Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Major Events/Dobby's Death
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event|
|Time Period||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, about April 1998|
|Important Characters||Dobby, Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry|
Captured by a group of Snatchers led by Fenrir Greyback, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dean, and the Goblin Griphook are taken to Malfoy Manor. There, Bellatrix Lestrange sees that the Trio are carrying the Sword of Gryffindor, and for some reason stops Lucius Malfoy from summoning Voldemort. Keeping Hermione upstairs for questioning, Bellatrix has the others sent to a locked room in the cellar, where they encounter Luna and Ollivander who are also being held prisoner there. Though the new arrivals are tied up, Luna has found a nail with which she is able to cut their bonds.
Bellatrix tortures Hermione to try to determine where they had found the Sword of Gryffindor. Desperate at hearing Hermione's cries of pain from above, Harry is nervously fidgeting with the fragment of the magic mirror Sirius had given him years before, and sees a sky-blue eye looking out of it at him. Harry pleads for help from the owner of the eye, and shortly Dobby apparates into the cell. Harry bids Dobby take Dean, Ollivander, and Luna to safety at Shell Cottage. From upstairs where she is now torturing Griphook, Bellatrix hears the noise of Dobby Disapparating, and sends Wormtail to investigate. Harry and Ron ambush Pettigrew but are unable to defeat him. Harry reminds Pettigrew of his life debt to Harry, which makes him hesitate; his own magical silver hand detects this and strangles him to death.
Attempting to rescue Hermione and Griphook, Harry and Ron are forced to surrender when a disarmed Bellatrix threatens Hermione with a silver knife. Dobby announces his return by causing a chandelier to fall on Bellatrix. Harry seizes the wands Draco Malfoy is holding, and Stuns Fenrir. Ron collects Hermione and Disapparates to Shell Cottage, while Harry similarly collects Griphook. As Harry Disapparates, Bellatrix throws her knife at him. Harry, not knowing where he is heading, is relieved to find, in the midst of his Disapparition, that he can feel Dobby alongside. Arriving at Shell Cottage, Harry discovers that Dobby has been fatally wounded by Bellatrix' thrown knife. Dobby dies moments later, his final words being "Harry Potter".
Harry is deeply grieved and decides to dig Dobby's grave by hand without using magic. Ron and Dean join Harry and labor with him. They place Dobby's body in the grave and give him socks, shoes and a hat. Standing over the grave, Luna thanks Dobby for rescuing them and the others follow. Harry fills in the grave and carves: "HERE LIES DOBBY, A FREE ELF" on a flat rock he places on the burial mound.
The Date of Dobby's Death
Because Draco is at home when Harry is captured, we know that Hogwarts must be on Easter Holiday, which in those days was usually one week long. Easter in 1998 was on the 12th of April. If Hogwarts set the break for either the week before or the week after Easter, Dobby was killed at Malfoy Manor in April. We are using this as a working assumption, and have set dates accordingly, but we point out that Hogwarts, like many other schools, is under no obligation to anchor the term break to Easter. Many schools will have a "March break" which falls, of course, at some point in March. We are not certain whether the Spring break at Hogwarts is ever explicitly referred to as Easter Break; and if it is, we can't guarantee that it actually includes Easter every year.
Dobby's courage and eventual sacrifice saves the lives of seven people including the Trio.
Dobby’s death is an emotional turning point for Harry. While digging the grave, Harry finds that his grief distances his perceptions of Voldemort's thoughts, and decreases the pain in his scar. From this point on Harry is able to manage and exploit his connection with Voldemort in a way that Occlumency lessons and other attempts have failed to do. His ability to grieve and love is focused, and his emotions are, at last, under his control.
While it is not directly associated with Dobby's death, Bellatrix' response to finding the Sword of Gryffindor in their possession is what leads Harry to believe that there is something of great value to Voldemort in Bellatrix' Gringotts vault. The Trio had previously overheard Griphook reporting to another group that while it was believed that the Sword had been moved to a deep vault at Gringotts, all the Goblins involved in handling it had known at once it was a fake. Harry guesses that the still-undetected fake had been put in Bellatrix's family vault, and that there was something else in there, precious to Voldemort, that would be at risk if the Sword had been removed. Harry further guesses that the precious object is a Horcrux, likely Hufflepuff's cup.
The goblin, Griphook, notices Harry reverently digging Dobby's grave and thereafter considers Harry an uncommon wizard who respects non-humans. This facilitates the trio's plan to steal the Hufflepuff Cup Horcrux from Gringotts.
