Transcript #653

Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #653, Dobby Lobby (GOF Chapter 21, The House-Elf Liberation Front)

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Well, everybody, grab your golden eggs and bring them to the Gryffindor common room, because it’s a par-tay, and even the house-elves are invited. This week we’re discussing Goblet of Fire Chapter 21, “The House-Elf Liberation Front.” And Dobby’s back! I know Micah is super excited about it. We have a whole section dedicated to the return of old Dobbs.

Micah: How could you not?

Eric: It’s a real opportunity to pull up that Fudge clip. “He’s back!”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: But yeah, we’re going to get to, obviously, that Chapter by Chapter segment, which, Laura is included in this week’s Seven-Word Summary. Very excited.

Laura: Aw, shucks.

Andrew: [laughs] She’s doing all seven words, right? I believe that was my joke last week?

Eric: Yeah. But first, we of course would like to announce again that Micah and me will be at LeakyCon this year from July 5-7, 2024. It’s located and happening at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, and it’s going to be a blast. They’re announcing guests left and right; Micah and I are among them. We’ll be doing a live MuggleCast; this was a lot of fun last year for those who were able to come out and see our various Harry Potter panels, and we’re going to do it all again. If you are interested, we do have a discount code for listeners of our show. Enter code “Muggle” for a little discount when you get your tickets, so definitely check that out., and follow Leaky on their social media to see what guests are coming.

Andrew: And let them know you’re coming from MuggleCast.

Eric: Absolutely.

Chapter by Chapter: Seven-Word Summary

Andrew: Well, without further ado, let’s get into Goblet of Fire Chapter 21, “The House-Elf Liberation Front.” And we’ll start, like we always do, with our Seven-Word Summary.

[Seven-Word Summary music plays]

Laura: Shrieks…

Eric: … and…

Andrew: … panic…

Micah: … erupt…

Laura: … from…

Micah: … Gryffindor…

Andrew: … base.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: You know, I don’t hate that.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Yeah, it’s not bad. It’s not bad. I’ll admit, I started you out with a hard one. I was between that and “Dobby” as the first word, but I was like, “Eh…”

Andrew and Eric: Ohh.

Micah: Laura was like, “I didn’t get included last week.”

Laura: So yeah, I’m going to make this hard now. [laughs]

Micah: “I’m going to make this as miserable as possible for the rest of you.”

Laura: I was thinking of the egg. That was where my mind was at.

Andrew: Right.

Laura: But certainly, there’s a couple of other important things that happen in the chapter, right, Micah?

Micah: Oh yeah, there’s plenty of other exciting things that happen in this chapter.

Chapter by Chapter: Main Discussion

Micah: And the first discussion we’re going to focus on is Blast-Ended Rita. And we’re going to talk about other stuff; I just got a little bit creative with that title and… take with it what you will. But the chapter opens up really with the band being back together, and Ron is all about Harry winning the Triwizard Tournament, and I thought to myself, “Here is Ron advocating for Harry, sure.” He’s excited about the fact that he’s got his best friend back. But he really thinks now Harry’s got a legit shot at winning the Triwizard Tournament, and Ron has a tendency throughout the series to make jokes, to say things tongue in cheek, and they end up coming true. Do we think this could be another example of that?

Eric: Do we think that Ron is joking, though? Because I think he really does think… he’s supporting Harry; he’s definitely elated to be his friend again, but do we think that he’s joking about it? I think he really thinks that Harry could win it.

Andrew: I think he really thinks so too.

Laura: Yeah, I agree.

Andrew: A, he’s reunited with Harry again and friends again. I think the biggest thing impacting what he’s saying here is that he’s just high on Harry’s win, and now they get to celebrate and relax for a little while. So I definitely believe that Ron feels very confident that Harry can pull this out.

Micah: I’ll be honest; I said at the end of the last episode, I’m still not bought fully in on Ron yet. I think he’s blowing a little smoke towards Harry and trying to get back into his good graces a bit.

Andrew: Does he have to? I mean that seriously. I don’t think Harry needs too much winning over.

Eric: Well, yeah, that’s true. I do think, though, that Ron, in lieu of continuing to say how bad he feels, will tend to overcompensate. That’s a very teen boy thing to do, or just anybody who’s not really great at communication will tend to find other ways to compensate for how they feel and make something nice. So I think Ron’s excessive good mood does fall along the lines of he is working to get back in Harry’s good graces, so… but Harry does take the compliment.

Laura: Yeah. And I think to your point, Eric, that’s pretty normal for most people when they mend fences after having a really big blowout argument that went on for a few weeks. There’s a period of time where things are first mended where people are going to be, I think, more predisposed to playing nicey-nicey to keep things on the straight and narrow, and then they slip back into old habits. But this makes sense. [laughs]

Andrew: And Ron is so happy to be back with him that he has a newfound appreciation for Harry probably, and their friendship. He’s really proud of Harry after this win. What you’re describing, Laura, this also sounds like the start of not just a friendship or a new chapter in a friendship, but also a new relationship too. And you’re never nicer to the person you’re in a relationship with than when things start off, and then some years pass and you stop talking to them pretty much all together, even if you still live together. What?

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Laura: Andrew, this isn’t your therapy session.

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: What Andrew is talking about is the fact that it takes until Deathly Hallows for Ron to return to his old habits and walk away from Harry, and Hermione, for that matter. But along these lines, though, we do get some conflicting viewpoints about the first task: Ron thinks that after having faced dragons, nothing could be worse. And this could be him playing to Harry a little bit here, but you also have Hermione on the opposite end of the spectrum. She thinks that since the first task was dragons, it can only get worse from here. So I just found it fun to see these two completely opposing viewpoints.

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah.

Eric: It determines… I guess it depends on how terrified you are of girls, which turns out to be the next task, the unexpected task for them. But it’s funny to see Ron’s sort of sweet summer child mood of “Nothing could be worse than dragons.” I’ve got to say, in hindsight, I kind of agree; the dragon close quarters with very minimal protection that we all just read through last week, it’s hard to imagine… if you take the Voldemort component out of the hedge maze, and if you take just what happens in task two to Harry specifically, the danger that he wasn’t really in for most of that, I think the first task is actually maybe the most dangerous.

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, I think of these three tasks, I would certainly be most afraid of the dragon. That sounds the most dangerous. I do think – and again, I guess I chalk this up to Ron just being high on Harry’s win – but for Ron to think that any threat from Karkaroff is now out of harm’s way just because Harry conquered the first task, it’s like, it’s just silly. There’s two more tests to go, and you guys have no idea what’s coming.

Eric: Again, it’s that overcompensating. That “Oh, you got it. We’re done. We won!” [laughs]

Andrew: It is also interesting, too, that Micah, you highlighted the opposing views from Ron and Hermione. I think this also is a little commentary on how they think just in their day to day lives. I think Hermione is more of a long term thinker, and Ron is more short term.

Eric: Wow. Yeah, I love that. I think, Andrew, you’re right on the money there. I think that that definitely speaks to their energies.

Micah: And Andrew, you also had something in here about the anxiety maybe related to the fact that the next task is three months away. That’s a lifetime for these kids.

Andrew: Yeah, I read this, and Harry says that he’s relieved that it’s three months away, and I’m like, “Whoa.” I would not be relieved to know it was three months away. I wish it was a week away, or less. I do not want the wait drawn out, because I’m just going to have three months of sleepless nights. I want it to happen.

Laura: But think about when you were 14; three months felt like an eternity.

Eric: Didn’t it?

Laura: Right? We have the benefit of looking at this from the point of view of people who are adults, right? Three months from now for some kind of big event is no time at all for an adult, but for a teenager, that’s eons.

Eric: Yeah, if you tell me something’s happening in three months, I need to get my energy reserves started.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Exactly.

Eric: The pre-dreading it and figuring out if I can get out of it, that takes three months.

Andrew: And there’s going to be another task after that!

Laura: But I think for someone this age, three months feels like a really long time that you don’t have to think about it.

