Dudley’s Special Role!
by Sherin S. Ghevarghese
”You did not do as I asked. You have never treated Harry as a son. He has known nothing but neglect and often cruelty at your hands. The best that can be said is that he has at least escaped the appalling damage you have inflicted upon this unfortunate boy sitting between you.”
[HBP, Dumbledore, Pg 55]
I know that compared to the rest of the book, this trivial piece of information doesn’t seem very important. But is it? While I was reading HBP, this part of the story really jumped at me, partially because I didn’t expect it. Dudley is one of the most spoiled kids I have had the pleasure of meeting, even if he is only fictional. While the main focus is currently on trying to figure out who R.A.B. was, I decided to figure out who Dudley was instead. I mean, what do we really know about this character, other than the fact that he is an overweight, dimwitted bully who likes to torture innocent children? Probably nothing significant, besides that his parents worship him. This is why, when Dumbledore said, The best that can be said is that he has at least escaped the appalling damage you have inflicted upon this unfortunate boy sitting between you, it really surprised me.
It must have been something pretty big to make him say that. What could be worse than what they did to Harry? They did pretty much everything imaginable to him! They starved him, tortured him physically and mentally, forced him to live in a cupboard under the stairs, the incident with Marge’s dog, showing him no compassion or love whatsoever, and forced him to wait on them hand and foot his entire life. With all the pain he has endured, I didn’t understand how they could have damaged Dudley more. Then it really hit me. There is more to this story and J.K. probably wants to hit us with this info in the final book, or Im reading too much into it.
None of the Dursleys said anything. Dudley was frowning slightly, as though he was still trying to work out when he had ever been mistreated. Uncle Vernon looked as though he had something stuck in his throat; Aunt Petunia, however, was oddly flushed.
[HBP, Pg 56]
In Harry’s wondrous muggle home, Aunt Petunia is the only other person who knows at least a little bit about the magical world. Uncle Vernon and Dudley, though they might know the existence of the magical world, know very little about it. It was Aunt Petunia who knew about Azkaban the previous year. She also knew about the letter Dumbledore had sent her and other little tidbits about the magical world. When Dumbledore mentioned the damage inflicted on Dudley, though Uncle Vernon seems confused, Petunia was oddly flushed. It’s obvious that she knows something that neither Dudley nor Vernon knew. If Uncle Vernon had known something, he wouldn’t have said, ”Us – mistreat Dudders? What d’you – ? began Uncle Vernon furiously.” So it’s obvious, like the “Remember my last, Petunia” is flying solo on this one too.
It took me a little while to figure out what could be big enough to harm Dudley. Then it hit me, it had to be something connected to the magical world. J.K. Rowling once said that, there might be someone receiving their magical powers later on in life. Maybe it’s Dudley. Plus, him being a wizard would cause a big impact on the Dursleys. They tortured and mistreated Harry all his life mostly because he had special abilities, or in Aunt Petunia’s words, was a freak. How life changing would it be for them, if their precious little Dudders himself was a wizard? Not that he knew about it of course, dim-witted as he is, he probably never noticed. We have seen other dim-witted characters such as Crabbe and Goyle. If their parents weren’t wizards, they probably wouldn’t have known that they were wizards either, seeing that they dont have any outstanding powers. So how could Dudley possibly have known, especially since his parents are practically allergic to anything magical? Petunia, realizing this, probably hid this from her family. If there was an admission letter for Dudley, it was probably destroyed and if there was anyone sent to confirm his attendance, he was probably threatened by using Harry’s further living conditions in their household. Maybe that was what the whole “Remember my last” thing was all about. Excusing Dudley from attending Hogwarts in exchange for Harry’s home with the Dursleys, it being the only place where he would be safe from Voldemort.
In OotP, Petunia freaked out when she heard herself say Azkaban and Uncle Vernon and Dudley looked at her as if they had never seen her before. She was truly scared. I realized that she desperately tried to prove that she had nothing to do with anything magical. It was hard for her, having a sister who was a witch, and a famous one at that. She is trying her best not to lose her family. She is afraid her family will ostracize her and for this reason she would do anything to prevent it. Treating Harry as an outsider would provide the perfect façade for her to hide behind.
True, there isn’t must evidence supporting this theory but there certainly has to be a reason Dumbledore said what he did. I’m certain Petunia has a bigger hand in this than it seems. Also, in OotP, the incident with Dudley and the dementor seems pretty suspicious. If Dudley was in fact a wizard, it would have to change their perception about the wizarding world altogether, considering their son would be part of it. He would have to be the missing link. Perhaps the damage that was inflicted had to do with them preventing Dudley from attending Hogwarts and furthermore preventing him from knowing a part of him that he doesn’t even know exists, or even causing some sort of mental trauma he isnt aware of. Or perhaps his link to Harry would play an important part in what he is destined for. Whatever it is, we will just have to wait and see what happens in the next book!