I feel like most people see this character rivalry as the classic schoolyard antagonist & the victimized main characters, but really there's a whole deeper reason why these characters are destined opponents of each other. Bullies are usually the strong preying on the weak, but in the series, Harry himself doesn’t portray any weak or perceived-weak qualities that Malfoy would prey on like Ron (poor) & Hermione (muggle-born). So I found myself asking, “Why does Malfoy hate Harry so much?” & it dawned on me how deeply rooted this rivalry was from the start.
What we need to realize is that Malfoy belonged to a family that had a very different view of what the magical world should be. They supported an ideology & societal system in which:
1) governing power was derived from the dark arts, coercion, & fear (military dictatorship/authoritarian & fascism)
2) supported & incorporated racism & slavery (Ex: denying muggle-born people with magical talents to be educated in magic$
3) followed Voldemort as a divine being & served him as the 1 person fit to govern. (Religion /Cult of Personality)
So Draco grew up in a house where these attitudes were promoted & encouraged. Draco grew up being told to hate Harry because Harry was the reason their Dark Lord was gone. From Draco’s perspective, Harry violated his core values to the hilt & was solely responsible for not letting their ideology control their society. This existed on an existential level, to even a religious level. In the books, JK Rowling lets this unfold from the very begging by introducing Malfoy in the robe shop as Harry is shopping. Malfoy begins to make small talk & quickly offers his opinions on these ideologies. From that moment we can see a rift in their core beliefs starting to develop & it unfolds during the rest of the series.
The Harry & Draco foil was never forced into existence just to fill that “school-yard bully” role that almost every children’s book “has to have.” Their rivalry was born out of the overall themes of the entire series & went beyond the schoolyard into a bigger, more pivotal, societal stage.
Now, I think there is a deeper, crucial fine point in what she is saying about this ideology struggle in the magical society. There are two representations of generations supporting the ideology of the dark arts. There is 1) the older, more conservative generation that makes up the consolidated power of old wizarding families like the Malfoys & the Blacks & 2) the younger generation that is rejecting that negative, self-serving ideology. We see this happen because Draco receives redemption & sees the error in his ways. I think that captures the Millennial generation really well for standing up to create a new future that can always improve to have higher expectations for civility, un-alienable rights, & freedom. Note: I think this a natural, sociology phenomenon that occurs at every generational crew change (workforce disruption) & is the sociology version of Darwinism, the mechanism for which society is constantly seeking social equality & pursuits that help achieve that like technology or liberalization.
I think we were so absorbed with the fantasy world as kids that we didn’t see these deeper themes happening in the greater magical community & I think this is more beauty in JKR’s writing that she waited till the very end of the series to reveal all these plot points she had been planting right in front our faces. I feel like this storyline happened so fast, but like most stories that try to do that too fast (Ex: Game of Thrones) that you often go back to ask how any of that makes plausible sense & reassess the value & consistency of the work. That's her Talent, is that she got it all right. Just Brilliant.
Side note: JKR does a really good job of mastering the English language to convey very real expectations of what political correctness would be like in the magical community. A person’s ancestry of magical blood is her literary element for a race/ethnic group in the magical community & the conduit for her important themes against racism. If a magical person is of non-magical heritage, she correctly identifies them by saying exactly what you are & where you come from in the noun “muggle-born” like we say “Asian-American”. Obviously not perfect, but not entirely offensive. However, the non-pc term would be “mudblood” which is obviously highly offensive. The reason I praise JKR so loud is she has a gift for truly understanding our society & adapting with high detail all the same familiar real-world dynamics to the amazingly fictional world which seems farther away from reality than it actually is.