Andrew: Yeah, worry about it later. Procrastinate.

Laura: And of course, we know what that results in; Harry is in a total panic as this gets closer. But I think it’s really characteristic for the point of life that he’s in right now.

Eric: I’ll say to that point as well about not having to think about it, I think that part of the agreement in hosting the Triwizard Tournament during a school year, as opposed to a summer holiday, is that it is spaced out because they need all of the students – even just the spectators, not the champions – they need all of the students to still do good in their classes. And so if everyone has two months or fewer to just enjoy and live in the Triwizard Tournament, they’re not getting any work done, and so this spreading out the challenges allows people to kind of do more of a business as normal kind of a thing. And then my initial thought was the reason that the tasks are so spread out across the year is because the end of the year, Harry needs to meet Voldemort, just like he does in all the other previous years. It needs to last him that long, so it needs… that was a very…

Micah: That’s his final exam every year.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: It just takes on a different… that’s why Harry really doesn’t have to take his final exams each year, is because Voldemort is really his final test.

Andrew: I think that’s a fair trade-off.

Eric: Yeah. I do think, though, that because there’s enough going between the first… that three months does fill up. It’s just like anytime we’re looking forward to something that’s next year; like, it’ll be here sooner than you know it. Between the Yule Ball we know they’ll have hoisted on them, and having to work out the clue in the egg, which Harry starts in this chapter but has no idea what to do with it, actually, that time will be filled up.

Micah: And that’s a great transition because once we get back to Gryffindor Tower, our Seven-Word Summary, Harry goes and opens the egg in front of his fellow classmates, and we’ll put aside the loud screeching noise that it makes, but wanted to talk about some of the reactions that the students have to the egg being opened. First, we have Seamus, who said that it sounds like a banshee and maybe Harry will have to defeat one, and I thought this was noteworthy because we learned back in Prisoner of Azkaban that Seamus’s boggart is a banshee, so this is really a first example of a student reacting in a way that conveys fear, because we’re going to see it with Neville in just a moment, too. But Laura, you had a point about banshees.

Laura: Yeah, and this is just to add a layer to this whole exchange that happens. Banshees are creatures of Irish folklore, so we’re learning a lot about Seamus in terms of him as a person, but also the culture that he comes from through moments like these, right?

Micah: Absolutely. And it’s clear if it’s his boggart, it’s something that he is deeply afraid of at this moment in time. And then we get to Neville, who responds by saying it sounds like somebody being tortured, and that immediately made me think: Is Neville reliving inside of his mind what happened to his parents at the hands of Bellatrix and Barty Crouch, Jr. and company? And this maybe just has been a lingering thought in his mind since the class with Moody just a couple of chapters ago.

Laura: Yeah, I think especially now that he’s seen the Cruciatus Curse in action, but not been able to really hear it, right? He’s seen it, but think about the spiders, right? Now he’s hearing this screeching, this shrieking, and to him, he’s probably automatically placing that as a stand-in for what happened to his parents.

Eric: It’s sad. It’s sad that these children have this trauma response, or they identify with their trauma. It’s something a little clever in the writing. I think, though, because it is just kind of a high-pitched noise, it makes you think that the next challenge will involve facing fears, like maybe it’s a boggart or something. I seem to recall that that was probably what I was thinking when I was first reading this in 2000. But it definitely turns out not to be that; it’s just that this is a high-pitched squeal, which is what merpeople apparently sound like out of water. And so it’s a little bit of misdirection there that the suggested… and the Weasley twins say, “Maybe it’s Percy in the shower.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: It’s a high-pitched squeal. It makes you think that it’s something that it’s not, which I think is very clever.

Andrew: That is a fun theory about “Oh, it’s just hinting that something scary will be occurring or something frightful because it’s a shriek,” and it clearly is open to interpretation, as we see from Seamus and Neville. I also found it touching that Seamus and Neville were happy to jump in with their own guesses about it. I guess they’re also feeling very proud of Harry, too, and they want to contribute however they can, as quickly as possible. Because if you’re right, that makes you look pretty good. So I also saw this as like a nice teamwork moment where they’re trying to help their fellow student.

Micah: And their fellow flatmate, for lack of a better… right?

Andrew: Yeah. Fellow Gryffindor.

Micah: Neville and Seamus are both roommates of Harry’s, and Neville has kind of been there the whole way. Neville really stuck by Harry’s side. It’s questionable with Dean and Seamus; Ron, we know what direction he went in. But it is nice to see; I agree with that. Some symbolism I just wanted to call attention to about golden eggs, since we’ve been talking about the golden egg. It usually represents something of value, and I thought that this worked on two different fronts: The egg was this cherished prize that had to be captured during the first task, and now the second task, we know that something of great value is going to be taken from each of the champions, so it does work on two different fronts. The other thing, before we leave Gryffindor common room, I wanted to talk about was Fred and George. They are clearly hard at work, despite Mrs. Weasley trying to dampen their efforts. They have been working on probably a number of different items; we see Canary Creams come into play, and I think the twins really have something going here. Neville goes what I call full molt; he turns into a bird.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: And it showcases how talented the twins truly are when they apply their magic in an area of true passion. I think this is true in the real world, too, right? When you’re working on something that you’re really passionate about, it shows. And it’s clear, even this early on – and maybe I didn’t really see this when I read through the series the first time how early on – it’s clear that the twins are destined for other things outside of Hogwarts.

Eric and Laura: Yeah.

Eric: I mean, I think we have our episode title there. “Full molt.”

[Micah laughs]

Eric: But you’re right, Micah, nothing else compares to the magic that the twins are doing. Specifically, if you look at it, Neville turned into a giant bird, a canary, and he doesn’t change back until he molts, but the way it’s described, it happens probably within minutes. This is an insane transformation. Even the Polyjuice Potion doesn’t work for interspecies transformation, and Hermione gets stuck like that for weeks when she accidentally uses a cat hair supposedly from Millicent Bulstrode’s cloak, whatever, whatever. But I really have to hand it to the twins, just like you did. There’s nothing like this level of magic, whether it’s a potion, and whatever it is that they put into this tiny little chocolate that has that effect is absolutely crazy.

Andrew: I want to run with your Polyjuice point. It’s impressive that they created something that in a way works better than the Polyjuice Potion…

Eric: Right!

Andrew: … and is easier to create, or at least consume. You can buy this from triple W.

Eric: It’s bite-sized.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s bite-sized. You don’t have to do all that crazy stuff you have to do to get the Polyjuice Potion going. So I, too, was very impressed by this, how Neville was able to so quickly and easily transform without him knowing – which is a problem – that he would be.

Micah: But he loved it. He laughed afterwards.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Laura: I agree with y’all. I mean, it’s amazing, but I don’t know that it fully compares to Polyjuice Potion because presumably, you can’t turn into anything or anyone you want with these, right? The options are going to be limited.

Eric: Well, it’s whatever Fred and George make it, which raises the question of how did they get it? Did they have to find a canary?

Laura: Probably.

Eric: Still, though, Fred and George, whatever cool points we just gave Fred and George, we do have to take them away, though, because it wasn’t consensual. Neville may have quietly laughed about it afterwards here, but they had actually given him a false sense of security by saying that the creams were not affected and then he was changed, and I’m sorry, that’s not cool. I don’t care who they do it to. It’s wrong.

Andrew: Way to bring the mood down, Eric. No, you’re right.

Eric: Sorry!

Andrew: They’re pranksters. I mean, that’s what you chalk it up to when you read it. I mean, I agree with you, but also, it’s just Fred and George being pranksters.

Eric: Amazing magic. Tell people that you’re about to put a spell on them. Thank you.

Andrew: Yeah, and some people probably would be up for it, knowing that they were about to be transformed. Like, “Oh, that sounds fun.”

Eric: Yeah! Oh, absolutely.

