Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Coming to Terms with Slytherin

A few weeks ago, I finally got early access to Pottermore. I was so excited to be able to read exclusive content from JKR, get my wand, and, most importantly, be sorted into my House. Which, of course, would be Ravenclaw. Ever since I first picked up Sorcerer's Stone, I knew I belonged with the blue and bronze. I mean, it is the House for the clever people, and haven't people always been telling me how smart I am? It seemed a rather obvious fit.

So imagine my shock and dismay when I got sorted into Slytherin.

I spent a good portion of the evening telling myself "at least it's not Hufflepuff," but I finally lost my cool and nearly shouted "It's not right! I should be in Ravenclaw, not Slytherin! I'm smart, damn it! And everyone should know that!"

Ah. Hm, maybe the Sorting didn't go as awry as I thought.

Anyway, it's not like there weren't other hints that I might be more inclined toward good ol' Salazar's house. My wand, which, according to Olivander's notes, says that people can expect great things from me, for one thing. Scoring the same as Snape on this fun little Harry Potter-based personality test, for another. And, to be honest, it was kind of my second choice anyway. Gryffindors always seemed just a little too cool in my opinion and Hufflepuffs are too, well, Hufflepuff. So if you can't be the cleverest, you might as well be the evilest*.

And that's another thing. Thanks to Harry, we tend to stigmatize Slytherins as evil power-hungry racist psychos. But that's not a completely accurate picture. Merlin was a Slytherin, after all, although I have trouble understanding how that fits in with when the Arthurian legends should have taken place. (I also suspect that the other three houses also claim this.) We'll get to Snape later, but Professor Slughorn was an okay guy, and Regulus Black turned out to be a good guy in the end. (Plus he was nice to House Elves!) And sure, the Malfoys aren't exactly nice people, but would you really call them evil? Sure, some of the foulest characters in the books--Voldemort, Bellatrix, probably Umbridge--came out of Slytherin. All that proves is that Slytherins are fallible just like any other human beings. If you think the other Houses are perfect I've got two words for you: Peter Pettigrew.

Besides, for us Muggles who had to grow up in the real world, a House Sorting doesn't effect who you are or who you'll become. It just shows you an aspect of yourself. Example: Four Hogwarts students, one from each House, decide for some reason to go to college and get Muggle jobs. (Just go with it.) They all love to read and so they study English, and all graduate with honors. Rob the Ravenclaw becomes a librarian so he can be around books all day and have their knowledge at his fingertips. Hank the Hufflepuff, however, becomes a high school English teacher so he can give others the chance to love books as much as he does. Greta the Gryffindor sets out to write the Great Wizarding Novel. Sally the Slytherin also wants to see her name on a dust jacket but wants something with a little more job security, too, so she becomes a college professor and publishes academically. (And never misses an opportunity to criticize Greta's books. Hey, old rivalries die hard.) All four students have the same interests and abilities, but the differences between them is in their ambitions, attitudes, and approaches to life.

Being in a certain House doesn't suddenly redefine us, nor is it all we are. It's just the most dominant part of our personality when we take the Sorting test. I think we're all a little bit of every House, really. Just look at Snape. We know he's a Slytherin, and yet he could have fit very well into the other Houses. Inventing all those spells as a teenager: Ravenclaw. Spying on Voldemort: Gryffindor. Loving Lily all those years despite her hooking up with the guy who used to pick on him: Hufflepuff. That's why Snape is considered by many to be the most well-written character--he has a fully rounded personality. So, as real people, we're far more complex that just the few traits that define one Hogwarts House.

So, after working through all that, am I now proud to be a Slytherin?

You bet!

Am I going to throw away all my Ravenclaw merchandise or my Hermione costume? (I own nothing Hufflepuff.)

No way!

*It's more fun.


  1. I sarcastically googled the phrase "Coming to terms with Slytherin" today and damn, I did not expect to find this. I didn't expect to find this because it was exactly what I was looking for.

    It's like I wrote this- I've always fashioned myself a Ravenclaw, but have been sorted on Pottermore (twice) into You Know What. I was looking for motivation on how to "own it", and here I found it. Thank you, stranger from 3 years ago! See you in the common room.

  2. You're welcome! Glad I could be of help.