St. Augustine even explains Harry Potter!
From Father Livius’ book again, in his very interesting chapter on “The Second Eve”:
“”The first man, by persuasion of a virgin, fell; the Second Man, with consent of a Virgin, triumphed. By a woman the devil brought in death; by a woman the Lord brought in life. An evil angel of old seduced Eve, a good angel likewise encouraged Mary. Eve believed, so as to ruin her husband; Mary, so as to prepare her womb to be a habitation worthy of the Son of God, that Him whom she had as Lord, she might have also as Son. Eve perished by a word; to the Word likewise did Mary commit herself; and what had perished she repaired. What Eve did by her ill-believing, Mary by her good-believing blotted out. From a woman was the beginning of sin, and on her account we all die; from a woman was the beginning of faith, and on her account are we repaired unto everlasting life.”
Ill-believing. Mal-foy. So the Malfoys aren’t so much people who keep bad faith; they’re people who have faith in the wrong things.
(The rest of it doesn’t seem to apply. But I quoted it anyway.)
UPDATE: Thanks to my commenter!
The interesting thing is that this kind of derivation does tie the Malfoys more securely to ordinary humanity. There’s more hope for them as “poor banished children of Eve” than as just plain baddies, or children of Lilith and the Fay, or whatever else. (Also, the whole paralleling of Eve having ‘conceived’ sin in herself after listening to the word of the serpent is pretty amusing in this context, not to mention Lily and Narcissa as parallel mothers….)
(Seriously, though, I still would like to know why “Malfoi” is in the real world a not-uncommon French name, and what its real derivation is. Town name? Profession? What?)
But wait, there’s more! St. Irenaeus can explain that whole thing with Lily Potter!:
“God therefore put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and her seed, who were watching one another — the one, the sole of whose foot should be bitten, and who was able to trample on the head of the enemy; whilst the other was biting, and striking at, and impeding the steps of man, until the predestined Seed came to crush his head: and this was the offspring of Mary, whereof says the Prophet: Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk, and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon. For which cause God… taking pity on man, turned back the enmity whereby the apostate angel wished to make him an enemy of God, on the author of the enmities himself; taking away His own enmity which was against man, and turning it back, He cast it on the serpent.”
I realize this is going a bit far. 🙂 But authors do get inspiration from all kinds of weird places, and the better read they are, the weirder the places. Personally, I suspect the old Douay translation (or something similar) is a literary ref for Rowling, because it is for a lot of people. And the older Bible translations are chock full of fabulous beasts.
Also, if there’s a protagonist in Western civ fiction that can’t be turned into a Christ figure at a pinch, I’m not sure who it is. (Satan in Paradise Lost doesn’t count!)