Slytherin Should Be Disbanded

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Slytherin Should Be Disbanded

Post  Mona on Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:43 am

Michael Franz - Nov 19, 2007 10:32 pm
Edited by Kip Carter Jan 27, 2008 4:46 pm
J.K. has said that all the houses have good qualities to contribute to Hogwarts. She has told us that not all Slytherins are evil, and has given us Snape and Slughorn to prove it.

However, the Slytherin colors were conspicuously absent from the Room of Requirement in Book 7. Not one Slytherin student stood with the good guys in the Battle of Hogwarts. Even a good Slytherin would most likely be corrupted by all that evil company.

Snape may be good, but only because Lily died; when he had the choice the first time, he chose Slytherin over her. He was good in spite of his house, not because of it. Dumbledore even said he may have been Sorted too soon — in other words, Snape was good, and therefore should have been a Gryffindor.

I must sadly conclude that J.K.'s claims about Slytherin are not backed up by the books she actually wrote. Even though a few good apples managed to escape that pit of vipers, it is obvious that Slytherin House itself has nothing to redeem it.

Therefore, I propose that the new Headmaster of Hogwarts declare Slytherin House, from this day and forevermore, dissolved. All students currently in Slytherin will be re-sorted into the remaining Houses. If they wish to transfer to another school, they may do so. If the Sorting Hat doesn't like it, well, tough. If the Bloody Baron doesn't like it, then he can go haunt somewhere else.

Does anyone wish to speak in Slytherin House's defense? If so, please explain the good qualities of the House itself, not just Snape.




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Post  Mona on Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:55 am

PeskyPixie - Nov 19, 2007 10:35 pm (#1 of 445)
I am a proud Slytherin and shall be back to defend my House's honour when I've got a bit more free time (probably this weekend).

Slytherin Rules!



Denise P. - Nov 20, 2007 6:23 am (#2 of 445)
Slytherins are ambitious. There is nothing wrong with ambition. Slytherin is not automatically evil.

Not one Slytherin stood up in the Battle of Hogwarts. Well, you know, peer pressure at that age and family loyalty are funny things. We know that the Houses *are* the family to the students in them while at Hogwarts. We can assume that many of the current crop of Slytherins had parents who were Slytherins. While perhaps not full flegded Death Eaters, perhaps their sympathies lay there.

Let's pretend we have Viola, a 3rd year Slytherin who doesn't really feel that the DE way is the right way, she doesn't sympathize with Voldie and Co but she is ambitious and is not above being a bit unethical to further herself. She keeps to herself, she goes to class and just pretty well minds her own business.

Does she leave both her Hogwarts family and her actual family to go to the "other" side to defend Hogwarts? I sure wouldn't.

If I stay with my family, in the event of a loss, I can claim I was too scared to leave. That I had been threatened, my family had been threatened if I raised a wand in defense. I was told that the "other" side would not welcome me and based on how me and my House is treated and viewed at Hogwarts, I believe it. If the "bad" side had won, I could point out my loyalty in standing firm with my House. Go me.

Should it be disbanded? No. I think it should be revamped some and I think the isolation of students that is formed by having the Houses compete should be rethought. There is a place for Slytherin and it should stay there.



wynnleaf - Nov 20, 2007 7:46 am (#3 of 445)
I think it should be revamped some and I think the isolation of students that is formed by having the Houses compete should be rethought. There is a place for Slytherin and it should stay there. (Denise)

I agree. What is really needed at Hogwarts is a system to promote unity and to end this sense among the other houses that regardless how much they may all compete with one another, they're all allied against Slytherin. You see this sometimes in the Quidditch matches where other houses seem to always be cheering the team opposing Slytherin.

It's not enough to hear an occasional "we need to be unified" speech from the Sorting Hat or even the Headmaster. They need systems in place to really promote day-to-day unity, and as things stand in the series, they don't have it. The kid sorted into Slytherin would quickly get the feeling that everyone else looked down on them simply for their house. It creates a sense of isolation, a sense that everyone else hates them anyway so what's the use in "unity," a feeling of "us against them," and other negative attitudes.

However, if Hogwarts could think of no way to do this, it would be better to do away with the Slytherin completely. But rather than target Slytherin alone, I think the better option would be to disband the Houses as they stand and sort at random, so that each house is a mix of all sorts of personalities and backgrounds.

That reminds me of years ago when I lived in Papua New Guinea. That country is divided by over 800 separate languages and rugged mountains. Educational systems were created in a way to promote unity. Children (at least at that time) were educated in their home towns and villages up through primary school and, I think, middle school. But then they went to national boarding schools where they were all mixed up. The whole point was to have a mix of kids from all sorts of different languages in order to promote national unity (they had a common language of English at the schools). And it seemed to be working, at least when I lived there.

So at Hogwarts, if they couldn't tear down the barriers between Slytherin and the other houses, they should change the houses so that sorting is random.

The House System itself, by the way, I approve of for kids off at a boarding school. They need a place that can be their home away from home.



journeymom - Nov 20, 2007 9:43 am (#4 of 445)
Should it be disbanded? No. I think it should be revamped some and I think the isolation of students that is formed by having the Houses compete should be rethought. There is a place for Slytherin and it should stay there. ~Denise

The House System itself, by the way, I approve of for kids off at a boarding school. They need a place that can be their home away from home. ~Wynnleaf

I agree with both of these statements. Still, I'm very disappointed, simply from a reader's point of view, that in the end not one student stood up for, if not Harry, at least for Hogwarts. I was hoping Theodore Nott, Blaise Zabini or Pansy Parkinson would have his or her shining moment to redeem Slytherin.

Wynnleaf, you lived in Paua New Guinea? How cool!



zelmia - Nov 20, 2007 12:10 pm (#5 of 445)
Yes, I think Rowling really dropped the ball on that particular point, which I personally found very disappointing.

Slytherin has a very important symbolic function. It is the fourth corner of the Hogwarts foundation and also the Water element in the four humours of Hogwarts. In other words, it must be there to hold the balance.

"Ambition" is the trait of note for Slytherin House, which is not a bad thing, obviously. But Slytherin had, for at least two generations, been dominated by mostly older Wizarding families who, at least in principle, aligned themselves with Voldemort.

I tend to think of Slytherin almost like the Clergy of the Old Regime. Not because Slytherin House are the spiritual leaders of Hogwarts; but because they, like the Clergy of the Old Regime, come from a very privileged, classist background that wants to keep things that way.
Once the people take over the government, they don't disband the Clergy (people still need spiritual guidance, etc). They simply make the Clergy accountable to the state; take away their privileges and make them live just like everyone else. This is an oversimplification, of course, and this analogy may not work for everyone.



Steve Newton - Nov 20, 2007 1:03 pm (#6 of 445)
Well, Snape certainly stood up for Hogwarts. Alas, his student days are far behind him.

Could Draco have been said to have stood up for Harry and Hogwarts? I'm not sure. In the soon to be toast Room of Lost Items he is ambiguous. He could be just cautiioning Crabbe and Goyle or he could be protecting Harry. I am unsure if Draco was a current student, though.



wynnleaf - Nov 20, 2007 1:20 pm (#7 of 445)
I think it's no accident that the only Slytherins we see who clearly go against the Dark Magic and a pro-Dark Lord attitude are adults. Regulas and Snape switch sides after they leave school (for different reasons, of course). Slughorn may have always been the way he is, but we don't get to see it. Even as an adult he doesn't take a clear position until the war is already underway. Andromeda married a muggleborn, but we don't know when she openly defied her family and the House traditions. Was it in school? Or after she got out? We don't actually know her as a Slytherin who bucked the system until she's an adult.

My point? The way Hogwarts is now, and during the time of the Marauders and Snape, it would be very, very difficult for a kid to openly turn against the philosophies of most people in his House.

Think how bad Harry has it when his House turns against him. And that's just the Gryffindors. And he wasn't really doing anything in direct opposition to what they believed in. But a Slytherin who would want to choose friends in other houses, oppose the latest Dark Lord, and eschew Dark Magic would likely find it very rough going indeed, especially because he/she would still be viewed with dislike and suspicion from all of the other Houses.



Verity Weasley - Nov 20, 2007 2:47 pm (#8 of 445)
I agree with previous posters who have said that Slytherin is important for balance. But Hogwarts does need to break down the traditional assumptions that go with the house system. When I ran a wizarding workshop weekend for kids recently we had the four houses but the students were sorted randomly - they picked a house badge out of the sorting hat. Some of the kids who ended up in Slytherin were a bit disappointed initially but throughout the weekend we stressed that there are positive elements in all of the houses and their house pride developed over the weekend!

I also agree that they could have more inter-house mixing at Hogwarts. At my son's school, which is not a boarding school, they have a house system, but the students they share classes with could come from any house. The house system mainly comes into play at sporting events or other extra-curricular type things.



Soul Search - Nov 20, 2007 3:28 pm (#9 of 445)
In SS, before Harry's sorting, we saw a number of new students. Most seemed nervous and a bit afraid. Even those from wizarding families were leaving those families and all were entering a very new world.

McGonagall says that their house will be like their family. Each new student we saw sorted was warmly welcomed into their house, their new "family." A student sorted into a house was welcomed because the other members of the house knew the new member was like themself, like a brother or sister.

It is unlikely new students would be so sincerely welcomed with any kind of random assignments. What would have happened if Harry and Draco had shared the same dormitory? They both would have stayed awake all night fearing what the other might be up to.

The house system has value. The four houses are populated by students of like manner and characteristics. If Sytherin House was abolished, those students would be distributed into the other houses, likely with unpleasant consequences.



wynnleaf - Nov 20, 2007 7:23 pm (#10 of 445)
It is unlikely new students would be so sincerely welcomed with any kind of random assignments. (Soul Search)

Consider that there are definitely boarding schools and day schools -- a number of which I've heard about in certain detail -- where there children are sorted into houses, and there's no Sorting Hat to divide them up by personality yet they still manage, in real life, to achieve a lot of house unity. So while random sorting at Hogwarts could be a problem for a brief while, I'm sure the kids would get over it and find other ways of developing House unity, just like real schools that use Houses all around the world.



Michael Franz - Nov 20, 2007 11:17 pm (#11 of 445)
Let's face it — the Sorting Hat is not infallible. It put Wormtail in Gryffindor despite the fact that he's a snivelling coward and always has been. But, perhaps it thought that by surrounding him with courageous people, he might learn to value courage.

By the same token, if you surround a person with backstabbing, elitist jerks, he will be forced to assume those characteristics just to survive, even if he wasn't that way before. Bad company creates bad character, and Slytherin is 100% bad company. By separating these bad apples, it will surround them with good company, making it more difficult for evil to flourish.

Peraonally, I'd like to see a kid rebel against the Sorting Hat by employing Occlumency against it.



Choices - Nov 21, 2007 11:59 am (#12 of 445)
I have to agree that it is probably best to keep Slytherin and put those kids in it who might not fit in with the kids in another house. Although, I can see that there might be benefits from placing a "Slytherin" minded kid in another house where the kinder, gentler qualities might rub off on them. When you group Slytherins together, it seems they feed off each other and learn from each other and just become worse. It's sort of like placing a juvenile offender in the "big house" with hardened criminals, the youngster learns a lot of disturbing things and often comes out of prison worse than when he went in. I think that is one reason why Snape became a DE - he was influenced by the older Slytherins to join. Perhaps if he had been sorted into Ravenclaw or Gryffindor he would have turned out different.



Phoenixfeather - Nov 22, 2007 11:58 pm (#13 of 445)
I think that Slytherin has a place, but that the predjudice itself has to be sorted out. Salazar Slytherin infected the House with his own pure-blood mania. The essence of Slytherin is ambition and cunning, yet we see in CoS that the password to get into the common room was "pure-blood". I think any group of people, whether they are brave, intelligent, or hard-working could be infected with predjudice - I don't think it's not necessarily a 'Slytherin' trait.

And it is interesting, too, because in Snape's memories, we see James' behavior mirror Draco's behavior when James puts down the Slytherin House, the same way Draco put down Hufflepuff House when Harry first met him. And look how James' behavior in the long run ended up impacting Harry's life. James was already pre-judging Slytherins before he even got to the school, and Snape suffered because of that.

Regarding Wormtail, perhaps the sorting hat saw in him the potential to be brave, but he himself chose what he saw was the 'easy path' for himself - having strong friends to protect him. JKR does emphasize the concept of 'choice'.



PeskyPixie - Nov 23, 2007 9:32 am (#14 of 445)
Edited by megfox* Nov 23, 2007 3:35 pm
All traits have their uses.

A Gryffindor is more likely to gallantly save you from an oncoming train; a Slytherin will most probably be the one to 'pull strings' to save your job from an unfair boss.

I'll be back to fully express my thoughts when my hand is better healed.



PeskyPixie - Nov 23, 2007 12:39 pm (#15 of 445)
Yikes! I've spelled Gryffindor incorrectly in my previous post.



shepherdess - Nov 23, 2007 1:21 pm (#16 of 445)
It's ok Pesky, since all we need the consonants to know what the word is.



Phoenixfeather - Nov 23, 2007 10:07 pm (#17 of 445)
Pesky, good point! It's interesting to note that Harry and Hermione have used Slytherin cunning to good use as well! Hermione confunded Cormac McLaggen in the quidditch trials, tricked Hagrid into giving them info on the Philosophers Stone, and Harry manipulated Slughorn pretty well to get the memory to name a few.

Hope your hand gets better soon! **sending healing charms!**



PeskyPixie - Nov 25, 2007 8:28 pm (#18 of 445)
Thanks, Phoenixfeather.

He (Severus Snape) was good in spite of his house, not because of it. Dumbledore even said he may have been Sorted too soon — in other words, Snape was good, and therefore should have been a Gryffindor. -Michael Franz

I honestly don't feel Dumbledore's comment has anything to do with Snape being 'Good' or 'Bad'. I also don't interpret it as a reference to simply bravery vs. cowardice; let's not forget that Slytherins are also noted for their bravery. It is the type of bravery which Snape is willing to display on occasion of the Dark Lord rising more terrible than before, and Snape having to prepare all sorts of different lies/half-truths to convince said Lord of his allegiance to the Death Eaters, that Dumbledore refers to.

By declining the option of going into hiding, Snape is well aware that he has turned down DD's offer to allow him to back out of the promise he once made to DD. Both men know on the night when LV returns that Snape may not return from his reunion with Voldy; this is the cause of Snape's extreme paleness and the strange glitter in his eyes. It also explains the apprehensive look on Dumbledore's face as he watches Snape leave to go to LV. Snape willingly takes a gamble with his life in his decision to become Dumbledore's spy once again.

Snape uses Slytherin qualities to excellently fulfill the requirements of his role, but he exhibits a Gryffindor's courage in his decision to take on this recklessly dangerous mission.

I'll be back later to present my ideas on why Slytherin should not be disbanded.



PeskyPixie - Nov 30, 2007 12:16 am (#19 of 445)
Golly, I wrote my previous post with a bitten (by a rosebush ) hand and refuse to let my points go without input from the rest of you! (I'm just being silly, guys, not trying to pressure anyone into telling their hamster to make its own lunch while they prepare a piece on why Slytherin should be disbanded. )

I also wanted to mention that the lack of Slytherins in battle for Hogwarts does not necessarily mean that they are all depraved, amoral individuals. Perhaps among them is a student who dislikes the Death Eater agenda but also realizes that only a fool's hope exists for defeating the Dark Lord at present. It may be a smarter move to get out of the school with the other Slytherins, 'join' Voldy in battle, but then go abroad and build up a resistance against Voldy from where it is more likely to be successful. LV is likely to attack other countries after Britain is his.



freshwater - Dec 3, 2007 5:59 am (#20 of 445)
This topic reminds me of a quote (afraid I don't recall who said it...Albert Einstein, maybe?)

"For every problem there is a solution that is quick, simple, and wrong."



PeskyPixie - Dec 7, 2007 2:58 pm (#21 of 445)
I agree with you, Freshwater.

Slytherins are ambitious. Ambition creates change (not necessarily bad change). The world would be a very dull place without Slytherins! However, as they have so much ability and ambition they really need good guidance counselling in their adolescent years. I can easily see Snape doing many great things with his abilities if he had been guided in a better direction.

Oh yeah, Pure-Blood mania has got to go. According to JKR this particular problem is resolved by the time Harry's bunch is off to Hogwarts. Interest in the Dark Arts remains a trait of this House, but I don't find that to automatically be a bad thing; it just needs to be monitored and guided for a good cause. Katie Bell, Draco Malfoy and Albus Dumbledore would all be toast in HBP if Snape had not been so passionate about the Dark Arts from his youth.



Orion - Dec 7, 2007 3:12 pm (#22 of 445)
DD is toast in HBP...



PeskyPixie - Dec 7, 2007 3:14 pm (#23 of 445)
You know what I mean, Orion . He'd be toast pre-Spinner's End if Snape hasn't contained the curse in his hand.



Phoenixfeather - Dec 9, 2007 11:42 pm (#24 of 445)
To add to your post, Pesky, I also think the House System is a good idea. It helps the students to truly focus on their gifts in a supportive environment. For example, Neville may never have come into his own if there were Slytherin influences (nothing personal!). Rather than finding his bravery, given other options, he might choose to find ways to manipulate situations rather than face them. Conversely, Slytherins would be discouraged from using their natural ability to be cunning and ambitious. Same with Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. Peer pressure from other students certainly influences the development (or lack) of their basic characteristics.

There is absolutely no question that without Snape and his unique abilities, all would have been lost. And I agree that Snape's abilities might not have been so well developed if he did not reside in Slytherin house. And Dumbledore himself clearly studied the dark arts. Without that knowledge, he would not have known of the Horcruxes, and without that knowledge, how could anyone defeat Voldemort?

Just some thoughts. It's late...I hope I posted clearly.



Orion - Dec 10, 2007 9:12 am (#25 of 445)
I wonder how we all got through school without being sorted into houses...



Phoenixfeather - Dec 10, 2007 10:50 am (#26 of 445)
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply not sorting isn't workable... I just think it's a better system in some ways. Ravenclaw might be a better example - a child with a very high I.Q. in a regular class gets bored, might feel a bit isolated, and is not able to achieve their potential. But taking that child and putting them in an advanced curiculum gives them the opportunity to use their skills and puts them with other kids that they can probably better relate to. (It's the one form of 'sorting' we actually do) I am generalizing to the other character traits, but I do think Neville being put in Gryffindor played a big part of him being able to lead in the last book. I also can see where Snape benefitted in developing his unique skills.



Michael Franz - Dec 11, 2007 12:08 am (#27 of 445)
I also think the House System is a good idea. It helps the students to truly focus on their gifts in a supportive environment.

Slytherin is a supportive environment?! It's a jungle full of cobras! You see, not only are cobras poisonous, but they also eat other snakes -- including other cobras. Slytherins look out for Number One. If a member of their house needs "support", then he is obviously weak and will be crushed by the strong.



Phoenixfeather - Dec 11, 2007 9:33 am (#28 of 445)
Michael, I see your point, but 'supportive' can mean many things. People can feel a sense of support just being with others who are like them. You have to keep in mind, Slytherins are also survivors. And, again, by removing the hatred and predjudice, and having a Head of House who provides good guidance, it can work out well.

What we see in Slytherin in the HP series is pretty bad - But, that's not the way it was originally intended as the Sorting Hat pointed out. Slytherin himself clearly became twisted with the pure-blood mania and built the Chamber of Secrets. But in getting rid of that, I think we would see a very different House of Slytherin. Slughorn did not come out bad - (this makes me wonder if it was Voldemort that re-kindled the pure-blood mania 50 years ago?)

Snape was a great spy, but a terrible Head of House. When a teacher picks on a kid, it inspires and teaches others to do the same. Although Slughorn wasn't the greatest with his picking favorites, for the first time, we saw fairness in the Potions class. Malfoy was shocked that Harry and his friends weren't being berated!

Slytherin was also infected by the pure-blood families. These kids came to Hogwarts with predjudice and hatred. All the Slytherin parents we see were death-eaters for goodness sake! The kids came with it because they learned it at home! (And Snape didn't help)

And in many public schools, sadly, kids are tormented by other groups. When kids are thrown all together, clicks form anyways, and they often strike out at other kids - especially those alone. At least with the House system, kids can have a sense of identity and belonging. That's support in and of itself, like I said earlier.

I think with proper guidance, Slytherins could be taught to develop and use their unique abilities in a very positive way.



PeskyPixie - Dec 11, 2007 6:18 pm (#29 of 445)
I think with proper guidance, Slytherins could be taught to develop and use their unique abilities in a very positive way. -Phoenixfeather

My point, exactly.



Orion - Dec 12, 2007 8:01 am (#30 of 445)
Why was Snape such a terrible head of house? Well, why was he made head of house in the first place? Was there no older and more experienced Slytherin person available? Especially if you consider that Snape isn't a real teacher. He may be quite good, but only by accident, because in reality he is a fugitive on DD's mercy who is given a teaching job as a cover-up. The whole lot of Hogwarts teachers is such a random assortment of oddballs that you wonder why anybody gets to pass their exams and how much this exam is worth.



PeskyPixie - Dec 12, 2007 11:49 am (#31 of 445)
"The whole lot of Hogwarts teachers is such a random assortment of oddballs ..."

LOL!!! You crack me up, Orion!!!!! (Note the use of multiple exclamation marks )



Phoenixfeather - Dec 12, 2007 3:48 pm (#32 of 445)
Well, when you think about it, Orion has a point there. I mean, you have Snape who torments the students, Prof. Binns who's dead and still teaching, Trelawney - well, I don't think she needs much explanation, as she is well known on the Alchemy thread as 'Ms. Cooking Sherry' - she begins as a fraud and ends up hysterical and drunk most of the time. Hagrid, with his monster fixation. Dumbledore brought in Mad-Eye Moody who gets a bit carried away... Granted, teaching positions can be hard to fill, but I think I'd be afraid to go to Hogwarts myself!



PeskyPixie - Dec 12, 2007 3:58 pm (#33 of 445)
Yes, even with Slughorn's tendency to pick favourites, he still seems like one of the 'normal' ones. Ah, McGonagall, if they could all be more like you. Sprout and Flitwick aren't bad either, but the 'oddballs' more than overcompensate for their normalcy!



Phoenixfeather - Dec 12, 2007 4:36 pm (#34 of 445)
Hermione also has a bunch of good teachers - Prof. Sinestra (astronomy), her runes and arithmancy classes seem very good.

But the one thing I really like about Hogwarts, there is a place for everyone - even Peeves and Filch. (...and do I dare add...even Slytherins? ) I always thought JKR (and Dumbledore) allowed all of it because that's reality. I remember Fleur claiming how they would never allow a poltergeist in their school. I think that limits how people learn to cope with people different than themselves, and people who are just difficult. I always saw it as part of the 'education' processs and thought it was good.



severusisn'tevil - Dec 13, 2007 3:42 pm (#35 of 445)
Great, Orion. I wouldn't be afraid to go necessarily because in my experience, teachers are a bit like that already. It's just that magic and the fact that Hogwarts is a boarding school enhances the whole thing. And most of the teachers, even the oddballs, have their strengths, if we care to look at them objectively. Severus motivates his students. Yes, it's brutal motivation, but it is motivation nonetheless. *I'd* learn antidotes if I was told I"d have poisons tested on me. Trelawney, aka Ms. Cooking Sherry, teaches the students not to believe everything they hear. Hagrid moderates that with the lesson that not everything is as bad as it seems (Buckbeak, thestrals, etc) and Mad-Eye gives them a look at the "Real World" which seems a lot better than Umbridge who activeky tries to pull the wool over their eyes.



Orion - Dec 13, 2007 4:02 pm (#36 of 445)
It was like that at school - there were some normal teachers (I think?) but we had types that in an ideal world nobody would dare to let run free, let alone set on students. Rowling used to be a teacher, she knows this lot from the staff room! (Nevertheless, I loved school and got on well with the teachers. There's room for every funny little animal on earth, and I'm quite tolerant for nutcases.)



PeskyPixie - Dec 13, 2007 4:22 pm (#37 of 445)
Snape-Harry is personal. He isn't a pleasant man and is not a good teacher for mediocre students, however, those who attend his classes to learn will learn.

As for Snape's influence on students in his House, we know he dislikes the word 'Mudblood' but does not ban its use among his students as his role as spy (which Dumbledore feels will be necessary once more) must always have top priority. He is petty and short-tempered, but I wouldn't go as far as to accuse him of advocating the Blood-Status hierarchy for which Slytherin is infamous. He doesn't seem to be the type to provide patient guidance to adolescents either. Ah, well, he does his best to pretect the lot of them in his final year at Hogwarts.



Potteraholic - Dec 13, 2007 5:43 pm (#38 of 445)
I just wanted to point out that, technically speaking, Mad-Eye Moody never taught at Hogwarts, but a Barty Crouch Jr. version of him. That's not to say that Mad-Eye would not have been a memorable and effective, yet eccentric, teacher in his own right.



Phoenixfeather - Dec 14, 2007 10:00 am (#39 of 445)
Pesky, sorry, I didn't mean to imply that Snape advocated the discrimination himself. You are absolutely right on that. But I think he did so inadvertantly. No one except Dumbledore understood why Snape had a grudge against Harry. The students certainly did not know. Harry having Hermione as a friend with her muggle parentage, and also having Ron as a friend (with a father who advocates muggle rights that Draco knew about, via his own father), could have led to the Slytherins assuming it was a 'pure-blood' thing - a really tragic and unfortunate outcome of the James-Snape rivalry. (but it all worked out well for the spy thing)

And, thanks Potteraholic, you are right in one!

The other thing about Hogwarts to look at is their idea of injuries - for us in the muggle world, a broken bone is usually a life-altering event that takes months to heal. Madam Pomfrey can heal most anything in minutes! So I think the idea of 'danger' would be defined differently in the wizarding world. So if Snape poisoned students, it would probably be momentary discomfort at worst.

severusin'tevil, you make an excellent point! --but I would still be nervous about going to Hogwarts! ...perhaps if I were a wizard...



PeskyPixie - Dec 16, 2007 11:30 am (#40 of 445)
There's no need to apologize for your opinion, Phoenixfeather! One of the most enjoyable things about these debates is the diversity of opinions.



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Post  Mona on Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:56 am

Phoenixfeather - Dec 19, 2007 11:22 am (#41 of 445)
Thanks, Pesky! But I should have posted my thought more clearly so as not to give the wrong impression.



Solitaire - Dec 26, 2007 7:39 pm (#42 of 445)
with proper guidance, Slytherins could be taught to develop and use their unique abilities in a very positive way.

Perhaps the Heads of Houses should be professors who came from a different house than they head. For example, a Hufflepuff might be able to infuse some concern for others into the Slytherins. A Ravenclaw might encourage a bit of forethought into the go-for-broke Gryffindor bravery. In truth, I think McGonagall seems to exhibit a good mix of the house traits. She is certainly as loyal as they come, and she is also hard-working, fair-minded, and extremely intelligent. Does she possess Slytherin ambition and cunning? Perhaps her intelligence and ambition are simply tempered by her other fine qualities.

The whole lot of Hogwarts teachers is such a random assortment of oddballs that you wonder why anybody gets to pass their exams and how much this exam is worth.
Well, given my praise of McGonagall above, I can hardly agree with such a sweeping generalization. I also feel that, despite his unfortunate, "furry little problem," Remus was a natural teacher. To be sure, there are plenty of oddities. Still, we do not really know about all of the teachers, do we? Perhaps Professors Vector and Sinistra are professional and accomplished. We do not know much about Charity Burbage, but she might be fabulous. I think Sprout and Flitwick both seem to know their stuff.

I've been a teacher for 22 years, and I can tell you, I've been privileged to teach with a pretty interesting assortment of colleagues. Most have been wonderful and accomplished teachers, but even some of those could only be described as "odd." Some have been extraordinarily gifted. However, I've taught with a couple of summa cum laude graduates who were were unable to communicate with anyone who couldn't grasp their subjects. I've also taught with rather mundane folk who come alive in a room full of kids. I've even taught with a few Sibylls in my time ... sad but true.

I think the idea of 'danger' would be defined differently in the wizarding world. This would seem to be true based on Hagrid's indignation at the idea that James and Lily could have been killed in a car crash ... although he could simply have been indignant that the truth had not been told. The fact that Montague's parents came for him following the Vanishing Cabinet/toilet incident does suggest that accidents causing mental or emotional disturbances might be considered more serious than something like losing the bones in one's arm, having one's ears transplanted onto a cactus, or being covered with cat hair for months. Since most of the parents (except those of Muggle-borns) would probably have been through Hogwarts themselves and would be well acquainted with the things that could happen, they probably felt confident in the ability of the staff to handle most "emergencies."

Solitaire



TwinklingBlueEyes - Dec 26, 2007 11:37 pm (#43 of 445)
Well put Soli!



