Dobby was a house elf who is a favorite character for a lot of people. If you have only seen the movies then you may not understand why so many people love this often annoying character but Dobby in the books was a much richer character who had a bigger role to play in the Harry Potter saga than he did in the movies.
Dobby is one of my favorite characters and I was thinking about why I like him recently. I was quite surprised to realize that Dobby and Harry Potter are alike in many ways, which led to me writing this post. So, without further ado, here are 11 ways Dobby is like Harry Potter.
#1 - Dobby and Harry Were Both Slaves
Dobby was a house elf who was born into enslavement. He was magically bound to the Malfoy family and forced to do their every bidding, whether he wanted to or not.
Technically, Harry wasn't a slave but he might as well have been. The Dursleys treated him horribly and expected more of him than anyone should ask of a 10 year old. Early in the first Harry Potter book we see Harry make breakfast for the family on Dudley's birthday, a job that should have been done by either of Dudley's parents, not a child.
#2 - Dobby and Harry Were Both Abused
We don't know specifically what kind of abuse Dobby endured during his time with the Malfoys but given how cruel Lucius and Draco were in the stories we can assume that Dobby was physically, mentally, and verbally abused. Dobby told Harry that he was used to getting death threats "five times a day" from the Malfoys.
It is possible that all physical abuse was only done by Dobby himself. The Malfoys would tell Dobby to do extra punishments when he displeased them, which leads me to believe that they may not have actually harmed him but expected Dobby to do it carry out punishments.
The Dursleys did not physically abuse Harry but they heaped tons of mental and verbal abuse on him. This abuse included forcing Harry to live in a storage area under the stairs where his main companions were spiders.
#3 - Neither Dobby nor Harry Were Mentally Beaten Down by Their Abuse
The amount of abuse that Dobby suffered at the hands of the Malfoys was immense. I can only imagine that most house elves would develop a serious inferiority complex if they were dealt the same abuse Dobby was, but that did not happen with Dobby. He somehow managed to keep his confidence despite his situation. I believe that thinking about Harry Potter gave him hope during his many years of enslavement, which is why he felt the need to save Harry in the second story.
Like Dobby, Harry experienced a lifetime of abuse and neglect by the Dursleys. Most children growing up as Harry did would have withered away mentally, but Harry somehow managed to keep a positive sense of self. He seemed to know that there was something better out there waiting for him.
#4 - Dobby and Harry Were Both Disobedient
It is in a house elf's nature to be completely obedient to the family he serves without question. Dobby, however, knew how poorly he was treated and felt no loyalty to the Malfoy family. Most likely it was their cruel treatment of Dobby that caused him to be disobedient to them by going to Harry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to warn Harry to stay away from Hogwarts.
Harry also felt no loyalty to the Dursleys and looked for ways to disobey them. If he was locked in his room without dinner he waited until Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley were asleep, then quietly snuck into the kitchen to eat his fill. If the Dursleys left him at home alone he would sneak into Dudley's room and play with Dudley's toys.
This streak of disobedience stayed with Harry during his time at Hogwarts. Harry often disobeyed rules, but didn't know that Headmaster Dumbledore knew about Harry's rule breaking and actually encouraged it.
#5 - Dobby and Harry Both Did What They Thought Was Right
Dobby learned that Lucius planned to open the Chamber of Secrets at Hogwarts and he understood the danger this posed to the students of Hogwarts. He feared that Harry Potter would be a target of the monster within and made the decision to warn Harry about the upcoming threat. Dobby wasn't able to give specifics about the Chamber or the monster because of his magical bond to the Malfoys but he did the best he could to warn Harry.
What Dobby did was wrong for a house elf to do (he shared a family secret to someone outside the family without permission to do so) but he knew that warning Harry was the right thing to do. He warned Harry even though he knew that he would need to severely punish himself as a result of his disobedience.
Harry did many things that he thought was right but one of my favorite examples of Harry doing what he thought was right was the creation of Dumbledore's Army. Granted, this organization was Hermione Granger's idea, but Harry agreed and taught students Defense Against the Dark Arts despite the fact that this was against Dolores Umbridge's rules and wishes.
