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13 July 2006 @ 02:21 am
Narcissa's Loyalties  
I've written a nice imitation of an essay about Narcissa once before in my journal, where I pretty much covered this, and I would probably post that here if it weren't a massive, horribly formatted rapefest of the English language. So I just re-wrote up about my thoughts on Narcissa's loyalties, as that seems to be one of the more disagreed upon points of her character.


After HBP, there seems to be a lot of ideas that Narcissa is actually on the "good side" and that she’s a spy or working undercover, etc. Frankly, this drives me up the wall, because the only reason that people think that is because she showed politeness to Snape and concern for her son in Spinner's End. Having love for your children and good manners does not mean that you sympathize with Dumbledore's cause. Looking at the depth so many of JKR's characters have, I think it's sort of insulting to her character design skills to say Narcissa is secretly a "good guy".

3-dimensional bad guy > Cliché good guy.

Of course, I don't think Narcissa supports Voldemort either. I think it's pretty obvious that she knows her life would be a hell of a lot better if Voldemort were wiped off the face of the Earth. But Good, Secretly Unprejudiced!Narcissa really hasn't got any canon backing. How do you explain her actions in Madam Malkins, what with no zomg oppressive husband there to put up a front for? That is how that theory goes, isn't it? And why does she not correct her darling angel's bigoted comments, since she would naturally want him to not believe such things? Why respond to Harry's insult of her husband with a comment that's one step away from "I hope you die"? Or no, let me guess, she actually meant that Sirius is alive and will be reunited with Harry before she is reunited with her zomg oppressive husband? Oooh, so cryptic!

And then she has to add in that completely random little comment about Hermione, who's only distress she's caused Narcissa is having muggle parents. Who exactly is Narcissa putting on a show for here? The good!Narcissa theory's justification of Madam Malkins is so roundabout and contradictory, why take it at anything other than face value? Narcissa insults those who are not like herself, just as Lucius did in CoS. Trying to justify Narcissa doesn't make much more sense than trying to justify Lucius.

And people think Draco is a bully because of "the insurmountable amount of pressure from his father" or cane abuse or whatever the hell people say (in all fairness, that's what I thought (or wanted to believe) before, but then I went back and actually read the Lucius and Draco scenes again...). Please. Both of his parents have blatantly and proudly insulted others because of their status, beliefs, and bloodlines in front of their son, right there in the sweet black and white of canon. And I'd be more than willing to bet that instances like that aren't exactly rare. But I digress; Draco's specific bullying influences is an essay for another time. All I have to say on that subject is this: Monkey see, monkey do.

Anyway, back to the zomg oppressive husband part. Narcissa was in Slytherin, was she not? From what I've gathered, the theory goes that Narcissa was forced to marry Lucius and only stays with him out of concern for her son, correct? Other than there being no evidence at all in canon for this, it's also about as un-Slytherin as you can get. From what I've seen in canon, comfort is right up there with power on a Slytherin list of things they want most. Sacrificing herself to preseve family honor and purity, sacrificing years of happiness and freedom because she thinks her son should have a zomg oppressive father.. way, way too selfless and un-crafty and just plain uncomfortable to be in character for a Slytherin. If she didn't want to be with Lucius, I'm pretty sure she would have gone the way of Andromeda.

There's also the Kreacher incident in OotP. Why was Harry so sure that Sirius was at the DoM and the final reason he made the decision to go? Because Kreacher told him so, because Narcissa told Kreacher to do so. When Dumbledore talks about Kreacher's orders, he either says it was 'The Malfoys' or 'Narcissa' who was told by the Dark Lord. There's no kind of "Lucius told Narcissa to do this or that because Voldemort told him.." or anything. I mean, Dumbledore seems to know little things like that too, you know? I think Narcissa gladly gathered information that would help her husband succeed in his assignment.

