Trio vs. Trio: Comparing Harry, Hermione, and Ron with Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle
Happy Friendship Day! Since this day is all about friendships, I want to look at the two prominent trios in the series: Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle.
Their relationships and power dynamics are very different. While Harry respects his friends and treats them as equals, Malfoy sees himself as the superior one in their trio. He clearly is used to Crabbe and Goyle going along with him and thinking whatever he says is brilliant.
Far too late, Harry and Ron forced themselves to laugh, but Malfoy seemed satisfied; perhaps Crabbe and Goyle were always slow on the uptake” (CoS 223).
A great example of this is in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. First off, he brags to his friends about his work and his connections as a way of making himself seem bigger than he is.
I’ve just said, haven’t I? Maybe he [Voldemort] doesn’t care if I’m qualified. Maybe the job he wants me to do isn’t something that you need to be qualified for” (HBP 152).
Following on from this, he uses Crabbe and Goyle to help him fulfill his mission. He has them drink Polyjuice Potion to transform them into other students and keep guard for him when he’s in the Room of Requirement. Crabbe and Goyle probably found this demeaning and unfavorable but they did it anyway, out of loyalty and fear.
Contrastingly, Harry tells Hermione and Ron everything he can. He trusts his friends with the truth and shares everything to get their help. Harry values his friends’ input and help with their plans. Together, they plan their missions together and share the responsibilities of the jobs, even if they aren’t enjoyable.
‘Oh, all right, all right,’ said Hermione, and she placed it [the locket] around her own neck and tucked it out of sight down the front of her shirt. ‘But we’ll take turns wearing it, so nobody keeps it on too long'” (DH 287).
Despite how he treats Crabbe and Goyle, he does care for them. Immediately after the fire in the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Draco asks about Crabbe as soon as he physically could.
‘C-Crabbe,’ choked Malfoy as soon as he could speak. ‘C- Crabbe . . .’” (DH 634).
Although I will admit that we are automatically positioned to favor the Gryffindor trio over the Slytherin one, after all, the books follow Harry, not Draco. Even the names of the individual members of the trio reflect this. Harry, Hermione, and Ron are always referred to by their first names while the Slytherins are always referred to by their last names. This term of address makes the Gryffindor trio more familiar and relatable to the reader and distances the Slytherins. This would definitely be different if the series followed Draco instead.
‘Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle,’ said the pale boy carelessly, noticing where Harry was looking. ‘And my name’s Malfoy, Draco Malfoy’” (SS 108).
Ultimately, Harry treats his friends better than Malfoy does, but we never know what happens behind the scenes when Draco has matured and grown up. Perhaps as time went on, he treated them more as equals than minions and he and they develop more of a trusting and equal relationship.