Micah: Well, I’m going to bring the mood back up, because we’re going to go to Care of Magical Creatures, and we’re going to get a guest appearance from Rita Skeeter, who is just lurking in the shadows there. And she interrupts what, no surprise, is a disaster of a lesson from Professor Hagrid with the Blast-Ended Skrewts. He’s trying to get them to hibernate; we’ll talk about that in a minute. But I just wanted to throw out there: Why do we think Rita is so interested in speaking with Hagrid when she shows up?

Laura: It’s another way to get to Harry. We have to remember the way the last chapter left off; she asked him for a word, and he gave her one word and that was “Goodbye.” She’s trying to worm her way in, and it just so happens that she stumbles across this lesson that he’s a part of and sees “Oh, goody, this lesson is clearly not going very well, so it’ll be another thing for me to publish in the Prophet,” right? Like, “Bad classroom management at Hogwarts,” something like that.

Andrew: There’s a lot of bad to document here.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: And let’s remember that Rita and Dumbledore had a brief encounter a few chapters ago, too, and Rita might be a little salty at Dumbledore, and I think this is just an opportunity to criticize how Dumbledore runs the school.

Eric: Absolutely.

Andrew: He’s clearly not keeping an eye on what happens in these classes, which we already do, but the wizarding public don’t.

Eric: Evidently, Dumbledore has banned Rita. She’s not supposed to show up at lessons; she’s not supposed to be on castle grounds at all during lessons, and the way in which she’s apparently attempting to circumvent that is by starting to write articles that are so shady, that are so devastating to read, that there will be a general need-to-know where she’ll start being dispatched by Fudge to get to the bottom of what’s happening at Hogwarts with the teachers. Everything she’s doing, this smear campaign that she is going into against Hagrid and this knocking down a peg of Dumbledore and Hogwarts, is really setting the stage for Umbridge next year. She’s just got the level of gumption to really force the issue.

Micah: Right, and Dumbledore is not a fool. I’m sure he reads the Daily Prophet; he sees what she’s been writing about Harry, so the last thing that he wants is more of that at his school. But the part that I would actually put back on Dumbledore is he has another unregistered Animagus on the loose on Hogwarts grounds, and he’s none the wiser to it. He also has a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor who’s slurping down Polyjuice Potion, and he’s none the wiser.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: He has absolutely no control over Hogwarts. It’s amazing.

[“It’s starting to sound like a security nightmare!” sound effect plays with sirens]

[Laura laughs]

Micah: Yeah, it had been a while since we played that, so I’m glad that we worked it into this episode.

Andrew: I agree. It’s also great that this sound effect starts with “It’s starting to sound like a security nightmare”; at this point, we are way beyond.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: “Starting.”

Eric: It’s still starting; we’ve only scratched the surface. I will say, we’re talking about this Rita spying. Do we want to up the Rita spy count?

Andrew: Ohh.

Laura: Yes. I think we can.

Micah: What do we make of her tactics? She’s clearly – and I don’t mean this in a sexual way that she’s flirting with him. I think she’s playing to his insecurities, and she does a really good job of it with Hagrid.

Eric: It’s that forced good nature that allows people to feel comfortable in a situation where they otherwise wouldn’t feel comfortable. “Smile and they smile back” kind of a thing. And yeah, I mean, Hagrid is definitely taken to this person for behaving in that manner, and it just gets him to divulge more than he would normally. Turns out, there’s about a million and a half ways to get Hagrid to tell you more than he normally would. I think it’s… at a certain point, we just have to say this is what he would normally tell you. [laughs]

Laura: Agreed. Well, and I think that this is flattery, right? And it’s easy with Hagrid because so few people actually care about the things that Hagrid cares about, so if he comes across a person who is expressing genuine interest in the things he’s interested in, yeah, he’s going to be really vulnerable to falling for that.

Andrew: And I think this is what journalists do pretty often; if they’re interviewing you, they’re trying to make you feel comfortable so that you open up, and then they can get the most out of you as possible.

Micah: Totally. And you know what? Kudos to Harry for being able to read the situation and jumping in to support Hagrid at a couple of different moments during this conversation, but this class, this lesson, is absolutely absurd. It’s horrendous, on a scale from one to ridiculous. And why Hagrid didn’t do any prep to see if the Blast-Ended Skrewts even liked the idea of hibernation before the students showed up… the students are the test subjects. It’s wild. There are students literally hiding in Hagrid’s hut, peering out the window as Rita makes her way into the middle of the classroom.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: That’s right, Draco and them barricade themselves in the hut. And who can blame them? [laughs]

Micah: I mean, when you talked about setting things up for Order of the Phoenix and for Umbridge, I’m sure Umbridge looked at some of these articles that were being written by Rita about Hogwarts, about Dumbledore, about Hagrid. So Hagrid is doing himself no favors here. I love Hagrid, but…

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yeah. No, it’s bad, and the only person who can handle this level of creature is Hagrid. If you notice, when Rita shows up, he jumps in front of the students to protect them and rastles the Screwt, gets the rope around it and pushes it back a bit. He nearly flattens the remaining Screwt as he’s talking to Rita, which must actually look pretty badass, but he’s the only one who can. These 14-year-olds absolutely can’t do it.

Andrew: Well, he made them, too. He bred them. He created these Blast-Ended Skrewts, so only he knows how to handle them. And how long has he even had these things for? So he probably doesn’t know enough to even really be teaching about them. [laughs]

Micah: And that’s a really interesting point, though, Andrew, because it should set off some red flags for us, because it definitely did for Harry, Ron, and Hermione, because they ask themselves a question: Where did Hagrid get these things from?

Eric: Right.

Micah: Let’s think back to Sorcerer’s Stone and think with Fluffy, and think back to Aragog in Chamber of Secrets, right? He has a tendency to end up with things in his hands from people who are manipulating him.

Eric: That’s a great point, Micah, and there’s no reason for him to have done the Skrewt thing, because the Forbidden Forest is loaded with creatures that are well documented, and he’s never had any trouble before getting in there. And he knew all about unicorns, and it just… there are so many creatures that he could know that will be a lot safer to teach. He doesn’t get any passes this year like he did last year for having boring lessons because his life was a mess because Buckbeak was going to be executed. This is his choice to have these ridiculous creatures that are way too dangerous for students to force them to do things they don’t want to do. I mean, just an explanation of “Seamus’s burned fingers” and other students’ scratches should be enough to tell you this is completely inappropriate.

Andrew: I guess in defense of Hagrid, I will just say that clearly he’s passionate about magical creatures; it’s probably a passion of his to crossbreed and see what he can come up with, so I see why he wants to create the Blast-Ended Skrewts and not just go into the forest and pull out a creature and teach them about that. But I also do agree with you that he needs to spend more time with these newfangled creations before teaching them. It is ridiculous. Well, we are going to go crossbreed our own magical creatures, and we’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Is that too far?

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: Oof.

[Ad break]

Micah: What did you make during the break, Andrew?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Yeah, yeah, now we all have to say. Now we all have to come up with it.

Laura: Nobody call PETA.

Micah: Well, we’re going to move into the second half of this chapter main discussion: Tea time with Dobby. That’s right; Dobby is back.

Andrew: Woo!

Micah: And I think that is the best thing that has happened so far in Goblet of Fire.

Andrew: Oh, wow.

Micah: Well, what else…? I mean, maybe the Quidditch World Cup.

Andrew: Yeah, that was pretty cool. Sorry, I’m just impressed by… you really love Dobby.

Micah: Well, it sounded like you were judging.

Andrew: No, I’m not judging.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: You’re the guy with a Dobby Lego behind you. I shouldn’t have been surprised at all, actually.

Micah: I know.

Laura: Well, I mean, also, it feels good, right? Because at the Quidditch World Cup when Harry first saw Winky, he thought she was Dobby, and he got genuinely excited, and so now he actually gets to see his friend again.

Eric: Yeah, it wouldn’t be much of a payoff if he had had that “Dobby?” moment at the beginning of the book and then we just didn’t see Dobby this whole book.

Laura: Right, exactly.

