In Defence of Slytherin

SlytherinIf you’ve ever read JK Rowling’s now famous Harry Potter series, you’ll probably know a lot about the universe she constructed, where wizards and witches attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and learn magic. There are four houses that students can be sorted into when they arrive at Hogwarts; these are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.

From the time Harry Potter arrives at Hogwarts, he is presented with the glaring fact that people in Slytherin are bad people. This does not just mean they are nasty – they are genuinely evil, with Ron telling Harry that most of them end up as Death Eaters, followers of the Dark Lord Voldemort.

When reading the books I accepted this view of Slytherin with complete blindness. Why would I bother asking questions about Slytherin’s supposed badness when I was too busy rushing from page to page, frantically trying to stay awake so I could read another page?

And then it was all over. JK Rowling published Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007. It was the final installment of the series of books. Just like that, my childhood wilted and everything seemed to change.

Needless to say, I was delighted when JK Rowling announced the birth of Pottermore, a website that would allow readers to experience the books in an interactive way unlike ever before. I was one of the first people to join, and plunged into the journey, which would allow me to get my first wand at Ollivander’s and, most importantly, to get sorted into a house at Hogwarts.

This was determined by a personality test, of sorts. I didn’t think too much about what house I would end up in. I assumed it wouldn’t be Gryffindor. It was the house that Harry, Ron and Hermione were in, and bravery was one of their greatest traits. I’m not brave, and anyway, Gryffindor seemed a little bit overrated. Not to mention the fact that Ron Weasley was one of the most undesirable, immature teenagers ever encountered. If Gryffindor would allow him into its ranks, then Gryffindor could keep their common room empty.

During the test, I started to wonder where my answers to the questions might lead me. They were difficult to gauge, and weren’t like the usual ‘sorting’ tests found online, where you could predict what house you would end up in just by looking at the answers. I thought maybe Ravenclaw, or *shudder* Hufflepuff. I decided that Ravenclaw would be grand. Kind of nice to be in with a bunch of smart people. Pretending to know what I was talking about had defined my entire education, so I figured Ravenclaw could be an interesting place to spend my time.

Hufflepuff was, of course, my last choice. Well at least it was my last choice along with Slytherin, which never even really entered my head. I knew nobody who could be in Slytherin as I knew nobody who was genuinely evil. Hufflepuff was my worst nightmare, simply because it seemed to be the house where the personality-lacking, squid-like blobs ended up. No, Hufflepuff would be a disaster. So as I waited for the page to load, and waited to see what house colours would erupt onto the screen, I hoped I wouldn’t see a badger and a yellow background.

Green burst onto the screen accompanied by a serpent, and indeed, the serpentine sibilance of Slytherin greeted me. I was shocked. Slytherin? The house of Draco Malfoy, the selfish, stuck-up rich kid who characterised the nature of ‘my father will hear about this’ politics in the Harry Potter series? I then laughed, called my sister and told her the news. She too was shocked, and concluded that I must be secretly evil or deranged.

That night, I thought a lot about what Slytherin as a house stood for. I had always accepted the evidently biased assertion made by JK Rowling in her writing of the Harry Potter series that Slytherin was a cesspit of badness. But when I started to look at what they stood for, I understood everything so much more clearly.

Some of the main characteristics of a Slytherin are that they are cunning and ambitious. I had always been reluctant to call myself cunning, but when I considered what the word truly meant, I realised that I was a little bit cunning. And that was not a bad thing. Cunning people can be selfish and self-absorbed, but what they are really trying to achieve is success in life. And what’s wrong with a bit of success? If you have to push a weaker squid from Hufflepuff beneath the water to get to where you want to be, who’s going to object? Nobody, surely. The fact of the matter is that the blob from Hufflepuff has no traits, and therefore there’s no point in giving credence to any of them.

And what about ambition? In our western world, we have deemed ambition to be a bad thing. Why is it such a bad thing for somebody to want to achieve great things in their lifetimes? It’s not vanity, and it’s certainly not greed. We all have a short time on this earth, and in that short time, we want to make an impact, whether that be in loving and appreciating those around us (if this is you go join the Hufflepuff squids) or becoming a bestselling writer and having your name remembered for possibly hundreds of years.

And what is so unusual about this is that JK Rowling is the latter of these. She is the world’s richest author. Seven hugely successful books combined with eight enormous blockbuster films have cemented her place in the world as the most famous writer of our time. So why did she portray Slytherin as being so bad? I would hazard a guess that JK Rowling could have been left shocked if she had been a student of Hogwarts when the sorting hat belted out the word Slytherin.

If you are wondering what house you would be in at Hogwarts, log on now to Pottermore and do the test. And don’t be afraid of Slytherin – despite what the scrunched up face of Draco Malfoy might tell you, ambition is a good thing. When you think of the house, try to think of Snape, the double-agent who devoted his life for the cause of good, rather than the bratty child who bought his way onto the Slytherin Quidditch team. And if you’re a Hufflepuff, try your best to alter your personality so everyone else won’t have to endure it. Happy sorting!

16 comments on “In Defence of Slytherin

  1. I know it wasn’t your intention but this article came across as slightly arrogant πŸ˜›

    Excellently written, of course! But very, very Slytherin. Also, I find your bashing of Hufflepuff insulting and ignorant.

    Yes, Hufflepuff’s main characteristic is that they’re lovely likeable people. What’s so wrong about that? You’re right about Slytherins in a sense– There should be nothing wrong with being an ambitious people wanting to succeed. We need ambitious people in the world to significantly aid the economy for a start. However, we also need lovely, good-willed personalities (Hufflepuffs)

    Having your main personality trait as kind is not a bad thing, and that certainly doesn’t mean that one is personality-less as you imply.