Orion - Dec 27, 2007 7:40 am (#44 of 445)
""The whole lot of Hogwarts teachers is such a random assortment of oddballs that you wonder why anybody gets to pass their exams and how much this exam is worth. Well, given my praise of McGonagall above, I can hardly agree with such a sweeping generalization. I also feel that, despite his unfortunate, "furry little problem," Remus was a natural teacher. To be sure, there are plenty of oddities. Still, we do not really know about all of the teachers, do we? Perhaps Professors Vector and Sinistra are professional and accomplished. We do not know much about Charity Burbage, but she might be fabulous. I think Sprout and Flitwick both seem to know their stuff.

I've been a teacher for 22 years, and I can tell you, I've been privileged to teach with a pretty interesting assortment of colleagues. Most have been wonderful and accomplished teachers, but even some of those could only be described as "odd." Some have been extraordinarily gifted. However, I've taught with a couple of summa cum laude graduates who were were unable to communicate with anyone who couldn't grasp their subjects. I've also taught with rather mundane folk who come alive in a room full of kids. I've even taught with a few Sibylls in my time ... sad but true." (Solitaire)

That's exactly what I was trying to say, Solitaire. Some of the Hogwarts teachers are brilliant, some of them are abominable, and the mixture makes them such a random assortment. I'm a teacher myself and know many strange folks, and met many even stranger ones when I was a student. The majority of Muggle teachers are quite normal, however. My number one of the Hogwarts teachers, personally, is Remus, expecially in the light of seeing POA again on TV. The movie gave his lessons a lot of additional, non-book oomph and fun. Edited for clarity.



Potteraholic - Dec 27, 2007 9:22 am (#45 of 445)

I know exactly what you mean Solitaire and Orion regarding all the different personalities that exist in teaching. Just a microcosm of what happens in all walks of life, right?



PeskyPixie - Dec 27, 2007 8:32 pm (#46 of 445)
I like Solitaire's idea of Heads of House belonging to a different House than the one they represent. However, I don't know how well that would work out.

My parents are both quintessential Gryffindors (the whole 'daring, nerve and chivalry' package). Observation of their rather noble choices and decisions in life only strengthened my natural Slytherin qualities as I grew up.

Perhaps one might argue that their influence instilled a moral compass in me which controls my 'cunning and ambition'? Also, they both claim that they admire the way I function in life and feel that they have become smarter individuals because of me. (They're still extremely selfless people, but have learned to look out for their own interests a bit as well).

With my family as a model, Gryffindors and Slytherins would do well to influence one another's Houses.

I don't know how well Slytherins would accept guidance from sweet Hufflepuffs, but Gryffindors are tough enough to deal with strong-minded Slytherins.



zelmia - Dec 27, 2007 8:38 pm (#47 of 445)
Why should "cunning and ambition" (or being sorted into Slytherin, for that matter) preclude a person from having a moral compass?



PeskyPixie - Dec 27, 2007 9:27 pm (#48 of 445)
There's nothing wrong with cunning and ambition. I possess both and like to consider myself a decent person. However, I understand first-hand how a combination of these two traits can easily corrupt an individual. I feel it is my 'moral compass' which prevents me from making decisions which would benefit me at the price of hurting others deeply. I like to think of this 'moral compass' as a natural trait, but I honestly don't know whether it would exist without the guidance I received as a child and teenager.

Bottom line, there's nothing wrong with cunning, ambition or being sorted into Slytherin if one has a moral compass. How a moral compass develops within an individual is a completely different issue which I still haven't decided on. Perhaps some people need more help than others?



Phoenixfeather - Dec 27, 2007 11:15 pm (#49 of 445)
I think anyone lacking a 'moral compass' in any of the Houses clearly presents problems. Pettigrew was a Gryffindor. Again, the way James and Sirius treated Snape in school was abominable. And if Ariana hadn't died, what would Dumbledore have become? --that's a real frightening thought! Would he have shown favoritism to his own House and encouraged the Gryffindors to believe they were better equipped to enforce 'the greater good' on the wizard society?

I think the 'moral compass' is the answer, rather than disbanding any of the Houses.

The fact that Montague's parents came for him following the Vanishing Cabinet/toilet incident does suggest that accidents causing mental or emotional disturbances might be considered more serious... Solitaire

That's an interesting point - I hadn't thought about that.



Solitaire - Dec 27, 2007 11:40 pm (#50 of 445)
Phoenixfeather ... remember, too, how outraged the Wizarding community was about what happened to the Longbottoms. That crime seems to have been prosecuted as vigorously as any murder.



Phoenixfeather - Dec 28, 2007 12:06 am (#51 of 445)
Yes, you're right! I think I remember Dumbledore saying something to the effect that it would have been better if they had died. (I've got to do a re-read...) It seems to be the one thing they can't readily fix with magic - the mind. Lockhart had been in St. Mungo's for 2 years when we see him after PoA, and he was still pretty bad. Wizards seem able to affect the mind (memory charms, Felix, love potions, etc.) but they can't fix it easily. And there is no psychology-type classes at Hogwarts that we hear about. -But JKR certainly shows us a lot of psychological issues throughout the series.



Orion - Dec 28, 2007 5:47 am (#52 of 445)
I have decided to put my fingers in my ears and go "la la la" very loudly whenever Rowling gives an interview so that I'm at liberty to think whatever I want about what happens afterwards, and so for me it is quite possible that magic develops further and further, just like medicine, and that they will find a spell or a potion to cure the Longbottoms, Lockhart, the poor werewolf in St. Mungo's and whoever. Some day.



Steve Newton - Dec 28, 2007 8:16 am (#53 of 445)
Hear, Hear! Orion. Oh, that's right, you can't hear me with your fingers in your ears.

I agree with you about JKR speaking on what happens after. I figure that if its not in the books, it doesn't count. If she wants to tell the characters future she should put it in a book. She has changed her mind a couple of times from what she has said to what she wrote. Magic late in life anyone?



Choices - Dec 28, 2007 6:31 pm (#54 of 445)
Hmmmmm....I like that. **Puts fingers in ears and hums loudly** Wow, that works really well. I SAID, THAT WORKS REA.... Never mind, he can't hear me. Anyway, I agree with Steve and Orion.



Madam Pince - Dec 29, 2007 4:08 pm (#55 of 445)
I agree as well. I mean, we grasp desperately at the interviews now because that's all we have, and she left quite a bit unanswered in the canon. But I still think it wasn't quite "on" of her to have done it that way. She should've put those things in writing in the book. It's not like she had no way of knowing what kinds of questions we were still going to be wondering about...



Solitaire - Dec 29, 2007 6:52 pm (#56 of 445)
The truth is that she has enough unanswered stuff to do a prequel ... even though she has said she never would. Never is a long time ...



Choices - Dec 30, 2007 10:28 am (#57 of 445)
An article in the Daily Mirror (I think it was) says JKR is, "in weak moments", considering writing an 8th Harry Potter book, but that Harry would not be the main character as she feels she has told Harry's story. It seems JKR's 14 year old daughter Jessica, is one of the main ones pressuring her Mum to write another HP book. I, personally, would like to see JKR make a certain former head of Slytherin House the main character. Ahhhh, Snape's story.



zelmia - Dec 30, 2007 2:03 pm (#58 of 445)
In the Pottercast interview, on the subject of Slytherins, Jo says that, even though all the Slytherins apparently abandoned the battle when they had the chance, they later came back with re-enforcements, which she thought prudent of them.
But that's not the description in the book. It says that, though they were led by Slughorn (still in his jim-jams), the "re-enforcements" were "the families and friends of every Hogwarts student who had stayed to fight" along with the people of Hogsmeade, etc. There is no mention of any current Slytherin student as part of that group.
Clearly in her mind, at least, she saw at least some of the Slytherin students who had previously fled coming back to help, which I was happy to hear was her intention. But unfortunately that is not the way she wrote it.

She repeatedly says in interviews, "Not all Slytherins are bad" and similar. But she never shows this in the books. It's kind of frustrating.



Solitaire - Dec 30, 2007 8:24 pm (#59 of 445)
Well, just because the Slytherin kids didn't fight doesn't necessarily mean they were bad. Cowards, perhaps, but not necessarily evil. Don't get me wrong--I am not exactly a Slytherin fan. Still, logic would seem to suggest that at least some of the "reinforcements" from Hogsmeade must have been Slytherins ... maybe.

Solitaire

PS Nice cat, Zelmia.



wynnleaf - Dec 31, 2007 8:20 am (#60 of 445)
Yes, zelmia, I listened to that interview as well.

If I understood JKR correctly, she was saying that the Slytherins, who have more of a self-protective streak, would have just naturally thought of going for reinforcements and that many people (readers, I guess she meant) would think that was perfectly sensible. JKR seemed to imply that many of the Slytherins came back to fight, bringing parents and friends. However, as zelmia says, she did not get that across in the book at all.

I'm not sure what JKR's real attitude toward Slytherin is. In interviews, she consistently says they're not all bad and she tried in this latest interview to make sure we'd understand that many were opposed to LV. But in the actual books we don't see that at all -- at least among the Slytherin students. It is only in a few adults, Slughorn, Regulas, or Snape and perhaps Andromeda (do we know she was Slytherin?), that we see Slytherins on the good side and we know that Regulas and Snape didn't switch to the good side until after school. We are never actually told of any student Slytherin who is on the good side.

So I don't think it's clear what JKR really feels about Slytherin. Yes, she says that there are good Slytherins and that not all Slytherin students supported LV and that many even came back to fight. But without any actual evidence in the books of good Slytherin students, it's easy to wonder whether JKR is just responding to questioning or criticism through her interview answers, but when actually writing falls back into her real feelings about Slytherin.



Orion - Dec 31, 2007 11:03 am (#61 of 445)
The Slytherin students were probably originally intended to represent the roughly twentyfive percent of people you usually meet that are really awful, not only competitive, but also ruthless, unpleasant, arrogant and selfish. Maybe the percentage isn't quite right, but it's symbolical, and nowhere it says that there is the exactly equal number in all the houses.

Maybe the sorting quiz craze surprised Rowling, and the fact that many people found it quite cool to be Slytherin or belong to that group of people who always want to defend people who are described as unpleasant. So after a time Rowling decided to give Slytherin some redeeming traits, at least in her interviews. It's a possibility, isn't it?



Phoenixfeather - Dec 31, 2007 11:53 am (#62 of 445)
I don't know, Orion....I was thinking about the fact that early on she spoke of having each of the houses represent the elements. Slytherin represents 'water', and we knew there had to be an eventual reconciliation of the elements to create harmony. Elements in and of themselves are not evil, and we certainly require the element of water to survive. Snape's storyline in the series is huge and seems to drive that point home for me. Perhaps she withheld possible Slytherin storylines to not interrupt that one -- to maintain Snape's 'mystery' - or the 'is he good or bad' question. Showing good Slytherins would possibly take away from the surprise ending. In the end, Snape seems to represent Slytherin to Harry when he comforts his son about the possibility of him being in Slytherin - And JKR had this planned out from the getgo. Perhaps Snape was meant to be the Slytherin 'redeemer'? But as the story develops, it turned out not to be quite enough to demonstrate that?

There was also the redemption of Draco when he couldn't kill Dumbledore, as well as his role in DH. We clearly see how misguided he has been because of the pure-blood mania and his family influences.

I really don't think JKR could have ever thought Slytherin to be all evil with these storylines running through, IMO.

The other possibility is that she was becoming very conscious of the length of her books?



zelmia - Dec 31, 2007 2:03 pm (#63 of 445)
Wynnleaf, that's exactly what I was trying to say, thanks.

In DH when the Trio are captured by the Snatchers and they ask Harry what house he was in Harry says "Slytherin," Harry said automatically. "Funny 'ow they all thinks we wants to 'ear that," jeered Scabior... (DH23)

This is the kind of thing where JKR completely contradicts herself. Even after 20 years, when little Albus is off to his first day of Hogwarts, his greatest fear is that he'll be sorted into Slytherin. We can almost hear the very young Rupert Grint's voice reminding us "There wasn't a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slyterhin!"
Clearly Harry's private conversation with Albus means that Slytherin still holds the same reputation it always did as far as how it reflects on what sort of person you are.



Orion - Dec 31, 2007 4:28 pm (#64 of 445)
Phoenixfeather, the elements element is certainly very important. What I was trying to say, was that Rowling had to have a place for all the unpleasant people who, alas, make up a great part of the world's population. If all students who started out in Hogwarts had been brave, intelligent or hard-working, and every one had been nice and decent, it would have been an Enid Blyton fairytale and completely unconvincing. I think that Rowling wanted to be truthful and thought:

There are power-hungry idiots out there, let there be a House for them. To give the House a right to exist, let's call the typical Slytherin traits "self-preservation" and "ambition", which sounds marginally nicer than "selfishness" and "power-hunger", and link it to the element "water". Just to have the unpleasant lot in the story because every good story needs villains and every truthful story must have lots of not so nice characters, too. JM2K.



Phoenixfeather - Dec 31, 2007 5:34 pm (#65 of 445)
I see what you are saying, Orion, and I agree to a point --

...Slytherin traits "self-preservation" and "ambition", which sounds marginally nicer than "selfishness" and "power-hunger...

I don't agree with this. I think we all have these traits, and I think it depends on how one channels them. Someone might have an ambition to cure cancer, which could totally come from the fact that they themselves are at risk for it or have it, or even lost loved ones because of it. --Self-preservation and ambition - it does not make it evil. I'm just trying to point out that we see a very skewed version of Slytherin. For whatever reason, JKR does only shows us the worst of them for the most part, and the best of them in later years of life.

(By the way, what is 'JM2K'? )

Regarding the seeming contradiction with how people felt about Slytherin 20 years later, I think you have to remember, the pure-blood mania had been passed down generation to generation since Salazar Slytherin himself - hundreds of years! No, I don't think it's realistic that it is going to go away in 20 years. I think JKR is being totally, and sady, realistic, -not hypocritical at all. It would be nice if it did go away, but the realism would be lost. If you think about it, only 20 years prior, Voldemort stood in front of a good portion of the wizarding world and announced himself to be a Slytherin and was going to force everyone to become a part of his House; he had killed indiscriminately, threatened to kill more, and attempted to burn a child publicly. That horror won't be forgotten soon. And I'm sure it was published over and over again through the years, and has been told and re-told by those who survived it. Just as every child knew who Harry Potter was, so will they know the story of Voldemort's final defeat, as well as his Slytherin heritage.

I do think JKR could have done a better job with the Epilogue...



Potteraholic - Dec 31, 2007 6:28 pm (#66 of 445)
Phoenixfeather,

'JM2K' is an abbreviation for "just my 2 knuts" as in "just my 2 cents". I don't know where you're from, but the latter is an oft-used American saying when someone's sharing his or her own opinion.



Phoenixfeather - Dec 31, 2007 11:39 pm (#67 of 445)
Oh, thanks Potteraholic! I am familiar with the phrase - I just didn't connect the initials.



PeskyPixie - Jan 3, 2008 8:17 pm (#68 of 445)
Cowards, perhaps, but not necessarily evil. -Solitaire

Hmm, are you speaking of Slytherin House in general or the Slytherin students at the Battle of Hogwarts?



Solitaire - Jan 4, 2008 2:23 pm (#69 of 445)
Pesky, I was talking about the students at the Battle. But it has been a while since I read the passage, and perhaps I am misremembering. I believe it was Pansy who ratted Harry out as being there with the kids, which was certainly evil, IMO.

Solitaire



Vulture - Feb 16, 2008 9:05 am (#70 of 445)
Therefore, I propose that the new Headmaster of Hogwarts declare Slytherin House, from this day and forevermore, dissolved. All students currently in Slytherin will be re-sorted into the remaining Houses. (Michael Franz - Nov 19, 2007 9:32 pm)

Hi, Michael Franz: Speaking as someone who was very tough on both Snape and Slytherin (do a search on my posts !!) I was nodding my head in much agreement ... until I reached the above statement.

Then I sat back and thought again. Don't those words above sound reminiscent of Voldemort's expressed intentions for the non-Slytherin Houses, during his clash with Neville ?

I think that both Slytherin as a House, and Slytherins as people, have to be allowed free will. Yes, free will makes great evil and misery possible, but it also makes possible the only good worth having. (My phrasing owes a lot to C.S.Lewis, by the way !!)



Orion - Feb 16, 2008 10:44 am (#71 of 445)
And if the conceited Slytherin inbreds insist on their strange neurosis that they want to marry only purebloods, let them. It's a free country. The european nobility does the same, they insist on marrying each other although most of them have lost all their privileges. And where could you cram all the unpleasant kids if you didn't have a place like Slytherin, where they at least don't get on everybody else's nerves in their free time?



Michael Franz - Feb 17, 2008 1:02 pm (#72 of 445)
I think that both Slytherin as a House, and Slytherins as people, have to be allowed free will.

A House does not have any sort of "will"; only people do. There will always be people who choose to do the wrong thing, but it's lot easier to do so if you're surrounded by others who choose the same. Snape's only salvation was that he loved a Gryffindor — and only because he regretted her death. It was Slytherin House that corrupted him and destroyed his friendship with Lily. He had free will, yes, but he also had peer pressure of the vilest sort. His free will was about as useful as a heroin addict's when he's trying to quit.

Actually, I was wrong about the first part. Slytherin House does have a collective will which will always be stronger than the individual free will of its members. If a Slytherin wants to be good, he has no choice but to leave.

There are no good Slytherins — only good ex-Slytherins.

(OK, Slughorn might be an exception — but he's not very good, is he?)



Orion - Feb 17, 2008 1:38 pm (#73 of 445)
Slughorn is good enough for a normal human being. What do you expect from people, saintliness?



Michael Franz - Feb 17, 2008 3:03 pm (#74 of 445)
OK, Slughorn is good — but he's an anomaly. He's the exception that proves the rule.



wynnleaf - Feb 17, 2008 3:12 pm (#75 of 445)
There's a number of our "good guy" characters that I don't really consider any more "good" than Slughorn, but they're in Gryffindor, so get to be "good" by default, it seems to me.

I have problems with the way JKR writes and talks about Slytherin. On the one hand, many of the characteristics the Hat speaks of as Slytherin are not either "good" or "bad" -- it just depends on how one uses those particular characteristics. Similarly, JKR spoke and wrote of Slytherin as symbolic of one of the four "elements," water. Further, the Hat comments on the need for unity. These all get across the notion that Slytherin shouldn't, ideally, be any more or less good or bad than any other House, just different.

If that held true throughout the books, we could just assume that the bad elements of Slytherin came about because of some various political climates and attitudes that had grown within Slytherin, but were not necessarily part of what it means, in terms of characteristics, to be "Slytherin."

However, in recent interviews, JKR sometimes sounds as though being put in Slytherin is an immediate indication that a person needs redemption, as though Slytherin, in and of itself, is a sign of Evil, or at least Badness.

The big problem with that, in my opinion, is that many of the characters from other Houses aren't necessarily any better, but are often bullies, unethical, prejudiced, or nasty in other ways than the blood-purity issue.

JKR, for instance, speaks of the courage of Gryffindor House as though it's naturally a "virtue," but in reality, even the most evil can be brave. Bravery need not in and of itself imply virtue.

And also, we don't see characters really being like the supposed characteristics of their house. I don't see anything really "Slytherin" about Crabbe or Goyle. One gets the impression that just being mean oafs qualified them for Slytherin, even though that's not part of the characteristics of the House. Peter doesn't seem remotely Gryffindorish. And in many ways, Fred and George, with their secrets, ambition, and very relaxed ethics to get what they want, seem much more "Slytherin" than most of the students. But what happens in the books is that it seems like the "bad" guys go to Slytherin, regardless of personality, and everyone who's supposed to be on the good side goes to other Houses, regardless of how Slytherin they seem.

Dumbledore, for instance, seems to me more Slytherin than anyone else in the books. Even JKR called him Machiavellian.



PeskyPixie - Feb 17, 2008 6:48 pm (#76 of 445)
And where could you cram all the unpleasant kids if you didn't have a place like Slytherin, where they at least don't get on everybody else's nerves in their free time?

If a Slytherin wants to be good, he has no choice but to leave.

There are no good Slytherins — only good ex-Slytherins.

Hey, I resent these remarks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



zelmia - Feb 17, 2008 10:15 pm (#77 of 445)
It was Slytherin House that corrupted him and destroyed his friendship with Lily. - This is unlikely, in my view, since Snape specifically wanted to be there. In addition, from what we know of his relationship with Lily, it appears to me that it would have come to a close at some point regardless of any Slytherin interference, had it actually been a factor.



Orion - Feb 18, 2008 9:19 am (#78 of 445)
"And in many ways, Fred and George, with their secrets, ambition, and very relaxed ethics to get what they want, seem much more "Slytherin" than most of the students." (wynnleaf) How nice that someone mentions that. IMO, Fred and George have so many similarities with Snape, with their inventiveness and skill and their cruel wit. They are what Snape would have become if he had had a twin brother to get into mischief with. And I agree with you, wynnleaf, bravery is infuriatingly overrated in the HP books, especially in DH. More about that when the read-along gets to the battle chapters. Some pages read like a war propaganda movie script.



Choices - Feb 18, 2008 1:17 pm (#79 of 445)
I don't know that I would call Fred and George's wit cruel. They are very funny, and sometimes their wit is sarcastic (towards people they don't like), but I don't think they mean to be cruel. Snape's wit is more what I would call cruel - he often means it to hurt.



PeskyPixie - Feb 18, 2008 1:20 pm (#80 of 445)
Well, we've seen that Snape can be agreeable around people he likes/pretends he likes.

Maybe the difference is who one's friends are?



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wynnleaf - Feb 18, 2008 1:25 pm (#81 of 445)
I don't know that I would call Fred and George's wit cruel. They are very funny, and sometimes their wit is sarcastic (towards people they don't like), but I don't think they mean to be cruel. (Choices)

Actually JKR recently commented on them being cruel. I was never sure before whether she intended them to be seen as cruel or not, but her comment about I think George being more cruel than Fred was interesting.



PeskyPixie - Feb 18, 2008 1:35 pm (#82 of 445)
I thought she said Fred was in fact the more 'cruel' of the two?



zelmia - Feb 18, 2008 1:54 pm (#83 of 445)
Yes, which is why she thought most people would have expected George to have been the one to die.

But I would say the fact that we can point to several key characters who do not belong to Slytherin House, but who exhibit many of the ... "Slytherin" tendencies that the Hat describes (Percy Weasley above all, in my view), clearly shows that Slytherin House, in and of itself, is not the impetus for cruelty, bigotry, treachery, etc.



PeskyPixie - Feb 18, 2008 2:04 pm (#84 of 445)
Well said, Zelmia.



Choices - Feb 18, 2008 2:25 pm (#85 of 445)
Regardless of what JKR thinks, I still do not think of Fred and George as "cruel". They are mischevious and adventuresome and "devil may care" definitely, but I have never thought of them as mean-spirited or cruel. I don't remember any instance where they have deliberately/seriously harmed anyone (remember that Dudley ate the Ton Tongue Taffy himself, the twins did not force it down his throat. It wasn't nice of them, but it wasn't cruel. They just thought it would be hugely amusing.) Cruel is defined as: Disposed to cause pain or suffering, devoid of humane feelings. I don't think this describes Fred and George. Hagrid gave Dudley a tail, does this make him cruel? Not really - this is a magic world we are privileged to observe, and they seem to play by harsher rules than Muggles do. As wizards go, I just do not think Fred and George are cruel - they just have a bit of a twisted sense of humor.



Orion - Feb 18, 2008 2:36 pm (#86 of 445)
They aren't cruel as people, but they crack cruel jokes sometimes and they are nasty to Ron, for example at the beginning of HBP when they taunt him because he isn't allowed to use magic yet.



Michael Franz - Feb 18, 2008 8:21 pm (#87 of 445)
I don't remember any instance where they have deliberately/seriously harmed anyone...

They shoved Montague into the Vanishing Cabinet, which nearly killed him when he Apparated out.



wynnleaf - Feb 18, 2008 9:36 pm (#88 of 445)
They shoved Montague into the Vanishing Cabinet, which nearly killed him when he Apparated out. (Michael)

Correct. And all Montague was doing was taking House points. And when Montague wasn't found for some time, they didn't volunteer info on how to find him. And when he was found and turned out to have some sort of brain or mental problems associated with what happened, to the extent that it couldn't readily be sorted out, they still wouldn't give any info on what happened.

In, I think, GOF, they hissed the little 11 year old first years who had just been sorted into Slytherin.

They do taunt Ron quite a bit and Percy too, even before he'd done anything more than be a hyper vigilant prefect.

The ton-tongue toffee they gave to Draco was supposed to trick him into thinking it was just candy and then turn his tongue into some huge thing that certainly no muggle could sort out. Even my kids might pick up and eat candy spilled around in their own living room apparently free for the taking. And the whole point was to terrify Dudley and in a way that would harm a muggle more than a wizard, because a muggle couldn't do anything about it.

They prey on the far younger kids in their House, offering to pay kids to test out their inventions. These are 16-17 year old kids, paying pre-teens off to test out stuff that could possibly hurt them.

And they are highly secretive and extremely ambitious. The idea of using any means to achieve their ends kind of suits them. The Sorting Hat, in describing that Slytherin trait, obviously doesn't mean any means whatsoever under the sun regardless how evil, stupid, risky, etc. In the general spirit in which the Hat seemed to mean it, I think George and Fred fit that trait, because they are willing to even use often rather unethical means to get what they want.

Sorry about the mixup on Fred and George. I couldn't recall exactly which one JKR said was the more cruel.



PeskyPixie - Feb 19, 2008 12:38 am (#89 of 445)
"The idea of using any means to achieve their ends kind of suits them ... In the general spirit in which the Hat seemed to mean it, I think George and Fred fit that trait, because they are willing to even use often rather unethical means to get what they want. -wynnleaf

I had actually come over to this thread to mention this point, but you beat me to it. If one is to take the Hat seriously, Fred and George Weasley are examples of pretty decent Slytherins.

How about blackmailing Mr. Bagman? That's not a very Gryffindorish act; there's a hint of Slytherin to it. I apologize if this doesn't make sense - it's far too late and I'm far too sleepy.

zzzzz



Steve Newton - Feb 19, 2008 8:13 am (#90 of 445)
I don't think that they exactly blackmailed Bagman. He welched on a bet and they, rightfully, were trying everything that they could to get the money owed to them. I recall them mentioning blackmail but I can't remember if they actually tried it. Weren't they blowing Ron off for intruding into their business?



PeskyPixie - Feb 19, 2008 8:45 am (#91 of 445)
Please correct me if I'm mistaken here, but I believe Ron overhears the twins discussing their blackmail plans in the owlery, and near the end of GoF we learn that they do indeed try to blackmail Mr. Bagman throughout the school year. Anyhow, the reasons why they choose this route don't matter.

Blackmail, by nature, is a sly and cunning act which relies on characteristics not commonly associated with Gryffindor House; there's nothing remotely courageous or chivalrous about it. If we are to believe that the traits of ambition and cunning (e.g. "Those cunning folk use any means to achieve their ends") are trademarks of Slytherin House, then Fred and George would do well in Slytherin ... and I don't see what's wrong with that.

I feel that we are occasionally biased by our liking for certain characters and the negative image of Slytherin House to judge the same trait as acceptable in some and unacceptable in others..



Soul Search - Feb 19, 2008 8:56 am (#92 of 445)
I'll bet all the "used broom" salesmen in the Wizarding world were sorted into Slytherin.



PeskyPixie- Feb 19, 2008 9:04 am (#93 of 445)
tee hee hee ... Or they may just be the Dark side of Hufflepuff no one knew about ...



Vulture- Feb 20, 2008 8:59 am (#94 of 445)
There are no good Slytherins — only good ex-Slytherins. (Michael Franz - Feb 17, 2008 12:02 pm (#72))

But what do we mean by " ex- Slytherins" ? I don't think Snape, or Slughorn, or Phineas Nigellus, regarded themselves as ex- Slytherins.

I know that people probably think about Dumbledore's "You know, I sometimes think we Sort too soon ...", which leaves Snape looking "stricken", but I'm not sure that we can draw clear conclusions from that.

Snape probably looked stricken because he would love to have been in the same House as Lily. But on the other hand, he would rather have been boiled alive than be in the same House as Sirius and James. Also, he made clear, often enough, that he definitely wanted to be in Slytherin. And even after he joined the good side, he was still proud to wear Slytherin's clours at matches and be its Head of House _ I don't think that was part of his act.

The Sorting Hat seems to go with its wearers' deepest inclinations _ their choices _ i.e. their free will. It seems as if a lot of first-years don't realise this beforehand, but we know enough to know that Harry was not the only one who got the House he wanted: Draco, Snape, and James all did, and Sirius wished to not be in Slytherin, and got his wish.

