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Dobby the house-elf
Species house-elf
Owner formerly the Malfoy Family; now none (Hogwarts employee)
Allegiance Harry Potter
Birth June 28
Death spring 1998
Appearance bat-like ears, huge green eyes, long thin nose
First appearance in canon The Worst Birthday (CS) (eyes are seen); Dobby's Warning (CS) (appears)

Dobby the house-elf used to work for the Malfoy Family. He was freed thanks to his idol Harry Potter and, unlike other house-elves, enjoyed not living a life of servitude. He eventually started working for Hogwarts. He came to Harry's aid when he and his friends had been captured and held prisoners at Malfoy Manor. He was able to free them, but was stabbed by Bellatrix Lestrange during the battle. He died at Shell Cottage, where he is buried.


Dobby, fanart by Tealin.

Like all house-elves, Dobby was considerably smaller than humans. He had huge, green, tennis ball-sized eyes, a long thin nose like a pencil, bat-like ears and a high voice (CS1, CS2). He spoke of himself in the third person and used all verbs in the third person singular:"They lets Dobby get on with it, sir" (CS2).

While he was still enslaved, Dobby wore an old pillow case with rips for arm and leg holes. Since he had acquired freedom and relative prosperity, he preferred a peculiar combination of clothes, including a tea-cozy for a hat, a tie with horseshoes, children's soccer shorts and unmatching socks. During the series, Dobby also acquired Ron's maroon jumper (GF23), Hermione's self-knitted hats and scarves (OP18), and several pairs of socks (GF23, GF27, OP18), his favourite item of clothing. In the end, he wore about eight whooly hats on top of each other, so that his head was elongated by two or three feet, several scarves and so many socks that his feet looked a lot bigger than they actually were (OP18).

Dobby had the same powers that most house-elves do, which are completely different from those that witches and wizards possess. He could perform wandless magic and was able to appear and disappear at Hogwarts while wizards cannot Apparate inside the school.

Dobby admired and idolised Harry Potter, almost to a fault. Dobby treasured Harry Potter and saw him as a beacon for good. Dobby was honored when assiting Harry Potter in any way. He was obeyed Harry Potter when he asked Dobby to not punish himself, for which Dobby was always grateful. He detested and feared his former owners, the Malfoys. He was friends with Winky (GF8) and supported her when she became a butterbeer addict (OP18). Like most wizards and magical beings, Dobby was too afraid to call Lord Voldemort by his name (CS2).

Dobby with the Malfoys

Not much is known about Dobby's life before he met Harry, but it was certainly miserable. Dobby's owners, the Malfoys, took fun in making Dobby punish himself. Unlike normal house-elves, Dobby did not feel true loyalty to his owners and disliked being a slave.

Saving Harry

Dobby learned of Lucius Malfoy's plan to open the Chamber of Secrets at Hogwarts with the help of Tom Riddle's Diary. He also knew that Harry Potter would be a prime target for the Dark Lord's teenage self. Dobby, who felt indebted to Harry because the situation for house-elves in general had improved since the fall of Voldemort, therefore decided to protect the boy against the deadly danger (CS2). Over the course of the school year of 1992 to 1993, Dobby tried to save Harry. Altogether, his attempts did more harm than good.

At Privet Drive

Dobby at Privet Drive. Fanart by mudblood428.

During the summer holidays of 1992, Dobby began to spy on Harry (CS1, CS2). His goal was to prevent the boy from returning to Hogwarts. Therefore, Dobby intercepted the letters Harry's friends sent him, hoping that Harry would believe his friends had forgotten him and not want to return to school. Harry first noticed Dobby's large eyes spying on him from the garden hedge in Privet Drive on the morning of his twelfth birthday (CS1).

Later that day, while the Dursleys hosted a dinner party for Mr. Mason, a customer of Vernon's firm, and his wife, Dobby visited Harry Potter in his bedroom. Harry was surprised at Dobby's unexpected appearance—he had never met a house-elf before—but treated him very kindly and asked him to sit down. This moved Dobby to noisy tears. Harry made the elf sit on the bed and tried to calm him, fearing that the party downstairs would hear them. Dobby tried to give Harry hints of Malfoy’s plans, but because house-elves may not betray their masters, he could not convince the boy. As soon as Dobby attempted to speak ill of his family, he had to punish himself by banging his head against the furniture and shouting. He also told Harry that he had to punish himself severely for coming to Privet Drive without his masters’ knowledge. He was confident the Malfoys would not notice this, as they always reminded him of some forgotten punishments.

Dobby's loud wailings finally attracted the notice of the Dursleys and their guests. Uncle Vernon came upstairs to reprimand Harry. Dobby hid in the closet. When Harry let him out, he tried to convince Dobby that he had to return to Hogwarts, the only place where he had any friends. Dobby taunted Harry that his friends had not even written to him over the summer. When Harry asked how he could know this, Dobby admitted that he had stolen the letters and produced a thick bundle from under his pillowcase. He tried to blackmail Harry, offering him his letters if Harry promised not to return to Hogwarts. Harry did not agree, and Dobby quickly sprinted down the stairs and into the kitchen.

