Essay: What Did Dobby Know?

by John Kearns, November 2009.

When Dobby hits the scene in the second chapter of Chamber of Secrets, there’s an incredible mystery behind where he comes from, what he knows, and exactly what he’s divulging to Harry. Most of that mystery is resolved by the end of the book, of course, but on a second read it becomes clear that there are still a few dangling loose ends. And the closer we look at those loose ends, the more intriguing Dobby’s interactions with Harry become.

There’s a surface explanation, of course, which in isolation isn’t hard to accept. Dobby overheard Lucius Malfoy plotting to dispatch Riddle’s diary and open the Chamber of Secrets; Dobby knew of the Malfoys’ particular hatred of Harry and assumed the Boy Who Lived was at risk; and given Harry’s importance to house-elves, Dobby took it upon himself to protect him, without the Malfoys’ knowledge. Makes sense, right?

Five years later, though, we’ve met a couple more house-elves, and we know a lot more about their rules. And Dobby’s explanation has begun to fall apart.

For one thing, Dobby was stopping Harry’s mail for an entire summer. The logistics of this are fuzzy at best, but it’s hard to imagine it would be possible without Dobby spending a lot of time hanging around Privet Drive. Time spent at Privet Drive is time not spent at Malfoy Manor – and given that Dobby is the Malfoys’ only house-elf, it’s hard to fathom his absence not being noticed at some point.

It will also be made clear later that house-elves have no choice but to obey the commands of their masters. But Dobby acts like he has the option of misbehaving, so long as he punishes himself properly later on. This doesn’t tally at all with Winky, who is forced to sit in the top box for hours, or with Kreacher, whose very spine seems obligated to obey direct commands. Something doesn’t add up.

That the house-elf is present at all on Privet Drive (and in Hogwarts, later) is a problem, too. It’s true that we don’t know of a specific rule that prevents house-elves from venturing out on their own – Kreacher did find a way to get in touch with Bellatrix, after all. But I still find troubling the amount of free will that Dobby exerts in order to do it. It just doesn’t seem to be in line with the house-elves’ enslavement.

And of course, there’s also the question of why Dobby thought that Harry was in danger at all. Lucius’s knowledge about the diary was clearly limited. So what did he say that made Dobby think Harry was in particular trouble?

There are several puzzles here, and quite a few loose ends left untied.

So let’s start with what we know.

Dobby tells Harry that he has known “for months” about “a plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts.” It’s soon clear that the plotter is Lucius Malfoy, and that his plot involves deploying Tom Riddle’s diary. We don’t know what Voldemort told Lucius about the diary when he gave it to him – remember, Lucius doesn’t know it’s a horcrux – but it seems that Lucius knows that deploying it will cause the Chamber of Secrets to open.

So where’s the risk to Harry that Dobby is so worried about?

Of course there’s a risk in what Tom Riddle could have done to Harry if he had succeeded in killing Ginny Weasley. According to Rowling this would have “strengthened the present-day Voldemort considerably” as well, which is always bad news to the Boy Who Lived. But I’m not so sure that Lucius knew this was a potential outcome. All our other indications are that Lucius doesn’t actually want Voldemort to return, whatever he may tell the Dark Lord; he’s much happier in his current lifestyle than he will be once forced back into life as a Death Eater. So I doubt that’s the risk Dobby is referring to.

No, I think Harry’s at risk because Lucius Malfoy is plotting to give the diary to him.

After all, Dobby didn’t spend his summer following Ginny Weasley around, did he?

About that.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced there’s only one way Dobby could spend his whole summer hanging out in Privet Drive. And it’s because Lucius orders him there. Why would he do such a thing? Because he needs to know when Harry will be in Diagon Alley so he can slip him the diary. So he sends his house-elf to Privet Drive for the summer to follow Harry – and read his mail.

(As a side note, it’s always bothered me that Dobby can get to Harry at all. I know house-elves have a different magic, they can Apparate at Hogwarts, etc. But Harry is protected from Voldemort at Privet Drive – so since Voldemort can’t get there himself, why couldn’t he have had one of his Death Eaters simply order their house-elf to show up, snag Harry, and Apparate back? It would have saved him a lot of trouble. But I digress.)

Harry doesn’t realize it, but Dobby continues to follow him all the way to the Burrow, and dutifully (if regretfully) reports on the Weasleys’ plans to visit Diagon Alley. Remember that when Harry sees Lucius in Borgin and Burkes, Lucius tells Borgin that he has “important business elsewhere today.” What important business is that? We see him in Flourish and Blotts an hour later, so it’s not as though he’s rushing off to the Ministry. No, the important business is getting that diary into Harry’s hands.

