An Analysis of the Malfoys
A topic of discussion that is very popular amongst Harry Potter readers is the mystery of whether Draco Malfoy is truly evil. Evil enough for Voldemort to use, at any rate. But, before we get into my personal views of whether Draco and his parents will turn out to be ultimately wicked, we must first start from where we are first introduced to the Malfoys.
In Chapter Five of PS/SS, we find Harry meeting Draco in Madam Malkin’s, being fitted into his school uniform for the upcoming year at Hogwarts. He is originally nice to Harry, striking up a conversation and asking him if he is going to Hogwarts, if he plays Quidditch, and whatnot.
In their initial conversation, two things are pointed out. First, Draco mentions that his parents are off buying school supplies in different stores. This is important because this new character is not alone — he has a family that evidently cares enough about him to help buy his supplies. Now, we shouldn’t read too much into this, but it would be foolish to overlook it. Second, Harry points out that Draco reminds him strongly of Dudley. Now, as we all are quite familiar with the slightly rounded Dudders, it is obvious that there is a controlling and rudely arrogant side to Harry’s cousin. Yet, it would be far too much of an overstatement to say that he is evil. Just because someone is cocky and outspoken doesn’t qualify him as someone who would kill and take over the world.
Something that Harry also discovers is that he does not like about the pale-faced boy is his prejudice towards those who are not pureblood, whom he refers to as “Mudbloods.” Now, Draco has grown up in a strictly pureblooded family and has been taught throughout his entire life that he is set far above those that are not of his line of heritage. Most of this blame may be set on his parents, but it would be unfair to say that Draco is off the hook for his rudeness.
All through PS/SS, Draco is seemingly a twin brother of sorts to Dudley, matching him by his cruelness and also his need of having others at his side. Personally, it seems that all of his jokes seem to be based off of a jealousy that Draco has for Harry. Harry Potter, a boy that is not even pureblood, making friends with weaker people and “Mudbloods,” is getting much more attention and fame than Draco, who is a pureblood from a long line of famous descendants. Harry gets all the attention, all of the pity, and ends up saving the day, as well as winning the House Cup.
The Fourth Chapter of Chamber of Secrets encourages this theory as Draco is telling his father in Borgin and Burkes how Harry is so famous and how he gets so much attention. Then, Lucius reminds him that he has been talking about Mr. Potter often throughout the summer. Also, this is the first time that Lucius Malfoy is introduced.
“Can I have that?” interrupted Draco, pointing at the withered hand on its cushion.“Ah, the Hand of Glory!” said Mr. Borgin, abandoning Mr. Malfoy’s list and scurrying over to Draco. “Insert a candle and it gives light only to the holder! Best friend of thieves and plunderers! Your son has fine taste, sir.”
“I hope my son will amount to more than a thief or a plunderer, Borgin,” said Mr. Malfoy coldly, and Mr. Borgin said quickly, “No offense, sire, no offense meant–”
“Though if his grades don’t pick up,” said Mr. Malfoy, more coldly still, “that may indeed be all he is fit for–” [COS US, pg. 51-52]
Not much is revealed of Lucius’ character here, other than the obvious fact that we now understand where Draco’s cold heart comes from. Also, it should not be overlooked that despite the harshness in his tone towards his son, he is very defensive when Mr. Borgin casts a condescending remark towards him. Perhaps it is because Lucius would not want his family name to be tarnished, or perhaps he just cares about his son. However, after another run-in with the Weasley family plus Harry pushes the duo back into being hated again by Harry Potter, and thus, the readers.
In Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron try to get some information out of Draco via the Polyjuice Potion. This scene is interesting because it shows the young Malfoy as an outsider. His father refuses to give him any information on Voldemort or what is going on in the Dark World. Also, the extent of Draco’s “evilness” only consists of rude jokes and fighting words towards Harry.
By the end of the second book, our suspicions of Lucius Malfoy come true when it is revealed that Mr. Malfoy is the one that placed Tom Riddle’s diary with Ginny’s other school supplies. We also discover later in the series that also goes against a direct order from Voldemort. Still, it was an act of darkness that goes beyond simple anger, and we find that Mr. Malfoy has definite Death Eater tendencies.