Here, he levitated Petunia's Pudding and threatened to let it fall if Harry did not promise to leave Hogwarts. Again, Harry was uncooperative and with a tragic look, Dobby let the pudding crash onto the floor and disappeared with an audible crack. Harry subsequently got into great trouble with the Dursleys and the Improper Use of Magic Office (CS2).

The blocked entrance to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters

On September 1, Dobby blocked the magical entrance to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters when Harry and Ron tried to get through the barrier. The boys missed the Hogwarts Express and used Arthur Weasley's Flying Ford Anglia to get to Hogwarts, which almost led to their expulsion (CS5, CS10).

Dobby had to iron his hands as a punishment for his doings, and when he heard that Harry had reached Hogwarts anyways, he was so shocked that he let the Malfoys' dinner burn. He got the worst flogging he had ever had for this (CS10).

The enchanted Bludger

During the Quidditch match against Slytherin, Dobby enchanted a Bludger to attack Harry. The Bludger broke Harry's arm and almost killed him. Dobby visited Harry in the hospital wing at night. Harry woke up to find the elf sponge his forehead. He scolded Harry for returning to school even when he couldn't get through the barrier. Harry immediately became suspicious: how could Dobby have known that the entrance was blocked? The elf admitted he had sealed the gateway and expressed his shock on finding that Harry had returned to school nevertheless. He also confessed that he had enchanted the Bludger to hurt Harry so badly that he would be sent home. Again, Dobby tried to warn Harry of terrible dangers at Hogwarts and even let slip the name of the Chamber of Secrets. However, he was unable to give Harry more information. Soon they heard people approaching and Dobby disappeared instantly (CS10).

The sock

Lucius Malfoy appeared at Hogwarts directly after Harry had rescued Ginny Weasley from the Chamber of Secrets at the end of the school year. He was furious that Albus Dumbledore had returned after his suspension. Dobby, who was heavily bandaged, accompanied his master. He was still shining his boots.

During the ensuing confrontation, Dobby was finally able to give Harry a meaningful hint: using sign language, he made clear that Lucius Malfoy had slipped the diary to Ginny Weasley. Harry immediately accused Lucius, who denied the deed and turned to leave, kicking Dobby through the door.

Harry followed them and gave the diary, stuffed into his slimy sock, to Lucius Malfoy, who dropped the sock and let Dobby catch it. This broke the magical contract that binds a house-elf to his family until he is given proper clothes. When Lucius realized that he had lost his servant, he furiously lunged at Harry, but Dobby immediately defended the boy and Lucius was thrown backwards with a loud crack. Dobby then ordered his former master to leave. After a final thanks to Harry and a tearful hug, Dobby then disappeared from Hogwarts (CS18).


Hard times

Little is known about the time directly following Dobby's liberation. According to Winky, he was in wretched circumstances. It is certain that he had trouble to find work because he was now asking for payment. He visited Winky while she was still working for Barty Crouch, Sr.. Winky disapproved of his new attitude and thought that freedom was "going to Dobby's head" (GF8). When Winky was set free by Mr. Crouch, Dobby suggested that they look for work together. Winky asked where there was enough work for two house-elves, which gave Dobby the idea of going to Hogwarts, the biggest house-elf employer in the country (GF21).

Work at Hogwarts

Dobby enjoys freedom. Fanart by Makani.

In December 1994, Dobby and Winky were employed by Professor Dumbledore. Dobby received a salary of a Galleon a week and one day off from work per month. Dumbledore offered him ten Galleons a week and weekends off, but Dobby "beat him down", as he termed it himself (GF21). He liked working for money and collecting clothes, especially socks. However, he was still afraid of his old masters, and had to fight the urge to punish himself when he spoke ill of them. Dumbledore allowed Dobby to call him "a barmy old codger" if he liked, but Dobby felt no need to make use of this priviledge (GF21).

Dobby remained an outsider at Hogwarts. The other house-elves edged away from Dobby when he said that he enjoyed freedom and clothes. They were also ashamed of Winky's behaviour. Dobby was the only one who supports Winky during her butterbeer addiction. He tended to her when Barty Crouch, Jr. died (GF36) and brought her to the Room of Requirement whenever she was in a particularly bad state (OP18).

Dobby spent his wages on clothes and wool, from which he knitted socks. He gave Harry a pair of self-knitted socks for Christmas in 1994. Like all of Dobby's socks, they were mismatched: the left one was red with a pattern broomsticks, the right one green with a pattern of Snitches. Harry gave Dobby Uncle Vernon's old mustard yellow socks in return. The elf was delighted, but noted that they had made a mistake at the shop and given Harry two same socks. Ron gave Dobby a pair of violet socks to mix them up with Harry's. Dobby also got Ron's maroon jumper. He was deeply in awe of Ron's generosity after this (GF23).

