Despite being the embodiment of wealth and influence in the wizarding world, Lucius Malfoy was a ruthless bigot; he took great pride in his aristocratic stature, viewing himself as being racially superior to Muggles, Muggle-borns, and half-bloods. He was also a shrewd, opportunistic social climber who was good at controlling others but behind his veneer of respectability, he treated people cruelly. He callously utilised eleven-year old Ginevra Weasley in an attempt to both discredit her father in the Ministry, and remove Albus Dumbledore from his position as Headmaster of Hogwarts. This attempt would have resulted in her death if Harry Potter had not intervened.
Much like his son, Draco, Lucius could be exceptionally intelligent and manipulative when he needed to be. He manipulated Cornelius Fudge for years to better his position and make the Minister practically bow to him, particularly when it came to dealing with Muggle-borns. His most prominent display of intelligence was his elaborate plan to discredit Arthur Weasley and Albus Dumbledore by opening the Chamber of Secrets and unleashing the Basilisk.
Lucius's slick demeanour did little to hide his self-serving nature, as he had no qualms about appealing to whichever side would be more beneficial to his social advancement. He was never unconditionally loyal because he didn't want to be put in a negative light with people on either end. During the Quidditch World Cup, he anonymously participated in the lowly torturing of Muggles but fled when the Dark Mark was cast in the sky. In fact, rather than going to find Lord Voldemort when he lost all his powers in the first place, he instead pretended to have seen the error of his ways and tried to ingratiate himself to the Ministry of Magic. He claimed that he was always alert for Voldemort's return but when Voldemort pointed out that he had fled from the Dark Mark, Lucius was instantly silenced. Despite this he did attempt to go through with Voldemort's plan of using his old school diary to open the Chamber of Secrets, not realising that the diary contained a piece of his master's soul.
However, Lucius cared greatly for his wife and son, and was one of the few Death Eaters who was capable of feeling genuine love. He and Narcissa were indulgent and protective of their only child, though Lucius also demonstrated that he had expectations for his son, in one instance berating him for being beaten academically by Hermione Granger. When Lucius displeased Voldemort, the Dark Lord charged Draco with the task of killing Dumbledore as an indirect attack on Lucius. In the end, along with Narcissa, he demonstrated that his family was more important to him than serving Voldemort. Lucius' love for Draco and Narcissa also allowed him to overcome his fear of his former Master as he charged straight into the thick of battle during the siege on Hogwarts in an attempt to find Draco.
Credit: Harry Potter Wikia
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