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Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 2 "Dobby's Warning"

 
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Zahir
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:27 pm    Post subject: Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 2 "Dobby's Warning" Reply with quote

While Philosopher's Stone was a basic introduction to the world of Harry Potter, Chamber of Secrets begins to explore some of the darker--and terribly important--parts of that world. Chapter Two starts off with one such piece of darkness. A short, annoying and rather comic piece of darkness.

Dobby the house-elf.

On the one hand, Dobby seems like a weird combo of Gollum and Jimminy Cricket. Yet on the other hand, it seems crystal clear that he is a slave, and an abused slave at that. He is putting himself in real danger to warn Harry Potter about "something terrible" and along the way he does some vastly entertaining, frustrating and infuriating things. Given that we are watching events through Harry's eyes, we may be forgiven for at first not quite recognizing the gravity of his appearance. He seems in fact to be little more than a trouble-maker. Stealing Harry's mail. Making life with Harry's uncle and aunt even less bearable. Refusing to EXPLAIN anything!

More, Dobby's actions have serious consequences beyond mere inconvenience. His use of magic comes to the attention of the Ministry of Magic, so Harry is in some legal difficulty (that will bear fruit later). And as a result, the Dursleys find out that Harry isn't allowed to do magic outside of school!

Uncle Vernon uses this new information, and the troubles caused by the infuriating Dobby, to lock Harry up in his room! He intends to keep the boy wizard from returning to Hogwarts! Small wonder Harry--and we--are distracted from some disturbing questions that we should be asking:

-What is Dobby so frightened about, that he goes to these lengths?
-Who are Dobby's masters/owners, that would make such "terrible" plans and why?
-How is Harry Potter in any way part of all this?
-And, what does it say about the wizarding world that it contains an entire race of slaves?

Instead, we are made to ponder how Harry will make it to Platform 9 3/4 and return to the only place that has ever felt like home, to spend time again with his only real friends. Understandably. But Chamber of Secrets is filled with plot time bombs, each of them ticking away regardless of whether the characters (or readers) pay attention--until they go off.

Then, in a further--albeit wonderful as well as absolutely necessary distraction--Harry looks out his window and sees Ron!
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Zahir. That was awesome.

Zahir wrote:
On the one hand, Dobby seems like a weird combo of Gollum and Jimminy Cricket. Yet on the other hand, it seems crystal clear that he is a slave, and an abused slave at that. He is putting himself in real danger to warn Harry Potter about "something terrible" and along the way he does some vastly entertaining, frustrating and infuriating things.


My 14 year old son has just finished rereading this book, as he received a copy to replace his well loved, fallen apart one from a very generous Watcher. We had hoped he would join in the discussion, but so far it doesn't look like it is happening...

Anyway...the last time he and I read this book close to the same time as each other was when it first came out. At the time, Beorn was only six years old and in first grade. While he understood the plot and the vocabulary, some of the more subtle, to a six year old anyway, aspects flew right over his head.

As I said, his original copy is fallen apart, due to having been reread so often. Yet, until we read it at the same time now, he and I had not had an in-depth discussion on it in all that time.

So...we were talking house elves. And there is something Beorn asked me to consider, and I would like to throw this out to all of you, although since we only meet Dobby now, it may be more appropriate to discuss in future dissections.

It seems clear to us that House Elves are more powerful magically than wizards. Most of them enjoy serving the family they are attached to. It is considered a disgrace to be "given clothes."

That being the case, is it possible this "slavery," or perhaps a better word would be "bondage," is self imposed? That centuries ago House Elves came to an agreement to serve wizarding families and institutions, and the agreement became lost? That over time wizards became more arrogant towards the service of the House Elves, and most House Elves willingly continued the service, even when a generation of those they served were not fully appreciative? And that over time, the rules became fixed, and no one saw a way out for those who may have wanted one? Yet, most House Elves don't want one, so in a sense it remains self imposed...

Again...this is just the turn our conversation took. Something to think upon, and maybe discuss at a more appropriate time.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's a very valid point. House elves served originally because they thought it an honor to do so. They made a bond/pact/vow much like the sacred vow of the Haruchai of the Land. They made a bond to serve regardless of a change of master as is shown in later events of this series. Excellent observations everyone.
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