Lastly, we have the Black Sister Formula. JKR likes them formulas, eh? I think the Black Sisters’ characterizations definitely have a pattern of some sort… one that my friend actually theorized on as I was first getting into fandom, a year before HBP came out. This theory is pretty much the main reason the caring, motherly Narcissa in Spinner's End came as no huge surprise to me. Anyway, I think the Black Sister Formula is quite possibly the best evidence for neither a totally good or bad Narcissa.

Basically, on one end of the spectrum, we have Bellatrix, who is obviously for Voldemort and purification of the wizarding race etc. Then we have Andromeda at the other end of the spectrum, who I'm going to say probably supports Dumbledore's side and protection of muggleborns and halfbloods considering her family is composed of them. And then we have Narcissa, who is right in the middle.

Narcissa is prejudiced against impure blood and doesn't support Dumbledore, but she'd also tell Voldemort to go to hell too if that wouldn't result in immediate death. The only thing she cares about is herself and her family. Now, what is the word I'm looking for... what is it called when the only things you care about center around you and yourself..? Oh yeah, NARCISSISM. Well I'll be! That's leik, a pun er sumthin'! Narcissa doesn't favor either Dumbledore's side or Voldemort's because that disrupts the Black Sister Formula. She favors the Malfoys.

Granted, I guess wouldn't be too surprised if Narcissa were to do something that would help Voldemort's demise come a little quicker, especially if she could bargin her help with the good guys in exchange for some sort of reprive of punishment for her son or husband. But going over to the good side? Even being mildly nice to any of Harry's crew? Not a chance.
 
 
 
gunderpants on July 13th, 2006 08:57 am (UTC)
3-dimensional bad guy > Cliché good guy.

Less than three, yo. Shame that there are only three out of a dozen in the HP series who could probably hold claim to that.

Otherwise, a sensible and logical post. Secretly I think Narcissa is really a bit of a footballer's wife and she puts up with Voldy because he gives her Cristal and top-grade coke, but this all makes sense in canon.
makani, buttfacebuttfacemakani on July 13th, 2006 09:49 am (UTC)
Oddly enough-- Not the first time I've seen Narcissa connected with the sales and/or consumption of coke. I swear the Malfoys are one Cadillac away from a bad rap song.
(no subject) - gunderpants on July 13th, 2006 10:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - static_pixie on July 13th, 2006 11:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gunderpants on July 13th, 2006 12:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - draconifers on July 13th, 2006 06:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Anne-Elisa: house of blacketrangere on July 13th, 2006 10:03 am (UTC)
After HBP, there seems to be a lot of ideas that Narcissa is actually on the "good side" and that she’s a spy or working undercover, etc.
Really ? Wow ! I've never even seen one.

Now, what is the word I'm looking for... what is it called when the only things you care about center around you and yourself..? Oh yeah, NARCISSISM.
Actually the word you're looking for is self-centeredness. But that would go in the way of your point ^_^

I do agree with your main thesis but I think you used a couple of bad arguments for it (like the one about Slytherin characterization. Let me roll my eyes at that) and the overall tone of the essay could have been, err, less agressive.

That said, people who argue about characters being on a show in canon makes me snicker. Counts for Narcissa, Lucius, Draco or Snape.
makani, buttfacebuttfacemakani on July 13th, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
Really ? Wow ! I've never even seen one.

I've actually seen a few recently, though the majority not being from LJ writers but fansite message boards and what not.. (I still don't know why I torture myself by looking through those x_x).

and the overall tone of the essay could have been, err, less agressive.

LOL omfg I KNOW, like, I get in a mode where I can only write like I'm yelling at my brother or something x). I plead the writing at 4am card.. and the fact that I'm a terrible writer x).

like the one about Slytherin characterization.

I don't know, but I would think JKR would want some sort of continuity on the topic of what house people came from.. Certainly, people can change after school, but for purposes of a character in fiction? Or.. are you disagreeing more with how I described the house? Thanks for the comment!

(no subject) - etrangere on July 13th, 2006 06:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - beyond_pale on July 13th, 2006 06:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - etrangere on July 13th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - beyond_pale on July 13th, 2006 07:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - etrangere on July 13th, 2006 09:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aquula on July 14th, 2006 07:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - buttfacemakani on July 14th, 2006 08:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sarah: Butthole Surfer Malfoysscarah2 on July 13th, 2006 10:53 am (UTC)
I think Narcissa gladly gathered information that would help her husband succeed in his assignment.

