By Tanitia Burks
It is Slytherin pride day, and as one of your many resident Slytherins here at Creepy Kingdom I have decided to write a little about my house. As many Harry Potter fans know, Slytherin is a very controversial house. It is the house that produced many dark wizards including Bellatrix Lestrange, Lucius Malfoy, and the big bad himself, Tom Riddle, AKA Lord Voldemort. Reading the books, it was difficult for the word Slytherin not to leave a bad taste in your mouth, when the Slytherin characters presented to us were either evil murderers or cruel bullies. I struggled with my house identity when reading the books, because I found myself relating to many of the Slytherin values. I admire ambition and consider myself to be quite an ambitious person. I never settle. I’m always finding ways to elevate myself, achieve more, gain more glory and recognition. I’m quite cunning. I typically can be a chameleon in any situation, adjusting myself to either fit in undetected or stand out for attention. Feeling this strongly connected to the Slytherin persona, I still had a difficult time identifying as a Slytherin. How could I be Slytherin? Slytherins are awful, evil, cruel human beings. That was something I definitely did not want to see myself as. I don’t think anyone would. I liked to read and was a straight A student, so, for a few years, I just went with Ravenclaw. Then the books that changed the game for Slytherins came out. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The final two books finally gave some depth and dimension to characters like Draco Malfoy who, up to that point, was painted as just a spoiled, rich, bully who relentlessly tormented our main protagonist. In HPHBP, Harry’s paranoia and suspicions of Draco build and while correct, we are offered a glimpse into the torment the Draco is put through. Much like Harry, Draco, too, was “the chosen one” for a much more dark and sinister plan. Also, like Harry, Draco was a young boy that had tremendous responsibility and weight placed on his shoulders as a pawn in the adults’ grand plan. Draco didn’t truly want to kill Dumbledore or execute the plan to bring Deatheaters into Hogwarts, but he felt he had to - to protect his life and the life of his family. He was dragged into Voldemort’s circle by his father, and not of his own accord. While I acknowledge, yes, Draco was working for the bad guys, I felt this was an example of a classic Slytherin trait. The willingness to do whatever it takes to protect your own. Even if it pains you and you have to muster all the strength within you to do what needs to be done. You will stop at nothing to protect the people you care about. So, whatever you do, don’t come for a Slytherin’s friends or family.
In HPHBP, we were also introduced to Professor Slughorn. He is an excellent potions professor that was the opposite of Professor Snape in so many ways, and yet, he is also a Slytherin. Rather than put students down and humiliate them, Professor Slughorn believed in lifting those students up that showed true promise and were excelling at school, no matter their house affiliation. We learn about his Slugclub dinner parties, and all the top achieving students in attendance. I know if I were at Hogwarts, I would do whatever I had to do to excel enough to be invited to those dinners. We learn about the guilt he carried for sharing information on Horcruxes with a young Tom Riddle, information that elevated Tom to become Lord Voldemort .You see the guilt and pain he carried for so many years, for a mistake he made, without even realizing he had.This showed that Slytherins are not all ruthless, evil monsters that inflict damage without guilt or shame. A Slytherin can make mistakes, and if those mistakes cause harm, a Slytherin can feel terrible. It is not inherently Slytherin to enjoy others’ pain and suffering. That is a trait only inherent to bad people.
We learn about Regulus Black, Sirius Black’s brother. There was a long line of the Black family that were all in Slytherin house. Sirius was an exception to the rule, as he was sorted into the Gryffindor house. Regulus became a Deatheater and served Voldemort, because the dark arts was the norm for his family. As Regulus grew closer in Voldemort’s inner circle, his conscience weighed on him. He made the decision to stop Voldemort and his plan for obtaining power, and ultimately commit the genocide of muggles and muggleborns alike. Regulus was the first to realize that Voldemort created horcruxes, and he lost his life trying to destroy one. He instructed his house elf, Kreacher, to take the horcrux locket and leave him to die. Regulus sacrificed himself with the hopes that someone else might find the horcrux and destroy it to stop Voldemort. He is evidence that a Slytherin can be willing to pay the ultimate price to do what is right, and to save others. Slytherins don’t just blindly follow the side of evil. I know plenty of Slytherins who will loudly and proudly stand up to cruelty and fight against injustice in real life.
Of course, the most controversial Slytherin of all is the Half-Blood Prince himself, Severus Snape. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Does a character have to be one or the other? At the very end, Harry names one of his children after Snape, and tells his son Snape “is one of the bravest men” he ever knew. This certainly suggests that Harry sees him as a good guy when it’s all said and done. I would not ever argue that Snape was a great person, but I will say he was my favorite character in the series because of how flawed and complex he was. The book alluded to the fact that Snape was from a poor household, and had experienced abuse and neglect at the hands of his father, who was a muggle and therefore distanced himself from his muggle family. In the last book, it is revealed to us that Snape was in love with Harry’s mother, Lily, and had been bullied and harassed by Harry’s father, James, all throughout his time at school. His anger toward James pushed him in Voldemort’s direction, and he became a Deatheater. He swiftly changed sides when he learned that Lily and Harry were being targeted by Voldemort, and he turned into a spy for Dumbledore. Snape remained very loyal to Dumbledore, even if he didn’t always agree with his decisions. He killed Dumbledore on Dumbledore’s own orders. It was a huge revelation for anyone who read the series. Snape was risking his life and fighting for the good guys through the whole series. Snape loved Lily. Although he had a terrible way of showing it (Slytherins aren’t always the best at showing affection) he cared for and wanted to protect Harry, too. Slytherins love fiercely, even if we don’t express it well. We would be willing to go to great lengths to protect those we care about, even if it puts us in jeopardy.
Although there are so many negative stereotypes of Slytherins, I hope I’ve given a few examples from the books that outline why it’s great to be a Slytherin. I am proud to be a Slytherin, and I will stay donning emerald, silver, and snakes. Continue being ambitious, cunning, and determined, while also being the fiercely protective, uplifting, loving, complex, and magical humans you are, Slytherins! Happy Slytherin Pride Day!