The Congruent Lives of Dudley And Draco

By ThePotterhead101

Abstract: Although Draco and Dudley seem very different from each other, is there a possibility for their personal lives to be similar? Are they really as different as portrayed? Or do they actually possess quite a few similar qualities?


I was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and came upon this conclusion: While Dudley Dursley and Draco Malfoy lead entirely different lives, their personal problems involving the family seem quite similar. Here is my analysis of the two, portraying how congruent both of the characters’ lives are.

Dudley Dursley

While reading the first six books in the Harry Potter series, Dudley Dursley is portrayed as a heartless, good-for-nothing bully. We are introduced to the fact that he hates Harry and may even fear him due to his magical capabilities.

Through these six books I may have hated Dudley as much as anyone. I may have also yelled at him angrily while reading the books. But these feelings took a rapid turn when I started reading the last book of the series.

When the Dursleys are about to leave Number 4 Privet Drive, Dudley shows hesitance when he realizes that Harry won’t be coming with them.

Why isn’t he coming with us? (DH 38)

This aspect of Dudley makes us wonder why he is so surprised. Our first direct thought, due to many years of hatred towards him, is that Dudley is only worried he will no longer have a punching bag to push along all day. But then later on, Dudley shows signs of making peace with Harry:

I don’t think you are a waste of space. (DH 39)

Ths is when I came to the conclusion that Dudley only disliked Harry because his parents forced him to do so. Had he his own way, he would have discussed with Harry the wondrous attributes of the magical world.

Though many would disagree, I believe that Dudley was not at all like his parents; he would have been quite responsible and would have looked at the world in an entirely different perspective if his parents had not brought him up this way. It was due to them that Dudley despised Harry for his “abnormal qualities,” as Vernon would say.

As the series continues, one book after the other, each character matures. The same goes for Dudley. He comes to realize the fact that Harry is not what his parents have told him, and in fact, he may have been friends with Harry if his parents had not painted a completely different picture of Harry than how he really was.

After going through a brief analysis of Dudley Dursley, I came upon the epiphany that Dudley had been pressured to dislike Harry from the beginning. It was not an option, whether to like or dislike him; he had to follow what his parents practiced. There was no choice otherwise. But as he matured, he came to see sense and began to show a rough and uncomfortable brotherly affection toward Harry. But we are only introduced to that kind of affection and do not get enough time for it to develop since Dudley leaves quickly with his family.

This is our last meeting with the Dursley family. During this meeting, we are introduced to the new Dudley. A Dudley that has just begun to see the world in a different way, a Dudley that has finally begun maturity. After six years of trying to be what his parents are, and do what they think is suitable (such as bullying Harry), Dudley finally begins to wriggle out of their hands and do things entirely differently (such as trying to make peace with Harry, an act, I believe, that was beyond Vernon).

Draco Malfoy

Our first meeting with Draco Malfoy is not sweet when he enters the compartment in which Harry and Ron are sitting on the Hogwarts Express. This quick interaction between Harry and Draco begins the harsh relationship between the two and also gives us a very bad first impression of Draco Malfoy.

But who is the real Draco? Is he really as stubborn as he appears to be? Does he really have a passion for Dark Arts like his father, or is it just pretend? Again, after going through a rough analysis I hope to clear things up.

From the Book 1 through Book 5, Draco Malfoy is portrayed as “foul” and “evil” (PoA 216).

Though while reading Book 6 of the HP series, particularly focusing on the parts where Draco attempts various actions in order to kill Dumbledore, I noticed that all of his actions were through a third person status.

If Dumbledore had died through the necklace given to Katie Bell, the blame would have been anonymous or else on Katie.

If Dumbledore died through the wine given to Professor Slughorn, the accusation would then be on Slughorn.

This way, Draco would not have to feel guilty about the murder. A childish attempt to escape the reality of the situation. This act of Draco Malfoy portrays his innocence and how desperate he is. He did not want to continue this “project”; he did not want to become a murderer. Whatever his family background is, this was not what he had ever wanted. But then again, his father’s life is at stake. He has to complete the tasks given to him in order to save his own, as well as his parents’, life. He has no choice.

We notice a change in Draco’s assumptions as he plans murder. A realization sweeps over him that whatever he had followed for the past five years is wrong. He has been under the tight control of his family, following only what they tell him to follow and believing only what they tell him to believe. But the now mature Draco begins to see the world from a different perspective. He begins to realize the difference between right and wrong. This is proven by the fact that Draco does not end up killing Dumbledore because he sees the right path.

In Book 7 Draco indirectly helps Harry, Hermione, and Ron in Malfoy Manor by lying about Harry’s looks to the Death Eaters, which after all is a very brave step.

