"You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there ... Unless you're a bit politer you'll go the same way as your parents. They didn't know what was good for them, either. You hang around with riffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it'll rub off on you."
-- Draco Malfoy, on their first trip aboard the Hogwarts Express (PS6)
Draco Malfoy is the son and only child of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy and was a student at Hogwarts in the same year as Harry Potter. He is a rival of Harry, actively trying to undermine him in any way he can. Draco has white-blond hair and a pale, pointed face. He owns an eagle owl which made almost daily deliveries of sweets from home. Draco became the Slytherin Quidditch team’s Seeker after his father made a generous donation of Nimbus 2001 brooms to the team (CS7).
Draco met Harry Potter for the first time at Madam Malkin’s robe shop in Diagon Alley on July 31, 1991. Draco confided to Harry that he was planning on bullying his parents into buying him things he wanted, which reminded Harry strongly of his cousin Dudley. When Draco saw Hagrid through the window of the shop, Draco spoke disparagingly of him, calling him an oaf and a servant (PS5).
This attitude about other people put Harry off considerably. Those comments were followed by another intolerant speech about witches or wizards born of Muggle families. Aboard the Hogwarts Express, 1 September 1991, Draco introduced himself to Harry and suggested that Harry would be better served being friends with Draco than with Ron Weasley, whose family he obviously despised. He then held out his hand to shake Harry’s, but Harry didn’t take it, instead responding, “I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks.” (PS6). These two events set the stage for a rivalry between the two boys which continued through every school year.
Draco is seldom seen without his two friends, Crabbe and Goyle, who are much larger than he and function as bodyguards. Their relationship is not a friendship between equals. Draco is clearly the leader and he seems to look down on the other boys as being ignorant and slow (which is true). They serve his purposes, however, and they give Draco a sounding board for his virulent speeches against Potter, Hermione Granger, and the Weasleys. He also employs them to do his dirty work on occasion.
Draco is constantly frustrated by the attention given to Harry. His father cautioned Draco that it is not prudent to seem to be an enemy of Potter, who everyone in the wizarding world considers to be a hero, but Draco finds it impossible to be friendly with Harry. Especially galling to Draco is that fact that Muggle-born Hermione Granger outperforms Draco in lessons and Harry outflies him in Quidditch. The teachers seem to give Potter a lot of leeway when it comes to rule-breaking. To top it all off, Harry is a celebrity whose picture appears in the Daily Prophet and who is treated in a familiar, friendly way by the Minister for Magic himself (at least he was, until the summer of 1995).
Draco is something of a whiner, or at least he is not above using a relatively minor injury to his own advantage. When a hippogriff slashed his arm in the fall of 1993, Draco used this as an excuse to skip a week’s worth of lessons, to force other students to do his work for him, and to avoid having to play a tough Quidditch match in unfavorable weather (PA6). He is also not above using offensive or hurtful language to others, including the term “Mudblood” which is highly offensive (CS7).
It is difficult to determine Draco’s relationship with his parents. He is certainly spoiled, judging by the way he bullied Lucius, his father, into buying him a racing broom and by the large amounts of sweets and other gifts he receives from home on an almost daily basis. His mother does care about him, enough anyway to nix the idea of his traveling far away to attend Durmstrang instead of Hogwarts (GF11), and she was frantic when she found out that Voldemort had a special plan in mind using Draco (HBP2). At the Quidditch World Cup 1994, Draco was treated to a seat in the Top Box by his parents (GF8). His father is a Death Eater, and apparently high up in Voldemort’s ranks, and he councils and cautions his son in how to appear respectable in Hogwarts society but also how to advance the cause against Dumbledore. Lucius sends Draco press clippings which could prove useful in embarrassing or harassing Potter or the Weasleys (CS13). Lucius advised Draco, when the Chamber of Secrets had been opened in 1992-3, to keep a low profile and let the Heir of Slytherin get on with it.
He is a good student, although he wishes that Hogwarts actually taught how to perform Dark Magic, not just defend against it. He is a very capable Quidditch Seeker.
The 1996 imprisonment of Draco’s father had a profound effect on his life. His father’s failure to obtain the Prophecy from the Department of Mysteries infuriated Voldemort. Unfortunately for Draco, Voldemort’s attention turned to Lucius’ only son. Sometime after his 16th birthday in June, Voldemort gives Draco an assignment that no adult had been able to achieve: circumvent Hogwarts’ security, and the murder of Albus Dumbledore. Draco was probably also made a Death Eater at this time (TLC).
