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Thread: House Elves

  1. #1
    Raffles
    Guest

    House Elves

    I have a couple of questions about house elves.

    To free a house elf, you give them clothes. But house elves do all the work in the house. Does that mean that they can't wash the clothes from their masters without freeing themselves?

    Also does the item of clothing have to be given to the house elf directly? Because in the books Hermione places her hand-made hats around the common room. The house elves of Hogwarts then refused to clean that common room because of the clothes. Does that mean that a house elf just has to pick up an item of clothing?

    Also does the item of clothing have to belong to his master specifically, or could it just be any piece of clothing?

    I personally don't understand how house elves became the personal slaves of wizards. I have perceived them as having magic that wizards themselves do not. For example they don't need a wand for specific types of magic. Also they can apparate to places wizards cannot (for example Hogwarts). I was always wondering that they, unlike goblins, centaurs or other magical creatures, even though they are magically quite powerful, allow themselves to be mis-used so much by wizards.

    And a last thing I want to ask is if it is literately impossible for some magical reason, for them to dis-obey their master, or is it just their strong loyalty?

    I hope all my questions make sense^^

    Raffles,

  2. #2
    psijupiter
    Guest
    I think house elves can clean clothes if they pick them up off the floor or out of a laundry basket. Handing clothes to a house elf, even without meaning to free them (such as Harry's sock on CoS) frees them. It doesn't have to belong to their master, or even to anyone who lives in the house.

    With Hermione's hats, it's a little confusing. I think perhaps because she intended them as gifts for the house elves, that it would work?

    So there are three ways to free a houself.

    1. Deliberately hand them clothing, with the intention of freeing them. (Crouch does this to Winky.)
    2. Accidently handing them clothing, without the intention of freeing them. (Like Lucius Malfoy throwing Harry's sock to Dobby.)
    3. Deliberately leaving clothing out for them to pick up, with the intention of freeing them.

    Actually, what these three have in common is that the house elves are given clothing that the owner doesn't want any more. Like Hermione's hats, which are gifts, or Harry's sock, which Lucius didn't want and threw away. So the clothing has to be given or discarded. On those lines, handing a house elf something you want them to wash and then give back wouldn't free them.


    I hadn't really considered how house elves became servants to wizards. I imagine that they were always helpful and kind, and wizards bred them to become completely devoted to serving wizards. Perhaps the original bond between a house elf and a family was more equal: wizards promising to protect, feed and shelter elves, in exchange for elves using their magic to do tasks wizards couldn't do? And over time it became more and more unequal, with house elves doing more and more menial jobs. I think the magical bond is what makes it impossible for house elves to disobey their masters. Again, probably it wasn't like that, and house elves just didn't want to speak badly of the wizards and witches that looked after them, but over time the bond has become corrupted in a way.

  3. #3
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
    First Brush With A Dementor

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    To free a house elf, you give them clothes. But house elves do all the work in the house. Does that mean that they can't wash the clothes from their masters without freeing themselves?

    Also does the item of clothing have to be given to the house elf directly? Because in the books Hermione places her hand-made hats around the common room. The house elves of Hogwarts then refused to clean that common room because of the clothes. Does that mean that a house elf just has to pick up an item of clothing?
    I always thought that this wouldn't have worked. The thing with the hats I mean. I think the master has to give an item of clothing to the elf directly; first I was going to say that he/she has to intend to set the elf free, too, but then I remembered Mr Malfoy, Dobby and the sock. Mr Malfoy obviously didn't want to set Dobby free, but he gave him the sock directly.

    As for Hermione - the elves do the laundry in the castle, too (Dobby mentions this once or twice; in GoF for example he's called to fetch some robes for laundry), so I don't think they would be set free. Dumbledore could always re-employ them instantly anyway. However, for the average houseelf, being set free is a disgrace. I don't think it's about that they actually would have been set free, but rather that they find Hermione's intention offensive, and that this is the reason why they refuse to clean the Gryffindor common room.


    I personally don't understand how house elves became the personal slaves of wizards. I was always wondering that they, unlike goblins, centaurs or other magical creatures, even though they are magically quite powerful, allow themselves to be mis-used so much by wizards.
    Does anyone know some Warhammer 40K lore? Am I allowed to make such references here? Yes? No? Anyway. The origin of the Orks is said to be that a very powerful race of great thinkers "created" them (maybe bred them? who knows) as physically strong beings to protect them. Those Orks were much stronger than their creators; however, they were "programmed" not to attack/overthrow them (they might have done so anyway..).

    Maybe, centuries ago, wizards did the same to create houseelves. Thinking non-magically, there might have been a race of very obedient creatures they trained or cross breeded or whatever to become what we know as houseelves. Or they may actually have created them magically. Or put a spell on them. Who said Darwin applies in the wizarding world- maybe a very powerful wizard can put a spell on a houseelf and that lasts for all generations of houseelves to come.


    And a last thing I want to ask is if it is literately impossible for some magical reason, for them to dis-obey their master, or is it just their strong loyalty?
    I think they are magically programmed not to disobey. Dobby does, and he has to punish himself - he doesn't want to punish himself, but he has to. They HAVE to obey, just as they HAVE to be loyal. They have no choice, so it's the same, I think.


    Edit: something else just occured to me. The Houseelves serve the School, ie the Headmaster (I think). So Hermione has in no way power to set them free. Students can't command Houseelves to do stuff (else there would be a huge mess "Don't bring food to the Slytherin table" "Poison Snape's drink" "help us TP the castle"), so they probably can't set them free either.
    This completely gorgeous banner, which makes me happier than a squirrel, was made by Hokey

  4. #4
    lupins_girl2006
    Guest
    Does anyone know some Warhammer 40K lore? Am I allowed to make such references here? Yes? No? Anyway. The origin of the Orks is said to be that a very powerful race of great thinkers "created" them (maybe bred them? who knows) as physically strong beings to protect them. Those Orks were much stronger than their creators; however, they were "programmed" not to attack/overthrow them (they might have done so anyway..).
    First off, I want to comment on this. It's the same way with horses and other animals trained to do labor for a human. They take them at a young age and train them to do what they have to do. A horse is much stronger than a human, much stronger and much heavier. So, if you take a House Elf when they are young and train them to do what you want, then they pass that knowledge off to their children.

    Also, if you want to think of it this way, they could have been brainwashed during a war. If you think about it, that's a possibility for the grown-up House Elves to be trained, that is if they train the children at a young age. A prisoner of war will sooner or later start acting appropriately to the person in charge of then to keep from getting beaten.

    As for the laundry. I believe that they did the laundry at Hogwarts and weren't set free because the clothes weren't given to them directly, as Karaley said. The House Elves either went to the dorms and gathered the dirty clothes, or somehow the clothes appeared in the laundry room. My guess is that they gathered the clothes from the dorms. But since they weren't given to the Elves by a specific person, or people, they weren't set free...

    ~Allie

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