For those of you that don’t know, Delphini Diggory is one of the principal characters in the latest instalment of the Harry Potter universe – the renowned play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Set some twenty years after the original Golden Trio defeated Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts, the story picks up again when they’re all middle-aged parents and focuses on their children. Albus Potter (son of Harry) and Scorpius Malfoy (son of Draco) are struggling with their father’s legacies, and decide to take matters into their own hands. The play has been a massive success – the earliest tickets you can get are for 2018 – but the script itself has been met with mixed reviews, with some people loving it and some people preferring to pretend it doesn’t exist. Delphini – known as Delphi for most of the play – is at the centre of all this, love her or hate her.
But does she measure up to the hype? Let’s find out – but watch out for spoilers!
NOTE: No, seriously. There’s going to be absolutely MASSIVE spoilers for Cursed Child in this post, so if you don’t want to know literally all the plot twists then you should turn back now.
Seriously, go home.
- Does the character shape her own destiny? Does she actively try to change her situation and if not, why not?
Delphi is actually a pretty active character. She doesn’t seem this way when we first meet her – helping Albus and Scorpius with their plans, rather than getting really stuck in with them – but (spoilers ahoy) it’s revealed in the second part that she is, in fact, our villain for the evening. Delphi is actually the secret daughter of Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange who, after hearing a secret prophecy, is trying to prevent the downfall of Wizard Hitler by using time-travel to go back and stop Harry Potter ruining all his evil plans.
Regardless of what you think of this plot twist, that does make her a pretty active character. It’s revealed that she has been manipulating Albus and Scorpius into doing what she wants for the entire play – rather than going along with someone else’s plan, she’s been actively following her own. She isn’t just in control of her own destiny, she’s in control of several other people’s too – and that means she definitely passes this round.
SCORE SO FAR: 1
- Does she have her own goals, beliefs and hobbies? Did she come up with them on her own?
We don’t know a lot about Delphi’s hobbies, but it’s implied that she doesn’t have many – when she was young, she was so lonely that she invented an imaginary friend just to keep her company. Her goals and beliefs are much more clear. She believes that Voldemort is the one true ruler of the wizarding world and that she deserves a place by his side. Her goals are directly related to this, as she spends most of the play working towards bringing him back through various nefarious plots. One way or another, she’s determined to bring down Harry Potter, and goes through a range of evil plans in an attempt to stop him – but unfortunately, not this one:
I’ll give her the point.
SCORE SO FAR: 2
- Is her character consistent? Do her personality or skills change as the plot demands?
Delphi is a pretty consistent character. She’s intelligent, manipulative and bigoted, quite bitter about the way she grew up and – it’s implied – might not be altogether sane (but given that her parents were Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange, that’s not all that shocking). As far as her skills go, she’s consistently shown to be a powerful witch – but for the first half of the play, she keeps this to herself. I’ll give her the point.
SCORE SO FAR: 3
- Can you describe her in one short sentence without mentioning her love life, her physical appearance, or the words ‘strong female character’?
A manipulative, bigoted young witch attempts to alter history to meet her own ends.
SCORE SO FAR: 4
- Does she make decisions that aren’t influenced by her love life?
Delphi doesn’t have a love life, but she’s not above using her charms to get what she wants. A lot of her interactions with Albus are quite flirty, and she outright kisses him before he’s about to travel through time. This isn’t because she genuinely likes him – it’s because she can see he has a little crush on her and exploits the hell out of it.
I’ll give her the point.
SCORE SO FAR: 5
- Does she develop over the course of the story?
Delphi doesn’t develop over the course of the story at all. She’s a very static character who doesn’t learn or grow as a result of her experiences, and her personality remains exactly the same all throughout the play. I’m withholding the point.
SCORE SO FAR: 5
- Does she have a weakness?
Delphi doesn’t really have much of a weakness. Like the other villainesses I’ve looked at on this blog, I’m not going to class negative character traits as weaknesses as those are often what villains really rely on. I’ll only call something a weakness for a villain if it’s something that actually holds them back from achieving their goals over the course of their own story.
When you look at Delphi like this, I’m not really sure if she has a weakness at all. Throughout the story she’s a controlled, manipulative, intelligent young woman and all this serves her well. She doesn’t really make any big mistakes, or have a fatal flaw that leads her to misjudge a situation. She doesn’t underestimate the power of friendship, or gloat too much, or needlessly strap the heroes to a laser death trap and explain her plan just to fill out the second act.
