'll interpret it!

Orion - Aug 23, 2009 8:28 am (#729 of 735)

Very good reasoning, mona!

Julia H. - Aug 23, 2009 8:29 am (#730 of 735)

But how could Lucius give up possession if this sock had never belonged to him?

By Harry wanting to give the sock to him.

"Mr. Malfoy," he gasped, skidding to a halt, "I've got something for you --" And he forced the smelly sock into Lucius Malfoy's hand.

Harry "presented" Lucius with the sock. Lucius was the owner for only a second, but that was enough for him to pass the ownership to Dobby by giving the sock to him without intending to keep it as his possession.

I stick with my opinion that the trick was done by the simple symbolic act of a piece of clothing going directly from the master’s hand to the house-elf’s hand and intent didn’t matter.

Intent apparently did not matter, but then why were the Hogwarts elves upset about Hermione's hats at all? Touching any items of clothing that they find cannot free them then.

Orion- Aug 23, 2009 8:36 am (#731 of 735)

That's right. Hmm. JKR mistake. Come on, she's human. We can knot ourselves to pretzels about that, but ultimately it's just not logical.

haymoni - Aug 23, 2009 9:20 am (#732 of 735)

I think the house-elves were offended simply because Hermione thought they should be freed. They did not want to be freed and found her attempts - whether the hats could actually free them or not - offensive.

If I say that I do not want someone's help and they force their help upon me, I am going to be offended.

Dryleaves - Aug 28, 2009 9:00 am (#733 of 735)
Edited Aug 28, 2009 10:05 am

Sorry to interrupt the discussion, but it just made me think of a creature in Swedish folk-lore, tomte, which is a small man (or man-like creature), often with a knitted cap, who lives at a farm and takes care of the animals, keeps the farm clean and sees to that everything functions the way it is supposed to. Often the farmer doesn't know about him, but if he does, he must be good to him, so that he keeps doing his job well. There is a story about a woman, who once saw her tomte working, saw his ragged clothes and decided to give him new ones, as he did so much good work for her. The tomte was very happy about the clothes, and found them too beautiful to work in, so he stopped doing that...

This is much different from house-elves, of course, but there are also some similar motifs, like belonging to a house, working hard and stop working when you are given clothes. I suppose there might be some other folklore creature, which is the inspiration for the house-elf, and I wonder if anyone here would know anything about it.

mona amon - Aug 28, 2009 9:17 am (#734 of 735)

Hey, I know that story! Our version was called The Shoemaker and the Elves and I think it was a Grimm fairy tale. I never thought of connecting it to the HP house elves. Nice catch, Dryleaves!

Julia H. - Aug 28, 2009 9:31 am (#735 of 735)

Great catch! I know the Grimm version, too. It may go back to some Germanic myths.

I know about a folklore being (not exactly an elf) who can do all kinds of works around the house, but there is a strict condition: It must be kept busy all the time. As soon as it does not have anything to do, it turns into a destructive force.

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