Lexicon Podcast

Episode 7: “There’s a door … a black door with no handle …”


Steve wanders down Charing Cross Road, then talks about hidden pubs, anti-magical roads, questions in book two and answers in books six, floating kitchenware, hanging animals, and other bits of Potter lore.

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Pensieve (Comments)

  • ZJJ

    You’ve mentioned a couple of times already that you wonder how Dobby knew so much about what was planned in Chamber of Secrets. I have a surmise.
    In HBP we learn most of the details we will ever find out about Lucias, Voldemort and the Horcrux diary when Dumbledore explains to Harry about Horcruxes and the Profesy in Chapter 23, page 508:
    “When Voldemort discovered that the diary had been mutilated and robbed of all its powers, I am told that his anger was terrible to behold.”
    “But I thought he meant Lucius Malfoy to smuggle it into Hogwarts?”
    “Yes, he did, years ago, when he was sure he would be able to create more Horcruxes, but still Lucius was supposed to wait for Voldemort’s say-so, and he never received it, for Voldemort vanished shortly after giving him the diary.
    “No doubt he thought that Lucius would not dare do anything with the Horcrux other than guard it carefully, but he was counting too much upon Luciuss fear of a master who had been gone for years and whom Lucius believed dead. Of course, Lucius did not know what the diary really was. I understand that Voldemort had told him the diary would cause the Chamber of Secrets to reopen because it was cleverly enchanted. Had Lucius known he held a portion of his master’s soul in his hands, he would undoubtedly have treated it with more reverence – but instead he went ahead and carried out the old plan for his own ends: By planting the diary upon Arthur Weasley’s daughter, he hoped to discredit Arthur and get rid of a highly incriminating magical object in one stroke.”
    Here is my surmise. I think it’s the same way Kreecher knew so much about the Order of the Phoenix. Dobby was there to either hear it all first hand or hear Lucias recount it to Narcissa or some other Death Eater confidante visiting Malfoy Manor. People, especially those accustomed to having them, forget that servants are even around, not to mention actually listening.
    We know from what Dobby told Harry about how bad it was for House Elfs under the Dark Lord that he was around at the time Voldemort gave the diary to Lucias, which was just before he disappeared. We also know that House Elfves work all their lives for one master and so we can conclude that Dobby was with the Malfoys then as well. The story of the first opening of the Chamber of Secrets fifty years earlier would be known by Dobby either as part of the history all magical folk around that time knew, or because it was part of the Voldemort lore all the Death Eaters would have been told about.
    Whether Voldemort told Lucias about the diary and his plans for it while at Malfoy Manor, or Lucias merely repeated it to Narcissa later, Dobby could easily have been privy to this information. We don’t know for a certainty whether later Dobby overheard Lucias telling his wife or other Death Eaters about his own plan to use the diary to enchant Ginny in order to discredit Arthur Weasley, but we can justifiably surmise that Lucias would have spoken about it within the security of Malfoy Manor and Dobby would have been able to overhear it. While Lucias was aware of Drako’s presence and discrete when talking with Narcissa or other confidantes about it around him, Dobby would be as invisible as a piece of furniture and the matter discussed freely as long as someone like Drako wasn’t around.
    Likely, Dobby had been instructed—or it is a part of the House Elf’s servitude—not to repeat anything heard within Malfoy Manor, so Lucias and Narcissa or other Death Eaters would speak freely while at Malfoy Manor, just as the Order members spoke freely in #12 Grimm Old Place. . Dobby had the moral fortitude to go against the constraints on him as a House Elf and accepted the punishment he had to inflict on himself as a consequence of disobeying. It was this same inner strength that made him an oddity among House Elves and long for freedom, clothes, and to be paid.

    • That’s a good quote, but it still leaves the whole question wide open. The key is that when Dobby comes to Privet Drive, he knows things that even Lucius doesn’t know … things NO ONE knew at that time except Dumbledore and Harry. And the plot, such as it was, had nothing whatsoever to do with Harry. So what was Dobby so afraid would happen?

  • Nadine

    Well, I’ve listened to all 7 of your podcasts twice, and I think I could listen to them all several times more! They are so interesting and full of new information and intriguing perspectives that I feel as if I am taking a college course on the Harry Potter series! Thank you so much for your insightful and well thought-out discussions. I can hardly wait for upcoming ‘classes’!

  • ZJJ

    Dobby was all about keeping Harry Potter safe because he had benefitted house Elves by defeating the Dark Lord. How did he know the other things he knew? No direct proof, but other house elves are the likeliest sources. He knew of how other house elves were treated both before and after the defeat of the Dark Lord and he likely didn’t learn this from the Malfoys who wouldn’t rate house elves high enough to even talk about. We know he knew Winky and the house elf grapevine was good enough so that Dobby knew when she lost her job.

    Read any good novel written during the era when servants were common and it becomes clear that servants always talk to each other and know as much or more about what is going on in theirs and other households than the masters do. Rowlings society isn’t likely to be proof against such underground information exchanges and she likely knew well enough how the Muggle servant spy network often worked in the past and that magical servants would be no different, just more powerful.

    There were enough subtle references throughout the books that imply that the house elf injunction about telling others about their Masters’ doings didn’t always apply to telling other house elves. Some, like Winky, kept their own counsel with regard to truly private family matters, but other less critical information would be grist for the house elf rumor mill.

  • Cassandra

    Hello Steve,

    I wanted to start off by saying thank you for sharing your interest of harry potter with the rest of the world though you’re Lexicon and your written books.

    I was just listening to your newest podcast about Charing Cross road and I have to tell you I was super excited to look on Google maps to see what you were experiencing, so I was looking down the Charing cross road on the street view and I found the little nook you were speaking of.

    I love to hear your podcasts about in search of harry potter and I like to look up the places when you’re describing them. Keep it up I am really enjoying these.


  • Martha

    I keep thinking about that moment just before the family heads to King’s Cross station, when Ginny rememebers her diary (Book 2) and runs back to the house to get it. On the face of it, this moment seems well, monumental. If she hadn’t gone back to retrieve the diary, Harry’s life (and Ginny’s for sure) would have been very different that year. However, Mrs Weasley always reminds Harry and her children that if they’ve forgotten something at The Burrow, she’ll just send it on to school via owl. So I think that Ginny would have gotten the diary either way that year…making this moment maybe less of a clincher than I originally thought.