I think we should spend more time talking about the similarities between James Potter and Draco Malfoy, because they’re signposted several times through the series and are mean to be significant.
There are the obvious superficial similarities: both only children/only sons, both from old pureblood familes.
There’s also what Dumbledore says about the rivalry between Harry and Draco being similar to the rivalry between James and Snape. Which is interesting because the Slytherin/Giffindor sides of the rivalry are switched in this comparison. What do you think that means? What was JKR saying about human nature there?
One thing that really stood out to me:
Draco Malfoy in Philospher’s Stone: “Imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?”
James Potter in Deathly Hallows: “Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?”
JKR is intentionally echoing the words we heard Draco say through James. Throughout the series she’s constantly asking us–and Harry–to reevaluate our assumptions. She has characters framed as “bad” do good things, she has characters framed as “good” do bad things.
James, a Gryffindor, and Draco, A Slytherin, both purebloods, both only sons, both loved and doted on, display similar contempt for a House they don’t fancy. They’re both bullies. They’re both arrogant. They were both gits during school and both matured out of it as they grew older.
“The world isn’t split into good people
and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What
matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”