I wanted to come back to this question and also start writing more about Pottermore’s book club, which is fantastic so far– it’s generating a TON of great discussion and providing different perspectives of the story and the characters from all over the globe. As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m participating when I can on Twitter but I also want to say more about some (or all, eventually) of the discussion questions at some length, in the scope of the whole story.
Anyhow moving on, this question comes from week 2 of the book club, where participants were to focus on chapters 5-7 of Philosopher’s Stone. The question is:
Hmmm. That’s an interesting question. Their similarities are nuanced with differences, so they are more like parallels. If you consider that Draco is an only child, you could say that both Draco and Harry grew up very lonely. Lonely in very different ways, but lonely all the same. Draco would have lived on the Malfoy’s grand estate, in a big mansion with (probably) nobody to play with. His parents were a pure blood elitists with old money in the bank. His father was one of Voldemort’s most loyal servants, in the inner circle. Draco most likely grew up around a lot of quiet fear. Perhaps his only solace lay in the fact that he was part of an influential pure-blood family with connections to power.
Harry’s parents, on the other hand, were well loved and had many friends. They fought with the Order of the Phoenix and were killed by Voldemort after the prophecy was made outlining Harry as a potential threat to his existence. Harry grew up with his Muggle relatives, alone all the time or ignored, having NO idea what was in store for his life.
Both were very lonely boys, trying to make their own path in a complicated and dangerous world. There is another similarity: both their paths were set for them, and both struggled to cope, though in different ways and for different reasons. For Harry, it meant his destiny to defeat Voldemort. For Draco, it meant fulfilling the Malfoy family legacy of becoming a Death Eater and serving Voldemort. Both struggled with the terms of these destinies. Ultimately, one was brave enough to accept, the other was brave enough to reject. Draco always wanted to prove his worth. Harry didn’t want the attention.
Draco and Harry were both flanked by two friends. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger became Harry’s sanctuary, his confidants, the two most trusted people in his life. We don’t know much about Draco’s relationship with Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, we only know they act more like his henchmen than his friends, and he mostly treats them as such. Like Malfoy’s upbringing, Crabbe and Goyle were also the children of Death Eaters, so they probably knew each other before school. Harry values his friendships, while Draco probably doesn’t understand the meaning of the word. In fact, Draco was always a bit jealous of the solid friendships Harry was able to build over the years at Hogwarts.
Another “similarity” between them after they’ve grown is they both have one son who they are unable to connect with. Albus and Scorpius are the opposites of their fathers, but /unlike/ their fathers, become the best of friends. Draco and Harry go through the same kind of parental struggle, but it is clear that they have this one thing in common- they love their kid(s). When it comes down to it, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy do have outward similarities, yet they couldn’t be more different as people!
Annnnnd those are my thoughts! I think Draco makes a great character foil for Harry at Hogwarts. JKR did a good job with him; he’s more complex and under pressure than we ever could have realized. Even though I am in Slytherin, I’m still not so sure we’d get along. Until next time!