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26 November 2011

I am Draco Malfoy.

On Thanksgiving afternoon, I had a mini-HP Deathly Hallows marathon. It's rare that I have six+ hours of down time to devote to watching a movies, so I figured now was as good a time as any to revisit the ending of the series in it's entirety.

As an English teacher, I love the HP series. It's served as a great "gateway" series to get kids hooked into reading. And I love that the films have prompted some critical engagement with our kids -- comparing the books to the films, discussing what the films got wrong and what they did better -- really engaging with both texts. As a reader, I love the HP series because it opened a pretty awesome magical world to me that I had grown out of. And, while the books have their flaws, they are pretty well written and very enjoyable.

I also love the characters that Rowling gives us. She uses traditional dramatic types to fill her pages and gives them modern day (even if they are "magical") struggles to challenge them and force them to reveal their true selves. They have depth and dimension, but, sadly, not all are dynamic. Which doesn't mean that I like them any less. It just means that I identify with the less.

Let's start at the beginning: Harry himself. Harry is our hero. He is our self-sacrificing, Christ-like figure. He struggles to accept the role of The Chosen One, but he realizes that there is more planned for him than he knows. He doesn't change or grow or develop all that much. His true self is eventually revealed through the (constant) intercession of his two best friends and the many others who dedicate their lives to making sure he lives. He achieves beyond what I can ever expect to. He is far too courageous to be real. While we should all aspire to be like him, that is an unrealistic aspiration. We can never expect to achieve his feats. He is, after all, The Chosen One. We are just The Many.

Hermione is perfect. She knows right from wrong and has an inscrutable moral guide. She never sways from doing the right thing, even when it is hard or seemingly impossible. She stands up to bullies and faces her fear. While I love her tenacity, she just isn't real for me. She never changes of grows or develops as a character. She is perfect from the beginning to the end.

Ron is Ron. He struggles with jealousy, but that never truly deters his loyalty. He is a good friend and has a kind heart. He doesn't always do what is right at first, but he eventually follows his conscience. Of the three leads, Ron is the most flawed and the most redeemed. But his struggles aren't the same struggles that so many of us face. Ours seem to be greater, demanding more evolution and introspection.

But Draco. I see myself and so many of us in Draco. And it took me a long time to realize this. I've always wanted to hate Draco because of his naturally evil leanings, but I've come to realize that I hate Draco because I see all of the things that I hate in myself in him. Draco is a young, impressionable boy who follows his family/friends blindly because they are the people who love and support him. Even when he finally sees the evil around him, he struggles to do the "right" thing. This side of him really starts to show in the last few books of the series. He thinks that he has all the answers for all of life's questions and this makes him cocky. And he hides his vulnerability because he knows that it makes him weak. He presents a strong, steely exterior to the world when, in reality, he is torn apart inside. He has perfected his poker face, and it never truly breaks. But, despite all of his inherent evilness, he grows. He changes He develops from a cold, heartless kid into someone who turns away from the dark and towards the light. He helps the "good guys" (albeit subtly), and he serves to be the most dynamic HP character (in my humble opinion).



I see so much of Draco in me. I struggle with the same allegiances, forsaking what is truly right and good for me to stay with the comfortable and easy of those around me. I often find myself presenting a stoic exterior to the world to disguise the turmoil and frustration I sometimes feel inside. I like to pretend that I have all of life's answers, but I really have no clue what I am doing. And, I would like to see myself growing and developing and eventually becoming the person I would like to be. I just wonder if I actually have the tenacity and strength to get there.

I aspire to be Draco. To turn away from the toxic and trying and find the honesty and truth in the world. That takes guts. And I don't think I'm made of such stuff. But Draco reminds me that even the worst among us can change and become better.
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