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Headscratchers: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Slytherin House
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- After six to seven years of drumming in the idea that "the Houses must work together," and not a little discussion of how Slytherin was going to contribute to the whole saving-the-world thing, why is it that the Slytherin kids split (not before threatening to turn Harry over if they stayed), the Slytherins who "contributed" aren't anywhere near the status of heroes — aside from Snape, who still turned out to be an insufferable jerk despite all the courage and resourcefulness and all that — and, nineteen years later, the Houses are still standing and the Slytherins are still the despised bigots they were some twenty years ago? What happened to the big moral lesson we were supposed to learn about different personalities still being equally capable of heroism? And why do the Houses still read as "Brave, Intelligent, Hard-Working, and EVIL"?
- Sorting Hat sang of House Unity in books 5-6. In bks 1-4 & 7, Slyths were Always Chaotic Evil.
- Point of fact, they don't. JKR recently confirmed during an online interview that, although rivalries will always exist, the houses get along better now. Notice that even Harry accepts Slytherin in the end. The Slytherin-hate you refer to is probably Albus Severus's personal thing. And for the record, the qualities are Brave, Intelligent, Hard-working, and Ambitious.
- Earlier interviews, bks 1-4, people asked why DD did not abolish the House of Evil. Jo said DD wanted to give people a second chance. She lied. Slug, Andromeda, Phineas, and Regulus PROVE that Slyth only became the House of Always Chaotic Evil under Snape's regime because of DD's plan for the "Greater Good."
- Except in that one Sorting Hat Song about the founding of Hogwarts, in which the houses were identified (not in the same order) as Brave, Intelligent, Pure-blooded, and "Other". The real question isn't why they have an "evil" house, but why anyone's ever excited to end up in Hufflepuff, the official "Doomed to not be a major character in this story" house.
- There are a lot of qualities that make people fit into Hufflepuff that don't include tendencies towards being a protagonist or going on wild adventures against villains who are trying to kill you. A lot of people I know in real life would probably be Hufflepuffs, and they're not boring or useless people, but they also wouldn't be protagonists in a fantasy story.
- Actually, Hufflepuffs get more screen time in general than Ravenclaws, excepting Luna.
- Don't know about you, but I'm happy with doing reasonably well and living a nice life. Being a protagonist usually implies having shit thrown at you. I'd rather be a side character, thank you. Hufflepuffs feel proud for their house because they're loyal to their house. That's their defining trait, after all. They're the House of Sidekicks, in a way. Not meant to be at center stage, but integral to keep the world afloat. I, for one, would like being a Hufflepuff.
- Exactly. Asking why someone would be excited to be a Hufflepuff because they're background characters is missing the point. The fact that they are interested in modestly working in the background is what makes them Hufflepuffs.
- Besides, what about Regulus? Or Narcissa, who saved everyone in a Slytherin fashion if ever there was one?
- Or Horace Slughorn, a Slytherin who took on Voldemort himself?
- ^ After previously acting like a terminal coward who would sooner avoid his well-loved comfort than even admit he'd said something ill-advised to a manipulative teenager who had everyone else fooled. Forget Harry. Slughorn coming around was the part where I stood up and cheered.
- Slughorn spent a whole year constantly on the run for his life because he refused to knuckle under and join the bad guys. He could have stopped at any time and said, "All right, I'm sick of my life always being in danger, I'll join you." Instead, he did what was right. He was never a coward, he just had to fight the Slytherin tendency to think of self-preservation first (if for any sinful reason, than for one of self-centeredness, not cowardice).
- It may be because the story is told from Harry's point of view, and he's biased. Also keep in mind that James Potter was pretty much a major league asshole, and he was a Gryffindor, as was Peter, the traitor.
- Not to mention Romilda Vane and McClaggen as other examples of how Gryffindor boldnesss can easily become jerkassness.
- If you think about it, though, we know pretty much all the Slytherins in Harry's year. While not all are evil, half of them have Death Eater parents, and the other half aren't exactly heroic. The younger students were forced to leave. And, let's face it, Snape had good qualities, but he did everything in his power to hide them. He wasn't a good influence. Slughorn would probably help with the next generation.
- I always assumed that this was cultural damage as a result of Voldemort turning the pure blood wizards on to genocide against anyone who could not prove two or more generations of inbreeding. There is little to indicate that the pure blood mania is a natural part of Slytherin. The entire wizarding world of the UK has been through a bloody civil war not twenty years earlier, and this is some of the backlash from it...
