From Hippogriffs to Hungarian Horntails, J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World is abundant with magical creatures and beings. Throughout this pantheon of monsters and beasts is a wide array of consciousness. One of the more sentient creatures are the small race of servants known as House-Elves. This class is bound to serve the Wizarding World for life in their homes and institutions.
Everyone is a fan of Dobby, and the later films shone a bit more light on other Elves such as Kreacher. The books hold far more insight into their history, abilities, and culture than the movies ever could, though. Delve deep into House-Elf lore with this list below!
10 House Elves Have An Affinity For Wine Making
This fact might be even too obscure for some book fans, but House-Elves seemed to have been accomplished winemakers in the Wizarding World. Throughout both the books and the films, the only creatures to be referred to as elves are House-Elves. There are no Lord of the Rings-style human elves or cookie-making Keeblers anywhere to be found in Rowling's story.
So, when Severus Snape's mentions he owns a bottle of Elf-Made Wine in The Half-Blood Prince, it is safe to assume that it was House-Elf-made. In the novel, Snape, Narcissa Malfoy, and Bellatrix Lestrange share a glass of the wine when discussing the Unbreakable Vow. It makes sense that House-Elves would have an interest in wine, especially considering Winky's dependence in The Goblet of Fire.
9 Payment For Their Service Is Out Of The Question
When looking deeper, House-Elves are essentially slaves. Not only that, but there is an aspect to their characterization that leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of many readers. In The Goblet of Fire, Hermione attempts to pay some House-Elves for their service. The creatures took this gesture as an insult, refusing to clean the dormitories in protest.
Throughout the books, Rowling states that almost all House-Elves like to be unpaid indentured servants. The ramifications of this fact are pretty unsettling. But within the world, it is clear that a majority of these creatures crave to be ordered around, and remain unpaid slaves; cheery stuff for a kids book, to say the least.
8 House Elves Worked All Over Hogwarts
The Goblet of Fire is the best source for information about House-Elves in the Wizarding World. It has the most appearances of the creatures and revealed never-before-seen aspects of their culture. In this book, the trio learns that House-Elves staff the entirety of Hogwarts.
These servants are the ones who cook the feasts, clean the dormitories, carry the student's luggage, and whatever manual labor needs to be done at the school. The trio was surprised to hear this, but it also sheds light that House-Elves are incredibly talented at going unnoticed. These creatures were the backbone of all the logistics of Hogwarts School, and all without nearly anyone noticing.
7 Dobby's Yearning For Freedom Was An Oddity
The first House-Elf ever to grace the pages of a Harry Potter book was Dobby. This little guy was a servant to the Malfoy household prior to the ending of Chamber of Secrets. During the book, though, he went behind his masters' backs and assisted in protecting Harry Potter during his second year (much to Harry's dismay). Dobby yearned for freedom more than anything, and in return for his assistance and kindness, Harry coerced Lucius Malfoy to free Dobby.
Dobby's obsession with freedom seems understandable to readers, but to other House-Elves, he's in the minority. As previously mentioned, House-Elves apparently crave submission. Dobby is the only one who wants freedom and payment, and because of this, he is ostracized by his fellow elves.
Most of the Wizarding World acts relatively content in regards to the enslavement of House-Elves. Nearly everyone thinks that they inherently enjoy their lack of freedom and servitude and never give it a second thought. One individual stood apart and began advocating for their betterment the moment she learned about their treatment: Hermione Granger.
One of the most beloved storylines in the books was Hermione's founding of S.P.E.W. (The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare). After learning of the enslavement of House-Elves, Hermione founded the group, which consisted of herself, Harry, Ron, and Neville (the last three rather unwillingly). She would advocate for their freedom, payment, and would covertly hide articles of clothing to force freedom upon elves. Sadly, this arc was cut from the final film, but it remains a fan-favorite.
5 House Elves Fought In The Battle Of Hogwarts
As previously mentioned, House-Elves held the entire operational housekeeping and culinary system of Hogwarts in place. Once again, these elves are incredibly impressive. Although Hermione was upset over their treatment by the school, the elves themselves (nice rhyme) loved the school. It was their home, and Dumbledore treated them kindly.
In The Deathly Hallows, the House-Elves' home was threatened by the Battle of Hogwarts. Determined to do their part and led by Kreacher, the House Elves assisted in the battle against the Death Eaters. Armed with pots, pans, knives, and other kitchen utensils, these servants defended their home the best they could. Certainly, after that display, they deserved some compensation.
4 Kreacher Was Tortured By Voldemort
Kreacher is a fascinating and underrated character in the Harry Potter series. Kreacher is the exact opposite of Dobby, in that he is incredibly abrasive, bigoted, and rude. This is understandable considering his past and assigned family. Kreacher was the house-elf of the Black family, first serving Sirus' mother Walburga, who Kreacher remained devoted to after her death.
When he served his master and Walburga's son, Regulus, Kreacher was volunteered to assist Voldemort in hiding one of his Horcruxes. The locket, which was hidden in the oceanside cave, needed to be placed in the bowl filled with the torture potion. Voldemort forced Kreacher to consume the concoction and left him to die in the cave. Luckily, Kreacher apparated away, but it remained one of the many dark moments in his life that is never mentioned in the films.
3 Hermione Strengethed Elf Protection Laws As An Adult
As stated before, Hermione was a significant advocate for House-Elves throughout her fourth year at Hogwarts. Although few people believed in S.P.E.W., Hermione never let go of her passion for advocacy. After the Battle of Hogwarts and into adulthood, Hermione began a career at the Ministry of Magic. Specifically, Hermione worked within the Department for the Regulation of Magical Creatures.
This was when her work with S.P.E.W. really began to flourish. With the backing of her government (and not having to focus on saving the world), Hermione started to implement laws which supported the lives and dignity of House-Elves. Previously, the rules were somewhat lax, allowing masters to mistreat their servants without punishment. Through her work, Hermione turned public conception of the creatures around in a way never seen before.
2 House Elves Hold Powerful Magic
Although House-Elves are regulated to a servant class, that does not mean that they are without power. House-Elves are full of magical abilities which occasionally dwarf those of witches and wizards. Throughout Harry Potter, House-Elves show their talent for telekinesis and apparating. Their powers are so strong that they can throw full-grown adults with their telekinesis, as well as apparate places witches and wizards are not allowed to.
The only catch is the fact that, like most magical creatures, House-Elves cannot legally own or use a wand. This limits their full potential in regards to their magical skills. It would make sense that, to keep House-Elves subjugated, wizards would remove their right to wield a wand. It is just one more reason to question the whole system of labor in the magical world.
The biggest case of House-Elf erasure in the Harry Potter films was the glossing over of Winky the House Elf. Winky was the servant of the Crouch family in The Goblet of Fire. In the book, Winky is accused of conjuring the Dark Mark after the raid at the Quidditch World Cup. As punishment, she is dismissed from her service, goes into a deep depression, and succumbs to alcoholism. Sad stuff, huh?
Winky is eventually hired on along with Dobby at Hogwarts. Though she never entirely overcame her addiction, Winky did ultimately better herself through her new work and even assisted during the Battle of Hogwarts. She was an excellent expansion on the House-Elf mythology, and it was a shame to see her gone from the film adaption.