If you’re a fan of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, then you probably already know that her interactive site, Pottermore.Com, had a special Christmas present for all the Draco Malfoy fans out there. In Chapter 27, The Lightening-Struck Tower of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, if you click on Draco Malfoy this description pops up:
Draco Malfoy is a Hogwarts student with white-blond hair, cold grey eyes and a pale, pointed face. A Slytherin whose family has been linked to the Dark Arts, Draco often taunts Harry and his friends.
Under this simplified biography, a new story has been posted by J.K. Rowling that gives readers more insight into this pensive, pale, and often times pestilent adversary of Harry Potter’s.
While I won’t give away any spoilers about the story for those that haven’t read it and intend to, I will talk about J.K. Rowling’s comments on why she wrote the story and who the story was intended for. Rowling wanted to give more depth the boy that was the bully of the series.
A lot of what Rowling talks about in her “Thoughts” after the Draco piece aren’t too surprising. The Daily Dot notes:
Fans knew—or guessed—some of this already, but Rowling’s insight into Malfoy’s character gives the antagonist even more depth. Although he started out as the bully, his beliefs were shattered and his viewpoints went through a progressive change—something his wife, Astoria Greengrass, also experienced, but never to the extent that Malfoy did. They refused to raise this son Scorpius to believe that Muggles were scum, unlike how they had been raised.
Draco’s hero was his father and he tried to emulate him in every way. This is what caused the boy to assume, when he first met Harry Potter, that his wealth and pure-blood status would instantly make him an appealing friend because that is what his father valued – money and blood. The rejection of this belief, that blood status and wealth are what matters in people, is what first sets Draco and Potter at odds in the series.
But there comes a point where heroes become human for children, and that happens for Draco. Rowling lets us know that Draco has reached a tipping point in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince through her story. Her “Thoughts” give us more insight into the bullies in the book and how she feels that nurture, rather than nature, are what cause the Dracos and Dudleys of the world.
In the first Harry Potter book, we are introduced to neglect and abuse. We see Harry Potter living without love, with hand-me-downs that don’t fit, with a room under the staircase, and with a cousin that uses him as a punching bag. Readers can instantly identify such actions as abuse and can sympathize with Harry Potter immediately. It’s harder to sympathize with Draco or Dudley, but J.K. Rowling does.
She tells her readers that she pities Draco and Dudley because it would be “a very damaging experience” to grow up in either household. While the abuse that Harry suffers is obvious, the brainwashing these two boys get from their parents isn’t as readily seen as abuse. But what chance to does Draco have or Dudley have if their parents start them off thinking that they are superior to others? Or that money or size is more important than character? Or that it’s okay to treat others poorly if they don’t match you in status?
Harry Potter, though he suffers from abuse and neglect, is shown to be a kind and good character overall and doesn’t let his status, talent, wealth, or magic inflate his ego past the point of no return. Draco starts off at the opposite end of Harry Potter, but ends up in the same place – a place where he rejects the notion of superiority due to status, talent, wealth, or his magic. For Harry Potter, this rejection aligns with the belief of his parents, his friends, and his mentors while Draco had to reject the ideals of his parents, friends, and mentors to go through this change. He was lucky that some of his friends changed with him, such as his future wife, Astoria Greengrass.
I think the second paragraph of J.K. Rowling’s “Thoughts” gives the most insight into the purpose of Draco:
Everybody recognizes Draco because everybody has known somebody like him. Such people’s belief in their own superiority can be infuriating, laughable or intimidating, depending on the circumstances in which one meets them. Draco succeeds in provoking all of these feelings in Harry, Ron and Hermione at one time or another.
But Draco becomes much more than an infuriating, laughable or intimidating character in J.K. Rowling’s short new story. He becomes human.