Draco initially appeared proud and cocky, but his mother secretly went to Severus Snape and pleaded with him to protect Draco — and to “carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform” if it seems that Draco will fail (HBP2).
Later, we know that Draco was so frightened and isolated that he even sought solace from Moaning Myrtle (HBP21). Even Harry notices a difference: Draco is losing weight, paler and has dark circles under his eyes (HBP22). As Jo later said in an interview, “having talked the talk [Draco is] asked to walk it for the first time and it is absolutely terrifying.” (TLC). For Draco, the stakes were impossibly high: Voldemort would have his whole family killed if Draco failed (HBP). Even knowing that, Draco was unable to kill the Headmaster. Snape did the job for him, then grabbed Draco and escaped (HBP27).
Draco went back to Hogwarts for his seventh year, now a known Death Eater and not particularly favored by the Dark Lord. At home, his family was bullied and mocked, even while their home was being used as headquarters and as a prison. He had watched one of the teachers killed in front of him and then eaten by Nagini (DH1). What he got up to during that turbulent year is uncertain, but by the time he was home for his Easter holidays (DH23) and Snatchers captured Harry, Ron, and Hermione, he gave only half-hearted help in identifying his schoolmates.
When the Death Eaters attacked the school, however, Draco stayed inside the castle to try to capture Harry Potter, probably to try to make up for all the other failings of his family. He, Crabbe, and Goyle caught up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Room of Lost Things. In the ensuing confrontation, Crabbe wildly used magic he couldn’t control, setting Fiendfyre loose. Draco and Goyle managed to make it to temporary safety while Crabbe was killed. Harry, on a broomstick, swung back and saved Draco’s life just as the Fiendfyre was about to devour them (DH31).
After the Battle, when Voldemort was dead, the Malfoy family sat in the Great Hall together, unsure if they were welcome to be there, but ignored by the rest of the people gathered. Narcissa had aided Harry Potter in order to be able to get into the castle to save her son, and now she, Draco, and Lucius looked at a new world dawning before them, a new world where they might not fit in (DH36).
Things did change somewhat. Over the next nineteen years, Draco married Astoria Greengrass and had a son named Scorpius Hyperion (DH/e, YL). He and Harry did not become friends, but they did develop a certain level of respect and understanding of each other (BLC).
Draco and Harry, because of the friendship of their sons, join together with Hermione and Ron to defeat Voldemort and the Cursed Child. In one of their conversations, Draco reveals that his ambition was to be a Quidditch player and not to become “a Ministry man” (CC4.4).
Draco is Latin for "serpent" or "dragon" (Wikipedia). It is also the name of a constellation found in the northern hemisphere (constellation-guide). In history, Draco the Athenian was a Greek legislator whose harsh and unforgiving laws gave rise to the term "draconian" (Wikipedia).
Malfoy can be broken down into the French words mal ("bad") and foi ("faith"), although J K Rowling has stated that the name is purely made up (RAH).
From the Web
Writing by J K Rowling on WizardingWorld (Pottermore):
- The Department of Mysteries: Poor Little Rich Boy by Bob Sindeldecker and Esther Kleinig
- On Why Draco Malfoy is a Great Antagonist by teaadict
- Five Times Draco Malfoy Got What Was Coming to Him by Chelsea Korynta
- Six Reasons Why Draco Malfoy Is Actually Really Smart by Sophia Jenkins
- Is Draco Malfoy a Better Father than Harry Potter? by Emily Hedrick & Lucy Demuth
- The Congruent Lives of Dudley And Draco by ThePotterhead101
- The Knave of Spades (Some Thoughts about Draco's Character Development in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) by Yamato
- Malfoy’s Misgivings by Nadia M
- Harry Potter and the Order of Archetypes: Draco Malfoy, the Anti-hero by Katie Majka
- Understanding Draco Malfoy: His intelligence and his strength by Rachel Leishman
Harry Potter Wiki: Draco Malfoy
LadyGeekGirl blog: In Brightest Day: Draco Malfoy by blackout31
DwellingOnDreams blog and podcast:
- When Draco Got It Right (Or At Least Not Wrong)
- S2 Ep1: Hallows, Rivalries, and Petulant Personalities
Essays from LiveJournal:
- Dumbledore's Mercy: Why Draco Couldn't Pull the Trigger by travisprinzi
- Draco Malfoy: Sides of An Antagonist by sullensphinx
- Draco Malfoy: Villain or Victim? by pilly2009
WizardingWorld (Pottermore) features: