PotterTime 4: Harry Potter and the Boy Who Had No Choice (Part 2)
December 9, 2020
In my last PotterTime segment, I went over the first two books in the Harry Potter series and reviewed the nature of Draco Malfoy’s upbringing. This PotterTime will analyze Draco’s third through fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to showcase that Draco Malfoy deserved the redemption he was denied. As always, there will be spoilers, so be warned.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban reveals many insights to Draco’s character. He is first introduced to this book in a similar manner from the first book when he asks for Harry’s friendship. Draco, once again, enters Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and the sleeping Professor Remus Lupin’s train compartment. Page 80 reads, “’Well, look who it is,” said Malfoy in his usual lazy drawl, pulling open the compartment door. “Potty and the Weasel.” Crabbe and Goyle chuckled trollishly. “I heard your father finally got his hands on some gold this summer, Weasley,” said Malfoy. “Did your mother die of shock?’” Why does Draco seek out arguments with others? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Draco has a constant need to prove himself due to his father’s cold demeanor and exceedingly high expectations. Draco strives to be the center of attention, which brings me to believe that he may not have received the attention, love, and care from his parents, but instead was spoiled with objects as a substitute. This, combined with his parents raising him to believe in their backwards ideals and believing the Mafloys are practically royalty, contribute to his negative character as a boy growing up. To put it simply, Draco is a jerk. Bullying his friends gives him the attention and power he craves along with a chance to prove that he is better than those he attacks. One way he can prove that he is above Harry and Ron, who are constantly glorified and the centers of attention (which makes Draco extremely jealous), is to make fun of Ron’s financial situation. The Malfoys are one of the wealthiest wizarding families while the Weasleys typically struggle to get by. Harry has a small fortune left to him by his dead parents, so Draco isn’t able to gain ground above him in that area, but Ron does not. By asserting himself in a position of higher status and wealth and making fun of what Ron does not have, it allows him to feel as if he is proving himself better than his rivals. Not to mention, we know that the way Draco acts is learned behavior based on what he’s learned by example from Lucius Malfoy, as I mentioned in the last PotterTime, an article from Pottermore told us, “Much of Draco’s behaviour at school was modelled on the most impressive person he knew – his father – and he faithfully copied Lucius’s cold and contemptuous manner to everyone outside his inner circle.” Children often mimic their parents behaviors, and Draco’s father, Lucius Malfoy was shown as a horrible person throughout the Harry Potter series. Draco was practically raised and praised to be a bully. Once Draco realizes that there is a teacher in the compartment, he leaves the four alone. This showcases that as much as Draco wants to prove himself, he is in the end scared of hurting his father’s reputation. Lucius is on the school board, so Draco knows that whatever he does will get back to Lucius. As he gets older, Draco learns that he isn’t just looking at his father in admiration, but instead in fear. Lucius is certainly a powerful dark wizard and Draco will soon come to terms with the fact that powerful and respected doesn’t always mean good. Draco doesn’t want to risk getting his family involved, which is a huge factor that grows more and more important as the series progresses.
When dementors (soul sucking creatures that guard the wizard prison, Azkaban, and suck away your happiness whilst bringing up memories of your most terrifying memory) come aboard the Hogwarts Express looking for Azkaban escapee Sirius Black, Harry comes face to face with one and faints. On page 87, Draco hears about this from Neville Longbottom and is quick to tease Harry. Later, page 97 reads, “George looked up in time to see Malfoy pretending to faint with terror again. “That little git,” he said calmly. “He wasn’t so cocky last night when the dementors were down at our end of the train. Came running into our compartment, didn’t he, Fred?” “Nearly wet himself,” said Fred, with a contemptuous glance at Malfoy.” You would think that Draco, being the only child in the Malfoy family, wouldn’t have too many terrible fears or experiences that he lived through. It’s obvious that the dementors didn’t just scare him, they terrified him. The dementors must have brought back a very traumatic experience for Draco, otherwise he would have thought twice about running into a train compartment with Fred and George Weasley, two members of the family his family despised, especially if he really “nearly wet himself” as Fred mentioned. While this moment in the book is small, it does suggest that Draco has more skeletons in his closet than what will later be revealed.
