In Chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, we are introduced to the very proper Mr. and Mrs. Dursley. You would never expect Mr. or Mrs. Dursley to engage in wild behavior. Their house was impeccably decorated, never an object out of its place. They would frown upon the inferior. They had such manicured gardens, and well-behaved son who knew his manners. Mr. Dursley was a professional who owned his own business, and Mrs. Dursley knew all the local gossip circling around the town. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Dursley were the pride of Privet Drive.
At least, that’s what they thought.
Instead of this idyllic picture, we see a son throwing a tantrum in the kitchen, throwing food at its walls. Not to mention that he screams as his parents try to get him into his chair to eat. We see a woman who loves to stick her nose into other peoples’ business, when it really doesn’t concern her.
Does this really translate to the perfect family they want to be? Or instead, are they trying to hide something? Could their pretenses at being perfect really be a mask over a reality that they would dread their neighbors knowing?
A question to consider here would be whether you have known any family to have secrets. I’m not talking about finances or realities that all families face and don’t necessarily want to talk about it to others. I’m talking about the skeletons in the closet. Perhaps the family has a past or history that they don’t want others to know about. Have you ever met a family like this? How common do you think they are? How do you look at the family as an outsider or observer?
Applying this to the Dursleys, how does this change your perception of them, knowing that they aren’t necessarily the perfect family they pretend to be? Do you have sympathy towards them? Anger? Disgust?
And what about Mrs. Dursley’s reaction to Mr. Dursley asking her about her sister? I assume she doesn’t regularly broadcast that she does have a sister.
It makes you wonder about the secrets a “typical” family can hide from the world…
© Amy Burney, Amy’s Fantastical Writings