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Thread: Vernon Dursley

  1. #1
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
    First Brush With A Dementor

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    Vernon Dursley

    Iíve been searching all around for a proper thread, but I couldnít find one, so here goes.
    Right now, Iím particularly wondering about what Vernon would be like shortly after finishing school.

    Any ideas what he might have done right after school?

    Did he work for Grunnings, or maybe did he found/co-found it later?

    How would he behave towards Petuniaís parents (in general)?

    How do you think he would act around Lily?
    In my story, heís at the Evansí place after heís already been in a relationship with Petunia for several months, and he meets Lily for the first time there. (So Petunia has had a lot of time to tell or not tell him things about Lily - either way, he must have an opinion - if she talks about her, it won't be anything good, if she doesn't, he has to notice that she never talks of her sister)

    How would he react to hearing that Lilyís a witch?

    Do you rather see him proposing to Petunia in front of her family or rather in private?



    Kara
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  2. #2
    greennotebook
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    ooh, hurrah! another chance to discuss character with Karaley Dargen!

    I see Vernon Dursley being a pretty solid, stereotypical guy. He works hard, and expects to be rewarded for it. I think part of the reason he has wizard-issues it that magic completely messes with that system. Wizards cheat. It must drive poor Vernon up the wall. Ironically enough, I think Vernon's a bit of an optimist. He believes the system works. He more or less trusts the government, and though he doesn't trust wizards, he assumes the wizarding government would work too (DH American 33: "'I thought there was a Ministry of Magic?' asked Vernon Dursely abruptly... 'Well, then, why can't they protect us? It seems to me that, as innocent victims, guilty of nothing more than harboring a marked man, we ought to qualify for government protection!'").

    Now for your questions, some of which I slam together:

    Any ideas what he might have done right after school? Did he work for Grunnings, or maybe did he found/co-found it later?
    I think he went right to Grunnings and worked his way up through the company. I have the feeling (though I have no idea why or what my sources are) that it was a bit of a family business. I wouldn't trust that instinct as fact, because it may have simply come from a fanfic I liked, but it fits with my idea of Vernon. It was expected of him, so he stepped up and worked for the company happily. Vernon likes when things go as expected.

    I don't see him founding the company, at least not all by himself. I do imagine that he is good at his job, however, and works hard at it.

    How would he behave towards Petunia’s parents (in general)?
    I think he would have behaved with the utmost of respect and politeness. Vernon seems to highly value ettiquette. He expects Dudley to open doors and take coats when dealing with his aunt and family guests. There's no way he would have treated the parents of his girlfriend/fiancee/wife with disrespect. Now, I admit this may have changed when he realized Lily's secret and his in-laws' view of said secret. I still think, though, he would have treated them much better than he treats wizards. He would have seen them as parents who couldn't control their daughter's choices but still loved her anyway.

    Though he probably would have made a few aside comments to Petunia about stricter parenting, etc.

    I don't think he had to deal with the Evans parents for more than a few years, though, as they died before Harry was born.

    How do you think he would act around Lily? How would he react to hearing that Lily’s a witch?
    Now, this is interesting. Am I right, Karaley, in thinking that the Petunia of your story has already told Vernon about Lily's magic? I can't imagine Petunia admitting to that unless she were absoluted forced by some series of events beyond her control. Think Vernon catching Lily casting a spell, or the Evans parents talking about Hogwarts or Platform 9 3/4. Still, if Vernon didn't know Lily was a witch and just though she was weird, he'd keep his distance, but he'd be polite. I think even if he did know she was a witch, originally he would keep his distance and be polite, but if he saw her doing weird things, he would gradually lose any semblance of respect until he was downright nasty. It would take time, however, and shenanigans. Bear in mind, he trusts Kingsley Shacklebolt, who blends in with humans well and does magic subtly. It's the weirdness, the collapse of the predictable work-hard-get-ahead system Vernon trusts that gets to him.

    Whether he actually sees Lily doing unnatural things, or he just hears about it from Petunia and takes her cue, eventually, Vernon will just be too weirded out. He will associate Lily with all the people who don't work hard, who cheat the system, who leech of people who DO work hard like Vernon does, and he'll start dismissing Lily.

    Frankly, though, I don't think Vernon would believe in magic until he saw evidence. He doesn't seem open to new ideas in the books. I can see a world in which Petunia doesn't admit to her sister's unusualness until Baby Harry has moved in with the Dursleys and is literally bouncing down the stairs. At the very least, Lily has to pull her wand out and make some colored sparks. Either of these events would terrify Vernon, not because of what they are in and of themselves, but because they completely subvert the system he understands.

    Do you rather see him proposing to Petunia in front of her family or rather in private? I see this happening in private, with Vernon being genuinely afraid she'll say no, but I imagine several very exuberant, very public announcements and celebrations to follow. Vernon is very proud of Petunia-- she's normal, she works hard, she knows her manners, she's devoted, and she's his.

    Vernon Dursley may be very boring, and he might not be likable, but I think he would be more likable if we took the wizards out of his life. He likes knowing what's going on, he likes a system he understands, and he's scared if he can't maintain some control or awareness of his own life. I almost wonder if there's some alcohol abuse in his family background.... that might be an interesting avenue to explore.... but he certainly likes knowing what's going on and keeping things adhered to a very specific merit system.

