Reading, Writing, Rowling #33: Draco!


Laurie Beckoff at MuggleNet describes the conversation about the bad boy everybody loves to hate:

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 it influences 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, reflect 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!


  1. Brian Basore says

    JKR presents Teddy Lupin to the reader for consideration without a lot of comment. His maternal grandmother was babysitting him when his parents were killed at the battle of Hogwarts, and so she ends up raising him. Teddy’s situation is next generation, between Neville’s and Harry’s terms of becoming an orphan and the kind of person who raised him. (In the epilogue, “Our Teddy” was waiting on the platform for Hogwarts with the other first-years.)Teddy’s grandmother raised Teddy to different attitudes than she had raised Teddy’s mother, Tonks.

  2. Glad that the podcast is back, really enjoyed it!

  3. Brian Basore says

    Bea Groves is right that JKR does not want anybody to like Draco.

    One way JKR does that is to compare and contrast the three students in Harry’s first year who use wands not their own: Draco, Neville, and Ron. Mr. Ollivander tells Harry “the wand chooses the wizard”…”And of course, you’ll never get such good results with another wizard’s wand.” Draco made his mother get his wand for him. Neville used his father’s wand. Ron, who never got anything new, had Charlie’s old wand.

    Draco never did have his own wand, and towards the end, Harry took even the one he was using. Neville got his own wand, the last one Mr. Ollivander sold before Voldemort kidnapped Mr. Ollivander, after he broke his father’s wand at the skirmish in the Department of Magic. Ron, who had so little confidence in successfully using magic that he taped his broken wand together wrong, eventually bought a wand of his own using money Harry supplied.

    Draco did not care enough about magic to be chosen by a wand, the wizard’s most personal hand tool. Draco comes in last after Ron and Neville, even before any of them were sorted into houses, and long before Moaning Myrtle felt sorry for him.

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