As the year progresses, the third years attend a Care of Magical Creatures class where they are introduced to Buckbeak the hippogriff. A hippogriff is part horse and part eagle, and a dangerous animal if not handled properly. On page 114, Hagrid says, “Easily offended, hippogriffs are. Don’t never insult one, ‘cause it might be the last thing yeh do.” In the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film, Draco charges up to the hippogriff without warning, insults it, and gets his arm slashed open. In the books however, a slightly different scene occurs. Rather than rushing the hippogriff unannounced as he does in the movies, Draco properly bows to the hippogriff as instructed and gets a bow in return. Page 118 describes, “He had bowed to Malfoy, who was now petting his beak, looking disdainful. “This is very easy,” Malfoy drawled, loud enough for Harry to hear him. “I knew it must have been, if Potter could do it… I bet you’re not dangerous at all, are you?” he said to the hippogriff. “Are you, you great ugly brute?” It happened in a flash of steely talons; Malfoy let out a high-pitched scream and next moment, Hagrid was wrestling Buckbeak back into his collar as he strained to get at Malfoy, who lay curled in the grass, blood blossoming over his robes.” There are many things you can take away from this section of the book. For one, Draco was obviously not listening to Hagrid when he warned the class not to insult the hippogriffs. But in all seriousness, Hagrid should have never started the new class of thirteen year olds, who had most likely never before been confronted with magical beasts, with a lesson on hippogriffs. Hippogriffs would be better suited for an older, much more experienced class. He should have at least introduced them later in the year as opposed to the first lesson. Of course it was Draco’s fault that he got hurt, but the hippogriff shouldn’t have been the lesson in the first place. The second thing I’d like to point out is that Draco didn’t insult the hippogriff out of hatred or malice, rather he was trying to prove himself better than Harry Potter, who had managed to ride the same hippogriff before Draco. Draco’s envy of Harry persists as he gets older and Harry accomplishes more amazing feats and breaks more rules only to dance around the punishments. Given that Draco was raised to command everyone’s respect and attention, his envy for Harry is somewhat justified. This is exactly how he has been trained to act. Once Draco is healed, he most definitely fakes still being injured to milk all the attention he can from his classmates. It’s pretty sad that Draco is so desperate for someone’s attention that he feels the only way he can gain it is through physical pain, which may be a direct result of his emotionally distant and manipulative upbringing.
In this book, it is believed that the supposed mass murderer and Azkaban escapee Sirius Black is hunting Harry Potter in revenge for the fall of Voldemort. While Harry knows next to nothing of the event, Draco has been told details that have been kept from Harry. Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy wouldn’t have told Draco the whole story as that could have put fellow Death Eaters in jeopardy if Draco let something slip, but they told him enough so that he knew the general event. What actually happened was the Potters needed a Secret Keeper, one person who knows where they reside and they are the only person who can tell people where the others are, who are hidden by enchantments until revealed by the Secret Keeper. The Potters’ Secret Keeper was Sirius Black, however Sirius convinced the Potters to move the responsibility to Peter Pettigrew, which was unbeknownst to everyone else. Peter double crossed the Potters by joining the Death Eaters and selling them out to Voldemort. Once Sirius realized what had happened, he was overcome with guilt and anguish. He set out to kill Peter in his anger. Instead of Peter being killed, Peter caused an explosion that killed 12 muggles, cut off his finger, turned into a rat and ran away. Sirius was sent to Azkaban without a trial for Peter’s crimes and nobody knew that it was actually Peter Pettigrew who was the Death Eater. That is, except for the other Death Eaters who wouldn’t possibly consider clearing Sirius’ name, as he was a Blood Traitor and enemy of Voldemort. Draco grew up believing that Sirius Black had betrayed the Potters. This information had been kept from Harry. On page 127, Draco finds out that Harry didn’t know what Sirius had supposedly done. Draco says, “Of course, if it was me, I’d have done something before now. I wouldn’t be staying in school like a good boy, I’d be out there looking for him.” Later on the same