Every Harry Potter fan loves to hate the heartless extended family of The Boy Who Lived; Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, and cousin Dudley. But actress Fiona Shaw, who brilliantly portrayed Harry’s high-strung, hostile Aunt, has a different take on the Dursleys. In an interview with RadioTime, Shaw explained why she “was always very pro the Dursleys” claiming “they’re just trying to do well in life…” This made me realize- they are just like most muggles that I know. Shaw continued:
“The extraordinary thing about the Dursleys is not only are they normal and ordinary and therefore full of the fantastical fears that people who are normal and ordinary are full of, and dread events happening and find that a lot of events happen, but they’ve also got the vulnerability of people…”
True: I am full of fantastical fears. Perhaps readers, like myself, have disregarded the fact that the Dursleys live in a bizarre and dangerous world, and their lack of magical powers makes them all the more vulnerable to their fantastical surroundings. At the end of the day, they just wanted to get by- although they didn’t need to be so pitiless to the poor, parentless Potter boy!
Alright, this was NOT ok. Image courtesy of Metro.
The Dursleys are somewhat relatable, although not necessarily enjoyable. “I think a lot of children have that experience of their parents who they find boring, old-fashioned, nerdy…Actually the poor old Dursley’s were just trying to get on with it,” she said in the interview. Her observation is enlightening; all the Dursleys wanted was as normal a life as possible, but they were forced to take responsibility of a wizard. And not just any wizard, HARRY POTTER!
Let us not forget that Petunia was painfully jealous of her sister (wanting to be a witch when she was younger, and turning that jealousy into a hatred for all things odd and magical by adulthood), and Vernon’s wrath- well we can’t explain that. Dudley, sadly, learned from his parents.
Of course, compared to the other characters from Rowling’s magnificent imagination, the Dursleys fall flat in the awesome, interesting, or likeable categories, but at least Shaw is offering some insight as to why the family behaved the way they did.
That being said, I still can’t forgive the Dursleys for how they treated Harry or his parents!
Featured image courtesy of Pottermore.