I don't think Dumbledore would be in favour of abolishing Slytherin House and forcing first-years who wanted to choose it, or wanted to follow their parents' wishes, into another House.



wynnleaf - Feb 20, 2008 12:32 pm (#95 of 445)
Vulture, perhaps Michael was referring to the fact that we're not really shown any "good" Slytherins except characters that had already got out of Hogwarts. Regulas turns away from the bad side after leaving Hogwarts. Snape's redemption is after Hogwarts. Slughorn and Phineas may always have been good, but we aren't shown them as anything, but adults.

So as far as the series goes, we are never shown good Slytherin students. Yes, JKR said there were some, but she never showed us any.



Michael Franz - Feb 20, 2008 8:13 pm (#96 of 445)
You're right, wynnleaf, but I was also thinking that all the good Slytherins had to do something contrary to their house to be good. Snape was good because he was in love with a Gryffindor, meaning he had to go elsewhere to find redemption.

Slughorn is good and a lifelong Slytherin, but he's got what I'd call "Ambition Lite." He doesn't really want power, glory, or fame; all he wants is a comfy chair and an endless supply of crystallized pineapple. In short, he's more lazy than ambitious.



Vulture - Feb 21, 2008 8:57 am (#97 of 445)
Regulas turns away from the bad side after leaving Hogwarts. (wynnleaf - Feb 20, 2008 11:32 am (#95))

This may not mean much, but it occurs to me that, though Regulus turned away from Voldemort after hearing of Kreacher's cave experience, he didn't react by tearing down all the Slytherin stuff in his room _ on the contrary, it was still there years later. Of course, this may simply be part of what Hermione described as protecting his family by not causing them to deviate from the pure-blood line. However, I'm inclined to think he didn't become anti- Slytherin.

As I said before, my first (Aberforth) instinct was to support Michael Franz's view _ I only had second (Dumbledore) thoughts later. If Michael doesn't mind, may I suggest that his view reflects how Aberforth would view things ? _ the no-nonsense, Slytherins-are-the-other-side, take'em-hostage, view. Dumbledore's view is more idealistic, and often highly inconvenient to his most loyal followers. But I think his view is the more correct in the long run _ and I think he would be against abolishing Slytherin House: I believe he would prefer to keep hoping for them to improve. (Look how much hassle Dumbledore _ and everyone _ had to endure to protect Draco in Book 6.)



mona amon - Feb 22, 2008 3:22 am (#98 of 445)
So let us keep Slytherin, and abolish the Sorting Hat instead. The idea of random sorting was mentioned early in this thread (Wynnleaf, post#3), and I still haven't seen any better argument than that.



haymoni- Feb 26, 2008 12:09 pm (#99 of 445)
Did the Hat survive the Neville Burning? Seems like you might need more than just "Reparo" to fix a thing like The Sorting Hat.



Orion- Feb 26, 2008 12:12 pm (#100 of 445)
Well, Neville survived the Neville Burning too. It can't have been a real fire. Neville wouldn't have sat and eaten afterwards.



PeskyPixie - Feb 26, 2008 12:38 pm (#101 of 445)
Orion, you crack me up!!!!!



haymoni - Feb 26, 2008 1:15 pm (#102 of 445)
Funny....funny.

Obviously wonderful Neville survived, but the Hat was on fire!

(Say it like Movie Harry - "Your bird just caught fire!!")

Neville could still pull the Sword out.

Mmm.. Voldy's spells weren't sticking - maybe the Hat didn't burn.



PeskyPixie - Feb 26, 2008 1:27 pm (#103 of 445)
Isn't it Harry's sacrifice which protects all Hogwartians from permanent damage from Voldy's spells/magic, just as Lily's sacrifice protects Harry until Voldy creates a body with his protected blood? Would the Hat be counted as a living member of Hogwarts and thus be protected by Harry's sacrifice? Or maybe the Hat knows Good ancient magic of which Voldy is unaware? Can you tell that I want that Hat to survive??!!



severusisn'tevil - Feb 26, 2008 2:47 pm (#104 of 445)
Okay. My favorite character is a Slytherin. And however irrelevant that is, I have a theory here: The Sorting Hat Sorts according to what is a persons' biggest or most pronounced traits. Therefore, it is not only Gryffindors, obviously (Severus, cough, cough) who are brave, but bravery is their greatest chracteristic, or so the Hat feels.

Personally, I agree with DD that the Hat sorts wrongly on occasion because it doesn't seem to me that Severus was more ambitious than brave, so my rationalization would be that when it is a toss-up, between bravery and cunning, as with Severus, or bravery and intelligence, as with Hermione (it occurs to me that Severus has intelligence in abundance, too, and I'm not trying to say otherwise) then the Hat takes choice into account. We have already been shown this through Harry. Hermione mentions before they reach Hogwarts that "Gryffindor sounds by far the best" (PS/SS), and Severus's comment to Lily: "You'd better be in Slytherin" (DH) clearly indicates that he desires to be in that house.

In all honesty, I don't see why having Slytherin is bad. And it's not that I think that we should "put all the bad apples in one bunch." It's true we don't see as many "good" Slytherins as Gryffindors, or Hufflepuffs, or Ravenclaws. However, that may just be JKR's bias. It seems difficult to me to make judgments upon the entire Potterverse based only on what is shown in the books. Firstly, it's a limited view (picture staring out your door through a peep-hole: you see what is visible through the confines of said peep-hole, but the whole rest of the porch is hidden. Secondly, JKR does not have time to show us everything. We people are Lexicon nuts, ergo we want to know things that most people aren't even interested by, and by that I mean minor details.

Somewhere in the above paragraph, intrepid readers might have been able to glean this: Yes, it is JKR's world, that she made up . . . *but* it is still its own world, meaning there is more to it than just what is explicitly said in the Potter Saga. We don't have the entire history of the WW at our fingertips, so we can't judge the "use" or "good" or Slytherin House or its alumni with real fairness.

Ambitious, cunning people have the right to a House too. They're not less worthy of one than the brave, the intelligent, or the fair-minded.



PeskyPixie - Feb 26, 2008 4:08 pm (#105 of 445)
Great points, severusisn'tevil.

In addition, there are a few occasions when Hufflepuffs don't exhibit typical Hufflepuff behaviour. They are horrid to Harry at times, and while I understand the reasons and agree that it's just normal human/adolescent behaviour, these moments do not exemplify the traits Hufflepuff is known for. Cedric Diggory seems to be the ideal Hufflepuff, but many other Hufflepuffs we are shown are not. Similarly, I'm sure there are less toxic kids in Slytherin than the ones we have been privileged to meet.

Oh, and let's not forget that there are different types of bravery. I truly doubt that the average Gryffindor would be capable of the type of bravery Severus Snape demonstrates as Dumbledore's spy. His Slytherin cunning pays off very well (for the 'Greater Good' ) when properly directed.



Julia H. - Feb 27, 2008 12:36 am (#106 of 445)
I agree with sev and Pesky. It seems to me the decision of the Sorting Hat depends on various things. Yes, there are people whose personalities allow them to be sorted to different houses. And it is good, otherwise the characters would be utterly boring.

Personal choice is taken into account, yes, but do all 11-year-old kids know what they are choosing or what is good for them? (Do all 20-year-old muggles know what jobs/friends/partners etc. are good for them with any realism?) Ron knew about Gryffindor because of his brothers. Harry only knew he did not want Slytherin because he had already met Draco. Snape wanted to be in Slytherin but I don't think he knew what Slytherin House would be like (e.g. did he think it over that he, the half-blood, would be surrounded with pure-bloods?) and I don't think he wanted to be in Slytherin because it was such an evil place. Then he met James on the train and saw what a would-be Gryffindor could be like. He was not impressed. Then there is Pettigrew: he can't have been sorted into Gryffindor because of his personality - was it his choice that counted? If it was, did that make Pettigrew a true Gryffindor? I don't think so.

The Sorting Hat also seems to take family connections into consideration. Family members tend to be in the same house. Sirius is an exception but he ended up breaking ties with his family. I think it started when he decided to go to Gryffindor instead of Slytherin.

The problem with this is that sorting occurs too soon and then it is final. Why can't students spend a year at Hogwarts before being sorted? (Just an idea.) Also, if you once have sorted students according to their different talents and personalities, then there should be some measures taken to develop these abilities in the best possible ways. Otherwise what is the point in sorting? (It is like when muggle students are sorted into different groups according to their levels of knowledge - and then the different groups are taught exactly the same syllabus. The result is that there will be good groups and "dumb" groups. What is the point?) In addition, the idea of "unity" would require some socializing between houses ... I don't know.

Sorting is not only final but it determines a lot for the individual student. (The house is like a family - isn't it said somewhere?) Snape had a Gryffindor friend but both of them had problems with conflicting loyalties: they wanted to be loyal to their houses but that led to disagreement with the out-of-house friend. Lily was ready to believe the Gryffindor-version of the Prank without listening to her friend, Snape, who had also been there. I think Snape tried to defend his housemates against Lily's accusations at least partly because they were his housemates and he thought that was what he was supposed to do. Snape turns out to be a very loyal person, so it is quite possible that, as a teenager, he was trying to be loyal to his house as well - with disastrous results, of course. I agree with Pesky that he later used his Slytherin-qualities very well for the common good - but his bravery was essential and quite incomparable, too. In my opinion, the final (though, of course, symbolic) proof that he was, or at least became, not a Slytherin but a Gryffindor in disguise is not DD's opinion but the fact that he was killed by a snake - Slytherin's animal.



Julia H. - Feb 27, 2008 1:56 am (#107 of 445)
P.S. What I have never understood is that it seems before Harry's arrival at Hogwarts, Slytherin House won the House Cup several times. (Am I right?) I know they were ambitious and pushy but one would think winning the House Cup regularly for years would take more than just that. But then we never get to see that they are really good at anything (except Quidditch).



Steve Newton - Feb 27, 2008 7:35 am (#108 of 445)
Sirius and being sorted into Gryffindor seems odd. He comes from a long line of Slytherins and meets a solid and charismatic Gryffindor on the train. Being rebellious and impulsive he ends up in Gryffindor. Perhaps he also said "Not Slytherin." Another way of sticking it to his family.



Orion- Feb 27, 2008 8:46 am (#109 of 445)
But it all doesn't make sense if you look at Rowling's actual text. She puts Crabbe and Goyle into Slytherin, and they have as much cunning and ambition as the average loaf of bread. The house of Slytherin has an enormous fan following because we all secretly hate the ultra-heroic and brave Gryffindors, we are fed up with the biased way in which everything the Slytherins do is portrayed as nasty and everything the Gryffindors do is noble. All the Slytherins seem to look ugly or weird, they behave like jerks all the time and no other house likes any one of them, they have no friendships outside their own house, and no real friendships within their own house, either, just partnerships of convenience in which they exploit each other.

The Sorting Hat says lots of things about Slytherin in his song, none of which is backed up in the books. The HP books have such a high artistic, literary quality, but the portrayal of Slytherin is childish and one-dimensional. No wonder the fans rebel and want to be in Slytherin, but in the Sorting Hat version of Slytherin, not in the bunch of gormless fools and total crooks which is the real canon Slytherin. Does that make any sense? No? Thought so.



Julia H. - Feb 27, 2008 8:55 am (#110 of 445)
Excellent points, Orion. And funny. :-)



PeskyPixie - Feb 27, 2008 9:07 am (#111 of 445)
Well put, Orion. I was actually highly offended when those ridiculous Sorting hat quizzes stuck me in Slytherin - but that's because I equated Slytherin femininity with Pansy Parkinson at the time. However, I'm quite okay with being a 'Sorting Hat' Slytherin.

Hee hee hee, 'loaf of bread ...'



Orion - Feb 27, 2008 9:18 am (#112 of 445)
Pansy is described as "pug-faced", and I always pictured her with a face like a snot sculpture, but when I looked it up I found out that pugs are these cuuuuuuuute little dogs which are all the rage in Germany now - everybody has to own pugs, there is a flood of pugs, everybody loves them. Why? They are actually very pretty, with short little noses and flat faces and a coat like Siamese cats. Being a teacher, I know lots of girls with short little noses and flat faces, and they all look very good. Rowling seems to have had a very special type of girl in mind: Pretty, but in an unpleasantly "piggish" way, with hard, calculating eyes. (They are invariably bullies. How does that come about???) So Pansy seems to be the one pretty Slytherin. (*ducks under shower of Pesky's protests, who is undoubtedly of the opinion that there are at least two pretty Slytherin lasses*)



PeskyPixie - Feb 27, 2008 9:39 am (#113 of 445)
Nope, just one! And she ain't no Pansy!



wynnleaf - Feb 27, 2008 2:45 pm (#114 of 445)
Good post Orion.

When I read the first book, I cheered along with the Gryffindors that the Trio and Neville helped win Gryffindor the House Cup. But looking at it from the Slytherin point of view, those kids had worked all year to win that cup. It means they must have lost few points in comparison to others and won many points and those points didn't just come from Quidditch. Further, their points probably didn't come from Snape either, because I don't think he gives anyone points much. Maybe once he gave Draco a few points. Nothing like the way McGonagall gives them to her house.

So the Slytherins worked hard for the Cup. And there they were at the feast with their colors up in celebration and Dumbledore comes out and suddenly awards a huge amount of points to the Gryffindors, oddly, giving the final 10 points to the kid who tried to stop the other kids who DD gave so many points to. It really came across like DD just thought he wanted Harry's house to win, and he was going to arrange the points to make sure they won. I would think that the Slytherins would have felt like they'd been cheated out of the House Cup. Plus, the disappointment would have been huge. I recall one of my kids winning an important medal in an area of her talent, only to be told later that she hadn't won it after all (fortunately for her, she did win in the end). But for awhile there, the disappointment was pretty devastating. But nobody much cares about the Slytherin's disappointment, because there's always this implication that they got whatever they won by cheating. And yet the Gryffindors aren't truly a whole lot better.

I agree with Orion about the way I now feel about the Gryffindors. James' comments on the train to Hogwarts really summed it up for me. He claims to desire bravery and it sounds quite lofty and admirable, but he turns out to be a bully. But it doesn't seem to matter because somehow he must have turned out fine since, after all, he was a Gryffindor and on the right side.



Julia H. - Feb 27, 2008 4:30 pm (#115 of 445)
Yes, the Slytherin aspect of the story. Even if Gryffindor House deserved the House Cup, DD could have announced it under different circumstances - like distributing the points before the other house started celebrating. He could still have explained it at the feast how those points had been won. Actually, if Slytherin is a house where problem kids tend to end up, then encouraging them to put their energies into things like winning the House Cup is much better than just leaving them alone to do whatever they would do with those energies. (I have checked, they had won the House Cup seven times before Harry's first year, which is not a bad result. Perhaps it goes to Snape's credit that during the early years of his being Head of Slytherin House (when Slytherin probably had children of DE's, children whose fathers were in Azkaban) "the problem kids" were able to channel their energies into things that the school apparently valued.)



Choices - Feb 27, 2008 6:26 pm (#116 of 445)
Wynnleaf and Julia, very interesting and thought provoking posts. You have certainly made me look at the awarding of the House Cup in an entirely different light. Thanks. :-)



zelmia - Feb 27, 2008 7:33 pm (#117 of 445)
Nothing like the way McGonagall gives them to her house. - They seem about even to me. McGonagall doesn't give House points very often either.

James is only one person who chooses Gryffindor. Neville is another. I think it's pretty clear that people can and do change from First Year to Leaving. Maybe the Sorting Hat does too.



wynnleaf - Feb 27, 2008 8:22 pm (#118 of 445)
I realize my comment about James and Gryffindor probably came across wrong. It's not that I think all of the Gryffindors had these on the surface noble ideas, but were in reality bullies. James, in my opinion, is kind of an extreme example (in my opinion). But he does kind of illustrate how a kid in Gryffindor is assumed to be good and noble, regardless what he does, just because he's in Gryffindor and was opposed to LV. Meanwhile the Slytherin victories and successes tend to be conveyed as though they probably all came through cheating or scheming or by Snape being too biased in favor of his house, etc. -- in other words, the idea that they probably didn't deserve to win the House Cup all those years. You get it in Quidditch where I think we're generally given the picture that Slytherin plays too rough and cheats. But I'm not sure that that's right. In part, it's because the person who calls the game is always pretty blatantly opposed to Slytherin.

By the way, on the giving of points, I think we're only shown Snape giving points once, to Draco, whereas we see McGonagall give points more often, even though we actually probably see more of Snape's classroom than any other except for DADA. I'm not trying to start a discussion comparing McGonagall to Snape. It's just that I think most readers probably assume that Slytherin successes come from cheating, scheming, or Snape's bias, but if we look carefully, I don't think Snape's bias makes much overall difference to Slytherin having won the House cup in the past.



zelmia - Feb 27, 2008 9:48 pm (#119 of 445)
If I'm honest, I had never thought about how the finale of PS/SS must have seemed to the Slytherins before reading your post, Wynnleaf. You make extremely valid points there.

I'm sure Rowling probably didn't really consider their view either because she is probably only thinking of the "hero epic" aspect of her story and not considering that her saga diverges from the traditional hero myth in that it primarily involves "real" people (i.e. teenagers). Unfortunately, as you have so often pointed out (and which I have agreed with), though Rowling seems often to claim that there are "good" Slytherins as well, this is never actually presented within the context of the story itself.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that I agree that it is assumed that the Slytherins must have won the House Cup by cheating. I thought Rowling did a reasonable job of indicating that Slytherin had dominated and won the competition for several years, and that the rest of Hogwarts were more or less ready for a "giant killer" to take the Cup from them. Ditto the Quidditch Cup.



Steve Newton - Feb 28, 2008 4:44 am (#120 of 445)
The SS/PS finale as shown in the movie seems to show this pretty well. Draco is truly crestfallen at being hosed like that, as he should have been. We discussed this in the SS/PS read a long.



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Julia H. - Feb 28, 2008 11:40 am (#121 of 445)
After PS, the competition between Gryffindor and Slytherin seems to be focusing on Quidditch rather than on the House Cup. The reason may be simply that Harry is more interested in Quidditch than in other point winning activities (except, of course, when he has to face LV but he does not do that primarily in order to win the House Cup). So we see how Slytherins play Quidditch but we do not know how they managed to win the House Cup for years and we never get to see any Slytherin students who are likely to win lots of house points. However, it is not probable that through cheating or by one person's bias the House Cup can be won and so many times, too; after all there are four houses and quite a few teachers.

As for Snape's bias: Since I think Slytherin is a house where lots of troubled kids may be at the time and if Crabbe and Goyle are any indication, it is also the house that collects the students who are not really good for anything, I also think that Snape is practically the head of an institution for children with special needs. It is a much more difficult job than that of any other head of house. His strictness is probably essential when it comes to containing at least some of the kids but in CoS (I think) we are told that Slytherin students like him - it may be because they feel that Snape (who has his own sad Slytherin story) does not reject them in the same way as most other adults probably do at Hogwarts. Troubled kids are likely to make trouble (as for what "trouble" can be, remember Mary McDonald) and trouble making is likely to lead to lost house points. Ambition (in the case of any really ambitious Slytherin students) can be manifested in various ways, some of which are tolerable, others are not. Those who win house points, however, have to do something good, which (it seems) can be academic or sport achievements or something extracurricular worthy of praise. In a house like this, if the sum total of house points means that they win the House Cup, to me it seems to be an important achievement, which is probably (at least in part) due to Snape's work and ability to motivate. It would also be interesting to get to know some of the point winning students.



Orion - Feb 28, 2008 4:26 pm (#122 of 445)
Snape, of all people, head of house of troubled kids with special needs. Oh dear. (He is one himself.) And again it has nothing to do with what the Sorting Hat sings. The Hat seems to cram everybody which he doesn't like into Slytherin, regardless of Slytherin traits. It is an interesting thought how on earth these people managed to win the House Cup for years. Either we get to know an all-time-low of Slytherin standards during the Harry years at Hogwarts, or something is a bit lazily written. (Hem hem.)



Julia H. - Feb 28, 2008 4:30 pm (#123 of 445)
"Snape, of all people, head of house of troubled kids with special needs. Oh dear. (He is one himself.)" (Orion)

Exactly. But that is why he understands them.

(I agree that this is not what the Hat promises but this seems to be "reality".)



zelmia - Feb 28, 2008 11:29 pm (#124 of 445)
Snape is practically the head of an institution for children with special needs. It is a much more difficult job than that of any other head of house.

The Hat seems to cram everybody which he doesn't like into Slytherin, regardless of Slytherin traits.

Holy cow! Do I disagree with this. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that Slytherin House is comprised of the Sorting Hat's leavings. In fact, it is Hufflepuff that is given the reputation as the sort of "lesser" House. Even the Hat's song indicates that Hufflepuff "will take the rest". At one point in GF Harry remarks to himself how Cedric Diggory had given Hufflepuff the kind of glory that House hadn't had in something like a hundred years. Does that mean they're all nitwits? Of course not.

Crabbe and Goyle do not strike me in the least as "troubled". Slow-witted, certainly. Followers, definitely. But they don't seem particularly bothered by their lot in life - quite the opposite, actually. But, again, we're really not given any other examples of Slytherin students apart from Crabbe, Goyle, Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson.

If Slytherin won the House Cup seven years straight, it's surely because they deserved it. In Harry's time the House Cup isn't given any importance after Book 1 (is it even mentioned).



Julia H. - Feb 29, 2008 12:48 am (#125 of 445)
Crabbe and Goyle are not the "troubled" ones but, as you say the "slow-witted" ones. No cunning, no ambition that one would expect a Slytherin to have (on the basis of the Hat's song). They are neither brave, nor wise, nor good, so they are sent to Slytherin. (They do not have any Slytherin qualities as sung by the Hat.) As for the "troubled children" notion: it does seem that kids with DE or Dark Side associations or tendencies are, as a rule, sent to Slytherin. (Do we know any such kids in any of the other houses?) In the years after LV's first downfall that would mean kids whose fathers are in prison, kids whose parents are out of prison but are afraid or frustrated (maybe hiding), kids who have heard a certain ideology at home and are confronted with a totally different one in school. I have the impression that all such children at Hogwarts would be found in Slytherin. I would call these children troubled children: frustrated, struggling with things they do not understand and on top of that all they are probably looked upon with suspicion and distrust by a lot of people at Hogwarts. Then they are all put together in the same house and I do not think it is good for them. Of course, there can be other types of children in Slytherin (the types the Hat sings about) as well but very probably there is a heavy load of potential trouble makers, psychologically problematic kids, who are much more difficult to deal with or to win House Cups with. If they still win the Cup, it is a positive achievement that probably requires a lot of effort put into good things.

I think the whole House Cup competition is designed as a self-regulatory device. Getting good marks or bad marks may be a personal business but students who lose points for their house have to face their housemates' anger, while those who win points are loved or admired by others. This is a strong type of motivation, which also promotes the feeling of unity within the house (not between houses though).



Orion - Feb 29, 2008 8:30 am (#126 of 445)
The house cup competition is a means to keep the students in line: They channel their energies into being good students to beat the other houses. No rebelling for Hogwarts students. If they are mean and nasty to each other, it's all in the name of winning house points and present oneselves as model students. Ingenious. A clever psychological device to make the students work harder.

Still, you need some brains to win house points. You can not only get them through Quidditch, you need to give good answers in Herbology or Arithmancy, too. So if Slytherin won the house cup a few times, it must have had some pretty brilliant students. We, however, waited in vain for any sign of a Slytherin student ever giving a clever answer in class. And why, why were Crabbe and Goyle sorted into Slytherin?

The sorting principle is easy: Anybody with pureblood ideology must be in Slytherin. Regardless of their other characteristics. Full stop. And anybody with pureblood ideology must necessarily have an unloveable personality.



Julia H. - Feb 29, 2008 10:01 am (#127 of 445)
"Anybody with pureblood ideology must be in Slytherin. Regardless of their other characteristics. (Orion)"

Well done, Orion. That seems to be simple and probable enough. But they are still a dangerous group, aren't they? There seem to be quite a few aggressive kids there and pureblood ideology coupled with aggression means they need to be contained and their aggression needs to be channelled into legitimate competitions otherwise they might start attacking fellow students, for example. I still see their House Cup winning efforts as a safe and commendable way to use their energies and perhaps to overcome the worst of their common heritage by conforming to the values upheld at Hogwarts. It is, of course, important in all houses but steering these particular kids into this direction seems to be more difficult than other kids in other houses.



zelmia - Feb 29, 2008 7:41 pm (#128 of 445)
I see what you mean now, Julia. Thanks for explaining. But I still don't agree that Slytherin have any greater share of troublemakers than any other House. Every House has suffered under Voldemort's last (and most recent) attempt to take over: innumerable deaths, prison, insanity. No one has really been immune.

But I think we both agree that there is no reason to disband Slytherin.



Julia H. - Mar 1, 2008 10:21 am (#129 of 445)
Of course, you are right about the other houses. I did not mention it but I also think that the other houses have the victims' children and they clearly have their own emotional load. These children need a lot of help and support but I still think that dealing with or guiding pureblood ideology Slytherin children is more difficult and at the same time perhaps less emotionally rewarding than dealing with the children in other houses.

Perhaps the solution is not so much disbanding Slytherin but instead of simply isolating misguided pureblood kids, they should be made to understand broader-minded principles. (Imagine 11-year-old Draco having to cooperate with Hermione in order to win something important. It would not be easy but perhaps effective in the long run.)



Choices - Mar 1, 2008 10:52 am (#130 of 445)
It appears though that wizard children are not very closed guarded, either by parents or heads of house. We saw at the World Cup that parents slept in while allowing their small children to play outside unattended. At Hogwarts, heads of houses do not seem to supervise their students very closely. The Prefects are more hands on than the heads. Heads and Prefects are apparently more interested in discipline than the emotional state of their charges. We just do not see much guidance - mostly what we see is punishment for rules broken. I'm just not sure if the heads do very much in the way of influencing their house students or counseling them with their problems. Wizard kids are very independent.



zelmia - Mar 1, 2008 11:29 am (#131 of 445)
I still think that dealing with or guiding pureblood ideology Slytherin children is more difficult - Maybe "deprogramming"?



Vulture - Mar 2, 2008 2:59 pm (#132 of 445)
In addition, there are a few occasions when Hufflepuffs don't exhibit typical Hufflepuff behaviour. They are horrid to Harry at times, and while I understand the reasons and agree that it's just normal human/adolescent behaviour, these moments do not exemplify the traits Hufflepuff is known for. Cedric Diggory seems to be the ideal Hufflepuff, but many other Hufflepuffs we are shown are not. Similarly, I'm sure there are less toxic kids in Slytherin than the ones we have been privileged to meet. (PeskyPixie - Feb 26, 2008 3:08 pm (#105))

Unfortunately, we have an acid test _ when Pansy Parkinson, in Book 7, yells for Harry to be seized, all the Houses stand to protect him _ except Slytherin. When McGonagall allows those who are of age to stay and fight, Slytherin is the only House from whom not one volunteers to fight for Hogwarts.

But I still say Dumbledore would not wish Slytherin House abolished, for reasons I've given a few posts earlier.

P.S. What I have never understood is that it seems before Harry's arrival at Hogwarts, Slytherin House won the House Cup several times. (Am I right?) I know they were ambitious and pushy but one would think winning the House Cup regularly for years would take more than just that. But then we never get to see that they are really good at anything (except Quidditch). (Julia H. - Feb 27, 2008 12:56 am (#107))

Yes, you're right, and I've thoght about this a lot _ it could even have its own thread.

Before Harry arrived, Slytherin had won both the House and Quidditch Cups for several years (seven, I think _ the magical number). The final Feast at the end of Book 1 gave me the impression of a Hogwarts where Slytherins very firmly believed that they belonged and were an elite (very far from being "special needs, by the way) _ and also the impression that Dumbledore was prepared to go along with this to an extent. Snape is very much a major figure, and even the Hat says that Slytherin will help Harry's way to greatness.

Then _ from a Slytherin point of view _ Harry Potter arrives and everything starts to pretty much go to hell !!

Harry, a brilliant Seeker, spells the promise of Quidditch doom for Slytherin _ a promise whose fulfilment is held back by JKR until Book 3, but which has all the more impact for that. He spells doom for their House Cup chances at once _ as a direct result of fighting Voldemort, one of the most (if not the most) brilliant Slytherin students of all time.