- All this and Word Of God aside: Why didn't JKR just add a line or two saying there were Slytherin among the charge at the end? Or simply have some of the Slytherin stay behind at the start? If she's the one saying not all Slytherin are assholes, why not show it?
- Because all of the Slytherins who were even allowed to stay were assholes. No one except those of age were allowed to stay (Colin aside, but then again, Gryffindor = bravery; he was likely the only resistance member in Gryffindor who wasn't of age) and of the Slytherins we know were of age, Malfoy and Goyle were there (though ultimately useless and/or for different reasons) as was Crabbe (who sided with the Death Eaters). Pansy left, and Zabini probably did the same. That's it. That's ALL of the Slytherins we know. And hardly anyone else would have even been allowed to be there.
- Because the word of God was actually revisionism when compared to the books? The Slytherins of age we know were more likely to side with the Death Eaters. And were they rejected by other Slytherins? Never mentioned. And Aberforth argued that they should have kept the Slytherins — as hostages. So, after all of this, would we have believed, in the books, that the Slytherins came back to fight on Harry's side, even if they had to fight their own parents?
- Slughorn had to be liquored to the gills before he was willing to give information that was critical to Voldemort's defeat because he didn't want to face his own responsibility in aiding Voldemort's rise. To say nothing of the fact that he had remarkably little interest in people like Neville and Ron.
- But didn't DD mention that Riddle had ALREADY known about Horcruxes BEFORE asking Slughorn about it in the memory?
- Bolleaux! "Riddle has seven Horcruxes. You gotta get 'em all." DD wasted the whole year telling Harry nothing.
- Hilariously, his responsibility is so minor. The real question Voldemort wanted answered (if it was possible to make more than one Horcrux), Slughorn never answered.
- But he does eventually man up. And his self-serving ideas are a godsend, compared to the racists allying with a genocidal maniac. 'Very talented for a Muggleborn' aside, he doesn't care who you are or where you come from or even if your 'talent' is a particularly good curse he just happened to witness (see: Ginny) as long as it can help him out a little - and the thought of anyone getting hurt makes him ill. He's probably what the house was MEANT to be, as 'ambitious' hardly means Jerkass. Tom pretty much stole the house out from under him, which explains a lot.
- Slughorn hardly is that bad. Dumbledore himself says that other teachers have offered leg-ups to talented students before. And even Dumbledore acknowledges that Slughorn is very good at putting people in places where their talents would be best used. When Voldemort takes over, Slughorn remains at school with the other teachers to protect the kids, when he'd have more reasons then most to flee and hide (since he's one of the few who could probably piece together that Voldemort has multiple Horcruxes). He's even willing to face Voldemort in combat. He's also shown to be a fairly good Potions teacher, who at the very least is interested in his subject matter and does want to make the subject interesting to his pupils. All in all, Slughorn looks better than a lot of Hogwarts teachers (like Mr. Binns). Add on top of that that Slughorn does look like he'd be more fun to hang out with then McGonagall.
- Anyway, what about the epilogue? Harry pointing out that Snape was both a Slytherin and the bravest man he ever knew? I'm not even one of Snape's fangirls, and yet I'm surprised no one has pointed this out. I'm sure it's meaningful that one of the last things we see Harry do is defend Slytherin.
- Then Harry ruins it all by telling Albus "But if it matters to you, the Sorting Hat takes your choices into account.*
- I, for one, would have liked to see Slytherin STUDENTS joining in the battle and described by the book, even if was just 3 or something and had self-serving reasons for doing so. Adults just aren't the same... they don't have the same association with their houses as students do, even the teachers and heads of houses.
- Actually, there's a bit of Fridge Brilliance in making it ambiguous as to whether or not the Slytherin students remained behind to fight - most of their parents were Death Eaters and thus were invading the castle under Voldemort's orders. Whether or not they agreed with Voldemort's ideals, it definitely would have been a very difficult decision to remain behind and fight and potentially kill their parents and loved ones. Plus, they probably also figured that if Voldemort won, he'd certainly hurt or murder their parents as punishment for their involvement (look at what happened to the Malfoys).
- It was not ambiguous. Riddle mentioned to Lucius that ALL Slyths except Draco and minions had joined Riddle's army.
- V is probably bluffing to degrade Malfoy further. He's not even watching the battle, so how would he know who has joined his army?
