Salazar Slytherin and the Thousand-Year Game of Telephone
There is a theory circulating Tumblr concerning the background of Salazar Slytherin and his anti-Muggle ways, including his construction of the Chamber of Secrets. Naturally, we at MuggleNet wanted to analyze this theory. In an effort to be unbiased, we’re two Gryffindors who fully support the teaching of Muggle-borns, the freedom of house-elves, and every other form of magical equality.
The theory started with Tumblr user magelet-301’s post:
Which was quickly picked up by Tumblr user datvikingtho:
Pottermore says that Slytherin’s original intention with the Chamber may have been to teach his students spells the other founders would have disapproved of, possibly including Dark Magic.
What is certain is that by the time Slytherin was forced out of the school by the other three founders, he had decided that henceforth, the Chamber he had built would be the lair of a monster that he alone – or his descendants – would be able to control: a Basilisk. Moreover, only a Parselmouth would be able to enter the Chamber. This, he knew, would keep out all three founders and every other member of staff.
If you’re only trying to keep people out of your secret classroom, why would you leave behind a giant monster that only you and your descendants can control? Wouldn’t it be enough to create secret doors or passageways that will only open if you speak Parseltongue? Even if the Basilisk really was just intended to keep people out of the Chamber, it seems pretty irresponsible to leave a deadly monster in the basement of a school for young children.
Between the books and Pottermore, we have no conclusive evidence for anything except the fact that Slytherin built the Chamber and left a Basilisk in it. We don’t know that Slytherin intended for the Basilisk to purge the school of Muggle-borns, but claiming that the Chamber was a panic room or that the Basilisk was supposed to protect the castle from an army of Muggles is nothing but speculation. At worst, Slytherin was a murderous Muggle-hating bigot, and at best, he was well intentioned but irresponsible.
Even if Slytherin did intend for the Basilisk to purge the school of Muggle-borns, we think it’s important not to jump to the conclusion that this makes him evil. Slytherin may have been a champion of pure-blood supremacy, but it’s important to analyze why he felt this way. Like datvikingdo said, Slytherin recognized the potential threat that Muggle-borns posed to the students of Hogwarts. He was so scared of what Muggles had done to the magical community that his perception of all Muggles, and by extension Muggle-borns, was warped.
Maybe he was trying to protect the school from what he perceived as a serious threat, but that doesn’t make it okay to make generalizations about an entire group of people, and it definitely doesn’t make it okay to try to murder them. People can make mistakes – even huge mistakes – and still be fighting for the greater good.
Another important point to consider is the final point in the post: “Fast forward ONE THOUSAND YEARS…” Have you ever played a game of telephone? Anyone under the age of 20 probably has no idea what we’re talking about, but here’s a quick synopsis: You get a group of people together in a circle. One person begins the circle by whispering a statement to their neighbor, who continues the dissemination of information. At the end of the circle, the final person says the statement aloud to see just how much the original message was misconstrued. Just imagine, then, how easily a legend of this magnitude could have been mutated in the thousand-year process, leading to misperceptions of Salazar Slytherin and all of the students Sorted into his House.
There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin.
Keep in mind, it took four of the greatest witches and wizards of the age to create Hogwarts. Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin all played essential roles in the creation of the world’s finest school of magical learning. One thousand years ago, it was imperative to be brave enough to create a place for magical learning, kind enough to include everyone, wise enough to spread knowledge to young minds, and cautious enough to protect the castle from harm. Assuming that three good souls willingly teamed up with an evil man is preposterous, just as it is to assume that all Slytherins are bad, racist, or elitist.