You don't agree with Narcissa being oppressed by her husband, and I don't either. But then, why is she using Kreacher's information to help her husband get ahead? There's no evidence that he either tries to take, or receives, any credit for this. If I were a trophy wife looking to advance my husband's career, I would give Kreacher's information to my husband so that he could benefit from it. Narcissa gives it directly to Voldemort. If you ask me she is acting on her own behalf.
makani, buttface: Luci: fancy guybuttfacemakani on July 13th, 2006 06:02 pm (UTC)
Well no no, I wasn't saying that she gave the information to Lucius.. only that it would end up helping him. I mean what good would that do to tell Lucius? "Hey, Sirius cares about Harry most!" "...that's great, dear." x) I just meant that by letting Voldemort know how to get Harry into the DoM, it would allow Lucius to get the prophecy and succeed in his assignment. Dosen't mean she's oppressed if she wants to help out Voldemort and therefore keep her husband alive/out of jail. But you know, a lot of good that did x).
pixie AKA Maleficent: lestrangesstatic_pixie on July 13th, 2006 11:38 am (UTC)
WORD to everything you've said. You're completely right, Narcissa's no good guy. I mean, for God's sake she completely manipulated Snape into taking the fall for her child, putting his life at risk. You're right, she cares for herself and for her own.

comfort is right up there with power on a Slytherin list of things they want most.

Great point. Very few people get that about Slytherins. Although, you'd think that after Slughorn the point would have been brought home. Very important, too, though, when it comes to Snape I feel. So many people are convinced he's out for ultimate power, but ultimate power means too much responsibility and it means you have to take the fall if anything goes wrong. No, Snape's happy enough to be the man behind the throne, like he was in the case of Dumbledore and of Voldemort. Because, secretly, that's where you have the most power. You can manipulate the people on top and get your way with their inferiors without having to worry about being blamed when it all comes tumbling down. And without having to do all that much actual leading; you can get your way when you want it, but if you don't feel like doing anything, you really don't have to.

Of course, Draco fucked that up for him with the Order but, eh. Re Draco and his father, I hate that argument, too. I actually wrote an essay on that and just never finished it but, it addressed the pressure issue and the part his parents play in it (which I actually think is pretty minimal despite appearance.)

I really like this essay. Narcissa reminds me of Hermione in some ways, ruthless when she has to be but content to sit and play the housewife when she can. Mind if I pimp?
makani, buttface: like a retarded kittenbuttfacemakani on July 13th, 2006 06:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks! oh em, pimp away, I guess! xD

Of course, Draco fucked that up for him with the Order

Eh? What's that? :o?

which I actually think is pretty minimal despite appearance.)

YES omfg yes. Draco's got a lot to live up to but the thing is, he already thinks he's above and beyond expectations. Well, before reality came crashing down on him in HBP and he was suddenly under pressure to save himself and his parents.

Narcissa reminds me of Hermione in some ways, ruthless when she has to be but content to sit and play the housewife when she can.

Dude.. so true. Which kind of weirds me out, now that I think about it, because while Narcissa is one of my favorites, Hermione scares the crap out of me. But I guess it's not because of her similarities with Narcissa.. I think my fear of Herm lies more within her idealistic "logic", and.. well Hermione's less predictable in her ruthlessness and bending of the rules, I think. Er, I don't know.. I should really find out specific reasons why I'm afraid of her x).
(no subject) - static_pixie on July 13th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zombiesmut on July 13th, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - static_pixie on July 13th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - buttfacemakani on July 14th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
focusf1focusf1 on July 13th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
In defence of Narcissa - well sort of....
I always imagined Narcissa was part of "the cause" for the cause's sake. Being a pure Black and the prejudices she was accustomed to, there would be no other way for her to turn out.

I suspect she followed LV's cause and initially signed up to rid the world of the impure muggleborns and half-bloods as she sees herself and others of her status as above everyone else. Ironic then that she is so attached to Snape which probably makes her wonder why she signed up in the first place and begins to doubt "the cause."

One thing can be determined - she is a mother and she loves her son deeply. She is no different from Lily in this respect.

Think of it from her point of view. Her husband is locked up by the side of good, while on a mission for the side of bad. And its not like Lord Voldemort is now going to protect her or her son - NO - he sends her son on a suicide mission to punish the whole family! I suspect she sees that the reason she and her family signed up to Lord Voldemort is no longer the cause anymore - I think she sees Lord Voldemort in it for himself and HIS OWN cause. Hence her begging of Snape to protect her son from either side as her family have stuck there necks out too much for the wrong side and have ended up being punished by both.

Back to the comparison with Lily. Narcissa is not SO VAIN that she would let it come in the way of saving her son. She (a pureblood) BEGS Snape( a half-blood) to protect her son. I would say that suddenly Lord Voldemort's cause is a non-entity in her mind. Her first and foremost mission is to protect her son - and what makes her so different from Lily in this respect?
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Re: In defence of Narcissa - well sort of.... - focusf1 on July 13th, 2006 05:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: In defence of Narcissa - well sort of.... - focusf1 on July 15th, 2006 10:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: In defence of Narcissa - well sort of.... - focusf1 on July 14th, 2006 12:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
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kiki: (hp) thinkerbeyond_pale on July 13th, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC)
I think Narcissa actually is on the BLACK'S side.

That is to say, her auntie and uncle barricaded themselves in Grimmauld Place, sealed themselves away with every defensive and escape-y and avoid-me spell known to Wizardkind, and sat out the first conflict. I see a lot of mindset (erm, NOT mental) similarities between Narcissa and Aunt Walpurgia; N. probably is insanely prejudiced against muggleborn and halfblood kids (thus the shit-smell face at the QWC), however evn if she is unaware of Riddle's shame, she likely considers his methods too coarse and beneath her-ish.

I'm also the perpetrator of a past Narcissa-essay, which if you clicky on the tag, i bet you can find and most of my thoughts are there and so don't need to be repeated.
focusf1focusf1 on July 13th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
Slave to Red Hen also and I did bring up your previous essay which cast some clarity on this situation. (Have it safely tucked away in my memories!)
(no subject) - buttfacemakani on July 14th, 2006 09:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
Mindelandraconifers on July 13th, 2006 07:22 pm (UTC)
Great essay ;) It makes loads of sense.
a den stunner: mrow?annchen on July 13th, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC)
I ship Draco with various good guys, and as the books went on I realised that there was not much chance of him ever joining "the good guys". He's not nice, and he thinks the Death Eaters are way too cool to not join.

The only reason I could come up with to keep him away from trouble (and death eating) was if his mother send him away before he did something really stupid to prove himself.

I read HBP and cheered when Narcissa protected her son.

She is protective, but then most mothers will protect their young. Molly, Petunia, Lily... Don't stand between a female and her cub...
like a motherfucking stoner praetoriusstephanometra on July 13th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC)
There are people who think Narcissa is good?

o_O
Summersummerborn on July 14th, 2006 01:30 am (UTC)
Yeah, double-you tee eff?
(no subject) - buttfacemakani on July 14th, 2006 09:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
mlwlmlwl on July 15th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
Amen, sistah! Pretty interesting, Heather! *nudge nudge* send it in for Scribbulus! *nudge nudge* :D
makani, buttfacebuttfacemakani on July 15th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC)
xD no i need to write something uhm.. better for scribbulus xD
M M Lmaajaml on July 31st, 2006 06:24 pm (UTC)
Narcissa in 'Spinners End' reminds me a bit of Jessica (Paul Atreides mother) in the Kwisatz Haderach scene.
purebastardx on May 23rd, 2012 10:22 am (UTC)
Omg you were SO RIGHT! I bet you were like "I knew this would happen!" when you read DH!