As servile as Santa’s elves are, they’re masters of the universe compared to the house elves of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and movies. Take, for instance, Dobby, the meek and spindly creature whose sense of self is so fragile that he speaks of himself in the third person. (In the movies, he’s voiced by Toby Jones.) Bound by indentured servitude to a wizarding family he’s too scared to name, he wears what looks like a pillowcase (since to give an elf an article of clothing is to free him).
Still, Dobby does have an obstinate streak. He’s mischievous enough to cause Harry some major embarrassment in front of his muggle relatives and their party guests. And in the final war against Voldemort and his forces, Dobby bravely sacrifices his life. As depicted in one of the most moving sequences in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I, Harry and his friends pay tribute to the fallen Dobby, at last giving him the elf-respect he deserves.
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