Surprising Reason Harry Potter Failed at Occlumency but Draco Malfoy Excelled
Occlumency proved to be near-impossible to learn for Harry, but Draco was a natural in it — and the explanation for that is rooted in the two boys’ core differences.
In the Wizarding World, there are many peculiar branches of magic, including even unique abilities like those of Tonks (Metamorphic abilities) or the Marauders (Animagus forms). But while such aspects of magic are incredibly rare, there were more common wizarding feats that still proved frustratingly hard to master for some.
Legilimency and Occlumency are two opposing branches of magic that focus on a wizard’s mind. While Legilimency helps tune into another’s thoughts and memories and forcefully explore them, Occlumency provides protection from such interventions and helps mages keep their minds intact against ill-minded intruders.
Harry Potter famously tried to learn Occlumency under Professor Snape’s guidance during his fifth year at Hogwarts, but he ultimately failed. Even when The Boy Who Lived tried, his mind always remained an open book. Not only did this allow Snape to mock him but also led to a tragedy in the finale of The Order of the Phoenix.
On the other hand, Draco Malfoy, Harry’s rival, excelled in Occlumency. He learned this skill from his notorious aunt, Bellatrix Lestrange, to ensure that even a strong Legilimens like Snape wouldn’t be able to learn his plan in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — and judging by the end result, Draco withstood his favorite Professor’s mind attacks.
But why did two boys of the same age who admittedly had similar magical skills achieve such different results in Occlumency? Why did Draco do so much better than Harry?
The most likely answer to this question is that Occlumency is largely based on emotional control. Draco, even despite going through the most stressful period of his life, was pretty good at hiding his true emotions as he had been taught to keep a straight face since he was a child. This largely helped him master Occlumency.
Harry, however, has always been terrible at this. The Boy Who Lived was always driven by his emotions and frequently let his anger get the better of him — which we saw numerous times even during his Occlumency lessons with Severus Snape. Unable to control his own emotions, Harry also failed to isolate his mind.
Alternatively, some would say that the two boys had different motivations and teachers. Draco knew his family’s life likely depended on his success and was taught by his favorite aunt, whereas Harry hated the idea of studying Occlumency and had the person he most despised as his teacher. Hence, such opposite results.