Features

Aunt Muriel vs. Aunt Marge

Join us for the battle you’ve all been waiting for! Two unsavoury aunties from the Harry Potter books – but who is the most detestable?

Aunt Marge bouncing on the cieling
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

In Harry Potter’s life, aunties were rarely cute and cuddly. Can you imagine getting a warm hug from Aunt Petunia? It just ain’t gonna happen.

It seems that in both the Muggle and magical realms, annoying aunts proliferate – just look at two famed examples: Aunt Marge and Great Aunt Muriel.

Despite their totally contrasting lives (one bred dogs, while the other bred ‘ill-informed sniping’ according to Elphias Doge) these two grumpy women were similarly infuriating.

Who was Aunt Marge?

She was Vernon Dursley’s sister, so Dudley’s auntie. While technically no blood relation of Harry’s, he had been bullied into calling her ‘Aunt Marge’ all his life. She visited number four Privet Drive only rarely, as she lived in the country, bred bulldogs and found it difficult to be away from her beloved animals overnight.

Never mind that there was a spacious guest room in the Dursley household set aside for her rare appearances, while Harry languished in the cupboard under the stairs or Dudley’s ‘second bedroom’.

No Image

What was she like?

Aunt Marge took after her brother in oh-so-many ways, and was described as ‘large, beefy and purple-faced’. She even had a moustache, although it wasn’t as bushy as her brother’s. She adored ‘Dudders’ and spent much of her visits comparing Harry unfavourably to her ‘healthy-sized’ nephew (her words, not ours).

As for Harry, he was an ungrateful wretch (again, her words…) who should have been sent to an orphanage rather than have been taken in by Vernon and Petunia. She once whacked a five-year-old Harry on the shins with her walking stick to stop him beating Dudley at musical statues and she was a keen advocate of corporal punishment in schools.

What happened when Harry met her?

No Image
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry was used to putting up with Aunt Marge’s visits. But as his magical abilities grew, Vernon and Petunia became more and more nervous about exposing Harry to her. They pretended that he was attending St Brutus’s Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys and Harry did his best to keep out of her way during an interminable five-day visit. But, after partaking generously of Vernon’s after-dinner brandy, Marge started commenting on Harry’s parents, describing his mum as a ‘bad egg’ and his father as a ‘wastrel’.

Aunt Marge suddenly stopped speaking. For a moment, it looked as though words had failed her. She seemed to be swelling with inexpressible anger – but the swelling didn’t stop. Her great red face started to expand, her tiny eyes bulged and her mouth stretched too tightly for speech. Next second, several buttons burst from her tweed jacket and pinged off the walls – she was inflating like a monstrous balloon, her stomach bursting free of her tweed waistband, each of her fingers blowing up like a salami …
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Who was Auntie Muriel?

Technically Mrs Weasley’s great aunt, this elderly witch lived fairly close to The Burrow but didn’t come for Christmas anymore since that time Fred and George put a Dungbomb under her chair. She owned an impressive family heirloom in the form of a goblin-made tiara, which she leant to Fleur for her wedding to Bill.

She let her home be used as a safehouse by the Order of the Phoenix, but was otherwise something of a lone wolf. She knew plenty of high-profile wizards and witches, had links to the likes of Bathilda Bagshot and was party to all the rumours that plagued Dumbledore in his youth.

What was she like?

If there was a nit to be picked then Auntie Muriel was right in there with her sharp claws. It was something of a running joke among the Weasley children that she couldn’t see them without insulting each of them thoroughly in turn – which was impressive, considering how many of them there were.

At Bill and Fleur’s wedding she was rude about pretty much everyone she came across: in her view a yellow-robed Xenophilius Lovegood resembled an ‘omelette’; she told Fred he has lopsided ears; Hermione, resplendent in her dress robes, was met with ‘Oh dear, is this the Muggle-born?’ and received comments on her ‘bad posture and skinny ankles’. To which Ron reassured her: ‘Don’t take it personally, she’s rude to everyone.’

What happened when Harry met her?

The lynx Patronus interrupts Bill and Fleur's wedding with a warning.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

He disguised himself as a distant Weasley called ‘Barny’ (with no e! Madness!) so he could attend Bill and Fleur’s wedding – which meant Aunt Muriel had no idea who she was talking to. She immediately launched into gossip prompted by the publication of Rita Skeeter’s biography of Albus Dumbledore, taking it upon herself to allude to nasty rumours and scandals about which Harry hadn’t the faintest clue – and which made him question his whole relationship with the late Hogwarts headmaster.

Verbalising these old scandals ‘seemed to elate’ Muriel as much as they horrified Dumbledore’s old school pal Elphias Doge. One got the impression she thrived on gossip and infamy, at any cost.

‘There’s no need to look like a pair of stuffed frogs! Before he became so respected and respectable and all that tosh, there were some mighty funny rumours about Albus!’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

So, who was the most despicable aunt to end them all? We fear it’s maybe too close to call...

Our poll is now closed. Our winner? The one and only Aunt Marge! Boo!