In short, since the first fall of Voldemort, it seems as if Hogwarts and the wizard world has lived with a kind of compromise, which we view in its death throes in the first three books: the compromise is hard to express in detail, but basically, is that Slytherin is allowed to flourish up to a point, as long as there is no (open) call for Voldemort's return. (Those who refuse to stop openly calling for his return, like Bellatrix, are either in Azkaban or in hiding.) When Harry, Voldemort's nemesis, arrives at Hogwarts, his presence begins, slowly but surely, to open old wounds. For example, at the time of Harry's arrival, Lucius is still treated as a normal _ indeed, an honoured _ wizard citizen, and his son, Draco, expresses his hostility to Harry largely in school-wrangling terms. By the end of Book 4, we have seen Lucius in full Death Eater gear, and his son is openly hailing Voldemort's return (we've seen an early foreboding of this in Book 2, when Draco shouts for the Heir).

It really came across like DD just thought he wanted Harry's house to win, and he was going to arrange the points to make sure they won. I would think that the Slytherins would have felt like they'd been cheated out of the House Cup. (wynnleaf - Feb 27, 2008 1:45 pm (#114))

Not to mention that they would feel they had been cheated by a Gryffindor Headmaster. If you add this to my reply to Julia H., above, you can again see how old wounds are being re-opened.

Mind you, I don't agree about Snape not awarding Slytherin points or not awarding anyone many points _ all I could conclude from the canon is that we're not told much about his awarding points. Given that (a) McGonagall's giving and deducting points is scrupulously fair (to the fury of her own House !!), and that Snape's clearly isn't, I think we have a heavy hint about how Slytherin wins so many House Cups right there. Whatever about his awards of points, I'm pretty clear that Snape deducted many, many points unfairly from non-Slytherins _ inevitably this would have affected the overall total. Quirrell tells us (and I've no reason, from the context, to doubt him) that when Snape wanted to referee Harry's second Quidditch match, the other teachers leaped to the conclusion that Snape was trying to sabotage Gryffindor's match chances. Why should they believe this, if it were not for a previous pattern of bias by him ?



Julia H. - Mar 2, 2008 3:50 pm (#133 of 445)
"I think we have a heavy hint about how Slytherin wins so many House Cups right there." (Vulture)

It is of course only interpretation versus interpretation but I find it hard to believe that Snape would have been allowed to make his house win for seven times simply by deducting a large number of points unfairly. That would have meant Dumbledore and all other teachers were either blind or totally inefficient. Besides, his unfair point deduction are directed at Harry and friends, who are a special case to him - we have no reason to believe that he does the same in the case of other children in other houses and before Harry's arrival.

As for what Quirrell says: This is probably the first time that Snape has volunteered to referee a match (he does not like Quidditch and broomsticks that much) and it is after Slytherin's defeat by Gryffindor and that makes him suspicious in the eyes of his colleagues. The school seems to be mad about Quidditch.

The Slytherin children at the end of DH are not the same ones who win the House Cup for seven years before Harry's arrival. I do think that those in the first seven years (when Voldemort was out of power) had a better chance to be reformed ("deprogrammed") than those in the second seven years when they experienced Voldemort's return to power - the influence of the dark side over these kids with the wrong sort of family connections was probably stronger then. I think I made it clear what I meant by "special needs" - it may not be the best expression and they may have felt they were the elite but then they were wrong and in reality they were isolated among themselves from the rest of the school, sorted into the "dark" club at the age of 11. I just do not believe that it is fair to give up on children and their future characters when they are as young as that and for reasons that are their parents' faults not theirs. (Dumbledore also realizes this when he is concerned about Draco and thinks Draco can still be saved at the age of 16 or so).



zelmia - Mar 2, 2008 8:24 pm (#134 of 445)
Nicely done, Vulture. I completely agree with you.

Besides, his unfair point deduction are directed at Harry and friends, who are a special case to him - we have no reason to believe that he does the same in the case of other children in other houses and before Harry's arrival. - On the contrary. The fact that Snape is shown to be involved in "unfair point deduction" at all is reason enough to assume that he is capable of stacking the points in favour of his own House whenever possible. If Snape's point fixing did indeed actually occur, the other teachers may or may not have done/said anything. But if not, it may be (a) because they assume that Snape is also being fair in his points - in other words, they don't know about it; (b) they are choosing to "take the high road" and "not stooping to his level" as it were; (c) they know about it, but feel that, without any clear proof, there is nothing they can do.

This is probably the first time that Snape has volunteered to referee a match (he does not like Quidditch and broomsticks that much) - Again, I disagree here. For one thing, there is nothing to suggest this in the text, apart from his overt dislike of James Potter and his reputation as a sort of hero of the Pitch. But Snape clearly knows enough about the game to be qualified to referee a match. If he didn't, he would not be allowed to referee, whatever the circumstances. We also know that he has a rivalry with McGonagall (friendly or otherwise) over Quidditch, so he at least follows the standings within Hogwarts.

I just do not believe that it is fair to give up on children and their future characters when they are as young as that and for reasons that are their parents' faults not theirs. - Yes, I agree with this. And so does Dumbledore.



Julia H. - Mar 3, 2008 12:42 am (#135 of 445)
OK, we do not know what we are not told and we can fill information holes in our own way. But I would like to clarify once again what I mean when I say "special needs" in Slytherin's case (if anyone has a better expression, please tell me).

Gryffindor: a house for the brave.

Ravenclaw: a house for the wise.

Hufflepuff: that is a bit blurry but in GoF Dumbledore says something to the effect the Cedric mirrored the virtues of the house - whatever these virtues are the house can't be very bad.

Slytherin: cunning and ambition. Ambition is not bad in itself but these two traits coupled together... it does not sound half as good as anything about the other houses, especially that we already have wisdom (as opposed to cunning) and bravery (as opposed to ambition). But this is not all, in reality, it seems you get a ticket to Slytherin if you have pure-blood ideology or you are leaning towards the dark side (at the age of 11). All the other houses take children on the basis of good characteristics, Slytherin is the only one that takes children on the basis of bad characteristics. Instead of sharing a central virtue, they share a moral defect. In this sense I do think they have special needs even if they do not know about it: what is the point in putting together children who have the same bad tendency (to strengthen it in each other) if this bad tendency is not addressed somehow?

BTW: If we see that Snape is biased and he seems to be liked by the children of his house, why could we not assume that he cares for them a bit in his own way - this is his house and no one else seems to like them?



mona amon - Mar 3, 2008 4:35 am (#136 of 445)
All the other houses take children on the basis of good characteristics, Slytherin is the only one that takes children on the basis of bad characteristics. Instead of sharing a central virtue, they share a moral defect.

Good post Julia. I never looked at it this way before, but you are perfectly right.

Hufflepuff: that is a bit blurry

If someone is just, loyal, patient and hardworking, the sorting hat will choose them for Hufflepuff. (Sorting hat song, PS)

If we see that Snape is biased and he seems to be liked by the children of his house, why could we not assume that he cares for them a bit in his own way - this is his house and no one else seems to like them?

I agree. With the rest of the school against them, Slytherins have to take care of their own.



Orion - Mar 3, 2008 10:03 am (#137 of 445)
Sniff! More on the Snape thread.



zelmia - Mar 3, 2008 12:53 pm (#138 of 445)
FYI, in English "special needs" refers to people who require specific accommodation to function, whether physical or otherwise, but often this expression refers to someone with a sort of "hidden disability" such as Autism or similar.

Personally, I don't see anything that shows that Snape is especially "liked by children of his House" apart from Draco, and even he doesn't seem to "like" Snape as much as he is really just a suck-up.

With the rest of the school against them, Slytherins have to take care of their own. - I really don't agree with this notion of Slytherin as a group of poor misguided, misunderstood victims who have been ostracized by everyone and so must huddle together for support. The students of Slytherin House, most of whom have apparently been brought up to believe in the notion of blood purity, do not strike me as remotely "troubled" (in the sense of "exhibiting deep emotional problems"). If anything, they walk with an air of entitlement and superiority, particularly in the latter half of the saga. I would therefore argue that Slytherins are against everyone else, and not the other way round.

I am not supporting the idea that Slytherin be disbanded. But nor do I think their behaviour as a whole should be excused or merely chalked up to the bad luck of having grown up in a home environment that might have embraced a morality contrary to the rest of society.

One point that is made a couple of times is that the students are in control over their own destinies; that they have "choice" and the option of "choosing to do what is right". Even Harry points out more than once that youth is no excuse for choosing the maltreatment of others, and I would add that such treatment doesn't necessarily need to be bullying. It can be simply in overt prejudice or refusing to show respect for someone who has died.



PeskyPixie - Mar 4, 2008 12:06 am (#139 of 445)
Unfortunately, we have an acid test _ when Pansy Parkinson, in Book 7, yells for Harry to be seized, all the Houses stand to protect him _ except Slytherin. When McGonagall allows those who are of age to stay and fight, Slytherin is the only House from whom not one volunteers to fight for Hogwarts. -Vulture

If we are to believe JKR, many Slytherins get reinforcements and return to the Battle with Slughorn. A decent, 'cunning' person would not line up for what seems to be certain death, but would be the type to pretend to abandon Hogwarts to join the winning army but in reality would gather back-up forces which would most certainly be necessary for any sort of victory to be possible. Of course, I don't blame anyone who decides to ignore JKR's interview additions and prefers to stick to canon.

Even in canon, there are so many inconsistencies with this House. The Sorting Hat says that they are supposed to be cunning and ambitious, but Orion's two loaves of bread make it in just fine. Honestly, from the examples we are shown Slytherin really seems, at times, to be a House for idiotic brutes and prejudiced bullies.

Still, I try to trust the Hat and believe the ideal Slytherin to be ambitious and cunning.

I understand very well how corrupting the combination of cunning and ambition can be and stick to my original view of keeping Slytherin House, but providing more guidance/monitoring/whatever for these kids to help direct their natural strengths towards a positive goal.



Julia H. - Mar 4, 2008 12:21 am (#140 of 445)
"Personally, I don't see anything that shows that Snape is especially "liked by children of his House" apart from Draco.." (Zelmia)

I think it is mentioned somewhere early on. (In CoS perhaps.) And not "especially".

Interesting post, Pesky.

"I understand very well how corrupting the combination of cunning and ambition can be and stick to my original view of keeping Slytherin House, but providing more guidance/monitoring/whatever for these kids to help direct their natural strengths towards a positive goal. " (Pesky)

Well said.



mona amon - Mar 4, 2008 9:37 am (#141 of 445)
Still, I try to trust the Hat and believe the ideal Slytherin to be ambitious and cunning. (Pesky)

But the hat also said 'those cunning folk use any means to achieve their ends', which gives an unethical slant to 'ambitious and cunning'. So, however euphemistically the Sorting Hat might phrase it, I think it sorts all the 'bad' kids into Slytherin. I'm not saying all the kids in Slytherin are bad, but if you are bad, Slytherin is the place the sorting hat will put you.

So I think it's better to dilute the influence of the bad apples on the others by mixing them with the kids from the other three houses (ie. random sorting). It will be good for the other houses, too. The brave but often foolhardy Gryfindors can learn a thing or two from the cunning Slytherins, for example.

I really don't agree with this notion of Slytherin as a group of poor misguided, misunderstood victims who have been ostracized by everyone and so must huddle together for support. (Zelmia)

But they are shown to be ostracised by the rest of the school. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff always cheer Gryfindor in any match against Slytherin, and even that most accepting and open-minded of characters, Luna Lovegood, was planning to make her lion shaped hat chew up a serpent to represent Slytherin!

Personally, I don't see anything that shows that Snape is especially "liked by children of his House" (Zelmia)

They give him a round of applause when Dumbledore announces that he's got the DADA job in HBP. There must be other examples, but this is the only one I can remember right now.



PeskyPixie - Mar 4, 2008 12:17 pm (#142 of 445)
But the hat also said 'those cunning folk use any means to achieve their ends', which gives an unethical slant to 'ambitious and cunning'. -mona amon

Not necessarily. While this comment can be used to describe ruthless ambition for personal gain (as with Tom Riddle), it can also be equated with Harry's determination and 'disregard for the rules' when he sets his mind to achieve something. We admire Harry's 'resourcefulness' as he is willing to go to any means to stand up against evil/injustice. Slytherin's prized trait is an asset when channelled in a positive direction.

I wrote this in a rush ... hope it makes sense to others.



Hieronymus Graubart - Mar 4, 2008 1:20 pm (#143 of 445)
It does make a lot of sense, PeskyPixie.

Unfortunately, we have an acid test _ when Pansy Parkinson, in Book 7, yells for Harry to be seized, all the Houses stand to protect him _ except Slytherin.(Vulture)

To me this seems not to be a good time for any Slytherin to make any unexpected move. I'm afraid standing up for Harry or against Harry would make no difference, they would be stunned anyway by some overexcited defenders of Harry. And one spell cast in this situation would probably result in a general battle.

It's natural that reasonable Slytherins keep very quiet, possibly planning to slip away unnoticed at the next oppurtunity and join the defenders when they have relaxed.



zelmia - Mar 4, 2008 8:28 pm (#144 of 445)
Yes, the other Houses cheer against Slytherin in Quidditch. Slytherin has won the Quidditch Cup for several years in a row. Any House that might possibly unseat them would be naturally favoured. Ditto the House Cup. Once that happens, the other Houses don't want a resurgence of Slytherin's reign.

But the Slytherins deliberately set themselves apart by gloating during the Basilisk attacks and then by openly behaving disrespectfully during Cedric Diggory's memorial service, though they had actually supported him as "the real Hogwarts Champion".

A person's upbringing does not excuse them from behaving appropriately when required or from being responsible for their own behaviour. Even Voldemort recognised the need to behave properly, regardless of personal feelings or beliefs.



wynnleaf - Mar 5, 2008 7:32 am (#145 of 445)
Perhaps "special needs" isn't a good phrase to use for the Slytherins. In the US, they would probably be described as "at risk," because so many come from homes of people who are basically criminals or so heavily into Dark Arts as to provide a very unhealthy environment for their kids (think the Black family or the Malfoys). In real life, children with incarcerated parents are considered "at risk," as well as children from families where the parents are operating outside the law, or are using illegal substances on a regular basis.

Of all of the children in Slytherin where JKR told us much of anything about their parent, they all would be considered "at risk" in the general meaning in today's real life world, because they come from home environments that are generally deemed very unhealthy.

Do we "excuse" children because of their upbringing? Of course not. But there is a huge difference between "excusing" and "explaining." Further, children from "at risk" background do tend to need different kinds of approaches. Taking a kid raised in a criminal home, or from a very dark home, and putting him in with a bunch of other kids from similar homes, and then in a situation where about three times as many other kids (the rest of the school), looks down on them even when they're little 11 year old, newly sorted kids, is just practically like going out of your way to ensure that the kids not only stay just like the families that raised them, but ensure that they hate and resent everyone else. Why should any Slytherin feel an appeal to becoming different?

Can anyone imagine taking a real school and putting most of the kids that have criminal parents, or parents involved in very dark activities, into one group? The rest of the school would quickly learn to think of them as "those" kids who everyone should stay away from and avoid, and who are probably just inherently bad.

I don't get any impression that in Quidditch all the other houses are only opposed to Slytherin because they've won so much in the past. My impression is that it's because they dislike them. And note that except when Luna announced one of the games, it always seemed to be a Gryffindor who showed a huge degree of bias in announcing the game. McGonagall looked on and mildly chastised Lee Jordan on occasion, but certainly didn't really put a stop to it.

Remember in GOF when the twins hiss the little 11 year old kids just sorted into Slytherin? One doesn't read any sense that other students disapproved of that kind of appalling behavior, but more understood and agreed with it.

As for "good" Slytherins, personally I feel that JKR's interview statements are just not supported in her books. We never see any good Slytherin students, only good Slytherin adults and several of those only became "good" after they left Hogwarts. We don't actually know that any were "good" as students. I realize JKR says that Slytherins returned to fight in DH, but it wasn't in the book at all, and in fact the narration appears to be pretty clear that they were not with Slughorn when he came. I'm never sure whether JKR just makes mistakes and didn't put in things she intended, or whether she's trying to kind of "re-write" after the fact and claim things in her interviews that she never considered until people started questioning it.



zelmia - Mar 5, 2008 9:25 am (#146 of 445)
But there is a huge difference between "excusing" and "explaining." - I don't think there is any difference, let alone a "huge" one. The fact that one feels the need to "explain" unacceptable behaviour only serves as proof that one acknowledges that the bad behaviour exists. At the end of the day, people aren't concerned with they why's and wherefores; they only want not to be maltreated.

Again, I disagree with calling Slytherin students "at risk". What defines a child as "at risk" is that he/she will be all but certainly condemned to a life on the streets (or worse) without intervention. Slytherin, who are elitist and privileged and make this very clear to all and sundry, are hardly destined for the kind of life Lupin or Merope Gaunt had to live.

Do we disagree with the values they have been taught at home? Of course. But are they all destined for Azkaban or standing around Diagon Alley swilling Fire Whiskey? Not likely.



wynnleaf - Mar 5, 2008 12:27 pm (#147 of 445)
What defines a child as "at risk" is that he/she will be all but certainly condemned to a life on the streets (or worse) without intervention.

I deal with serving "at risk" kids quite a bit in my work. When we speak of kids being "at risk" we mean that the child is at an increased risk for falling into any number of really bad choices, such as criminal behavior, drugs, dropping out of school, developing eating disorders, depression (not a matter of choice of course), suicide etc., or simply have big difficulties with grades due to various problems. Kids need not be in danger of ending up on the streets to be "at risk." And it seems clear that many Slytherins, perhaps most, are "at risk" for some of these very bad life choices.

For instance, if you look at at-risk.org, under the "What defines an 'at-risk' youth?" page, there's a list of over 20 characteristics. If a kid fits 4 or more, they are considered at risk. Draco, especially in HBP, fits a whole lot of them, but he certainly isn't "at risk" of ever being out on the street. What he is at risk of, and in fact did, is join a criminal group, engage in criminal behavior, drop out of school, almost get killed in a fight, etc. Sure, it's because of his bad choices. But that's the point. Draco's upbringing, friends, peers, and general environment work together to practically encourage him to make the bad choices. "Encourage" isn't exactly the right word, but Draco's choices are clearly a by-product of his upbringing, circumstances, peers, etc. If it isn't understood what is behind Draco's choices and attitudes, more like him will follow, because no one will be actively working to make sure more kids don't grow up that way.

The fact that one feels the need to "explain" unacceptable behavior only serves as proof that one acknowledges that the bad behavior exists. At the end of the day, people aren't concerned with they why's and wherefores; they only want not to be maltreated. (zelmia)

The victims of the bad behaviors may certainly feel that way. But if one actually wants to prevent children from growing up to make those bad choices, one had better be interested in a great deal more than just not being maltreated. The whys and wherefores become very important, which is one of the big things we've been discussing on this thread. The question is kind of "what to do with Slytherin," presumably not just so other people won't be harmed by Slytherins, but so that Slytherins actually grow up to become better people.

As regards excusing and explaining, the dictionary, happily, makes a rather distinct difference between the two.

Explain: To make plain, manifest, or intelligible; to clear of obscurity; to expound; to unfold and illustrate the meaning of. To expound; interpret; elucidate; clear up.

1. To make plain or comprehensible. 2. To define; expound: We explained our plan to the committee. 3. a. To offer reasons for or a cause of explain an error. b. To offer reasons for the actions, beliefs, or remarks of (oneself). v.intr. To make something plain or comprehensible: Let me explain.

One cannot assume that “explain” is used to mean the same as the phrase “explain away.”

Phrasal Verb: explain away. 1. To dismiss or get rid of by or as if by explaining. 2. To minimize by explanation.

Fortunately, the dictionaries all differentiate because they are quite different.

Excuse is different as well. Notice:

1. a. To explain (a fault or an offense) in the hope of being forgiven or understood: He arrived late and excused his tardiness in a flimsy manner. b. To apologize for (oneself) for an act that could cause offense: She excused herself for being late. 2. a. To grant pardon to; forgive: We quickly excused the latecomer. b. To make allowance for; overlook: Readers must excuse the author's youth and inexperience. See Synonyms at forgive. 3. To serve as justification for: Brilliance does not excuse bad manners.

Explanations tell us why something occurred or why someone does something. Excuses are reasons for justification or forgiveness. Something may easily be explained without being excused. When "explain" is used in the definition of "excuse" it is to describe an explanation being used in order to gain forgiveness or justification. It is the purpose of the explanation that could possibly make it part of an excuse. But the definition of explain is not, in and of itself, the same as "excuse."

I suppose there are some people who only seek explanations in order to justify things or to gain forgiveness, but that doesn't make them the same thing. In the case of the Slytherins, explanations are very important if one desires to prevent the circumstances (of children growing up with the Slytherin tendency toward Dark behavior) from continuing to occur.



zelmia - Mar 5, 2008 1:33 pm (#148 of 445)
And it seems clear that many Slytherins, perhaps most, are "at risk" for some of these very bad life choices. - No, it isn't "clear". That's your personal interpretation, which is of course fine. But there is nothing whatsoever in the text to indicate that anyone other than Draco Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle is even thinking of joining the Death Eaters. And there's hardly any mystery to why those three did that.

If one chooses to view Slytherin House as a bunch of poor, misunderstood outcasts who have no choice but to huddle together for security and friendship out of desperation, then it's only natural to go one step further and see them as "troubled" "at risk" youth who need intervening benevolence to bring them back to the light. But perosnally, I see no reason to ascribe any of those characteristics to Slytherhin House. Draco Malfoy, personally, yes. But Slytherin as a whole, no.



wynnleaf - Mar 5, 2008 2:22 pm (#149 of 445)
All of the kids that we are shown any background for in Slytherin have "at risk" characteristics such as parents who are members of a criminal and terrorist group, or are "into" very Dark interests. Or they are in a peer group that includes a number of kids interested in Dark Arts and/or joining up with a terrorist group. I'm not just talking about Harry's time period, but the Snape/Marauder era as well. Some not only fit those sorts of "at risk" characteristics, but also, like Snape or Riddle, come from either dysfunctional families (Snape or Regulas) or an orphan from a perhaps well-meaning but apparently not very good orphanage.

Let's see. Starting with the Snape/Marauder era...

Snape is from a home with neglectful parents, probably abusive dad, poor.

Avery. His dad is a Death Eater. So he's from a family accepting of criminal behavior and joining a criminal/terrorist group.

Black sisters. Known to be a very Dark family. Clearly at risk for kids to be raised to accept Dark and nasty behavior. Considering that Sirius' mother didn't wipe Bella and Cissy's parents off the tree, they must have been acceptable to the very Dark leaning parents of Sirius and Regulas.

Sirius and Regulas. Obviously very Dark family. Puts up heads of house elves on the wall, for goodness sake! If that's not a bizarre family making the kids "at risk" I hardly know what would be.

In Harry's era there are only Crabbe, Goyle, Nott, Blaise Zabini, and Draco for which we're given any background.

Vincent and Gregory's dads are both Death Eaters, and therefore they come from families that accept and condone, even actively encourage criminal and dark behavior. That's "at risk."

Nott's dad is a Death Eater -- so he's a child with a criminal terrorist dad.

Draco's from a family that's quite supportive of the criminal and terrorist agendas, encouraging him to join up. The family home is known for having very Dark and illegal items making it a target of the Ministry investigations on occasion. Yeah, that's a kid from an "at risk" family.

Blaise Zabini. The only Slytherin kid besides Snape and Riddle who we know some background on him, and his background isn't one of a family strongly supportive of Dark activities and terrorist agendas. And what's his background? A mom who has been married seven times with the husbands all dying mysterious deaths. And we're not supposed to think he's from a highly questionable background? Most likely very dysfunctional situation? This kind of background would normally produce a well adjusted kid? I don't think so. He's at risk as well.

Do we know of any Slytherin kids or adults where we are given their backgrounds and there's no "at risk" characteristics during their youth? I looked through the whole list of Slytherins in the Lexicon and I couldn't find anyone for whom we're given a background that doesn't include highly "at risk" characteristics.

We can only go by what we're shown. From what we're shown of the kid's backgrounds, the majority are in environments that add up to "at risk" characteristics (at least according to typically considered "at risk" in the Real World). This isn't my "opinion." I'm just going by what is commonly accepted and considered as true "at risk" situations in the Real World. Coming from a family that accepts, condones and even participates in criminal activity creates a highly at risk scenario. That's just fact. It's not my opinion. And by "at risk" in the Real World, what we mean is that the kid with those characteristics has a much higher percentage risk of making the really negative life choices or having very bad outcomes even if they're not actual "choices" (like depression).

JKR did mention a number of other Slytherin kids. But she never showed us any of those kids having come from what would generally be considered a healthy environment. Sure, we might hope or wish that some did. However she could have shown us some of those non-at-risk kids, but chose not to do so. So we have to assume, given no evidence to the contrary, that a large number of Slytherin kids come from at risk backgrounds.



Julia H. - Mar 5, 2008 2:54 pm (#150 of 445)
Thanks for the research, Wynnleaf. You mentioned the Real World so let me add a real world example (a real story). Scene: kindergarten with a high percentage of "at risk" kids. One of the children, chattering exactly as kindergarten children usually chatter about their everyday experiences, innocently tells a teacher how his dad took him along to "help" when he (the father) went to steal from people in a crowded place. The child knows all the details but has no idea whatsoever that what his father was doing was wrong. I know this is a much younger child but I still find the example indicative of some of the risks of growing up in a family where criminal behaviour is considered normal.



wynnleaf - Mar 6, 2008 3:27 pm (#151 of 445)
I won't go through every single other kid, but I checked out all of the other students where we know their House, including people that were students in the Marauder era. Of 26 characters for which we are given some sort of background information on their families, almost all of them come from what appears to be two-parent families. A few are from one parent families and Harry is an orphan. However, all where we know anything of the parents we can be fairly sure that they opposed to the Dark, or work normal law-abiding sorts of jobs. Many are clearly from very supportive families. Many are from obviously non-pureblood-biased families. The only non-Slytherin students I could find who were shown to come from either abusive or extremely dysfunctional families were Harry and Sirius. None except Sirius are shown to be from families with any pureblood bias, any Dark leanings, or any criminal activity. Most, where we know anything at all about their families, are from families that either are probably for law-abiding ideals (because their families work in law enforcement for instance), or are clearly or at least probably opposing LV.

I don't want to list them all because it is so long, but if anyone wants me to, I'll do it.

But basically what I'm trying to show is that JKR has given us bits and pieces of background on about 26 non-Slytherins and about 11 Slytherins. All of the Slytherins where she gives background info come from dysfunctional, "at risk" kinds of backgrounds. Only two of the 26 other students where she gives any background info come from dysfunctional "at risk" sorts of backgrounds.

Granted, JKR may have envisioned lots and lots of Slytherins from normal families who weren't advocating criminal behavior or in prison or neck deep in dark arts or abusive. Granted JKR may have envisions a whole pack of non-Slytherins from abusive homes, parents who created other types of heavily dysfunctional situations for their kids. But we don't see them.

Basically, we see a tiny few exceptions to those where we're shown backgrounds.

We see Snape from an abusive, neglected background eventually coming around to the Light because of love and concern for a friend. Harry, from an abusive and neglected background is with the Light from the beginning. Sirius, from a very Dark bizarre family joins Gryffindor mainly (it appears) in order to follow his new friend James and rebel against the family. And Pettigrew, in spite of not having any definite dysfunctional background (he seems to get on with his mom at least), chooses a Dark and treacherous path.

Everyone else appears to basically follow this direction: those who are given dysfunctional "at risk" background all go to Slytherin and appear to lean toward Dark paths. Everyone else other than Pettigrew who appears to have a mostly "normal" or at least a background with no typical "at risk" characteristics, gets into the other houses and none but Pettigrew follow Dark paths, have a pureblood bias, etc.

Remember, I'm talking about the characters for whom JKR gives us any background. I'm not talking about other characters.

I left out Andromeda because I didn't know for sure where she was sorted. Do we know? If so, she becomes yet another Slytherin from a dysfunctional dark family who made ultimately good choices. But Peter is the only non-Slytherin who is not recorded as being from a dysfunctional "at risk" sort of background and yet went Dark.

Um, and Barty Crouch, Jr. I suppose it all depends on what you think of his parents. Personally, I don't know where he was sorted, but I consider Crouch Sr. a very repressive, unloving sort who did not appear to care for his son or have any knowledge about what he was up to. However, we could put Barty down as a kid from an otherwise law-abiding family with "normal" (?) parents who still went bad. If so, he's the only one other than Peter.

I think the weight of evidence is that in JKR's world, the dysfunctional "at risk" kids end up in Slytherin and tend toward very Bad life choices and attitudes. The kids who end up in the other Houses aren't from "at risk" backgrounds and only rarely make the Dark and criminal life choices.

Sorry, but I don't have time to edit this for glitches.



Orion - Mar 9, 2008 10:12 am (#152 of 445)
Do we get one single scene in which a Slytherin student does anything normal, nice and neutral? Do we see a Slytherin student laugh (not about the misfortune of a fellow student), chat (not about DE activities), work in a classroom or have any sort of interaction with other individuals which isn't aggressive or DE-related?