    I almost feel bad for the way magic rocks his whole world, except for the fact that he's such a beast to Harry.

  3. #3
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
    First Brush With A Dementor

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    Aah, thanks for your quick answer - I think I remember you from the Peter thread, don't I?

    That remarks you made about his believing in the system (and trusting Kingsley) is something I completely forgot about - so thanks a lot for that!

    Quote Originally Posted by greennotebook
    I think he went right to Grunnings and worked his way up through the company. I have the feeling (though I have no idea why or what my sources are) that it was a bit of a family business.
    I don't think it's in canon, but it's something that crossed my mind too. I probably wouldn't make it his father who owns Grunnings before Vernon, but maybe some sort of uncle - or a close friend of his father. But I do think that Vernon had some sort of connection to the firm quite early.

    I'm glad I wasn't completely wrong in thinking that Vernon would have good manners, and be very polite towards Petunia's parents... But I'm not sure he'd like them one hundred percent, because Petunia is (later) going on about how they loved Lily so much more, and that must have been mirrored in the way she talked about them to Vernon. Or maybe she tried extra-hard to impress them, and thus Vernon did, too?


    Quote Originally Posted by greennotebook
    Am I right, Karaley, in thinking that the Petunia of your story has already told Vernon about Lily's magic? I can't imagine Petunia admitting to that unless she were absoluted forced by some series of events beyond her control.
    Just like you, I don't see Petunia voluntarily telling anyone about Lily being a witch. Not only because she thinks people think her family is some sort of freak-show (I'm talking Petunia-terms here, so no offense meant), but also because she envies Lily so much, and is probably grateful that she has some part of her life to resort to where no one knows about wizards, where no one talks about this world she can't belong to, where no one asks her about Lily...

    So (back to Vernon ) - so now I'm spoilering my own story here - , in this scene I'm writing, Vernon is at the Evans' for a couple of days, him and Petunia have been dating for quite some time now, and they are all sitting at the dinner table, when Vernon either proposes to Petunia or announces the engagement (more to that later). Everyone is cheerful and happy, until Mr Evans (who is old/ill/... and overcome with joy) announces that now that Vernon's part of the family, he can be let in on the secret and tells him that Lily's a witch. Petunia starts crying and says that Lily ruins everything - or whatever, I haven't planned that much detail yet.

    Anyway, this is how he finds out. Right now, I'm thinking of having Lily run to her room, so I won't have to deal with his reaction, but their paths will cross again sooner or later...
    They'll never be friendly, definitely, and I don't see Vernon as taking a lot of interest in the wizarding world (seeing how extremely little he knows about it). Would he dislike her, be weirded out by her, whatever, right from the beginning, would it be Petunia's influence..?

    Maybe one option would be that he thinks it's a joke in the beginning, until Petunia has some sort of fit and starts crying/screaming - I think then he'd realize that something is wrong.

    I'm writing this after Lily's fifth year, so she wouldn't be doing magic at home.

    About the proposal - right now, I'm thinking that he'd do it in private and announce it publicly as soon as possible. I had been considering him proposing in front of her parents, because it would be somewhat more old-fashioned- asking for her hand, but at the same time for her parents' permission.. And I always saw him as someone who would like to do something like a proposal in a somewhat celebratory manner (I'm really lost for the right word here.. oh well) - if he's sure she's going to say yes. But now I think he'd probably do it in a fancy restaurant or something, but where they are in a somewhat private atmosphere.

    How do you see him with Petunia in general? Would he be kind and loving? Are they equals? I personally agree with you that he would be quite proud of her, but how would it show?


    - Kara
    This completely gorgeous banner, which makes me happier than a squirrel, was made by Hokey

  4. #4
    A.H.
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    Would he dislike her, be weirded out by her, whatever, right from the beginning, would it be Petunia's influence..?

    I don't think Vernon and Lily would get along. Lily's had to deal with a jealous and mean sister since she began Hogwarts--she's had to hear the snide remarks, the mean jokes, the taunting, yadda yadda, for five years, and if Vernon were to act as if her magic was a joke, I don't see her as being accepting towards him. Honestly--and a lot of people may disagree with my opinions on Lily--I think she'd come into the situation (meeting Petunia's boyfriend) ready to dislike him. She and her sister weren't getting along; surely Petunia, by Lily's fifth year, has crossed the line between jealousy and evilness (sibling rivalries get dirty--I would know) and so her opinion of her sister would most likely cloud her perception of anyone associated with her sister.

    So, IMO, your fic is a recipe for disaster--my favorite kind of story.


    How do you see him with Petunia in general? Would he be kind and loving? Are they equals? I personally agree with you that he would be quite proud of her, but how would it show?

    Hmm... I would analyze their relationship as shown in canon, but relationships change so much over time that I don't think their early relationship (can I say it again? ) says too much about how they might have been in their past. (Otherwise, I think that if you just stick to their canon characteristics, you can construe their early relationship however you like.)

    I know this isn't particularly helpful, but I thought I'd share. Good luck.

