When I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 in theatres, I laughed at a particular scene that caused the entire audience to shoot eye daggers at me.
Call me a monster, but I couldn’t stop laughing at Evanna Lynch’s (Luna Lovegood) delivery of her line as Dobby the House Elf lays dead in Daniel Radcliffe’s arms.
It was probably because I had never bothered to read the books up until that point, so the emotional buildup to the scene where Dobby dies didn’t have the same impact on me as it did on everyone else.
And years later with the scene in both the book and the movie in mind, I got to thinking. They totally could have saved Dobby. I mean, Hermione didn’t have her bag or her medicine, but there are ways.
As Minerva McGonagall tells Harry Potter and Ron Weasley over and over in the books, Transfiguration is “Hella difficult”, but as she actually put it:
“Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts. Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned.“
Basically, Transfiguration focuses on the alteration of a body or an object. Sometimes it’s as simple as turning an animal into a goblet or as complex as becoming actually becoming a wolf.
There’s even a formula that determines how difficult it is to transform something that brings in the variables of wand power, viciousness, concentration, and bodyweight(Uncle Dursley would be really hard to transform…).
There’s also been some thought put into Transfiguration’s inability to turn something dead into something that’s alive. For instance, while you can turn a parrot into a goblet you can’t turn a goblet into a parrot, or at least one that would have truly living characteristics.
However, there’s nothing that says Transfiguration can’t stave off death.
Now when Dobby appears on that beach with a knife sticking out of his little stomach, Harry Potter’s first instinct shouldn’t have been to cradle him in his arms. He should have transformed him into a statue of a house elf essentially freezing him in time until they could have gotten him the proper medial care.
The only problem is that a Transfiguration spell doesn’t last forever, so it would require a very powerful witch or wizard to cast a spell that could keep Dobby frozen in time long enough to get him to a hospital. Given that the crew was on the run and they didn’t have great resources, there’s still a high chance that Dobby would die.
But a tea cup can’t bleed to death, so why not just try it?
This link is not-safe-for-life, but it shows you that getting stabbed doesn’t mean you’re going to die.
While the complexities of house elf physiology is a bit of a mystery, I can only assume that the knife thrown by Bellatrix Lestrange into Dobby must have hit a vital organ somewhere in the little elf’s stomach.
HOWEVER, I got to believe that from all of the beatings, stabbings, and magic exploding spells sent careening toward them, house elves should be pretty damn tough.
Anyway, there are a total of seven healing spells known in the Harry Potter universe. They are: Anapneo, Ossio, Dispersimus, Episkey, Ferula, Reparifors, Tergeo, and Vulnera Sanentur. There are also a bunch of spells that aren’t identified that heal wounds, but the one we’re focusing on is Vulnera Sanentur.
While the spell is seemingly only known to Severus Snape… actually that kind of breaks this theory in half. While you’d expect there to be a bevy of healing spells in this world there really aren’t. Snape created the spell specifically to heal wounds created by Sectum Sempra, which was another spell he created to cut people.
HOWEVER, between Harry, Hermione, Ron, Bill, Fleur, Luna, Griphook, and Garick Ollivander I got to believe that one of them knew a spell that could heal a wound created by a knife. I mean it’s not like Dobby was bludgeoned to death or burned alive, he was essentially cut really badly… on the inside.
Basically, they could have just tried to use a healing spell on him and see if it worked.
Ok, so here me out.
Over on some forum thing, they have these ground rules for the Accio charm.
- As long as you know exactly what you want, verbalizing the precise name isn’t necessary (up to and incluing omitting the subject at all). Ref: GoF, Harry vs. dictionary; GoF, Mrs.Weasley vs WWW products
- No line of sight needed. Ref: OotP, twins vs broomstics.
- No need to know the location Ref: HP, Hermione vs Horcrux books.
- No known distance limits (depends on concentration), Hogwarts to grounds is OK Ref: GoF, Harry vs broom
One of the big theories as to why Dobby couldn’t be saved has to do with Hermione losing her bag inside of the Malfoy Manor. Now I’m crazy and did some calculations as to where the super Hogwarts team was and where they transported themselves to.
Now if Accio doesn’t have distance limitations, it can go through buildings, and there was a dire need for a bottle of Essence of Dittany, I’ve got to believe that Harry Potter could have summoned up Hermione’s bag from the Malfoy Manor.
Considering how powerful Harry’s magic can be when he’s under stress and that he knew it was on the ground in the room where Hermione was getting all scared up then he could have zoomed it to him. They could have just tried to summon something that could have helped.
Take Care of Magical Creatures
Do you know what is the weirdest part of Dobby’s death? Everyone blames Hermione.
Now, we know Hermione is the best spell caster of the lot of them, but why does Dobby’s death rest on her? She had just been assaulted by Bellatrix Lestrange and who knows what the heck that crazy Death Eater was doing to her in the manor. Sure, Hermione knows how to use healing potions, but she isn’t Madam Pomfrey.
Healing magic is seemingly very complex and limited, so it would have taken a trained expert to heal someone with the wounds that Dobby suffered. And everyone else could have pitched in a bit more too.
Harry could have done more to disable Bellatrix before they left, Ron could have taken the knife himself to make up for his dickish attitude toward house elves, and Dobby could have been a little more careful not to get hit by a knife.
But if there’s anyone to blame it’s really Hagrid… now hear me out.
Humans, Witches, Wizards, and House Elves are very different creatures. We don’t even know if they’re built the same way as us and even then there’s nothing to say that conventional magic works on them. For instance, Dobby can transport in and out of rooms that are protected by magical barriers, so maybe a healing spell wouldn’t work.
There are so many questions that need answers and do you know who should have had them? Hagrid.
If Hagrid had been a better Care of Magical Creatures professor, he would have told Harry, Ron, and Hermione how to tend to a wounded house elf, but guess what… they dropped the goddamn course because he was a bad teacher.
That being said, if the super trio had been stout enough to have kept on with the course maybe they would have learned about how to take of magical creatures from Professor Grubbly-Plank who presumably took over the course in their last years at school.
Basically, there was a way to save Dobby, but due to some pretty poor education they were left helpless and broke the hearts of many a readers.
Now I’m going to go cry for about ten minutes.