We can discuss the "problem kid" question for ages, but one thing is for certain: The people who were sorted into Slytherin but weren't evil are portrayed as people who "overcame" Slytherin.

There is a gaping hole between what Rowling says and what she writes. Part of it comes from the problem that the series grew more complicated than Rowling (wild assumption here) probably expected. PS is so different from OOP. It almost seems as if Rowling had had a specific age in mind in which to start the series, so the books grow up with the readers. We grown up readers don't really count. We are too few.

So any decent children's book has to have villains, not only a larger than life monster like LV, but little everyday villains who can make your life at school a misery. Rowling creates a House for them.

Problem: The Sorting Hat. Especially the Sorting Hat Song. Is he supposed to sing "All you who love to bully and have a racial prejudice against muggle-borns, come to Slytherin House so that everybody can see what you're up to and can ostrachize you and feel smug and be on a high moral hippogriff"?

The characteristics that the Sorting Hat Song praises, ambition and cunning, are not only conspicuously absent from the canon Slytherin students, they also don't have anything to do with racial prejudice. I can simply not see any logical or emotional relation between these character traits.

(BTW: What does bullying have to do with a racial prejudice? The Slytherins bully everybody who isn't from their house, also purebloods, and not only for being a blood-traitor, but also generally for being from Gryffindor, for example. You could say that Gryffindor is a muggle-friendly, therefore blood-traitor-suspicious house. But then again, the Sorting Hat Song emphasizes the bravery of Gryffindor House. Maybe you need some bravery to stand up to racially prejudiced members of the wizarding community, but apart from that, I can not see any relation between the muggle-friendly politics of Gryffindor and bravery. These characteristics don't have anything in common.)



Vulture - Mar 29, 2008 2:54 pm (#153 of 445)
I think the weight of evidence is that in JKR's world, the dysfunctional "at risk" kids end up in Slytherin and tend toward very Bad life choices and attitudes. The kids who end up in the other Houses aren't from "at risk" backgrounds and only rarely make the Dark and criminal life choices. (wynnleaf - Mar 6, 2008 2:27 pm (#151))

I've problems with applying this whole "at risk" idea, which is one from our present-day world, to JKR's imaginary one. For one thing, I feel that its logic takes us towards a point where we're not allowed to regard evildoers as truly guilty _ we have to feel sorry for them because of their bad upbringing, etc. Now, in real life, I know it's wrong to judge others, but I think we can with book characters.

Secondly, I feel that the logic of the "at risk" concept takes us towards a sort of us-and-them scenario, where we study a person as if they were some sort of insect, to analyse whether they're "at risk" or not. What I like about JKR's first 5 books _ as opposed to stuff she comes out with elsewhere _ is that there is some good old-fashioned calling those who do good, good , and those who do bad, bad. And yes, of course, there are those (like most of us) who do a mixture _ and should be called the right thing when appropriate.

Thirdly, I feel that the whole "at-risk" concept ignores how Slytherins regard themselves , and also, the influence of Slytherin ideas in the wizard world. Slytherins don't regard themselves as victims _ they regard themselves as an elite. (Draco and his family, for example, are solid, rich, wizard citizens.) Also, their self-image starts from what they have in common with the rest of the wizard world _ its feeling of separateness from Muggles.

We know that Harry is never comfortable among the Muggles he lives with during his childhood, and regards Hogwarts and the wizard world as "home". Of course, there are kinder Muggles than the Dursleys, but even kinder ones might have found difficulty bringing up a wizard kid. Hermione and her parents love each other, but there are many things they cannot share. In other words, in Draco's first two meetings with Harry, his (Draco's) attitudes to Muggles, though repugnant to Harry, arise from what he and Harry have in common , not what they differ on. What they agree on _ because it's obvious _ is that they're both wizards, and that this divides them from Muggles in many ways.

Of course, Draco, and his family, draw conclusions from this Muggle-wizard divide which are radically different to Harry's. In short, the devil, literally, is in the detail _ and in the choices.

Most non-Slytherin wizards don't share Slytherin's attitude to Muggles, but they recognise the wizard-Muggle divide it comes from. Many who are Slytherins, and are into the whole pureblood thing, might not want to take it as far as Voldemort _ but might feel attracted by his promise of a pureblood-dominated world. There's a strong analogy here with how Nazism arose: the Nazis didn't come out of nowhere _ they took ideas which were common in their society, but _ unlike others _ pushed them to their absolute limit. And many non-Nazis then felt conflicting pulls of (a) their own racism, and (b) their fear of where that racism was taking them and their world. But many of these people were not "at risk" in their own lives _ until the Nazis arrived, they were "normal" citizens.



Julia H. - Mar 29, 2008 3:16 pm (#154 of 445)
The problem is that Slytherin is a place for children with developing personalities and it is simply not good for them to be put together in this way on the basis of a bad tendency. And if they do not know that this tendency is a bad one, they are not likely to learn it from each other. Another problem is that sorting happens very early and it is final, while personalities and values (especially in the case of children) can change and could even change for the better but once they are sorted into Slytherin, there is no way out. At this age, peer groups are very important and children are likely to follow whatever is "fashionable" in the group where they belong and if there is no possibility to change the group, the pressure to assimilate is even stronger. So the bad tendency is reinforced, which is probably not the purpose of an educational institution.



zelmia - Mar 29, 2008 6:50 pm (#155 of 445)
Thank you Vulture for your excellent and eloquent post. I have been trying to say the same thing, but I'm afraid I lack your poise.

So the bad tendency is reinforced, which is probably not the purpose of an educational institution. - But the "bad tendency" is not being re-enforced at school. It is at home where these students learn the "pure-blood" ideology.



Julia H. - Mar 30, 2008 4:29 am (#156 of 445)
They learn it at home and it is reinforced at school since the kids with this tendency specifically are put together and apart form the kids with the opposing tendency. They reinforce the tendency in each other.



Vulture - Mar 31, 2008 8:44 am (#157 of 445)
Thanks very much, Zelmia !! And don't sell yourself short _ your posts look fine to me !!



PeskyPixie - Mar 31, 2008 9:10 am (#158 of 445)
It's a well-known fact in the Magical World that Slytherin House has a Dark mystique about it. JKR states that even in the next generation (i.e. Albus Severus's generation) Slytherin House is connected with Dark Magic, though it is no longer the hotbed of blood-status politics it once was.

An interest in the Darker side of magic, combined with cunning and ambition, may certainly make a kid more likely to succumb to temptation. Rather than disband the House, I feel that guidance is necessary to direct their natural traits and talents towards positive goals and interests.

Regarding idiots like Crabbe and Goyle, I think they are Sorted into the 'old' Slytherin which accepts families who are believers of Blood Purity. Surely these omega members of the Wizarding pack would not be considered for a Slytherin House which focuses on cunning and ambition ... but maybe their affinity for Dark spells would still allow them in?



Mrs Brisbee - Mar 31, 2008 9:40 am (#159 of 445)
I'd say Crabbe and Goyle were ambitious, if not particularly clever. They hitched their stars to Draco, son of a prominent Death Eater. Once Draco was out of favor, Draco was no longer the boss of them. Crabbe's actions in DH certainly show ambition-- he moved up in rank under the Carrows, and casting Feindfyre was certainly using any means (even stupid ones) to achieve his ends. Joining the Inquisitorial Squad in OotP was also ambitious. Crabbe and Goyle show a desire for advancement into positions of power. They might be artless, but I see them as definitely ambitious.



PeskyPixie - Mar 31, 2008 6:14 pm (#160 of 445)
You've raised a very interesting point, Mrs Brisbee. I admit that up until reading your post I had imagined the spectrum of Slytherin cunning and ambition to be covered by Voldy, Death Eaters, Snape and Slughorn.

So, are Crabbe and Goyle more than just omega idiots who instinctively cling on to alpha animals for protection? Are they craftier than this, or can this natural necessity and ability to spot and approach 'the biggest bully in the playground' another aspect of 'cunning and ambition'? Are Crabbe and Goyle indeed exemplary Slytherins?




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PeskyPixie - Mar 31, 2008 9:32 pm (#161 of 445)
I just read my previous post, and some of it makes no sense at all! Sorry. I was writing in a rush.

But you can still figure out what I meant ... right?



Michael Franz - Apr 1, 2008 6:57 pm (#162 of 445)
An interest in the Darker side of magic, combined with cunning and ambition, may certainly make a kid more likely to succumb to temptation.

"The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities that some consider to be... unnatural."

Rather than disband the House, I feel that guidance is necessary to direct their natural traits and talents towards positive goals and interests.

"You don't need guidance, Anakin."

But seriously, I do agree with this. But since when have Slytherins ever received guidance? Dumbledore shows a remarkable lack of interest in the way Snape runs his class and his House. He knows Snape is not qualified to give anyone moral guidance, but does nothing about it.



Julia H. - Apr 2, 2008 1:13 am (#163 of 445)
"Offer him help and guidance, he ought to accept, he likes you -"

(Just to add a quote to the quotes above.)

I think if Snape and Regulus had got proper guidance in time, they would never have become DE's. That is what their later history suggests, IMO.



wynnleaf - Apr 2, 2008 12:34 pm (#164 of 445)
Whether or not Snape had the inner ability to give moral guidance, he couldn't very well do it anyway, since he was supposed to be convincing enough that the children of Death Eaters wouldn't suspect he was disloyal. He couldn't exactly be leading his house away from Dark interests or LV.

But I don't think you see McGonagall doing much direct mentoring of her house either. My impression is that even in Gryffindor, kids are basically left to themselves except when major disciplinary issues arise, when students need a bit of help in deciding on classes, or if an emergency like an illness or injury occurs.

If you take these children, which appear in JKR's backstories, to be primarily children of Death Eaters, families heavily into the Dark Arts, or at least kids whose families lean toward dark interests and then put them, at 11 years old, in a 24/7 living situation where they get little outside mentoring, how in the world would anyone expect them to turn out?

The whole "at risk" label (and it is an unfortunate label), is derived from the data in real life that show that kids from certain types of difficult backgrounds or circumstances have a far higher likelihood of making very poor life choices or experiencing things like depression. Now if you take a bunch of kids like that and put them all in the same house, without any really positive mentoring within the house, what do you expect to happen? Exactly what you get -- all those risks are magnified and you find that the kids are even more likely to make the really bad choices.



Orion - Apr 2, 2008 1:41 pm (#165 of 445)
If they didn't, they'd be singled out by their peers and be outsiders, and even more likely to make bad choices.



Mrs Brisbee - Apr 3, 2008 11:31 am (#166 of 445)
Whether or not Snape had the inner ability to give moral guidance, he couldn't very well do it anyway, since he was supposed to be convincing enough that the children of Death Eaters wouldn't suspect he was disloyal. He couldn't exactly be leading his house away from Dark interests or LV.

Dumbledore never should have made Snape Head of Slytherin, then. Generations could have gone by before Lord Voldemort arose again. Hundreds of children deserved better.

The problem with Slytherin house started at its inception with its founder's ideals. It is hard to work past the bigotry, but once Slytherin had left the school the other founders were fine with keeping the four way sorting. Apparantly none of them saw it as a problem, but I don't know why.

If the school keeps the house system, the biggest problem I see is the almost complete segregation of the houses. The school should stop making the houses eat together, and maybe split up the classes more. As it is, students seem to hardly operate outside their house spheres.



Vulture - Apr 4, 2008 9:56 am (#167 of 445)
Dumbledore shows a remarkable lack of interest in the way Snape runs his class and his House. He knows Snape is not qualified to give anyone moral guidance, but does nothing about it. (Michael Franz - Apr 1, 2008 5:57 pm (#162))

I disagree _ given what we now know about Snape's loyalties, I think he was a shrewd choice as Head of Slytherin House, from Dumbledore's point of view. Dumbledore knew that Slytherin students wouldn't listen to him , but would, at least some of the time, listen to Snape, who seems to have been extremely popular with them. No-one is saying that the task of bringing Slytherin House back in harmony with the rest of Hogwarts is either easy or fast.

(I say "bringing back ", because _ from Book 2 on _ a theme is suggested (though not stated) of Slytherin House having a sort of curse on it since its Founder quarrelled with the others and left Hogwarts.)

The whole "at risk" label (and it is an unfortunate label), is derived from the data in real life that show that kids from certain types of difficult backgrounds or circumstances have a far higher likelihood of making very poor life choices or experiencing things like depression. Now if you take a bunch of kids like that and put them all in the same house, without any really positive mentoring within the house, what do you expect to happen? Exactly what you get -- all those risks are magnified and you find that the kids are even more likely to make the really bad choices. (wynnleaf - Apr 2, 2008 11:34 am (#164))

Well, I've answered some of this in my post #153. But also, I think we have to bear in mind that these are wizard kids, and that the Sorting Hat is something magical _ not just a Hogwarts version of our world's "streaming" students into different classes with different needs.

It's true that Snape is from a poor background, but I've read nothing to indicate that Slytherins in general are _ rather the reverse, if anything. I don't get the impression that they get depressed more than most, either.

Slytherin House represents a path the wizard world could have taken, with its own rationale for doing so. I personally am glad it didn't, but that's not the point. I don't feel that Slytherin House represents any sort of "deprived" section of society.

If the school keeps the house system, the biggest problem I see is the almost complete segregation of the houses. The school should stop making the houses eat together, and maybe split up the classes more. As it is, students seem to hardly operate outside their house spheres. (Mrs Brisbee - Apr 3, 2008 10:31 am (#166))

I disagree. Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws are keen rivals at Quidditch, but otherwise seem to have no problem mingling together. Slytherin House's exclusivity is by its own choice.



Julia H. - Apr 4, 2008 11:03 am (#168 of 445)
"I don't get the impression that they get depressed more than most, either." "I don't feel that Slytherin House represents any sort of "deprived" section of society." (Vulture)

Did anyone say they were depressed or deprived? Misguided perhaps. Most of these children inherit views that are not acceptable for the better half of wizarding society and these inherited views make them extremely likely to make bad choices especially if they strengthen these views in each other and do not receive guidance. They do not consider themselves "deprived", they are even proud of their views and their families and what they learn at home seems to be the normal way to look at things for them. They are - morally - at risk even if they do not know about it.

Snape giving Slytherin kids guidance:

Arguments for:

He was a Slytherin kid and he knows the house.

He knows it from experience just how bad the evil and dark path can be.

He seems to be liked by the kids in his house, which is a chance to influence them.

He is loyal to the good side.

Arguments against:

He needs guidance himself and he is emotionally unstable.

Slytherin children may know about his DE past.

At least from the time LV is trying to return (but maybe earlier), he needs to be ambiguous enough not to make DE parents suspicious.

Perhaps in the pre-Harry years Snape has a better chance to influence the kids in his House in the right way because LV is out of power and he is not a spy at the moment. (Trying to win house cups and Quidditch games is a better occupation for these children than dreaming about becoming DE's.) But Snape is still emotionally unstable and in need of guidance and help. After LV's return, he can do very, very little for the morals of Slytherin. (I don't think he has much time for that kind of thing anyway: he still teaches, then he reads and marks long home essays, spends time with LV and DE's, spends time with the Order, and gets extra assignments like teaching Harry occlumency or watching Draco.) Then when he - seemingly - kills the headmaster of the school, it probably makes the collective morals of the house hit the bottom.

"the Sorting Hat is something magical"

Well, it does seem to make mistakes sometimes but no change is possible afterwards. It seems wizards can be dependent on magical objects in the same stupid way as Muggles can be dependent on their computers. Sometimes it happens that a computer somewhere thinks you do not exist (or your number does not exist) and the human operating the computer cannot do anything, even though they realize it is an error. Wizards do the same: that is what the Hat said, it must be so. Or the Goblet of Fire has chosen a champion against the rules and intelligent humans know this but nothing can be done.

I agree with the "bringing back" idea and that it cannot happen easily or quickly.



Mrs Brisbee - Apr 4, 2008 11:33 am (#169 of 445)
Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws are keen rivals at Quidditch, but otherwise seem to have no problem mingling together. Slytherin House's exclusivity is by its own choice.-- Vulture

It seems to me that the current House system makes it easy. Too easy. A House sleeps together, eats together, takes classes together, and hangs out in their common room together. People from other houses might occasionally hang out together, but if they don't want to its easy to avoid others outside the House.



PeskyPixie - Apr 4, 2008 11:41 am (#170 of 445)
Lily and Severus's friendship seems to be an exceptionally rare occurance.



wynnleaf - Apr 4, 2008 12:59 pm (#171 of 445)
Vulture,

I didn't mean to imply that most Slytherins are from poor backgrounds, but it is true every Slytherin for whom JKR gives a background does have a strong "at risk" background. Every time JKR tells us a Slytherin student's background, we discover that they come from a family highly immersed in Dark Arts, or a family that condones and participates in highly criminal behavior (Death Eaters), or the student is an orphan (Tom Riddle), or the student has some other unusual and probably difficult background such as Snape with his poor and neglected background, or Zabini with his mother's 7 marriages and the husband's mysterious deaths. Sure she mentions other Slytherin students, but if she gives us any info about their backgrounds, it's what would normally be considered a highly "at risk" background.

No, I don't think the Hat sorts according to that. But perhaps what JKR is showing us is that the kids that enter Hogwarts interested in Slytherin happen to come from family backgrounds where they have practically been raised (intentionally or not) to promote the highest likelihood of making very bad life choices.

Are the Slytherins isolating themselves? Are they isolated due to the general House system at Hogwarts? Or are they isolated by the other Houses?

I'd say all of the above. We see students at Hogwarts, such as Fred and George, showing anti-Slytherin bias even to newly sorted 11 year olds, who haven't yet even had a chance to isolate themselves. We see Hagrid speak very disparagingly of Slytherin, falsely saying that all Dark wizards come from Slytherin -- even though he actually does know that's not true. We see all of the houses apparently cheering any other team than Slytherin at a Quidditch game.

Mrs Brisbee's comments about how all Houses are necessarily separated throughout the day by sitting at their own tables, etc, illustrates how the house system keeps Slytherin (and the other houses) isolated.

And we see Slytherin seeming to band together. I don't, by the way, see evidence that Slytherins isolate themselves from every other House. For instance, I see no evidence that they dislike Ravenclaw.

One might as well ask "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Is Slytherin so isolated because that's what they want? Or because everyone else isolates them? Does it matter?

From a school administration point of view, it shouldn't make any difference. The question shouldn't be what Slytherin kids want, but what is best. It would be better to integrate them with other Houses. Does the administration do anything to promote the integration of houses? I don't think much is done. I certainly think more can be done. After all, if newly sorted 11 year olds are given the impression that the rest of the school is against them from the first, what's going to motivate them to quit the isolationist attitudes?



Vulture - Apr 9, 2008 8:56 am (#172 of 445)
I don't, by the way, see evidence that Slytherins isolate themselves from every other House. For instance, I see no evidence that they dislike Ravenclaw. (wynnleaf - Apr 4, 2008 12:59 pm (#171))

Have we seen any evidence that they like Ravenclaw House ? I haven't noticed any myself, but maybe I'm wrong.

From a school administration point of view, it shouldn't make any difference. The question shouldn't be what Slytherin kids want, but what is best. It would be better to integrate them with other Houses. Does the administration do anything to promote the integration of houses? I don't think much is done. I certainly think more can be done. After all, if newly sorted 11 year olds are given the impression that the rest of the school is against them from the first, what's going to motivate them to quit the isolationist attitudes? (wynnleaf - Apr 4, 2008 12:59 pm (#171))

Dumbledore might agree with you up to the point of saying that division into four Houses was originally a bad idea (my impression is that division is what the Founders wanted), but that's not the question _ the question now is about dismantling the current system. The problem is, by now , loyalties have evolved and disbanding Houses (specifically Slytherin, for this thread's purposes) could not but annoy those loyal to it.



Solitaire - Apr 9, 2008 7:21 pm (#173 of 445)
Well, there is some attempt at "integration" by putting different houses together in certain classes. For example, we have seen Gryffindor and Slytherin taking potions together in more than one book.



Julia H. - Apr 10, 2008 1:26 am (#174 of 445)
I don't see these "mixed" classes as integration attempts precisely because only certain classes are mixed and they are always the ones (potions, herbology) which are taken in double periods. My conclusion is that Hogwarts students have more potions classes than e.g. DADA classes per week and the only way to do it is by putting the houses together. Just imagine: two class periods per week for one house would mean eight class periods per week for one year and there are seven years. Without the mixed classes, Snape would have to teach 56 potions classes a week. Wizard or not, that seems to be too much for a teacher. Mixing the classes enables students to have two potions classes a week, with Snape having to teach only 28 classes a week altogether. (The same may apply to Sprout.) This probably ensures that all teachers teach the same number of classes a week regardless whether the students take one class period or two class periods a week.



Julia H. - Apr 10, 2008 4:22 am (#175 of 445)
P.S. Hagrid's class is mixed too and the reason may be that Hagrid is a part-time teacher. (He is a gamekeeper in the first place.)



Solitaire - Apr 10, 2008 7:06 am (#176 of 445)
Whatever the "intent" of the faculty, the classes are mixed. Unfortunately, integration really has to be the choice of the students, doesn't it? Even if the professors paired each kid with a kid from another house for each task or project, that wouldn't guarantee true integration. There must be buy-in of the participants, and that has not really been evident among all of the houses.

Dumbledore's Army is the first place we see true integration among Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw students. They come together out of choice. We see it again in DH, when Neville rallied the Resistance. It is possible that this new generation of Wizards will be able to bring things back to what they once were ... maybe. The epilogue certainly hints at this.

Solitaire

Edit: I find it interesting that both Harry and Neville--as well as Dumbledore--seem to have the same ability to cut across artificial boundaries that separate the groups of Wizards and other magical beings.



Orion - Apr 10, 2008 8:33 am (#177 of 445)
The students shouldn't be separated in their common rooms all the time. There must be a curfew because Hogwarts is a dangerous place and students need their sleep. (But as soon as they are in their common rooms, it is left to the prefects to send the younger ones to bed (a job guaranteed to earn yourself a lot of dislike?), the heads of house don't poke their heads into the common rooms too often anyway.)

But I don't understand why the common rooms are built separately from each other, so that the students from different houses can't visit each other, at least, or do homework together. In summer they can meet outside, but in winter there is only the library as an open-for-all meeting place.

My impression that we see an all-time-low of Slytherin students during the Harry years at Hogwarts seems more and more probable to me. The open dislike between the houses seems to have got much worse than, let's say, in times where there was no Grindelwald and no Voldemort (who was from Hogwarts, unlike Grindelwald, so his terror must have affected the feelings in Hogwarts much more). When you read about Slughorn's memory you can imagine a fairly relaxed competitive spirit between the houses, free from the total hatred which developed after the first Voldemort years.

Slughorns attempts to mix houses in his parties cannot be praised enough, he is like a fresh breeze. I don't like how rude he is to Ron, but nobody's perfect, and he does at least try to do something constructive. (It is not his primary goal, as he is trying to weave a net of useful connections, but inter-house harmony may also be on his agenda.)



wynnleaf - Apr 11, 2008 2:03 pm (#178 of 445)
Dumbledore's Army, while a definite example of inter-house cooperation, also seems to me an example of the three other houses specifically excluding anyone in Slytherin. Now don't get me wrong -- I think JKR's writing versus her interviews creates some problem here.

According to her interviews, a large portion of Slytherin came back to fight against Voldemort in the battle of Hogwarts. Okay, if we decide to believe that -- and perhaps this is only a glitch in the books and not JKR trying to re-write after publication and criticism -- then that means that a good deal of Slytherin might have been interested in joining the DA and learning how to fight Voldemort better.

On the one hand, we might argue that the students wouldn't want to mention the DA around a Slytherin because they might get turned in. But on the other hand, it turned out to be a Ravenclaw that turned in the DA, so clearly it wasn't just Slytherins that could put the DA at risk.

As I recall, kids came to hear about the DA via word of mouth as various students talked about the need to get some real DADA training. As students who had learned about it talked about it, apparently the possibility of an extra-curricular organization spread about the school population and that's how a bunch of kids ended up meeting in Hogsmeade, and later how a large group gathered together at the Room of Requirement.

But apparently, even though we later learn that plenty of Slytherins would have wanted to oppose LV, none of the kids "in the know" were spreading this info about extra-curricular DADA help to the Slytherins. I haven't gone back and thoroughly looked, but my impression in OOTP was that the DA wanted to keep all info about the DA away from any Slytherin under the assumption that revealing the DA to any Slytherin would put the group at risk.

Yet, whether or not this assumption about Slytherin was true, the DA clearly didn't have the same assumption about members from other Houses, even though we learn later that the reality was that a Ravenclaw could betray the DA just as easily as a Slytherin -- and did. So even though the students appear to assume in OOTP that any Slytherin might betray the DA, even those opposed to LV, the students do not feel the same about nonSlytherins, leading to their mistake in trusting a Ravenclaw whose family was sympathetic to Ministry officials.

My point here is that even though some Slytherins in OOTP were joining Umbridge's Inquisatorial Squad, the nonSlytherin kids in the DA seemed to assume that all Slytherins were on Umbridge's side and that no Slytherins would be interested in learning more DADA in order to defend against Voldemort. Yet the students did not necessarily feel that way about other houses. And they appear to have been wrong. In fact (if we believe JKR), plenty of Slytherin kids were opposed to LV. And keeping the secret of the DA only between kids from 3 houses rather than all 4 houses did not protect the secret, because a nonSlytherin betrayed them.

So OOTP gives us an example of the rest of the houses having some strong misconceptions about Slytherin and keeping information about extra-curricular DADA training from Slytherin House because the other kids think Slytherins will not want the training and will betray the group.



Solitaire - Apr 11, 2008 7:12 pm (#179 of 445)
the DA clearly didn't have the same assumption about members from other Houses

They weren't too keen on Zacharias Smith, were they? Wasn't he invited only because he overheard someone else being asked? Even Seamus was not initially invited, was he?

Regarding Slytherins being excluded ... I know we have not seen any overtures by Gryffindors toward Slytherins; but have we seen Slytherins (aside from Snape and Sluggy) make any overtures of friendship to any of the other houses? If it appears that no Slytherins save Snape and Sluggy were opposed to Voldemort's power grab, how did we get that impression? Did the author want us to have it?

Solitaire



wynnleaf - Apr 11, 2008 9:50 pm (#180 of 445)
If it appears that no Slytherins save Snape and Sluggy were opposed to Voldemort's power grab, how did we get that impression? Did the author want us to have it? (Solitiare)

Definitely a big and loaded question. The problem is, I don't think we can know. Personally, I don't even think I'll "know" if JKR tells us. It's kind of like my comment about JKR's Pottercast statements that the Slytherins returned to fight. Was that really what she actually intended to write? Or was she "rewriting" after DH came out and people were pretty critical of the book looking like every Slytherin student was a Voldemort supporter? I don't see how we can know for sure.

I don't know what to think. Did she want the Slytherin students to look like they all supported LV? And therefore we shouldn't blame the rest of the students for assuming they were all Death Eaters in training? Or did she mean for us to believe her interview comments that not all Slytherins were bad? But if that was so, why not show some of them having friends in other Houses, or something?

Thing is, if not all Slytherin students were bad, then that must mean that not all were pureblood elitists, not all supported LV, etc. Which means that if the rest of the houses didn't even tell any Slytherins about the DA, or otherwise excluded them, then it's not because all the Slytherins were elitists and LV supporters. In other words, if they're not all bad, then whose fault is it that they all get marginalized by the rest of the school?



Orion - Apr 12, 2008 2:20 am (#181 of 445)
"Was that really what she actually intended to write? Or was she "rewriting" after DH came out and people were pretty critical of the book looking like every Slytherin student was a Voldemort supporter? (wynnleaf) I don't believe what she says in that interview, and I think you're right to assume that she reconsidered that question after she was criticized and tried to make the best of a bad job. There was nobody but Slughorn to come back. Just admit it, Jo.



Steve Newton - Apr 12, 2008 6:02 am (#182 of 445)
What the author intended to write seems to me to be irrelevant. What counts is the work and in the work there are no Slytherins who return for the fight.



Soul Search - Apr 12, 2008 8:18 am (#183 of 445)
In "The Sacking of Severus Sanpe" McGonagall says to Slughorn "But if any of you attempt to sabotage our resistance or take up arms against us within this castle, then, Horace, we duel to kill." Very strong words that surprised me on my first read. The statement established that, at least McGonagall, had reason to believe Slughorn or some Slytherins would fight against Hogwarts. And, the statement confirmed the Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff versus Slytherin conflict.

