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.
6 Replies to “What’s Up with Draco Malfoy? – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapter 9”
So as you know I’m a huge sports fan and I don’t get the hate for quidditch. I think it’s a genius idea. In my opinion, it is very fun to watch and if it were real, I would consider playing.
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Yay!! This is great to hear from a sports fan!
I’m actually really glad to hear that from a huge sports guy too – I’m (obviously) not a sport kinda guy but I’ve always loved Quidditch! I highly doubt I’d ever be one to play on a team, but I would definitely be one to really enjoy watching.
Malfoy was definitely a product of not only his upbringing but also of generations of pure blood lovers, that felt they were superior to all. Not only do we have the Malfoy family bloodline but also the Black family. Malfoy’s mother was steeped in the hate for anyone that wasn’t pure blood. The Black family crest has the family motto on it, “Toujours Pur” meaning “Always Pure”. Narcissa saw first hand what happens when a family member strays from this view. Her older sister, Andromeda marry’s a muggle born wizard and is disowned and burned off the family tree. We know she loved Malfoy deeply but kept with the family traditions, that she had known her whole life and passed those views down to her son. I think any good, that was in Malfoy was because of his mother’s love and devotion to him. However, growing up, I think he wanted to be like his father Lucius and walk in his shoes. I don’t think Malfoy felt the same acceptance from his father as from his mother, which led to his deep desire to be as famous or well known as Harry, which he probably thought would make Lucius proud. As we know, Malfoy eventually saw his family for what they really were and decided to take a different path. He learned to think for himself and broke away from those generations of superiority and prejudice.
Quidditch is awesome, and Draco is not.
Okay, the fact that McGonogall concealed her excitement upon discovering Harry’s natural talent for Quidditch is hilarious to me. Not only does this feel like a peek into her sense of humor, but it also shows how badly she wanted to keep her intentions a secret to the flying class students (among which were MANY Slytherins, don’t forget). Harry is her new secret weapon! I also love the peek into her passion for the sport while she’s speaking with Wood and Harry. I love McGonogall as a character so I get excited by any glimmers of her personality. Also, I think that we’re actually witnessing the first moment where Harry begins to feel like he belongs in this new world. Which is why some pretty significant events happen in and around Quidditch matches and other things related to flying. He’s finally found his “in”!
Draco is such a typical bully. The (very) pointed jabs at anyone he feels threatened by makes it painfully obvious just how insecure he is. This behavior absolutely has to be the parroting of what he’s heard come out of that miserable man he calls father’s mouth. I get a strong feeling (much like Mia stated) that Draco is absolutely desperate for his father’s affection. Which also means that he gets very little of it. I’m sorry, but there’s just no way that Lucius is a good father. He’s a coward, and has successfully taught his son to be the same. I completely understand your point about it being important not to judge someone just by the family into which they’re born (Leta Lestrange, anyone?). What is actually at play here is the vicious cycle of inept parents with corrupt morals begetting children who are taught to do the same. What’s really great is that thanks to Narcissa, Draco stood a chance to break that cycle in the Malfoy family. This really begins to become apparent near the end of the Deathly Hallows and also into Cursed Child. That being said, in the meantime his “duel” he sets up is SO TYPICAL of him. Such a yellow-bellied, lily-livered trick. I actually had forgotten this scene, so it was almost like reading it for the first time. I hadn’t remembered, and yet it still felt familiar. So like I said, this was completely on-brand. If the other encounters hadn’t already done it, by this point we’re definitely see the blossoming of a beautiful rivalry between Harry and Draco.
One more thought: why on earth does the school keep putting Gryffindor and Slytherin into classes together?? I guess it’s probably because both would absolutely overpower any of the other houses in whatever they’re doing (whether intentionally or not) but holy cow, I have to imagine that any teachers who have to have both houses in the same class must be tearing their hair out by the end of each session…