- Theory: the Slytherins were in that last charge. It's just that they took the brunt of the casualties, and thus, had no one left to testify about their part. Or they took the brunt of the 'sent home in an urn' casualties, and thus didn't really have a visible presence after the battle (except possibly as a mass unknown student grave).
- Ultimately, I think a lot of the negativity regarding Slytherin is based on reputation. The Sorting Hat did seem to make subtle criticisms towards the house, I think (possibly out of loyalty to Gryffindor after he and Slytherin parted ways). Plus there's the fact that Voldemort only recruited Death Eaters from that house. I don't think that means only Slytherins are capable of evil; I think Voldemort thought the other houses were not worth his time. Then there's the fact that Slytherin's animal is a snake, which, given that Voldemort is a Parseltongue, increases the dark reputation. Then there's the fact that Slytherin himself kept a huge fucking snake in a secret chamber specifically to hunt down and kill non-purebloods. Like I said. Bad rep.
- See Gryffindor Peter Pettigrew for one instance of a non-Slytherin recruit. I'm not saying that he didn't primarily recruit from Slytherin (as it was probably the easiest house to recruit from people that wanted blood supremacy); it's just not fair to say he recruited only from Slytherin when it would be easier to recruit from all houses to inspire more fear on who to trust.
- Variation: Slytherin revels in its "bad rep" (if you can't be famous, be infamous) and to do something so heroic, so "Gryffindor-y" as to charge the Death Eaters would be the opposite of their reputation. So they disguised themselves first...
- Agreed. Perhaps it is best to compare the four houses to the (stereo)typical four-class D&D party — fighter, cleric, wizard, rogue. (Yes, even though they're all wizards. Just deal with it.) Gryffindor is the "fighter", Hufflepuff the "cleric", Ravenclaw the "wizard", and Slytherin the "rogue". This analogy works surprisingly well, IMHO.
- And people wonder why this site has a Nerd rep. Really, that's an underhanded compliment.
- Anyway, by Book 7, Draco Malfoy and his crew have been ruling the underclassmen of Slytherin House for years. By the time the big fight happens, there would've been very few Slytherins who were both old enough to fight and defiant enough to risk death, especially if two of their teachers and the headmaster himself were Death Eaters. Besides, who would they turn to? Not the other teachers, not anyone in Hogsmeade, and definitely not the DA (no green banners in their Room of Requirement HQ). The only option that jibes with Slytherin's powerful self-preservation instincts would be to play along and pray no one sets off the Carrows' Berserk Button.
- That's what really bothers me - no one even considers the immense social pressure that all Slytherins would be under, forcing even decent students to not step out of line out of fear. Can you imagine what that would have been like? You're surrounded by fanatical Death Eaters every moment of the day, where the slightest hint of disloyalty could get you or your family killed, with no support or anyone to turn to because they're convinced you're evil, and you basically have to bow your head to a racist regime you don't agree with. Perhaps that's why they didn't stick around to fight; why go back and help the people who didn't give the slightest damn about helping you?
- Especially with the fighter, wizard, cleric, rogue parallel, I like to think that there were some Slytherins trained in sniping spells hiding in the towers and switching rooms so they didn't get caught by an overwhelming force of Death eater sympathizers at any given time, maybe working as guerrillas where they knew some of the quirks of the castle or were outdoorsy enough to hang out in the forbidden forest between strikes. The ambition part, however, would have made it nearly impossible for them to say, "I was there, I just didn't want to do anything obvious enough to get caught like a stupid — I mean brave, really! Gryffindor", and be believed.
- Personally, based on the stereotypes I know, if I had a combat team, I would want to have a Slytherin in charge of making the plan, a Ravenclaw to help him/her know everything needed to make the plan, a Gryffindor to carry it out and a Hufflepuff to support them. As long as everyone agrees on the objective, this would be a good balance-the Slytherin keeps the Gryffindor's hero-instinct and pride in check, they keep the Ravenclaw focused on relevant info, the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw would keep the Slytherin in line, etc, etc.
- The "ambition" trait bothered me a little; social pressure and the idea of fighting your family aside, you'd think there'd be at least one kid found among the of-age, rebellious teenager students of Slytherin, who would think, "Yes, there's a war; if I join Riddle's side and Riddle wins, then I'll become a slave like my parents/my friends' parents, assuming they don't decide to just kill me. But if I join Hogwarts and Hogwarts wins, then I get to be a teenage war hero because I'll be the only Slytherin on Team Good Guys, and that looks awesome on a transcript." Seems like the benefits would be much, much better from the perspective of someone willing to bet on what they would have seen as the longer odds.