But the plan gets screwed up. By Harry.

Lucius watches as Harry is presented with a free set of Lockhart books, and then dumps them into a cauldron. But Lucius doesn’t notice that it’s actually Ginny’s cauldron, and he can’t hear as Harry “mumbles” to Ginny that he’s in fact giving the books to her, intending to pay full price for his own. So when Lucius slips the diary surreptitiously into one of the books, it ends up in the possession of the wrong person. And he doesn’t even realize it.

Can you imagine Lucius’s surprise when he hears that Ginny Weasley has been taken into the Chamber of Secrets, instead of Harry Potter?

Back to Dobby for a moment, though.

Because there’s something else interesting about the way Dobby carries out his orders.

It makes sense that Lucius would order Dobby to intercept Harry’s mail; if he needs to find out when Harry will be in Diagon Alley, after all, what better way to do it? But it’s hard to imagine that Lucius would want Dobby to keep Harry’s mail. To the contrary; he’d want to avoid arousing Harry’s suspicions. Think of Umbridge, when she intercepts mail – the recipient still gets it, just a bit later than they otherwise might.

No, Dobby kept Harry’s mail all on his own.

In other words, Lucius Malfoy isn’t the only one who’s been plotting.

We’ll see later with Kreacher that when house-elves don’t want to do their masters’ bidding, they can generally find a way to circumvent their orders without strictly disobeying. And just as Kreacher took advantage of Sirius’s order to “get out!” and left the house he’d been ordered to stay in, Dobby took advantage of Lucius’s order to stop Harry’s mail, and took it one step farther to fulfill his own ends, as well.

Only in Dobby’s case, his goal is to prevent his master’s goal from being fulfilled – even as he’s working, under orders, to help fulfill that very goal himself. Which makes it quite a bit trickier for him to get what he wants. Not to mention quite a bit more entertaining to read about. :)

So imagine you’re Dobby for a moment. The very last thing you want is for Harry to open the Chamber of Secrets. But you don’t have the option of going to Dumbledore, and Lucius has presumably forbidden you to talk to anybody about the plot (or rather, to tell anybody what the plot is. Dobby is able to tell Harry that it exists. It seems he’s forced to follow the letter of his master’s law, but can disobey the spirit of it so long as he punishes himself for it). So what’s left that you can possibly control?

He’s only got one shot. And that’s to prevent Harry from returning to Hogwarts at all. Just like he tells Harry.

So Dobby keeps a very close eye on Harry, looking not just for Lucius’s information but for his own. He begins keeping Harry’s mail so that Harry will feel disconnected from his friends, and then plans to show himself to Harry and convince the boy that his friends don’t care, and that he doesn’t want to go back to Hogwarts.

Except that the conversation doesn’t go the way Dobby was hoping it would at all:

“See what it’s like here?” he said. “See why I’ve got to go back to Hogwarts? It’s the only place I’ve got -well, I think I’ve got friends.”
“Friends who don’t even write to Harry Potter?” said Dobby slyly.
“I expect they’ve just been – wait a minute,” said Harry, frowning. “How do you know my friends haven’t been writing to me?”
Dobby shuffled his feet. (CS2)

And just like that, the game is up.

Of course, Dobby didn’t pick that particular night for his conversation by coincidence. He’s clearly thought through his backup plan, too – which is why when Harry insists he’ll return to Hogwarts, Dobby leaps downstairs and drops the pudding. It’s hard to imagine there’s anything Dobby could have done the entire summer that would have gotten Harry in more trouble than messing up dinner with the Masons. And when you think about it, this plan actually works pretty well – Vernon promptly does everything in his power to lock Harry up for good, after all.

Dobby may not be all that bright, but he’s definitely cunning.

The trouble is, Dobby’s plan doesn’t work. He’s underestimated Harry’s desire to return to school, and overestimated Vernon’s power to keep him from returning. So when Harry flies off to the Burrow, Dobby is sent back to square one.

And of course, once Lucius deploys the diary, Dobby’s job tailing Harry is done – so he can’t follow the boy around on his own any more. And you can bet that Lucius (and, for that matter, Narcissa) won’t order him anywhere that will give him a chance to talk to Harry. They want Harry left quite alone with that diary, thank you very much.

But Dobby has another master, too. Someone he knows how to play. And Draco Malfoy would love to keep Harry Potter out of Hogwarts quite as much as Dobby would. He doesn’t know anything about his father’s plot.

