Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Draco W. Malfoy

Although I've seen all the movies so far, I'm just now catching up with the rest of the universe by listening to the unabridged audiobooks of the Harry Potter series. I'm on "Chamber of Secrets" right now and it's very good. One particular joy for me is listening to an audiobook of a work that I've seen as a film so that I can compare the two. On the one hand, Hagrid and McGonagall are exactly the same in both versions, down to the accents.
On the other, there is Draco Malfoy. In the movie, his character is presented as much more of a child. When bad things happen to him, his actions are much more cowardly since, well, he's still only just a kid. In the end, he is a bully and nothing more (as much as Harry would like to think otherwise). In the audiobook, however, his voice is given a quality of upper class snobbery that makes him sound older than he is. He looks down on everyone, thinks his classes are a joke (except Potions, of course) and constantly talks about how great his father is and how he always takes care of him. The same words are in the movie as the audiobook, but the movie emphasizes his childishness while the audiobook simply presents him as full of himself. 
Today, as I was paging through some articles I came across this one. Here's an excerpt: 

Thirty years after teaching the class, Tsurumi said the twenty-something Bush's statements and behavior--"always very shallow"--still stand out in his mind.

"Whenever [Bush] just bumped into me, he had some flippant statement to make," said Tsurumi when reached at his home in Scarsdale, N.Y. "The comments he made were revealing of his prejudice."

The White House did not reply to requests for comment on Bush's time at HBS.

Tsurumi said he particularly recalls Bush's right-wing extremism at the time, which he said was reflected in off-hand comments equating the New Deal of the 1930s with socialism and the corporation-regulating Securities and Exchange Commission with "an enemy of capitalism."

"I vividly remember that he made a comment saying that people are poor because they're lazy," Tsurumi said.

Tsurumi also said Bush displayed a sense of arrogance about his prominent family, including his father, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

"[George W. Bush] didn't stand out as the most promising student, but...he made it sure we understood how well he was connected," Tsurumi said. "He wasn't bashful about how he was being pushed upward by Dad's connections."

Again, the words remain the same on the printed page, but what of two possible interpretations do you think old Dubya falls under? It's been well reported that he was an arrogant young man that frequently got drunk and provided his parents with no end of misery. He was eventually able to swear off the alcohol, for which I applaud him, but the arrogance is still there. Before, his sense of entitlement was from his Dad's name and his money. Now his entitlement is more complicated, coming from such varied sources as the Supreme Court, his corporate friends and no less than the Lord Almighty himself.  
Amongst him and his inner circle is not a trace of humility, a noble trait that all men and women of character share. In the White House, Admitting any mistake is a sign of weakness and may tear at the fabric of their image of infallibility (as if it ever existed). Dubya's trademark smirk has become a symbol of his character: It demonstrates someone who refuses to listen to others and considers their input worthless on the very basis that it contradicts his own preconceptions.
I have a lot more Harry Potter to read, but I am already intrigued on how the series will end and find myself making predictions: Will Hermione and Ron finally get together? Will Harry vanquish Voldemort at the cost of his own life? Will Draco ever grow up? It is only the last point that I'm certain is inevitable. In books such as these the characters must grow. Children reading these books will take solace in the fact that the bully they face now will probably mature as they grow older, so all they have to do is to wait and be patient with them. 
Well, I said probably. For others, we're still waiting.

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