Ah, the names “Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle” attracted your immediate attention! Most likely, you were thinking the Harry Potter Guide should stay clear of dark wizards. It is a misconception to believe that those who torment or seek a façade of intimidation need to be feared. Research has concluded, “Nearly one in five students in an average classroom experiences bullying in some way. The rest of the students, called bystanders, are also affected.” Psychology can help us understand bullying behavior, and provide a feeling of empowerment by answering the right questions.
- Why do bullies seek attention and need to be feared?
- Does the behavior exist because some individuals feel either socially neglected or are bullied at home?
While Draco is a key antagonist in the Harry Potter series, you and I know he is not the only one. There will always be people of equal or lesser degrees who will publically display feelings of anger and jealously, hatred and vengeance through actions and words. Sometimes, it may be a close friend; or, perhaps, you realized, a little too late, your own words and actions were unjust. As readers, we can draw strength and solve problems from the many ways Harry and his friends stand proud and together, try to remain peaceful and retaliate only when necessary.
Draco, a History Lesson
What do we know about Draco?
- Born into two ancient wizarding families, he was raised to espouse two prejudices: to believe in the importance of blood purity and to regret the Dark Lord’s rise to power.
- He was the son of an aristocratic wizard who worked for the Ministry of Magic, and a “marked” Death Eater.
From these few facts, it is understandable why Draco’s character could be described as haughty and unworldly. Without compassion, any chance of thriving in the wizarding community would end in failure. Even surrounded by likeminded individuals in the house of Slytherin, Draco had followers and supporters, but no true friends. One thing we must remember, he took every possible step towards a dark path; yet, slowly, as readers, we can see Draco grasping to change his life.
Defining Types of Bullying
Of the 772 characters in the Harry Potter series, we can place them in distinct categories. For example,
- Draco is a bully. He enjoyed the power of being a leader, and felt empowered through taunting and threatening others.
- Crabbe and Goyle would be defined as “followers.” They enjoyed engaging in bullying, but chose not to lead.
- As a “supporter,” Pansy only called attention to the situation by laughing. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and many others are termed “defenders.” They stand against bullying, and try to help anyone who needs help.
- And, finally, there is the gray area of passive individuals who may watch, but do not participate. They could become potential followers and supporters, or, better yet, join the side of defenders if they could muster or encourage courage like the brave Gryffindors.
Albus Dumbledore said it well, “It is our choices that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
A Second Impression Matters
Well before Draco offered his friendship to Harry on the Hogwarts Express, they become acquainted while shopping at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. Harry listened to Draco and felt “he was liking the boy less and less every second.” As readers, we knew a confrontation was impending. Draco’s glorious moment does not end as expected; instead, he is embarrassed in front of Crabbe and Goyle.
In moments when you act “more bravely than you feel,” Harry appreciated having Ron Weasley, a friend, by his side. (Since Ron had five older brothers, he was accustomed to speaking out and standing up for himself. Harry’s strength, on the other hand, came from living an inferior life with his aunt and uncle, and especially his cousin, Dudley.) Throughout the years at Hogwarts, Harry, Ron and Hermione are bullied; however, they “survive” each jeering and taunting moment together, due to their emotional bond as friends. (In the end, how many stood and supported Harry Potter for his diligent role as a defender? How many supported Draco Malfoy?)
Friends Who Bully
What about those who are considered good guys, namely James Potter and Sirius Black? They taunted and bullied Severus Snape relentlessly while their good friends Rumus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew stood by without following or supporting their behavior. Ironically, as a godson of Sirius Black, Harry inherited prejudices, too. He was an ultimate defender and sought to “save” as many as possible from the power of bullying. We can all become compassionate heroes, and prove that the ability to love is the purest form of magic.