Cover image doesn’t belong to me
Draco has become a very popular character from Harry Potter – he may even be more loved than Harry himself at this point. He’s my personal favorite character (in Harry Potter and literature in general), and I have a lot of reasons for that. Some of my thoughts and opinions are very different from other Draco fans’.
Specific things I’m going to cover:
#1 Draco’s character in the beginning
#2 His upbringing
#5 The fandom’s portrayal of him
Draco’s character in the beginning
Draco is first introduced to us as a spoiled, snobby, rude brat. Harry doesn’t like him, and he has good reasons for why he doesn’t. Later on, when Draco offers to be Harry’s friend, Harry refuses, which upsets Draco. Draco then bullies Harry and his friends along with other people for a long time. He isn’t a good person – he’s a spoiled brat, a bully, and a pureblood supremacist.
He’s written specifically as the “foil” to Harry. He’s a well-written character because he’s bad, like he’s supposed to be. He’s very entertaining to read about and I can imagine fun to write about. I find him to be an enjoyable and hilarious character in general. A character doesn’t have to be a good person to be a good character. Flaws in characters are like gravy on turkey – the more delicious the flaws, the more delicious the character.
How Draco was brought up is an important aspect of why he is the way he is. His parents raised him to believe that purebloods were superior to muggles and muggleborns. He wasn’t ever exposed to any other way of thinking until he was 11, when he went to Hogwarts for the first time. His parents also spoiled him, so he kind of expected to always get whatever he wanted. Above all, his parents loved and cared for him. They weren’t abusive. It’s obvious that Narcissa loves Draco, as we see in chapter 2 of Half-Blood Prince and throughout Deathly Hallows. Lucius loves Draco, too. There’s a lot of evidence for it, especially in Deathly Hallows. We see Lucius and Narcissa showing they love each other, and I don’t think Lucius could love Narcissa without loving Draco, and Narcissa wouldn’t love Lucius if he didn’t love Draco. Lucius wanted Draco to be safe. He asked Voldemort not to attack Hogwarts when Draco was still in the castle, and he, along with Narcissa, ran through the battle wandless to find him.
Draco’s upbringing may be the general explanation for his actions, but it still isn’t an excuse. He still made his own decisions, and even if his parents didn’t discourage his bullying for the most part, they still didn’t force him to bully people. They weren’t around him most of the time he was at Hogwarts, either. He could’ve made his own decisions, especially by the time he was around 15. He didn’t need to act the same way he did at 11, but he still did.
Throughout Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, things change. Draco becomes a Death Eater and gets a mission from Voldemort – to kill Dumbledore. He did choose to become a Death Eater, himself. He may have been pressured into it by his circumstances and environment, but in the end, it was his choice. Lucius was in Azkaban, so he couldn’t have done anything, and Narcissa was upset with what happened. Draco was proud of his mission at first, and he boasted about it to Crabbe, Goyle, Pansy, and Blaise. He wouldn’t let Snape help him because he was too proud and wanted to do it on his own.
Throughout the year, he started slipping. It was hard for him to fix the Vanishing Cabinet, and he didn’t know how he was going to be able to kill Dumbledore. He was scared he was going to fail and that Voldemort was going to kill him and his parents. He even resorted to confiding in Moaning Myrtle and letting her comfort him – which is a rare vulnerability for him.
There were times when he got so desperate that he tried other methods of killing Dumbledore besides the Vanishing Cabinet: the cursed necklace and the poisoned mead. They both failed and almost killed two other innocent people.
Him attempting to kill Dumbledore is already bad itself – even if it was to save his family, and putting two other people (Katie Bell and Ron) in danger through his own recklessness makes his actions worse. They would’ve died if other people around hadn’t reacted quickly enough, and Draco would’ve been responsible. Even if he didn’t intend for this to happen, he’s still responsible, and it’s still bad. What he was actually trying to do wasn’t good to begin with, either. He also was never exactly shown to have remorse for his actions.
However, when he actually fixes the Vanishing Cabinet and finally has the chance to kill Dumbledore, he doesn’t. There was a lot of dialogue in the scene leading up to when Draco makes the decision not to do it. Throughout the time, Dumbledore can already tell that Draco won’t kill him, but Draco still says some bad things – not just talking about killing Dumbledore but also calling Hermione a mudblood. The fact that he chose not to kill Dumbledore shows that he isn’t truly evil, but it doesn’t automatically make him a good person or erase all the bad things he’s done.
Some people try to argue that his reason for not killing Dumbledore was more out of cowardice and not because he just wasn’t a murderer, but there isn’t any evidence to prove that, and going by what we do see in the book(s), I think it was simply him not wanting to be a murderer – despite Voldemort’s threats. This is also where the possibility of Draco getting a redemption is first brought up, because we see how conflicted he is and how unwilling he is to kill people.
In Deathly Hallows, we see Draco with the Death Eaters. Voldemort’s taken over his home, and it’s full of Death Eaters now. He’s very upset and afraid. The Death Eaters, especially Voldemort, don’t treat him or his parents very well. They’re being completely humiliated. Draco is being threatened to do things by Voldemort, and he probably was tortured on at least one occasion.
Harry sees a vision of Draco having to torture Thorfinn Rowle, one of the Death Eaters, or otherwise, face Voldemort’s wrath himself. Despite Harry’s general attitude towards Draco or what Draco is doing (torturing someone), Harry feels for Draco and doesn’t think he deserves to be treated like this – like a tool instead of a human being. I would argue that, in this specific instance, Draco wasn’t in the wrong, anyway, because not only was he trying to protect himself and his family, but Thorfinn Rowle wasn’t a good person, either. He was a Death Eater who had tortured and killed, himself, and just before this, had tried to capture/kill Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Even Harry tortured a Death Eater (Amycus Carrow) on one occasion. However, I do think there were other times when Draco did bad things that actually were still bad under the threat of what Voldemort would do to him and his family. For this reason, I think Draco in the last two books, especially the last one, is more of an anti-villain; he does bad things but does sort of have good intentions – to protect his family.
When Harry, Ron, and Hermione are captured and taken to Malfoy Manor, Hermione uses a spell on Harry to make him harder to recognize, and Draco is asked to identify if he was really Harry. In the book, Harry was more unrecognizable than he was in the movie, and it was even noted that Harry wouldn’t have even known it was himself if he didn’t know he was standing there, when he was looking at his reflection. Ron and Hermione looked the same though, so Draco recognized them. People have arguments about whether he truly did know it was Harry and wanted to protect him, or if he really was just uncertain. Personally, I believe he did know it was Harry, because I don’t think there’s any reason he would’ve been seriously uncertain, and just the way it was written makes me believe it was intentional of Draco to do this on purpose.
However, when Narcissa and Lucius recognize Hermione and Ron, Draco starts to slip and say “Yeah, it could be.” The whole time, he never actually said “no”, he just said “I don’t know.” I think he was trying to protect Harry the best he could without also putting himself and his parents in danger, which I think is pretty reasonable, although in the end, he did kind of give up on protecting Harry, and it was partly because of his own cowardice.
Later on, he tries to capture Harry in the Room of Requirement. He also just wanted his wand back, and it’s possible he would’ve let Harry go, either way, since, in general, it doesn’t seem like he was that willing to help Voldemort. But he still followed Harry and got in his way of getting a horcrux (although Draco didn’t know anything about that). He ends up losing control over Crabbe and Goyle, especially Crabbe. He tells Crabbe not to wreck the room, but Crabbe doesn’t listen, and he even tries to use spells like crucio and avada kedavra on Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Draco tells Crabbe not to kill Harry, because Voldemort wants him alive. Goyle gets knocked unconscious, and Crabbe, not listening to Draco’s warnings, uses fiendfyre and loses control over it. The first thing Draco does is grab Goyle, because he can’t move, himself. Draco carries Goyle on his back, and Crabbe runs ahead of them. Draco gets himself and Goyle to temporary safety, with Crabbe nowhere to be found. Harry comes back to save Draco and Goyle, but he can’t pull them both up at the same time, so Draco helps get Goyle onto another broom before climbing onto Harry’s.
When everyone (except for Crabbe) is safe and trying to regain their strength, Draco is upset about Crabbe’s death. Harry, Ron, and Hermione eventually leave Draco and Goyle behind.
I think it’s really important that Draco saved Goyle. It was really sweet, and it shows that Draco can be brave if he wants to be, regardless of whether anyone actually cares about Goyle. I find it strange how some people criticize Draco for not joining Harry – like, yeah, there’s no redemption here, but why would anyone expect Draco to randomly join Harry, especially after the shock he’s just been in. I also can’t remember specifically what the book said, but I think Goyle may have still been knocked out, so Draco probably just didn’t want to leave him on his own until he was back on his feet, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione were the ones who left them on their own, so what exactly do people think Draco should’ve done instead?
