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The Thing That Doesn't Make Sense About The Dursleys In Harry Potter

In a world of magic and muggles, wizards and witches, dementors and the Dark Arts, and all sorts of fantastical things, one very human family has left fans scratching their heads more than anything else. 

Throughout the Harry Potter series, the Dursleys — father Vernon (Richard Griffiths), mother Petunia (Fiona Shaw), and son Dudley (Harry Melling) — absolutely terrorize Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), the son of Petunia's late sister Lily, who turns out to be a wizard just like his mother. Forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs, Harry is hated and ignored by the only family he knows. That changes on Harry's 11th birthday, when he's given the opportunity to escape to the wizarding world, attend Hogwarts School of Wizardry, and discover his true destiny as the Boy who Lived after surviving an attack by the Dark Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) as a baby.

It seems perfectly acceptable to write off the cruel, callous Dursleys — who have zero regard for Harry's well-being, consider him a disgusting freak, and are clearly emotionally abusive toward him –  as villains. However, there's one big thing that doesn't make a ton of sense about the Dursleys, and it has to do with their initial treatment of the baby who appeared on their doorstep after his parents were killed. 

The Dursleys did something that doesn't make any sense

Petunia Dursley (née Evans) had a difficult relationship with her sister Lily due to the fact that Petunia had no magical powers and Lily was a talented witch. (Both their parents were Muggles — humans with no magical abilities.) Given the rift that grew between the sister's over Lily's magical talents, it makes sense that Petunia, who secretly always wanted to be a witch, would resent her young nephew — whom Lily had with pure-blood wizard James Potter. Vernon, who hated anything odd or abnormal, clearly fell in line with his wife, viewing Harry as a freak. As for Dudley? Well, he was just an enormous brat and bully. 

With all that said, though, the fact that the Dursleys made Harry sleep in a cupboard under the stairs doesn't really make sense.

After Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) murdered Lily and James Potter on October 31, 1981 and attempted to kill Harry as well but was unsuccessful, Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) rescued baby Harry and delivered him to the Dursley home at 4 Privet Drive on November 1, 1981. At that time, Harry was only a little over a year old (he was born on July 31, 1980). Even if the Dursleys didn't actively hate Harry and everything he represented, for pure convenience's sake, no sane person would keep an infant in a cupboard since it would mean running to the cupboard every time the baby needed to be fed or changed. And even if the Dursleys thought that the helpless infant Harry deserved such punishment, weren't they also punishing themselves, in a way, by having to duck into the dusty closet to change, feed, and dress him?

If we assume that the Dursleys didn't immediately put baby Harry into the cupboard under the stairs, when exactly did they move him there, and what was their reasoning for doing so? If guests came over for dinner, did they force Harry to hide in the cupboard to avoid uncomfortable questions? Hating Harry is one thing, but making him sleep in a spider-filled closet seems like a pretty extreme thing to do to a small child. By the time we meet Harry, he has been sleeping in the cupboard for "many years," leading readers and viewers to wonder exactly when he moved there at the Dursley family's behest in the first place.

One fan theory about the Dursleys could explain their horrible attitude

Though there are some unanswered questions about the Dursleys, one thing about them is certain: They're horrible to Harry at every turn, making his life more difficult on a constant basis. Between trying to stop him from returning to Hogwarts, starving him, and locking him in either the cupboard or the bedroom he eventually moves into later in the series, the Dursleys are absolutely awful to Harry. Some fans think they understand the underlying reasons for their collective hatred.

As we learn in the series' final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one of Voldemort's Horcruxes — a fragment of his soul that keeps him immortal if it's outside of his body — lives within Harry. We also learn that the mere presence of a Horcrux can make people irritable and angry. Therefore, some Harry Potter diehards think that the energy of the Horcrux within Harry simply makes the Dursleys worse people, explaining their insane animosity towards the young boy. Of course, other people — like Harry's friends at Hogwarts — aren't openly cruel to him, which sort of debunks that theory. 

Whether the Dursleys were affected by the Horcrux within Harry or were just naturally horrible, we may never understand exactly why or when they forced him to live in the cupboard under the stairs.