page, he tells Harry, “Maybe you’d rather not risk your neck. Want to leave it to the dementors, do you? But if it was me, I’d want revenge. I’d hunt him down myself.” This small section of chapter seven tells me so much about Draco. He straight up tells us that if someone had betrayed his family, he would fight to get revenge for what they had done. At this point, Draco does not realize his family’s toxicity and is willing to face large consequences to keep them safe, or in this instance, avenged, no matter the danger. This shows that he deeply cares about his family and comes into play later in the series as well. In this scene, Draco had the opportunity to tell Harry what Sirius had done, but he did not. It may have been so that he could have something to hold over Harry’s head and to make him feel powerful. It may also have been because even though Harry was Draco’s enemy, Draco wouldn’t want to burden Harry with the fact that his dad’s best friend had led to his demise. That shouldn’t come from Draco, it should come from one of Harry’s parental figures. Draco would have known this, and telling Harry would have been a sort of vicious victory for him, but he refrained from hurting Harry in this way and left the subject alone after hinting that Harry should find out. Draco did not have ill intentions in this scene, rather he knew that he would want revenge and figured Harry would too, so he gave Harry a push in the right direction because he believed Harry deserved to know what happened with his family and Sirius Black.
The Shrieking Shack is one of the most famous haunted places in the wizarding world. While Hermione and Ron are seeing it during their trip, Draco and his friends happen to be sightseeing at the same time. The book says on page 279, “’… should have an owl from Father any time now. He had to go to the hearing to tell them about my arm… about how I couldn’t use it for three months…” Crabbe and Goyle sniggered. “I really wish I could hear that great hairy moron trying to defend himself… ‘There’s no ‘arm in ‘im, ‘onest-’ … that hippogriff’s as good as dead-‘” It’s no secret that Draco doesn’t like Hagrid. If you had read my first PotterTime, you would know that Lucius most likely told Draco lies and disrespected Hagrid. He passed down his disregard for Hagrid to Draco before Draco even met him. Draco dislikes Hagrid even more once he befriends Harry Potter and makes them go into the Forbidden Forest for detention. Now he has been attacked by a creature Hagrid deemed safe for thirteen year olds. Of course he is going to celebrate the hearing, especially if it’s earned his father’s approval. Not to mention, Hermione (an enemy of Draco and a “mudblood”) later hits Draco because he spoke badly about Hagrid, entirely disrespecting him because of Hagrid. When he insults Ron on the same page, saying, “Suppose you’d love to live here, wouldn’t you, Weasley? Dreaming about having your own bedroom? I heard your family all sleep in one room- is that true?” He insults Ron by repeating what he had heard. It’s a stretch to say that Draco was genuinely asking Ron about his home, but for all Draco knew it very well could have been true. I wouldn’t put it past his parents to degrade the Weasleys in every way possible, effectively scaring Draco into never wanting to become a so-called blood traitor.
When the verdict of Buckbeak’s trial deems the hippogriff to be executed, Draco is pleased. This is understandably concerned as Draco is showing pleasure in the death of an animal. However, if you really look into it, it’s not as black and white as it may seem. Firstly, Draco has been brought up to disrespect and disregard anyone and anything that is not a pureblood wizard. This means Draco has grown up to learn to undervalue people and all creature’s lives, such as hippogriffs. Draco has been taught that this kind of thing is not only acceptable, but expected. Lucius most likely encouraged this behavior, and as he was one of the people advocating for Buckbeak’s death, and prompted Draco to watch it happen just as he would do. Draco, who never wanted to disappoint his father, would of course obliged without a second thought. Hagrid mentions on page 328 that Lucius is friends with the executioner. Clearly the concept of the death of those considered beneath the Malfoys is no stranger to Draco. It’s unsurprising that Draco reacts in a positive way to the death warrant of the creature who mauled his arm as that is what he has been brainwashed to believe is right. Draco’s middle three years at Hogwarts are especially important to his character development. He begins to discover that not everything his parents say is true and make his own choices, however limited they may be.
