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"I was going to put Stop the Outrageous Abuse of Our Fellow Magical Creatures and Campaign for a Change in Their Legal Status — but it wouldn't fit. So that's the heading of our manifesto"
— Hermione Granger stating the purpose of S.P.E.W.[src]

The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (S.P.E.W.) was an organisation founded in 1994 by Hermione Granger in response to what she saw as gross injustice in the treatment of house-elves at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup[1]

Having been deeply upset at the treatment and general prospects of house-elves, both in Hogwarts and the rest of the wizarding world, Hermione set up S.P.E.W. in order to champion their rights and question their standing in wizarding law and Elf Legislation.

Hermione originally wanted to call the organisation "Stop the Outrageous Abuse of Our Fellow Magical Creatures and Campaign for a Change in Their Legal Status". Since it would not fit on a badge, it was given its current name, though the original name was retained as the heading of the group's manifesto.

History

Founding

"You know, house-elves get a very raw deal! It's slavery, that's what it is! That Mr Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium, and she was terrified, and he's got her bewitched so she can't even run when they start trampling tents! Why doesn't anyone do something about it?"
— Hermione Granger after witnessing the bad treatment of Winky[src]

After witnessing Barty Crouch's cruel treatment toward Winky, Hermione Granger began her campaign for for House-elf rights. While Hermione was at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup, she meet Winky. Winky was a house-elf who, despite her fear of heights, had been sent to the Top Box to hold a seat for her Master, Bartemius Crouch. Winky was plainly terrified at being so high in the air, and Hermione was scandalised. She was first scandalised that Crouch had so casually forced the elf to do something that was so against her wishes, and second, that having demanded this service from Winky, Mr. Crouch did not even appear in the Top Box during the game to make.

She was further dismayed when Mr. Crouch dismisses Winky for the apparently trivial error of having the wand that had cast the Dark Mark into the sky. Hermione thought it cruel that house-elves were neither paid nor given holidays for their work, so she campaigned tirelessly for a change in their working conditions.

Hogwarts campaign

Ron Weasley: "Never heard of it."
Hermione Granger: "Well, of course you haven't. I've only just started it."
Ron Weasley: "And how many members do you have?"
Hermione Granger: "Well, if you two join, three."
— The beginning of S.P.E.W.[src]

At the Start-of-Term Feast at Hogwarts, Nearly Headless Nick mentioned that there had nearly been no feast at all. Upset at not being invited to the feast, Peeves had wreaked destruction in the kitchens and had badly upset the House-elves. Hermione was upset at the news that dinner had been prepared by "slave labour", and refused to eat any more of it, despite being tempted by Ron.

The following day, Hermione ate breakfast hurriedly, saying that there was better ways to fight this than simply abstaining from eating, and departed for the library. Over the next few days, she spent a lot of time in the library, eventually returning with a stack of pamphlets, buttons, and a donations box. She explained the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare to a bemused Ron and Harry, saying that when they joined, the society will have three members. Ron protested that the House-elves are happy as they are, but eventually joins.

Hermione managed to get several students, such as Neville Longbottom, to join (paying a fee of two Sickles), though they only did so to stop her from badgering them. These students included a reluctant Ron Weasley (who thought S.P.E.W was a joke because its name reminded him of gagging) and an indifferent Harry Potter. However, their sickles were overall wasted, as she kept badgering them about the issues of the organisation.[1]

The first "meeting" of S.P.E.W

She would go round the Gryffindor common room shaking her S.P.E.W. badge box at people to make them join. A few seemed interested, but refused when they found they had to pay. Apparently a few other people looked "mildly interested" in the campaign, but there are no further reports of anyone else actually becoming a member. She also offered it to Hagrid, but he refused as well, saying that the elves liked to work. Fred and George Weasley also put in that the house elves were happy to work at Hogwarts.

