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Dobby’s Creative Attempts To Save Harry

Commentary

Dobby's devout loyalty to Harry only increases after Harry frees him by tricking Lucius Malfoy into giving Dobby one of Harry's socks.  His efforts to save Harry's life improve significantly after that, perhaps because he can freely communicate with Harry about the dangers he faces.  Originally, he has to take drastic, confusing measures to avoid contradicting the Malfoy family's wishes, or face severe punishments.  He stops Harry's mail in the hopes that Harry might simply feel friendless and decide against returning to Hogwarts--a weak attempt that, perhaps, reflects more about Dobby's loneliness than his magical and strategic abilities.

Dobby is an uncommon house-elf for desiring freedom, and he serves a particularly cruel family at the time he first meets Harry.  Friendless in Malfoy Manor, Dobby would not have chosen to return, if he had a choice in the matter.  One could argue that Dobby is projecting his feelings onto Harry, which combines with his inability to speak freely about his concerns to Harry and results in a series of deeply ineffective attempts to keep Harry out of harm's way.  If Dobby had been able to tell Harry the full truth about the Malfoys and the diary and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry could have communicated with Dumbledore and put a stop to the entire ordeal before it began.  Unfortunately, due to the powerful magic that bonds a house-elf in servitude to its family, Dobby could only beg Harry to stay away from Hogwarts.

Once Harry frees Dobby, he is free to seek employment for wages and the company of other house-elves. While employment proves difficult to find, and most of the house-elves he meets find his interest in wages to be shameful, Dobby nonetheless thrives in the employ of Dumbledore at Hogwarts.  He is willingly devoted to Harry out of gratitude for his freedom, and he offers crucial assistance to Harry throughout the rest of his time at Hogwarts.  When Harry fails to prepare for the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, Dobby swoops in with a (literally) last-minute save by providing gillyweed and instructions for using it.  When Harry cannot think of a safe location for Dumbledore's Army to meet, Dobby easily points him in the direction of the Room of Requirement.  When Harry needs to tail Draco and learn more about his suspicious behavior, he enlists the help of Kreacher and Dobby, who report to him with diametric levels of enthusiasm.  Finally, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are trapped in Malfoy Manor, Dobby appears without hesitation in his abusive former family's home and sacrifices his life in the act of transporting his friends to Shell Cottage.  Dobby seems to cherish his friendship with Harry at least as much as he cherishes his freedom, and once freed from his miserable obligations to the Malfoy family, his friendship with Harry and new inkling of self-worth allow him to provide immeasurable help to his new friend.

--AK

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Tags: abuse barrier brave bravery communication enslavement exaggerations freedom friends friendship help idea irony isolation killing loneliness love loyal loyalty observations predictions rescue/rescues sacrifices servant servitude spying

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