Harry Potter and the Deathly Socks

Julia D'Amato, Contributing Writer

If you told me a week ago that a fictional house-elf resembling Prince Charles was contributing to our world’s climate change problem, I’d laugh in your face. If you added that you discovered this through The New York Times, I’d likely wheeze. Unfortunately, during the week of October 31st, I have become desensitized to such information. Upon reading about Dobby’s unintentional contributions to global warming, it has become gravely clear that Harry Potter fans, self-proclaimed “Potterheads”, have gone too far. 

Despite their well-meaning (yet strange) intentions, these “Potterheads” have caused a ruckus.”

The facts are these: JK Rowling’s 7-book Harry Potter series introduced beloved house-elf Dobby in the second book. Small, apologetic, and adorable, Dobby is an easy character to love. So it is no surprise that his fans have been leaving hundreds of socks, trinkets, and painted pebbles at the character’s memorial on Freshwater West Beach, located in Pembrokeshire, Wales—the location where the elf’s death scene was shot in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One.

Despite their well-meaning (yet strange) intentions, these “Potterheads” have caused a ruckus. In late October, the conservation charity group National Trust Wales issued a statement. After reviewing Dobby’s memorial site for eight months, they came to the conclusion that there was no need to shut down the memorial. However, they also stated that “Potterheads” must be prohibited from leaving any future items at the site. Visitors are limited to photographing the memorial. 

Freshwater West is a heavily protected location, being a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a European Designation of Special Protection Area, and a Special Area of Conservation. It is home to seals, seabirds, and other animals. 

This information is shocking. So is the fact that two new charities are now forming with the purposes of preventing new socks, trinkets, and painted items from being left at Dobby’s grave. I am experiencing disbelief. How can an invented character lead to an eight-month site review and the implementation of extremely heavy protections? How can this unreal character endanger real local creatures, simply through being adored? I am only slightly joking when I say this should not have happened. JK Rowling is ruining the world.

Although this isolated littering may not be a very dangerous example of pollution compared to many other sites, every action that worsens climate change should be taken seriously in this day and age. More than 1 million species are at risk of extinction due to climate change. If that animal anecdote didn’t scare you, know that wildfires claimed more than 2,000,000 acres of California land last year alone.

Dobby the house-elf’s popularity is playing a role in the warming of temperatures, extremity of natural disasters, and rising sea levels. At the same time, he is simply not real. Dobby is an elf! Potterheads and Dobby fans need to stop leaving their unwanted stinky socks by his shrine, and let the elf—and the earth—rest in peace.