What Harry did was wrong if you just look at the school rules, but he knew that the students were being put in danger by not knowing how to defend themselves against Dark Magic. He was proved right when he, Hermione, Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood were able to survive their fight against Death Eaters at the Magic of Ministry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as a result of the lessons Harry had taught them.
#6 - Dobby and Harry Were Both Fiercely Loyal to Those They Loved
The person Dobby loved more than any other was Harry Potter. He willingly defied his masters to protect Harry from the Chamber of Secrets. He stood up to and attacked Lucius Malfoy shortly after he was freed because Lucius threatened Harry.
Later, as a free elf, Dobby often did whatever he could to help Harry, especially when Harry asked for the help. For example, Dobby tailed Draco Malfoy for Harry in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in an effort to prove that Draco was a Death Eater and up to something bad. He happily did as Harry asked and even skipped sleeping so that he was always watching Draco.
Harry had nobody to love or care about until he went to Hogwarts. It was only then that he found out what it meant to love someone and when he did, Harry loved so deeply that he was sometimes blind to their faults.
Sirius Black is a great example of Harry's fierce loyalty. Sirius was a father figure to Harry and Harry worshipped Sirius. He refused to see that Sirius had flaws, even when they were pointed out to him.
#7 - Neither Dobby nor Harry Attempted to Kill Anyone
There was at least one time when Dobby had the opportunity to kill someone and that was when Harry, Ron, and Hermione were being held captive at Malfoy Manor in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry summoned Dobby, who immediately arrived and worked to save them from the Malfoys and Lord Voldemort. At one point Dobby loosened a chandelier that was above Bellatrix Lestrange, causing it to crash to the ground. Bellatrix was not injured because she moved out of the way but it landed on Hermione.
Given the fact that Hermione was hurt, but not badly so, I think you could easily argue that Dobby meant only to hurt Bellatrix, not kill her. The movie adaptation of this book had Dobby say as much. I am sure that Dobby could have killed Bellatrix if he chose, but killing was not in Dobby's nature.
There was one time when Harry was so angry he contemplated killing someone. That moment came after he overheard that Sirius Black was his Godfather and that Sirius was his parents secret keeper and shared the secret of his parents location with Voldemort. This information was incorrect, since Peter Pettigrew was made secret keeper at the last moment, but Harry and everyone else believed that Sirius was the reason James and Lily Potter were killed.
The anger Harry felt was overwhelming to him, and he even said that he wanted to kill Sirius. But I don't think he could have actually gone through with killing Sirius because he showed mercy to Peter after Harry found out that Peter was the real reason his parents were dead.
When I shared this particular similarity with my husband, he disagreed, saying that Harry tried to kill Voldemort at the end of the story. I suspect many people share his thinking, especially if saw the last movie but didn't read the last book. In the book Harry clearly makes the choice to use the spell Expelliarmus to separate Voldemort from his wand, whereas Voldemort used the killing curse, Avada Kedavra, during that same battle, with the sole intent of killing Harry.
Voldemort died during that battle, but Harry didn't kill him. Voldemort's curse rebounded against Harry's, which then hit Voldemort and killed him.
#8 - Dobby and Harry Were Both Brave
There were several times where Dobby showed how brave he was. The first time was in the second story, just after Lucius Malfoy was tricked by Harry into freeing Dobby. Lucius was furious about losing his house elf and turned on Harry to attack him. That was when Dobby stood up to Lucius, despite knowing what Lucius was capable of, and prevented Lucius from harming Harry by attacking Lucius.
Lucius was beyond shocked to realize that he had just been attacked by his former house elf and turned to attack Dobby in retaliation. Dobby continued to stand up to him and said fiercely, "You shall go now. You shall not touch Harry Potter. You shall go now." And Lucius, who had no choice but to do as Dobby said if he didn't want to be further attacked by Dobby, left.
Harry was every bit as brave as Dobby and the seven books are loaded with examples of his bravery. One such example took place in the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At the very beginning of the school year he dared to tell the students of Hogwarts the truth that Voldemort had returned. Newly appointed Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Dolores Umbridge was enraged to hear this because she was towing the Ministry line that Voldemort had been defeated more than a decade earlier. She forbid Harry from telling such "lies."
