If anyone were to ask me which character’s death was the saddest in the Harry Potter series, my answer, hands down, would be “Dobby”. I developed so much of a deep attachment with the poor elf as soon as he was introduced in the second book, that I was close to wailing over his death in the Deathly Hallows. I think, therefore, the first character on my blog’s list of HP character analyses ought to be Dobby. Let’s start off with a brief journey through his life in the series.
Dobby, in the Chamber of Secrets, is rather bent upon keeping Harry away from Hogwarts and we are introduced to him in his very first attempt at doing so – The Privet Drive cake smashing episode! Harry escapes expulsion from Hogwarts by a hair’s breadth and naturally, doesn’t take to the elf very well. Nevertheless, it is Dobby who enlightens him about the Chamber’s previous opening and Harry certainly owes him something. At the end, Lucius Malfoy is tricked by Harry into flinging Riddle’s diary (containing Harry’s sock) at Dobby which instantly frees him from bondage to the Malfoy family.
“Harry Potter set Dobby free!”
“Least I could do, Dobby”, said Harry, grinning. “Just promise never to try and save my life again.”
J K Rowling describes Dobby (and every other elf, for that matter) as a pitiful and badly treated creature that is forced to abide by its master’s bidding. However, she brings out the eccentricity in Dobby’s character too, by showing his inclination to save Harry Potter from the dark conspiracy of his masters. (Which is, strictly speaking, against the laws he was bound to)
Dobby doesn’t feature in the Prisoner of Azkaban and his next appearance in the Goblet of Fire is when Hermione discovers a way to enter the Hogwarts kitchens. Harry is astonished to find Dobby in the kitchens working with other elves.The elf is bizarrely dressed and is positively overwhelmed with affection for Harry as soon as he sees him. Here again, Dobby distinguishes himself from other elves by working for a one galleon per week pay under Dumbledore. However, he doesn’t take his newly found freedom for granted. Here’s an excerpt from the Goblet of Fire.
“Professor Dumbledore offered Dobby ten Galleons a week, and weekends off,” said Dobby, suddenly giving a little shiver, as though the prospect of so much leisure and riches were frightening, “but Dobby beat him down, miss. . . . Dobby likes freedom, miss, but he isn’t wanting too much, miss, he likes work better.”
Dobby also tells Harry of the Gillyweed moments before the Second Triwizard Tournament task, which increases Harry’s love for him a thousand fold.
Next time he was in Hogsmeade, Harry decided as he walked back up the stone steps into the castle, he was going to buy Dobby a pair of socks for every day of the year.
In the Goblet of Fire, Dobby has evolved from the pathetic elf in a ragged pillowcase to a ‘bon vivant’ of sorts, with his exceedingly peculiar socks and tea cosy. He now believes in freedom and a respectable living and sets an example to other elves too. J K Rowling’s exceptionally beautiful narrative makes readers like me think of elves from a sympathetic perspective, for they are not unlike those ‘untouchables’, who have been downtrodden for centuries in India.
Dobby then features in the Order of the Phoenix and he is the one to suggest Harry and Dumbledore’s Army a secret place to conduct Defence classes: The Room of Requirement. He also tips off Harry that the
evil hag Umbridge (sorry for the swearing, it had to go in there) is on the way to find them, along with the Inquisitorial Squad. Thanks to Hermione’s knitted hats, Dobby also spends a fair amount of time cleaning the Gryffindor dormitories, for other elves wouldn’t do it for fear of getting freed.
“None of them will clean Gryffindor Tower any more, not with the hats and socks hidden everywhere, they finds them insulting, sir. Dobby does it all himself, sir, but Dobby does not mind, sir, for he always hopes to meet Harry Potter and tonight, sir, he has got his wish!”
Dobby, in the Half Blood Prince, again puts on a display of his unwavering loyalty to Harry by over-enthusiastically agreeing to tail Malfoy for him.
“Yes, Harry Potter!” said Dobby at once, his great eyes shining with excitement. “And if Dobby does it wrong, Dobby will throw himself off the topmost tower, Harry Potter!”
“There won’t be any need for that,” said Harry hastily.
At this point in the book, one can easily perceive the striking contrast between Dobby and Kreacher, the elf that Sirus had left at Harry’s service. Kreacher was bound to serve Harry though he disliked it whereas Dobby had the freedom to serve anyone and he chose to serve Harry, with all his heart. Rowling sees to it that we understand the seriousness of wizarding prejudice against magical creatures and the consequences it brings with it. Sirius’ death is one great instance. Harry realises this too, and in the Deathly Hallows, he manages to gain Kreacher’s confidence by showering some affection and gifting him Regulus’ locket.
Dobby, in the Deathly Hallows, saves Harry and his friends who were held captives at Malfoy Manor. However, during the escape, Bellatrix hurtles a silver dagger at Dobby which proves to be fatal and kills him. He dies in Harry’s arms, his last words being “Harry Potter”. A most heart rending incident. Rowling’s narrative doesn’t leave the reader’s eyes without tears.
“Dobby, no, don’t die, don’t die -“
The elf’s eyes found him, and his lips trembled with the effort to form words.
And then with a little shudder the elf became quite still, and his eyes were nothing more than great glassy orbs, sprinkled with light from the stars they could not see.”
Big lump in my throat right now. Anyway, that is how Dobby, the free elf, met his end.
His grave was manually dug by Harry and his friends nearby Shell Cottage, Tinworth. The epitaph reads, “HERE LIES DOBBY, THE FREE ELF”.
Please do comment below for I would love your feedback. Also, do let me know which Harry Potter character you would like to know more about!