We see in Borgin & Burkes that Draco has probably spent every other minute this summer complaining to anyone who will listen about Harry Potter. Surely it wouldn’t be hard, one of those days, for Dobby to listen compassionately to Draco, and then respond along the lines of, “Would master like Dobby to stop Harry Potter from returning to Hogwarts?”

A stroke of brilliance. After all, Draco and Dobby want the exact same thing. Do you suppose that’s ever happened before?

Draco, of course, would immediately agree that this is a pretty good idea. And when Dobby – master of backup plans – suggests a second plan in case the first one doesn’t pan out, Draco would agree to that, too. And where are Draco’s two favorite places to get at Harry? The Hogwarts Express and the Quidditch pitch, of course. So Dobby gets the plans he wants, to block Harry from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, and then set the bludger on him (during the Gryffindor-Slytherin contest, no less). And since enchanting the bludger gives Dobby an excuse to be at Hogwarts, he takes the opportunity to talk to Harry again, too.

This, then, is why Harry only encounters Dobby twice during the year. I get the impression that if Dobby were able to come to Hogwarts on his own, Harry would be battling for his life more or less on a daily basis. But since this is just a lark for Draco, Dobby can’t suggest more ideas to get at Harry without looking suspicious. As it is, Draco had his laughs and can now forget about the whole thing, while poor Dobby is left at Malfoy Manor, listening to updates from Lucius about the Chamber of Secrets, and probably spending the whole year worrying himself sick.

The poor little guy probably had an even rougher year than Harry did. But at least it ended up all right in the end, beyond even Dobby’s wildest dreams.


28 Responses to “Essay: What Did Dobby Know?”

  1. The only problem is that Lucius put the diary inside Ginny’s second-hand Transfiguration book, comments on how battered that textbook is(i.e.definitely knows it isn’t one of Lockhart’s brand new books) and later acknowledges it’s Ginny’s book.
    Not to mention that Dumbledore (maybe in CoS’s final chapters or perhaps, in HBP) later implies that Lucius wanted to discredit Arthur (and the new pro-muggle bill he passed/wrote) by having his daughter accused of killing muggleborns.
    It might be argued that Lucius changes his plan or had always wanted to plant the diary to either Harry or a Weasley.
    Still, the essay was a good read.

  2. Yes, I agree that Lucius probably knew who he was giving the diary to. The book makes it clear that Mr. Weasley and Lucius hate each other with a passion, and it makes sense that the diary might have been part of Lucius’ cunning plans to get back at Arthur for all the trouble that he has been giving him.

    I think that one reason why Dobby’s actions don’t really add up is because he is making up things as he goes along, not really sure what will and will not work. He didn’t have a well thought out plan, and probably only had short periods of time when he could get out of the house. I always imagined that the Malfoy’s did not keep close tabs on him when he wasn’t around if they did not need him for something. Lucius probably didn’t even suspect that Dobby had gone to see Harry even when he noticed his absence (if he even did).

  3. I always figured that the protection on Privet drive was sensitive to intention. After all, Ron and the twins were able to take Harry away, despite the protections in place. Dobby can get in at Harry there because he means well even though his idea of helping is likely to cause harm. A house-elf coming in to kidnap Harry for dark masters would be working with ill intent and wouldn’t get past the protections.

  4. You are arguing that Lucius just wanted to get the book in the cauldron, hoping it would get mixed up with what he thought were Harrry’s Lockhart books. That sounds reasonable, Harry seems a better choice than Ginny form any point of view. Additionally, we should consider that Lucius also wanted to get rid of the very incriminating diary, fearing the Ministry raiding his manor, as he tells Borgin earlier.
    Waht doesn’t fit is tha later in “Dobby’s Reward”, Ginny states tha that she “found it INSIDE on the books Mum got me”. Somebody had to put it inside her book for her(and noboby else)to find. There is the possibilty that Malfay knew that the weaker and more vulnerable the person, the easier it would be for the diary to fulfill what he believes is it’s only function (opening the chamber). This would lead him to choose the shier and younger Ginny over Harry.

  5. Martin & wizardinventor: I’m realizing I should have included more in the essay on Lucius’s giving the diary to Harry vs. Ginny.

    This was one of my main sticking points when I was thinking this through, and ultimately I decided that Lucius’s original intent had to be to give it to Harry; otherwise Dobby’s tailing Harry just makes no sense whatsoever. As to whether he changed his mind and gave it to Ginny deliberately… I think it’s open to interpretation. Martin, it’s certainly never explicitly stated that Lucius was intending it for GInny. If you read through Harry’s confrontation with Lucius in CS18, Harry accuses him of it and he simply says, “Prove it.” It’s not like he’s going to say in that situation, “actually, you’re wrong. I slipped it into Magical Me, you stupid kid.” So I don’t necessarily buy that.

