When we first meet the Dursleys, they seem like any normal upper middle class family. Uncle Vernon is the director of a company and Aunt Petunia is a housewife. They are a normal couple with a home in the suburbs and a toddler to take care of. It’s only when we see their interactions with others do we realize that they are quite high and mighty about themselves and look down upon anyone seemingly different from them. When Uncle Vernon encounters people wearing weird looking clothes on the street, he believes that it must be a silly stunt for collecting money. According to him, respectable people would never wear such clothes out of choice. Aunt Petunia also seems quite happy knowing that her neighbors are having problems because it reinforces her belief that her family is better than others. The unfortunate circumstance later of having to bring up her sister’s son doesn’t seem to lessen any of her ideas about her superiority. It just seems to escalate it.
It can be clearly seen that the Dursleys’s hatred for Harry stems from their dislike for his parents. The thought that someone in their family could be so different from them causes them disgust. They are perfectly content with their own life convinced that their worlds won’t collide and they will never have to explain to their neighbors that they have an association with people like the Potters. But this bubble of theirs is shattered when they are forced to raise Harry and they show all the discontent stemming from their lack of control in this situation on Harry. Their behavior with Harry is nothing short of child abuse but it doesn’t seem to concern them at all. They are so smug in their generosity that they feel Harry should be grateful he has a home at all. Even though they had no choice but to raise Harry, they take control of the situation by lying to him, never telling him about his parents, forcing him to succumb to their idea of normal and punishing him for things he has no control on. They know that Harry lost his parents in a painful way and that he has every right to this knowledge as well as the fact that he needs to know about his possible abilities. But they deny him this knowledge with the assumption that raising him somehow gives them the right to deny him his roots.When this controlled life of lies is shattered again by the arrival of the first letter, Uncle Vernon can’t take it anymore. He almost goes mad in his attempts to regain some sense of control, even endangering his family in the process. What they never realize is that in their quest to be the perfect normal family, they have done unspeakable injustice to a child.
They know that magic exists in the world. Aunt Petunia knows all about Hogwarts and magic and probably even Voldemort. But they deny its existence even in their minds. Even when they see on the news that some unexplainable occurrences are happening in the world, their closeted minds never think that it could be related to the magical world. They can’t even mistakenly fathom that events in the magical world might somehow affect their own world. What they never realize is that actions always have consequences – sometimes unintended. They would have never been bothered about the Potters and the magical world had Voldemort not killed Harry’s parents. Harry would never have the protection of love had Lily not sacrificed her life for his. And the Dursleys never thought that their decision to let him into their home protected Harry on many occasions. That’s probably the only good to have come out of the years of abuse inflicted upon him because the one thing that they should have given him but never did was a sense of family.