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Discussing the Dursleys

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by S2G4, Mar 22, 2021.

  1. Sorrows

    Sorrows Queen of the Flamingos Moderator DLP Gold Supporter

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    I'd agree that there are aspects of Vernon that definitely strike the 'upward reaching middle class' gong rather than the 'gentry in decline.' His obsession with his car and the minutiae in which he and Petunia planned the dinner party which Dobby ruined particularly stand out.

    Marge is such a stereotype of that sort. However another interpretation could certainly be that the reason she is is because she isn't. They were sent to the right schools by their father and picked up the right mannerisms, but they themselves were aping their peers in an effort to fit in.

    Petunia met him when there was a bit of money and business left. She didn't really know the difference. So they were all pretenders trying to out snob eachother.

    ...

    Personally I prefer Vernon being from a old country family who has no money, now moving in a world where that means less and less, which is why he tries to be more and more flash. Having the Evens on one end of the spectrum and the Dursleys in the other just feels neater and more satisfying.

    Love the idea that the Potters and the Dursleys were largely at the same level of 'old landed but not titled gentile country family' in the same sort of area. Can you imagine the mutual horror if Vernon and Harry realised that their families actually intermarried a few generations back?
     
  2. Lindsey

    Lindsey Minister of Magic DLP Supporter

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    Yes, please. I'll take this oneshot please. (or another chapter of anticlockwise)
     
  3. darklordmike

    darklordmike Headmaster

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    I think this is fairly accurate. @Arthellion isn't wrong when he says that class in the US=wealth, connections, education, and race. It's just that wealth outweighs the other factors by 10 to 1. It's the wealth that creates the connections, etc. This is why you can have a dinner party in the US that includes Bill Clinton, Beyonce, Mark Zuckerberg, Dave Chappelle, Britney Spears, and Brad Pitt, and no one can 'pull rank.' No one has inherently superior social status, and the primary reason is that they're all fucking rich. Wealth creates its own exclusive club, and wealth equals power. In more relatable terms, nobody gets snubbed at the country club so long as they can afford the dues. I'm not sure that's true in the UK.

    There are a few exceptions in the US (the so-called Boston Brahmins, legacy Ivy Leaguers, and people from a political dynasty like the Bush's), but they're rare.

    I attended public schools in the South, but taught rich kids in private schools, and one thing I noticed is that they don't tolerate pretense. If your grandfather was a ketchup magnate and you think that makes you hot shit; if your family produced a state governor in the 1890s; or if you try to pull a Meghan McCain/Draco Malfoy (my father...), you will be mocked so brutally you'll want to kill yourself. In America, especially the south, there is a deep antipathy to the idea that class is something that one is born into. It partly explains why Americans are sympathetic to Meghan Markle, and Brits aren't.
     
  4. raobuntu

    raobuntu Fifth Year

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    You've hit the nail on the head here @darklordmike. This is what we believe the American dream is. You're not born into a class, you make the class. That's why an absolute backwoods country bumpkin like Abraham Lincoln found his way to the Presidency in the middle of the 19th century, when that's probably not remotely true anywhere else.

    The darker side of this truth is that years of slavery and racism-inspired lawmaking has made it so that not all people can realize that dream. Nearly four centuries of racism and slavery doesn't go away in fifty years.
     
  5. DrSarcasm

    DrSarcasm Order Member

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    A way that I've heard the divide between the three classes has to do with how they handle money. It's an attitude that they develop based on what class they were raised in, not what class they occupy in later life, though you can eventually "unlearn" an old attitude eventually. (Also they are not hard definitions of each type, but common trends among them.)

    Working class people rarely have extra cash, so when they get a big windfall they tend to spend it right away. Either on an outstanding need like an overdue bill or on something expensive they aren't able to normally afford.

    Middle class people tend to have a little extra cash. If they take the time to invest that cash, they can move upward in the "rankings," going from lower to mid-upper middle class, or potentially eventually upper class. Otherwise they will save up that extra cash for short periods of time, spending it on moderately expensive items as often as they can.

    The upper class doesn't see money as money anymore. They see it as influence, as a means to an end. Basically the "throw money at the problem until it disappears" approach.

    Following this, the Weasleys are a clear example of working class. They barely have enough to scrape by and when they win the lottery they blow it all on a family trip to Egypt. The Potters, based on the Pottermore descriptions above, are clearly middle class, having gained a small amount of money and building it up over the generations until they ended as upper middle class. The Malfoys are upper class, spending money on politicians and influence.

    As for the Dursleys... I'd say mid-middle class, styling themselves as almost upper class. JK characterized the Dursleys as being exceedingly boring in every single way, so I'd figure that Vernon comes from a long line of middle/upper-management figures. Not rich enough to own a company, but influential enough that his father got him his first job, and Dudley probably had a position waiting for him at Grunnings after graduation. They make enough money to do things "proper," such as having a nice car and house, keeping your wife a housewife in a rotation of equally boring but new dresses, paying for a private school for your 2.4 children, etc. Rich enough they never felt the need to really save money, but not enough to truly flaunt it (though it didn't stop them from trying).

    The Evans felt like they were low middle class to me. Low enough on the totem pole that they occasionally brushed against the working class category. Petunia probably saw her classmates regularly getting new dresses and whatnot, feeding into her insecurities since her parents couldn't afford to do so. Part of what made her swoon for Vernon was probably because of how stable his family's wealth was, so she knew that she would never have to worry about money ever again. Then of course Lily comes in with her perfect prince charming, all smiles and good looks and (comparatively) super rich...
     
  6. Download

    Download Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    The discussion about class is interesting. Here in Australia we see a combination divided by political alignment.

    To use my own personal example I used to work for an energy start up that was ~40% owned by three people. One was a secret investor who worked as a financial analyst, the second was the company director who was raised by a single parent in Sydney and though his own skill managed to get to uni before ending up working for one of Australia's largest investment banks and then managing multi-billion dollar super funds and striking rich, and the other was a guy was the company president from a working class family with half-a-dozen siblings who became a cop, then became a federal cop, who then ended up spending several years doing security for one of Australia's best known Labour politicians who suggested he go to uni to become a lawyer, which he did before ending up as director of a company that made him lots of money.

    Ignoring the secret investor, these two from poor/working class backgrounds had zero trouble dealing with the then Labour state government. They could quite literally call up the state Premier's office (basically a state governor for those from the US) and arrange a meeting to see him the next day. It made dealing with bureaucratic issues a breeze.

    And then the election rolled around and it started looking like the Liberals might win (who are actually conservative - their name comes from being started as a farmer/business backed party supporting free trade hence the "liberal" title). So they scrambled to find a new executive who had the right connections for working in the posh circles, and my was he a posh fucker.

    So there's a circle of people with labour leanings who are happy to interact with new money, and another circle of old money who sniff at everyone else.
     
  7. dudeler

    dudeler Fourth Year

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    This class discussion is interesting. I would say, that class in Germany is not very visible. The Guy with the expensive mercedes might be working for a car manufacturer or owning one. People are connected by near tribal dialect communities, "Vereine" (Clubs) and soccer. There are some interconnected sub cultures that keep themselves a bit appart. The old nobility still tends to marry within their social circle, so do the members of some fraternities.
    I would say the biggest divide is education. It is pretty easy to tell, if someones parents were academics if someone went to a proper university. If your grandparents went to university, your parents and you will in all likelihood do the same.
     
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