    And in the bookshop scene, I just saw it as a big flag that Harry gave the books to Ginny, “mumbled” to her to keep them (the only time he mumbles in the entire book), and then it’s pointed out that Lucius picks up her secondhand book from among the Lockharts. I definitely see the argument for his giving it to Ginny, but I think the intention is much more ambiguous.

    Another part of my thinking is looking at Lucius’s motivations. Harry is a potential threat, once he grows up; Ginny is simply the daughter of a petty rivalry. And if Ginny, why not Ron, the previous year, or any of the other Weasley kids? Lucius waited until this year because he was waiting to see whether Potter was a dark force (the way Snape describes in Spinner’s End). Once it was clear he wasn’t, the plan went into action – hence the “months” that Dobby refers to.

    I’ve also heard the theory that Lucius’s petty, snobbish self changed his mind in the bookstore and handed the diary to Ginny instead. Again, I see the argument, and I’m close to 50/50 on it. But I still think I come down on the side of his trying to give it to Harry.

    Either way, I’d love to hear more thoughts on it. :)

  6. Oh! And Kit Kendrick, that’s a lovely idea. I buy it for sure. But I’d be interested to know how the magic works….

  7. We also have to consider that Lucius knew hurting Ginny woudl particularly hurt Arthur, what with her being his only daughter and youngest child and whatnot. I enjoyed reading the essay, though I’m not sure I buy it. Kreacher can’t leave Grimmauld Place utnil the “get out!” because he’s ordered to stay – the Malfoys probably wouldn’t bother with something like that, thinking Dobby too insignificant to worry about.
    I’ve really enjoyed Halfway Week! We should have another week like this one, for like an anniversary of HPC or something.

  8. “(As a side note, it’s always bothered me that Dobby can get to Harry at all. I know house-elves have a different magic, they can Apparate at Hogwarts, etc. But Harry is protected from Voldemort at Privet Drive – so since Voldemort can’t get there himself, why couldn’t he have had one of his Death Eaters simply order their house-elf to show up, snag Harry, and Apparate back? It would have saved him a lot of trouble. But I digress.)”

    I also think this reflects one of Voldemort’s major weaknesses – he underestimates everything that he does not understand or that he looks down upon (like muggles, children’s tales, love, house elves). For instance, in DH Kreacher transcribes how he was able to switch the lockets without Voldemort noticing and apparate out of the lake – if Voldemort had taken the time to understand house elves he would have realized the power that they possess (a power that outweighs wizarding powers in a lot of ways). So, just as in this situation, the fact that a house elf could break into the protection of privet drive while he, Lord Voldemort, could not would probably never have occured to him.

    I dunno, that’s just a thought.

    By the way, I freaking LOVED your essay. It was really amazing. I love all your essays and just the whole site in general. Keep up the good work!

  9. One detail that isn’t mentioned in the essay about the scene at Flourish & Blotts is that Ron had also put his Lockhart books into Ginny’s cauldron. After Draco comes over and insults Ron, it says: “Ron went as red as Ginny. He dropped his books into the cauldron, too, and started towards Malfoy…” So, by the time Lucius enters the dialogue, there are TWO sets of shiny Lockhart books in the cauldron (one put there by Harry and the other put there by Ron). If Lucius was watching the whole thing, he would know that there’s a whole lot of Weasley books in that cauldron, and it seems unlikely at this point that he would put the diary in one of the books and expect it to end up in Harry’s hands.

    I think though that Lucius intended the diary for a member of the Weasley family from the start. The scene at Borgin and Burkes sets this up nicely. We learn that Lucius is angry that pure blood wizards don’t count for much any more, he’s incensed that the Ministry is conducting raids to look for dark arts items, and he’s irate about the Muggle Protection Act that has been proposed by that “flea-bitten, Muggle-loving fool Arthur Weasley.”

    Maybe Lucius checked Arthur’s work schedule at the Ministry, or monitored the Floo Network to find out when the Weasleys would be shopping in Diagon Alley. At any rate, in Flourish & Blotts, Lucius deliberately selects one of Ginny’s “battered” second-hand books from amongst the two new sets of Lockhart texts to drive home the fact that this is the best the Weasleys can afford. There’s a scuffle when Arthur attacks Lucius, after which Lucius hands the old textbook directly to Ginny, “Here girl—take your book—it’s the best your father can give you.” And in the end, Ginny says that she found the diary “inside one of the books Mum got me.”