The Quidditch World Cup is a massive Quidditch tournament that is one of the first major scenes in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In relation to part one of this PotterTime, we already know that Draco loves Quidditch. When Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys go to the Cup in the summer before their fourth year, they unsurprisingly run into Draco and his family. Lucius and Arthur Weasley in front of the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, meet on page 101 and the book reads, “’Good lord, Arthur,” he said softly. “What did you have to sell to get seats in the Top Box? Surely your house wouldn’t have fetched this much?’” This puts Draco’s comments towards the Weasleys into perspective. Obviously Draco learned that it was okay to bully others, particularly the Weasleys, it’s completely okay. Lucius says that directly to Arthur right in front of the person who is in the highest position in the Ministry of Magic. This is the only example that Draco had been raised with, so it is the one he has been led to believe is right. However this same night, Draco does something against everything he has been led to believe that is thinly veiled in discontempt.
In chapter nine, a group of Death Eaters form and begin to assault the Muggles at the campsite. Page 119 describes, “High above them, floating along in midair, four struggling figures were being contorted into grotesque shapes. It was as thought the people above them were marionettes operated by invisible strings that rose from the wands into air. Two of the figures were very small.” The terror continues on the next page, reading, “One of the marchers below flipped Mrs. Robberts upside down with his wand; her nightdress fell down to reveal voluminous drawers and she struggled to cover herself up as the crowd below her screeched and hooted with glee.” The Death Eaters were humiliating, harassing, and torturing a Muggle family. The trio was forced to flee the burning campsite into the woods where they met the one and only Draco Malfoy. What happens next is something that flies over many people’s heads, but is essential to the makeup of Draco’s character. On page 121-122, Ron and Draco have a small spat, and the book says, “’Hadn’t you better be hurrying along, now? You wouldn’t like her spotted, would you?” (Malfoy) nodded at Hermione, and at the same moment, a blast like a bomb sounded from the campsite, and a flash of green light momentarily lit the trees around them. “What’s that supposed to mean?” Hermione said defiantly. “Granger, they’re after Muggles,” said Malfoy. “D’you want to be showing off your knickers in midair? Because if you do, hang around… they’re moving this way, and it would give us all a laugh.” “Hermione’s a witch,” Harry snarled. “Have it your way, Potter,” said Malfoy, grinning maliciously. “If you think they can’t spot a Mudblood, stay where you are.’’’ At first glance, this is just another one of Draco’s typical rude digs at Hermione’s blood status. In actuality, it is so much more. First of all, Draco is really warning Ron to keep Hermione safe. He knows that the Death Eaters are coming this way and tells them to hurry so they don’t get hurt. He knows that Hermione will be targeted and immediately tries to secretly move the three to safety. Second of all, this shows that Draco doesn’t entirely agree, or in the very least believe, the pureblood propaganda lies. Many pureblood wizards believe that Muggleborns are not in fact witches and wizards, but Muggles who stole their magical abilities from a one. This is, of course, impossible, but many used this belief to help justify the persecution of “Mudbloods”. When Harry callenges Draco and tells him that Hermione is indeed a witch, Malfoy doesn’t disagree. This shows that he does believe that Hermione is a witch and never stole her magical ability, which directly contrasts with what he had grown up to believe. Draco is starting to form his own opinions and beliefs, and although he still believes Muggleborns to be beneath him, he is slowly realizing not everything is how it seems. Third of all, Draco warns Harry, Ron, and Hermione that the Death Eater’s know that she is of Muggle descent and that she is in danger. This goes against everything he has been taught. Draco’s parents would encourage the violence against Muggleborns, not protect them. This shows us that Draco is capable of change and that he doesn’t completely buy the lies he’s being fed. Fourth of all, Draco is scared to go against his parents. The way that Draco tells Hermione to go somewhere to be safe tells us