| Quote #1
"You've forgotten the magic word," said Harry irritably.
The effect of this simple sentence on the rest of the family was incredible: Dudley gasped and fell off his chair with a crash that shook the whole kitchen; Mrs. Dursley gave a small scream and clapped her hands over her mouth; Mr. Dursley jumped to his feet, veins throbbing in his temples.
"I meant 'please'!" said Harry quickly. "I didn't mean —"
"WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?" (1.13-16)
The Dursleys' responses to Harry's even mentioning the word 'magic' show how frightened they are of him. The root of their prejudice is clearly fear. Uncle Vernon blusters and bullies in attempt to get control of power that he doesn't have and can't understand. Obviously, the Dursleys' abuse of Harry is inexcusable. Still, their fear of wizards in general may be justifiable. Think of the power that evil wizards like Voldemort could use against the Muggles they despise.
| Quote #2
"Harry Potter got a Nimbus Two Thousand last year. Special permission from Dumbledore so he could play for Gryffindor. He's not even that good, it's just because he's famous...famous for having a stupid scar on his forehead..."
Malfoy bent down to examine a shelf full of skulls.
"...everyone thinks he's so smart, wonderful Potter with his scar and his broomstick —"
"You have told me this at least a dozen times already," said Mr. Malfoy, with a quelling look at his son. "And I would remind you that it is not – prudent – to appear less than fond of Harry Potter, not when most of our kind regard him as the hero who made the Dark Lord disappear —" (4.65-68)
This conversation between Draco and Lucius Malfoy reveals a bunch of things. First, Mr. Malfoy is clearly concerned about appearing socially correct. What his actual feelings about Harry might be doesn't really matter. The other thing that strikes us is that there is no warmth here between Draco and Lucius. Draco complains and whines, and his father shuts him up. The relationship between these two provides yet another foil to the wonderful Weasleys.
| Quote #3
Everyone filed out of the classroom except him and Ron, who was whacking his wand furiously on the desk.
"Stupid – useless – thing —"
"Write home for another one," Harry suggested as the wand let off a volley of bangs like a firecracker.
"Oh, yeah, and get another Howler back," said Ron, stuffing the now hissing wand into his bag. "It's your own fault your wand got snapped —" (6.73-75)
This is why we don't think Howlers are a good form of discipline. Ron is so embarrassed by them that he doesn't tell his parents about his very real need for a new wand. At the same time, this seems like kind of a flimsy excuse, since he obviously desperately needs one – why might Ron be worried about telling his parents that he needs a new wand? We wonder if this might be related to Fred and George's earlier concern about the cost of all of the Lockhart books. Could Ron be worried about costing his family lots more money?