She does occasionally make mistakes, but she recovers from these very quickly, and they don’t leave any lasting impact. The only thing that could count as a weakness is her desperate need for recognition from her father, Lord Voldemort. This is what drives her through the story, and what was almost her downfall – when Harry Potter disguised himself as Voldemort in an attempt to stop her from approaching the real Wizard Hitler, she only saw through his tricks at the very last second.
I’m not really sure if this counts as a functioning weakness because of that. Delphi’s need for her father’s acceptance and approval doesn’t hold her back – in fact, it actively propels her through the story, influencing all of her actions and decisions. Most of the time it works in her favour – it’s only once, right at the end, that it starts becoming any kind of handicap, and even then it doesn’t set her back for long. This isn’t quite enough for it to really be a fatal flaw, so I’m withholding the point.
SCORE SO FAR: 5
- Does she influence the plot without getting captured or killed?
Delphi is a huge influence on the plot – in fact, without her there wouldn’t really be a plot. Her manipulation and villainous schemes provide all the action in the story, and a lot of the time other characters are just trying to keep up with her. I’ll give her the point.
SCORE SO FAR: 6
- How does she relate to stereotypes about gender?
I’m on the fence about how Delphi relates to gender stereotypes. She’s an intelligent, manipulative and very powerful villain, who is ruthless in pursuit of her goals – those aren’t traits usually associated with young women. However, she’s also totally OK with using her feminine charms to manipulate people and is only doing all this out of a desire to connect with her father – so in a sense, her story is inextricably tied to a man.
It’s a difficult one to call from where I’m sitting, but overall I think that when it comes to gender stereotypes, Delphi is more positive than negative. Parents as motivation is not something that is unique to female characters, and when you take that away all that’s left is her use of casual flirting to get what she wants – which isn’t quite enough to fail her. I’ll give her the point.
SCORE SO FAR: 7
- How does she relate to other female characters?
Delphi doesn’t relate to other female characters.
We never actually see her have a one-on-one conversation with another female character. When she does encounter other women, it’s in a group context, and so we never get a chance to see any one relationship develop properly.
The most we know about Delphi’s relationships with other women is that she was raised by a former Death Eater called Euphemia Rowle, who took her in for the money and treated her very badly, isolating and bullying her to a frankly malicious extent. But that’s all we know. We don’t know how Delphi feels about this treatment – whether she thinks it was normal, whether she’s afraid of her because of it, or whether she resents her for it – and we don’t know why Euphemia, a former Death Eater, would treat the literal child of Voldemort so badly. This isn’t really enough to salvage even a half point here.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10
Delphini is an active character with clearly-defined goals, beliefs and skills, who isn’t defined by her love life or the way she relates to gender stereotypes, but she still hasn’t passed my test. Ultimately, her lack of weaknesses, development and relationships with other women is what really lets her down here – which is a shame, considering the depth that has gone into the other characters JK Rowling has written about.
Ultimately, I think the bulk of Delphi’s flaws – and, to a certain extent, the play’s – is that it’s just the wrong medium. I was lucky enough to see Cursed Child quite recently, and while it was pretty spectacular (and I can highly recommend it for the experience alone) it’s also pretty clear that the story doesn’t quite fit the format. One of the things I enjoyed most about the Harry Potter books is the richness of the non-central characters, and the fact of the matter is that in a time-limited stage play, it’s extremely difficult to get the depth to do that properly.
I would have really liked to have seen Delphi’s character explored in more detail. Whatever your thoughts on her parentage – and I won’t lie, I do think it’s a little bit Mary Sue – if she had been fleshed out a little more I would have been able to comfortably overlook this. While watching the play, I was actually wondering if she really was Voldemort’s daughter at all – I had a theory that she was actually suffering from delusions of grandeur, and had simply convinced herself that she was Voldemort’s daughter – and perhaps a twist like that would have taken her character in a different direction, fleshed out her personality, or even just made her more sympathetic. But that’s just one woman’s opinion – feel free to share yours in the comments.
Next week, I’ll be looking at one of my favourite little weirdos. Wednesday Addams, I’m coming for you.
And if you’re looking for all my posts on Strong Female Characters, you can find them here.