Marjorie "Marge" Eileen Dursley was Vernon Dursley's elder sister, sister-in-law to Petunia Dursley, and the aunt of Dudley Dursley. She had a career in breeding bulldogs. Ripper, a particularly ferocious bulldog, was her favourite.
Marge was an unpleasant and arrogant woman, whose wealth appeared to be great, as she gave her nephew Dudley expensive gifts. In 1993, she visited her brother Vernon for a week. She enraged Harry Potter when she spoke ill of his parents. This caused Harry's magical abilities to unintentionally erupt, which resulted in her body inflating. Her memory of this incident was later purged by the Ministry of Magic.
Marjorie went on to live in the country, in a house with a large garden where she bred bulldogs. She seemed to have large amounts of money, because she frequently bought her nephew, Dudley Dursley, expensive presents and was noted to be on holiday sometimes. She usually did not have much time to cook, and lived with twelve bulldogs. At some point in her life, she would live next to Fubster, a retired military colonel. She fell in love with Fubster. However, her attraction was unrequited, though the two still kept enough of a relationship for him to watch after her dogs when she was away.
Early visits to Privet Drive
In June 1985, Marge was at Privet Drive to attend her nephew's (Dudley) fifth birthday party. She whacked Harry Potter, then four years old, around the shins with her walking stick to stop him from beating Dudley at musical statues.
Marge was present again at Dudley's tenth birthday party, when Harry was nine. Harry accidentally stepped on Ripper's paw, which caused the dog to chase Harry out into the garden and up a tree. Marge refused to call the dog off until past midnight, much to the Dursleys' delight.
On holiday at the Isle of Wight
- "Marge's ill. Ate a funny whelk..."
- —Marge's postcard to Vernon[src]
In June 1991, Marjorie travelled to the Isle of Wight. Unable to attend Dudley's Eleventh Birthday, she sent him a present. Also at the Isle of Wight, she fell ill after she ate a "funny whelk", and wrote to the Dursleys to tell them about it.
Week at Privet Drive
- "Bad blood will out. Now, I'm saying nothing against your family, Petunia, but your sister was a bad egg. They turn up in the best families. Then she ran off with a wastrel and here's the result right in front of us."
- —Aunt Marge cruelly mocking the Potters[src]
During the summer of 1993, she stayed at the Dursleys' house for a week. Knowing nothing about Harry's "abnormality," Marge was told that Harry attended St Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys. She cruelly belittled Harry the entire week that she was there, something that he took in stride. When she asked if the cane was used at St Brutus', she commented that she did not believe in not hitting people who deserved it. When she asked how often Harry was beaten and he casually replied "all the time", she insisted that the school was clearly not hitting him hard enough. She felt this way because Harry appeared too nonchalant in conveying the extent of his purported beatings.
She also delighted in comparing Harry to Dudley, and remarked about what made Harry such an unsatisfactory person. When Marge insulted his mother and his father, Harry accidentally lost control of his magic and blew her up like a balloon. She was successfully punctured, and her memory was modified by the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad from the Ministry of Magic, so she would have no recollection of the event.
After this, the Dursleys never invited Marge to stay again while Harry was in residence, and he never saw her again.
Marge was described as resembling her brother: large, beefy, purple-faced, and even had a moustache, though not as bushy as his.
Personality and traits
- "I won't have this namby-pamby, wishy-washy nonsense about not hitting people who deserve it. A good thrashing is what's needed in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. Have you been beaten often?"
- —Aunt Marge antagonising Harry Potter[src]
Marge did not like Harry, and the feeling was quite mutual. When she visited, she always brought expensive gifts for Dudley (who only put up with her because he was well-paid for it), such as a computerised robot, and less satisfactory "gifts" for Harry such as a box of dog biscuits. It was unknown if Marge knew Harry's parents, but she constantly called them gross names (such as "good-for-nothing scrounger") and implied their uselessness to society (although, technically, James Potter was unemployed, but only because he was rich enough to not have to work). Marge also had no knowledge of Harry's magical heritage, of which the rest of the Dursleys intended to keep it so.
While she was not a blood relative of Harry's, he was forced to call her "Aunt" Marge. She constantly insulted his parents, allowed Ripper to chase him up a tree, and was generally very cruel to him. She heavily favoured her nephew Dudley. She even went as far as whacking a young Harry in the shins to stop him from beating Dudley at musical statues. While the Dursleys frequently asked Harry to stay out of their way, which he was only too glad to do, Marge strove for the opposite. She wanted him under her watch all the time so she could spew out suggestions about how he could improve himself. She also suggested that Harry to be put into an orphanage instead of "being a burden" on the Dursleys.
Much of Marge's reprehensible behaviour, however, was the result of having been shunned by Colonel Fubster, whom she was in love with, though it should be noted, that she was already a horrible enough person for Fubster to not wish to marry her on those grounds.
Marjorie is a variant of Margaret. J.K. Rowling has confirmed that Marge is based on Conservative Prime-Minister Margaret Thatcher who is viewed as a controversial figure for her economic policies which while creating vast wealth in some areas, caused poverty in others. As a supporter of the Labour Party, Rowling is open about her dislike for Thatcher.
The name "Margaret" is derived from Latin Margarita, which was from Greek μαργαριτης (margarites) meaning "pearl", probably a borrowing from Sanskrit. Saint Margaret, the patron of expectant mothers, was martyred at Antioch in the 4th century. Later legends told of her escape from a dragon, with which she was often depicted in mediaeval art. The saint was popular during the Middle Ages, and her name has been widely used in the Christian world. "Eileen" is from Celtic, English and Irish roots and has a long-standing history in each culture. In Irish it is known as a variation of "Helen". It became a more popular name in the 19th century. It is rumoured to have roots in Latin, American, French and Greek cultures, however such claims are not backed up with much evidence. Another variation of this name is Eileene which is most commonly used in Ireland.
Other versions of Eileen; "Aileen" (Scottish), "Eibhlin" (the original source for the name), "Eila" (Celtic variant of both "Eileen" and "Aileen"), "Eireen" (Norwegian variant of "Irene" or "Eileen"), "Eleanor" (a similarly-rooted name to "Eileen" in Irish).
Dursley is a town in Gloucestershire, England. J. K. Rowling has commented that she visited the place as a child, and hated it, which likely affected her choice of surname for the awful family, remarking "I don't imagine I'm very popular in Dursley". The town is known for its Victorian history in coal mining. Rowling chose the name because it sounded "dull and forbidding".
Behind the scenes
- Aunt Marge was played by Pam Ferris in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban who portrayed Miss Trunchbull in Matilda and Mrs White in the Third Series of Cluedo.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry caused Marge to float outside along Privet Drive, while in the novel, she floated to the ceiling inside the house.
- Marge's personality was based on J. K. Rowling's grandmother, Frieda Volant.
- In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, Marge began to talk about Harry's parents when she found a picture of them.
- In the film, Petunia was seen slowly waving goodbye to Marge as she floated away.
- In the book, Aunt Marge's tyranny to Harry lasted all week. In the film, all the incidents happened in the same day.
- Eileen Prince, the mother of Severus Snape, happened to share her first name with the middle name of Marjorie Dursley. Whether this was intentionally done by Rowling to provide an insight into a possible similarity in character, was unknown.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- Pottermore (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Marge Dursley" at Pottermore
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 2 (Aunt Marge's Big Mistake)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 3 (The Letters from No One)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 2 (The Vanishing Glass)
- ↑ Margaret at Behind the Name
- ↑ Wikipedia:Dursley
- ↑ 2001 BBC Online Chat
- ↑ 2000 article in The Daily Telegraph