In a message dated 08/01/2000 10:10:23 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
The next question that comes to mind at this point (at least to
mine) is how the house-elves came to have that "nature" in the
first place. What are their origins? Did they come to be
independently, with the impulse toward service already there? Or
did some primal wizard or group of wizards alter them somehow?
If the latter, does that count as enslavement?
> Our natures are disgusted at this, I
> think, because we are fallen and prone to rebellion against the idea of
> service (which we label derogatorily as subservience, obsequiousness,
> But that's us. We may call a dog's devotion fawning or grovelling (unless
> are its object), but to the dog, it's natural.
It's natural to a dog because it serves a practical purpose in
the social organization of dogs. That it transfers over to
humans in some situations turns out to be beneficial for both
species (by and large. There are dog owners, of course, who take
just as fearsome advantage of the dog's natural inclinations as
the Malfoys did of Dobby's). How about house-elves? Same or
different? Were their impulses directed toward humans (wizards)
originally, or were they =conditioned= to direct them that way?
If the latter, is the resulting symbiosis beneficial?
:::silky voice of the Enterprise computer answers:::"I'm sorry; insufficient
data to answer these questions."
Speaking hypothetically, if a wizard in the past had changed the nature of
house elves to make them love to serve, I suppose you could make a case for
saying that the particular elves so changed were enslaved. However, there
just isn't a mugglish analogy. Elves are magical creatures, with different
natures than ours. Perhaps they are unfallen, and therefore lack the
instinctive rebelliousness of our sinful natures (though of course Rowling
offers no such hints, thank goodness). We just don't know.
However, service seems to be the current dominant value in house-elf society,
as can be seen by the sudden hostility that greeted Dobby when he preached
(somewhat defensively) his ideal of freedom. Much like the village idiot
spouting the praise of folly at a Mensa convention. Poor Dobby can't help it,
he's a bit, you know, off...but trying to convert others arouses the social
The symbiosis seems to work to everyone's benefit, I think; at least,
everyone but Hermione the meddler and Dobby the house-elf village idiot are
happy with it. If the house-elves see no harm in it, why should we?