Then, in "The Battle of Hogwarts" scene where McGonagall is getting the students out of Hogwarts, just after Voldemort makes his "Give me Harry Potter" speech, Pansy Parkinson points out Harry and Gryffindors, Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs stand and face the Slytherins in a show of support for Harry. Again, a demonstration of the three houses against Slytherin.

Then the tables empty and we learn "The Slytherin table was completely deserted ...," where as some students remained at the other tables. "Completely deserted" is a strong expression that tells the reader all the the Slytherins left, and had no desire to remain. That is canon.

Later, outside canon, JKR tells us some Slytherins came back and fought for Hogwarts. This statement decidely conflicts with the impression I got from her very strongly worded statements in Deathly Hallows! How can I resolve this? There is nothing in any of the seven books that would even hint any Slytherins would be inclined to join the battle for Hogwarts.

I have decided that only canon counts. If she wanted some Slytherins to fight for Hogwarts, she should have put it in the books!



Solitaire - Apr 12, 2008 9:12 am (#184 of 445)
As to whether or not some Slytherins came back to fight, we may not know. Presumably some of the residents of Hogsmeade must have been former Slytherins. If so, and the residents came to help support Hogwarts, then we are surely free to suppose that there must have been a Slytherin or two among them. As to any Slytherin kids who do not support Voldemort, we certainly are not told of any. Since Slytherins are described as watching out for their own best interests, any Slytherin kids who did not support Voldy may have been told by their parents to keep quiet about it, "in their own best interests." Just a thought ...

Solitaire



PeskyPixie - Apr 12, 2008 1:14 pm (#185 of 445)
"The statement established that, at least McGonagall, had reason to believe Slughorn or some Slytherins would fight against Hogwarts." -Soul Search

Fight against Hogwarts, yes, but I don't know if this is because they love Voldy and hate their school. Slytherins, being naturally smart and cunning, are likely to look after their own interests first. I think McGonagall assumes that Slytherins will always try to pick the 'winning team' (in this case, Voldy and his Death Eaters), and gives Slughorn a 'wake up call' that in their war scenario, making the smartest personal move will be regarded as betrayal and the consequences will not be light. McGonagall's threat does Slughorn good as it assists him in making the right decision rather than the selfish one. In other words, Slytherins can accomplish much, but they often need that kick in the pants to get them going.

The Slytherin kids especially need guidance to learn how to control and direct their natural gifts.



wynnleaf - Apr 12, 2008 3:12 pm (#186 of 445)
I think McGonagall's comments to Slughorn, especially saying "you," are indicative of the bias or general Hogwarts assumptions about Slytherins. Slughorn, as far as anyone has ever said, didn't support LV and was never thought to support him. He had inner-house clubs and get-togethers all the time. If any teacher could be said to support inter-house unity, he'd be one. He was a friend of Dumbledore's.

And yet, still McGonagall speaks to him as though as far as she knows, Slughorn might just join up with LV. Does she say this to other teachers? Not as far as I recall. So it's a huge bias on her part, in my opinion. It's like she's communicating, "Just because you're a Slytherin, and regardless what inter-house things you've done, regardless of Dumbledore's friendship, regardless of your years of work here, I've got to assume you might join an evil dark lord and try to kill us all." If McGonagall would even say that to Slughorn, a teacher she'd worked with for many years, and yet not say similar words to any other teachers, then yes, I think there's a deep bias.



Soul Search - Apr 12, 2008 3:41 pm (#187 of 445)
wynnleaf, good points about Slughorn and McGonagall's bias.

I wondered why Slughorn remained at Hogwarts. From our introduction to him in HBP it seemed he only came back to Hogwarts because it was the safest place to be, with Dumbledore there. With Dumbledore gone ... Hogwarts, perhaps, became the most dangerous place.

McGonagall had been at Hogwarts a long time. She has seen a lot of Slytherins and Slughorn was Head of Slytherin House for a lot of her tenure. She has to know Slughorn rather well. Her bias may be well grounded.

Perhaps she was speaking to Slughorn as the head of Slytherin House more than to him as an individual, but she was rather strong in her statement. On my first read it made me wonder what was coming.

In the same scene as in my previous post Slughorn arrives and immediately says:

"What a to-do. I'm not at all sure whether this is wise, Minerva. He is bound to find a way in, you know, and anyone who has tried to delay him will be in most grevious peril --"
then McGonagall interrupted with her "fight to kill" speech. I guess she was resonding to Slughorn's cowardly statements, rather than any clear expectations of him joining Voldemort. But her statement contained a clear warning -- either fight on our side or GET OUT. Must have worked; Slughorn, at least, did fight for Hogwarts, even in his dressing gown.



Julia H. - Apr 12, 2008 3:43 pm (#188 of 445)
I agree with Wynnleaf. For all we can tell Slughorn might just be trying to say that it would not be wise to act in a rash way before other options are considered. (He is not a Gryffindor.) He is not indicating that he wants to join LV or that they should give up the castle, only saying that it is a dangerous business. Yet, McGonagall assumes Slughorn may even want to join LV - why?



Soul Search - Apr 12, 2008 3:49 pm (#189 of 445)
Julia H.,

Maybe not "join," exactly, but give in to his demands. That would be the safest action ... and fifty wizards would not have died. Of couse, as far as they knew, Voldemort would have made them all slaves, but they would still be alive.

Maybe McGonagall saw this future and, being a Gryffindor, chose the more dangerous path. Seems like one of those "easy" or "right" decisions Dumbledore spoke of.



Julia H. - Apr 12, 2008 3:59 pm (#190 of 445)
Soul Search, it is of course possible and I agree that resistance was the right thing to choose. McGonagall also knew that they were helping Harry, who was doing something very important. But what McGonagall told Slughorn sounded as if she thought Slughorn was capable of turning against them on Voldemort's side and I find it hard to believe that Slughorn was considering that. He ended up fighting bravely when it did come to fighting. Of course, McGonagall was under great stress at the moment, which may explain her reaction, but it still reflects a certain bias.



Soul Search - Apr 12, 2008 4:12 pm (#191 of 445)
Julia H.,

"... but it still reflects a certain bias."

I agree. McGonagall fully expected the other staff and houses to join the fight for Hogwarts, and she was very right. Her expectations for Slughorn and Slytherin were, at best, uncertain. Indeed, some Slytherins just may have joined the fight against Hogwarts, had they been allowed to stay within the castle. In fact, if I read things right, McGonagall insisted that ALL Slytherin students leave the castle.

We do know that Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle DID sneak back and DID try to fight on Voldemort's side. Draco's motivation isn't quite clear, he could just have wanted to stay away from Voldemort, but he at least told Crabbe and Goyle that is what they were doing.

So, McGonagall was right to mistrust the Slytherins and send them all out of the castle.



Solitaire - Apr 12, 2008 5:32 pm (#192 of 445)
Don't forget that McGonagall has just seen Snape "do a bunk." (Well, that's what she thinks has happened.) No wonder she is skeptical.



wynnleaf - Apr 13, 2008 1:40 am (#193 of 445)
But my point about McGonagall's comments to Slughorn is that it doesn't matter that Slughorn had given all the indicators of a "good" Slytherin, McGonagall still responds to him as though she has to assume he's going to follow evil. It's like her assumption is that the default response to any Slytherin, regardless of what they've demonstrated, is that they're more likely to follow evil than good.

On this thread and others we make a lot of comments that imply that if only Slytherins weren't so blood-prejudiced, or if only they showed a greater desire for unity, or if only they didn't act like Death Eater wannabees or something like that, then there wouldn't be such a feeling in Hogwarts that they were Bad. But I think we can see with Slughorn that it didn't make any difference.



Mrs Brisbee - Apr 13, 2008 4:36 am (#194 of 445)
To be fair to McGonagall, Slughorn is waffling. Sprout and Flitwick have stepped up to defend the school and lead their houses. Slughorn is worried that there's going to be trouble. Well, there is going to be trouble. Slytherin really could use a leader to encourage them to make the right choice, or at least keep them out of trouble. McGonagall is just telling it like it is because Slughorn needs to hear it and make a choice. I don't think she thinks he will join evil, only that he won't do anything. His choice never involved joining the Evil Guys, but actually lifting a finger and doing something about the situation. And he does finally do something for his students, by returning to fight and giving them and future Slytherins a head of house worth looking up to.



Orion - Apr 13, 2008 6:11 am (#195 of 445)
He's such an old man! McGonagall is really mean to talk to him like that. She is quite old herself, which earns her the right to talk like that in a way, but if any younger person did that I'd tell them to learn some manners. Slughorn, of all people, is so extremely unlikely to take the side of the DEs. McGonagall must be half-frantic to behave like she does.



Soul Search - Apr 13, 2008 7:44 am (#196 of 445)
I think we have to keep in mind that McGonagall had just gone through a year at Hogwarts under Snape and the Carrows. We don't know a lot of details, but Neville's talk as they are walking up the passage from the Hogs Head to the Room of Requirement and some later actions may give us some clues to McGonagall's statements regarding Slytherine house.

Neville is in bad shape and he says Seamus is worse. Neville got a deep gash on his cheek for refusing to perform the Cruciatus curse on someone.

Crabbe and Goyle, and others, love performing the Cruciatus curse on others.

Terry Boot (Hufflepuff?) got beat up by Carrow for yelling about Gringotts.

Michael Corner (Ravenclaw?) was tortured for releasing a first year.
There's more, but basically Gryfindors, Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs are hurt and abused, but not any Slytherins. In fact, some Syltherine's are doing the hurting and abusing. Slytherin house, no doubt, was well favored by Snape and the Carrows. We have to keep in mind, as Aberforth points out later, that a number of Slytherin students have Death Eater parents.

We also saw Pansy (Slytherin) point out Harry, wanting someone to grab him so he could be given to Voldemort. (This was later, but indicative.)

So McGonagall has just been through a school year of Hogwarts under Slytherin control, with Slughorn as head of Slytherin house, and her strong statements to Slughorn must reflect this. Did Slughorn do ANYTHING to reduce the carnage?



Solitaire - Apr 13, 2008 9:07 am (#197 of 445)
To be fair to McGonagall, Slughorn is waffling. Sprout and Flitwick have stepped up to defend the school and lead their houses. Slughorn is worried that there's going to be trouble.

I think McGonagall sees things pretty black and white by this point: You're either with us or against us ... there is no "I'm neutral" this time. I think she was forcing Slughorn to declare his allegiance to one side or the other.

Gryfindors, Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs are hurt and abused, but not any Slytherins. In fact, some Syltherine's are doing the hurting and abusing. Slytherin house, no doubt, was well favored by Snape and the Carrows.

I've never been a Snape fan, but I must remember that he was playing a role here. How would it have looked if he had taken up for kids whose parents were openly supporting Voldemort's opposition? I'm betting he did turn a blind eye to some of the things the "Resistance" pulled, because I think he could have found Neville and the others, if he'd tried. Snape is many things, but a dummy is not one of them. Perhaps he was supporting the "Resistance" in the only way he could--by letting them do what he could ignore without rousing suspicion against himself.

Solitaire



wynnleaf - Apr 13, 2008 9:54 am (#198 of 445)
The thing is, McGonagall is assuming and judging Slughorn based on what she's seen other people do, not him. Therefore her assumptions about him are based purely on the fact that he's a Slytherin, in spite of his friendship with Dumbledore, his long history of favoring students regardless of their House, his long interests in inter-house efforts, and his general lack of pureblood bias. What I think it shows is that in the end, his House affiliation -- and this is an old man, remember, decades out of being sorted into Slytherin -- is the primary thing McGonagall is judging him on.

So McGonagall has just been through a school year of Hogwarts under Slytherin control, with Slughorn as head of Slytherin house, and her strong statements to Slughorn must reflect this. Did Slughorn do ANYTHING to reduce the carnage?

What did anyone else do? Do we have reports of how Flitwick, or Sprout or anyone tried to reduce the carnage? Maybe Slughorn tried, in that year, to keep things as calm as possible -- who knows? The point is, with lack of any evidence that other teachers were doing oh-so-much while Slughorn did nothing, I don't think we can blame McGonagall's assumption that Slughorn might turn to LV on anything other than his sorting many decades previously.

After all, what evidence do we have that other teachers did even as much as inter-House efforts as Slughorn? What evidence do we have that other teachers gave so much personal attention to kids outside their own House as Slughorn? Slughorn shows more interest in helping kids from other Houses than any other teacher.

I'm not trying to be critical of McGonagall. I just think her comments are an excellent example of how the school's default assumptions about any Slytherin are very Bad, regardless of how "good" the Slytherin has been.



Orion - Apr 13, 2008 10:06 am (#199 of 445)
This is the wrong thread, but the whole story of Snape's headmaster year is a bit strange. What did the other teachers really do? They would hardly take everything lying down, would they? We don't get much information about their actions in that year, and I suspect that Rowling didn't know exactly what she wanted for them. How could they stay under a headmaster who was apparently a murderer? How did they behave?



Julia H. - Apr 13, 2008 10:13 am (#200 of 445)
Dumbledore made Snape promise to protect the students of Hogwarts if the school should fall into Voldemort's grasp. Portrait-Dumbledore also stressed the importance of Snape remaining "in Lord Voldemort's good books" so that the school should not be left to the mercy of the Carrows. Snape was there specifically to protect the students but of course "without rousing suspicion against himself". We know that Snape arranged mild (but seemingly severe) detentions for DA rebels in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid - far away from the Carrows. Neville talked about tortures that students had suffered in the hands of the Carrows, while about Snape he only said "Snape hated it" ('DA still recruiting') - which sounds as if Snape was angry whenever he caught the trouble-makers but did nothing more. The probable reason for sending the fake sword to Gringotts was (I think) to stop students from trying to break into the Headmaster's office and getting into trouble again. Ginny was banned from going out of Hogwarts after Phineas Nigellus discovered that Ron was with Harry (and not sick at home), while the village around Hogwarts was full of DE's. Luna, whose father had openly supported Harry for months, was caught by the DE's only as she was travelling home for Christmas but not while she was at Hogwarts. As far as we know, no rebellious student was ever taken out of Hogwarts by DE's - that would have been the most dangerous consequence of taking part in the resistance. Snape protected the students (ironically, nobody on the good side realized that but of course he had to do it in this way) and in this sense he was supporting the resistance, though he knew all the time that the success of the fight against Voldemort depended mainly on Harry and not on the resistance of students - but of course that became quite important in the end, too.

Slughorn's favourite student ever was a Gryffindor (Lily) and he adored Harry.

Good questions, Orion.




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Soul Search - Apr 13, 2008 11:17 am (#201 of 445)
wynnleaf,

Slughorn likely did not directly support the Carrows, but neither did he guide his Slytherins to resist them. If he had any special dinners, only Slytherins attended. In the climate created by the Carrows no other houses would be accepted by the Slytherins or safe in their company. Even in HBP Slughorn invited more Slytherins than the other houses.

"After all, what evidence do we have that other teachers did even as much as inter-House efforts as Slughorn?"

I think we did. JKR included the dialog among Flitwick and Sprout and, especially, McGonagall's strong statements to Slughorn to tell us how they performed during the school year.



wynnleaf - Apr 13, 2008 3:44 pm (#202 of 445)
JKR included the dialog among Flitwick and Sprout and, especially, McGonagall's strong statements to Slughorn to tell us how they performed during the school year. (Soul SEarch)

I'm not sure that we know why JKR included it or had it written that way. If I were to go by what JKR has written versus what she didn't write, I'd conclude that she included what she did about Slytherin because she wanted to tell us all Slytherins were evil, but JKR says that's not what she intended to convey. So just because JKR included that dialog doesn't necessarily mean she did it to "tell us how they performed during the school year."



Julia H. - Apr 14, 2008 3:20 pm (#203 of 445)
What did the teachers do that year?

We know about Hagrid's party and where that led. As for the others:

Neville: "Nah they /the Carrows/ make her /Umbridge/ look tame. The other teachers are all supposed to refer us to the Carrows if we do anything wrong. They don't though, if they can avoid it. You can tell they all hate them as much as we do."

So "they all". No exceptions are mentioned. However, that is not active resistance. But I'm sure Snape expected his colleagues NOT to refer the students to the Carrows, so that was a totally empty decree.

Snape: "I did not know that it was your night to patrol the corridors, Minerva."

That sounds as if the "ordinary" teachers did patrol the corridors at night in turns. What for? To catch rule-breakers and refer them to the Carrows? Supposedly, in theory. But it is quite clear that the real purpose was to have them cover up anything that might get the students into trouble. They could also watch out for anybody (DE's, Dementors, who were "guarding" the entrances) trying to get into the castle. So I think Snape cleverly made it possible for his colleagues to participate in the protection of students and that is what they probably did.



Soul Search - Apr 14, 2008 6:47 pm (#204 of 445)
Julia H.,

Good observations. Snape was subtle in his protecting students.



Dryleaves - Apr 15, 2008 4:31 am (#205 of 445)
I still wonder why nobody ever saw through it, though. Students are being crucioed for basically nothing, then some of them break into the headmaster's office trying to steal the sword of Gryffindor and they get sent out in the forbidden forrest with Hagrid, just like in the good old days. Had they just bothered to look they would probably have seen the pattern. They were just so sure Snape was evil.



Orion - Apr 15, 2008 9:11 am (#206 of 445)
Snape wasn't so perfect in protecting students as you all say. He couldn't prevent the Carrows from turning "DADA" into "DA", he couldn't prevent them from torturing students or make the students torture each other and all those other atrocities Neville tells about. Snape's hands are tied by the need to keep his cover, so the students have to suffer a lot. Snape is pretty helpless against the Carrows.



Julia H. - Apr 15, 2008 1:57 pm (#207 of 445)
Orion, and don't think anybody wants to say that Snape was able to protect the students perfectly or completely, though I don't think the reason was that he "imperfectly" protected them. He did have to keep his cover because if he had been suspected and removed (i.e. killed), nobody of any power would have protected anybody any more at Hogwarts and there would have been nobody to tell Harry the last piece of information. Obviously, he could not tell the Carrows not to torture students without raising suspicion, the question was probably whether it was Snape or the Carrows who got to the students first and this is why the idea of other teachers patrolling seems to be a good one, because under some official pretext, they could be there to help, since Snape could not be everywhere and all the time. (With Dementors at the entrances, patrolling seems to be necessary anyway.) I don't think Snape is "helpless' against the Carrows - he may have saved any number of students but he could not save them all. As for why nobody on the good side realized what Snape was doing: I think as long as they thought he was DD's murderer, nothing he could do was likely to change their opinion of him and Snape had to play his part as convincingly as possible to disguise the protection.



Dryleaves - Apr 16, 2008 1:57 am (#208 of 445)
"As for why nobody on the good side realized what Snape was doing: I think as long as they thought he was DD's murderer, nothing he could do was likely to change their opinion of him and Snape had to play his part as convincingly as possible to disguise the protection." (Julia)

Well, I realise this. I just went through Filch's punishment records in my head and saw this very clear pattern of crucios and detentions and who gave what, but I guess most of the punishments were off the record.



Solitaire - Apr 16, 2008 7:16 am (#209 of 445)
Wasn't one of Snape's "punishments" for Ginny, Luna, and Neville to do detention with Hagrid? Forgive me, but how big a punishment is that for these three? Snape surely knew these three kids would welcome such a "chore." Even though I've never been a fan of Snape, it seems to me that he goes out of his way to protect these particular kids. He even got Ginny out of Hogwarts and safely home as quickly as possible, didn't he?

Solitaire



Vulture - May 7, 2008 7:36 am (#210 of 445)
Dumbledore's Army is the first place we see true integration among Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw students. (Solitaire - Apr 10, 2008 7:06 am (#176))

It's worth noting that this isn't problem-free at first. Also, there have been hints of integration before the D.A. _ in Book 2, there's the beginning of friendly relations, if not friendship, between Harry and Eddie Macmillan. Book 3 is where Harry first becomes attracted to Cho, and in Book 4, there are several pairings-off across House lines at the Ball, and of course, there's Harry and Cedric's co-operation.

My impression that we see an all-time-low of Slytherin students during the Harry years at Hogwarts seems more and more probable to me. The open dislike between the houses seems to have got much worse than, let's say, in times where there was no Grindelwald and no Voldemort (who was from Hogwarts, unlike Grindelwald, so his terror must have affected the feelings in Hogwarts much more). When you read about Slughorn's memory you can imagine a fairly relaxed competitive spirit between the houses, free from the total hatred which developed after the first Voldemort years. (Orion - Apr 10, 2008 8:33 am (#177)

Well, it's easy to be relaxed when one is winning _ and just before Harry arrives, Slytherin House has been winning Cups all round them for years. Then Harry comes and takes away their House Cup _ and would have taken their Quidditch Cup too, if he hadn't been in a coma for the last match. Year 3 is his first chance, as Seeker, to get a straight run at the whole tournament _ and Gryffindor takes it.

Being logged out !! .....



Vulture - May 15, 2008 8:03 am (#211 of 445)
Dumbledore's Army, while a definite example of inter-house cooperation, also seems to me an example of the three other houses specifically excluding anyone in Slytherin. Now don't get me wrong -- I think JKR's writing versus her interviews creates some problem here. (wynnleaf - Apr 11, 2008 2:03 pm (#178))

Well, I wouldn't agree with the first sentence _ but I do agree with the second, about JKR.

When Dumbledore's Army was founded, yes, the students who came to the Hog's Head had gathered by word of mouth, and yes, I can accept the point that, because Slytherins were unlikely to be in friendly chatter with other Houses, even a "good side"-inclined Slytherin wouldn't be there.

But I'm afraid one can't blame the DA for this. We see that they are perfectly prepared to include people whom Our Trio (and indeed, Gryffindors in general) dislike on a personal level _ e.g. Zacharias Smith. Not only that _ when they start to suspect betrayal, Hermione puts a stop to all speculation about Smith with her "spot" test.

If a Slytherin had shown up, he/she might have had to deal with initial suspicion, but I believe that, if he/she proved loyal, Harry would value them as Dumbledore valued Snape.

The fact is, Slytherin did set up an "Army" of their own _ to support Umbridge.



Soul Search - May 15, 2008 11:36 am (#212 of 445)
We get most of our early history of Hogwarts from Professor Binns in CoS and from the Sorting Hat. There were four founders but Slytherin had a falling out and left (was forced to leave.) It appears the "falling out" has ruled the relationship among the four houses for a thousand years. We have had no references to any time when the houses did not reflect this division.

The Harry Potter years at Hogwarts are no exception: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff mostly get along and are united against Slytherin, even in mundane things like Quiditch.

As an aside, I wonder if there is any significance to Gryffindor and Ravenclaw living in "towers," but Hufflepuff and Slytherin living in dungeons.



Dryleaves - May 15, 2008 12:19 pm (#213 of 445)
As an aside, I wonder if there is any significance to Gryffindor and Ravenclaw living in "towers," but Hufflepuff and Slytherin living in dungeons. (Soul Search)

I think so. They represent different things, e.g. Gryffindor -fire, Ravenclaw -air/wind, Hufflepuff -earth and Slytherin -water. They come from different types of landscapes, don't know if I remember correctly, but something like Gryffindor -moor, Ravenclaw -mountain, Hufflepuff -valley and Slytherin -fen. This matches the towers and dungeons pretty well.



Julia H. - May 15, 2008 1:28 pm (#214 of 445)
Interesting observations about the different landscapes. So far I have thought that Gryffindor and Ravenclaw and Slytherin are where they "deserve" to be and Hufflepuff being also in the dungeons may be because of a need for some balance and/or because this house is not valued (by the author) as highly as the other "good houses". However, the elements and landscapes are better explanations. But still there is a a balance aspect in this, even more so, since the "whole world" seems to be divided among the four founders (the four elements, four landscapes, two men - two women, i.e. the male principle and the female principle equally represented). This means that with Slytherin's "falling out" the balance of the whole (wizarding) world was upset and harmony can only be regained if the four groups are united again. Now I wonder what the death of Slytherin's last descendant should mean in this context: is it the end of the reason for enmity as well or does it mean that the chance of reconciliation is lost for ever (since there is no remaining legitimate heir of Slytherin who could "officially" participate in the reconciliation) and the world remains in a state of disharmony? (I prefer the first version...)



mona amon - May 15, 2008 8:56 pm (#215 of 445)
Now I wonder what the death of Slytherin's last descendant should mean in this context: is it the end of the reason for enmity...(Julia)

Well, nineteen years after the death of Slytherin's last heir, nothing seems to have changed much. Little James, Albus Severus and even Ron still seem to think that getting sorted into Slytherin is the ultimate dishonour.



wynnleaf - May 15, 2008 10:07 pm (#216 of 445)
I agree with Mona Amon. In the epilogue, Slytherin does not, in my opinion, appear to have achieved any greater harmony with the other houses than it had while Harry was in school. It is still looked upon not just with suspicion, but as the House that others look down on. As a matter of fact, given the general "rules" that JKR seemed to establish about what constituted harmony (the houses being balanced and working together; some unity), I don't quite see how the "all is well" can be asserted at the end when harmony -- the supposed goal the Sorting Hat had given for the Houses -- had never been achieved.

Actually, in my opinion "all was well" in about the way everything was "well" at the end of WWI. Not exactly of course, but I mean that in my opinion, the disunity, and the way the Wizarding World apparently still regards 1/4 of its citizens, is a perfect set up for the rise of yet another Dark Lord and eventually yet another war.



Solitaire - May 15, 2008 10:09 pm (#217 of 445)
Is it truly a "dishonor," or are these young kids simply fearful, after all, thanks to all of the "history" they have no doubt heard since the day they were born? Think about it ... When the little Potters ask their parents about the Slytherin kids they knew when growing up, which friendly, little charmer are they going to tell them about--Draco? Pansy? Millicent? Crabbe & Goyle?

The truth is that old beliefs die hard, even when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary--and there isn't a lot of evidence in Harry's generation, is there? I suspect it's going to take a few generations of Slytherin kids just blending in with the other three houses before the negative distinction dies away. JM2K, of course ...

Solitaire



mona amon - May 16, 2008 4:00 am (#218 of 445)
I suspect it's going to take a few generations of Slytherin kids just blending in with the other three houses before the negative distinction dies away.

So why not speed up the process by simply disbanding Slytherin?



Julia H. - May 16, 2008 5:23 am (#219 of 445)
My question referred to the possibility of a more definite reconciliation, not just the gradual "blending" on a more "realistic" basis but something as definite and symbolic and long-lasting (in its effects) as Slytherin's departure was a 1000 years ago - even if it does not mean immediate "blending" for everyone. Maybe the way Snape - a reformed Slytherin - dies (killed by Slytherin's heir and Slytherin's animal) for the "greater good" of all the "houses" (together representing the world) can be the symbolic event that seals a new "contract" between Slytherin and the other houses indicating Slytherin's (gradual) return and at least the chance of a new harmony. (The realization of this chance is probably in the hands of the new generations.)



Dryleaves - May 16, 2008 5:28 am (#220 of 445)
Maybe we should remember Phineas Nigellus' words:

And let it be noted that Slytherin house played its part! Let our contribution not be forgotten!



Soul Search - May 16, 2008 6:37 am (#221 of 445)
The problem is the sorting hat. It is the connection to the founders of a thousand years ago and it perpetuates their prejudices.



Solitaire - May 16, 2008 7:10 am (#222 of 445)
Mona, I suspect that the characteristics of all four houses, properly blended, would make the perfect character. A character with zero ambition or self-interest wouldn't be too wise, would it?

As to the Sorting Hat ... once the new events are added to its lore--meaning the role of Snape and his part in helping Harry and bringing about downfall of Voldemort's reign--don't you think it will be less fearsome for the kids to hear the Hat's sorting decision? Harry is already doing his part to stop the prejudice. Doesn't Slytherin House deserve a chance to prove that things have changed?

Solitaire



Julia H. - May 16, 2008 7:15 am (#223 of 445)
If the Sorting Hat can be updated, that is a good thing. If it keeps 1000-year-old prejudices, that is another example of magic vs common sense.



Orion - May 16, 2008 2:01 pm (#224 of 445)
Well, it's an old hat. And it belongs to Gryffindor. DD belongs to Gryffindor. Harry belongs to Gryffindor. Little Albus is Harry's son. A different child might or might not have the same fears, but Harry's kid, of all people, has heard enough stories to be afraid. Sensible parents will not tell their children stories to give them a bias, but children might catch the odd whispering or meaningful glances. We only see this one family in the epilogue, and Ron's and Hermione's, who are also from Gryffindor. Who else has children who are mortally afraid of being sorted into Slytherin? We can't assume that all children except those from "bad families" share the same fears.



mona amon - May 16, 2008 9:09 pm (#225 of 445)
I suspect that the characteristics of all four houses, properly blended, would make the perfect character. A character with zero ambition or self-interest wouldn't be too wise, would it? (Solitaire)

Solitaire, I used the words 'disband Slytherin' because that's the name of this thread and so came easily to mind, but I didn't mean 'abolish Slytherin' or 'get rid of all Slytherin characteristics'. I don't think that would even be possible. What I really meant was, disband all the houses and then use some completely random method of sorting, so that the kids are not grouped together based on personality traits and characteristics. Of course the magic would go out of it, but it would be a lot more fair, IMO.