a lot about him. Draco very intelligently disguises his good intentions with his usually cold and malicious manner. If Draco had revealed that he was staying from his family’s belief system, being disowned as a blood traitor would be the least of his worries. His fear of failing his parents overcomes his good intentions, and he disguises them with words of malice. Draco is particularly clever in this way. In this same conversation with Harry, Ron, and Hermine on page 122, Harry accuses Draco’s parents of being some of the Death Eaters who are attacking the muggles. Draco responds, “Well… if they were, I wouldn’t be likely to tell you, would I, Potter?” This response tells us multiple things. Draco basically confirms Harry’s inquiry whilst also keeping his loyalty to his family. Draco holds on tight to the few he cares about, his family among them. Even though they are Death Eaters, he doesn’t want to betray them. Loyalty means a lot to Draco, and unfortunately he’s been raised to be loyal to the wrong cause. Even still, he manages to slip to Harry that his parents are indeed Death Eaters. Perhaps he is reaching out to Harry for help in this instance. Perhaps he is trying to warn Harry of what his family is capable of in case they come face to face. Perhaps he is simply trying to evade the question. Either way, people tend to only read the surface of Draco Malfoy’s intention to help rather than harm during this scene.
Draco exhibits many more examples of bullying other students in his middle years at Hogwarts. In one instance on page 204, he even gets turned into a ferret by Professor Mad-Eye Moody for attacking Harry while his back was turned. This hints that Draco isn’t confident enough in himself and constantly feels inferior, causing him to choose tactics such as firing a spell at Harry as Harry walks away from him. These feelings of envy turned to insecurities continue to grow as Draco’s years at Hogwarts progress. A Pottermore Article on Draco shared, “Draco resorted to many different dirty tactics in his perpetual quest to get under Harry’s skin, or discredit him in the eyes of others…” One of these methods was making buttons that read “Support CEDRIC DIGGORY- the REAL Hogwarts champion!”. This would have been fine, except that Draco put a clever charm on the buttons so that they read “POTTER STINKS” when pressed (page 297-298). Another thing Draco does to get back at Harry for being better at everything Draco was supposed to excel in was spreading rumors and lies about him to Rita Skeeter, a journalist for the Daily Prophet who tends to overexaggerate and twist the true story. These are all small victories for Draco, but even still he fails to be at the same level of the boy who turned him away. If he had been raised by parents who didn’t support violence, prejudicism, and all around awful morals, Draco would have never resorted to such measures for attention and praise from his fellow students.
In chapter 33 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it is confirmed that Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater. Harry is transported to a graveyard where Voldemort has returned along with his faithful Death Eaters. Page 650 reads, “’Lucius, my slippery friend,” (Voldemort) whispered, halting before him. “I am told that you have not renounced the old ways, though to the world you present a respectable face. You are still ready to take the lead in a spot of Muggle-tourture, I believe?’” Draco’s father not only despises Muggle-borns and their parentage, but had actively participated in the torture of them. This is who Draco had been brainwashed to admire. I should be completely expected that Draco doesn’t act in the same respectable way as his peers. You cannot hold him to the same level as those students who were raised with good role models, abundant love, and approval as he was raised with violence, suffering, and hate. He is still a child, fourteen years old, and hasn’t been able to form his own opinions on the world because of the prejudice being shoved down his throat from the moment he was born. Draco has been raised to fear and marvel the traumas of the past war and expect them to be his future. But the traumas of war come sooner than expected when Harry returns from the graveyard to Hogwarts clutching Cedric Diggory’s dead body. Cedric had been executed on Voldemort’s orders. For the first time, Draco saw the consequences of simply being in Voldemort’s presence when unneeded as he watched his classmate’s father sobbing over his son’s body. Draco knew that he would be on Voldemort’s side, or he would die.
