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Vernon Dursley is one of the cruelist characters in the Harry Potter series. He treated Harry horribly, he hates magic, doesn't like anything that isn't "normal". JKR has said that Dudley couldn't have a child that is a Wizard because nothing related to magic could flow from his lineage.

Forgive me, but I think she's wrong. Because he's got one redeeming factor. It's a huge redeeming factor in this universe. It's love.

Vernon loves his wife greatly, and she loves him. He loves his son, though he expresses it poorly and spoils the boy. In the first volume, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, when Hagrid breaks into the hut on the island, Mr. Dursley stands in front of his family, hiding them from this apparently threat (not quite successfully for Dudley). He fears magic, but he wants to make sure that anything done hits him first.

Let's turn the story around Vernon's standpoint. He met this woman, and fell in love with her. He lives a quiet normal life and expects to continue living it. Yet when Petunia tells him about her very very non-normal sister, he doesn't storm out demanding Petunia never see him again. He accepts Petunia. Meeting the husband of her sister goes badly, he doesn't understand what is going on in this man's life (and I find it unlikely the leader of the Marauders wouldn't have pulled off something on him). He loves Petunia, but he hates magic, he finds it terrible. And he really hates James.

Then, on November 1, the day after Halloween - a child is left at their doorway. The son of Petunia's weird sister and her terrible husband. There's a note included saying that their parents were killed by magic (magic's no good, just like I always thought) and that the boy will grow up to be a wizard. The rational thing for Vernon to do is insist that the boy be dropped off at an orphanage, let them deal with the risks of a magical boy. But no, it is Petunia's relative, so they raise him.

Strange things do happen around the boy growing up, the boy was becoming one of those terrible wizards. He made the window go away and risked the life of their dear boy! And soon after the boy uses his magic to threaten his boy, letters come to ask the boy to come to Hogwarts. No, absolutely not.

They try to avoid the letters (why can't they accept NO for an answer), go to an island, and this giant breaks down their door, threatens the family, gives Dudley a pig's tail, and then takes their boat leaving them stranded on the island. Nothing there to make him feel better about magic.

Then there's a FLYING CAR AT HIS PROPERTY that can be SEEN, ripping out the bars he put in. Destructive magic.

His nephew turns his sister into a balloon and THREATENS HIM!

In Goblet of Fire, the ruddy magicians blow apart his living room!

There's nothing in Vernon Dursley's life to make him think better of magic in all of his encounters. (Conceivably, that could change while he's on the run with his family in Deathly Hallows, just as Dudley came around once he realized Harry had saved his life.) That nephew has been a constant problem, disordering his nice ordered life and causing problem after problem.

And he keeps his nephew anyway. Probably at the insistance of Petunia, but he keeps his nephew. He puts up with all of it.

That is love.

No, I am not saying he is a good man. He can be cruel, he has very little imagination. He has no tolerance for things that don't fit in his ordered life. But he has love. Tom Riddle's story makes it clear that the ability to love is what makes one redeemable.

If I could talk/bribe JKR into writing one more story in the Harry Potter timeline, it would be to know what happened in Deathly Hallows when they were on the run. He'd have to see magic being used to protect, to serve, to do good things. He'd have close and continuing contact with two wizards who were risking their lives to protect his family. I think he'd still like his ordered life (without magic, thank you very much), but I think he'd also appreciate that there are good wizards who kept his family alive.

Posted on October 15, 2017, 6:05 am
Last updated on October 15, 2017, 8:58 am

Donald Brown

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