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Was Petunia Dursley truly evil or simply misguided?

echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭
edited July 2012 in General
Petunia Dursley née Evans was undoubtedly an awful aunt to Harry Potter. But does that mean she was truly an awful person, or was she simply misguided in her beliefs? She was obviously very conflicted, and although she thinks all witches and wizards were freaks, she had written to Dumbledore to see if she could go as well (HPDH pg. 669) so she didn't always think so. On Pottermore JKR said that Petunia had seeked out Vernon because he was so 'normal'. Given this, isn't it possible that she lashed out at Harry and Lily so much because they had what she could never have? Still, Petunia's choices marked her, more than her inability to do magic did. As Dumbledore said: "It is our choices... that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities," (HPCoS pg 333). So do Petunia's choices mark her as evil, or inside is she still that misguided little girl who wished she could do magic?

In addition to the book evidence, there is a deleted scene from the seventh movie that would have portrayed Petunia in a better light, and it makes me wonder whether it was deleted because it wasn't true to Petunia's character, or because there simply wasn't enough time?



"That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

"Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling

Comments

  • chesterchester Posts: 4,308 ✭✭✭✭✭
    They couldn't fit the scene into the Obliviate-montage.
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  • echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭
    I see. But what do you think about Petunia herself?
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
    -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

    "Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling
  • chesterchester Posts: 4,308 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2012
    Petunia herself wasn't evil, she just became a bitter person after her jealousy for Lily. If her parents did treat her like Lily (who became their favorite daughter after they discovered her powers) she wouldn't have became the person she was in SS.
    Post edited by chester on
    imageimageimage
  • Lord StaffordLord Stafford Posts: 26,676 ✭✭✭✭✭
  • echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭
    See now that's what I thought, but I know some people who think that Petunia is this awful evil monster of a person whose bitterness turned her into some sort of abusive robot. (Not my own words, but those of a fellow Harry Potter fan and friend of mine). I think some people just have a very black-and-white view of things.
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
    -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

    "Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling
  • Lord StaffordLord Stafford Posts: 26,676 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Exactly. People are quick to jump to conclusions, and your friend is no different. I'm sorry for saying that, but I do mean it. Just as hate is a strong word; "evil" is, too.

    Lord Stafford.
    image
  • echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭
    That's very true. It only really just occurred to me because I was playing gin with my Harry Potter playing cards, and there's a good deck and an evil deck. The Dursleys were actually in the evil deck, which reminded me of what my friend said.
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
    -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

    "Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling
  • BraveheartBraveheart Posts: 1,910 ✭✭✭✭
    The thing is, a lot of the characters who are seen as "evil" in HP are actually incredibly relatable. Take Petunia; it would take someone pretty strong not to feel bitter or jealous in her position. For reasons she can't control or influence, her sister has these fantastic abilities which she could only dream of, and it probably wouldn't have helped that her parents appear to have openly favoured Lily over her. Knowing that there was this whole other fantastic world of which she could never be a part, with all these reminders from her sister about how brilliant it was would make anyone miserable with how mundane their normal lives were. So I don't think Petunia truly hated the wizarding world. She was just deeply and understandably jealous. The little girl who wrote to Dumbledore and begged for not to be left out of the excitement was still hiding behind that mask of hatred she wore. That doesn't excuse how she treated Harry, but it goes some way towards explaining it.

    And does nobody else find it weird that Lily and Petunia's parents were "so proud" of Lily for being a witch? I'd understand if she had accomplished something or worked incredibly hard to become a witch, but she couldn't help what she was any more than her sister; she was born that way. Were they equally proud of her for having green eyes and auburn hair? Or were they really just proud of themselves for producing a witch? Just seems a strange thing to take pride in, and it can't have helped Petunia's self-esteem.
  • Lord StaffordLord Stafford Posts: 26,676 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Always the voice of reason, eh, Braveheart? ;)

    Lord Stafford.
    image
  • echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭
    I completely agree. And I do find it strange that their parents were proud to have a witch. maybe that's why there are so many people (one of my other friends included) who think that Lily came from a long line of squibs or something, but that's opening a a whole other can of worms now isn't it?
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
    -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

    "Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling
  • SarahElizabeth!SarahElizabeth! Posts: 5,232 ✭✭✭✭
    I don't think she was evil, and neither do I believe she was misguided. I just believe she did the wrong things which were HER CHOICES. I do not believe it was all because of Lily being a witch because, to be honest she could have still been a better aunt, but she chose not to be.
    Photobucket
  • KranenKranen Posts: 4,679 ✭✭✭✭✭
    "I don't have a single character who is all good or all bad, except for Voldemort." - J.K Rowling
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  • echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭
    edited July 2012
    Well put @Sarah. I do suppose that misguided doesn't quite describe it correctly either. It really is her choices after all, which is what Dumbledore said in book 2, as I have quoted above.

