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.
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? [pg.38, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, UK first edition]
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. [pg.39, DH]
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 towards Harry. But we are only introduced to that kind of affection and do not get enough time for it to develop, as 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).
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 first book to the fifth, Draco Malfoy is portrayed as "foul" and "evil" [Hermione Granger, pg. 216, Prisoner of Azkaban, UK Edition]
Though while reading the sixth part 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' lives. 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 the seventh book 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.
He had just made Harry feel rather better by telling him how he told the examiner in detail about the ugly man with a wart on his nose in his crystal ball, only to look up and realize he had been describing his examiner's reflection.
Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31, Page 717
Harry’s birthday is July 31, 1980. Rowling’s birthday is also July 31—but in 1966.