In middle school, I would read the Harry Potter series religiously on my way to and from school on the bus. I was fascinated with everything about the books, whether that be the plot, the characters, etc. Due to this and the fact that I tend to reread the same books over and over again instead of reading new material, I have had the chance to analyze and grow a deeper understanding of its possible symbols.
After Harry’s parents were murdered by Lord Voldemort, he had to go live with his only remaining relatives: his uncle Vernon, aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, otherwise known as the Dursleys. Not only are they muggles, but the Dursleys fear and despise magic. That is the primary reason why they keep Harry in the dark about his true identity, make up scenarios about how his parents died and do everything in their power to prevent him from going to Hogwarts. They are incapable of growing as human beings to accept Harry for who he is or to even try to look at things from a different perspective in an attempt to support him. The Dursleys are the type of people that destroy creativity in the world and prevent its potential change. They are a symbol of conservatism, narrow-mindedness, and lack of imagination.
The Wizarding World
The Wizarding World, on the other hand, symbolizes imagination, possibility, and escape. Once Harry finally has an opportunity to read his letter, accepting him into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he doesn’t need to give it a second thought. In fact, he immediately leaves with Hagrid to Diagon Alley. It truly is his getaway from the Dursleys and his life that he loathes. As he soon realizes, there are not any boundaries in the Wizarding World. Flying on broomsticks, avoiding Peeves, taming dragons, attending Defence Against the Dark Arts classes, and using Time-Turners are but some of the many magical aspects that make it so special and bring it to life. It pushes what is believed to be surreal, mythical, or impossible.
What I find interesting about these two symbols is their contrast in one another, how they are practically opposing. In most literature, there are not many examples of symbolism that counter each other’s ideas. In my opinion, it is compelling to see that, especially when the two things in question are a group of people and a place. Not only are they both recurring during the entire series but they both have deep and powerful meanings. In addition, since the Dursleys and the Wizarding World represent opposite ideas, this enhances the effect of both symbols as individuals.
As readers, we often interpret different characters, objects, or places to be symbols. It might not have been intended by the author but there is nothing wrong with discovering them to magnify your reading adventure. As you have seen with my personal experience, the Dursleys and the Wizarding World are two valuable symbols in the Harry Potter series.