Ode to Slytherin part 3: A Slytherin in Any Other House
02 April 2019
Welcome to the 3 part series where I will be discussing J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, and how much I love Slytherin. This is part 3 of the series. If you haven’t read the previous posts, please click part 1 or part 2 to read the previous installments. I decided to write on this topic in honour of Slytherin Appreciation Day, March 21st, but the initial post that I wrote became so long that creating a multi-part series became the best solution. So Slytherins and non-Slytherins alike, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Caution: There be spoilers ahead.
It may be true that many of the antagonistic characters from the series come from Slytherin house, but there are also many named Slytherin characters who did notably great deeds. Slytherin house just happens to attract and breed traits in people that make for great villain qualities. But these same traits make for great heroic qualities as well. Let’s take a look at some of these Slytherins who used their Slytherin traits for the power of good, bravery, and heroism.
Severus Snape, probably the most debated character in the Harry Potter series, has been interpreted as both villainous and heroic. The debate seems to be founded in whether his actions were for the side of good, or purely self-serving. But either way it is spun, his actions as a Slytherin cannot be ignored. Severus was probably the cleverest character in the whole of the Harry Potter series. He managed to not be a double, but a triple agent by the end of the series. Even his more extreme actions, such as killing Dumbledore, proved to be part of a greater plan against Voldemort, as seen through the character flashbacks in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It is through these flashbacks that we also see Severus’ deep sense of loyalty. Particularly towards Lily Potter (nee Evans), his childhood friend, and love of his life. Despite her being sorted into Gryffindor, and marrying his school enemy, Severus never lost the space in his heart for Lily, and desire to do right by her.
I spoke of Horace Slughorn’s resourcefulness in part 2, but it is important to take note of the bigger part he played in the story. Horace was born into a family of the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’, a branch of Witches and Wizards of absolute pure blood. But he did not hold an elitist attitude over half-blood or muggle-born. Instead, he saw the potential in all kinds, beyond their bloodlines, and embraced individuals accordingly. He also, despite his cowardice, had an innate sense of duty, despite trying to fight it. It is this sense of duty that compelled him to finally agree to Dumbledore’s request to become the new potions master, and that led him to join The Battle of Hogwarts at the end of the Second Wizarding War.
We only got to see Leta Lestrange play a small part in Fantastic Beasts the Crimes of Grindelwald, but that small part spoke volumes about her character. Though her backstory is tragic, and many of her actions self-serving, Leta demonstrates a big heart and strong sense of justice. As a student, she appeared to be quite the misfit amoung her peers, preferring instead the comfort and company of Hufflepuff Newt Scamander, and his affinity towards the misunderstood. In her career, Leta’s Slytherin ambition saw her rise in ranks at the Ministry of Magic, in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. In the Crimes of Grindelwald, Leta goes out of her way to save Credence Barebone, a boy she owes quite little too, from her brother, Yusuf Kama’s misguided revenge prophecy. And in her last moments, Leta gives her life, standing against Grindelwald, to save the Scamander brothers.
Saving my personal favourite for last, Regulus Black, younger brother to Sirius Black, didn’t exactly have the best of reputations. Regulus was the pride of the Black family that Sirius never could be, and as such, had great expectation placed on him to follow in the pure blood family footsteps. This led Regulus to join the Death Eaters at a young age, much to the pride of his parents. But Regulus seemed to have a bigger heart than Sirius knew, and didn’t hold the unquestionable allegiance to Voldemort’s way of thinking that his parents probably thought he did. Regulus had an unusual friendship with the Black family house elf, Kreacher. So when he volunteered the use of Kreacher to Voldemort, chances are that Regulus didn’t know what Voldemort had planned. Upon Kreacher’s surprising return, half dead from the ordeal that Voldemort put the house elf through, Regulus’ allegiance tipped, unable to follow a master who could so easily throw away the lives of his subordinates. Regulus chose to make the last action of his life one of bravery and selflessness, sacrificing himself in order for Kreacher to retrieve one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, in the hopes that when Voldemort finally met his match, he would be mortal once more.
I could go on. Andromeda Tonks, Merlin, even Slytherin house founder Salazar Slytherin, despite all his faults, are all notable Slytherins who broke the mold, did great things, or made huge and important impacts in the wizarding world. The point is, Slytherin house has produced more than villains throughout its existence. It is a house that produces ambitious, brilliant minds, and people who go on to do things that no one would expect from them, for the good, and for the bad. It is a house of unique individuals, who make their own choices, and follow their own moral compass, just as any of the other houses do.
Thanks for hanging with me on this three part rant about my love for the Wizarding World and Slytherin house. I had a lot of fun putting it together, and it definitely verified the amount of
obsession passion I have for the subject. I may even do something for the other houses in the future, we’ll see.