…for the three people left on earth who haven’t read the whole series yet.
On Halloween, I’ll be at Bakka Phoenix Books in Toronto (well, maybe—Hurricane Sandy willing, anyway) as part of an author meet-and-greet for the World Fantasy Convention, and I’ve decided to go in costume as Narcissa Malfoy of the Harry Potter series.
Narcissa is an interesting character. She’s one of Voldemort’s followers and yet she manages to be very sympathetic, at least at the point in the story when we meet her. Her primary concern is for her son, and she’s willing to do whatever she has to in order to protect him. It’s ultimately her love for her son that saves Harry in The Deathly Hallows. When she leans down to confirm that he’s dead for Voldemort, she sees that he isn’t, and instead of exposing him, she asks the question more important to her than her loyalty to Voldemort or her own life: “Does my son still live?” When Harry tells her Draco does, she allows Harry to live also, telling Voldemort he’s dead.
Unlike her batshit crazy sister Bellatrix, she doesn’t appear to enjoy killing for the sake of killing, or even crave the power that her husband Lucius does, though she’s a believer in the superiority of purebloods. With the whole “blood purity” thing and the uber-blond hair in their family, the Malfoys remind me a bit of a wealthy Aryan family during World War II who’ve made the wrong choice, and once they realize it, don’t really know how to get out of it. While that certainly doesn’t excuse them, Narcissa’s act of love for her son keeps them all out of Azkaban after Voldemort is destroyed.
It’s also Narcissa’s motherly love that results in Snape killing Dumbledore—which, of course, was all part of Dumbledore’s plan. It’s my opinion that when Narcissa begs Snape to look after Draco and to kill Dumbledore if he can’t, that she’s really asking him outright to do it instead to spare Draco crossing that point of no return. She doesn’t want Draco to be capable of it. She knows it would destroy him.
So in the long run, I know I’m not really supposed to excuse Narcissa or even like Narcissa, but I have a soft spot for her. I love characters like that who make it difficult for you to cast them as either villain or hero, and I’m glad Rowling chose to redeem Narcissa Malfoy in the end. She brings the story full circle for Harry, who was saved by his own mother’s love, which is a wonderful undercurrent in the series itself.
How about you? Do you have a soft spot for any characters you’re supposed to think of as one of the bad guys?