Well, it's an old hat. And it belongs to Gryffindor. (Orion)

But didn't all the founders 'put some brains' into the hat? Should a pureblood supremacist, a 'twisted old loony' who wants to kill muggleborns be allowed to select students who are most likely to serve his purposes?

We can't assume that all children except those from "bad families" share the same fears.

I think the Potter kids are more likely to have picked up the anti-slytherin prejudice from school, rather than from their parents. At first they were probably influenced by their older cousins or Teddy Lupin. So an already biased James goes to Hogwarts and gets sorted into Gryffindor. He comes back and teases his brother about getting sorted into that horrible house, Slytherin. I feel this shows that the anti-Slytherin bias is still very much prevalent in Hogwarts.



wynnleaf - May 17, 2008 7:23 am (#226 of 445)
I don't know, I think maybe the kids were getting some bias outside of school as well. Remember the comment that (and sorry, I don't have my book right here) the Weasleys would be really upset if one of the grandchildren married a pureblood? To me, it kind of sounded like a backlash against the pureblood elite ethic, which had somehow transformed into "don't marry a pureblood," which could just as easily equate to "pureblood is now undesirable." My impression is that whatever Harry may have said about Slytherin to his own children, Ron was just as likely to continue to be biased against Slytherin and his children would learn his bias. And since the two families would be close friends, the younger generation would be hearing a biased viewpoint from adults. And anyway, Harry's family is a wizarding family. One would expect that his children grew up knowing not just Weasleys, but many other wizarding families as well. The children's opinions about Slytherins wouldn't just stem from whatever Harry happened to say or not say.

Further, because young Albus Severus seems to know practically nothing positive about either his namesake or Slytherin, it seems that Harry wasn't saying much of anything about Slytherin one way or the other, making it even easier for his children to be influenced by what they'd hear elsewhere.

Like my earlier example of how nations treat each other after wars end, it's important to not treat even a defeated nation in such a way that disenfranchises them or otherwise makes the nation feel that "everyone hates us," because that just continues the "us and them" mentality which can lead to yet more war down the road. And in Slytherin's case, it wasn't Slytherin that was the "enemy" and in fact, Slytherins helped on the side of the Order.

I like the idea of emphasizing the good things that Slytherins have done, rather than emphasizing and continuously rehashing the "all bad wizards come from Slytherin" mentality which is incorrect anyway. I think young Slytherins, and even the other Houses, would have been helped, in those intervening 19 years, to have been shown the good side of Slytherin history, and have the efforts of Snape and even Slughorn emphasized to everyone.

I don't get the impression that young James has any conception of there being brave war heroes from Slytherin. Maybe if someone had been recounting the past deeds of good Slytherins, or even just pointing out the everyday deeds of the Slytherins that didn't go bad, kids like James wouldn't still have this notion that Slytherin equates to "bad" even 19 years after the war.



Julia H. - May 17, 2008 7:35 am (#227 of 445)
Like my earlier example of how nations treat each other after wars end, it's important to not treat even a defeated nation in such a way that disenfranchises them or otherwise makes the nation feel that "everyone hates us," because that just continues the "us and them" mentality which can lead to yet more war down the road. And in Slytherin's case, it wasn't Slytherin that was the "enemy" and in fact, Slytherins helped on the side of the Order. (Wynnleaf)

Very well said.



mona amon - May 17, 2008 9:03 am (#228 of 445)
And in Slytherin's case, it wasn't Slytherin that was the "enemy" and in fact, Slytherins helped on the side of the Order. (Wynnleaf)

But they joined the enemy! "He did not come and join me, like the rest of the Slytherins."- Voldemort in DH, chapter 32.

I suppose LV is exaggerating a bit, he doesn't seem to have missed Crabbe and Goyle for instance, but this does mean that quite a number of Slytherins did come to him.

And Snape and Slughorn are the only ones who helped on the side of the order. That's not much of a case for Slytherin.

I noticed that even after the pro-Slytherin lecture Harry gives him, young Al still eagerly seizes the loophole Harry provides. He definitely does not want to be in Slytherin, let the Severus after whom he was named be ever so brave.



Julia H. - May 17, 2008 9:28 am (#229 of 445)
I don't know if I understand it correctly but to me Wynnleaf seemed to be saying that whatever even the majority of Slytherins did cannot be blamed on every single Slytherin (past and future). There were Slytherins on the good side if ever so few and there were non-Slytherins on the bad side (Pettigrew in any case). Future generations of Slytherins cannot be blamed for things that happened before they were even born.

And Snape and Slughorn are the only ones who helped on the side of the order. That's not much of a case for Slytherin. (Mona)

Well, not much if we look at the number but much more if we look at the contribution. (It counts on both sides: it was a Gryffindor who helped Voldemort to be reborn.) Would Harry have succeeded if Snape had not protected him for years? Would the good guys in the school have been so strong and would there have been so many of them alive, if Snape had not protected them in the DH year and right after DD's death? Would Harry have known how to finish his quest and the battle if Snape had not remained loyal to his duty till the end?



Solitaire - May 17, 2008 10:30 am (#230 of 445)
I think the Potter kids are more likely to have picked up the anti-slytherin prejudice from school, rather than from their parents. At first they were probably influenced by their older cousins or Teddy Lupin. So an already biased James goes to Hogwarts and gets sorted into Gryffindor.

Well, James couldn't have picked up his prejudices from school, could he, considering he hasn't even been to Hogwarts to get sorted? You have to remember that the school wasn't starting from scratch after the final battle. There were still kids there who had from one to six more years to go. Even if the returning Slytherin kids were perfect angels from that day forth, that would not preclude the kids talking about previous events ... and new kids hearing those things and being afraid. It may take a few generations for some of the old stories to die down. Then again, as long as Hogwarts: A History survives and is a required text, everything is going to be there for anyone to read. And what is so bad about knowing one's history? Knowing it and understanding it are the only possible ways to change it.

As to tossing out the Sorting Hat ... why? It has attempted to be a positive force, encouraging unity in Hogwarts. Throughout the books, the Sorting Hat has been a harbinger of what would come, if the different houses didn't unite and work together. After all, when it suggested that Harry might do well in Slytherin, it didn't say he would do well because he was a selfish, evil git ... did it? Rather, it mentioned many good qualities he possessed and added that Slytherin could help him on his way to greatness. Suggesting that someone has the potential for greatness isn't evil. It is PEOPLE who put the evil spin on things ... not the Hat. Then again, I like traditions. Instead of tossing them out, perhaps more attention should be paid to why and how things got to be as divisive as they were ... and what can be done to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Solitaire



wynnleaf - May 17, 2008 4:23 pm (#231 of 445)
Well, James couldn't have picked up his prejudices from school, could he, considering he hasn't even been to Hogwarts to get sorted? (Solitaire)

I think what was meant was that in the Epilogue, James has apparently been tormenting Albus Severus about maybe being in Slytherin. At that point, James had been at school for a few years, right?

I don't know if I understand it correctly but to me Wynnleaf seemed to be saying that whatever even the majority of Slytherins did cannot be blamed on every single Slytherin (past and future). There were Slytherins on the good side if ever so few and there were non-Slytherins on the bad side (Pettigrew in any case). Future generations of Slytherins cannot be blamed for things that happened before they were even born. (Julia)

Yes, exactly. But in addition, if you want Slytherins -- the young ones I mean -- to not feel so disenfranchised, suspected, and generally disliked from the moment they're sorted, the school could begin to really emphasize the good aspects of Slytherin, individual Slytherins who didn't follow Evil, etc. The way to change isn't to just say that everyone else in other houses is doing just fine and all those Slytherins, starting at age 11, just need to learn (somehow?) to follow the good guys and stop following evil. I mean, obviously the status quo way Hogwarts was handling things with the Slytherins had not been working. So Hogwarts has to do something different if they want Slytherins to stop following Evil en masse. I mean, what school would just look at 25% of the students ages 11-18 and think "Gosh, it's too bad they all choose to follow Evil. Hopefully they learn better eventually. Maybe all those parents/uncles/aunts/syblings dying off a few years back will teach them a thing or two."

So what to do differently? I don't think unity between the houses can be achieved by just leaving things as they are and hoping for the best. Sure, Hogwarts A History is going to have the story of the war in its pages eventually, but all history books have some sort of bias in them, if only due to the choice of what to include and what to exclude. Will the next editions of Hogwarts a History emphasize, in addition to the Slytherins involved with Voldemort, those Slytherins who fought against him? Or those Slytherins that didn't follow him and spent their energies completely other areas than Dark Arts? How history is taught has a great deal to do with how history is perceived by future generations. If Hogwarts faculty and administrators truly want to foster unity, they can teach the history - without sacrificing facts - in such a way that inspires future Slytherins to make good choices, instead of simply making them feel disenfranchised, hated and bitter.



mona amon - May 17, 2008 8:49 pm (#232 of 445)
Well, James couldn't have picked up his prejudices from school, could he, considering he hasn't even been to Hogwarts to get sorted? (Solitaire)

I feel he (and the other Potter kids) picked up the anti-Slytherin bias from their older cousins (who would have picked it up from school), then James goes to school himself, comes back and reinforces Al's prejudice. So when it's time for Al to join Hogwarts, he has a very real fear of being sorted into Slytherin.

If Hogwarts faculty and administrators truly want to foster unity, they can teach the history - without sacrificing facts - in such a way that inspires future Slytherins to make good choices, instead of simply making them feel disenfranchised, hated and bitter. (Wynnleaf)

I completely agree with this, and no doubt the defeat of Voldemort, the revelation of Snape's true loyalties, and an atmosphere where the pureblood ideology is unfashionable would have helped.

But where are the good Slytherins to hold up as examples? True that Snape had a pivotal role in the defeat of Voldemort, but he (and Regulus Black) only became 'good' by turning their backs on what they had learnt in Slytherin.

After all, when it suggested that Harry might do well in Slytherin, it didn't say he would do well because he was a selfish, evil git ... did it? Rather, it mentioned many good qualities he possessed and added that Slytherin could help him on his way to greatness. (Solitaire)

The hat first mentions several qualities that it sees in Harry, courage, talent, thirst to prove himself, but doesn't imply that these are Slytherin qualities. Only when Harry says 'not Slytherin', it makes its suggestion that he could be great and Slytherin would help him on his way to greatness. But what sort of greatness?

I do not think traditions should be followed once they have outlived their usefulness. The hat, whatever songs it may sing, was created for the sole purpose of dividing the students based on the prejudices of the founders, and unity will never be acheived if those founders, who died over a 1000 years ago, are still allowed to have a say in the matter.



wynnleaf - May 18, 2008 6:10 am (#233 of 445)
But where are the good Slytherins to hold up as examples? True that Snape had a pivotal role in the defeat of Voldemort, but he (and Regulus Black) only became 'good' by turning their backs on what they had learnt in Slytherin.

I disagree with this. They turned their backs on Voldemort, but your statement implies (perhaps inadvertently), that in turning their backs on Voldemort, they were turning their backs on their Slytherin characteristics. I don't see that at all. Perhaps using "any means" to achieve ones ends can also be used in a very admirable way, if one's "ends" are of the utmost good and the "any means" includes giving up your life.

By the way, as far as teaching history, perhaps an example is in order. I grew up in the US deep South, which was defeated in the Civil War, a war that obviously has to be taught in some depth to every generation of kids. Do you think that it's taught to Southern US kids as though the southerners in the war were the Bad Guys? No it's not. Certainly, slavery itself is taught as a terrible thing, and there may be taught some examples of some terrible people who did awful things to slaves or regarding slaves. But in general, even though most of the South supported the Confederacy and fought against the North, kids in the South aren't taught in such a way as to imply that their ancestors were Bad People. The point really isn't whether they truly were or weren't. But these kids are also taught all sorts of things about national unity and pride, and patriotism, etc. You can't teach "be proud to be an American" and "most of America thinks your ancestors are evil," at the same time.

Even if there are only a few Slytherins that didn't follow Voldemort, Hogwarts would still need to find a way to not teach "your families were, and perhaps still are evil." It just doesn't work and it certainly doesn't produce unity. The notion that Slytherin kids will follow the shining Light banner of the Good Guys, who just happened to be instrumental in the deaths of many of these kid's family members, is not realistic. If those "good guys" are equated with being "non-Slytherin" that's even worse.



mona amon - May 18, 2008 7:52 am (#234 of 445)
I disagree with this. They turned their backs on Voldemort, but your statement implies (perhaps inadvertently), that in turning their backs on Voldemort, they were turning their backs on their Slytherin characteristics. (Wynnleaf)

I'm not sure exactly what is meant by Slytherin characteristics. If we go by what the Hat says, these are cunning, great ambition and using any means to get their ends. Not a great combination. But I was talking more about what they learnt in Slytherin- That purebloods are superior to the rest (of course Regulus learnt that at home as well), that Voldemort had the right idea and signing up with him would be a smart move, that the Dark Arts were good and so on. I know that there may have been Slytherins who did not get influenced in this way, but we aren't shown a single one other than Slughorn.

Actually I liked your post. You make a very good point. My only history book for the Civil War is Gone with the Wind , but the Southerners fought bravely, had their war heroes by the dozen, etc. But what can you tell the Slytherins when they all made an exodus from the Great Hall when they heard Voldemort's announcement, and a lot of them seem to have joined him? Did they fight bravely for Voldemort, and is this to be praised?



wynnleaf - May 18, 2008 8:36 am (#235 of 445)
If we go by what the Hat says, these are cunning, great ambition and using any means to get their ends. Not a great combination. (mona amon)

What's wrong with cunning and great ambition? Nothing. And "using any mean to achieve their ends?" That just depends on what form it takes. "Any means" isn't necessarily bad. It depends on what the goal is and what forms the "any means" take. If "any means" equates to a person willing to give up everything even to the extent of their life to achieve an important and good end, than that characteristic is highly admirable. Bravery isn't inherently good either. Bravery can be extremely bad if the person is bravely doing something particularly wrong. It's just that "brave" has a positive connotation while "cunning" has a negative one, but in fact neither are necessarily good or bad.

But what can you tell the Slytherins when they all made an exodus from the Great Hall when they heard Voldemort's announcement, and a lot of them seem to have joined him? Did they fight bravely for Voldemort, and is this to be praised? (mona amon)

I'll go back to the real example of what kids in the South can be taught about the Civil War. The main thing isn't to teach them about war heroes. It's to teach the deep human struggles, feelings and motivations around why the South made the choices they did. That doesn't mean avoiding teaching that slavery is an Evil. But it does mean that you don't just say with "Southerners supported evil" and that's why they fought a war. That's simplistic, wrong, and achieves nothing. Instead, you go into the ins and outs of why people felt the way they did, what they claimed their motivations were at the time (like the state's rights arguments, for instance), or the pressures of economics. You don't just imply that "these guys were evil and supported evil things."

Okay, so with Slytherin, do you just go on about "Slytherins loved Dark Arts and supported evil. Aren't we glad they lost? Be better. Don't be evil like your families were." That doesn't do anything but promote bitterness and resentment. A better approach would be to realistically talk about why Slytherins traditionally were interested in Dark Arts, why pureblood elitists held the opinions they did (not just "they were bad, that's why they were elitists!") or why the real pressures in the Wizarding World made the politics of Voldemort seem reasonable to many Slytherins. I'm not saying that Hogwarts should teach as though those that followed Voldemort had just as valid arguments or agendas as those that opposed him. But to simply vilify all the Slytherins without trying to understand where they were coming from, is to once again set up an "us and them" situation where Slytherin will not be able to be in unity with the other Houses.



Solitaire - May 18, 2008 10:29 am (#236 of 445)
if you want Slytherins -- the young ones I mean -- to not feel so disenfranchised, suspected, and generally disliked from the moment they're sorted, the school could begin to really emphasize the good aspects of Slytherin, individual Slytherins who didn't follow Evil, etc.

How does anyone know that the Sorting Hat isn't doing exactly this in its post-Voldemort song? As to James teasing Albus, Wynnleaf, I'd have to say it's probable. After all, little James does have Weasley connections, doesn't he? That's probably his Inner Fred-and-George coming out. I'm willing to bet that Harry has probably been doing his best to counteract House bigotry in the years since Voldemort's death. As to the Slytherin kids bolting and not fighting--well, they could have been following parental advice to get the heck outta Dodge and save their skins. Okay ... so they were cowards, and Pansy was a jerk. I agree. But Voldemort was still alive then. He has been dead for many years by the time of the epilogue. Let's hope things are changing. JM2K ... I do not expect anyone else to believe as I do.

Solitaire



mona amon - May 18, 2008 9:12 pm (#237 of 445)
"Any means" isn't necessarily bad. (Wynnleaf)

I think it has a definite negative connotation. To 'use any means' is to 'scruple at nothing'. People who have good moral standards, however ambitious they may be, will not use 'any' means to acheive their goal. There are certain things they just will not do- fraud, slander, dishonest means, etc, even if it stands in the way of acheiving their goal.



wynnleaf - May 19, 2008 1:58 am (#238 of 445)
I think it has a definite negative connotation. To 'use any means' is to 'scruple at nothing'. People who have good moral standards, however ambitious they may be, will not use 'any' means to acheive their goal. (mona amon)

What I suppose I hope is that when JKR had the Sorting Hat say that, she meant it in a general sense, not as something you could hold as hard and fast and make a blanket character assessment from. "Use any means" could be "scruple at nothing," or it could mean "stop at nothing" which doesn't necessarily mean morally bankrupt, as it could just mean that Slytherins will more creatively use many different means to achieve an end rather than give up quickly. If JKR truly meant the Sorting Hat to say that Slytherins are morally bankrupt, then what she was basically saying was that one can judge 11 year old kids as morally bankrupt and therefore evil -- which means that all Slytherins are evil, a thing which JKR has numerous times said isn't true.

It all depends on how you take it. If you think the Sorting Hat is literally and truly accurate, and all Slytherins truly will use any means to achieve their ends, then I think one must believe that all Slytherins can be judged as evil. Period.

Is the Sorting Hat that accurate? The Gryffindors are said to be chivalrous. Are they? Where's the evidence? Think of James saying, "Don't make me hex you" to Lily. What examples of chivalry are there in the books, other than the Trio standing up for one another? I think McGonagall calls Harry's use of crucio in defense of her honor "gallant," but personally I just can't consider the use of torture ever gallant, even if one wanted to argue its necessity (which I'd also argue against, but that's a separate issue).

The Hufflepuffs aren't only supposed to be loyal, they're also supposed to be just. Where do we see this other than in Cedric? Wasn't it Hufflepuffs that are shown as so willing to quickly judge Harry as the Heir of Slytherin in COS? For that matter, where do we see a stronger degree of loyalty from Hufflepuffs?

Ravenclaws are supposed to be known for their wit and learning. What Ravenclaws are we shown with a lot of wit?

Granted, we don't see much from either Hufflepuffs or Ravenclaws, but for the most part, the few that JKR shows us don't seem to strongly exemplify their supposed House characteristics.



Julia H. - May 19, 2008 3:10 am (#239 of 445)
Any means

This phrase is definitely subject to interpretation. When someone thinks of using "any means" to achieve something, it may be difficult for a human mind to grasp the true universality of what 'any means' may imply. For some people it may just be any effort, any sacrifice, for others it may mean "no scruples". On the one hand, it seems now, Snape's promise of "Anything" was a Slytherin thing to do and (whatever he meant by it originally) it led ultimately to good things, to the victory of the light side and to his own redemption (and yes, it included begging to Voldemort for Lily's life as well as going to DD and sacrificing himself). On the other hand, in DH, Harry seems to get rid of a lot of scruples to achieve his goal: he breaks into Gringotts, he makes an agreement with Griphook while planning to deceive him from the beginning, uses Unforgivables and JKR does not seem to condemn him. When (I think) Hermione says that Harry would never have violated DD's grave to get the Elder Wand, Harry thinks (book is not handy, I cannot give the exact quote) basically that he would be more afraid of misunderstanding DD's intention than of breaking into his grave. Harry does it all for a very important goal for which he is also willing to sacrifice his life and I don't think many readers condemn him for his relative lack of scruples. Perhaps what we see is Harry uniting the bravery of a Gryffindor with the "no scruples ambition" of a Slytherin. Snape does the same, only he starts from the Slytherin side - another parallel?

When we talk about "no scruples", it is clearly pejorative with everyday situations in mind. But is there a goal, any goal at all that may in theory justify "any means"? This question is often asked in literature and has probably been asked in real history many times. I guess the answer (in literature at least) is more often "no" than "yes". We can almost always take the question to such extremes where we can find a means that cannot be justified by the noblest of goals. (In a real, e.g. "historical" situation, I guess "any means" will usually mean any means available and that may or may not be extreme or dishonourable.) However, it does happen that seemingly unacceptable means justify certain goals (and I think JKR is showing us some examples). In a very good novel (The Fifth Seal by Ferenc Sánta) and a film of the same title, a group of ordinary, civilian men (friends) during WWII face a terrible situation. They have been arrested, and are now in mortal danger, but they can go free if they do something totally horrible and dishonourable: any one of them who is willing to hit an already half-dead prisoner will be released. The prisoner is hardly alive, has apparently been beaten, tortured and it does not seem to make much difference to him if he gets hit a couple of more times. Yet, the men cannot bring themselves to do such an evil deed. Except for one of them: and nobody, not even his friends know that this man must go home, absolutely and by any means, because at his home (where he supposedly lives alone), he is hiding a group of Jewish orphans whose lives are in very great immediate danger and who depend on him and only on him for everything they need: their food, their drink, their survival, their lives.



Dryleaves - May 19, 2008 5:04 am (#240 of 445)
If JKR truly meant the Sorting Hat to say that Slytherins are morally bankrupt, then what she was basically saying was that one can judge 11 year old kids as morally bankrupt and therefore evil -- which means that all Slytherins are evil, a thing which JKR has numerous times said isn't true. (Wynnleaf)

She has said that this isn't true and if the original purpose of the Hogwarts Houses was that they should balance each other it ought not to be true either. But sometimes I wonder about the descriptions she gives of the Houses, e.g. through the Sorting Hat.

As the Hogwarts Houses somehow symbolize the four elements, I made a very quick Google search, and though I didn't find the most trustworthy of Internet sites, I noted that the Houses of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw are said to have one/some of the positive characteristics of their element, whereas Slytherin can be said to have the negative characteristic of water. (There are quite a few positive ones as well.) It seems to me that the Sorting Hat is rather one-dimensional in the description of the four Houses and their founders. They are all constantly referred to by the same one/few characteristics in its songs. In a way the hat may not be judging as you can interpret e.g. the word 'brave' or the expression 'any means' differently, but I think it still does show some bias in its choice of words: 'brave', 'loyal', 'with a ready mind' all have positive connotations for most people, while 'cunning' and 'any means' have not. The discussion about the expression 'any means' is a really interesting one, still the hat connects it to 'power-hungry' Slytherin, who only wants to teach those whose ancestry is the purest.

As for balance, the Houses are not only divided three against one, there also seem to be a division into pairs: Slytherin and Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. That is one male pair and one female, and that would of course imply balance, but in the books the female pair is almost completely ignored. We don't see that many Hufflepuffs or Ravenclaws. Most of the time we see the male pair and they are no longer friends, but competitors and even enemies. Hogwarts seems completely dominated by the fight between Gryffindor and Slytherin, while Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw keep staying in the background. And I can't help wondering what makes Gryffindor and Slytherin so incompatible? What is the big difference between bravery and ambition that make them clash? And when it comes to who should be tought at the school it seems to me that Hufflepuff, not Slytherin, is the one with the deviating opinion: she wants to teach everyone and treat them all the same, wheras the others have some sort of elitist opinion -the brave, the intelligent or those of pure wizard blood are those who should recieve education at Hogwarts.

In its song of House unity the Sorting Hat doubts its own mission: the sorting is not really a good thing. Still, it has to do its duty. Why? It seems as if Gryffindor's old hat has not the courage to say 'no!'.



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Post  Mona on Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:33 am

mona amon - May 19, 2008 8:20 am (#241 of 445)
"Use any means" could be "scruple at nothing," or it could mean "stop at nothing" which doesn't necessarily mean morally bankrupt,...(Wynleaf)

This phrase is definitely subject to interpretation. When someone thinks of using "any means" to achieve something, it may be difficult for a human mind to grasp the true universality of what 'any means' may imply. (Julia)

As far as I know, the phrase always refers to, not necessarily a morally bankrupt person, but definitely a person who is unscrupulous in some degree. This is not because of the way I'm interpretting it. It's in the definition of 'any' which includes 'dishonest', 'fraudulent', 'evil' or any other negative adjective one can think of. A basically scrupulous or conscientious person who is determined or desperate to acheive a certain end will use 'any honourable means' or at least 'any not utterly unjustifiable means'. There has to be something to qualify the 'any' if it is to take on a more positive meaning.

However, while it does have the negative connotation of 'unscrupulous', it generally does not literally mean 'any means' as there are very few people who have no conscience at all. In the HP books, Voldemort is the only one who fits the bill.

If JKR truly meant the Sorting Hat to say that Slytherins are morally bankrupt, then what she was basically saying was that one can judge 11 year old kids as morally bankrupt and therefore evil -- which means that all Slytherins are evil, a thing which JKR has numerous times said isn't true. (Wynnleaf)

IMO, the sorting hat was not saying that they were morally bankrupt or evil, but that they did have certain negative tendencies. And I think this really was JKR's intention, at least at the time she wrote the first sorting hat song. She does not seem to have changed anything much in the later books, but she did start saying 'slytherins are not all bad' in her interviews. Then why doesn't she show us any? It isn't even implied anywhere that there may be decent Slytherin students.

This is a quote from the Pottercast interview-

SUE: Snape is so amazing. Was he truly meant to be in Slytherin? Snape?

JKR: Yes! God, yes! Definitely! At the time when he was sorted-- I believe what Dumbledore believes when he says to Snape in the very last book, "Sometimes I think we sort too soon." To judge someone at the age of 11, to judge them, to set their future course so young, seems to me to be a very harsh thing to do. And it doesn't take into account the fact that we do change and evolve. A lot of people are, at 40, what they were at 11, having said that. So I think the Sorting Hat is shrewd. But Snape does redeem himself and it fails to take that into account. But then again, you can turn that on its head and say, "but maybe, with these people being sorted into Slytherin, someone with the capacity to change themselves also has the capacity to change Slytherin."

She doesn't seem to be entirely satisfied with the Hat. She does seem to imply that Slytherin is not a great place to be sorted into. And that it is in need of reform. I've no idea what she means by the last sentence.



wynnleaf - May 19, 2008 12:58 pm (#242 of 445)
I remember when I first heard that Podcast interview and those statements of JKR's really bothered me, because the implication as I heard it (or it seemed to me) was that being sorted equates to a kind of judgement. Well, one might think "judging" in simply the sense of evaluation, rather than "good versus bad" sort of judgement. But then JKR takes her statement about people changing and evolving (which could, without the next sentence, just mean changing from more of a prevalence for cunning to focus on bravery), and follows it by using Snape's redemption as an example of the kind of change that the Sorting Hat fails to consider. What it seemed to imply to me is that anyone being sorted into Slytherin is in need of redemption. And then I think, but what about the other Houses? They have no people in need of redemption? And this is part of what I find most dissatisfying about JKR's moral pictures, that they seem to use the Houses as a picture of good and evil, or the redeemed versus unredeemed.



Julia H. - May 19, 2008 1:52 pm (#243 of 445)
Whatever JKR says, I still feel that Slytherin made things worse for Snape. Had he been sorted somewhere else (even if against his own will, given that he did not have a realistic knowledge of Slytherin), he might not have become a DE at all. He was redeemed as an adult but he was in need of redemption mainly because he had grown up in Slytherin with other Slytherins. This is a rather circular kind of logic. JKR is talking about change but I don't think it was the Sorting Hat's job to foresee the distant future for Snape. However, I guess it should have seen the potential for the good or the potential for a positive change or at the very least the two-way potential for change in the eleven-year-old and seeing that, it should not have sent him down the wrong way into Slytherin.



wynnleaf - May 19, 2008 2:15 pm (#244 of 445)
Had he been sorted somewhere else (even if against his own will, given that he did not have a realistic knowledge of Slytherin), he might not have become a DE at all. He was redeemed as an adult but he was in need of redemption mainly because he had grown up in Slytherin with other Slytherins. (Julia)

Good points. Snape at 11 may have not had much use for muggles, but he had no problem with muggle-borns -- he was interested in Lily immediately just because she was magical and her being from a muggle family didn't matter to him at all. And on the train, he appeared to think that Slytherins stood for brains over brawn, which seems like more of a Ravenclaw thing to me. Further, aside from an interest in Dark Arts, his creative, scientific and intellectual bent seems a lot more suited to Ravenclaw.