    Lucius knew that the diary would somehow open the Chamber of Secrets, and unleash a creature that would attack Mudbloods. Lucius hoped the resulting terror would discredit the Muggle-loving headmaster Dumbledore, who he thinks (as Draco tells us) is the “worst thing that ever happened” to Hogwarts. And if Ginny was found to be the culprit, this would of course ruin Arthur Weasley and the Muggle Protection Act.

    I think the idea that Draco ordered Dobby to stop Harry from returning to Hogwarts is the best explanation for all that the house-elf is able to do. The way Lucius Malfoy kicks Dobby around, I don’t think it would cross his mind to trust his menial servant with the task of spying on Harry Potter. But the scenario involving Draco described in the essay makes a lot of sense… I just think it makes even more sense if Draco was giving the orders from the start. This would give Dobby license to be at the Dursleys’ house, to stop Harry’s mail, to block the barrier at the railway station and to use the rogue bludger.

    In Chapter 3, Harry struggles to make sense of Dobby’s appearance in his bedroom: “Sending the family servant to stop Harry going back to Hogwarts also sounded exactly like the sort of thing Malfoy would do. Had Harry been stupid to take Dobby seriously?” What Harry doesn’t consider in this moment is that Draco and Dobby ultimately want the same thing, only for different reasons. Draco, of course, is being his usual unpleasant self, but Dobby knows that Voldemort in any form poses a danger to the Boy Who Lived.

  10. My thoughts were always that Lucius Malfoy had always intended the diary be for Ginny. An 11 year old girl given a diary? It’s much more likely she would use it than a 12 year old boy.
    With Dobby, he knew that there was a plot, but nobody had specifically said anything about Harry being a part of it. Dobby just thought it was too risky to have Harry at Hogwarts while all of this was going on, him being the only hope for the wizarding world and all… And then with him intercepting the mail, it’s not a stretch to assume that Draco would have told his father how close Harry and Ron were, and how likely it would be that they would go to Diagon Alley together, what with him complaining about him all summer. (‘Harry Potter got a Nimbus Two Thousand last year. Special permission from Dumbledore so he could play for Gryffindor. He’s not even that good, it’s just because he’s famous… famous for having a stupid scar on his forehead…’, ‘everyone thinks he’s so smart, wonderful Potter with his scar and his broomstick-‘, and then his father’s reaction of ‘You have told me this at least a dozen times already’. CS4)

  11. Andrea and Adele, interesting points. I actually think Jo’s intention was closer to what you all are suggesting than to my essay – the problem (in my mind) is that there are just so many pieces of the story that don’t fit. Most of the problems probably stem from the fact that she wrote this book long before clarifying things like the rules of house-elves, for example. But there are plenty of others – like why would Lucius know that Ginny is starting at Hogwarts?

  12. (As a side note, it’s always bothered me that Dobby can get to Harry at all. I know house-elves have a different magic, they can Apparate at Hogwarts, etc. But Harry is protected from Voldemort at Privet Drive – so since Voldemort can’t get there himself, why couldn’t he have had one of his Death Eaters simply order their house-elf to show up, snag Harry, and Apparate back? It would have saved him a lot of trouble. But I digress.)

    For the same reason that the eagles in LotR didn’t fly the One Ring to the fires of Mordor themselves. :) I mean, where’s the story in that?

    But I do agree with Margaret that Voldemort would never have considered such a thing. House elves are beneath his notice.

  13. I agree with Heather on both counts. I lean toward he meant to give it to Ginny. Though thinking about it your way was interesting as well.

    (Edited by moderator for topicality 5/29/10)

  14. Perhaps Dobby can get past the protection of Harry’s house because Dobby tricked/persuaded Malfoy into ordering him there. “Would master like me to stop Harry’s mail from his friends, so he doesn’t want to return to Hogwarts?” Remember Kreacher could apparate out of the seaside cave *only* because he was ORDERED to return home, otherwise he would have been dragged under by the inferi. (Incidentally, when Harry says, “Don’t die, Dobby.” it’s too bad Dobby couldn’t force himself to obey that. I know Harry wasn’t Dobby’s master, but Dobby says he can obey anyone he wants.)

    Perhaps if Malfoy orders Dobby to Harry’s house to stop his mail, he can find Harry’s house because he is forced to obey. And Ron knew Harry’s address, presumably because Harry told him where to send letters, so he was in on the secret, which explains how Ron found Harry’s house. It is strange that any muggle could see Harry’s house, all the neighbors could, while no Muggles could see Sirus’ house. I think you’re right, Josie, that she wrote this book before clarifying things like the rules for house elves, and the Fidelius Charm, as well. Though I suppose Sirus’ hidden house was the Fidelius Charm and Harry’s house was under a different protection – mother’s blood sacrifice – love. But the Death Eaters couldn’t even find Harry’s house, nor see it.

