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In chapter 24 (Bloomsbury) of Deathly Hallows -- The Wandmaker -- Harry and Griphook the goblin have a conversation wherein Harry asks for Griphook's help in breaking into Gringotts to retrieve the Hufflepuff cup Horcrux from the Lestranges' vault. Griphook seems to hold Harry in at least higher esteem than he would probably hold most wizards, commenting on Harry taking the time to bury Dobby and that Harry rescued a goblin (himself) from harm.

Yet after the Gringotts break-in, Griphook double crosses the trio, both turning them over to Gringotts security and leaving them to what would have been almost certain death, with the trio being lost without help in deepest recesses of Gringotts, without a way out, had the dragon not been there to use to escape. Griphook took the Sword of Gryffindor and left Harry, Ron, and Hermione essentially for dead.

Deathly Hallows does explain the history between goblins and wizards is extensive and very contentious. But still!

Why did Griphook double cross Harry?

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    Quoting wikipedia: A goblin is a legendary evil or mischievous creature; a grotesquely evil or evil-like phantom. It is in his nature. – NominSim Aug 29 '12 at 12:32
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    I do not think it fair to give the generic definition of a goblin, without at least confirming that they are essentially the same in the HP works. – John O Aug 29 '12 at 13:12
  • @JohnO I don't know that it is "unfair" to imply that the goblins in Harry Potter are essentially based on traditional goblins, and therefore should have essentially the same characteristics, especially in the context of a comment not intended to be taken as an answer. – NominSim Aug 29 '12 at 13:27
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    A goblin's loyalty lies to his profession rather than to individuals, or even their own lives. This is typically true for goblins. A banker must not let the bank be compromised. – Gorchestopher H Aug 29 '12 at 14:13
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    @GorchestopherH - technically speaking, Lehman doesn't employ anyone since 2008 :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 29 '12 at 17:12
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+50

First of all, he did NOT double cross them, strictly speaking.

The deal was for him to help the trio break into Lestrange's vault - NOT to help them get back out.

Griphook DID get them all the way into the vault so he fulfilled the letter of his bargain 100%.

For that matter, he even did MORE than the bargain and helped them get the cup while in the vault:

It was Griphook who had seen it [sword with the cup on it] and Griphook who lunged, and in that instant Harry knew that the goblin had never expected them to keep their word.

Now, you may wonder why he didn't go above and beyond, and helped them get out which was NOT part of the bargain. For that, see the next section.


There is no direct canon proof, but it can be easily inferred:

  • Bill Weasley very explicitly told Harry about Goblin ideas of ownership:

    “Then I have to say this,” Bill went on. “If you have struck any kind of bargain with Griphook, and most particularly if that bargain involves treasure, you must be exceptionally careful. Goblin notions of ownership, payment, and repayment are not the same as human ones.
    ...
    ... However, there is a belief among some goblins, and those at Gringotts are perhaps most prone to it, that wizards cannot be trusted in matters of gold and treasure, that they have no respect for goblin ownership.

  • The Sword was pretty much one of the main Goblin made artifacts.

    “Wizarding arrogance again! That sword was Ragnuk the First’s, taken from him by Godric Gryffindor! It is a lost treasure, a masterpiece of goblinwork! It belongs with the goblins. The sword is the price of my hire, take it or leave it!”

  • Griphook probably had an inkling that Harry intended to keep the sword, at least temporarily. And even if not, he would have considered it to be a natural move for a wand-carrier, even a slightly more evolved one like Harry.

    Harry/Ron pretty much gave himself away when negotiating:

    “I want the sword. The sword of Godric Gryffindor.”
    Harry’s spirits plummeted.
    “You can’t have that,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
    “Then,” said the goblin softly, “we have a problem.”
    “We can give you something else,” said Ron eagerly. “I’ll bet the Lestranges have got loads of stuff, you can take your pick once we get into the vault.”
    He had said the wrong thing. Griphook flushed angrily.
    “I am not a thief, boy! I am not trying to procure treasures to which I have no right!”
    “The sword’s ours—”

    And later - after taking an obvious half-time break for discussion:

    Hermione frowned at the floor while he was speaking; he felt irritated at her, afraid that she might give the game away.
    However, Griphook had eyes for nobody but Harry.
    “I have your word, Harry Potter, that you will give me the sword of Gryffindor if I help you?”
    “Yes,” said Harry.
    “Then shake,” said the goblin, holding out his hand.
    Harry took it and shook. He wondered whether those black eyes
    saw any misgivings in his own
    . Then Griphook relinquished him, clapped his hands together, and said, “So. We begin!”

    ... and later

    The door of the bedroom opened and Griphook entered. Harry reached instinctively for the hilt of the sword and drew it close to him, but regretted his action at once. He could tell that the goblin had noticed.

  • Therefore, as far as Griphook was concerned, this pre-emptive move was 100% logical and sensible.

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    Now THAT is an answer. – David Stratton Aug 30 '12 at 4:02
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    @DavidStratton - I hope that was said in a heavy Aussie accent :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 30 '12 at 11:16
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    Exactly, Griphook knew Harry had no intention of returning it and that he had no chance of standing up to the boy of legend (even if his success was more luck and wit than skill with the wand in a magical duel, Griphook didn't know this). – Michael Brown Mar 13 '13 at 22:14
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    That's not a knife... – Michael Brown Jun 12 '14 at 14:23
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IIRC, He doesn't see it as a double cross.

He promised to help them get into Gringotts and retrieve the cup. He did just that, he never promised to help get them out again.

Plus, there is the additional factor that the sword that was to be payment for this help was something Griphook considered as belonging rightfully to the Goblins anyway - would you consider something that was yours anyway fair payment for a task as large as Griphooks?

  • Plus Goblin's ownership laws do not seem like human's. For example, Griphook said rightful ownership belonged to Ragnuk, and when Godric took the sword - he didn't have rightful ownership. So the sword rightfully belongs back to Ragnuk's estate, likely administered as a common-shared-good for all descendants of Ragnuk I think. "Likely" - cause I can't recall where in the texts I got that impressions of goblin's nuanced views on ownership and inheritance. – Ammar Naseer Sep 26 '18 at 16:02

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