The fifth book is full of suspicion and denial. Harry has been deemed insane by the press and his peers and the Ministry of Magic is trying their best to deny Voldemort’s return. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry must attend a hearing for using magic in front of his Muggle cousin, Dudley, whilst saving him from a dementor attack. While Harry is at the Ministry of Magic, he runs into the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, talking with Lucius Malfoy. On page 154, it says, “(Harry) could not believe that Lucius Malfoy dared look him in the face; he could not believe that he was here, in the Ministry of Magic, or that Cornelius Fudge was talking to him, when Harry had told Fudge mere weeks ago that Malfoy was a Death Eater.” Lucius is modeling to his son the ways of manipulation and deceit. The fact that Lucius, a follower of Voldemort, can freely talk with the Ministry of Magic with no consequences even after he had been revealed to be actively supporting a murderous dark lord. As Draco’s values grow to become his own, his father is setting the example that you can be a devoted Death Eater while at the same time remaining one of the most respected and powerful wizards in the Ministry. Draco, who craves power and attention, greatly admires his father. If Draco had not been so protected and shielding from opinions that oppose his own while he was growing up, he might of had a chance to have healthy role models who set just examples of equality, rather than those who exhibit blood prejudice and violence.
Draco is appointed Prefect, along with Pansy Parkinson, for the Slytherin house in his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (page 188). This is a highly respected position and to earn this spot takes dedication and hard work. Of course, Snape is biased and seems to like Draco a bit more than the other students, but to say that Draco was a bad student would be a complete lie. Multiple times throughout the series, Draco is noted to be an excellent student, not falling too far behind Hermione in grades. Though he was a bully, he hardly got in trouble. He got in way less trouble than Hermione and Ron, who were appointed the Gryffindor Prefect positions, did in his years at Hogwarts. This may be because he knew how to get away with his actions, but nevertheless he had a cleaner record than the other two. The fact that Draco was trusted with this position shows that despite his parentage, he is trusted by the Hogwarts’ staff.
Sirius Black is an animagus and follows Harry to the Hogwarts Express in his animagus form: a black dog. He is wanted by the Ministry for escaping Azkaban (the wizard prison) and by Voldemort for being one of his opposers. On the train ride to the castle, Draco meets Harry, again, in Harry’s compartment. After some insults are exchanged on page 194, Draco says, “Well, watch yourself, Potter, because I’ll be dogging your footsteps in case you step out of line.” Harry immediately becomes suspicious when Draco uses the word “dogging” and believes that somehow Draco must have known that the dog on the platform was Sirius Black. Harry was right. Draco had been intentionally telling Harry that they must be more careful than that because it could put Sirius in danger. Once again, Draco is warning the trio before their safety could be put into jeopardy. Furthermore, he mentions that he will be following the three and waiting for them to break the rules. While this may seem like a threat to do with his Prefect position to enforce rules and take away points, it’s actually so much more. Draco always knows what is happening at Hogwarts before it happens due to his father being a powerful influence on the school board. He most likely already knew that Dolores Umbridge was coming to Hogwarts and the path that it would lead to. As Umbridge takes more and more control over the school, she is appointed High Inquisitor by the school and forms the Inquisitorial Squad, whose sole purpose eventually becomes tracking down Dumbledore’s Army, the group formed by students who want to learn Defense Against the Dark Arts by practicing it rather than conforming with the Ministry’s suppressing restrictions. Umbridge appoints Draco to this Squad and he becomes one of the people who try to track down Harry and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army. Before anyone else knew that this would happen, Draco did. Lucius is in cahoots with the Ministry and holds influence over the Minister and most likely helped plan this weakening of Hogwarts. He would have told Draco the plan, and Draco warned Harry the first chance he got to be even more careful than he had ever been before. He warns Harry that Sirius had been spotted at the train station and tells him to be careful because he would be under close observation that year. He does this all while wisely disguising under the pretense of acting rude to Harry and still keeping up the appearance his controlling father wants him to project. Again, Draco tries to help out the trio by giving them hints about Hagrid, who was missing from the school until further notice, without letting the other students know that he was on their side. Page 259 says, “’Maybe,” said Malfoy in an undertone, so that only Harry could hear him, “the stupid great oaf’s got himself badly injured.” “Maybe you will if you don’t shut up,” said Harry out of the side of his mouth. “Maybe he’s been messing with stuff that’s too big for him, if you get my drift.’” After he makes this comment, Draco goes about his usual snarky ways. What Harry doesn’t realise is that Hagrid is in the mountains trying to convince giants to join the Order of the Phoenix, which is the counterpart to the Death Eaters. Draco knows that Hagrid wasn’t safe and could easily killed by the giants and tries to let Harry know that. He also tries to hint to Harry of what Hagrid has been doing, even though that goes directly against what the Death Eaters would want. Draco knows that what he knows should be kept a secret, and that he would most definitely be punished for it if he even tried to tell someone associated with the Order, but he still goes out of his way to help Harry find the answers he’s been looking for.