Hermione also innocently asked Fred and George where they had gotten a supply of pastries that they had brought up to a Gryffindor party. Fred started to tell her where the kitchen is, but then stops, asking her if she was trying to start a house-elf rebellion. Picking up on this, Ron started referring to S.P.E.W. as the "House-elf Liberation Front." Apparently, what Fred had revealed is enough, because shortly after this, Hermione lead Harry and Ron to the kitchens, where they found the Hogwarts house-elves, which had included both Dobby and Winky.

The trio visiting the House-elves in the Hogwarts kitchens

Dobby explained that as a free elf, he now received payment, which made it extremely difficult for him to find work. However, Professor Dumbledore had hired both him and Winky. Harry could not help but notice that the other house-elves looked disconcerted, and seemed to keep their distance from Dobby and Winky. As the trio left the kitchens, Hermione stated that seeing how happy Dobby was would have a good effect on the other house-elves. Harry privately thought that the counter-example provided by the equally free, listless, drunken, wailing Winky was likely more powerful.

The rest of the school thought of the organisation as a joke. And so, with little or no support from her unwilling deputies, Hermione battled on pretty much alone, employing tactics such as badge-making and petitioning, but with very little effect. Eventually, she started knitting hats and socks, which she left lying around Gryffindor Tower, hoping to free some unsuspecting elf who picked them up while cleaning the common room.[1]

S.P.E.W. badges

Becoming infuriated with Hermione's "obsession" with the Society, Ron Weasley started calling the group "spew" and, on occasion parodied the name by inventing S.P.U.G., "Society for the Protection of Ugly Goblins". Hermione angrily replied to this by pointing out that Goblins, unlike house-elves, were capable of defending themselves against wizards on their own.[1]

Harry and Ron became estranged (due to Harry being a Triwizard campion) and Hermione asked Harry to accompany her to Hogsmeade. Harry, after directly asking her if she was hoping to end his and Ron's estrangement, agreed to go but only under his Invisibility Cloak. Sitting in the Three Broomsticks apparently by herself, Hermione stated that she felt foolish, but luckily had brought some S.P.E.W. business along with her that she spread out over the table.

House-elf reaction

While she was busy knitting clothes to give them in order to set them free, the majority of house-elves were accustomed to their work and seemed to enjoy it. They regarded Hermione's actions as insults to their race. Thus, they refused to clean the Gryffindor common room any more, meaning that Dobby was the only one prepared to carry out this task.

Already being free himself, Dobby took all the clothes himself, wore most of them (making a tower of hats on top of his head), and passed some of the others on to Winky in the false hopes of cheering her up.[1] Hermione was not informed of this development, as no one had the heart to tell her.

Impact

Ron Weasley: "Hang on a moment! We've forgotten someone! The house-elves, they'll all be down in the kitchen, won't they?"
Harry Potter: "You mean we ought to get them fighting?"
Ron Weasley: "No, I mean we should tell them to get out. We don't want any more Dobbies, do we? We can’t order them to die for us —"
— Ron finally becoming a S.P.E.W. supporter[src]

In spite of all this, there are indications that S.P.E.W. did eventually enjoy some moderate success, though it is likely that by then it was disbanded. Hogwarts' house-elves participated in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998, in an unusually bold move for their kind, although this may have been a manifestation of their extreme loyalty to their "masters". However, it is possible that their contribution to the battle changed some people's views, as even Ron Weasley, a previous vocal critic of S.P.E.W., demonstrated concern and sympathy for the plight for house-elves at the time, which prompted Hermione to kiss him.[2]

Also, founder Hermione Granger went on to work for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures at the Ministry of Magic, where she continued to work for the rights of magical creatures.[3] She may have re-founded SPEW as a semi-department and part of her Department.

