Many Replies re: Harry Potter & etc.

johanna at johanna at
Sat Feb 1 18:14:33 EST 2003

> But life is more complicated than that and we have a whole lot more than
> just those two choices.  JKR shows how it isn't so simple by her
> depiction of the house elves.  Dobby wants freedom and he's willing to
> learn what it takes to get there--and he is willing to do it the hard
> way.  Other house-elves don't and that presents a dilemma.  At that
> point, if you want them to be free, you have a couple of ways you can go
> about it.  Hermione's way is to simply set them free and thrust them
> into the cold, cruel world. She's headed to do what we did to slaves
> after our civil war.  As such, if she succeeds, she will be the
> proximate cause of a lot of house-elf suffering.  Dumbledore, on the
> other hand, has a better idea and I'm happy to see it.  He sets them
> functionally free, gives them a taste of their freedom, and gives them
> the chance to exercise their will.

That's a good point about Dumbledore. And I agree that there were a lot of
problems w/Reconstruction & the end of slavery in the US. And, as you
said, that if it was between setting them free w/o giving them any
transitional help & not setting them free at all, of course, set them
free. But I still don't like the way Hermione's obsession w/house-elves is
dealt w/--the reader sees things mostly from Harry's POV, & thus I'm
assuming is supposed to identify w/Harry the most. I mean, he's the
protagonist, you're probably going to put yourself in his place to a
degree. And he (& Ron) think that Hermione is just being ridiculous again.
So the whole idea of the house elf liberation thing gets short shrift,
because the focus is on Hermione just being Hermione again: prissy & bossy
& whatever. Even though Hermione obviously saves the day several times &
such, & there's nowhere near the ridiculing of her that occurs in the
first book, I still feel like it's easy for a lot of what she does to not
be taken seriously. Because she's the Nerdy Girl. Although there is some
hope since Harry is the one who sets Dobby free, I suppose.

We'll see what happens... I guess I'm just not convinced that Rowling will
give it a complex treatment. She has too much other stuff to fit in--like
someone else said, there has to be a big exposition of a Quidditch match
in which Harry is the hero--among other things. ^_~

> In short, I think JKR did the opposite of what she is accused of--it
> would have been much easier to have house elves be happy in slavery.
> Taking the easy out would have had Dobby happily settled into Hogwarts
> as a contented house-elf slave and had Hermione's crusade confirmed a
> joke when she is forced in the end to concede that they're happier when
> they're slaves.

Well, she may yet have to concede that--who knows? Winky seems pretty
miserable, & either that could change, or Dobby could remain the only
happy free house elf.


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