- Gryffindor, Song 1: brave at heart, daring, nerve, chivalry. Song 2: bravest. Song 3: brave deeds, daring, chivalry. Ravenclaw, Song 1: Wise, steady mind, wit, enjoys learning. Song2: cleverest. Song 3: sharp mind, intelligience. Hufflepuff, Song 1: just, patient, loyal, unafraid of toil. Song 2: Hard-workers. Song 3: Teach the lot, take the rest. Slytherin Song 1: cunning, do anything to achieve their means. Song 2: Great ambition. Song 3: Pure ancestry, cunning. *Phew* that's all of them. As we can see, the exact requirements seem to be stated differently every year, but basically Gryffindor is for people who are brave, daring, and chivalrous. Ravenclaw is for those who are smart. Slytherin is for cunning, pure ancestry, and ambition. Finally, Hufflepuff is for anyone as long as they're willing to work hard. The reason Slytherins are portrayed as evil in the Fan Dumb, is because the Canon does a crappy job of portraying them as anything different. Harry hates Slytherins, and they are constantly shown in a negative light besides a few examples such as Slughorn and maybe Snape. Never has the books shown a single student in Slytherin who wasn't a Jerk Ass.
- That brings up a problem I had with the descriptions: One definition of "cunning" is "in a sly, deceitful way" (quote Dictionary.com), but another, quite common definition is "clever". If Ravenclaws are supposed to be smart and clever, which throws out the possibility that the only requirement is Intelligence, and Slytherin sorts with a bias for high Wisdom as well, that basically leaves Slytherin with "conniving and ambition". And no part-Muggles, unless they're really clever and ambitious (I'm probably overthinking the last line's Unfortunate Implications too much).
- I've wondered about the blood-purity of the Slytherian house. For starters, we know Snape is a half-blood with a Muggle father, and yet he is s Slytherian, as is Tom Riddle. Plus, true purebloods are hard to find and seem to be a bit of a dying breed (most the confirmed purebloods have zero to only a single child. Weasley's being the obvious exception with their seven.) So, Slytherian my have the majority of the school's purebloods (and that's a big maybe) but I don't see how the house can really have too strict of a "pureblood only" rule. This raises the question if there's a muggleborn who is extemely ambitous and cunning (basically a cut and dry Slytherian) would the hat still put them in Slytherian or would they be forced into a different house because of their blood status alone?
- Note, it is stated in the book that Slughorn returned with the members of Hogsmeade and, I believe, it's stated that there are some Slytherins in that group of people.
- "Anyway, what about the epilogue? Harry pointing out that Snape was both a Slytherin and the bravest man he ever knew? I'm not even one of Snape's fangirls, and yet I'm surprised no one has pointed this out. I'm sure it's meaningful that one of the last things we see Harry do is defend Slytherin."
- And then he tells his son to just choose Gryffindor, rendering it completely meaningless.
- No, he told him he could choose. This is quite different.
- Yes, Snape was brave. That works both ways. There were Death Eaters that joined Voldemort because they were weak, or because they were afraid or whatever, and Death Eaters that after his fall, pretended to be on the good side and having been under the Imperius Curse. Snape was neither. He joined Voldemort because he genuinely believed in all that he stood for, and had to be blackmailed by Dumbledore to join the good guys. Regulus Black was much the same, believing in pure blood supremacy and the Dark Arts and all that jazz, whereas his older brother, born to the same family, saw the truth of things and was promptly the first in the family to be a Gryffindork. That is, until Kreacher endured torture by Voldemort and he started hating him. Narcissa married a Death Eater, led a home where the House-Elf beats himself and where many poisons were being kept long after Voldemort's fall, and was the one to instruct Kreacher how to lead Harry off to his death until Draco's life was hanging in the balance and she needed to trust Harry.
- Snape was NOT brave. An ordinary person doing very dangerous work is indeed brave. Snape said "I want to die."
