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Harry Potter Lexicon Minute

CS4: Privet Drive vs. The Burrow


"This is the best house I've ever been in."
-- Harry Potter, speaking for all of us (CS4)

CS4: Privet Drive vs. The Burrow

In Chamber of Secrets Harry goes from living in one extreme to being brought to the opposite extreme. The first sentences of Chapter 4, At Flourish and Blotts, describes it perfectly: ‘Life at the Burrow was as different as possible from everything on Privet Drive. The Dursleys liked everything neat and ordered; the Weasleys’ house burst with the strange and unexpected.’ I’d like to do a compare and contrast of number 4 Privet Drive and The Burrow, showing just how opposite they are.

To start off the names of these places themselves are very different. Privet Drive has that harsh ‘v’ sound. The Burrow has more pleasing open vowel sounds. And then there’s the meaning of the names themselves. Privet means enclosure or separate. Burrow is another name for the home of animals, sounding much more family oriented and welcoming.

Let’s take a look at the people occupying each of these places. The Dursleys begrudgingly allow Harry to live with them, eventually imprisoned him, and nearly starved him. When he wasn’t locked up Harry was forced to do a lot of chores. The Weasley family contains Harry’s best mate, Ron, and the rest of the family are his friends as well. Mrs Weasley welcomes Harry with open arms, and feeds him extra food. Harry isn’t required to do any chores at the Burrow, he is told he can go and sleep if he wants, although he chooses to participate in the de-gnoming of the garden.

I thought this opposite was very interesting: the head of household. Uncle Vernon is clearly in charge of Privet Drive. His job and personal goals are what drive the family. Molly is definitely the one in charge at the Burrow, she inspires the most respect/fear in her family members. What she says goes, from what needs to be done around the house, to how everyone should feel about illegal flying cars.

Next, the condition of Privet Drive and the Burrow are very different. At Privet Drive everything is neat and orderly. Everything is in its place and the whole house is spotless. Number 4 is one of many identical houses on the street, with a neat little garden out front. In contrast,, The Burrow is very messy and cluttered. Things are placed where they’ll fit. It is secluded and separate from the rest of the small town, held up by magic, with an overgrown garden out back.

Lastly, let’s look at how Harry feels about each of these places. He dreads having to return to Number 4 Privet Drive every summer. After Ron finishes the tour of the Burrow with his small attic bedroom Harry says, “This is the best house I’ve ever been in.”



In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.

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