There’s a small scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in a Quidditch game between Slytherin and Gryffindor that has more significance than one may realize. Draco and Harry are both seekers on their house teams and are constantly at war with each other. The scene is the moment that Harry and Draco are neck and neck trying to catch the snitch, and on page 411 it reads, “It was over in two breathless, desperate, windswept seconds- Harry’s fingers closed around the time, struggling ball- Mafloy’s fingernails scrabbled the back of Harry’s hand hopelessly- Harry pulled his broom upward, holding the struggling ball in his hand and the Gryffindor spectators screamed their approval…” In this tiny moment of battling for the snitch, we see the picture that J.K. Rowling has painted in her portrait of the two young wizard’s dynamic. Harry and Draco have always been rivals from day one; although Draco tries his hardest to be at Harry’s level for once in his life, he always comes up short, falling behind as everyone else celebrates his defeat. Envious and broken, Draco just wants to be appreciated the same way that Harry is.
Draco’s envy of Harry and his friends often leads to cruel jokes and unfortunate displays of bullying. In the very same game that we are offered a moment of clarity between Harry and Draco, we witness a brutal display of him bullying the Weasleys. The entire Slytherin house began to sing a song dissing Ron and the other Weasleys in chapter 19 in order to win the game. The lyrics were filled with insults regarding Ron’s family and their financial and home situation and were all around terrible. Draco reveals that he and some other Slytherins wrote the lyrics to the song, and after the game a brawl broke out between Harry, George, Draco, and Fred. Umbridge ends up giving Harry, George, and Fred a lifetime ban on Quidditch while Draco got little or no punishment at all. In chapter 32, Dumbledore’s Army was caught and Harry was about to get the punishment Draco thought he deserved. On page 746, as Umbridge is deciding how she would punish Harry, it says, “Malfoy was watching with a hungry expression on his face.” Draco has a need for power over Harry. He feels that Harry is always above him and he was raised to believe that those roles should be reversed. Whether it be in grades, the Inquisitorial Squad, being a Prefect, or wanting Harry to be finally punished for something, Draco’s power hungry side comes into play during this book. I wholeheartedly believe that this has to do with his father.