Umbridge wasn't the only one telling Harry to stay quiet about what he knew. Professor McGonagall also urged Harry to keep that information to himself out of fear of how Umbridge would punish both Harry and the school. Harry refused to stay quiet, an act that earned him detention with Umbridge. She cruelly forced Harry to write, "I will not tell lies," with a magical quill that cut the message into Harry's hand. Harry understood the threat to himself by telling the truth about Voldemort but he bravely (and, perhaps foolishly,) spoke it anyway.
#9 - Dobby and Harry Both Had Injuries on Their Hands
The second time Dobby went to Harry was when Harry spent the night in the Hospital Wing of Hogwarts because Gilderoy Lockhart accidentally removed the bones from one of Harry's arms. All ten of Dobby's fingers were in bandages and he explained to Harry that he had punished himself for sealing the gateway to Platform 9 3/4, an act that prevented Harry and Ron from getting on the Hogwarts Express, by ironing his hands.
As I explained above, Harry was forced to write the phrase "I must not tells lies" on his hand by the cruel Dolores Umbridge. She was not satisfied with his punishment until the words remained, and they left a scar on Harry's hand that he had for the rest of his life.
#10 - Dobby and Harry Were Both Freed from Their Enslavements
If Harry had not tricked Lucius Malfoy into freeing Dobby then Dobby would have remained a slave to the Malfoy family until he died. It was implied that house elves are almost never freed so Dobby lived his life knowing that there would never be any other life for him. I doubt he ever allowed himself to hope that he might someday be freed from his bondage.
"Come, Dobby, I said, come."
But Dobby didn't move. He was holding up Harry's disgusting, slimy sock, and looking at it as though it were a priceless treasure.
"Master has given a sock," said the elf in wonderment. "Master gave it to Dobby."
"What's that?" spat Mr. Malfoy. "What did you say?"
"Got a sock," said Dobby in disbelief. "Master threw it, and Dobby caught it, and Dobby - Dobby is free."
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry experienced freedom from two different types of bondages. The first was freedom from the Dursleys and the misery they inflicted on Harry on a daily basis the day he got his letter of acceptance to Hogwarts. Yes, he still had to return to their home each summer but Harry was able to endure their abuse much better than he had before because he knew he would eventually leave them and return to his true home in the wizarding world.
The second bondage Harry was freed from was his connection to Voldemort. Over the course of several years Harry came to understand and use the link between the two of them but he never wanted it. He was finally freed from the link when Voldemort was destroyed for good after the Battle of Hogwarts.
#11 - Dobby and Harry Were Both Selfless
Harry summoned Dobby to Malfoy Manor in the final book and movie to save himself and everyone who had been kidnapped and was being held there against their wills. Dobby knew where he was going when Harry summoned him, back to the home he had known for almost his entire life, a home that meant torture, pain, and abuse, yet he did so selflessly to help his friend, Harry Potter.
Dobby once again showed his bravery during this time by standing up to Bellatrix Lestrange when she furiously chastised him for taking Narcissa Malfoy's wand from her. Dobby defiantly responded with, "Dobby has no master! Dobby is a free elf, and Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends!"
This act of selflessness and bravery was his last because Bellatrix responded by fatally stabbing him with her dagger. I think it could be argued that Dobby knew full well that he might die by returning to the Malfoys home at that time. Yet, he went anyway, and did all that he could to help Harry and Harry's friends and gave his life in the process.
The greatest act of selflessness that Harry performed was towards the very end of the final book and movie, when he finally knew that he was a Horcrux and that destroying the Horcrux in him meant he would die with it, and that he had to be killed by Voldemort would was powerful enough to destroy the Horcrux, which would ensure that Voldemort could be killed by someone else. It took every ounce of courage Harry had to walk to his death, but he did. He even made sure he didn't have access to his wand so that he wasn't tempted to fight Voldemort.
Harry walked towards his death. He knew he was going to die, yet he went. There is no greater act of selflessness than willingly dying to save those you love, and that is exactly what Harry did.