For the fourth consecutive year, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has apologized for killing off a popular character - and this year, she apologizes for killing Dobby the House Elf. These apologies have become an annual trend, marking the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts every May 2.
While the Harry Potter series is ripe with themes surrounding magic, love, and friendship, death plays an especially prominent role. Over the course of the series, beloved characters like Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter's godfather Sirius Black, and even the morally complex Potions professor Severus Snape lost their lives in the fight against Lord Voldemort, and their losses were just as painful for readers as they were for Rowling herself. In fact, they've weighed on her so heavily that she's taken to publicly apologizing for a significant character's death every year on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, which took place on May 2, 1998. This year, Dobby the House Elf has earned the official tribute.
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Rowling took to Twitter to make her official apology, specifying the fact that even though Dobby did not technically fight in the physical Battle of Hogwarts, he was an essential component in giving key players in the fight a chance at success. And though devoted fans of the series may have had trouble forgiving Rowling for writing off such a beloved character, she acknowledged how difficult her decision was by way of an apology.
It's that anniversary again. This year, I apologise for killing someone who didn't die during the #BattleofHogwarts, but who laid down his life to save the people who'd win it. I refer, of course, to Dobby the house elf.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 2, 2018
In previous years, Rowling reached out to her fanbase with similar expressions of regret, first apologizing for the death of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Remus Lupin, George Weasley's other half, Fred, and Professor Severus Snape. Acknowledging the fact that Snape is one of her more complicated characters in the series, she understood that apologizing for his death might ignite some heated debate, so she apologized with caution, prefacing her tweet by saying, "OK, here it is. Please don’t start flame wars over it, but this year I’d like to apologise for killing (whispers)… Snape. *runs for cover*". She also joked that her apologies for killing off characters should not be confused for any real-life murders, elaborating by saying, "In case the police are reading my notifications, there’s a Battle of Hogwarts anniversary tradition going on. I am not on a murder spree."
In terms of whether or not Rowling should even bother apologizing for certain deaths, fans are split. While it may be comforting for fans of the series for the author of their favorite characters to acknowledge the weight of their losses, the apology runs the risk of celebrating a life not deserving of celebration. For example, some pointed out that Snape's death, in particular, wasn't worthy of an apology, considering the fact that "Snape is not good person," seeing as he was pro-Voldemort prior to Lily's involvement, while others feel that more deserving characters ought to take precedence over others. Some fans responded to Rowling's post about Dobby tweeting that they're still not over characters like Hedwig, Tonks, and Albus Dumbledore (who also didn't die during the Battle of Hogwarts, but - similarly to Dobby - played a significant role in helping win the war).
Source: J.K. Rowling
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