Since Hermione had started to leave self-knitted clothes in the Gryffindor common room, Dobby cleaned the whole room by himself, because the other house-elves felt insulted. Dobby kept - and wore - most of the hats, scarves and socks Hermione had made, although he gave some to Winky (OP18). Dobby also decorated the Room of Requirement for the DA's last meeting before Christmas on 1995 with a hundred golden baubles that sported a picture of Harry's face and bore the legend "HAVE A VERY HARRY CHRISTMAS!". Harry managed to get them all down before the first member arrived (OP21). Dobby gave Harry a horrible self-made portrait showing Harry himself for Christmas (OP23).

Helping Harry

Dobby was able to provide valuable assistance to Harry Potter on several occasions.

  • He overheard Barty Crouch, Jr. talking about gillyweed in the staff room and stole some from Snape's private stocks before the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament so that Harry could breathe while inside the Great Lake. He also shook Harry awake in the library, where he had fallen asleep under his Invisibility Cloak on the morning of the second task, telling him that he had to go and rescue his "Wheezy" (GF26). Harry felt so grateful that he promised himself to buy Dobby a pair of socks for every day of the year after the task. In fact, the Trio bought Dobby several weird socks at Gladrags Wizardwear on their next trip to Hogsmeade, including "a pair patterned with flashing gold and silver stars and another that screamed loudly when they became too smelly" (GF27).
  • Dobby volunteered to bring the cured Hedwig back to Harry after she was injured when Dolores Umbridge tried to intercept Harry's letters. He told Harry about the Room of Requirement when the boy asked him whether he knew a suitable meeting place for Dumbledore's Army (OP18).
  • He warned the DA of the approach of Umbridge and the Inquisitorial Squad when they were betrayed by Marietta Edgecombe . Because Umbridge was a staff member, Dobby felt the need to punish himself for this, but Harry prevented it (OP27).
  • When Harry summoned Kreacher to spy on Draco Malfoy, Dobby appeared with the other elf. Both were in a middle of a fight. Harry asked both elves to tail Draco and Dobby was delighted to do his bidding, promising to throw himself off the topmost tower if he should fail. Harry assured him there was no need for this (HBP19). Dobby followed Draco day and night. He did not sleep for a week until Harry told him he was allowed to do so. Dobby informed Harry that Draco frequently went to the Room of Requirement, accompanied by several other students who kept watch for him (HBP21).
  • Aberforth, who had been watching Harry through the Two-Way Mirror sent Dobby to Malfoy Manor when he discovered that the Trio had been captured. Dobby appeared in the cellar right after Draco had taken Griphook upstairs. Dobby was terrified to be back in the home of his old masters, but he told Harry he had come to rescue him. Because Hermione was upstairs, Harry told Dobby to Disapparate out of the cellar with Luna, Dean and Mr. Ollivander, bring them to Shell Cottage and return. While Dobby was gone, Ron and Harry tried to rescue Hermione and Griphook. They nearly failed: Bellatrix was threatening Hermione with a knife and Harry and Ron had dropped their wands when Dobby reappeared and dropped the chandelier onto Bellatrix and her hostage. In the ensuing confusion, Ron pulled Hermione from under the chandelier while Harry overpowered Draco, took the wands he held and Stunned Fenrir Greyback. Narcissa was the first to discover the elf in the doorway. She pointed her wand at him, but Dobby squeaked that shemust not hurt Harry Potter and took her wand from her with a loud crack. Harry threw a wand at Ron, told him to leave, caught hold of Dobby and Griphook and Disapparated. But in the last moment, Bellatrix threw her silver knife at Dobby (DH23).

Death and burial

Harry digs Dobby's grave, fanart by mudblood428.

Griphook, Harry and Dobby appeared at Shell Cottage. Harry noticed that Dobby was swaying. Then he saw the knife in the elf's chest. He caught Dobby's falling body and laid him on the grass. Dobby died looking into Harry's eyes. "Harry Potter" were his last words (DH23).

Bill, Fleur, Dean and Luna came to Harry's side after Dobby had died. Harry covered Dobby with his own jacket. In a corner of Bill and Fleur's garden, he dug the elf's grave by himself, without using magic. Dobby was buried wrapped in Harry's jacket and a woollen hat Dean had produced. Luna closed his eyes. She suggested that each of them should say a few words and went first. She thanked him for rescuing her, said it was unfair that he had had to die and that she would always remember him. Ron and Dean thanked him too and Harry said good bye. Bill covered the grave with earth. Then all left except for Harry, who picked up a large white stone and carved an epitaph into it with Draco's wand (DH24):

Here lies Dobby, a Free Elf





External Links

Wikipedia has an article about Dobby.
  1. Dobby's Lexicon Profile
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