Micah: Yeah, that would not have been cool at all. And it comes on the heels of Hermione taking Harry and Ron away from a really fun time, right? They’re partying it up in Gryffindor tower; the last thing that they want to do is to go follow Hermione on her house-elf crusade, but they end up in the kitchens and Harry is greeted around his midriff with a bone-crushing hug. And what better introduction by…? What character is better introduced in this series, or reintroduced, I should say, than Dobby? And Dobby, he’s doing well. He’s been…

Andrew: He’s happy!

Micah: He’s happy, and he’s dressing the part, and I thought we could talk a little bit about that. And since both he and Mr. Weasley like to dress in Muggle clothing, we could do a bit of a comparison here of “Who wore it better?”

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Dobby, when he greets Harry, is wearing a tea cozy for a hat, a tie patterned with horseshoes over a bare chest, Andrew, and children’s football shorts and odd socks.

Andrew: [laughs] “A bare chest, Andrew.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Andrew, thoughts? Is this making you feel a certain way?

Andrew: Yeah, what the heck? So should we do the poll first and then we can discuss?

Laura: Yeah, so I actually… well, how did you…?

Micah: Do you want to mention what Mr. Weasley is wearing, Laura?

Laura: Yeah, so Mr. Weasley, for this comparison, is wearing a golfing sweater and a very old pair of jeans, slightly too big for him and held up with a thick leather belt. So I wanted to ask y’all if you wanted to guess how patrons voted? So the question that we posed in our Discord was, [laughs] “Who wears Muggle clothes better, Dobby or Mr. Weasley?”

Eric: Listen, I know this is funny. I know this is fun to do. But there’s no way Mr. Weasley doesn’t come away with the gold here, right?

Andrew: What?!

Eric: Because he’s a grown adult man. He understands that you need something on your top, on your bottom, on your shoes. I think it’s Mr. Weasley, far and away.

Laura: Do you?

Eric: Yeah!

Laura: What does everyone else think?

Andrew: I think Dobby. It’s a house-elf in human clothing, which is so cute, the visual there.

Eric: Oh my God.

Andrew: If you think of the character Ted from the movies with Mark Wahlberg and the TV show – which is very good, by the way – sometimes Ted will be wearing human clothes like a suit, and it is the cutest thing ever. Partly because Ted is foul-mouthed and that he’s wearing these adorable outfits, [laughs] but I just love the idea of an animal in human clothing.

Eric: I do like it when Brian does it on Family Guy.

Micah: No, I mean, I would vote Dobby.

Laura: Okay. Well, I think two of you are going to be really pleased: Dobby actually does win this one.

Andrew: Woo!

Eric: God, what?

Laura: So 62% of people who took part in the poll said that Dobby wears Muggle clothes better.

Eric: No, I didn’t vote. Okay, well, now it’s eight and ten, okay.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: I’m on the Discord. I can vote. I don’t understand! Dobby can’t put two items together. Dobby is a walking clash of… he makes wizards look better at dressing.

Andrew: I think Arthur needs a fitting. It sounds like the pants would be falling down if it weren’t for the belt. The pants are also very old. Now, I know jeans last a while, but he’s a working man. He should wear some nice clothing.

Micah: I agree with you, Andrew. The thing that bothers me, and you alluded to this, is that Arthur works in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. He encounters Muggles on a regular basis; he should know how they dress. There’s no excuse for him dressing oddly, and that’s being generous.

Eric: Maybe the Muggles that Mr. Weasley encounters are all misusing their fashion. They’re all misusing their clothes.

Andrew: Oh, oh.

Micah: Maybe.

Andrew: No, I mean, but he’s…

Laura: You know what I love? Dobby is unapologetically himself, and I think somebody who is unapologetically themselves will win a poll like this every time.

Eric: Okay.

Micah: Like I said, he’s got the neck tie over the bare chest, like a rockstar out on stage.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: He’s true to himself.

Eric: It is a bit Keith Richards.

Andrew: And Arthur is a human. He’s not… he should still know how to wear clothes.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: It shouldn’t matter if he’s a wizard or not.

Laura: Well, okay, and let’s be clear; it’s not that he doesn’t know how to wear clothes, right? His outfit, it’s a golfing sweater, old jeans that are too big on him, and a belt. It’s boring, but it’s not that he doesn’t know how to dress. Dobby’s outfit is so much more colorful and interesting.

Micah: Yeah, including the sock that freed him.

Laura: Aw, yeah. That warmed my heart.

Andrew: Yeah, when I read that part, I was like, “Harry should’ve signed that sock for him.” Like, “I did that.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: Sorry, that tickled me.

Micah: So we’re going to shift gears a little bit here and we’re going to start talking about house-elves in terms of their history and their enslavement, and how Dobby, despite being a free elf, is actually a bit of an outcast within his own community. And I wanted to start by asking: What do we all think it is in Dobby’s character that really makes him enjoy being free, unlike the other house-elves? And I think he does have a good understanding of the history of his kind, and in many instances, that informs how he acts and what he says, even though he has a tendency to get carried away when Harry is around. But yeah, what is it that makes him a different spirit amongst the rest of the house-elves?

Laura: I think it has to do with the family that he served, and that’s not to say that other elves didn’t serve similar families to the Malfoys or that they didn’t have similar circumstances, but you’re talking about Lucius Malfoy, who was one of one of the inner circle of Death Eaters, right? And we know from Dobby talking about this to Harry in the past, many house-elves actually really admire and like Harry because he ended one of the darkest points in modern wizard history without even trying, to be honest; it was really his mom that ended it. I imagine that Dobby living through that and seeing the downfall, if you will, of his family’s level of overt prominence when it came to their pure-blood madness and ideology, I imagine watching that come to an end and watching his family grapple with that probably felt satisfying to him, and that explains why he allies himself with Harry so much, even though he’s never met the kid in his life, and why he goes out of his way and puts himself at genuine risk to protect the person that his very owner is trying to take out. So I think it’s that very unique mindset that was bred due to the environment that Dobby was living in.

Micah: And I don’t think it’s fair of us to presume that every single house-elf enjoys their situation, right? I’m sure that there are examples of owners who treat the house-elves with respect and with dignity, but to borrow a phrase, there’s no such thing as a good slave owner, right? So that’s what we’re dealing with here. I think there’s probably other examples of Dobbies out there, but they’re so few and far between that we’re not really going to… in a story that’s really focused on Harry, we’re not going to see all that.

Andrew: And just thinking about this a little further, I mean, it was ingrained in him that this was just his role, and maybe he was just more willing than other house-elves to step outside their comfort zone and give something new a try. He’s not fully accepting of shredding the house-elf life either. I mean, he does insist to Dumbledore that he works more for less, so parts of being a slave are still instilled in him. And I think it just would take time for any house-elf to fully move on from that. I mean, it’s been, what, a year and a half? Two years?

Micah: Yeah, it’s been almost two years. I think that a different way of looking at that now, though, is that Dobby, he’s not necessarily going back to the old way of doing things. He’s free and is willingly choosing to be employed by somebody and to be compensated for that employment, which is a different set of circumstances from before. I mean, Dobby could have asked Dumbledore to put him somewhere else on the grounds, right? Not in the kitchen, or give him another job that he could have easily done for him.

Eric: But to Andrew’s point, he talks Dumbledore down for payment. Dumbledore would have given him ten Galleons a week, and he’s like, “Oh, one is fine. And I don’t want off weekends.”

Andrew: Right. Just one day off a month; is that what the deal is?

Eric: I think it is, yeah. And with Dobby, it’s a constant question for me of were the Malfoys just so bad that his brain just values freedom so much that Dobby is the way he is to the point where every other house-elf thinks he’s absolutely nuts – even Winky, who has been dismissed, thinks Dobby is absolutely nuts – or was Dobby always this way? I mean, if we think back to Chamber of Secrets where Dobby shows up at Privet Drive, yes, the Malfoys were horrible to him, I’m sure, and yes, they were plotting; they were the ones doing the plotting. But I bet there are other house-elves out there who really couldn’t have made it to Privet Drive, who really couldn’t have due to magic, or due to personality. No matter how bad things got, they have to keep their masters’ secrets, which is something that’s talked about in this chapter. And so I think it might be a little bit of both: The Malfoys were uniquely awful in certain ways, but Dobby also was maybe predisposed to this anarchy of being a free elf.

