By Kelly Bohrer
The magical world of Harry Potter is a fantastic place inhabited by many strange and wonderful creatures. But while magical creatures are frequently seen, they are often shunted into secondary roles. There are moments, however, when these creatures take center stage. As Harry progresses through each year at Hogwarts, he has been introduced to different types of magic creatures. Some, such as goblins, centaurs, houses elves and werewolves, are essentially beings, similar to humans. Others, such as phoenixes, dragons and hippogriffs, are magical animals. Finally there are some that defy easy classification. Giants and Merpeople would hardly fit in amongst average wizards, yet they clearly aren’t animals. Dementors, meanwhile, are more like something out of a nightmare than living creatures.
All of these creatures and more have played important roles in the series so far. Some have saved Harry’s life during his first six years at Hogwarts while others have tried to kill him. As Harry embarks on his ultimate quest to vanquish the Dark Lord in the final book of the series, these creatures may once again step into the spotlight. Some may risk their lives to help him win the war, while others may remain neutral or side with Lord Voldemort. What is sure is that the choices these remarkable creatures make in the upcoming war will play an important role in whether or not good triumphs over evil.
Fawkes is Dumbledore’s pet phoenix, although it is known that phoenixes are extremely difficult to domesticate. According to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the phoenix is a magnificent creature that is approximately the size of a swan.1 Fawkes has a brilliant crimson color with a golden tail and talons.
Phoenixes are extremely powerfully magical creatures. One example of this is the healing properties of phoenix tears. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry receives a fatal wound from the basilisk fang, which Fawkes heals with his tears. Another example is the phoenix’s song, which soothes and increases courage in the hearts of the pure. Phoenixes also have the ability to appear and disappear at will. One of Fawkes’s most important achievements was when he saved Dumbledore’s life at the Ministry of Magic:
Fawkes swooped down in front of Dumbledore, opened his beak wide, and swallowed the jet of green light whole. He burst into flame and fell to the floor, small, wrinkled, and flightless.2
After swallowing the killing curse, Fawkes did not die because Harry saw him on the floor as a tiny baby bird who was reborn.
After Dumbledore’s death, Harry heard the sound of a phoenix’s lament and realized that this music was not merely around him; rather it was inside of him. Later when Fawkes’ song was over Harry “knew, without knowing how he knew it, that the phoenix had gone, had left Hogwarts for good, just as Dumbledore had left the school, had left the world…had left Harry.”3
At Dumbledore’s funeral, Harry believes that he sees a phoenix fly into the sky. This implies that Fawkes is gone. However, Harry is still fiercely loyal to Dumbledore and in the past Harry has been able to receive help from Fawkes when he most needed it. Harry’s wand also has a tail feather from Fawkes, as does Voldemort’s wand. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we learn that Harry’s and Voldemort’s wands are not able to work properly against each other. We still do not know the significance of Fawkes’s tail feather as the core of their wands, but this mystery gives us hope that Fawkes is not really gone, but will appear when Harry needs him most.
House-elves are small creatures that have enormous eyes and large bat-like ears. Most house-elves serve Wizarding families who are very rich, and they usually perform menial tasks, such as cleaning and cooking. While they are enslaved, house-elves wear items of clothing such as a pillowcase or a tea towel. If a house elf is given clothes by his or her master, they are free from their service and are no longer bound to the family, which is often seen as an extremely shameful occurrence in the eyes of the elf.
In Goblet of Fire, Hermione starts a club called S.P.E.W., which stands for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. Her purpose is to educate the house-elves in order for them to gain more freedoms, such as receiving payment for their work. However, the house-elves are offended by her because they are perfectly happy serving wizards, and they consider receiving wages as well as clothes to be a great insult to their kind. It remains to be seen if Hermione will resume her efforts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to fight for the rights of the oppressed house-elves, or what impact this might have on the war.
House-elves are very intelligent and powerful creatures. They have a magic of their own, which does not require the use of a wand. We have seen many examples of their magic throughout the Harry Potter series. For example, in Chamber of Secrets, Dobby succeeds in knocking Lucius Malfoy down the stairs when Lucius tries to harm Harry. When Lucius pulls out his wand, Dobby raises a finger and says, “You shall go now. You shall not touch Harry Potter. You shall go now.”4 Mr. Malfoy, who is a very powerful man, leaves after Dobby makes this statement, which shows us that house-elves can have a powerful influence over wizards. Another example of house-elves’ power is when Dobby disappears from Harry’s bedside. Since it is impossible for a wizard to Apparate within Hogwarts, the house-elves clearly have a type of powerful magic that ordinary wizards do not possess because they can disappear and appear at will in the castle.
These examples of house-elf magic have strong implications for their role in the seventh book. House-elves would be a tremendous asset in the war, but since they are bound to serve their masters, those belonging to wizarding families will be unlikely to fight. However, the largest number of house-elves at any dwelling in Britain lives at Hogwarts, where they number over one hundred.5 If Professor McGonagall continues as the new headmistress, then she could organize these elves into a formidable defense of Hogwarts.
In addition to the Hogwarts elves, Harry owns a house-elf of his own, Kreacher. Dobby is also fiercely loyalty to him because Harry was the one who freed Dobby from the Malfoys. Dobby is more than happy to follow Harry’s directions in any way that he can. For instance, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry asks Dobby to find a place where he can hold D.A. meetings in secret from Umbridge, and Dobby finds the perfect place, the Room of Requirement. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry asks both Dobby and Kreacher to follow Draco Malfoy and to report the Slytherin’s movements back to Harry. By the end of the book, Harry has never given Kreacher and Dobby the order to stop following Malfoy. Since house-elves are bound to follow orders, this implies that Kreacher and Dobby may still be following Draco in the seventh book. Perhaps they will discover some vital information that will help Harry in the war.