|“||Harry Potter: Exactly it's a lot to remember. I'll have to make it sound convincing, won't I? What if I accidentally let something slip?
Vernon Dursley: You'll get the stuffing knocked out of you, won’t you?
|~ Harry Potter to Vernon Dursley.|
The Dursleys are the initial antagonists in the Harry Potter franchise, appearing in all of the books and most of the films. They are Harry's highly abusive adoptive family and act as his primary foes in the human (Muggle) world.
|“||I’m warning you, I’m warning you now, boy — any funny business, anything at all — and you’ll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas.||„|
Vernon is the patriarch of the family and by far the most hateful of the bunch. He is also extremely cowardly and despises magic in all its forms, as well as anyone who practices it. He is also the one most responsible for Harry's continual abuse, thinking up elaborate ways to both prevent him from entering the Wizard World and make his life in the Muggle world as difficult as possible. Vernon is the only member of the family to truly hate Harry, as Dudley becomes his friend and Petunia took him in out of a twisted obligation to do so for Lily. Despite knowing Vernon will always hate him, Harry still sees to it that the family is removed from Privet Drive to prevent Voldemort from harming him. When Harry sarcastically calls himself a “waste of space” during the Dursleys’ departure, Vernon refuses to respond, as he still truly does consider Harry a waste of space despite his efforts to save them.
|“||I was the only one who saw her for what she was — a freak! But for my mother and father, oh no, it was Lily this and Lily that, they were proud of having a witch in the family!||„|
Petunia is the matriarch of the family and sister to Harry's deceased mother. She is cruel and heartless towards Harry due to a troubled history with her own sister but she absolutely adores Dudley. She has an extremely poor view on magic but often leaves the daily hounding of Harry to Vernon. Whereas Vernon is a complete psychopath who abuses Harry for his own amusement, Petunia’s abuse is mostly only disciplinary.
While she was saddened to hear of Lily’s death, she despised her sister—when Harry learned that he was a wizard, Petunia told Harry that his mother got what she deserved. Regardless, she took Harry in because he was her last tie to Lily.
Dudley is a spoiled bully but unlike his parents actually saw Harry as family. He simply hid his feelings and partook in the abuse due to the negative influences of his parents. Even Dumbledore took pity on Dudley and after Harry saved him from a Dementor attack Dudley changed heart, even going as far as confronting Vernon and saying he didn't see Harry as a waste of space.
- Main article: Marge Dursley
While not a recurring antagonist Marge was Vernon's sister and has the questionable "honor" of being the most abusive and vile of the entire lot, even surpassing Vernon, even trying to have her dog Ripper maul him to death on one occasion. She was so relentless in her cruelty to Harry that she would be punished by the young wizard by being inflated like a balloon (the Ministry of Magic would later clear her mind of these events).
- Despite being completely non-magical the Dursleys were one of the most recurring antagonists in the series and also the most personal, with Harry finally learning to stand up their bullying and ultimately breaking ties with them entirely (save Dudley)
- Dudley is the only member of the family to redeem himself, after Harry saved him from a Dementor. However, as a Muggle Dudley was unable to see the Dementor itself. Rather he saw a nightmare induced by the Dementor's Kiss, which showed what he would become if he continues his bullying ways, disgusting him.
- Following the shocking introduction of Obscurial (a wizardkind who consciously repressed his/her powers through enduring abuse to the point of warped into a destructive, out-of-control force) in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, many fans became curious and wonder how Harry didn't became one due to Dursleys' mistreatments on him. Thus, J.K. Rowling assured them by explained: "An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalised hatred of one’s own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it. The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for ‘making things happen’, he didn’t make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so." As such, Dursleys were EXTREMELY lucky not to create one out of the Boy Who Lived, more so since Harry's very ability to feel and be empowered by love practically made his overall magic grew close to match Voldemort and Dumbledore's own.
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