Andrew: “Dobby is a visionary,” as SnailSong said in our Discord. I like that short answer.

Eric: I think SnailSong was talking about his clothing choice again. He’s getting a lot of love ever since I said mean things about Dobby.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Honestly, I don’t understand the Dobby hate because I love Dobby.

Andrew: Who’s hating Dobby?

Laura: I remember when we were doing Chamber of Secrets

Micah: People thought he was annoying.

Laura: … and everybody was talking about how annoying he was. And he’s a visionary! SnailSong is so right. Dobby 2024.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: All visionaries are annoying. Steve Jobs was annoying. Elon Musk is annoying, and maybe not a visionary, but he’s definitely annoying. [laughs]

Eric: Well, Dobby, you’re a real one.

Micah: Eric, I think we’re going to dig in a little bit more to what you were talking about and really the generational trauma that exists here amongst house-elves and their ancestry, really, because it’s multiple generations of families that usually serve a wizarding family.

Andrew: And we will also talk about Winky, but first we’re going to take a quick break, and we’ll Floo right back.

[Ad break]

Micah: Wanted to talk a little bit about Winky because she is the opposite end of the spectrum to Dobby as of right now, and her current situation is a bad one. We saw it all play out at the Quidditch World Cup. What do we make of the state that she is in when we first really get the chance to meet her? And, more importantly, what do we make of her perception of Dobby?

Laura: Her world has been turned upside down. Everything she’s ever known has been ripped away from her. Even generations of ingrained knowledge that were passed down to her, completely useless now, because she’s not in the only situation that she was ever socialized to know. And what I love about getting to see this is that it really shows Hermione, I think, for the first time, that the issue of house-elf liberation is a lot more complicated than she thinks it is. It isn’t as simple as saying, “Hey, 100 people bought my buttons; you have freedom now,” and I think that we see Hermione quietly grapple with this in this chapter.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Eric: I mean, even by the end of the chapter, Hermione is dead on when she says that over time, people like Dobby will convince the other house-elves that maybe there’s more out there. I think that the exposure of Dobby is something that the other house-elves will ultimately benefit from, and Hermione is actually right that that’s something that they don’t need to change that; they don’t need to affect that. They’re just going to leave the kitchens and Dobby’s presence there will hopefully eventually convince some house-elves that they should seek a different arrangement. But you’re exactly right; she tries to, Hermione does, comfort Winky, and it fails miserably, and that forces Hermione to really come to terms with “Why isn’t this working?” And Winky is talking about it, and to be fair, the trio only has half the story of what really is happening with Crouch. That’s not going to come out till the end of the book. But for me, it is interesting seeing Hermione fail and then have to readjust and try something different.

Andrew: And this is one thing that can happen when you’re a kid; you have these rose-colored glasses on and you think, “Oh, it is going to be as simple as handing out the badges,” or I mean, maybe Hermione got this idea of how simple it could be just by seeing Dobby’s transformation. “Oh, here’s the sock. Suddenly everything’s great for Dobby.” As for how Winky perceives Dobby, I think it’s so interesting to see the two at the same time with Dobby so happy to see Harry, and vice versa, but then there’s Winky, who’s clearly been traumatized because of these, as Laura said, generations of being taught that you are working for a master and that’s how it is, and then to have the rug pulled out from under you. I can see why Winky is feeling this way. It’s too bad Dobby can’t maybe try and do something to help. It doesn’t really seem like Dobby does. He’s just happy.

Micah: He does. He brings her to Hogwarts.

Andrew: Well, yeah, okay. But I mean, I don’t know. I’m picturing them sitting down and hugging or something really cute, and Dobby being like, “It’ll be okay, Winky.”

Micah: Yeah. I mean, it does raise the question how they really did come across each other.

Eric: It seems like they knew each other for years, but I don’t know how they would have met. Oh wait, we solved this before, didn’t we? Because Barty Crouch is a big wizard dude, and the Malfoys are big wizard dudes, and they probably go to the same benefits and they probably drink the same punch.

Andrew: Yes, the same parties at the Malfoys’ house.

Eric: So the house-elves would surely have… yeah, yeah. There you go. Okay.

Micah: So they worked together to put the…

Andrew: At an event.

Eric: Like a fundraiser for St. Mungo’s or something, yeah.

Micah: Well, one of the things that does turn Winky around, at least for a brief moment, is the mention of Barty Crouch, Sr. That leads into the mention of Ludo Bagman, and Winky is very clear on how she feels about Ludo Bagman. She says that he is a “bad wizard.” So to deconstruct this, I came up with a couple of different options as to what “bad wizard” can mean: Ludo sucks at magic, Ludo is a bad person, Ludo is bad at his job, or he put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire. Any of these things could be true. All of them could be true. [laughs] But we’ve talked a lot about how suspicion is cast on Ludo throughout many of these chapters so far, and this would be another way for the author to be communicating to the reader that maybe Ludo is the one responsible for Harry’s name going in the Goblet.

Andrew: Yeah, I did some googling on this, too, because I thought maybe there were some theories out there. So I saw on Reddit that in the Pensieve, Harry witnesses a younger Bagman be accused of passing information to the Death Eaters, but he was acquitted with a vote.

Laura: Yep.

Andrew: So it’s not clear whether he did it willingly or not. But Dumbledore states that he has not been accused of any subsequent activity, and Crouch Sr. found him despicable and most likely fumed about it at home, and that’s where Winky heard it.

Laura: Yeah, the impression that we’re given through that is that Ludo is just kind of a goofball, not super competent in a lot of ways, and that he didn’t realize who he was passing information to. And I think there’s probably a reading that you can do of this one way or the other; it’s never explicitly confirmed whether he did it intentionally or not. But he’s clearly, I would say, at best, morally ambiguous. And I really do love this reading of Ludo as a potential suspect because I’ll be honest, when I first read the book – granted, I was like, 11 – that never crossed my mind at all. I just thought this guy was kind of a tool.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: Well, you were right.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. Well, it is interesting to pick up these clues and be like, “This is clearly meant to indicate that Bagman might have been the bad guy,” because definitely, I think… we’ve all shared that we weren’t necessarily super close-searching through this mystery when we were reading this book; there was so much else that this book does. But what I had the thought of as I was reading this chapter was maybe the reason that I never really suspected Bagman, or never got too in on the mystery, is that the trio doesn’t engage with the mystery. They never really sit down and say, “We have to solve this.” They’re picking up the clues. The clues are presented to them. It’s things like this in a scene where Winky is like, “Bagman is a bad wizard,” but at no point does the trio actually say, “We’ve got to get together and actually figure it out,” and as a result of that, I think that’s why the mystery largely just whizzes by, and you’re like, “Okay.” But it’s nice, at least, to see that the clues were here in case anybody was interested in following.

Micah: Well, I would just say that’s because it’s not an ever-present danger in the same way that the Chamber of Secrets is an ever-present danger; trying to figure out who opened it would solve a lot of problems. For the Goblet of Fire spitting out Harry’s name, it’s a done deal, right? Now they need to let the tournament play itself out. It doesn’t really matter in hindsight who put Harry’s name in. His name is already in. He’s already in the tournament.

Andrew: [laughs] Come hell or high water.

Micah: Yeah. Eric, like with what you were saying, I don’t really know that they need to solve that mystery in so much as they need to worry about the competitions that Harry is going to face.

Eric: Well, and they’re getting distracted by them. I will say, too, that’s a good point, Micah; the only thing that could be continually a problem is if whoever put his name in actually did so because they wanted to kill him and they might return to finish him off. That’s exactly what happens. So Harry is still very much under threat; it’s just the kids are distracted with all the glamour and the steps that they have to take to make it through the school year that it’s hidden in a less direct way than the Sorcerer’s Stone being stolen any day now, or the Chamber of Secrets, to your point.