    I do think Lucius intended to give the diary to Ginny, I’m sure he knew enough about Arthur’s family to know Ginny, after all. It does make more sense to give the diary to a girl, and a younger, weaker person. Even Draco says he knows Ron is a Weasley when he first meets Ron, second hand robes, red hair… etc, so Lucius obviously knew and discussed the Weasleys with Draco. Plus, they’re such a small group of pure-blood wizards left, surely they would have known about each other. They’re cousins, after all, in the imbred family tree. As to why Dobby thought HARRY was in danger due to the diary, perhaps if the chamber is opened, the target would be Harry.

  15. It’s a good theory, I just don’t agree with it. I think in this case the story that’s implied is the truth. Lucius makes many rude comments about Ginny’s secondhand book to Arthur Weasly, which turns out to be where he plants the diary. Near the end of the book as well, Dumbledore implies that he did it to make it seem as if Ginny opened the Chamber, effectively discrediting Arthur. Lucius doesn’t do much to argue this theory, and how many times have you seen Dumbledore being totally wrong?

    As you also said in your essay, Lucius didn’t want Voldemort to come back, as he was perfectly comfortable with the life he was living at the time. Because of this, he wouldn’t have any good incentive to kill Harry, since it was always Voldemort’s problem, not his. He does, however, have a great incentive for framing Ginny, as it discredits Arthur and almost surely loses his job at the ministry, and Arthur was causing Lucius a lot of trouble at the time.

    I think you also have to bring into account how different Dobby is to other house elves. Where most house elves are completely loyal to their masters and wouldn’t dare disobeying an order, Dobby hates the Malfoys. He feels no loyalty to them, so why would he not want to try anything he could to keep Harry, who he feels immensely more loyal to than the Malfoys, safe? I don’t think Dobby was ever ordered to go to Privet Drive, but he did all he could while not disobeying a direct order to try to go to Harry’s aid. Of course he still had to punish himself, but he managed it, just as Kreacher did when he felt no loyalty to his master.

    It was a good theory, and an interesting read, I just think there’s too much evidence against this theory for it to be plausible.

  16. Way late to this discussion, but… BestSeriesEver, the protection on Privet Drive is not the Fidelious Charm. It only works against Voldemort (because Voldemort was the one Lilly died to protect Harry from), not against everyone. I assume any creature or servant Voldemort sent would not be able to go near Harry at Privet Drive either. I also assume this would be why the Dementors could get at Harry in Little Whinging in OotP –Dolores Umbridge sent them, not Voldemort. (At that time, it seems to be implied that Harry is only safe inside the house, but I’m not sure that’s true. Surely he’d be somewhat protected in the streets that are his (unfortunate) home territory?). This protection is a lot more rare and more specific than the Fidelious Charm. :)

  17. What bothers me the most is how much of a coincidence it is that Harry ever ends up with the diary after Ginny shucks it through moaning myrtle, and him getting the diary becomes rather important, sending them to Hagrid and then into the woods. Anyway, with the whole Dobby thing…though I think it’s an interesting idea that the malfoys were involved in Dobby’s actions I don’t think I can believe that. I think that his absences would be better explained in that the malfoys live in a large house and simply don’t care enough to notice whether their elf is around, and seeing as he would know and appear immediately if they were to call him they would have no idea he had been gone as it is unlikely that they would bother actually searching for him in the house. I think that Dobby found his own way to leave and contact Harry, maybe similarly to what Kreacher did, manipulating his masters words to allow him to do it, or else, as the only elf who has ever wanted to be free, he did have more freedom than an elf would who wanted to serve his master faithfully. I just can’t see the malfoys being involved in this and I think that there would be some mention of it or at least a hint if Malfoy was trying to keep Harry out of Hogwarts. I find it more likely that Dobby just took advantage of times when the malfoys were busy or out of the house to act on the plans that he had overheard and though he can’t betray his masters secrets he does find a way to get his message across to Harry without telling him the actual plan. Anyway, these are all really interesting essays and comments and they give me a lot to think about next time I read the books.

  18. Really off subject here but one thing that would have made the books even better is if Lucius HAD said “actually, you’re wrong. I slipped it into Magical Me, you stupid kid”. That made me nearly die laughing. Kudos

  19. Kelsey, Ginny could not have hit Moaning Myrtle with the diary or MM would have known who hit her on the head with it. She says she doesn’t know who hit her. Ginny tried to dispose of the diary by flushing it and the diary came out of the toilet striking Myrtle on the head, and flooding the bathroom where Harry and Ron find it.

