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Vernon Dursley Character Analysis: A Very Muggle Uncle

Vernon Dursley Character Analysis: A Very Muggle Uncle

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Vernon Dursley married Petunia Evans, making him the uncle of Harry Potter. When Harry’s parents died, he was sent to live with Vernon, Petunia, and their son Dudley. The Dursleys, led by Vernon, badly mistreated and bullied Harry.

About Vernon Dursley

BornPre 1961
Blood StatusMuggle
OccupationDrill Salesman at Grunnings
Zodiac SignCancer (speculative)

Vernon Dursley Early Life

Vernon Dursley was probably a typical English boy from a moderately well-to-do background. He had one sister, Marjorie, who had a great passion for dog breeding. As a young man, he attended Smeltings Academy, a British Boarding School.

After school, Vernon worked for a company called Grunnings. He must have started there no later than 1975, as at some point he received recognition for 27 years of service.

Vernon met Petunia Evans when she was working as a junior executive in a London office. He took her on a series of dull dates during which he mainly talked about himself and his predictable ideas about the world. When they married, they settled at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey. It is unclear when exactly Petunia shared with Vernon that her sister was a witch.

Both Vernon and Petunia wanted a completely normal and predictable life that conformed to social norms. This included having their son Dudley on 23 June 1980.

Vernon gives Harry Potter a Home

When Harry Potter’s parents died, Albus Dumbledore took Harry to live with Vernon and Petunia. As her sister’s only surviving blood relative, the protection that Lily gave her son when she died for him could be extended if Harry could stay with Petunia.

It is unclear how much Vernon understood about this, but along with Petunia, he agreed to take Harry in. But he did not treat Harry well. While his own son Dudley had two bedrooms, Harry was forced to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs.

He lied to Harry and said that his parents had died in a car accident. He then treated Harry as badly as possible to try and prevent any magic from surfacing within him. When Harry accidentally used magic at the zoo, Vernon scolded Harry telling him that there was no such thing as magic.

While Vernon treated Harry badly, he spoiled his son rotten and was blind when it came to his son’s faults, such as his obesity, lackluster school performance, and bullying.

Vernon Hides Harry’s Magic

When Harry started to receive letters from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Vernon Dursley knew what they were. He did everything in his power to prevent Harry from seeing those letters, even taking his family to an abandoned hut in the sea where he believed that the communications from Hogwarts could not reach them.

When Hagrid tracked them down at the hut and finally revealed everything to Harry, Vernon was adamant that Harry was not to attend Hogwarts.

Haven’t I told you he’s not going? He’s going to Stonewall High and he’ll be grateful for it. I’ve read those letters and he needs all sorts of rubbish – spell books and wands and… I’m not paying for some crackpot old fool to teach him magic tricks!

Vernon Dursley, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

After Vernon was overruled by Hagrid, he mostly ignored Harry until he went off to school. He lied to the people he knew, saying that Harry was at St Brutus’ Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys.

Vernon Durlsey and the letters from Hogwarts

Vernon during Harry’s Hogwarts Years

Vernon and Petunia let Harry return and live with them at Privet Drive each year, maintaining his bedroom – they eventually gave Harry Dudley’s second bedroom. But he was forbidden from talking about magic while he was at home.

At first, the Dursleys were wary of Harry because of his magical abilities. But before the start of his second year at Hogwarts, Harry accidentally blew up his Aunt Marge, Vernon’s sister, when she was insulting Harry’s parents. At this time Vernon and the Dursleys learned that as an underage wizard Harry could not conduct magic at home, or he would be expelled from school.

This gave Vernon Dursley an excuse to continue treating Harry badly, barring him from watching TV, leaving him at home when the family went out, and telling him to hide in his room and pretend he doesn’t exist when visitors came over.

In 1995 Harry and his cousin Dudley were attacked by Dementors and Harry had to use a Patronus charm to deflect them. Unable to see the Dementors, Dudley initially said that it was Harry who had done something to him.

At this time, Vernon Dursley wanted to throw Harry out of the house. But after receiving a Howler (a speaking letter) from Albus Dumbledore, Petunia insisted that the boy would have to stay.

Vernon Dursley in Hiding

In 1997, when Harry was due to come of age, the protection afforded by Lily’s sacrifice for Harry was set to expire. This meant that the Dursleys’ was no longer a safe house for Harry, and that the Dursleys themselves were at risk as close relatives of Harry’s.

The Order of the Phoenix decided to move the Dursleys to a safe place. Vernon changed his mind about this several times, suggesting that it was a plot for Harry to get his hands on the house. He also did not trust the wizards assigned to them, Dedalus Diggle and Hestia Jones, and asked why Kingsley Shacklebolt, the auror assigned to the muggle prime minister, could not be on his detail.

Eventually, Vernon agreed to go only because his son Dudley was adamant that he planned to go with the people from the Order of the Phoenix. Vernon could not even bring himself to shake Harry’s hand when they did finally depart, such was his animosity towards him.

It is unknown what happened to Vernon Dursley once the threat from Lord Voldemort was over and he was able to return to normal life.

Vernon Dursley with wife Petunia and son Dudley

Vernon Dursley Personality Type & Traits

Vernon comes across as a very scared person. He is scared of anything he considers different or unusual and fights against letting these elements corrupt his life. For him, the world of magic was just too much to handle, and he responded to it with fear, ignorance, and bullying, taking out his fears on an innocent boy.

Vernon Dursley is perhaps a prime example of why the wizarding world is kept secret from muggles. It is this kind of fear, and resulting reaction, that makes contact between the two worlds dangerous.

Vernon Dursley Zodiac Sign & Birthday

Vernon Dursley must have been born sometime before 1960 as he is probably a number of years older than James and Lily Potter. Fans speculate that his zodiac sign may be Cancer.

People born under this sign love their families fiercely, which could explain Vernon’s blindness when it came to his own son. They can also have a tendency to develop “us and them” mentalities, which could feed his need to reflect differences.

Why did Vernon Dursley Hate Harry Potter?

Some fans have suggested that Vernon Dursley hated Harry because he reminded him of James Potter. But it is unlikely that Vernon had enough contact with James to truly hate him in the same way that Severus Snape did.

Other fans have suggested that the Horcrux magic that lingered around Harry warped the minds of the Dursleys, making them actively hate them. But this theory again seems unlikely since not everyone was immediately revolted by Harry.

It is clear that Vernon feared magic and wizards as a result of what his wife Petunia had told him. He was also determined to try and ground the magic out of Harry. He seems to just be one of those people who fears what is different.