The next time they see Draco, he is on his own. He’s about to get killed by a Death Eater, and he’s pleading with him not to kill him; “I’m Draco Malfoy! I’m on your side!” Harry stuns the Death Eater from underneath the Invisibility Cloak, and Draco is happy he’s been saved. I don’t understand the criticism Draco gets here, either, because what was he supposed to do – let the Death Eater kill him? He didn’t have a wand, and even if he did, he can’t take on a fully grown and trained Death Eater. No one’s life was in danger but his own, so all he wanted to do was protect himself. He wasn’t putting anyone else in danger.
At some point later on, Harry sees Lucius talking to Voldemort. This is what I mentioned earlier, with Lucius asking Voldemort not to attack the castle because Draco was still there. Harry also notices that Lucius still has the marks of a punishment from Voldemort – including a swollen eye. It’s possible Draco has been tortured as well, especially considering that Voldemort’s punishment to Lucius was also to anyone else who was there when Harry escaped Malfoy Manor.
In the end, after Voldemort was defeated, Harry spots the three Malfoys huddled together during the celebration, not exactly sure if they were supposed to be there or what they were supposed to do.
Should Draco have had a redemption arc?
I don’t think so. His character was fine the way it was. I think people are unsatisfied with his character’s “ending”, because they feel like he should’ve had something more. If not a redemption arc, he could’ve become more evil and actually been a darker character, and I do understand where people are coming from. It may seem pretty unsatisfying that Draco stayed mostly the same. He didn’t become fully evil, but he didn’t redeem himself, either. He remained as a Death Eater who reluctantly followed Voldemort’s orders.
Half-Blood Prince already showed that Draco wasn’t truly evil, and there wasn’t any reason for that to change in Deathly Hallows. Deathly Hallows also didn’t focus that much on Draco overall, so, without changing anything else about the book, I really don’t think there was much time to give him a redemption. It would’ve been rushed, and I think that no redemption is better than a badly written one. Not every character needs to be redeemed, and Draco still got something – he was humbled, with his pride shattered to pieces. One true aspect of Draco’s character is his love and loyalty to his family, and he was always on their side.
We don’t have a lot of canon information on what Draco is like as an adult, other than the epilogue, so a lot of this is going to be my own thoughts, opinions, and headcanons. Some of this may also be taken from The Cursed Child, but it’s okay if you don’t like that book overall.
Just because Draco doesn’t get a redemption arc in the original seven books doesn’t mean that people can’t create one for him after Deathly Hallows. That’s part of the beauty of his character – it’s incomplete in a way that people can do what they want with him after Deathly Hallows.
We do have the epilogue, which takes place nineteen years later. We get a glimpse of him as an adult (37 years old), and we see his wife and son. The epilogue doesn’t say who his wife is, but on the wizarding world website, it’s revealed her name is Astoria. The epilogue does tell us his son is named Scorpius. We don’t get a lot of what’s going on with Draco and his family in this little scene, but it says that they look relieved when they’ve arrived, and when Draco sees Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny staring at him, he nods and then turns away. Ron tells Rose in a sort of joking way to get better grades than Scorpius, and a bit more seriously, to not get too close with him. Hermione tells him to give the kid a chance.
Some people see this scene as Draco being friendly toward Harry and possibly being able to become friends with him. Other people think it’s more about arrogance, with the way he just turned around. I personally see it as awkwardness. Draco possibly hasn’t seen Harry in nineteen years, and he didn’t get along with Harry when they were younger. Harry also saved his life twice. Draco also may just have issues socializing with people after everything he’s been through and that’s happened. I think him awkwardly acknowledging Harry before turning around makes a lot of sense and is fine.
I think this little scene is just cute and sweet in general. I love that we get to see Draco as an adult and with his wife and son. I do think his awkward nod is more on the friendly side, although I don’t think he’s being overly friendly. I don’t see why he could never become friends with Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny, but I don’t think he has to, either. It could go either way. I like that he’s in the epilogue to begin with, and I think it’s a nice hint of the possibility of him getting a redemption. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for him to become friends with Harry to redeem himself, but like I said, I’m not completely against that idea.
