Elves Are the Answer
by Dan Newell
For a long time now, I have wondered what lies in store for House-Elves. I dont think that it is a coincidence that House-Elves have been right in the thick of the plot for four out of the six books. In CoS, Dobby is the one that knows that the Chamber of Secrets is going to be opened; in GoF, Winky knows that Barty Crouch Jr. was escorted out of Azkaban by his father, and knows that Barty Jr. has escaped his father’s control; in OotP Kreacher is in on the plan made by Voldemort to lure Harry into the Department of Mysteries; in HBP Dobby and Kreacher are set to tail Malfoy to find out where he has been wandering off to, before discovering that he has been in the Room of Requirement. And we will never be able to forget Hermione’s struggle and quest to free all House-Elves with the infamous S.P.E.W. I read and re-read the series trying to figure out why Rowling would give us so much information on elves and constantly keep them in the reader’s vision. Then while laying out the cards for the final battle of Good vs. Evil, it hit me.
The Wizarding world is in a state of open warfare which has forced magical people and creatures to choose their sides. In one corner stands the Bad Guys, represented by Lord Voldemort and his followers: Death Eaters, Inferi, Dementors, Werewolves, Giants, Imperiused Wizards, and other dark creatures that only Voldemort could rally around his cause. Whether they follow out of fear, loyalty, or have been bribed or magically forced in one way or another, they still uphold the biddings of the Dark Lord. In the other corner stand the Good Guys, depicted by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (The Ministry of Magic is too incompetent to find the arena and even if they could, they would not fight for what is right, but for their own reputation.)
As of right now the cards are stacked against the good side. With the passing of their greatest leader and wizard, Albus Dumbledore, their morale is low and their vulnerability is at an all time high. At this moment in time the Good Guys don’t have a chance to match powers with all of the Death Eaters, Giants, Werewolves, Inferi and Dementors. If the Good Guys want to hold their ground and put up a respectable fight, they need a major boost. The Good Guys need to recruit House-Elves. I know what you’re thinking: How are warm sheets and full stomachs going to help the Good Guys take on a Dark Side that is bigger and stronger than ever before?!
Well, let’s think about this:
CoS is the first time as a reader we meet a House-Elf, “The little creature on the bed had large, bat-like ears and bulging green eyes the size of tennis balls”[CoS, 12 (all references from American Hardback Editions)]. Dobby [”Dobby, sir. Just Dobby. Dobby the house-elf” (CoS, 12)] and House-Elves in general are rather funny looking, with their tiny bodies, odd shaped noses and comically large ears. They look harmless and docile; it’s too bad for the Bad Guys that looks can be very deceiving.
From what we see of Dobby in CoS, House-Elves are hardly harmless and docile. Let’s take a look at Dobby’s acts as he tries to keep Harry out of harm’s way.
-Dobby blocks Harry’s letters, hoping that Harry will think that his friends have forgotten about him and decide not to go back to Hogwarts. I don’t know how Dobby managed this, whether he somehow had Harry’s mail re-directed magically (which would be very impressive) or whether he just picked off each letter one by one (a little less impressive than the former, but the latter would take unfathomable diligence), but either way it is pretty commendable; even though his plan to keep Harry home didn’t work.
-Dobby performs a Hover Charm without a wand and crashes Aunt Petunia’s pudding, hoping that the Dursleys would forbid Harry to go back to Hogwarts. House-Elves not only do not use wands but are not allowed to use them by wizarding law. I found it interesting that, though wizards think themselves to be far superior to elves, their magic is indistinguishable. Also, touching over the fact that House-Elves do not use wands, expelliarmus (disarming spell) is no good on elves and therefore you cannot separate an elf from his magic. The same cannot be said for even the most powerful of wizards.
-Dobby blocks Harry and Ron from getting onto Platform 9 ¾, hoping that Harry will find no other way to Hogwarts and retire to life back at 4 Privet Drive. Easily one of Dobby’s most admirable bits of magic, as he overrides the charm that has allowed students to get onto Platform 9 ¾. It is never stated in the books, but I assume that either Dumbledore or another headmaster charmed the barrier betweens Platforms 9 and 10 and so Dobby has overridden a charm made by a fully-fledged wizard.
-Dobby bewitches a Bludger to focus its brutal attacks on Harry, hoping that it will injure Harry severely enough to send him home. When George Weasley informs Oliver Wood of his suspicions of the tampered Bludger, Oliver replies with, But the Bludgers have been locked in Madam Hooch’s office since our last practice (CoS, 169). Therefore, Dobby had to get into Madam Hooch’s office and bewitch the Bludger undetected. Perhaps Dobby managed this by apparating within the castle, something we know that House-Elves, unlike wizards, are able to do.
Dobby shows not only diligence, but a very considerable amount of magical ability while attempting to keep Harry away from Hogwarts. However, Dobby’s greatest feat comes after Lucius Malfoy is hoodwinked into giving Dobby clothes. Malfoy attempts to harm Harry, but Dobby steps in the way:
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 on the landing below. He got up, his face livid, and pulled out his wand, but Dobby raised a long, threatening finger. (CoS, 338).
Dobby takes out a Death Eater with the swish of a finger! It is also important to note that Dobby nearly kills Harry three times on his way to getting Harry out of school; Dobby nearly killed Harry three times while trying to SAVE him. I can only imagine what would happen if Dobby tried to kill someone.
I know it sounds like I’m on some kind of Dobby bandwagon, or am in love with the little guy, but I tell you everything Dobby did in CoS to inform you what he is capable of and because it is never stated that Dobby is more powerful than the average elf, I can assume that all elves are blessed with this kind of aptitude. If my assumptions are correct, then having House-Elves would give the Good Guys the boost they so dearly need.
The resources are all available for the Good Guys. Harry has Dobby who would do anything for him, including but not limited to searching for other elves to fight for the Good Guys cause. According to Nearly Headless Nick, not only does Hogwarts have House-Elves, but, ”The largest number in any dwelling in Britain, I believe. Over a hundred” (GoF, 182) and the Good Guys have Hermione who would never overlook or underestimate her fellow magical beings.
It is time to re-evaluate the fight. In one corner we still have Voldemort and his followers, but in the other corner we now have a new addition to those fighting for what is right; the most overlooked creature in the Wizarding world. Whether they are present at the beginning of the fight or show up in round 7, House-Elves will show up and help keep evil at bay.