Micah: Though, Laura, I know that you were talking earlier about Hermione, and this is really the first time she’s confronted with the situation that she’s trying to resolve, right? Because she’s literally in the midst of maybe a hundred house-elves, and these are the individuals that she is trying to help, but she’s not doing the things that you would expect maybe an adult to do in order to maybe benefit her cause. She’s not even sitting down and having a conversation with any of them. She’s just trying to free them.

Laura: Well, yeah. And part of it is, too, she’s assuming that she knows what they would want, right? Even when she turns to Winky and says, “How much is Professor Dumbledore paying you?”

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Laura: It’s like, you know what happened to Winky. You were there. You can tell that Winky is distraught. Perhaps now is not the time to try and open that line of discussion, because Winky is clearly struggling with the situation that she’s finding herself in. So if anything, maybe focus on her wellbeing first?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: This reminds me of when Han Solo gets taken by the Ewoks to be cooked for dinner for saying something, just because it’s like, you would never expect it of these cute little creatures, but they don’t want anything to do with what you’re bringing. And Hermione could have been in a lot of danger if the house-elves had a single mean bone in their body.

Laura: No, that doesn’t happen till the seventh book.

Micah: Speaking of Dumbledore and his willingness to pay house-elves, he’s clearly an ally. He clearly is somebody who is willing to stand up for house-elves. Now, Dobby certainly is one to present his case before Dumbledore and ask for what he wants…

[Eric laughs]

Micah: … but it’s clear that if any of the other house-elves decided to do that, he would compensate them and he would give them time off. I think it would be nice of Dumbledore to maybe offer that, but that’s a conversation for another time. They don’t have to come to you; you can be like, “Hey, you’ve been working down in the Hogwarts kitchens for decades…”

Andrew: “It’s time to start paying you something.”

Micah: But the way Dumbledore is painted is as an ally, right? That’s that comes through in Dobby’s story that he tells to Harry.

Andrew: Yeah, it says a lot that Dumbledore is actually willing and happy to pay and give the house-elves weekends off or give them two days off a week. I think it’s great. Dumbledore is a good guy.

Eric: I do think Dumbledore is amused by Dobby…

Andrew: [laughs] Amused.

Eric: … but I do also wonder, if they actually somehow managed to convince 20 house-elves to come up and each ask for ten Galleons a week, I wonder at what point Dumbledore would be like, “Ah, hold on there. Hold on.”

Andrew: Well, that is a whole other discussion that we could probably spend a good hour on, which is how does Hogwarts get money to pay its professors to run the school?

Eric: Yeah, but I mean, Dumbledore for now is very much being… I mean, he offers Dobby well more than Dobby would ever take, and he tells Dobby that he could call him bad names, and Dobby can’t even dream of it.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, and I thought that should be the episode title: “A Barmy Old Codger.”

Laura: I also just love how Dobby giggles when he says this.

Micah: He whispers it to Harry, right?

Laura: Yeah, you can tell he’s a little bit amused by it. He would never do it; it’s too scary to do, but he definitely gets a kick out of it.

Micah: For sure.

Laura: And I wanted to point out, too, some currency conversion rates…

Eric: Oh, God.

Laura: … just so we have an appropriate appreciation for what a Galleon equals. So one Galleon equals just under £5, or just over $7. Ten Galleons, which is originally what Dumbledore offers Dobby, equals a little over £49 and about $73. So that’s a week. Dobby is making $7 a week.

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, for a house-elf, he’s a millionaire. But yes, by normal standards, it’s terrible. However, they do get presumably free lodging at Hogwarts.

Eric: That costs something.

Andrew: I’m sure they’re all packed in like sardines, but they’ve got a place to lay their head down at night.

Eric: It is so funny to look at Dobby and be like, “He’s the 1% at Hogwarts.”

Andrew: [laughs] He’s the 1%.

Eric: Dobby is the 1%. That’s why he’s so fashionable. He is putting on the ritz; he literally has more money than every other house-elf in the world.

Andrew: That’s a good point. He goes to Goodwill and he buys some nice clothes and puts them all together for a look.

Eric: Poppin’ some tags.

Micah: I’m curious, though, why Dobby took so long to come to Hogwarts. Because it’s mentioned that he tried to get work other places, but when he asked for compensation, he’s basically laughed out of the building by whomever he was going to. And maybe I could see that taking up a little bit of his time, but for two years, the fact that he didn’t even think of coming to Hogwarts until Goblet of Fire… I mean, it’s convenient writing, of course, but it does seem strange that he wouldn’t have thought to come to Hogwarts before that.

Eric: I think Dobby has a sense that he’s an outsider, and I think he was more apprehensive about the other house-elves not liking him. Why would you put yourself in a situation where you’re in a room with 100 other house-elves and they all think you’re crazy? If you can just go and be a house-elf for an inn somewhere and the owner treats you well, isn’t that more immediately safe in the short term than going to…? I think maybe Dobby avoided Hogwarts because of all the house-elves that would not accept him.

Laura: Yeah, well, who knows what kind of work he was out there trying to get? I could also see Dobby avoiding a place like Hogwarts because he knows exactly the work that he’ll be doing there, and he’s thinking, “I’m not a servant anymore. I don’t want to do that work.” But unfortunately, at this stage, it’s the only work available for him.

Andrew: Yeah, I also really liked this comment from James, who said, “Dobby knows about the Chamber of Secrets and was scared of the security nightmare that is Hogwarts, but he caved after a year and a half.”

[Micah laughs]

Laura: Probably.

Andrew: I also wonder why Dobby didn’t try to find Harry sooner after he came to Hogwarts. It sounded like Dobby had been there for a week at that point. Given how much Dobby loves Harry and how excited Dobby surely knows Harry would be to see him, why not see him sooner? I find that a little surprising. But it’s okay, Dobbs. It’s okay.

Micah: Or why not make contact at all during the third year, right?

Eric: I still think of Dobby as being so bound by laws. Like, house-elves can’t just reach out to random students that aren’t their masters.

Micah: Well, he can.

Eric: He did under great duress, but something snapped there.

Micah: No, but I’m saying post-Chamber of Secrets, he wouldn’t have had any restrictions. But all that being said, I mean, we do see it even in this chapter where he physically harms himself after saying something bad about the Malfoys, so it still triggers him.

Laura: Yeah, it’s still in there.

Eric: That’s what I’m saying. I think that the concept of a free elf is so rare and so not thought out that Dobby thinks that he can say that, and he’s calling himself a free elf, but we see that it’s still very much not 100% freedom here. And it is interesting to think whether it’s habitual that he punishes himself or whether there’s still some remnant of that extremely strong magic.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, either way, it’s not something that he’s going to snap out of overnight.

Micah: Right.

Laura: It’s going to take a long time.

Micah: So just wrapping up the Dumbledore portion of this, Dobby also mentions that he can keep Dumbledore’s secrets, and I wanted to know what this meant. Are we to believe that Dobby might be doing some additional work for Dumbledore that could make him in the know of certain things that are going on, whether it’s related to Hogwarts or it’s related to some of Dumbledore’s personal business?

Eric: Dumbledore definitely has use for agents in that way. I hate to think Dumbledore beat Harry to the punch of using Dobby as an agent, but it’s certainly possible.

Laura: I also think that given the work that house-elves do, the fact that they live in their owners’ homes, they’re around them a lot in the residence, I feel like there’s probably this expectation of the elves really not creating any kind of distraction or really even being seen. I mean, we even see this in the way elves are portrayed in Hogwarts Legacy, right? You get too close to them and they just disappear. I think there’s an expectation that they make themselves scarce while also attending to their duties, and in order to do both of those things successfully, they’re going to end up overhearing a lot of things that their owners probably don’t want other people knowing about. So I think that is a really big part of it. But I’m sure there have been cases where – in fact, we know there have been – cases where elves have been used as confidants, so I think it goes both ways, actually.