    -Ari-

  5. #5
    sorrow_of_severus
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    originally posted by greennotebook
    I think Vernon's a bit of an optimist. He believes the system works. He more or less trusts the government, and though he doesn't trust wizards, he assumes the wizarding government would work too (DH American 33: "'I thought there was a Ministry of Magic?' asked Vernon Dursely abruptly... 'Well, then, why can't they protect us? It seems to me that, as innocent victims, guilty of nothing more than harboring a marked man, we ought to qualify for government protection!'").
    He assumes the government would work when he needs it. It is a beacon in his time of fear.

    He strikes me as the sort who'd complain about the government the rest of the time (when he feels safe), though. He'd want all of his hard-earned money. He wouldn't want a pound of it going to taxes to be "wasted" by the government, especially helping the poor. He'd be the sort, to use an American phrase, who believed that the poor should be pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. (In other words, helping themselves.)

    I remember reading somewhere (where, you ask? I don't know. I read too much!) about what a recently deceased American Senator had to say about one of his constituents. The man had been born in a government hospital, gone to college on the GI bill (an American program after World War II that helped veterans go to college and own homes), drove on government highways, had worked as defense contractor for the military, and was being supported partially by Social Security (the American government program that helps provide for retirees, amongst others). He asked the Senator, "Could you please get the darn government off my back?" I think that man could be Vernon Dursley.

    Any ideas what he might have done right after school? Did he work for Grunnings, or maybe did he found/co-found it later?
    I don't see Vernon being the creative, go-out-on-a-limb sort that would take the risk of starting his own company. Instead, I suspect that he was offered an office job at Grunnings' right out of school, and stuck with the company his whole life, gradually working his way up the ranks.

    How would he behave towards Petuniaís parents (in general)?
    Oh, very respectful, very formal.

    How do you think he would act around Lily? How would he react to hearing that Lilyís a witch?
    He probably would pick up on Petunia's feelings on Lily, and not like her too much, at first for his girlfriend's sake. I don't know how he much of Lily he'd really see anyways, so there probably weren't that many interactions between the two before he was told that she was a witch. Before, he probably would have been polite but disinterested. After, he'd dislike her strongly - she'd rocked his very stable world. I think he must have witnessed some magic at some point to loath it as much as he did by the time Harry came around, though.

    Do you rather see him proposing to Petunia in front of her family or rather in private?
    Oh, he's very traditional. I see him asking Petunia's father for permission first, then propose to her at a fancy dinner with roses. I suppose asking her in front of her family would be okay, if you've already written it that way. I do think he should have already asked permission of Mr. Evans, though.

    How do you see him with Petunia in general? Would he be kind and loving? Are they equals?
    He loved Petunia. He wouldn't be the sort for big romantic gestures - too impractical - but was happy to give her a peck on the cheek as he left for work (PS/SS) and might buy her flowers once in a while.

    Again, I see him as very traditional. He would have expected that the house would be his castle, that he'd "wear the pants" once they were married, and would act like it before then, too, I suspect. Look at them in the books. Petunia's the doting, stay-at-home wife, always seen cleaning the house or cooking dinner. Vernon is never seen lifting a finger to do "women's" work. Rather, he reads the paper, waters the lawn, works with power tools (as seen screwing the mail slot shut in PS/SS), all very traditional "male" things.

    I personally agree with you that he would be quite proud of her, but how would it show?
    Vernon Dursley is not a creative fellow. (Can I say this frequently enough, in enough different ways? ) He would have shown his pride in his wife by putting up her picture on his desk at work, and loudly bragging at the party about the cake she brought.

  6. #6
    greennotebook
    Guest
    How do you see him with Petunia in general? Would he be kind and loving? Are they equals? I personally agree with you that he would be quite proud of her, but how would it show?

    I see the Dursleys as being the stereotypical 1950s sitcom family. Vernon and Petunia are equals, but he's more dominant. If Petunia objected to something, Vernon would back down, but why would she ever object? They're in sync. Vernon goes to work at Grunnings, Petunia holds down the fort at home, they socialize with the neighbors, love their son to the point of spoiling him and they're all around entirely white-bread normal.

    Except for, you know, that magic thing.

    Earlier, I asked why would Petunia ever object to something Vernon says? How about because he wants to kick out their nephew after some magic creepy-things attack their son. Petunia insisted that Harry stay, and Vernon backed right down.... he didn't really seem to even have a choice, did he?

    I do think that Vernon would be kind and loving toward his wife in a gruff, uncreative way (good insight on that lack of creativity, sorrow_of_severus). In the books, we only see him being cruel to Harry, wizards and other assorted "weirdos". I think he would have been the guy buying the roses and the jewelry and any other gifts that show off his money and his relationship with Petunia to the rest of the world and not just her.

    Overall, I really think Vernon's biggest problems come from the lack of control he has in life because of magic. I'm not sure why he needs everything picture-perfect and within his control, but he does and that's why he likes his system. Magic just messes everything up.

    Oh, and sorrow_of_severus, I think you're spot on with your assessment of Vernon & the government. You managed to publish part of your post twice, though, so you might want to clean that up.

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