If you’ve been following along, you know that people often spy for personal reasons – patriotism/loyalty, fear, love, etc. There is one personal motivation we HAVE to mention, because it is SO important both in the real world and in the Harry Potter series. And that motivation is…
ANALYSIS: Why would Draco Malfoy agree to try to kill Dumbledore in book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?
Remember that, by that point in the series, Draco’s father is imprisoned and derided as a known Death Eater. Voldemort personally gives Draco his assignment, which makes Draco feel powerful and important at the precise moment he has begun to be humiliated by his father. But one must wonder, just as Professor Dumbledore wonders when he is visiting with Snape, whether Draco’s heart is really in it. Draco is not evil at this point, but simply terribly misdirected. His motive is revenge, not hatred, and the difference between the two is significant. Draco seems somewhat apathetic to Lord Voldemort’s cause. In book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Draco observes Lord Voldemort torturing and killing people—including Hogwarts’s Muggle Studies teacher, Professor Charity Burbage, the woman twisting above the drawing room table (DH 3, 11). When he sees his father forced to give his wand to Lord Voldemort, we imagine that he begins to understand Voldemort quite well and perhaps has terrible misgivings about the Dark Lord’s presence in his family’s home (a point raised by Voldemort at the time—perhaps by use of Legilimency!).
We assert that Lucius and Narcissi Malfoy come to the same conclusion by the end of the series, as shown in the final installation of the film series: during the last battle, they grab Draco and quietly leave the scene, no doubt to go into hiding—away from Lord Voldemort, in case he is successful, and in a position to claim they did not fight for him if the tide is turned. A shrewd move indeed, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy! You will also note that, in the movie version, Draco has a hard time leaving his friends when asked to do so. He is clearly conflicted; after all, he had been saved just a little while ago by Harry Potter (to Ron’s great chagrin!) when the Room of Requirements went up in magical flames (DH 633–34).
Draco Malfoy Analysis
Recruitment by: Voldemort himself, no doubt
Incentive Used: Revenge for father’s downfall
Handler: Voldemort, perhaps through Lucius Malfoy or other Death Eaters when necessary (as when Lucius is in prison)
Method of Communication: Face-to-face
“I haven’t got any options! I’ve got to do it! He’ll kill me! He’ll kill my whole family!” (HBP 591).
Dumbledore: “A frightened teenage boy is a danger to others as well as to himself. Offer him help and guidance, he ought to accept, he likes you—”
Snape: “—much less since his father has lost favor. Draco blames me, he thinks I have usurped Lucius’s position” (DH 682).