Is Draco Malfoy a Better Father than Harry Potter?
Happy Father’s Day! Today we celebrate our favorite Harry Potter fathers from the original series and take a closer look at two characters who grapple with fatherhood in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter himself. I, like many Potter fans, have some difficulty fully accepting Cursed Child as canon, but I believe that the play’s portrayals of Draco and Harry as struggling fathers are spot-on considering their troubled upbringings.
Fatherhood is a central – if not the central – theme in Cursed Child. In addition to learning that Lord Voldemort has a daughter, we get an in-depth look at Harry, Draco, and Ron Weasley as fathers. Fatherhood seems to come naturally to Ron, but both Harry and Draco encounter a myriad of obstacles as they try to connect with their children. Two of Harry’s children, James Sirius and Lily Luna, do not seem to pose a challenge for Harry, but his relationship with his middle child, Albus Severus, is fraught. Draco’s relationship with his son, Scorpius, is also strained, but it seems much more stable than the relationship between Harry and Albus Severus. As such, it may seem like Draco is a better father than Harry. I personally disagree.
Draco and Harry both have “daddy issues.” Although Lucius Malfoy loved Draco, he loved power even more. He was also severely prejudiced and instilled the same tendency in Draco at an early age. As Draco grew up, however, he became more tolerant and thus more resentful of his father. This growing resentment of Lucius, who had once been Draco’s only true ally, was incredibly isolating for Draco. Draco describes his struggle to Harry and Ginny Potter in Cursed Child:
I think you have to make a choice – at a certain point – of the man you want to be. And I tell you that at that time you need a parent or a friend. And if you’ve learnt to hate your parent by then and you have no friends… then you’re all alone. And being alone – that’s so hard. I was alone. And it sent me to a truly dark place. For a long time” (CC 136).
Although Draco admits to Harry and Ginny that he “can’t talk to Scorpius” (CC 135), his fear of alienating Scorpius as his own father alienated him motivates him to try harder as a father. It seems that this motivation, along with Draco’s inherent love for his son, are enough to prevent the two from being completely estranged. It is clear, however, that a disconnect still remains between them near the end of Cursed Child when they hug awkwardly.
Unlike Draco, Harry never knew his father and thus had to construct his own fatherhood narrative rather than choose to replicate or reject his own father’s parenting choices. Harry had several father figures growing up, but they all inevitably saw and treated Harry not only as a son but also as “the Boy Who Lived.” As such, Harry himself has trouble separating his roles as a father and as the hero who saved the wizarding world. His dilemma in negotiating these disparate roles has major repercussions on his relationship with Albus Severus, who feels that he must live up to his father’s legacy or else become a grave disappointment to him. Ginny sums up the problem perfectly near the end of the play:
Harry, you’d do anything for anybody. You were pretty happy to sacrifice yourself for the world. He [Albus Severus] needs to feel specific love. It’ll make him stronger, and you stronger too” (CC 277).
Although Harry doesn’t fully arrive at this breakthrough – that Albus Severus needs Harry to love him for who he is rather than simply as another person who needs Harry’s help – until the end of Cursed Child, he tries to establish a meaningful connection with his son throughout the play. Even the infamous argument that occurs when Harry gives Albus Severus his baby blanket, though not Harry’s finest fathering moment, stems from Harry’s earnest love for and desire to connect with his son. Draco and Scorpius may have a more stable relationship than Harry and Albus Severus, but I believe that Harry tries harder than Draco to reach his son and ultimately ends up closer to his son as a result.
While I do think that Harry ultimately ends up closer to Albus Severus than Draco does to Scorpius, I don’t necessarily think that Harry is the superior father. As much as I enjoy a healthy bit of Draco/Harry rivalry, a fatherhood competition between the two need not exist. Relationships between fathers and their children are inherently unique and uniquely flawed. The important thing is that both Draco and Harry show improvement as fathers and clearly love their children. What are your thoughts on this matter? Let us know in the comments!