    Rather, it means they may nor may not have several other desirable traits alongside their key trait of being a warm-hearted individual.

    You will find that most maternal women would be Hufflepuffs, or indeed, paternal men. Hufflepuffs make excellent parents. They make excellent mentors for young people. They are excellent with people. They are shoulders to cry on and they are amazing friends and life companions.

    So excuse me, that is NOT a bad trait, and in no way does this mean a Hufflepuff is 2D by default.

    Ambitious and power-hungry Slytherins have the potential to take over the world but where would they be without the love and support of their Hufflepuff friends and families? So, quit the Hufflepuff bashing!

    If anything, Ravenclaw is the most undesirable house. I would hate for my defining character trait to be cleverness. That essentially translates as having no other significant character trait; if you have to be defined by your cleverness! πŸ˜›

    As usual, a thought-provoking and excellently structured blog! I just wanted to have my tuppence worth.

    Keep writing, love ya bro.

    • First off, I think you should re-read this and try to pick up on my sarcasm. I suppose I should forgive you – this is an impressive comment from a Hufflepuff. I disagree with much of what you said about Hufflepuffs. I do not know one person who would claim to be proud of being in Hufflepuff. It is the definition of lame. πŸ˜›

      • I understood your sarcasm, silly Patrick. Yeah, who knew Hufflepuffs were intelligent, I know what you mean πŸ˜›
        Also I know you’re trying to wind me up so I won’t bother commenting on the ‘lame’ remark too much.

        However, since you still seem to be showing a certain level of arrogance, although with an element of so-called “sarcasm” thrown in, I will go through every house in detail and say how I think they are all important for a natural flow in the world.

        Gryffindor – They’re fighters. They’re brave (often too much for their own good) We need energetic, passionate people in the world to fight for rights, to change things for the good, to speak on behalf of the people, to change discriminative laws, and so on.

        Ravenclaw – We need scholars, scientists, researchers, lecturers, teachers and so on. We need academic, strong brains to invent, research and invent all to aid the world as a whole.

        Slytherin – We need ambitious people prone to success. Without them, where would we be? Economically screwed, probably, with no businessmen/women to work their way to the top – in order to create further employment opportunities for others, for instance.

        Hufflepuff – We need kind people. We need mothers, fathers, nurses, mentors, therapists, and so on. Hufflepuffs are so often the ones who show the most love. They may not have business minds or excellent leadership skills, but without Hufflepuffs we would live in a predominately money-fueled world, which would be good for no-one’s mental health.

        Who would you go to with a problem? Probably a Hufflepuff! Hufflepuffs are normally the most selfless individuals. Their main concern is to help others. And we CERTAINLY need this to remain in the world, thus we need Hufflepuffs.

        I’m not bashing any other house. Let’s face it, the world would fall apart if everyone was a Hufflepuff. That’s why we need a balance of all of these traits to keep the world somewhat sane, and to maintain a certain level of structure.

      • lol bro that was an interesting come back lol but i give you props dude

  2. As a slytherin… I support hufflepuff. I know people who are proud to be hufflepuffs, and hufflepuff is my second choice of house. I think all houses has its perks and benefits… and if Slytherins want respect they should give respect. Just my 2 cents πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for commenting Jeyna! I should point out that I was joking in most of what I wrote in this, I genuinely don’t think Hufflepuffs are squids, they are pretty cool too! πŸ™‚

  3. lol I loved your article??? or thingy mabob lol but yeah dude it was pretty rad the comments plus your original post were entertaining

    • Thanks sleepingcub! πŸ˜€ I’m glad that you found it all entertaining, nearly everyone else who read it said I came across as arrogant and pretentious – I’m glad you seem to have seen the irony in what I was saying πŸ™‚

      • lol no problem I seriously thought it was cool to read about someones detailed perspective on something as lol for lack of better words childish (understood by a child) as Harry Potter

  4. LOL reading this made my day! Great posting! Cheers! πŸ™‚

  5. Some Slytherins ARE evil. (Ahem, Vex, ahem). One certain Slytherin spy, named Vex, went to the Claw common room and reported EVERY SINGLE ONE of my comments. -.-
    But Im not saying all Slytherins are evil.
    Oh, and Hufflepuffs?
    Some of you guys are also evil.
    For instance, some one made several Puff accounts and got 145s and 144s all the time. -.-
    And this is actually very offensive to Hufflepuff and very biased to the Slytherin side.

    I’m sorry, but it is kind of rude to say everyhing BAD abouth Puffs and not everything GOOD.

    And this is only your opinion. Thank you very much, but I find that I do not like Slytherin that much, thanks to Vex and several other egotistical Slytherins.

  6. Well written! I got sorted into Slytherin too on Pottermore. πŸ˜€

  7. Some of you Puff defenders need to take the sticks out of your rear end and look up the words “sarcasm” and “joke”. This was a very well-written post. Of course, I, too, am a Slytherin on Pottermore, so I’m pretty sure some of you are going to lambast me for saying this. Oh, well. C’est la vie, and all of that jazz.

  8. […] In Defence of Slytherin | Sir Patrick Of Ireland There are four houses that students can be sorted into when they arrive at Hogwarts; these are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. From the time Harry Potter arrives at Hogwarts, he is presented with the glaring  […]

  9. [“You will find that most maternal women would be Hufflepuffs, or indeed, paternal men. Hufflepuffs make excellent parents. They make excellent mentors for young people. They are excellent with people. They are shoulders to cry on and they are amazing friends and life companions.”]

    This is an example of humor. Right?

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