- Okay, so saying "I want to die" is not brave. (I actually don't recall this, but I'll take your word for it that it happened.) It's not brave. But Snape played triple agent for over twenty years, working loyally for Dumbledore, a man he resented. Originally, he only did it for Lily, a selfish reason, but the fact that he continued working for Dumbledore after Lily's death, and after the fact that he blamed Dumbledore for Lily's death, says something for him. I'd say that everything mixes into unclear-ness (wow, a new word,) if it hadn't been for how he treated his students, but as I said in "Severus Snape: Good or Bad", I believe that that aspect of him is meant to be taken with a very large pinch of salt.
- Just after Riddle killed Lily, Snape "I want to die." DD "What good would that do?" DD told Snape that the best way to achieve vengeance v Riddle was to wait 17 years and die in the Shack giving Harry the Info Dump. Regular spies are brave because they risk death for sake of the Cause even though they want to live. Snape already wanted to die for the cause, DD told Snape the most efficient method to die for the cause.
- Snape bullied innocent child Harry because he looked like evil bully James. That is unprofessional behaviour for a teacher, but it is an understandable human emotion. He bullied Blood-traitor Neville and Human Hermione, purely for the sake of the "Greater Good".
- Whoa, whoa... Snape went willingly to Dumbledore so that Lily (and her family by proxy) could be protected; he basically went out of his way to sell himself as a spy to help keep his beloved safe (however creepy that relationship may be). I wouldn't really call that blackmail - in fact, it could be the brave thing that warrants Harry naming his kid after the man.
- So the best a Slytherin can be is still a vile discriminating criminal, just with an exploitable weak spot for someone. At the end of the day, Slughorn is the only Slytherin with his heart actually in the right place (though 16 years of teaching children finally seemed to mellow Snape out a little), and he still is portrayed in a pretty grey light. Why doesn't Harry care if his son is sorted in this House again? Whatever message you are trying to send here JKR, not really getting it.
- Close, the best a Slyth can be is a Gryff who was sorted too soon. Slug, Andromeda and Phineas are Good Slyths. House Slyth only became Always Chaotic Evil under Snape's regime for the sake of "the Greater Good".
- The concept of Houses Sorted by personality/etc. bugs me inherently, but Slytherin in particular. Slytherins make friends with Slytherins; Gryffs make friends with Gryffs; 'Puffs make friends with 'Puffs and 'Claws make friends with 'Claws - not as a rule, but we see these friendships most, since people usually associate with the people inside of their House. Everyone was already noticing a trend that people in Slytherin often turned into Death Eaters. A very plausible reason for this would be that being in Slytherin House, the people a Slytherin child would associate with most would be with other Slytherins - and often people who were already children of Death Eaters. And instead of mixing up the Houses so that young, impressionable children would be given a lot of different influences, they kept all the Slyths together, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of Slytherin = Death Eater.
- There may be a good reason for this: No matter how the house situation was, there would always be children of Death Eaters who were inclined to have an interest in the dark arts. So putting them all together in one house would 1. Make sure they're all somewhere that the teachers could keep an eye on them and 2. Limit their exposure to other students who might be peer-pressured into joining them. Obviously, this also precludes the chances of other students' good traits rubbing off on the Slytherins, but oh well.
- This all is one of the reasons why I really liked that the Sorting Hat wanted to put Harry in Slytherin, and he probably would have let it if he hadn't heard so many bad things about it: the hero of the story is as Slytherin-ish as any good Slytherin, because Slytherins can be good people too. And then it turned out that the reason that he almost went to Slytherin was not any natural Slytherin tendencies, but because he had Voldemort's blood. So no, Slytherins are all evil after all, and the good guy isn't a Slytherin at all.
- Harry likely would have ended up in Gryffindor regardless. Harry's not ambitious, nor is he particularly cunning. And he's the one that brings up Slytherin. The Hat's toying around with the various possibilities, Harry specifically says, "Not Slytherin," and that's when the Hat goes on its spiel about how Slytherin could lead him to greatness. If Harry hadn't been in Gryffindor, it probably would have been Hufflepuff: he's not afraid of hard work and thinks disloyalty is a hanging offense. Moreover, I didn't know Rowling ever said that the Hat only tried for Slytherin because of Voldemort.
- Harry had ambition - "...a nice thirst to prove yourself..." In fact, the Hat wanted to put him in Slytherin, and probably would have, except that he chose not to. If anyone else other than Hagrid had picked Harry up, he would never have thought that Slytherins were all evil, and would have been sitting at the green and silver table.
