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Let's keep aside the fact that Aunt Petunia was scared of wizards and overall magic because of her past with Lily. I don't find this a valid reason for bullying Harry or treating him like a lowly servant. To avoid Harry's contact with magic, Vernon Dursley had convinced him that magic didn't exist and it seemed to work.

If we use the logic behind this question, How much does a Horcrux affect its surroundings, people in its immediate vicinity?

Horcrux affects the person who possesses it in a negative manner. Other Horcruxes were inanimate (except Nagini) so it was easy to possess them, wear the ring, read the diary and so on. But in context with Harry, Dursleys were officially declared his guardians, thus making Harry a possession of the Dursleys.

Was it because Harry was a Horcrux, the Dursleys were always mean? I mean their antics were not limited to Harry.

  1. They were over-pampering Dudley, thus making him useless in the real world.

  2. Dudley is shown mistreating the snake at zoo. Thus, we can assume that he mistreated other animals too.

  3. Also, the Dementors attack Dudley as if he was in possession of a Horcrux or to say a criminal soul, thus attracting attention of Dementors.

Had Dursleys been so mean from inception itself, they would have put Harry in an orphanage, which means they must have been good people before. It must have been the prolonged exposure to Horcrux (Harry Potter) that made them act mean.

(It can also be pointed out that Ron also stays around with Harry for long, so why doesn't it affect him. I'd say he is around him but doesn't posses him in any manner. Also, Ron tends to break contact with him regularly when sleeping in different beds, staying away during vacations and so on thus avoid the full effect on himself.)

Any confirmation on this?

  • 4
    I dispute the premise of this question, that Horcruxes have a negative effect on people around them. It's worth nothing that your other question is barely 2 hours old and hasn't had much attention yet. As I'm sure an answer will eventually point out on that question, all of the Horcruxes mentioned there had separate, unrelated curses placed on them that caused their unique characteristics. (And as someone else will point out, Harry is not a Horcrux.) – Chris Hayes Feb 18 '15 at 8:31
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    Harry Potter is NOT A HORCRUX as claimed by J.K. Rowling. – KharoBangdo Feb 18 '15 at 10:08
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    Dudley wasn't totally useless. In HP5, we learn that he's become "Junior Heavyweight Inter-School Boxing Champion of the Southeast.". That's reasonably impressive and shows a certain amount of dedication and training. – Valorum Feb 18 '15 at 11:38
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    Also the assumption that they own Harry, as if a human being (wizard being?) Is an object to which possession applies? – user16696 Feb 18 '15 at 14:32
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    @cde Hahaha, sorry that is utterly my bad- I meant horcrux not wizard :P – LepelLeLama Feb 19 '15 at 6:05
22

I would guess not.

Before they ever have any contact with Harry (or at least, before he has a part of Voldemort’s soul imparted in him), there are lines in the first chapter of Philosopher’s Stone to suggest that they really are just a nasty piece of work:

The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere. […]

Mrs Potter was Mrs Dursley’s sister, but they hadn’t met for several years; in fact, Mrs Dursley pretended she didn’t have a sister, because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be. […] The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away; they didn’t want Dudley mixing with a child like that. […]

Mr Dursley couldn’t bear people who dressed in funny clothes – the get-ups you saw on young people! […]

Mr Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morn- ing. He yelled at five different people. He made several important telephone calls and shouted a bit more. He was in a very good mood until lunch-time. […]

Mrs Dursley had had a nice, normal day. She told him over din- ner all about Mrs Next Door’s problems with her daughter and how Dudley had learnt a new word (“Shan’t!”).

That sounds like they’re fairly intolerant of anything different, spoil their child, and take great pains to separate themselves from the magical world. This behaviour seems pretty consistent with how they treat Harry when he’s under their roof. In particular, the first line (“there was no finer boy anywhere”) sounds exactly like how they treat Harry: they know Dudley is number one, and they want Harry to know it, too.

I think you might be trying to give them more excuses than they deserve. They’re just nasty people (and continue to be nasty when Harry’s been away from them for a long time – witness picking him up at the end-of-term).

And if Harry really was having a negative effect on the people around him because of Voldemort’s soul fragment, wouldn’t that have a noticeable effect on his friends at Hogwarts? I see no evidence that Ron or Hermione became as cagey when Harry was around as they did when (for example) wearing the locket.

