“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 33: “Revela Draconem: Draco Malfoy Revealed”

**This episode is dedicated to our friends in Australia, including our fabulous editor Emma Nicholson, who are still dealing with the aftermath of the recent fires. Our hearts are with you.**

Whether you love or hate – or love to hate – Draco Malfoy, you will thoroughly enjoy our deep dive into this controversial bad boy of the Harry Potter series.

 

 

In this month’s episode, John and Katy talk with “Hogwarts Professor” Louise Freeman (Mary Baldwin University) and “Bathilda’s Notebook” author Beatrice Groves (Oxford University) about the many facets of Draco Malfoy. We consider his literary and film predecessors, whether he’s the cool kid or not, and whether he breaks out of the cardboard villain stereotype. What does J.K. Rowling want us to think about him? Bea reveals surprising connections to both Kipling and the movie The Young Sherlock Holmes.

We also parallel Draco and other villainous characters in the series, like Dudley, to see how they compare as bullies and whether they have redemptive experiences. How do their relationships with their parents affect them? Both have life-changing experiences with evil that influence their actions at the end of the series. Louise explains the importance of parental influence, and we consider the degree to which Dudley and Draco both operate as extensions of their larger families. Harry, as an orphan and a stranger to the magical world, has an ability to act independently that his antagonists do not. We look at the arc of the two characters over the whole course of the series and what events have the most profound influence on them. Particularly, Malfoy’s moment in “The Lightning-Struck Tower” gets our full attention, complete with biblical and Shakespearean allusions.

Is the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child version of Draco the same character? We consider how the parenting, bullying, and friendship themes are carried into the play and how they influence our understanding of Draco as a character. The Albus and Scorpius friendship might be a reimagining of Harry and Draco’s relationship, with Rose as perhaps the prejudiced bully character. Draco also functions as a symbol – with his cratylic name and dragon/snake references – which we explore in relation to literary allusions as well as the larger themes in the series. Harry’s ability to communicate with snakes, and his use of the Slytherin spell Sectumsempra against Draco, reflects his own ambivalence as his relationship with Draco develops. Should we feel pity for Malfoy, especially during that last year stuck in Malfoy Manor with the Dark Lord? Does Draco demonstrate any regret at the end? You do not want to miss this debate!

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Laurie Beckoff

My Harry Potter journey began in 2000 when I was six and continued through a bachelor's thesis and master's dissertation on medievalism in the series. I'm a Gryffindor from New York City with a passion for theatre, fantasy, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.