Throughout the Harry Potter series, the Dursleys treat Harry very cruelly in regards to his magic. How does fear drive their actions? How does fear control us, and why might it be hard to be tolerant of others when afraid?

The Dursleys treat Harry very cruelly in regards to his magic because they blame it for the death of his parents. Both, including Petunia Dursleys' younger sister Lily, were killed by Voldemort as young adults when Harry was just a baby. Fear can control us and make it hard to be tolerant of others because we believe certain kinds of people will bring pain or death.

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We might feel at least a little sympathy for the Dursleys, awful as they are to Harry, because they are driven by a deep horror of magic. This is understandable because Petunia Evans, now Mrs. Dursley, had to deal with the death of her younger sister Lily Potter—and she holds magic responsible.

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley have no understanding of the wizarding world. They equate it with danger and evil, not realizing that the evil in that world lies in Voldemort, not the entire wizarding universe. They simply can't see the good in wizarding: to them, all it has brought is death and destruction to Petunia's family.

It's not surprising that the Dursleys fears Harry's magic: it brings creatures, people, and actions they loathe, fear, and don't understand into the periphery of their lives. A total, rigid conformity to the Muggle world is the only way they feel safe.

Fear of the unknown and the "other" can be difficult to deal with, especially if we have evidence it has caused damage or destruction...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on May 20, 2020
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 1, 2019