Not a whole lot is revealed about the family over the next few books, except for a continuation of what we are already familiar with. It is not until the sixth book that my theory is confirmed. Down the road of Spinner’s End, Narcissa and Bellatrix, two female Death Eaters, embark on their journey towards Snape’s house. Narcissa reveals herself to be very vulnerable, nervous, and afraid as she converses with Severus.
“Yes, Severus. I — I think you are the only one who can help me, I have nowhere else to turn. Lucius is in jail and…”She closed her eyes and two large tears seeped from beneath her. [HBP US, pg. 33]
“Severus,” she whispered, tears sliding down her pale cheeks. “My son… my only son…” [HBP US, pg. 33]
This is very important. These passages reveal a lot more of Narscissa Malfoy’s character, Draco’s mother. She is shown to be more than just a ruthless Death Eater, but a scared mother that is fighting to protect her son. Not only is she scared for Draco’s safety, but she is afraid of what Lord Voldemort might do to Lucius.
All throughout HBP, Draco is trying as hard as he possibly can to fix the Vanishing Cabinet. Why is he doing this? Why is he fighting so hard for Voldemort? When confronted by Dumbledore’s questions, he replies:
“I haven’t got any options!” said Malfoy, and he was suddenly white as Dumbledore. “I’ve got to do it! He’ll kill me! He’ll kill my whole family!”…“No, you can’t,” said Malfoy, his wand hand shaking very badly indeed. “Nobody can. He told me to do it or he’ll kill me. I’ve got no choice.” [HBP US, pg. 591]
What is the pattern we see here? Narcissa crying because she is afraid of her son’s death. Draco crying in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom because he is failing and cannot protect his family. What are both of these incidents motivated by? Fear? Yes, I think so. But I believe it is something much deeper than that.
Despite the overall darkness of the family, they are still bound together by what most people call… love. The one power that Voldemort knows not, the power that the Dark Lord cannot stand is the one power that is outwardly shown in the Malfoy family. I believe that this factor will play a definite role in the final book of the HP series.
As for my personal opinion on the predictions of what will happen to the Malfoys. I believe it is obvious that Azkaban will be broken into by Lord Voldemort, freeing the inhabitants and convincing the Dementors to get on his side. What will happen when the Dark Lord reaches Lucius’ cell? Voldemort is quite aware that despite all of his work, he did not get the job done. My prediction is that Voldemort will kill Lucius.
As I have explained earlier about the love that is evident within the family, Narcissa and Draco will not take Lucius’ death lightly and it will most likely result in their redemption and/or fight against the Dark Side. Why do I believe this? Draco’s final conversation with Dumbledore, where he lowers his wand towards Dumbledore. The entire conversation seems like obvious foreshadowing of Draco’s turn to the light. Although I know nothing is quite what it seems when it comes to JKR, I think she made this obvious for a reason. She is aware that her readers will always think the opposite of what she says, so I think she expects us to believe that the foreshadowing is false, in order to trick us in the final book by having Draco actually turn to the Good Side.
Besides, the two have already built up a distinct hatred for Voldemort. Narcissa is upset that the Dark Lord has assigned Draco a mission, expecting him to die. It is for this reason, that she goes to Snape for help even though it is against orders. Also, Draco has enough love within him to not be able to kill Dumbledore. I think that is very significant and should not be overlooked, for he can change sides in the final adventure of Harry Potter.
Regardless of what happens in the seventh book, I think it is safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of the Malfoy family and their protective love for one another. J.K. Rowling has been consistent with emphasizing their cares for each other, and I don’t believe she will take that out of her final writing of the story. But predictions are just that… predictions. None of us know for sure what will happen, but I’ve got my fingers crossed. Rowling is all about surprises. And seeing Draco and Harry fighting side-by-side against the Death Eathers and eventually Voldemort, just seems to fit into that category.