If you haven’t read the Harry Potter books or had an in-depth discussion with a Harry Potter-fanatic friend, the acronym S.P.E.W probably won’t mean much to you. Frankly, after spending a lot of consecutive Christmasses rewatching the film series, I forgot the small, intricate differences in plot and characterisation myself, and the pro-Elfish rights group was probably among the first of many minor book points to slowly leak out of my head. However, recently, upon finding myself stuck on long commutes to and from work with limbs pressed against me and smelly breath invading my personal space, listening to Stephen Fry’s silky voice was something I really needed to make sure that I didn’t crack under the pressure of London rush hour. So when, in The Goblet of Fire, we are introduced to the acrophobic house-elf Winky, I remembered with bemused confusion the farce that was Hermione Granger’s first attempt to bring about positive change for the poor “slaves”, as she so passionately puts it.
So what’s the problem with that, you’re probably wondering? Why would it be such an issue that Hermione wants to help those who are at a disadvantage to wizards? What could you possibly say, Shannii (if that’s even your real name), that would be a good argument against the basic human instinct to try to help those in need? You would be right to ask those questions of me, of course! To some extent, I will agree with you. I do not deny that those of us who have the most in society should feel a moral duty to help those around us. In an ideal world, no one would be treated as subordinate because of their race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or (in the case of Harry Potter) species. Dumbledore’s affirmation “It’s our choices… that show what we truly are” would not only be accurate but also a practised and embraced worldview. That’s the world that I hope I can at least try to help accomplish. So, with the fact that I don’t agree at all with the enslavement of house-elves firmly in your minds, let’s continue with the actual issue when it comes to ‘being a Hermione Granger’ on this specific occasion.