Lucius Malfoy is evil

The actor who has played Lucius Malfoy in the massively popular Harry Potter movies expresses a view of evil that would make Lord Voldemort smile.

As Malfoy, 48-year-old actor Jason Isaacs has plumbed his character’s dark heart and chilled millions of moviegoers since he appeared in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” in 2002. So it comes as a surprise — it shouldn’t but it does — to hear the British performer renounce evil.

There is, he says, no such thing. Even arch-villain Lord Voldemort is not so much wicked as misguided.

“No one is ever bad,” said the disconcertingly genial Isaacs, in jeans and a casual shirt looking nothing like the supercilious Lucius. “Voldemort sees the way the world ought to be, in his own eyes, and is trying to make it that way.”

It was Voldemort, quoted by Professor Quirrell, who said there is no good or evil, only power and those too weak to seek it. Or to change movies, it was Anakin Skywalker who said, “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.”

It is given in our culture that there are no standards from which we can judge things such as good and evil. There is only the clash of different personal perspectives. In such a world, power rather than truth determines what is evil and good.

This is not, of course, the Christian understanding of evil. We know what is good; it is God. Evil is that which is opposed to God or rejects God or violates the will of God. You can ask interesting questions about people who have never been told of God. In the nearly religion-less world of Harry Potter, Lucius Malfoy may have never encountered the gospel, but his actor has no such claim to ignorance.

The Malfoys and Voldemort are evil, whether they call themselves that or not. It is not their perspective that matters here. It is God’s.

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5 thoughts on “Lucius Malfoy is evil

  1. I do tend to believe that most people are not entirely “bad” but that all of us do bad things. I think I have met probably 3 individuals in my life who have been so soaked in evil that I did wonder whether they would ever be able to recognize and tolerate The Good (God) and repent. Lucius Malfoy is interesting as a character because I think he might be on that border-crossing; but one also assumes that he was created as a larger-than-evil character by his author. Voldemort does seem to be irredeemable, to me.

  2. I’m not gonna lie, John. My first reaction to the title was to think, “Well, DUH.”

    Good post.

  3. Hi, John. Your post brings up a subtlety in the Harry Potter series that I feel it’s worthwhile to point out. I believe that the author is inviting us, in Books 6 and 7 (if not sooner than that), to have a growing sense of compassion for the Malfoy family. Yes, Lucius is evil (“well duh” indeed!) but apparently he isn’t evil enough for Voldemort, nor are his wife and child. But now they’re trapped. They want out of Voldemort’s inner circle, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to escape. Dumbledore and Snape both show concern for Draco in Book 6, but we as readers are invited increasingly to recognize that Narcissa and Lucius are also in trouble.

    I find this description of them especially interesting (from chapter 36 of Deathly Hallows): in the Great Hall after it’s all over, the Malfoys were “huddled together as though unsure whether or not they were supposed to be there. . .” This suggests that, even in the non-religious text world of Harry Potter, there may be the possibility of redemption for the Malfoys. Some sort of repentance (in the sense of actual turning from evil) would be necessary, of course, but the author invites us to think about it. Is there an alternative future available for this family? Or must they always be evil?

    But the next part of that sentence is also revealing: while the Malfoys sat uncomfortably, the author says, “nobody was paying them any attention.” This is not a redemptive community. Nobody’s going to cross the room and help the Malfoys decide what to do next. But as Christians, we are invited to finish the story in our imaginations. Are there such people as the Malfoys in this world—not the text world of Harry Potter but the real world that we inhabit? Are there people who are evil, but not entirely—people who are trapped in their evil identities and are “huddled together as though unsure whether or not they [are] supposed to be” here? Aren’t those the people Christ came to save? Aren’t those the people we’re supposed to be trying to reach?

    • Brilliant comment, Ron.

      Yes, absolutely, the Malfoys are redeemable and, yes, we should reach out to them with the saving love of Jesus Christ.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Even Voldemort could be redeemed, but I have a hard time imagining him taking up that offer. My daughter tells me the movie downplays Harry’s vulnerability in his confrontations with Voldemort to make him more of a traditional hero type, which under cuts the Christ imagery. I don’t know where she gets her inside info.

  4. Even Voldemort could be redeemed, but I have a hard time imagining him taking up that offer.

    I think this is actually a central idea of Methodism – that everyone can be redeemed.

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