Slytherin House: A Case of Poor Development?
To judge someone at the age of 11, to judge them, to set their future course so young, seems to me to be a very harsh thing to do. And it doesn't take into account the fact that we do change and evolve. A lot of people are, at 40, what they weren't at 11.
- Joanne Rowling in MN/TLC chat.
Jo once said that not all Slytherins are bad/evil. And that annoys me to no end because if that is indeed the case, why is it that a good - or even not-so-bad Slytherin (that isn't madly in love with a Gryffindor) never makes an appearance in the books? There's no one in Slytherin who's not unpleasant in some way. For me, the statement by Jo, that not all Slytherins aren't evil, bears little consequence if canon contradicts it, and how!
In the books we see Slytherin from a very biased point of view, I acknowledge that. One of the first things we (& Harry) hear about Slytherin is "there wasn't a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin". While Hagrid is very lovable, he isn't exactly what you call the brightest crayon in the box. Hagrid is being extremely judgmental when he tells Harry this and he should know it - considering who he thinks, at the time, betrayed James and Lily and then went on to commit a mass killing of several muggles is definitely NOT a Slytherin. Grindlewald couldn't have been in Slytherin and look how he turned out.
Prof. McGonnagall - touted to be the most unbiased and non-judgmental teacher - told the Slytherins that it was time to choose their loyalties and yet on Pansy's behaviour, she practically threw the Slytherins out. A whole House's allegiancecan NOT be based upon a few people's actions. If that were the case, I might as well judge the Gryffindors on the behaviour and actions of one Peter Pettigrew and prove that all Gryffindors are evil. Just making a point. The other Houses reaction (lining up against Harry, drawing wands against the Slytherins was so cliched and downright unbelievable) highlights the extreme prejudice that exists towards Slytherins. Who can blame them for self-preservation when the rest of the Houses hate them, so vehemently?
One recurring theme throughout many of the books is how you treat people (whether or not you trust them) has a huge impact on that person & they way they treat you. Slytherin's are not trusted, or liked by the other houses; what would that be like? How would it affect their view of others? They are often accused of prejudice, but you could argue that they are the ones that suffer from it the most. I'm tempted to argue that one of the reasons that there are no Slytherin banners in the RoR is that no one in DA would have trusted them enough to recruit them or let them into their only sanctuary. This says as much about DA as it does about Slytherin.
My main complaint is that there was SO much scope for character development. Every one in Slytherin, from the Malfoys to Theodore Nott was left biting the dust when it came to characterization. Blaise Zabini, whose mother's rich husbands disappear mysteriously, especially; His mysterious character had a lot of potential and Draco, whom we were led to believe post-HBP would play a larger role in DH, wasn't fully exploited. The Slytherins, as a whole, were alienated - by the other three houses, by Harry AND by JKR. The 'good' Slytherins are far too few. No major redemption. The main thing the HP series seem to be claiming is Gryffindor = Good. Slytherin = Bad. Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff = If they support Gryffindor, then good. If Slytherin, then bad. What threw me in a splitting rage was Dumbledore ambiguous quote regarding Severus that "perhaps [we] sort too soon". It indirectly indicates that DD doesn't believe a Slytherin can be brave and fight for what he believes in.
See, Slytherin is a house that goes deep with its own concerns, questions and, good and wrong decisions. In fact, not just Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff too face these concerns. However, its not in the books, it's just the potential that remains unused. It irks me that Jo would talk about the potential of what a Slytherin could have been - but seems that she just forgot about it or was playing it safe. Blurred boundaries between good and bad, perhaps?
Quintessentially, interhouse unity is an over-stretched utopia she's talked about but not shown. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw are one-dimensional and reduced to sidekicks. The book is all about Gryffindors, shiny knights in bright armours who need their public fixation and their tales sung. All the cliches other houses are telling about Gryffindor are extremely true. They crave to be in the spotlight and the Harry Potter books are finally, all about Gryffindors, their lifes and lies, victories and defeats. With one exception - Severus Snape. But then again, he was in love with a Gryffindor (that's hard to stomach!!) and that's been his motivation. That ruined his character for me, forever.
This is the greatest disappointment I had after I finished re-reading all the books. There are houses with different interesting characters - Zacharias Smith in Hufflepuff, is an example - who should unite forces against Voldemort but they don't and we're left in the dark as to why. Baring one or two lines in the last chapter of the last book, which IMO isn't much to brag about, the series strongly resonate the feeling that Gryffindor = Good while Slytherin = Evil.
Here's hoping ASP was sorted into Slytherin. That'd be a slap in the face to Harry & Co.
Edited by ShadowKisses - 05 August 2008 at 6:14pm