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Draco Malfoy: Character Analysis v.2

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Old January 14th, 2017, 4:06 am
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Re: Draco Malfoy: Character Analysis v.2

These seem like fun questions! And a quiet forum often makes for a polite forum...

Originally Posted by Moriath View Post
1. When we first meet Draco, Harry sees him as a pampered, snobbish, bully. Did JKR plant the seeds from the beginning that he would grow to be a Death Eater?
I imagine that just as many young bullies in the "real" world grow up to be ordinary human beings who are ashamed of their past actions, many young bullies in the wizarding world grow up to be ordinary wizards who wouldn't touch anything Death Eater-ish. I certainly don't see anything in Draco's early actions that indicate any particular DE leanings. To be sure, Lucius reveals himself to be a self-proud, vindictive wizard, but then, there are plenty of "real" people whose crimes are no worse than being self-proud and vindictive. (Not to say that that's not already bad enough.)

2. Draco grew up in a home with a mother from the notorious House of Black and a father who was a Death Eater that held favor with Voldemort. Lucius craves wealth, status and power. He is a demanding father and expects nothing less than excellence from his son.
It seems to me, based on his duelling and other scenes we see him in, that Draco's a reasonably talented wizard, and had he grown up in an ordinarily nurturing home without the weight of only-childhood and blood status bearing down on his shoulders, he would probably have excelled at Hogwarts on his own merits. Instead, his father appears to take every opportunity to make it about him, and make it likewise clear that Draco's triumphs and those of the Malfoy name are one and the same, each one feeding into the other.

3. Is Draco truly making his choices of his own volition? How much of his choice is derived from fear, or is it bravado?
I wouldn't say it's fear—at first. Young Draco (prior to his father's incarceration) is a frontrunner: He's seen as a social leader, and he likes it that way. He relishes his position at the top of the Slytherin social ladder. The things he does (trying to get Harry in trouble, for example) are done to enhance his status, but it's all done within the framework of school. At this point, he admires Snape, but he even respects the rest of the faculty.

After his father goes to Azkaban, Draco's outlook is dramatically changed. His actions are those of a child forced to grow up too quickly in his father's absence, in the absence of any other male figure in his home. He takes on an ambitious task—the murder of Dumbledore—with the belief that this is what grown-ups do (not murder, of course, but taking on huge tasks on behalf of the family). In a way, it's still his way of achieving status, but he's now painfully aware of what's hinging on his success or failure. He has much of the technical skills to do what he wants to do, but his lack of resolve is revealed by his near misses. Ultimately, he's even more afraid of the prospect of actually completing the task than he is of failure (and he is surely terrified of failure).

4. Draco has used name-dropping (his father’s and Voldemort’s) and his wealth in an attempt to befriend people. He was truly dumbfounded when all Harry could muster was a “that don’t impress me much” reaction to his attempts.
I don't remember seeing Draco dumbfounded by this. I would be a little surprised by any significant indication in this direction. I would have expected Draco to present an attitude of "Well, what would you expect of a half-blood show-off like Potter?" To be sure, Draco is somewhat insecure (though not dramatically more than any child his age), but I don't see him letting others see that. I'd expect him to show a superior haughtiness—even to exaggerate it, to hide his insecurity and to diminish it. (And I think this does happen from time to time, though many of the scenes are capable of multiple interpretations.)

5. Is he misunderstood? Or just plain mean?
Draco's not misunderstood in the sense that he's really just this nice guy whose insecurities lead him to actions that mislead others. He really does do mean things with intent, or at least with callous disregard for the feelings of others. Especially in the early part of the series, he's just self-centered. As many other students are, but they don't generally have the status to cause as much trouble as he does.

At the same time, calling him "just plain mean" misses the point. His is not motiveless malignity. He's after status, and he's mostly thoughtless, rather than sadistic. After his father's fall, he's also acting out of desperation. He does bad things, and those can't be condoned (I'm not that forgiving), but simply saying he's a mean guy is, if not wrong, then at least incomplete.

6. Despite his decision not to kill Dumbledore, Draco continues to serve Voldemort. Do you think he regrets his failure to kill Dumbledore? Do you think he regrets his choices in DH?
Last question first: I don't think he regrets his choices in DH. I think he's slightly ashamed of them, but I don't think he regrets them in the sense that he wishes he had done something else in those situations. I suspect he thinks his hand was mostly forced. I think he genuinely thinks he had little choice in most of his actions from HBP on forward.

He certainly does not regret his failure to kill Dumbledore. He saw Snape murder Dumbledore (at least, he believes that's what he saw), and at that moment, I think he realizes that he couldn't do that, that he (unlike many of the Death Eaters) is simply not capable of that kind of enormity. I expect that at the start of DH, he's mostly relieved that the worst that has happened is that he and his family are merely Death Eaters whom Voldemort treats with disdain. Mixed in is anxiety over the future of his family—but it's probably mostly relief.

7. How do you think Draco's life debt to Harry and Ron might manifest itself in their future.
Although I think Draco owes, and genuinely feels, a substantial debt of gratitude to Harry and Ron, I don't think it would manifest itself in any grand gesture. I suspect Draco still retains enough of his feelings of blood superiority to prevent any such display. There would be grudging respect, and Draco, I think, is too circumspect to do anything but defer to Harry and Ron's actions on behalf of the Auror department, but beyond that, I think Harry and Ron will be disappointed if they expect any more dramatic expression of Draco's gratitude. He's just that kind of guy, I'm afraid to say.

8. What do you think happened to Draco after DH? What might he have done as a profession? Is Pansy the wife we see in the epilogue?
Well, I guess we have seen that his wife is Astoria Greengrass. But I never thought that he would marry Pansy. She seems like too much of a hanger-on, and I always had the suspicion that Rowling included her just as an analogue of all the snotty status-hungry girls she had known in school.

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