"You know, house-elves get a very raw deal!" said Hermione indignantly. "It's slavery, that's what it is! That Mr. Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium, and she was terrified, and he's got her bewitched so she can't even run when they start trampling tents! Why doesn't anyone do something about it?"
Hermione sets out to combat inequality within the wizard world in this novel. In this passage from Chapter Nine, she notes the oppression of the house-elves at the hands of careless masters, which upsets her. Although Ron and Harry tend to take her diatribes lightly, she is trying to create a world in which all magical beings have freedom of choice, and in which nobody is treated unfairly on account of status, heritage, or race. Both Voldemort and poor house-elf masters (such as the Malfoys) force servants into terrible situations; Hermione does on a small scale what the adult characters of the novel carry out on a larger scale.
"Just because it's taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn't mean no one else has spotted I'm a girl!"
The main characters are now fourteen years old, on the brink of adolescence. Sexual tension becomes a prominent point in this novel. Beginning with the great male drooling over the Veela at the Quidditch World Cup and continuing when Hagrid explains the distinctions between male and female Skrewts, this inter- gender strife heightens in this passage from Chapter Twenty-two, when Ron is dumfounded that Hermione has been asked to go to the ball as someone else's date.
"Oh no, sir, no," said Dobby, looking suddenly serious. "'Tis part of the house- elf's enslavement, sir. We keeps their secrets and our silence, sir. We upholds the family honor, and we never speaks ill of them—though Professor Dumbledore told Dobby he does not insist upon this. Professor Dumbledore said we is free to—to—" Dobby looked suddenly nervous and beckoned Harry closer. Harry bent forward. Dobby whispered, "He said we is free to call him a—barmy old codger if we likes, sir!" Dobby gave a frightened sort of giggle. "But Dobby is not wanting to, Harry Potter," he said, talking normally again, and shaking his head so that his ears flapped. "Dobby likes Professor Dumbledore very much, sir, and is proud to keep his secrets and our silence for him."
This passage from Chapter Twenty-one demonstrates the lack of education given the house-elves and the reason that Dumbledore is the most widely admired wizard. Dumbledore, unlike Snape, Karkaroff, and Wormtail, does not make decisions that he regrets. He allows people to know much about his life—not reprimanding Harry for looking into his Pensieve. He is confident enough of his skill as a teacher, and as a result gives students a great deal of freedom. Dubledore foresees the trouble students can cause and deals with it, demonstrated when the Weasley twins' attempt to register for the Triwizard compitition causes them to grow beards. Here, he allows Dobby full rein as an employee, and we see that Dobby, who detested her previous masters, wishes to live up to Dumbledore's trust. In his concession that Dobby can call him a barmy old codger, Dumbledore ought to know that of course it will never happen, as he is inherently not one in his having given Dobby that assurance of freedom.
Here and there at the dark windows, Harry saw faces faces that bore no resemblance at all to the painting of the mermaid in the prefects' bathroom The merpeople had grayish skin and long, wild, dark green hair. Their eyes were yellow, as were their broken teeth, and they wore thick ropes of pebbles around their necks.
As we observe Harry observing the merpeople in Chapter Twenty-six, we have a wonderfully shocking vision of the unexpected. In contrast to our expectation of a beautiful, shapely, stereotypical mermaid like the one that Harry sees in the painting in the prefects' bathroom, we see a village of hideous, crusty creatures. They are not remotely what we expect Harry to find at the bottom of the lake. Mermaids, the ultimate illusion of beauty, can in fact be quite ugly. This disenchantment parallels many of the coming disenchantments, such as Mad- Eye Moody's revelation that he is the villain responsible for placing Harry directly within Voldemort's line of fire. As shown in this passage and others, reality is rarely how we imagine it will be.
"No good sittin' worryin' abou' it," he said. "What's comin' will come, an' we'll meet it when it does."
Hagrid's comment from Chapter Thirty-seven reflects the fact that wizards must simply wait for Voldemort to make his next move. It is appropriate and refreshing for it to come from Hagrid, because although he does not have Dumbledore's eloquence or trained wisdom, he is speaks as someone who has undergone accusation and hardship. He, of all people, should know that the most terrible things can never be predicted. This comment allows the characters to relax during a calm summer, letting life continue, but acknowledging that it will not be perfect, especially not in the near future. This line offers a realistic closure to one stage of the constant battle against evil in the wizarding world.
Take a Study Break!