This editorial is the winning entry for the Defending Your House contest.
by Daisy Jesson
Think ‘Slytherin’ and you’ll probably think of Draco Malfoy or even Lord Voldemort, who were both very proud to be in this house. Think ‘Slytherin’ and your first impression would probably be to think of the word ‘evil.’ Think ‘Slytherin’ and, most of the time, you will forget that being ambitious and cunning can be a good thing.
Ambition, a defining trait of Slytherin house, is useful to allow you to push yourself to do what needs to be done. Yes, in Voldemort’s case, it meant murdering several people to create horcruxes and become immortal, but having ambition also means studying hard to get the results you need for the job you want, or mastering a skill you were never that good at. It means Slytherins as a collective want success, and this is very nicely aided by being cunning – it means we are very likely to get the outcome we want.
Salazar Slytherin looked for students who would one day become powerful, or great, and that is nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of. We’ll also help fellow students and stick together, because we value our house immensely and want to be as successful as possible.
It seems that it’s partly the success of our house that singles us out as the target of a lot of Hogwarts hate. In Philosopher’s Stone, the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs cheer along when the Gryffindors win because they are glad to see that a house other than Slytherin has won – e.g. they single us out because we have the drive and determination to win the House Cup each year. In the Pottermore Slytherin welcoming speech, it’s mentioned that Slytherins stick together and support one another. This makes sense too because apparently we’re unwanted by the rest of the school because we work hard for our house. We like to honour our house, is that so wrong?
I’d also like to point out a few Slytherins who aren’t evil. Andromeda Tonks is a fine example, having been raised in the Black family and going to Hogwarts as a Slytherin, only to fall in love with a Muggle-born and leave her family for him. She was in no way affiliated with Voldemort, and her daughter, Nymphadora Tonks, went to Hogwarts as a Hufflepuff. Slytherin is perhaps notorious for having pure bloods sorted into this house, and while that may make some feel superior to Muggle-borns, it does not mean that Slytherin is a racist house, and this is shown by Andromeda.
Horace Slughorn is also another example, and while he gave Voldemort information on horcruxes, he was never a Death Eater and very much regretted telling him the things he did about splitting the soul. He even defends his house to Harry, saying “Oh now, don’t go holding that against me!” Which just goes to show that even Slytherins are aware of their reputation because of Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
Finally, Merlin. One of the greatest wizards known. If you think of pure blood superiority when you think of Slytherins, think again! Merlin founded the Order of Merlin, an organisation to promote Muggle rights because he believed they should all live together peacefully. Given his time period also, it’s suggested that he was taught by Slytherin himself, and so any anti-Muggle stances from the house do not come from being a Slytherin, but from the family at home. He also became a very powerful wizard, a brilliant example of where Slytherin house can get you.
Finally, I’d like to mention that being a Slytherin does not equal being a Death Eater. It is not noted what houses most of the Death Eaters were in. Our house will admit that we’ve produced a few bad eggs, it’s just that the others won’t. It takes only one incredibly power hungry person to ruin the house’s reputation, so try to see past your prejudices.