Hey there, Muggles and Mocha world!
Last week was such a fun article, and I can’t wait to continue! In case you missed it, we introduced an important question when it comes to Severus Snape—is he a truly redeemable character? And if so, in what ways? If you’d like to read it, you can find it here. I think it was a good start to tackling such a difficult (really!) question.
Here’s our video discussion of this week’s chapter—”The Midnight Duel!”
This is the chapter when Harry flies a broomstick for the first time and truly solidifies the animosity between him and Malfoy, which will be constantly present throughout the rest of the series.
Actually, Malfoy is the person I want to talk about today… a sentence I didn’t think I would ever say.
Up to this point, we’ve seen Malfoy a couple of times—in Diagon Alley and on the Hogwarts Express. Both of these were uncomfortable, aggravating experiences for Harry (and us!) as he realizes Malfoy is not nice. I feel like that’s an understatement, seeing as one of the first insults we hear him fling at someone is about the Weasley family’s poverty—the first time he meets Ron! You have to be pretty mean to just casually go to that as an insult.
In chapter nine specifically, we get a deeper look into Malfoy’s bullying strategy, and can I be honest?
Malfoy’s a cowardly bully.
I’m sure many of you have already realized this, but when I read the Harry Potter books as a child (I was a little younger than Harry’s age in this book), Malfoy was intimidating to me! I was still young enough where I thought Malfoy was the cool kid, witty, clever, strong… And while he is many of these things, I didn’t fully realize that he’s also afraid, constantly trying to uphold a certain persona and image, and unsure of himself.
We can immediately see this the first few times Harry meets him and in this chapter. Here’s a quick rundown of what happens regarding Malfoy: He makes fun of Neville for falling off a broom, steals his Remembrall for laughs, flies away with it and chucks it to bait Harry, challenges Harry to a duel, DOESN’T SHOW UP, and alerts Filch of where Harry will be. Man. Everything Draco does is to impress others, but instead of choosing decent ways of doing this, he decides to lean toward power over others—an extremely common theme throughout the books.
I don’t want to digress too much, but seeking power to a detriment is the downfall of almost all of our key antagonists. Voldemort (obviously), Dolores Umbridge, the Malfoys and most of the Death Eaters, Draco Malfoy, Peter Pettigrew… the list goes on. Just something to keep an eye out for!
Back to chapter nine. While Malfoy’s plans to get Harry in trouble are cunning, they almost always include him weaseling out of situations and slinking off into the shadows, which makes me so mad just thinking about it. He seems abnormally mean for an eleven-year-old, too, and is always searching for ways to get a leg up on his enemies (also… eleven-year-olds shouldn’t have enemies!).
Unfortunately, Malfoy’s actions really reflect on his upbringing and, strangely enough, his ancestry. J.K. Rowling wrote some detailed articles about Draco Malfoy and his family, and they’re full of interesting information! The name Malfoy literally translates to “bad faith,” and when you read about his family… you’ll see why. The action of climbing up the social and power ladders on the backs of others is what his family has done for centuries, according to J.K. Wizards and Muggles alike have been victims of their schemes, and they don’t seem to have any qualms with tricking and betraying people.
Of course, it’s unfair to apply this lens to every member of a family, but from what we see of Lucius and Draco, they seem to follow this model of behavior, too.
Along with his ancestry, Malfoy was raised in such a way that causes him to automatically look down on others and find the ways he is better, no—superior—to them. He was taught to analyze blood status and value pure-blood wizarding families above all others, look down on Muggles and other magical species as lesser, view the rich as more powerful and capable, and regret that Voldemort had not succeeded in his mission to cleanse the wizarding world.
Although we see Malfoy does have a cunning, malicious personality, I do think the worst parts of his nature are a result of his circumstances. I don’t care who you are—if you’re raised to think a certain way, chances are you will, especially if you’re still a child. Honestly, I feel a lot of sympathy for Malfoy when it comes to his childhood. Of course, he didn’t realize the devastating effects it had on his psyche and views of his fellow man at eleven, but as he gets older, I do believe we see Malfoy go through some conflict. He struggles with Voldemort’s mission and his father’s teachings as he grows into an adult. Here’s an interesting fact: His wand wood (hawthorn) is actually one that Ollivander says is most often associated with a conflicted, troubled soul, and I think we witness this type of turmoil in Draco during his time at Hogwarts. Deep down, he isn’t absolutely like his father, and in the end, I don’t think he wants to be. But as we see, he does have trouble with slipping back into those habits.
BUT as far as Malfoy’s personality and mindset in this first book, he’s a mean kid who struggles with a lot of insecurities. This lines up with what we know about bullies! Meanness usually stems from fear and insecurity, and I believe this is where Malfoy’s comes from, too, as well as from the vile teachings of his parents. He’s constantly looking to sneak in jabs and cruel remarks in order to bring down the weak as well as those who seem like a threat—like Harry, who people hold in high esteem for something he can’t even remember. This is a source of intense jealousy for Malfoy. Really, Malfoy is the one who lacks bravery and has to rely on cruel taunts to get the upper hand, but again… it’s all he seems to know. It’s all he’s been taught, and to think otherwise would involve an extremely mature change in mindset—one I don’t believe an eleven-year-old is capable of.
Of course, Malfoy will change and grow throughout the series (even though he’s still terribly mean), and I’m excited to analyze his character and dig deep into this troubled soul’s personality. As with many of the characters in this series, there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Thanks for tuning in to Muggles and Mocha today! Next week, we’re covering chapter ten (TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!) and diving into our Golden Trio’s friendship!
As always, it’ll be a party.
Until next time, this mischief is managed!
Disclaimer: I do not own any element of the Harry Potter series.