Parchment and Clothing: Tools of Freedom

As I sat in my commencement ceremony from college this past Saturday, a friend of mine pointed to one of the many decorated caps while stating, “Look, there’s a ‘Dobby’ cap!” This cap followed the popular example seen on social media that read (something along the lines of) “Master has given Dobby a diploma. Dobby is free!” This is modeled after the line in the film version of Chamber of Secrets where Lucius Malfoy inadvertently gave the creature a sock that released him from the Malfoys. We all know that this was truly Harry Potter’s doing by slipping the clothing into Tom Riddle’s Diary, but the act itself, in the form of the most simple garment, granted Dobby freedom.

How crazy is it to think that pieces of fabric sewn together is all it takes for one individual to be given the opportunity to their own life? Of course, this has always been the way for house-elves, but it always astounded me that it was the most simplest of things that can unlock the future. And the same is true for many of us in terms of earning our education, whether it be a high school or general education diploma, a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, or even a Doctorate.

To this year’s graduating class, congratulations! We are this year’s generation of liberated house-elves. We have put in hours of work in hopes of recognition and praise, we developed into mature and educated beings, and we have become loyal to those whom we took the journey with just the same way that Dobby and several others have done.

House-elves are obedient and loyal, and so are we! For house-elves, they are devoted to their masters and incapable of not following direct orders, and for us, well, we know that if we did not hand in our assignments or study for our exams, there would be no chance at us walking home with a piece of paper in hand. House-elves are also loyal to those they care for, as seen by Kreacher to the Black family (excluding Sirius, of course) and Dobby to Harry. We are loyal to our schools, like when we walk across the stage and shake hands with the principal or dean; we become alumni who would remain proud of where we came from and devoted in terms of donations and reunion celebrations.

Of course, not all house-elves hope to be given clothing as seen in Order of the Phoenix when Hermione attempts to relieve the kitchen elves of their duties at Hogwarts. The creatures were enraged, as they love serving the Hogwarts castle, and that must be taken into account. For some of us, graduation is not an easy time as we are forced to say goodbye to memories and friends while being shoved forward into the future.

Just think back to how distressed Winky became when she was “fired” by Mr. Crouch in Goblet of Fire. That was not a pretty sight, but there is a silver lining, as eventually she found her new home working with Dobby at Hogwarts. Moving on from what we know is never easy, but it provides the opportunity to further grow as individuals. Whether you are a scared house-elf who was just given their first sweater, or a recent college graduate who just moved back in with their parents, remember that the clothing and parchment is just the key and first step to the next journey of your life.

Our freedom comes in small packages that are plain and basic, but they are the most powerful, so make sure not to take them lightly. Take advantage of the freedoms given to you as we are lucky enough to have been given them. There will always be a house-elf still sleeping at night in a cupboard and a student wishing to be able to attend another year of school.

We are the lucky ones, and it is time we take on the world. Congratulations to all of you newly freed house-elves. Wear that clothing with pride.