(Remember that Harry isn’t a full-blown horcrux; he’s just got a soul fragment inside him. Possibly that makes the difference, or maybe it’s the fact that he has his own soul, which cancels out most of the effects of Voldemort’s.)

  • 9
    McGonagall doesn't seem impressed either; "‘You don’t mean – you can’t mean the people who live here?’ cried Professor McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at number four. ‘Dumbledore – you can’t. I’ve been watching them all day. You couldn’t find two people who are less like us. And they’ve got this son – I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!’" – Valorum Feb 18 '15 at 11:35
  • Also, Horcruxes aren't inherently what corrupt people, it's the curses placed on them that do. – Möoz Nov 29 '16 at 3:02
2

No. The Dursleys hated magic before Harry ever came. Also, aunt Marge is worse than the Dursleys to Harry, and she is only exposed to Harry every now and then. And as a little girl, Petunia hated magic (for the most part), and resented Lily.

  • 1
    As a little girl, Petunia cried when Dumbledore wrote back to her to let her know that, unfortunately, since she is not herself a witch, she would not be able to attend Hogwarts with Lily. Petunia only hated magic and pretended to hate Lily as a defence mechanism against the thing that had hurt her more than anything in her life and delved a deep, insurmountable chasm between herself and the sister she dearly loved. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 14 '15 at 19:39
  • and this is one of the things that led her to, at the very least, dislike her sister later on. but that doesn't change the fact that it wasn't harry being a horcrux that caused the Dursleys to be mean to him. – albusseverus potter May 14 '15 at 19:40
  • Certainly not, no—I completely agree with that part. Just not with the part that Petunia hated magic and her sister as a little girl. She only did that later—if ever, in the case of Lily. Resented is probably a better word. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 14 '15 at 19:44
  • ok, yeah. you're right. i'll change it. – albusseverus potter May 14 '15 at 19:47
0

Harry wasn’t an evil object, so he shouldn’t affect them that way.

It doesn’t seem to be that all Horcruxes make people act mean when they’re around them. Ginny was around the diary quite a lot, and though Tom Riddle possessing her did have an effect on her, she wasn’t any more ‘mean’ when she had it, she’s even upset at Mrs. Norris being Petrified.

“Ginny Weasley seemed very disturbed by Mrs Norris’s fate. According to Ron, she was a great cat-lover. ‘But you hadn’t really got to know Mrs Norris,’ Ron told her bracingly. ‘Honestly, we’re much better off without her.’ Ginny’s lip trembled.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)

The locket is the only Horcrux shown making people more mean, the others don’t really seem to have that effect, though some, like the ring, have different bad effects on people. It seems likely that the locket making meaner was a result of the protective enchantments on it specifically.

‘Yes,’ said Hermione, now turning the fragile pages as if examining rotting entrails, ‘because it warns Dark wizards how strong they have to make the enchantments on them.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 6 (The Ghoul in Pyjamas)

Since the piece of soul in Harry wasn’t put there intentionally, he didn’t have any of the curses that Horcruxes would usually have, so he didn’t become an evil object like a Horcrux would.

JKR: And so this part of it flies off, and attaches to the only living thing in the room. A part of it flees in the very-close-to-death limbo state that Voldemort then goes on and exists in. I suppose it’s very close to being a Horcrux, but Harry did not become an evil object. He didn’t have curses upon him that the other Horcruxes had. He himself was not contaminated by carrying this bit of parasitic soul. The only time he ever felt it stirring and moving was in Order of the Phoenix, when he himself goes through a very dark time.
- PotterCast (Dec 23, 2007)

Since he wasn’t cursed like Horcruxes are, he shouldn’t have a negative effect on people.

Also, he didn’t have that effect on anyone else he was around.

If Harry had the same effect on people as the locket, he was around many other people for long enough for it to affect them - the locket took effect on Harry, Ron and Hermione very quickly. After getting the locket every twelve hours, they had twelve hours of effects, it works near immediately.

“Every twelve hours or so, they passed the Horcrux between them as though they were playing some perverse, slow-motion game of pass the parcel, where they dreaded the music stopping because the reward was twelve hours of increased fear and anxiety.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 15 (The Goblin’s Revenge)

If being around Harry had a comparable effect, it would show in everyone who’s around him, not just the Dursleys, so it’s highly unlikely the Dursleys’ behavior is related to the soul piece in Harry.

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