We know that throughout the books, Lucius Malfoy often speaks harshly to his son and others. In the movies, there are even more scenes or emotional and/or physical abuse. Starting in the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets movie, we see Draco and his father together for the first time. In the scene “Flourish and Blotts”, Lucius comes up behind Draco and forcefully presses his walking stick onto Draco’s shoulder as Draco is teasing Harry and the Weasleys. This ordinarily would be fine, as he would be encouraging good behavior rather than bad behavior. However, Lucius’ walking stick not only contains his wand (which would be the equivalent of Lucius holding his wand by Draco’s neck, a clear threat), but also is topped with a fanged serpent who’s teeth press into Draco’s shoulder at 00:19:77. Not to mention, Lucius shows clear distance to the Weasleys and Hermione’s muggle parents and bullies the children himself. This was not a parent trying to keep their child in line, this was a man trying to keep up the best possible look in public and was willing to potentially harm his child to do it. Draco, looking at the serpent firmly pressed into his shoulder, doesn’t look surprised in the slightest, showing that he is used to this kind of behavior. In the scene “Dobby’s reward” at the end of the movie at 02:23:47, Lucius kicks his House-Elf servant, Dobby, down the stairs and hits him in the head with the same walking stick he pressed onto his son’s shoulder. This shows that Lucius uses his staff as a weapon of sorts, holding power over those he uses it against. The staff gives him power over those who can not defend themselves against him. Harry tricks Lucius into freeing Dobby, and Lucius loses control. He takes his wand out of his walking stick, charges at Harry, and begins to say, “Avada-”, but Dobby saves Harry and using his elf magic, throws Lucius backwards. Lucius was about to use an Unforgivable Curse on Harry. Avada Kedavra, the Killing Curse to be exact, at 02:25:37. This goes to show that when Lucius loses his temper, he is capable of unspeakable things. Growing up, Draco must have had to learn what those unspeakable things were and how to avoid them. In the fourth movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we meet Draco and his father in the “Quidditch World Cup” scene. Lucius makes a passive aggressive comment to Arthur Weasley, and Draco then begins bragging about how they’ve been invited to sit with the Minister of Magic. Draco obviously thought this would win his father’s approval, as Lucius had just asserted power over the Weasleys himself. But at 00:07:53, Lucius says, “Don’t boast, Draco.” He then rams the end of his walking stick into Draco’s stomach. Draco visibly flinches, recoils, then grabs his stomach. He then straightens up as if nothing had happened. Lucius feels comfortable enough to do this in public without any worry of what people would say. Imagine the violence he causes in private. If this doesn’t show that Draco is used to this kind of pain, I don’t know what does. In the scene “Transforming Malfoy”, we hear Draco’s famous line, “My father will hear about this!” (00:51:28). This seems like an empty threat that a typical spoiled, rich kid would use, but it holds so much more power for Draco. He sees his father as both the most impressive and threatening person he knows, and believes he can use him to scare his classmates just as much as Lucius scares him. If his father were not so cruel to him, he would not feel the need to use him as a threat. This evidence is sufficient enough for me to say that Draco has faced emotional manipulation and abuse along with some forms of physical abuse as he grew up. This could greatly contribute to his need for power. Growing up, Draco always felt powerless against his father. Lucius was Draco’s role model, and he very well could stand up to such an intimidating person at such a young age, especially because that person was his father whom he loved. Instead, Draco tried his very best to constantly be the best and live up to his family’s expectation as not to feel the wrath of his father’s disapproval. This would leave Draco feeling weak and unable to stand up against him, which is where his need for power comes in. When Harry is constantly one-upping everything Draco does no matter how hard he tries, he feels the same powerless feeling that he gets from not meeting his father’s expectations and facing the consequences for them. This leaves Draco craving positions and opportunity of power so that he doesn’t feel like the same sad little boy his father punishes. If Draco hadn’t felt extreme powerless moments, he wouldn’t crave extreme powerful ones.
At the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry breaks into the Ministry of Magic to save his godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius ended up never even being at the Ministry, and Harry and Co. had fallen right into the Death Eater’s trap. In the end, Voldemort flees and several Death Eaters are captured, including Draco’s father, and are sent to Azkaban. Draco’s power trip of his fifth year suddenly comes crashing down. In his sixth year, Draco faces the hardest times in his life. It is in my next Pottermore segment that we truly see why Draco deserves redemption.
- “National Trust Film Locations.” VisitBritain, www.visitbritainshop.com/world/articles/national-trust-film-locations/.
- Wizardingworld.com. 2020. Wizarding World – The Official Home Of Harry Potter. [online] Available at: <https://www.wizardingworld.com/>
- Rowling, J. (2015). Harry Potter: The complete collection (1-7). Pottermore Publishing.
- Rowling, J. (2017). The Hogwarts library collection. Pottermore Publishing.
Thorne, J., Rowling, J. K., & Tiffany, J. (2016). Harry Potter and the Cursed Child parts one and two: Special rehearsal edition script–. Farmington Hills, Mich: Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning.