Seven Times J.K. Rowling Taught Us to Hate Slytherin House
To many casual Harry Potter fans (and even to non-fans who have actually heard of the Hogwarts Houses), Slytherin is known as the “evil” House. For us Slytherins, this has been a thorn in our side since the conception of the series. It’s pretty clear that when J.K. Rowling dreamed up the Houses, Slytherins were always intended to be the main antagonists. Sure, there are jerks like Zacharias Smith sprinkled sparingly throughout the series, but the wrong-doers overwhelmingly represent Slytherin. Furthermore, the good Slytherins (Regulus Black, Horace Slughorn, and Andromeda Tonks, to name the most obvious ones) barely get any acknowledgment. Even though JKR seemed to make some attempts at reparation later in the series, it seems that Slytherin House, by and large, acts as the scapegoat of the series. In case you’re in any doubt about this, here are seven times JKR created a bias against Slytherin House.
1. “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin” (SS 5).
The first thing we ever hear about Slytherin is how it’s the “evil” House (even though the above statement is demonstrably false). First impressions are the most lasting, as they say, and this is a lousy first impression.
2. “Perhaps it was Harry’s imagination, after all he’d heard about Slytherin, but he thought they looked an unpleasant lot” (SS 8).
A tired old argument is that Slytherin House is seen as the “bad” House because we’re viewing the world through Harry’s eyes. His impression here is fresh but already tainted at the same time. He confesses that it could just be his imagination, but he pretty quickly learns to just hate Slytherin House, just like us readers.
3. “There were no girls on the Slytherin team – who stood, shoulder to shoulder, facing the Gryffindors, leering to a man” (CoS 7).
As if it weren’t bad enough that Slytherin is pegged as the House of bullies and blood supremacists, they’re blatantly sexist too. Before you try to tell me that there were simply no girls who were good enough to get onto the Slytherin team, just remember that talent wasn’t necessarily the main thing the Slytherin Quidditch Captain had his eye on.
4. “Haven’t any of the teachers noticed that the Slytherins are all safe? Isn’t it obvious all this stuff’s coming from Slytherin? The heir of Slytherin, the monster of Slytherin – why don’t they just chuck all the Slytherins out?” (CoS 14)
That time Lee Jordan wanted to oust the whole of Slytherin House.
5. “We can’t have a Slytherin champion!” (GoF 16)
At this point, Harry’s reaction to Warrington putting his name in the Goblet of Fire is justified, but he could have just said he didn’t want Warrington to be the Hogwarts champion instead of throwing Slytherin in general under the bus.
6. “Weasley is our King” (OotP 19).
Malfoy may have written it himself, but JKR depicts the whole of Slytherin House belting out this iconic song – because Slytherin House just didn’t seem horrible enough already without having a gigantic group of people publicly ganging up on one anxious kid.
7. “Harry saw the gold Gryffindor lion, emblazoned on scarlet; the black badger of Hufflepuff, set against yellow; and the bronze eagle of Ravenclaw, on blue. The silver and green of Slytherin alone were absent” (DH 29).
The final nail in the coffin was JKR ensuring that no Slytherin students joined the rebellion against Voldemort’s reign over Hogwarts. It is argued (and apparently confirmed in an interview) that Slughorn came back with reinforcements that included Slytherins, but she could have made it much more apparent in the book. In addition to focusing on the rather inconsequential Hogsmeade homeowners, Harry could have taken note of any Slytherins who returned to join the Order’s ranks.
You’d think I’d get over it eventually, but I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series more times than I can remember, and these things honestly bug me more and more each time. It would have been nice if there had been a fairer representation of all of the Houses. The only positive thing I can say in response to Slytherin being the “evil” House is (cue Jack Sparrow voice) “But you have heard of us.” Don’t even get me started on poor Hufflepuff House.