Through studying these aspects of the two characters, I believe that both Dudley and Draco were both strongly controlled by their families. Both were too afraid to go against what their parents believed in, though both in the end rebel against what they had been taught in previous years. This indicates the many similarities between the two characters’ lives.

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  • LD

    I like the idea of this parallel, something I had never considered, but I don’t necessarily agree with it in totality. I don’t think the boys felt pressured or forced to believe what their parents did, but rather were just following the ideals they were raised to believe. It would be like be raised to hate peas, then having them snuck in a dish and realizing they’re not terrible, and then at some turning point making the decision on your own to eat peas.
    For Draco, I do think that once the dark responsibilities rested on his shoulders and actions, he began to see their consequences and their transparent wrongness. While at the beginning only his wealth and status was public, everything that was privately boasted-death water status, etc- was out in the open now, exposed to young Malfoy. I always think of him watching his teacher murdered in front of him at the dining table. I think that was the first real shock to the system. Malfoy’s failed murder of Dumbledore was his turning point, his realization that he can’t do it, that he is not his parents and does not have their ideals. That status is no longer important to him. Not turning Harry in was a personal act of defiance against all the wrongs he was taught to believe were right. Nice analysis.
    Dudley’s turning point may have occurred after the dementor attack in ootp; though he blamed Harry originally, thinking he did magic against him, petunias confirmation of the existence of dementors changed the acceptance of the nights events. Though Dudley doesn’t speak again in ootp, when we see him in HBP, he is clearly wary of dumbledore, an the only worthwhile hung he does is “frown” as if wondering when he had ever been “mistreated” by his parents allegedly questioning his upbringing, as Dumbledore’s comment suggested. Likewise, he could have been processing Dumbledore’s accusation that Petunia was supposed to treat Harry like a son and raise him as her own after her sister died, but severely mistreated and neglected him. The Petunia/Harry relationship is quite complex, and it’s quite possible that the extent of Harry’s story was never explained to Dudley, or perhaps just never considered by him. As a boy, he was a thing to hate on, to tease, to compare himself to and puff out his chest proudly when winning such a comparison. Now, as a young adult, he can see their relationship in hindsight; Harry is his cousin, who lived in his home, who he knew nothing of the pain he felt other than what he had cause himself. He sees Harry as a human life, not something ostracized and different, as his father had taught him to believe. He is a person, not a waste of space, and that comment was his action of change.

    • jeeves

      I agree with you, Cerulean. Both Draco and Dudley were immature jerks who experienced events that alerted them to the realities in which they lived.

      For Dudley, the dementor attack was ground zero for some life change. He must have seen both Harry and magic differently after that. The encounter with Dumbledore at the beginning of book six would helped further. But notably, unless i’m mistaken, we never see Dudley antagonizing Harry after the dementor attack.

      For Malfoy, I bet things changed after he saw the way Voldemort treated his parents, especially his father, after the fiasco at the department of mysteries. Note some parallels with Snape here. I see Draco as a creature of naivetee and arrogance. That changed when he realized keeping his beliefs meant actually killing someone. The fact he had to kill Dumbledore in particular, whom he deeply respected, must have raised many more questions in his heart. After Dumbledore’s death, Draco appears to have begun sympathizing with Harry’s cause to some degree. He probably began to hope the Dark Lord would fail, but here’s the key: Draco put the preservation of his family above even that ideal. By the beginning of book seven for sure, if not earlier, Draco would see the same thing (or perhaps a slightly vainer version) that Dumbledore would see in the Mirror of Erised.

      So the real parallels for Draco and Dudley: Two arrogant and naiive teenagers sympathetic to “Might makes Right” who experience traumatic events that lead to a loss of innocence and halting steps toward real virtue– and who deserve some compassion and encouragement.

  • Cerulean

    I agree for the most part with your theory of there being a parallel between Dudley and Draco. However, i think that you are giving them a bit too much credit. I don’t think that Dudley and Draco were exactly ‘forced’ by their parents to hate Harry; they were simply raised to have that mindset. To me, ‘forced’ would imply that they were initially inclined to be kind to the people they bullied and were dissuaded from doing so by their parents. And let’s not forget: Harry wasn’t the only target of their bullying. Lucius Malfoy may have had a grudge against people like the Weasleys and Muggle-borns, but he actually advised Draco in CoS not to make his dislike for Harry known. In SS, it was mentioned that ‘no one liked to mess with Dudley’s gang’. What I think is that both Dudley and Draco, although they were far from the Death Eater level of cruelty, had a sort of childish mean streak, something that could have been corrected if they had been raised differently, but was instread encouraged by their respective set of parents. This was a really we’ll-written essay and I agree with it for the most part; I just wanted to make the distinction that neither of them was actually hiding a heart of hold underneath the brattiness.