    I agree with Josie that Harry had to be the original recipient of the diary. I don’t think it mattered that he was a boy. He was obsessed with the diary as soon as it was in his possession, and he fell right into Voldemort’s trap. Voldemort seemed to rely on Ginny for valuable information about Harry so she did seem to be the perfect bait for him to find out all he could about Harry and then use it to his advantage. She was certainly valuable as his best friend’s sister.

  20. GinGin4, I think if you read Myrtle’s description that Ginny did in fact hit her with the diary:

    “Here I am, minding my own business, and someone thinks it’s funny to throw a book at me….
    “I was just sitting in the U-bend, thinking about death, and it fell right through the top of my head.”

    I think the idea is that Myrtle was in a stall, Ginny threw the diary over the top of the partitions and ran out, and the book went through Myrtle but she wasn’t in a position to see who threw it. Though now I have the rather humorous image in my head of a book exploding out of a toilet and rocketing straight through Moaning Myrtle….

  21. I don’t completely agree with this essay, especially regarding how Dobby was able to disobey his masters. If you remember from book 5, Kreatcher was able to leave the house and talk to Bellatrix, because at that point he hadn’t been specifically ordered not to leave the house. So since it could be likely that Dobby was sent out of the house sometimes to run errands for the Malfoys, that he wouldn’t have been under orders not to leave the house, making his escape to Harry’s house much more likely that he was working on his own accord.

    Also, there is the fact that it’s mentioned in the books that House-elf magic works differently than the magic witches and wizards have. And we already know that they are powerful enough use their own form of apparation to show up in all sorts of places, even those that are heavily guarded. But other than this we don’t really know what they can and can’t do, other than they can’t disobey their masters, so as long as the Malfoy’s didn’t tell Dobby “Don’t collect Harry Potter’s mail and keep it from him” it seems like he would be perfectly capable of achieving this. I think it could be possible that Dobby would have been able to set up some sort of elf charm on Harry’s house to prevent any owl mail from arriving, and having it all go to Dobby instead. Considering everything they can do, and how many times we’ve seen mail intercepted in the books, it doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult for him to achieve this while still being at the Malfoy’s most of the time.

    I’d also like to point out the fact that since the point of house-elves is for them to remain unseen unless called, it’s possible Dobby wasn’t missed at all. We discover later in the series after Harry has ownership over Kreatcher that Harry can call him and Kreatcher will show up right away, no matter what he’s doing. So unless the Malfoy’s called for Dobby, in which case he would immediately disappear (as what may have happened when Dobby left so suddenly when talking to Harry in the hospital wing.) it seems he could easily get away with being gone for portions of time.

    I don’t think Dobby was actually following Harry around for most of the summer as Josie seems to think- we don’t have evidence pointing either way except for a few sparse incidents where Dobby is checking up on him for one reason or another. I agree that Dobby may have been sent to find out when Harry would be in Diagon Alley, but other than that, a lot of what Josie suggested seemed to be a bit more sinister than the type of plot Dobby would be focused on, after all Dobby likes Harry. He bursts into tears upon meeting him, saying he’s never met a wizard who is so kind to house-elves. I also think that if any of this did really happen, once Dobby was free of the Malfoy’s, that he would have confessed to Harry what he was made to do- but what Dobby says in the hospital wing is that he’s confessing to doing these things on his own, and feels bad about having to hurt Harry, but he just wants to keep him safe. After all, from what he’s heard, Harry is the opposite of the Malfoy’s, and since Dobby hates his masters, and he’s possibly heard about the part Harry had to play in defeating Voldemort, he’s very eager to help him out.

    I just thought there are some alternative ways to looking at Dobby that might not have been thought of and I wanted to share my thoughts. :-)

  22. I think people are mistaking Lucius’ feelings towards Harry. Remember that Lucius’ much prefers the life he has had since the fall of Voldemort to the one he had when he was a Death Eater. Apart from the stories he has heard from his son, he has no reason to hate Harry.

    But he has a problem, the Ministry is conducting raids and Lucius is aware that he will be a target. If the diary in his possession is revealed for what it is he will be in a lot of trouble. Now he isn’t going to risk a spot in Azkaban for a diary which his master told him to hold onto. A master that made his life miserable, a master that appears long gone, and not coming back.

    So he gets rid of most of his dark possesions through Borgin and Bourke’s, but he sees an invaluable opportunity to defame Arthur Weasley, one of the people behind the raid on his house. After all he stills thinks muggle’s are scum, and blood traitors are just as bad. Let’s not forget about that fool, Albus Dumbledore. If bad things start happening at Hogwarts, the Top Dog is bound to be the one to take the fall. Hell, he can make this happen as a School Governor.