- A lot of people are bugged by Slytherin House being made out to be evil. I have the perfect reason for why Slytherins can become bad wizards. Slytherins are supposed to be ambitious, right? Ambitious people want more power and will usually use any means to reach that powerful state. Because they are so ambitious, they tend to lean or fall into the Dark Arts since it seems to be so much more powerful than the normal magic. They feel they are more powerful than their "Light" magic using counterparts and show off to their counterparts how great they are. The rest of the Houses look upon this ambition and Dark Arts using with concern, fear, and maybe a bit of jealousy. They don't understand this ambition since they don't have it. They mark this ambition and Dark Arts using to being evil, therefore making Slytherin to be full of evil. This then influences the Slytherin attitude (I assume that because they are still human, we can predict their behavior with Sociology) and justifies the attitude of the other Houses. In summation, Slytherins aren't necessarily evil, but their ambition and past plus present attitudes tend to make them fall into evil.
- Perfect reason? Ambitious is having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed. It doesn't imply using any method to reach a goal. Hermione is one of the most ambitious characters in the book, in fact. But you provided a perfect example of why people see Slytherins in a bad light; they confuse the meaning of ambitious and apparently think that it comes with an inherent lack of morality.
- Harry is also an Unreliable Narrator, in that it's told from his perspective, and we only see his confrontations with Malfoy, who is a Death Eater's son, and with the Slytherin Quidditch team, who are a bunch of stupid, overcompetitive jocks. In fact, even in the first book, Harry wonders if he is seeing the Slytherins as an unpleasant lot because of what he's been told about them, and let it warp his opinion.
- There are still one or two mentions of good Slytherins, Rowling has said there are other unnamed Slytherins in Harry's year who have aplauded him on occasion. Just after he gets buck beak to bow to him the line is "the whole class apart from Malfoy, Crabb, and Goyle applauded", there are several lines like that. Also many stand to toast him at the end of book 4, the book mentions some large gaps at the Slytherins table remain seated but not the entire table, and enough do stand that the teachers don't notice those sitting.
- I don't think this was brought up yet, but remember the Aesop from Book 2? "It is our choices, far more than our abilities, that make us who we are." From this POV, Slytherin (and this entire discussion thread) can be seen as a grey area in the huge Nature/Nurture debate. Are people born to be Slytherin? Yes and no. (Purebloods can enter, but Half-Bloods like Snape and Voldemort can get in too) Can people choose to be or not to be in Slytherin? Yes, they have the option of both despite their "innate" abilities. The Slytherins that left at the last battle of Hogwarts had a choice, and simply chose not to fight. Remember that everyone had this choice, not just them. Maybe one or two from the other houses also deserted Harry out of self-preservation, but everyone is focusing on Slytherin because they are the ones with the tendency to do it most, and were the biggest group to leave. Each person is a product of their past, but at the same time their own choices, which Harry is imparting to his son by assuring him that if he ends up in Slytherin, it's alright, because Harry knows that what matters is the sincerity of his son's choice, and not what his son is capable of doing. Remember that the entire book is full of grey areas: there are Slytherins that were as good as they could get (Snape and Slughorn), and Gryffindors that were bad (Pettigrew) or at least... not entirely pure. (Harry and Dumbledore, especially) So, in my opinion, the (very good) Aesop still stands. A person has the power to choose what he or she would like to become, regardless of where they are from or what talents they have, though this does affect their choices. In summary: Slytherin isn't evil by entirely by nature (being in Slytherin does not ensure that you are evil), nor entirely by choice (not being in Slytherin does not ensure that you are good). Ergo, the power of choice and the freedom to become whoever you want to be, despite nature and nurture, stands. If one thinks about it, it's consistent with practically every other idea in the book, which teaches us tolerance and the magic of discovering a person in their uniqueness regardless of background, which is a lesson I think most HP fans have been forgetting lately...
- I think one of the greatest issues with this is the epilogue. Harry Potter reassures his son that Slytherin isn't evil. Most people see that as an anvillicious Word Of God that Slytherin isn't evil any more. No, it actually means the opposite. Nineteen years after the battle of Hogwarts and Voldemort's defeat- that's nearly three full school-generations of kids- Slytherin still has a reputation of evil so pervasive that Harry needs to reassure his youngest child that Slytherin isn't actually evil. If Harry actually raised his own children, Albus certainly wouldn't have been hearing all these "Slytherin is evil" rumours from his parents. That stereotype still remains in society.