Andrew: Yeah, I like your point. It’s similar to you live with somebody, you are going to be saying things in your home that you might not say out in public or in front of other people, and there’s just basically an unspoken agreement that many things should probably not be repeated outside of the house or in front of other particular people.

Micah: So just wanted to wrap up talking about the conditioning of house-elves. It’s kind of been this theme throughout the conversation; we’ve talked about both Dobby and Winky, but what we’re seeing is that house-elves have been enslaved for so long that they believe that this is all there is for them in life. And it’s generation upon generation of trauma, and when it’s all you or your family has known, the thought of change can be crippling both emotionally and physically, and we see that really come to life with Winky in particular in this chapter.

Laura: Yeah, and I think part of that is we have to remember, too, Winky was kind of… I think she was a lot more prized by Mr. Crouch than Dobby was of the Malfoys. I mean, Barty took her everywhere with him, right? She actually had, I think, more depth of understanding of the goings-on in his life because he used to talk to her about work. I don’t think the Malfoys would ever sit down and talk to Dobby about their personal lives or their work lives, right?

Andrew: No.

Eric: Right.

Laura: So I think to an extent, Winky has lost the only way of life she’s ever known, but she’s also lost the only person who is probably the closest thing to a friend she’s ever had, too, and he’s the one who banished her.

Andrew: Right, and think how much time they’d spent together over the years. And I don’t know if this is just a movie-ism, but to your point about the Malfoys, Lucius kicks Dobby in the movie. Can you see Crouch doing that? I don’t think so.

Eric and Laura: No.

Andrew: That’s not the relationship that they had. Dobby was…

Laura: That was definitely a Jason Isaacs improv moment.

Micah: It was.

Andrew: Okay.

Laura: But it was totally on brand.

Andrew: Yes. [laughs]

Eric: I can 100%… and they wouldn’t even call him by his name; they would say “elf” and he would have to appear. That’s the kind of Malfoy behavior.

Micah: Yeah, and a lot of this we’ve touched on already. Dobby is really an outcast amongst his fellow house-elves. He’s the weird one in the room.

Andrew: But Hagrid already knew that too. Didn’t Hagrid call him the weird one? “There’s always a weird one”?

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: “There’s an odd one in every…” Yeah, yeah.

Laura: Yeah, Hagrid is one to talk, by the way.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Ah, well.

Micah: And Dobby in particular, just to the point that was raised about the movie-ism, he’s had his job physically beaten into him at times. And look, presumably, not all wizarding families with house-elves behave this way, but that’s still not an excuse.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, look at the Blacks. Kreacher and his whole family grow up knowing that the highest that they can ascend to in the household is having their head put on a wooden plaque in the hallway of the stairwell, so that’s great.

Micah: The house-elves, one thing that is worth mentioning that we didn’t talk much about in this episode, is that they do take great pride in their work, and they’re easily offended. And what comes to mind is when the trio are leaving the kitchens and Ron is so willing to take what the house-elves are offering, but Hermione is so standoffish; it never really crosses Hermione’s mind that by not taking something, it could be seen as an offense because of the work that the house-elves put into making the food.

Eric: One of the most telling lines is when Ron says, “Man, this whole time I thought Fred and George were amazing for getting all this food from the kitchens, but now I see that they want you to have it; they hoist it upon you,” and that’s 100% right. And I couldn’t help but be a little saddened and made uncomfortable when I was reading about the house-elves; they’re on their way out and they’re forcing… they’re really offering them additional sweets and everything.

Laura: Well, again, it is ingrained in everything they’ve ever known, and probably the closest they get to people being nice to them is when they’re doing something nice for people, right?

Micah: That’s a great point.

Laura: That’s probably the only time they even get a smidgen of kindness from people, and even then it’s probably not that great.

Micah: Definitely. The clearest example, I’ll say, of the generational trauma that we talked about is with Dobby and the fact that he physically harms himself still to this day, even when speaking poorly about the Malfoys. This idea that old habits die hard, I mean, I would say it’s more than a habit, and this would likely be true of so many of the house-elves were they to be freed, right? They’ve been ingrained with a certain set of practices that… in some cases, it’s been physically instilled in them, not just mentally or emotionally installed in them, but physically instilled in them that if you do or you say something that is against the person who you work for, you need to harm yourself, and that is very disturbing.

Eric: Let’s bring up the mood a little bit; talking about house-elves, I did ask the Discord what other jobs Dobby would be looking for, because we said maybe he doesn’t want to do housework all the time, and people had some really funny ideas. So real quick, TresGatos says, “Minerva’s assistant.” Becky says, “Surfing instructor.” [laughs] That’s totally wild.

Laura: Oh, hell yeah.

Micah: On the Black Lake.

Eric: Yeah. LegalizeGillyweed: “Dobby from accounting.” That could work.

Laura: Oh, I love that.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh, James says, “Actually, I want Dobby to be the next Anna Wintour, premiere house-elf fashion designer.”

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Okay. Lisa Litchfield says, “Hostage negotiator.” Carly says, “Headhunter job consultant.” And here’s my favorite – absolutely should have been very obvious – Justin Sharkey says, “Sock model.”

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Micah: That might be the winner.

Laura: I think that’s a winner.

Andrew: I think he should open a shop called Dobby’s Donuts, and he just makes donuts.

Laura: Oh, man.

Micah: Sock donuts?

Andrew: Sure. Yeah, it could be a cream-filled sock – no, that sounds really bad.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: But I was thinking he could hang the donut…

Micah: [laughs] On the doorknob?

Andrew: … on his nose, when selling them. [laughs] Just it hangs on his nose for a second, then he flips up his head and it gets into your hands or something like that. That could be fun.

Laura: [laughs] I think you should stop.

Andrew: [laughs] Oh, James said, “Dobby Lobby,” like Dobby would buy Hobby Lobby, I guess, with all of his Hogwarts income.

Micah: Yeah. We have one last point here about Winky and how she’s worried about how Mr. Crouch is faring without her. We talked a little bit about this earlier, how ashamed she is for having been the one to break the decades of proud service.

Andrew: Yeah, well, this just reminds me of how in the Muggle world some corporations will make you feel guilty for taking a week off, and one example of this is companies will offer unlimited PTO – unlimited paid time off – “You take as much work as you want off; it doesn’t matter to us.” But really, it’s a ploy to make you feel guilty about taking time off, so then you take less time off. [laughs]

Eric: Huh.

Laura: Yeah, it’s a scam.

Eric: More is less.

Andrew: There’s shame built into the Muggle corporate world to keep you working, and Winky, too, is feeling shame because she feels like she should always be working.

Eric: For me, there’s an extra nuance here about Winky, which is obviously the whole stuff with Barty Crouch, Jr. I see it get in the way when Winky is talking about the Crouch thing, because neither she nor Crouch Sr. will ever mention that Crouch Jr. factored into this at all. Winky was sacked because she let Barty Crouch, Jr. go by accident. Barty Crouch, Jr. overpowered her and got away and cast the Dark Mark, leading to this scandal, and so Winky is feeling like a failure because she really did fail to do something. It isn’t because Crouch was mean for no reason, which is what Hermione thinks it is and what Hermione is trying to comfort her for, so they’re just never going to see eye to eye because of this key difference in what really happened versus what Winky is talking about.

Micah: It’s a really great point. And last time we went through this chapter, I don’t know that we would have spent so much time diving deep into the plight of the house-elves. I think we probably would have been more focused on the plot back in 2010, so while I know this is a challenging discussion at times, I really appreciate you all jumping in and contributing the way that you did.

Andrew: Back at you, Micah. No, it’s a good discussion to have. And we’ve said it before, but one reason we love doing Chapter by Chapter today at the present stage of our lives is because it’s really interesting to read this text with the benefit of more lived experiences and seeing what’s going on in the world and whatnot.