Hermione's idea that house-elves should be treated decently led to Harry attempting to be kind to house-elf, Kreacher, which caused Kreacher to be pleasant in return and tell Harry the story of his master Regulus Black's visit to the Horcrux cave.[2]

Known members

"True, both of them had paid two Sickles for a S.P.E.W. badge, but they had only done it to keep her quiet. Their Sickles had been wasted, however; if anything, they seemed to have made Hermione more vociferous. She had been badgering Harry and Ron ever since, first to wear the badges, then to persuade others to do the same, and she had also taken to rattling around the Gryffindor common room every evening, cornering people and shaking the collecting tin under their noses... Some people, like Neville, had paid up just to stop Hermione from glowering at them. A few seemed mildly interested in what she had to say, but were reluctant to take a more active role in campaigning. Many regarded the whole thing as a joke."
— Hermione campaigning for potential S.P.E.W. members[src]

Behind the scenes

  • As Winky, Dobby, and all of the Hogwarts house-elves were omitted from the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione was never seen stubbornly advocating their rights, thus S.P.E.W. has never been mentioned in the films. It was, however, mentioned in the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when talking to Hermione.
  • Hermione had founded S.P.E.W. because she saw Winky being mistreated and forcibly set free by Mr Crouch. Ironically, one of her campaigns was to set elves free, but in a more civil manner.
  • While Harry and Ron were said to be secretary and treasurer of the group, respectively, both roles were appointed by Hermione before they agreed to join the group. Neither was ever said to have actually accepted these roles, nor were they ever depicted as acting in them.
  • It is highly possible that the organisation was named after the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women (SPEW). The organisation is one of the earliest British women's organisations.[4]

Translations

Language Abbreviation and notes Full name and meaning
Bulgarian S.M.R.A.D.----


smrad "stink"

Сдружение на магьосници за равноправие и авторитет на духчетата
"Association of wizards for equality and authority of house-elves"
Catalan P.E.T.----


pet "a fart"

Prou d'Elfs Tiranitzats
"Enough of Enslaved Elves"
Croatian Z.B.LJ.U.V.----


As the shortened version of izbljuvak, zbljuv "vomit"

Zajednica za boljitak ugnjetavanih vilenjaka
"The Society for the Benefit of Oppressed Elves"
Czech S.P.O.Ž.Ú.S.----


spožús doesn't exist in Czech, just sounds funny

Společnost pro Podporu Občanské a Životní Úrovně Skřítků
"Movement for Better Social and Life Rights of Elves"
Danish F.A.R.----


far "dad"

Foreningen for Alfers Rettigheder
"Society for Elves' Rights"
Dutch S.H.I.T.----


English swear word, "faeces"

Stichting Huiself voor Inburgering en Tolerantie
"House-Elf Foundation for Civic Integration & Tolerance"
Faroese V.A.M.L----


vaml "nausea"

Virði alt minnivirt lív
"Respect all inferior life"
Finnish S.Y.L.K.Y.----


sylky "spit"

Samat yhteiset lait kotitontuillekin -yhdistys
"Same Common Laws for House-Elves Association"
French S.A.L.E.----


sale "dirty"

Société d'Aide à la Libération des Elfes
"Society for Helping the Release of the Elves"
Georgian ედამ (E.D.A.M.)----


Similar to ელამ "squint-eyed"

ელფთა დამოუკიდებლობის აღდგენის მოძრაობა
(Elpta Damouk'ideblobis Aghdgenis Modzraoba)

"Movement of Restoration of Elf Independence"
German B.ELFE.R----


belfer doesn't exist in German, but sounds similar to helfer "someone who helps"

Bund für Elfenrechte
"Alliance for the Rights of Elves"
Greek Μ.Υ.Ξ.Α.----


ΜΥΞΑ "snot"

Μέτωπο Υπέρ Ξωτικών Αναξιοπαθούντων
Hebrew אלרג"ה----


Similar to אלרגיה "allergy"

אגודה למען רווחת גמדוני הבית
"Association for the Welfare of House Elves"
Hungarian M.A.J.O.M.----


majom "monkey"