There’s a large, nineteen year, gap between the last chapter and the epilogue that’s pretty much open to interpretation. I think Draco would change quite a lot due to what he’s experienced, although not everything about him would change right away. Voldemort did terrible things, some of which affected the Malfoys. As I mentioned before, Draco may have gained some humility from this, so some good came out of the bad of Voldemort, but of course that still doesn’t make Voldemort or what he did less bad. I believe Draco suffers from PTSD because of this as well. I think at this point, he’s starting to question his beliefs that his parents raised him with. Overall, he’s pretty confused and doesn’t know exactly how to move on with his life. People also don’t generally treat him or his family very well since they were Death Eaters. The Malfoys are seen as a disgrace to the wizarding world.
At some point, he meets Astoria, who doesn’t have the same harsh judgment of him that others do. She gives him a chance, and he takes it. He’s perseverant in trying to be the best version of himself, and I believe she’s very encouraging as well. I don’t think she made Draco a better person, herself – he had to make his own decisions – she just helped him get on the right track. Draco wasn’t willing to change because Astoria loved him – Astoria loved him because he was willing to change.
Draco ends up giving up his pureblood beliefs and becoming a “blood traitor” like Astoria, which his parents don’t approve of, but he stands up to them, finally being brave enough to do so, and he and Astoria get married.
Astoria was a very loving and caring wife to Draco. She took care of him and helped him a lot with issues he may have had, possibly due to PTSD. She’s very soothing and calming and comforts him when he has nightmares or flashbacks. She also has to be very patient, not only because of these issues but also just because Draco, being Draco, is a pain in the butt. She loves and cares for him even when he drives her crazy. Astoria has a blood curse and grows weaker and frailer over time. Draco is a good husband and takes care of her as much as he can. They have a supportive and healthy relationship.
They had a son named Scorpius, and they chose not to raise him with the belief that purebloods were superior to everyone else, which Lucius and Narcissa didn’t particularly like. Astoria and Draco were both good, loving parents and probably raised Scorpius better than Lucius and Narcissa raised Draco.
Draco’s journey as a father is an important part in Draco’s life that helped him learn and grow. He loves and cares for his son, and he wanted to teach his son well so that he would make good decisions and not be a repeat of how Draco was at Hogwarts. Seeing how Scorpius turns out, Draco and Astoria did a good job as parents and are very proud of their son. Draco always wanted what was best for Scorpius and does the best as a father. He may make mistakes sometimes, but he learns and grows from them.
Sadly, as Astoria’s blood curse continuously worsened, she eventually died. Draco and Scorpius were both heartbroken. Draco struggled a lot with his grief and probably didn’t know exactly how to handle or express it. He struggled with being a single father, but he wanted to keep trying to do his best and to support Scorpius, especially since he lost his mother. Their relationship may have been shaken up a little -or a lot, but they pulled through in the end. Draco and Scorpius still grieve for Astoria and miss her everyday, but they have each other as Draco still continues to be a strong and loving father.
Like I said, a lot of this is my own opinions and headcanons, and I use them in my fanfictions.
The fandom’s portrayal of him
As I said in the beginning, Draco is a very popular character. There are many reasons for that, but one of the biggest ones is because of Tom Felton and how he looks and portrays Draco. Tom Felton’s overall portrayal of Draco is fine; Draco doesn’t have as much depth to him in the movies, and I like him more in the books, but that’s mostly because the movies aren’t long enough to include and show everything. It’s also perfectly okay for people to be fans of just Tom Felton or both him and Draco. The problem is when people get them mixed up or say that they’re mostly a Draco fan when they’re really more of a Felton fan.
Plenty of people in the fandom want to make Draco (specifically as a kid) into something he’s not – a good person. As I’ve already talked about, I have nothing against Draco getting a redemption after Deathly Hallows – in fact, I love that idea, but I don’t like seeing him portrayed as a good – or even in some cases, perfect – person while he was at Hogwarts in the original seven books. It’s fine for people to explore AU ideas on this, like “Draco as a nice person”, but in general, I’m not a fan of people making Draco into a nice person as if that’s what he actually is in the series. That’s not Draco’s character.
In my opinion, Draco is an amazing character in the series. He’s well-written, and, while at the start, he’s more one-sided, as the series progresses, he gets more depth. The “conclusion” he got in-series is satisfying enough, but it also leaves room for fan creativity.