    And @Kranen I think what JKR said is true, not just about Harry Potter, but about humans as a whole. Every person has a little good and a little evil in themselves. Like this charlieissocoollike YouTube video:

    Post edited by echomagic650 on
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
    -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

    "Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling
  • Potter35Potter35 Posts: 1,117 ✭✭✭✭
  • PhineasPhineas Posts: 1,979 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I don't think her evil or misguided. She just wanted to stay the hell away from magic. And having Harry was more or less a reminder of Lily, similar to the way he was for Snape, only Petunia wanted to forget about her, I think. She mourned her, yes, but she really wanted nothing to do with magic.
    imageimage
  • echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭
    See, when I say 'misguided' I don't mean 'misled' I mean 'mistaken'. I guess my phrasing is wrong or something. For someone who wants to me a writer, my skills could use some improvement. Petunia really did hate magic, because she felt like it had spurned her, and as William Congreve said, "Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned."
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
    -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

    "Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Your life is guided by your choices. Petunia wasn't evil or misguided. She just made the wrong choices.
    image image image
    We'll never be forgiven for what we did.
    Trust me, I'm a Film Grad ;)
  • Martin1Martin1 Posts: 7,794 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Petunia took the approach of jealousy and hate after being put in the shadow of Lily. There were many ways to go about it, for example, an enthusiastic person would be all "loll bitch, you better make my chores do themselves or I won't write to you" or "I expect some fucking wizard candy for Christmas whore, see you soon." that's probably the approach I'd take. Granted she was like 11 or whatever and I'm 17 and chill bout it, so yeah.
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  • echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭
    @RowlingintheDeep your approach is hilarious, and really the best one that someone should take. I'd probably be jealous (hell, anyone would be) but I should hope I wouldn't be as negative and bitchy and bitter as Petunia.
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
    -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

    "Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling
  • Martin1Martin1 Posts: 7,794 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Oh yeah as a kid I'd be jealous, but if I didn't have a bitch sibling and they were cool about it I'd grow to accept it.

    Things I'd expect them to do:

    -Get me off a hangover in a snap
    -Get me quality wizard booze and wizard high as fuck
    -A little engorgio on my home tv and HELLO MOTHER FUCKING 150" FLAT SCREEN TV!
    -Secret boob job on my wife. Nothing she'd notice, just a slight one :p
    -Same thing, but penis job for me. Nothing absurd like a footlong, but a decent size. Trolololol
    -Ability to sing. I fucking hate practicing guitar and sounding like there's a bucket of nails in my throat
    -Gummy worms. Life supply of gummy worms. Holy fuuuuuuuuck
    -And shotgun on Their firebolt

    Just a few things in return for being in their shadow.
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  • echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭
    Interesting philosophy on magic you've got there. I wouldn't want all of those things exactly, mostly because I don't drink, I'm crazy enough without drugs (especially magical ones), I'm a girl and I definitely don't need a boob job, I'm not dating anyone (so I don't have a wife or husband obviously), I'd want a home movie theater, not simply a bigger TV, and I'd want an endless supply of Honeydukes products (Have you ever had the Pepper imps from Orlando? They're awesome!). I'd also expect them to find me a nice wizard husband so I can have a magical family, and I could then have at least two magical people at my beck and call. :)
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
    -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

    "Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling
  • Martin1Martin1 Posts: 7,794 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting philosophy on magic you've got there. I wouldn't want all of those things exactly, mostly because I don't drink, I'm crazy enough without drugs (especially magical ones), I'm a girl and I definitely don't need a boob job, I'm not dating anyone (so I don't have a wife or husband obviously), I'd want a home movie theater, not simply a bigger TV, and I'd want an endless supply of Honeydukes products (Have you ever had the Pepper imps from Orlando? They're awesome!). I'd also expect them to find me a nice wizard husband so I can have a magical family, and I could then have at least two magical people at my beck and call. :)

    I was totally just being sarcastic and kidding around about the drinking, drugs, growths, etc lmfaooo.

    Actually, maybe I wasn't being so sarcastic about the growth one...
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  • echomagic650echomagic650 Posts: 175 ✭✭

    Interesting philosophy on magic you've got there. I wouldn't want all of those things exactly, mostly because I don't drink, I'm crazy enough without drugs (especially magical ones), I'm a girl and I definitely don't need a boob job, I'm not dating anyone (so I don't have a wife or husband obviously), I'd want a home movie theater, not simply a bigger TV, and I'd want an endless supply of Honeydukes products (Have you ever had the Pepper imps from Orlando? They're awesome!). I'd also expect them to find me a nice wizard husband so I can have a magical family, and I could then have at least two magical people at my beck and call. :)

    I was totally just being sarcastic and kidding around about the drinking, drugs, growths, etc lmfaooo.

    Actually, maybe I wasn't being so sarcastic about the growth one...
    Well whether you were serious or not, it was still an interesting take on it. :) Though it is rather hard to read sarcasm over the Internet, so I wish we had our own magical powers in that regard....
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly," he turned away from the painted portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
    -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 749

    "Whether you come back by page, or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” - J.K. Rowling
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