Manók Alkotmányos Jogaiért Országos Mozgalom
"National Movement for the Constitutional Rights of Elves"
Icelandic S.Á.R.----


sár "wound"

Samtök um Álfaréttindi
"Society of Elf Rights"
Italian C.R.E.P.A.----


crepa is the third person singular simple present (or the second person singular imperative) of the verb crepare, Italian jargon for morire "to die"

Comitato per la Riabilitazione degli Elfi Poveri e Abbruttiti, changed in later versions to Comitato per la Riabilitazione degli Elfi Proletari e Alienati
"Committee for the Rehabilitation of the Poor/Needy and Ugly Elves" & "Committee for the Rehabilitation of the Proletarians and Alienated Elves"
Latvian V.E.M.T.----


vemt "to vomit"

Vergojošo elfu maznodrošinātās tiesības
Lithuanian E.G.G.D. Elfų Gerovės Gynimo Draugija
Norwegian H.I.K.K.----


hikk "hiccup"

Husnissenes Internasjonale Kampkoalisjon
Polish W.E.S.Z.----


wesz "louse"

Walka o Emancypację Skrzatów Zniewolonych
"The struggle/battle for the Emancipation of Enslaved Elves"
Portuguese (Europe) B.A.B.E.----


babe "drool"

Brigada de Apoio ao Bem-estar dos Elfos
"Brigade to Support the Welfare of Elves"
Portuguese (Brazil) F.A.L.E.----


fale "say"

Fundação de Apoio à Libertação dos Elfos
"Foundation to Support the Liberation of the Elves"
Romanian S.P.A.S. Societatea Pentru Apărarea Spiridușilor
"Society For Protecting Elves"
Russian ГАВНЭ (G.A.V.N.E.)----


The acronym translates into an English swear word, "faeces"

Гражданская Ассоциация Восстановления Независимости Эльфов
(Grazhdanskaya Assotsiatsiya Vostanovleniya Nezavisimosti El'fov)

"Civic Association for the Restoration of the Indepence of Elves"
Serbian У.Б.Љ.У.В. (U.B.Lj.U.V.)----


As the shortened version of избљувак (izbljuvak), Убљув (zbljuv) "vomit"

Удружење Бораца за Људска Права Угрожених Вилењака
(Udruženje Boraca za Ljudska Prava Ugroženih Vilenjaka)

"Association of Fighters for a Human Rights of Vulnerable Elves"
Slovak S.O.P.L.O.Š.----


soploš may mean "the one who produces snot"

Spoločnosť pre ochranu práv a legálne oslobodenie škriatkov
Slovenian B.R.U.H.V.----


bruh is the stem of bruhati "to vomit"

Bratovščina razsvetljevalcev ubogih hišnih vilincev
Spanish P.E.D.D.O.----


peddo is a namesake word for pedo "a fart"

Plataforma Élfica de Defensa de los Derechos Obreros
"Elvish Platform for the Defence of the Worker Rights"
Swedish F.I.S.A----


fisa "to fart"

Föreningen för Ideellt Stöd åt Alferna
Thai ส.ร.ร.ส.อ. สนับสนุนสมาคมเรียกร้องสิทธิเอลฟ์
(Sanapsanun Samakma Riak Rong Sitthi En)

"Support Elf Rights Association"
Turkish E.R.İ.T.----


erit "melt"

Ev Cini Refahını İlerletme Topluluğu
"The Society for Prosecution of House Elves' Ease"
Ukrainian ССЕЧА (S.S.E.Ch.A.)----


Sounds like сеча (secha) "urine"

Спілка Сприяння Ельфам-Чорноробам Англії
Vietnamese H.V.Đ.C.Q.L.G.T.


Hội Vận Động Cho Quyền Lợi Gia Tinh

"Organisation of Campaigns for House-elves' Rights"

See also

Appearances

Notes and references

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