Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)

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Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)

Draco is a man with a mission this year—and a nasty one at that. We don't know exactly what he's been asked to do at first, but we do know:

(a) it comes from Voldemort
(b) his mother is worried about his safety (and maybe also about burdening the kid with a gnarly task like this)
(c) Snape has promised to carry out the mission if Draco fails—and sealed the promise with an Unbreakable Vow.

We get some more clues about what the mission might be throughout the film, but we don't get 100% proof until the very end.

The Vanishing Cabinet

It's kind of lucky that Harry, Hermione, and Ron are on the scene when Malfoy's plan starts to take shape. We love it when things work out like that. See, they're in Diagon Alley when Draco arrives at Borgin & Burke's looking like he's up to something sneaky.

Classic Draco.

They climb up on a neighboring roof and spy on Malfoy through a window as he meets up with some Death Eaters in the store. It's kind of hard to tell, but it looks like they're playing with a vanishing cabinet. Hermione, Harry, and Ron aren't really sure what to make of that, but they're pretty sure nothing good can come of it. And boy, are they right.

Later, we see Malfoy visiting a similar cabinet in a room at Hogwarts. He seems to be practicing finding, vanishing, and retrieving objects from it.

That all seems innocent enough for now, but why is he practicing bringing things into Hogwarts and taking them out? Why would he want to learn how to get things into Hogwarts from the outside, in secret? Again, doesn't seem like a good thing.

A Softer Side?

The upside of all this? We get to see a slightly less evil side of Malfoy. We know, we know, he's helping the Dark Lord, but it's increasingly clear that he's not happy about it. In fact, when he vanishes a living bird in the cabinet and it reappears dead, he weeps.

See? There's some kind of heart underneath that tortured blond exterior. Clearly, he's not all that into the sadism and murder that's required to be a Death Eater.

Also, he seems shaken when Katie Bell returns to school after nearly dying from handling a cursed necklace (which was intended for Dumbledore). Harry's pretty well convinced that Malfoy was behind bewitching Katie to deliver that poisoned necklace to Dumbledore (and turns out, he's right).

But that reaction at seeing Katie return to school? Looks an awful lot like shame to us. Draco really seems to be losing his stomach and nerve for the Dark magic stuff.

Draco May Be Many Bad Things…But He's Not a Murderer

Dumbledore knows that Draco isn't a completely evil person at heart—which is why, when Draco shows up to kill him towards the end of the film, Dumbledore tries to reason with him:

DUMBLEDORE: Draco, you are no assassin.

DRACO: How do you know what I am? I've done things that would shock you.

DUMBLEDORE: Oh, like cursing Katie Bell and hoping that in return she'd bear a cursed necklace to me? Like replacing a bottle of mead with one laced with poison? Forgive me, Draco, I cannot help feeling these actions are so weak that your heart can't really have been in them.

In this convo, Draco is clearly riding the struggle bus. He's super nervous and upset—and turns out, he's only doing this because he doesn't want the Dark Lord to kill him/his family. No wonder he's a shivering wreck while trying to face off with his headmaster.

At the end of the day, as per usual, Dumbledore ends up being right: Malfoy doesn't kill him. That's the good news. The bad news, of course, is that Snape does it for him. So, yeah, the end result is the same: Dumbledore is dead. Boo.

Anyway, we're not saying Draco's a great kid just because he failed to kill Dumbledore himself. After all, he's been into the Dark Arts and palling around with Dark wizards for basically the entire time we've known him, which is kinda how he got into this mess. But his reluctance to murder his headmaster gave us just the tiniest glimpse of humanity and mercy in his character.

Maybe, just maybe, there's hope for him after all.

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