If you haven’t read the novels, you should. In the last book, Harry inherits Sirius Black’s house which means, he inherits the house elf that goes with the house. This elf is horrid and nasty and mean and they can’t release him from service because he would go and tell Voldemort where Harry Potter is hiding. So, they keep him in their service despite Hermione’s campaign to free the house elves.
But over time, as Harry learns more about what is motivating this house elf and once he begins to treat the elf with compassion and respect as he would any other human worth of his compassion, everything changes. The house elf goes from being a nasty jerk to treating them like royalty! He takes care to make sure the house is clean and cooks up amazing food for them, all because they took the time to be nice to a nasty little old man with a bad attitude.
I thought this was one of the most humanistic lessons in the book. Yes, it’s fantasy and you shouldn’t expect your compassion to make everything hunky dory with everyone you meet. Rather the story serves to remind us that everyone we meet is real. They have their own lives, their own dreams and their own problems. Don’t assume to know what is motivating them. Treat them with compassion and help them if you can. It’s the least you can do. And who knows, you may just end up turning an enemy into a friend.