Micah: Absolutely. But the most important thing is that Dobby is back, and he will have a role to play in the rest of Goblet of Fire and the rest of the series.

Andrew: Let’s go get donuts after the show to celebrate the big return of Dobby.

Micah: Let’s do it.

Andrew: Woo!

[Micah laughs]

Odds & Ends

Micah: We did have one Odd & End, though, to close us out.

Laura: Yeah, I didn’t want to miss this. So we’re reminded that Dean Thomas is really good at drawing, so he puts together these elaborate banners for the Gryffindor common room party to celebrate Harry’s triumph at the first task. And of course, they depict Harry’s win and getting the dragon egg, but what they also depict is Cedric Diggory with his head on fire, and I’m like, [laughs] “Dean, that’s a little chaotic.”

Micah: Too soon.

Eric: Too soon. Too early.

Laura: For real!

Eric: It’s going to go from being too early to being way too soon forever.

Andrew: Yes.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, honestly, nowadays if you did that, it would automatically be considered a death threat.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Eric: I mean, yeah, it’s probably a cartoony kind of drawing. I don’t know if that makes it better or worse. It’s the school pride thing; it’s Dean’s own personal retort to “Potter stinks” badges, and I think it’s very funny.

Micah: Well, it also kind of completes the crew, right? We talked about Seamus and Neville and Ron earlier; now you have Dean in the fold. It’s like everybody’s Team Harry, right?

Eric: Oh, that’s a great point. Yeah.

Andrew: Would you call this foreshadowing? We’re kind of circling around that.

Eric: It ain’t not.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: It’s foreboding.

Laura: I think it’s a small nod.

Andrew: Foreboding, yeah. Maybe he cursed him with this move. Maybe Dean is…

Eric: It’s not Krum with his head on fire.

MVP of the Week

Andrew: Okay, it’s time for MVP of the Week.

[MVP of the Week music plays]

Andrew: And I said earlier, Dumbledore sure is a good guy, paying the house-elves. I’m going to give my MVP of the Week to Dumbledore for coughing up some coin for Dobby, and any other house-elf Who will accept it.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: And he even offered more than Dobby wanted! Hermione would have been big mad if she found out Dumbledore refused to pay him.

Eric: Yeah. Speaking of Hermione, she is not smooth ever, nearly ever, but in this chapter she’s extremely smooth. She manages to just coax out of Fred and George, “Oh, yeah, how do you get down to the kitchens, by the way?” And she’s not completely unscathed; they do know what she’s doing, but they tell her first, so good to Hermione.

Micah: I’m going to give it to Dobby’s hug. Best moment of the chapter.

Andrew and Eric: Aww.

Eric: You ever been hugged by shirtless elf?

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: That’s a story for another time.

Laura: Right. [laughs]

Andrew: “Well, one Christmas…”

Micah: Bonus MuggleCast.

[Laura and Micah laugh]

Andrew: “One Christmas in the Castro, I was hugging a shirtless elf.”

Laura: Ah, yes. Anyway. [laughs] I’m going to give mine to Dobby, mainly because I really respect and admire his character, and I love the move that he pulled here to basically be like, “I know that when they say ‘Those who need help will always find it at Hogwarts,’ they didn’t really mean me – they didn’t really mean house-elves – but I’m going to make it about me and I’m going to go to Hogwarts and get some help.” Good job, Dobby.

Andrew: Listeners, if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can email or send a voice memo recorded on your phone to, or you can use our phone number, which is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. We do prefer the voice memos. And also, whether you send us a voice memo – because it is higher quality; that’s why we prefer it – or if you call us, please try to keep your message about a minute long, so for future Muggle Mail episodes we can fit in as many voicemails as possible. And next week we’ll discuss Goblet of Fire Chapter 22, “The Unexpected Task.”


Andrew: But for now, it’s time for Quizzitch.

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s Quizzitch question: What is the pattern of Dobby’s tie when Harry first encounters him in the Hogwarts kitchens? It’s horseshoes! Last week’s winners included Buff Daddy; All Snapes and Sizes; All that rhymes with Yule is making boys a fool and making death look cruel…

[Laura laughs]

Eric: … Cedric Doggery hates Labradors; Dobby’s chest hair…

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Eric: … Dobby’s LinkedIn account includes fanfic about Harry; Elizabeth K.; Excited Huffie Puffie; Harry’s face when he realizes Voldemort died of old age two years ago; If this were reality TV, Karkaroff would have been kicked off; JennyPenny; LC; The ghosts of MuggleCast hosts past… ooh.

Andrew: They’re all still alive, last time I checked.

Eric: They’re all… yeah. The sad pair of Dobby’s socks that just want as much attention as his tie… aw. And finally, With the first pick in the 1995 NFL Draft the Indianapolis Colts select Dobby the Free House-Elf because of his horseshoe tie!

Andrew: That’s another job for him.

Eric: I guess it’s a sports reference. I don’t really understand it.

Andrew: Yeah, sounds like it.

Micah: I’m assuming: colt is a horse, horseshoes…

Andrew: Ohh.

Eric: Cool. Thanks, Micah, our sports correspondent. Here is next week’s Quizzitch question: How many girls ask Harry to the Yule Ball? This is a fun one and has to do with next week’s chapter, “The Unexpected Task.” Submit your answer to us on the Quizzitch form,, or click on “Quizzitch” from the MuggleCast website on the main nav.

Andrew: I’m going to guess it’s more than the number of girls who asked me to prom.

Eric: Which is?

Andrew: One, I think. [sighs] Anyway.

Eric: Well, I technically asked like 600 girls to prom.

Andrew: What do you mean, “technically”? You made a school-wide announcement or something?

Eric: It was morning announcement, yeah.

Andrew: Really!

Micah: How’d it go?

Eric: I said, “Yeah, I want a prom date.” Well, I said, “And in other news, I’m available for prom.”

Andrew: And how many girls came forward?

Eric: My science teacher came forward and said…

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: No, no, wait! Wait, there’s more to it! My science teacher came forward and said that during the morning announcements in her homeroom when I said that, she noticed a girl giggling, and she gave me the name of that girl, who I then found out and actually took to my prom.

Laura: Oh, that’s cute.

Andrew: That’s beautiful.

Micah: I thought that was going in a whole other direction. [laughs]

Eric: No, no, no. I didn’t see that coming at all when I started that sentence. Yeah, no.

Andrew: I give you credit for doing that. That takes guts to go on the morning announcements and do that. I was doing the morning news thing in my school, too; I never would have done that.

Eric: Well, you see, it’s much easier to look into a lens of a camera than to look into the eyes of a girl. Girls are scary.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: So to me it wasn’t anything.

Andrew: Yeah. Okay. Well, listeners, visit for transcripts, social media links, our full episode archive, our favorite episodes, and to contact us. Also, visit our Etsy store where you can buy many cool MuggleCast items, like the Cozy Comfy Combo Pack, which are the beanie and socks at one reduced price. We also have signed album art, really signed by all four of us. We’ve also got wooden cars – the MuggleCast Sweet 16 car. You build it yourself; it’s a really fun project. We’ve got T-shirts, and a lot more, too, so is where you can buy those items. They’re leftovers from various Patreon benefits. This is a while supplies last thing; once these are gone, they are gone. Don’t miss out on these things. They’re really nice; they really are. If you enjoy the show and think other Muggles would, too, tell a friend about the show, and we would also appreciate if you left us a review in your favorite podcast app. And this show is brought to you by Muggles like you. We don’t have any fancy corporate or network funding; we are proudly an independent podcast, just podcasting about our passion for Harry Potter, so we really depend on your support. And to do that, you can go to, or you can tap into the show on Apple Podcasts and subscribe to MuggleCast Gold. You’ll get lots of benefits, including but not limited to ad-free episodes, early access to episodes, bonus MuggleCast installments, a new physical gift every year, and a lot more. So thanks, everybody, so much for your support, and thank you for listening to this week’s episode. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Bye, everybody.

Eric and Micah: Bye.