    And so, knowing enough about the diary’s power to know the damage it will cause, he sets his plan into action. Planting the diary with the Weasleys schoolbooks, and sitting back to watch the pieces fall into place. It’s a 3 pronged sword. Weasley goes down, Dumbledore goes down, muggles go down.

    I don’t think there is anything more involved than that. Malfoy Senior’s plan would have been a masterstroke, had it have gone to fruition.

    As for Dobby, I think it is plausible to say Malfoy and him plotted to keep Harry from Hogwarts, but for different reasons, but in the end the focus should not be on him but on Lucius.

    Feel free to prove me wrong!

  23. 2nd to last paragraph, I do mean Draco Malfoy

  24. Lewis, I think the question you pose is THE question as pertains to this essay. Lucius was intending to plant the diary on somebody; but who? Your argument for Ginny is certainly valid, and it doesn’t even touch on the fact that Lucius and Arthur obviously have some sort of history, too. There’s a personal grudge there that’s clearly involved on some level.

    However, the reason I don’t like that explanation is this: if Lucius went to Diagon Alley intending to give the diary to a Weasley, how did he know what day they would be there? I simply can’t think of a way. But there’s a very good indication that he might be tracking when *Harry* would be going to Diagon Alley – his house-elf is following Harry around all summer!

    As to the question of motives; I think Lucius would have a very strong motive against Harry. It’s made clear throughout the series that Lucius and Narcissa are motivated by nothing more than the well-being of their son, and their son is being constantly outshone at school by Harry Potter. Look at what Draco is talking about in Borgin and Burkes: he’s complaining about how Harry has relegated him (who thinks he *deserves* to be the crown jewel of his class, due to his status) to an afterthought. Status is everything to Lucius; his motive to attack Harry would have been quite strong without Voldemort ever needing to enter the equation.

    I really need to rewrite this essay….

  25. Personally, I still think it’s more likely that he was intending to give the diary to Ginny. Yes, Dobby was following Harry all summer but he was also intercepting Harry’s mail, which included Ron asking Harry to come and stay numerous times. As is mentioned in later books, it’s possible to read and magically re-seal mail without a trace. And then there’s the fact that as Dobby IS following Harry, it seems very likely that he would know he left the Dursley’s and went to the Burrow.

  26. I’m sorry I still don’t 100% buy Lucius detesting Harry so much, because of his son’s schoolboy grudge. I like the idea that Draco was sending Dobby to Privet drive but I have another theory about Lucius knowing about the Weasleys plans.

    Remember that Harry had know idea that he was even leaving Privet Drive until he did. Therefore Harry had no idea when he was going to Diagon Alley. But from memory, Mrs Weasley said several days before that they would go to Diagon Alley on a certain day.

    It’s possible that in addition to Draco ordering Dobby to follow Harry, Lucius was getting Dobby following the WEASLEYS!!! This fits in with what I’ve said above, and Lucius would still know when the Weasleys were in Diagon Alley.

    Come to think about it, Dobby may have already been following the Weasleys when he visited Harry in the second chapter. That’s how he knew about the plan for dire things at Hogwarts. Lucius had told him, but ordered him to not tell anyone.

  27. Also, in HBP23 Dumbledore says that Malfoy meant to give it to Arthur Weasley’s daughter. And how many times is Dumbledore truly 100% wrong?

  28. “(As a side note, it’s always bothered me that Dobby can get to Harry at all. I know house-elves have a different magic, they can Apparate at Hogwarts, etc. But Harry is protected from Voldermort at Privet Drive – so since Voldermort can’t get there himself, why couldn’t he have had one of his Death Eaters simply order their house-elf to show up, snag Harry, and Apparate back? It would have saved him a lot of trouble. But I digress.)”

    I completely understand where you’re coming from I held the same theory for some time, until I read Half Blood Prince and really began to understand Voldermort. He doesn’t value much, except maybe power, his in particular, mainly because he’s a wizard. Anyways, understanding Voldermort a little better makes his decisions a lot clearer, We know that he envy’s things that many wizards have because he grew up in the muggle world, like say a vault at Gringotts Banks and yes a house-elf but as we also know his pride compels him to handle “the boy” himself and really as we find out he’s not the type to ask for help. Consider also that he might not have thought a house elf up to the task.
    A, because he considers all beings, that are not pureblood wizards, beneath him and
    B, because he is incapable of truly understanding magic, and therefore he cannot see what others, including wizards, are capable of doing.

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