Oh…You Aren’t A Wizard?

J. K. Rowling demonizes the human characters in her book and validates witches at their expense. Specifically through the Dursely’s, Rowling makes humans seem un-accepting, and inconsiderate.  The story begins with Harry trying to do his homework under his sheets with a flashlight because if his Aunt or Uncle find out he is studying magic in their house he will be severely punished.  Harry even describes his Aunt and Uncle as having “a very medieval attitude towards magic” (Rowling 2).  Even though magic has changed over the years and his Aunt and Uncle do not fully understand it, the Dursley’s are still prejudiced towards witches, wizards, and magic.

After Uncle Vernon talks to Ron on the phone he turns to Harry and says, “HOW DARE YOU GIVE THIS NUMBER TO PEOPLE LIKE-PEOPLE LIKE YOU!”(Rowling 4). This shows how disgusted the Dursley’s are with witches and wizards and how offended they are that one would call their house. They also make it clear that they are embarrassed that Harry is living with them when Uncle Vernon’s sister comes to visit.  Uncle Vernon tells Harry that, “We’ve told Marge you attend St. Brutus’s Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys” (Rowling 19). He would rather his sister believe that Harry is a criminal than confess that he is a wizard.  Dursley’s deny Harry’s differences and lie to themselves and others in hopes that Harry will be “normal” one day. Rowling then sheds a positive light on witches and wizards when she reveals that Hermione is taking a “Muggles Studies” class (Rowling 57).  Hermione is taking this because she thinks it “will be fascinating to study them from the wizarding point of view” (Rowling 57).  In this way, Rowling further belittles and criticizes humans for not trying to understand witches and wizards, and create a more acceptive and understanding persona witches and wizards.

Humans are also depicted to be inconsiderate and rash.  While on break Harry must turn over anything magical to his Aunt and Uncle so they can be locked away for the summer, “This separation from his spellbooks had been a real problem for Harry, because his teachers at Hogwarts had given him a lot of holiday work” (Rowling 3). Even though the books are for Harry’s education, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Dursley are so appalled and opposed to Harry learning about magic and that he his a wizard, that they attempt to ban him from doing any work over the holiday. The Dursley’s do not even acknowledge their Nephew’s birthday, in fact, “they had completely ignored his last two birthdays, and he had no reason to suppose why they would remember this one” (Rowling 6).  Aunt Marge is also extremely inconsiderate to Harry.  She is constantly making rude comments about Harry’s deceased parents, saying things like, “If there’s something wrong with the bitch, there’ll be something wrong with the pup” (Rowling 25).  Aunt Marge then moves on to insulting Harry, comparing him to one of her dogs who drowned because he was “weak” and “underbred” (Rowling 27).  The Dursley family gives Muggles and humans a negative connotation for being rude and inconsiderate.

Rowling’s critique of the Dursleys extends to the Muggle society as a whole, and makes them appear un-accepting to different cultures and beliefs (witches and wizards), and inconsiderate and rude by insulting to others.  This encourages the reader to sympathize and support the wizard characters more than the Muggle, human characters throughout the novel.

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