Though they have lost their own wands, in the battle Harry captures wands belonging to Pettigrew, Bellatrix, and Draco. This will quite likely prove important later.
While Dobby's death seems unnecessary and perhaps cruel, it is necessary for two plot points, mentioned above. Until now, Harry has been unable to block sendings that are coming from Voldemort, and it is only because of the immediacy of his grief that he is able to dampen the images that are making their way from Voldemort's mind to his own. Additionally, it is necessary to make a significant impact on Griphook in order to gain his alliance. This latter point is worth some additional inspection.
Over the past several chapters, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have been trying to determine the sorts of locations that would be likely for Voldemort to have hidden his remaining Horcruxes. Harry, from his lessons with Dumbledore, knows that Voldemort will select locations that represent links to his magical ancestry, and the supposed status springing from that. One such location, obviously, is Hogwarts, a place that Harry and Voldemort both see as having been almost home-like in their welcoming of wizards rejected by Muggle society. (Ron, having a real home and family to return to, does not see Hogwarts as being home-like, and so discounts this possibility.) Bellatrix' obvious fear at the prospect of having Voldemort discover something has been taken from her Gringotts vault leads Harry to believe that Voldemort has hit on the deep vaults at Gringotts, traditionally used only by the most ancient Wizarding families, as being fit to house a Horcrux, and Bellatrix' vault has been selected for that honour. But how to get in there? The Gringotts goblins take great pride in the security of their vaults. About the only way that such an incursion could have any hope of succeeding is if a disaffected ex-employee of Gringotts can help them gain entrance. The author has carefully made one such turn up, but he, like the rest of his race, does not hold "wand-bearers" in any particular esteem. Somehow, Griphook must be convinced to throw in with the Trio, and Dobby alive is simply not going to be enough influence to do that; the slavish obeisance house-elves pay to humans is well-known enough that it is not going to impress Griphook. It is only the respect that Harry shows to Dobby by digging Dobby's grave that convinces Griphook to grudgingly lend his assistance.
While Griphook, as mentioned, must be won to alliance, it is necessary to the story also that he be a reluctant ally. His price for assistance is the Sword of Gryffindor, which is apparently necessary for the destruction of Horcruxes. Griphook's departure with the Sword leaves Harry with more puzzles that he must answer before the final Horcruxes can be eliminated.
It is also mentioned above that Harry captures three wands. We will find out that the nature of their capture is important, and also whose wands they are.
The first wand belonged to Peter Pettigrew. Ron had forcefully removed that from Peter in their struggle in the cellar. At Bellatrix' order, he had dropped that wand and Draco had collected it. Harry then wrests it away from Draco and throws it to Ron, who is then able to use it. We will find out shortly that a wand will transfer its allegiance if it is forcefully removed from its bearer. Because Ron dropped it, it does not surrender its allegiance to Draco who collects it, nor to Harry who takes it from Draco, an unrelated party as far as the wand is concerned. the wand becomes Ron's on his capturing it, and remains so.
The second wand belonged to Bellatrix and ended up in Hermione's hands. It was forcefully removed from Bellatrix' hand by Ron, and so owes allegiance to Ron through the same path as Pettigrew's wand. Hermione is never able to get this wand to work correctly for her, but it does serve as identification for her entrance into Gringotts.
The final wand, Draco's, is wrenched out of Draco's hand by Harry and so shifts its allegiance to him. This will become important when Harry must duel with Voldemort in the final chapters of this book. Voldemort is carrying the Elder Wand, which had been forcibly removed from Dumbledore's hand by Draco, and so had transferred its allegiance to Draco. This wand apparently recognizes Draco's wand, which has allied itself with Harry. Because of this chain of allegiance, the Elder Wand will not harm Harry, and never works correctly for Voldemort.
Dobby's bravery and sacrifice is a significant part of the author's theme of tolerance and collaboration. Throughout the series, Harry's quest to defeat Voldemort is only possible because of help from good people, including House Elves, Goblins, and later Centaurs, and many others. During the Battle of Hogwarts, victory over Voldemort and his evil is assured when all species join together for the common good. We have seen before that Dobby is loyal to Harry not because of a magical enslavement but rather their mutual friendship and regard. Dobby is a free elf and chooses to risk his life in order to save the lives of Harry and his allies. Harry, representing the enlightenment of wizards, recognizes the debt he owes Dobby and his fellows. We can see that wizards must learn to respect elves, goblins, centaurs and other non-human beings in the magical world; Harry demonstrates this respect, but it is likely that it will be many years before the general Wizarding population acts similarly.