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I guess the Sirius inconsistency looks like a missed detail,

That's not the way I read it. I saw it as part of learning that the world isn't strictly divided into saints and sinners, which seemed to be the major point of Order of the Phoenix. We have our flaws, all of us. Sirius could see Crouch's error in his abuse of Winky, but couldn't see his own error in his indifference to Kreacher (who *is* much harder to be nice to, no argument there). That is an inconsistency ... but who among us is always consistent?

but Hermione's attempt to trick the elves into accepting freedom just looks too dumb for Hermione. I understand the creation of S.P.E.W. showing her idealism, but she should have figured out that the Hogwarts house elves aren't interested by now.

I didn't see her as trying to trick them, but as continually making freedom available. And maybe they don't want freedom now because they're sufficiently oppressed they don't know their own desires (see Dumbledore's statement that house elves are what wizards have made them to be) but perhaps over time, if freedom is continually available, they'll come to know themselves better. A bit patronizing, perhaps. But Dobby tells Harry that he's the only one still willing to clean the Gryffindor common room ... Hermione isn't told that. And I'm not going to criticize her for thinking "if they think they prefer slavery that must mean that they don't know themselves ... they'll come around in time."

As for the idea that Hermione should have learned by now that the house elves like their lives ... surely by now Hagrid should realize that all these dreadful creatures he keeps tending are really dreadful ... except he does have a way with them. And in Order of the Phoenix we see how that proves useful. I wouldn't be surprised if something similar happens with the Hermione and the house elves later on.

KrissyLou
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