- You know guys, was I the only one ever riled up by the fact that Slytherin WAS always portrayed as the "evil" house? Numerous people here have mentioned multiple things, the post above me for example about the epilogue and all the stuff about no Slyths staying behind for the battle. JKR, while a great author, always riled me up with that. Though I suppose you can somewhat redeem all that with saying the books are from Harry's POV, not all of it can be. WHY did he name his son Severus if he didn't really teach his children that all the houses can be good? And don't start a good/evil Snape discussion here, there's the separate Headscratcher page for that. Snape was, in my eyes, tragic and saddled with a dark, hard past all the way into his adulthood. That he even turned out THIS decent is magnificent and that proves Dumbledore's point - it's not what they're born as, it's what they grow up to be.
- I would also like to mention: If a kid is abused or neglected at home (for his/her magic or whatever) and is not Harry Bloody Potter who can still grow up to be a cheerful child, where do they go? Well, they couldn't trust any adults in their lives, had to hide from said superior adults, and had to act on pure self-preservation. Sounds like a direct result for Slytherin for me. And then those children receive guidance from their peers and also become death-eaters out of spite and hate. Putting all those children together is a dumb idea: The sorting is too soon and too narrow.
- Why did no Slyth ever have any redeeming quality? Ron was highly prejudiced against Slytherin. But oh he was on Harry's side. So it's alright. Because prejudice against Slytherin is alright. May I remind you of James' and Sirius' treatment of Severus all through school? Oh but no James was the perfect Prefect and Sirius the perfect godfather. Why is it that ALL the Gryffs aside from Pettigrew have so much that makes up for them that everyone forgets their wrongdoings and never once calls them out on it yet all the partially good Slyths get so many other evil qualities heaped on them that it is very hard not to dislike them? I see the logic here; it antagonizes Slytherin. That is one of the few things I always genuinely hated about the universe.
- Because we don't know any of the Slytherins well enough to know what positive qualities they may have possessed. The generation of Slytherins that coincides with Harry's are mostly, if not entirely, the children of Death Eaters, they were raised to be bad people, with all the prejudices and cruelty that goes with it. Yes, exceptions can happen but they aren't always going to happen where they'd eb useful. As for the Gryffindor's having good qualities that make up for their negative qualities, that's a matter of perspective. Harry certainly didn't like what he saw of James and Sirius' behaviour towards Snape. And then there was the girl who tried to drug Harry with love potion and the bossy Quidditch guy whom everyone hated. Ron could be an asshole a lot of the time and his siblings could be too. Fred and George were experimenting on first years without any warning or their permission! Hermione had to threaten them with a note directly to their mother to make them stop and they were still doing it behind her back! Hagrid is a well meaning menace who is almost completely incapable fo judging if a creature is dangerous or not and drags whatever he thinks are neat into a group of children! He had 14 year olds raising fire shooting, blood sucking, stinging monsters he'd created himself and knew nothing about! He brought a giant onto the school grounds! It's all a matter of perspective, the characters we know well enough to judge do good and bad things and even harry himself has to learn that not everyone who sides with him is automatically right and the people who don;t aren't automatically wrong.
- Not to mention that James and Sirius were portrayed as jackasses for their bullying Snape; Harry is horrified and disappointed to see the perfect ideal of his father go crashing down around his ears. Ron is also a child, and has a direct rivalry with a (group of) Slytherins; he's also coming from a family of Gryffindors, and has probably heard all sorts of stories from his older brothers on top of that. So his being an ass to Malfoy and co. is understandable, if clearly not in the right. And people do call said characters out on their unreasonable dislike of the Slytherins (if they don't share that same dislike, at least). Lily called James out on it - presumably, she did the same to Sirius, or both of them off-screen at another time/incident. I agree with you, though, OP - I never liked the first couple of books' 'all-Slyths-are-evil' mentality, though I highly enjoyed the later ones showing human, humane sides of them: Slughorn's open-mindedness, Snape's loyalty and capability for love, Malfoy's determination (and even his panicking breakdown towards the end) and all of Malfoy's love for one another.
- Maybe one should go and check out FF.net. Though of course it only displays an opinion, it is very, very easy to find a fic in which a minimum of one Slyth turns good or at least grey. Seemingly we are not the only ones to wish the Snakes had gotten better treatment...
- Andromeda/Ted stories. The masterful ones always show her going through the the complicated process of falling in love and having to reevaluate and question her prejudices and world views. I'm also a sucker for standard star-crossed love, so I'm a bit biased.
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