It seems to be that Snape got sorted into Slytherin because he wanted to be there, but he wanted to be there because he didn't "get" what the House was all about. Then, once there, being in Slytherin was almost like channeling a stream into a particular channel and keeping it from running elsewhere.

In other words, do the kids make Slytherin? Or does Slytherin shape the kids? Sure kids from Death Eater or extremely Dark families may help to shape Slytherin, but the other kids may find themselves far too shaped by Slytherin rather than vice versa.



Dryleaves - May 20, 2008 1:58 am (#245 of 445)
What it seemed to imply to me is that anyone being sorted into Slytherin is in need of redemption. And then I think, but what about the other Houses? They have no people in need of redemption? And this is part of what I find most dissatisfying about JKR's moral pictures, that they seem to use the Houses as a picture of good and evil, or the redeemed versus unredeemed. (Wynnleaf)

Further, aside from an interest in Dark Arts, his [Snape's] creative, scientific and intellectual bent seems a lot more suited to Ravenclaw. (Wynnleaf)

To me it seems as if Snape is interested in the Dark Arts because he wants to know as much as possible about anything and the Dark Arts may be especially challenging on an intellectual level, even if he also has ideas about the practical use of them (e.g. Sectumsempra - for enemies). Snape also has a problem with seeing the difference between the Dark Arts and the magic the Marauders are using, something you hardly could blame him for as the difference must be very subtle. Then why do the Dark Arts seem to belong exclusively to the Slytherin House? Why couldn't a knowledge-hungry Ravenclaw be tempted by them (some sort of Faust-dilemma)? Because that could be the negative side of Ravenclaw, that knowledge in itself isn't good or bad, but that it all comes down to how you use it. (E.g. Snape later uses his knowledge to heal those injured by dark magic, and DD uses his knowledge in the same way.) Similarly there could be a bad side of loyalty, that you seize to be loyal to yourself and your opinion of good and evil and just stick with your group, and courage doesn't always mean that you stand up and take risks for the right reasons, etc.

As it is now, it seems that all negative characteristics, ideas and people end up in Slytherin, meet and thrive there, and of course this shapes the House, and of course this will also shape the kids of the House. I do agree with Julia that Slytherin probably made things worse for Snape, because he is no DE at age eleven. In the first HP books the picture of evil Slytherin House may match the black and white view of the world that an eleven-year-old kid might have, but as the perspective of the books gets more adult (and when one is an adult reader)the way the Houses are divided seems irrational and unhealthy and will almost make sure that another Voldemort one day will emerge, probably from Slytherin, while the other Houses, the Hogwarts School Board, the School administration and the whole wizarding world calmly watches it all happen.

I guess I'm mixing things up a little here, but when the wizarding world doesn't question the division into Houses, I feel that JKR doesn't really do it either. There are three houses in which you are sorted based on your dominating characteristics, but for the forth house there seems to be a moral aspect as well, and I find this a little strange and wonder why JKR chose to do it like this.



Quinn Crockett - May 24, 2008 12:15 pm (#246 of 445)
There are three houses in which you are sorted based on your dominating characteristics, but for the forth house there seems to be a moral aspect as well, and I find this a little strange and wonder why JKR chose to do it like this.

I think it's largely because she has failed to show us any likable characters from Harry's generation who come from Slytherin. She sets up Slytherin House back in the first book as being comprised of people with a sort of questionable nature by having Ron inform Harry, "There isn't a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin". This is not an exact quote, of course. But the sentiment lays the groundwork for how the reader will come to perceive the Slytherin characters.

She has said in interviews that not every Slytherin is "bad". However, she does not show this in her text. It is not enough merely to declare after the fact that, yes, there are "nice" Slytherins. The reader can only go by what is written in the text, for the most part. There are so many ways she could have provided this information. A little "throw away" scene or polite exchange between Harry and someone in his Potions class, for example. But she just doesn't.

So, on the one hand, she doesn't seem to want the reader to attach a moral qualification to Slytherin House. But on the other, she hasn't given us any reason not to.



Solitaire - May 24, 2008 12:27 pm (#247 of 445)
Hagrid was the one who first told Harry, "There's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one." Of course, Ron reinforced the feeling on the train, and he had the line in the movie, if I remember correctly. It's too bad that Harry had to hear anything about the houses beforehand, IMO. I think it would have been interesting to see how Harry, a child who could have had no preconceived notions about the four houses, came to feel about them on his own, after a few months at Hogwarts.

Solitaire



PeskyPixie - May 24, 2008 8:59 pm (#248 of 445)
Mona brought up the point of the negative connotations of the term, "using any means to achieve one's ends", which happens to be a Slytherin quality.

"Listen to me, Harry. You happen to have many qualities which Salazar Slytherin prized in his hand-picked students. His own very rare gift, Parseltongue ... resourcefulness ... determination ... a certain disregard for the rules ..." -Albus Dumbledore in CoS

It seems that Harry does indeed possess this dreaded Slytherin quality. It helps him overcome any and all obstacles in order to accomplish 'good'.

Also, let's not forget that Snape's important role could not have been managed without Slytherin cunning while Sirius' and James' Gryffindor bravery results in the biggest mistake in the series.



Solitaire - May 24, 2008 10:58 pm (#249 of 445)
James' Gryffindor bravery results in the biggest mistake in the series. Was it his bravery ... or simply his implicit faith in his friends? Of course, his trust and faith was misplaced, as we now know. Still, I wonder how many of us would turn our backs on one of our oldest and closest friends if a personal enemy suggested one of those friends was a traitor. I'm betting many would act as James did.

Solitaire



mona amon - May 25, 2008 12:29 am (#250 of 445)
Slitaire, James had no idea about Snape's role in all this. It was Dumbledore who suggested that one of his friends was a traitor and offered to be their secret keeper, but James foolishly refused to listen.



wynnleaf - May 25, 2008 1:56 am (#251 of 445)
I wonder how many of us would turn our backs on one of our oldest and closest friends if a personal enemy suggested one of those friends was a traitor. (Solitaire)

Well, personally I'd have done it in a heartbeat, possibly because I've seen enough to know that even the best of friends can in fact let you down sometimes, even if inadvertently. In any case, I don't consider having DD be the Secret Keeper the equivalent of "turning his back on his friends." What James did was to put making a gesture of trust in his friends, in spite of warnings that one could be at the least a leak and at worst a traitor, above the safety of his family. Who was he turning his back on? His friends? What about risking his family, for the sake of his friends?

Pesky, I am so very glad you brought up DD's comment, because basically what DD was doing was explaining that quote from the Sorting Hat in far less negative terms. Resourcefulness, determination, and a certain disregard for the rules -- not nearly the negative connotations of "using any means to achieve their ends," yet exactly the way I think of the that character trait if seen from a solely negative perspective.



Orion - May 25, 2008 5:46 am (#252 of 445)
"Resourcefulness, determination, and a certain disregard for the rules..."

Didn't Rowling say in an interview that the Hat considered to cram Harry into Slytherin because he sensed LV's soulbit in his brain? But I can't remember when she said that. I think I read it on Leaky.

Parseltongue is exclusively tied to LV's soulbit, Harry loses it after the loss of the soulbit. The other characteristics, mentioned above, don't sound so specially Slytherin to me. They can also be specifications of Gryffindor recklessness. In PS/SS for example, when Harry goes after the Stone, it's a typical Gryffindor action from start to finish.



Mrs Brisbee - May 25, 2008 6:01 am (#253 of 445)
In my opinion, James and Lily didn't ignore the warning, but they did misjudge their friends. They seem to have suspected that Lupin was the traitor, and cut him out of being in on the Secret. Quite frankly, I have serious reservations about trusting Dumbledore, because he is far too controlling. That might have been an issue also in the decision.

I don't see this as an bravery issue. It seems to be pure misjudgment. It isn't even loyalty, because James and Lily were quite prepared to mistrust Lupin.

I don't think good judgment is mentioned as a quality for any of the Houses. Perhaps that was supposed to be your point, wynnleaf? I'm just having a hard time getting from point A to point B with those examples.

I don't think cunning, bravery, intellect, or loyalty are necessarily moral in and of themselves. One can be brazen in the defense of an immoral cause, do immoral acts in the pursuit of knowledge, and remain stubbornly loyal to the wrong cause. Of course, ambition is one attribute that has the desire for power built into it, and "doing anything to achieve one's ends" should be ringing alarm bells.

Resourcefulness, determination, and a certain disregard for the rules -- not nearly the negative connotations of "using any means to achieve their ends

Agreed. Can Slytherin be remade into something more positive? How do we get rid of the Pureblood bigotry without ignoring history, and concentrate on the positive aspects?

Children might have it in them to use any means to get what they want, and the Sorting Hat might see it in them, but isn't it sort of giving that kind of behavior the stamp of approval if the Hat tells the children that that is what Slytherin is all about during the Sorting ceremony?



Solitaire - May 25, 2008 10:15 am (#254 of 445)
It's true that the Potters misjudged the situation ... but I agree that it was not an act of bravery. It was misjudgment. Perhaps good judgment is connected to Ravenclaw, Mrs. Brisbee.

Wynnleaf, I have a lot of friends, though not many that I do trust implicitly. But there are a few with whom I've walked through the fire. Even knowing Dumbledore's character now, I'd have a hard time mistrusting one of these close friends. I've put my neck--and my job--on the line more than once for a couple of them, and I'd require strong proof that they would sell me out before cutting them out. So I guess I am a foolish James, full of stubborn Gryffindor loyalty.

Instead of treachery or evil, perhaps simply being willing to believe the worst about one's friend to protect oneself is the real Slytherin quality, after all.

Solitaire



Julia H. - May 25, 2008 2:21 pm (#255 of 445)
Solitaire, this sounds beautiful but the problem is that James had his wife and a baby child to think about. Not only his own life was at stake. I think in this particular situation, he should have done what was safest and that was accepting DD as Secret Keeper. We know Pettigrew betrayed the Potters willingly. I am quite sure that Sirius would rather have died than betray them if he had been the Secret Keeper but could Sirius have resisted Voldemort's legilimency? DD was the only person Voldemort could not have reached. As it happened, it seems to me James was still more a Marauder (loving to take risks and to deceive DD), who defined himself as his friends' friend, than a husband and father understanding his full responsibility (even though I am sure he truly loved his wife and his child).



wynnleaf - May 25, 2008 3:05 pm (#256 of 445)
Solitaire, I totally agree that there are friends that are true friends and yes, there are people I would willing put my neck on the line for. But is there anyone for whom I would stake my family's lives that they would be completely true, not break under pressure, etc? Not if I had other choices.

James didn't have to cut his friends out to not use them as Secret Keeper. They could still have been in on the Secret, just not have been the Secret Keeper. The problem is that James trusted his friends to never cave under temptation, pressure from the Dark, or even under torture. Was he right to trust them? No, because Pettigrew didn't have the character that James thought he did. And that's the problem. James believed that all of his friends had high character. They didn't.



Mrs Brisbee - May 25, 2008 6:23 pm (#257 of 445)
I'm still not sure what the argument is in relation to this thread. That Slytherins would never be foolish or brave enough to trust their friends? That trusting your friends is a brave but foolish thing to do? Sorry, I still need a connect-the-dots!



Soul Search - May 25, 2008 7:21 pm (#258 of 445)
We did see Narcissa, in HBP, trust her sister Bellatrix (risky) and Snape. She specifically trusted Snape not to give her away to Voldemort. True, she was in dire straits. 'Course, do we know that Narcissa had been sorted into Slytherin?

While we make some house assumptions for the story's adult characters, we only receive canon confirmation for a few. "The Prince's Tale" showed us Lucius was in Slytherin, but Narcissa was never mentioned. I think Sirius mentions Bellatrix was in the gang that Snape hung with, so she must have been Slytherin. We don't know about Andromeda, but she didn't seem like Slytherin material, even though a Black. The three sisters could have all been in different houses, like the Patil twins.

Narcissa did go along with Draco's "Mudblood" put down of Hermione in the robe shop in HBP, but she was with Harry and Ron and they all were instrumental in putting Lucius in Azkaban, so I guess we can excuse her a bit for her prejudice, under the circumstances, even if she wasn't a Slytherin. It might have been more directed at Hermione, specifically, rather than any general comment toward muggleborns.

Would Lucius have married Narcissa if she had not been a Slytherin? She was a pureblood Black, so I don't think a school house would have mattered too much.

If not Slytherin, I think Narcissa would have been a Ravenclaw: she seems to have that aire, like the Gray Lady.



mona amon - May 25, 2008 8:38 pm (#259 of 445)
I think Slughorn tells Harry that the whole Black family was in his house with the exception of Sirius. That would include Narcissa and Andromeda.



Julia H. - May 25, 2008 10:30 pm (#260 of 445)
That would include Narcissa and Andromeda. (Mona)

That would mean another very good (adult) Slytherin we know about. (Sirius also says his whole family have been in Slytherin.)



Soul Search - May 26, 2008 6:10 am (#261 of 445)
Good pickup with Slughorn's and Sirius' comments, mona amon. Sirius also says Andromeda was his favorite cousin. He would have further commented had she not been in Slytherin.

So, all three Black sisters were in Slytherin.

The Andromeda/Ted Tonks story must be interesting. Andromeda, a Slytherin, is attracted to Ted Tonks, a muggleborn, and Ted Tonks, a muggleborn, was attracted to a Slytherin. How could that be?



mona amon - May 26, 2008 6:25 am (#262 of 445)
Eileen Prince (surely she must have been a Slytherin) is another example of a Slytherin attracted to a muggle.



wynnleaf - May 26, 2008 7:05 am (#263 of 445)
We have no particular evidence that Eileen was a Slytherin. In fact, given that young Severus seems to have had a confused view of what Slytherin was all about, I tend to think Eileen might have been in another House.



Julia H. - May 26, 2008 8:04 am (#264 of 445)
If there are exceptional house elves, why should there not be exceptional Slytherins?

Perhaps JKR is alluding to Andromeda when she says not all Slytherins are bad? She probably wants us to find it out on our own! (Just like DD!)



mona amon - May 26, 2008 8:23 am (#265 of 445)
I don't doubt that Andromeda was good, but we really don't know her at all. I want some more definite examples!

Wynnleaf, I was assuming that Severus got his 'Slytherin is best' notions (and his precocious knowledge of the Dark Arts) from his mom, but you could be right. Then the kid has done a lot of reading (and probably all the wrong stuff) before he came to Hogwarts.



Julia H. - May 26, 2008 8:27 am (#266 of 445)
Then the kid has done a lot of reading (and probably all the wrong stuff) before he came to Hogwarts. (Mona)

Which would be typical Snape.



Solitaire - May 26, 2008 11:14 am (#267 of 445)
he should have done what was safest and that was accepting DD as Secret Keeper

The thing is, James thought he was doing what was safest. I think that is what must be understood. I do not believe he honestly thought he was risking anyone's life just to prove a point. He did not know that he couldn't trust Peter. In James's place, I would probably have thought Dumbledore was far more likely to be Voldemort's target. Yes, James was wrong ... but I think he honestly believed he was making a safe choice. He believed in the fidelity of his friends. It's sad that it happened as it did, but had it not, we wouldn't have had a story, would we? I do not expect anyone else to agree with me, anymore than I expect to change my mind about this. It's JM2K about things.

Regarding Narcissa, didn't Slughorn say all of the Blacks had been Slytherin except Sirius? I can't remember if he was talking only about Sirius's immediate family or not. If he was talking about all of the Blacks, then Andromeda would have been a Slytherin ... and a good one. It would be interesting to know this. I wonder if Jo will ever tell us. (Ah, I see Julia has mentioned this. Sorry, I write as I read.) Whatever Andromeda was, we see that she has raised a daughter who seems free from pureblood prejudices, yet has a good enough relationship with her mom to leave her son with her. If she and her mom were on the outs, would she have done this?

I suspect Snape was a lot like Hermione when he was younger, probably reading everything he could about Hogwarts and magic, both good and bad. Remember that even Hermione seemed to have knowledge about about dark magic, as well, even if she did not use it. Snape was also smarter than the average Wizard his age, I suppose. We know he invented spells and improved upon methods of mixing potions (remember his additions to the potions book). Having been sorted into Slytherin during Voldemort's first rise to power--when prejudices against Half-bloods and Muggle-borns were at a fever pitch--it is understandable that he would have tried to play down his Muggle roots and fit in with the pureblooded attitudes that surrounded him.

Should Slytherin have been disbanded back during Voldemort's first reign, or even during his return, when things were so horrible? Perhaps. Now, however--after Harry let out so much information about Snape, Dumbledore, his mom, and others, during his final battle with Voldemort--I think things may be on the road to change. We see a glimmer of civility from Draco, and we see Harry coming to peace with the information about his parents, the Marauders, and Snape. It seems to me that Slytherin House has been given a second chance to stand with the other houses. Indeed, all of the Wizarding world has been given a chance to reunite ... through the new generation at Hogwarts. JM2K ...

Solitaire



Soul Search - May 26, 2008 2:27 pm (#268 of 445)
Snape was about nine when he met Lily. His muggle prejudices were already formed by then. How much serious reading can he have done by nine years old?

Our introduction to Draco was at eleven, in the rob shop. His prejudices were already formed by then. Draco started every other sentence with "My father ..." so we can guess who had the greatest influence on his life view.

I see Draco as an example and Snape was also influenced by his wizarding parent, his mother. Snape had a muggle father and the marriage did not go well. Was the mother taking out her dissatisfaction with Tobias by teaching Severus to hate muggles?



Julia H. - May 26, 2008 4:25 pm (#269 of 445)
Was the mother taking out her dissatisfaction with Tobias by teaching Severus to hate muggles? (Soul Search)

On the one hand, I think it is possible. On the other hand, I wonder about this scene in which we see the shouting father and the cowering mother. She does not seem to use magic to defend herself. Snape as a child watching this scene... is may be disturbing enough in itself. But then it is his witch mother being afraid of his muggle father - and I am reminded of DD's sister and the muggle boys who attacked her and what it all resulted in. Both DD and Snape experienced that a close family member (female) suffered aggression from a muggle (male). In Snape's case it was his own father.



wynnleaf - May 26, 2008 5:01 pm (#270 of 445)
I think we should differentiate between bias against muggles versus bias against muggleborns. As I read the series, most wizards are biased against muggles, but mostly only Slytherins are biased against muggleborns.

Hagrid, for instance, uses "muggle" in reference to the Dursleys almost as though "muggle" was a derogatory word in itself. Other wizards speak of muggles as though they are generally stupid, or in at least a very condescending manner. Sure, wizards sometimes marry muggles, but it seems that many muggleborns leave the muggle world mostly behind as though they are switching cultures.

I don't see a kind of dismissive attitude toward muggles, while still very much liking a muggle born to be particularly indicative of Slytherin attitudes.



Julia H. - May 27, 2008 6:52 am (#271 of 445)
Good observation, wynnleaf. Even muggle-loving Arthur can sometimes talk about muggles as if muggles were lovely and clever little animals or maybe children.



PeskyPixie - Dec 11, 2008 3:21 pm (#272 of 445)
Very delayed response, but I agree that even those who are pro-Muggle do not really see them as equals. They are viewed as quaint little novelty items.

Also, NO! Slytherin should most definitely not be disbanded.



Dryleaves - Dec 12, 2008 1:01 am (#273 of 445)
Maybe this is the wrong thread, but at least this question is related to previous posts here. I wonder about the word "Muggle" itself. What does it sound like to you who are native English speakers? To me it seems it is a word that has mostly negative connotations, it sounds slightly derogatory or at best a little humourous.



Verity Weasley - Dec 12, 2008 3:49 am (#274 of 445)
Well, a 'mug' is British slang for someone who is a little bit stupid. Dictionary.com defines it as 'a gullible person; dupe; fool' so yes, there would appear to be that connotation.



mona amon - Dec 12, 2008 8:53 pm (#275 of 445)
That's right-

julesrbf: Where did you come up with the word "muggle"? JK Rowling replies -> I was looking for a word that suggested both foolishness and loveability. The word 'mug' came to mind, for somebody gullible, and then I softened it. I think 'muggle' sounds quite cuddly. I didn't know that the word 'muggle' had been used as drug slang at that point... ah well.(JK Rowling's World Book Day Chat, March 4, 2004)

Also, NO! Slytherin should most definitely not be disbanded. (Pesky)

I'm ready to restart the discussion, so Pesky, give me one good reason why. The way the author has portrayed Slytherin house, I cannot think of a single point to justify its existence.



Solitaire - Dec 13, 2008 12:52 pm (#276 of 445)
I think the four houses were originally intended to show four aspects of the personality that need to be equally blended for complete harmony: ambition (Slytherin), bravery (Gryffindor), loyalty (Hufflepuff), and intelligence (Ravenclaw). Any one of them allowed to completely consume a person could pose a problem. Bravery without wisdom and discernment can appear as recklessness. (How often is this applied to Harry and Sirius?) Pure ambition is cold and calculating (Voldemort), yet how often in our society today do we denigrate people with no ambition as lazy? Incredible intellect without warmth is seen as an inability to interact with society (I'm not sure we really have an HP example here). Fierce loyalty without discernment or any ambition at all is perceived as foolishness (No real example here, either). But the person who possesses tempered ambition, fierce loyalty, intelligence, and bravery would be well-equipped to handle what life throws at him ... don't you think?

I suspect that the original intent was for young Witches and Wizards to develop all four aspects of their characters. What is needed is not to get rid of Slytherin but to temper its influence with more input of the other houses.

Solitaire



PeskyPixie - Dec 13, 2008 10:37 pm (#277 of 445)
Yeah, what Soli said!

I think Snape is a fine example of the good a Slytherin can do once their ambition and cunning have a positive direction and purpose. As for Snapey's personality, well, I don't think that has much to do with his House. He would be as prickly if he'd been Sorted into Hufflepuff.



mona amon - Dec 14, 2008 9:36 am (#278 of 445)
Good points, Soli, but I feel they only support the 'Slytherin should be disbanded' argument. If ambition, bravery, loyalty and intelligence have to be combined and blended to make the complete personality, isn't it absurd to try and isolate these traits by sorting the kids into seperate houses based on these traits? How are the brave but rash Gryffindors to learn some useful points from cautious self-preserving Slytherins if they have a different common room and do not mingle? How are young Slytherins to learn that ambition is to be tempered by loyalty and discernment, and that purebloods are not superior to muggle-borns, when they are practically ostracised by the rest of the school?

I suspect that the original intent was for young Witches and Wizards to develop all four aspects of their characters.

The original intent (or so the sorting hat tells us in GoF) was to separate the students based on the character traits that each founder valued best. That sounds like they were dividing and isolating the students so that each prized character trait had a better chance to grow and develop.

What is needed is not to get rid of Slytherin but to temper its influence with more input of the other houses.

That sounds ok but I just don't see it happening. Nineteen years after the defeat of Voldemort, Slytherin is still the house where no nice kid wants to be.

I think Snape is a fine example of the good a Slytherin can do once their ambition and cunning have a positive direction and purpose. As for Snapey's personality, well, I don't think that has much to do with his House. He would be as prickly if he'd been Sorted into Hufflepuff. (Pesky)

I agree Pesky, but he didn't get that 'positive direction and purpose' as long as he remained in Slytherin house. He had nothing but the worst sort of negative influences. I'm not objecting to cunning and ambition as character traits. I'm just objecting to a house where kids as young as eleven are isolated from the rest of the school and surrounded by evil influences within their own house.



Solitaire - Dec 14, 2008 11:57 am (#279 of 445)
The kids may be sorted into houses with others of their ilk, but they do have classes with students and professors of other houses, which should have some influence on their academic and social development. After all, we do see friendships, dating relationships, and cooperation among students from the other three houses.

Perhaps the real problem is not how the school is run but what the Slytherin kids are being taught at home. Most of the teachers I know would agree that a home environment which militates against what the students are taught will probably have a greater influence on the students than the school. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few. In Slytherin, in particular, the students are also "shepherded" by Snape, who shows blatant partiality toward the students of his own house. I'm guessing someone like Slughorn might be a more appropriate Slytherin head of house, because he does sort of "mentor" (for want of a better term) kids from other houses. Then again, when he was Head of House during Lily's time at Hogwarts, we still see Slytherin kids go to Voldemort's "cause." I guess the bottom line for most kids is drawn, in one way or another, by what happens at home.

I still think all four emphasized qualities are important in a well-rounded individual.



Julia H. - Dec 14, 2008 2:31 pm (#280 of 445)
Interesting posts. I have never voted for the disbanding of Slytherin but I find Mona's arguments especially convincing. Perhaps the solution is not so much "disbanding" but sorting on the basis of new principles. I have heard it from teachers that in high schools where only the most intelligent, successful, competitive and ambitious students are accepted, the general atmosphere can sometimes be quite bad because all children have been used to being the best in their previous schools and it is very hard for many of them if they can't be the best in the new school and there will be competition and rivalry between them instead of cooperation. This is not exactly the situation in Slytherin but perhaps the mixing of children with different abilities would do them all good.

The fact that they are together in certain classes does not seem to be nearly enough for Hogwarts students to get to know each other and to become friends or to learn from each other. Do we ever see a single situation in which two students from different Houses have to work together / cooperate in a class? If friendship develops between children of different Houses, it usually happens outside the classroom. We do see it happen but it is not really typical. The isolation of the Houses from each other is emphasized more than the opportunities of inter-house socialization. Moreover, the isolation is officially organized, while the opportunities to socialize tend to be accidental, except for events like Quidditch games but that again lays much more emphasis on rivalry than on unity.

Add to that the increased isolation of Slytherin because of the tendency on the basis of which its members are sorted - and there is no way for Slytherin students to ever learn tolerance or loyalty or selfless bravery or anything else from their peers while they have every opportunity to reinforce the original bad tendency in each other. We see how Neville is raised to be a real Gryffindor under the influence of other Gryffindors. The same must be happening in Slytherin.

Another problem with Slytherin is that its defining characteristic - ambition - gets totally mixed up with pure-blood ideology. Still another (more general) problem is that there will always be students who just can't simply be defined with one of the major house characteristics. Isn't Percy ambitious, for example? Of course, he is. Would anyone say that Luna is not brave? Is Snape not an intelligent and hard-working enough student to be a Ravenclaw? For Hermione, the Hat considers Ravenclaw, too. In the end, it does not seem to matter very much if you end up in Gryffindor or in Ravenclaw (and even Hufflepuff can produce a brave and skillful school champion) but ending up in Slytherin will just seal your fate.

As for home influence versus school influence: On the one hand, I agree that Slytherin students bring the bad tendencies from home in one way or another and it is a defining influence but, on the other hand, I don't think Hogwarts does everything possible to counterbalance the influence of the family. The parents who have this bad influence on their children were also Hogwarts students once. If you, as an educator, want to teach something important to little children, the best way is to teach their mothers first.

The question of Heads: I don't find Slughorn a good mentor for Slytherins. His results are not very good, since budding DE's graduate from his House and he does not seem to notice the bad tendencies in his students. I know a lot of teachers are taken in by Tom Riddle but Slughorn seems to be quite close to him and to his early followers and yet he does not notice anything. He does organize inter-house events but he is only interested in the students who are likely to be successful later in life either because of their personalities or because of their connections. In this way, he encourages ambition and the ambitious in all Houses but only concentrates on the potentially successful ones. He does not even notice someone like Ron, who has ambition but does not seem to know how to be successful. (I wonder if he noticed the talented, ambitious but poor, half-blood Slytherin without any good connections, who was trying way too hard to ever become really successful in the future.)

Snape as a Head of Slytherin: I don't think the main problem is his partiality towards his own house. Children like when their own teacher stands by them and his popularity among Slytherins could even be an asset if Snape could afford to influence them in the good direction. As a spy, he has to remain (morally) ambiguous and mysterious and that is exactly what a good mentor should never be. Also, he needs a mentor himself for a long time. It is especially sad since because of his own authentic and tragically bad experiences with the dark side, he could convincingly teach them why it is the wrong choice - but he must not do that. Perhaps a way he tries to help Slytherins - to compensate for not being a genuine mentor - is to encourage their legitimate ambitions, like winning the Quidditch Cup or the House Cup or passing important exams with success in the hope that success and recognition in these areas may turn some of them away from darker ambitions. But of course it is not at all enough when the temptation of the dark side is so strong.


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Post  Mona on Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:41 am

Solitaire - Dec 14, 2008 3:44 pm (#281 of 445)
Children like when their own teacher stands by them and his popularity among Slytherins could even be an asset if Snape could afford to influence them in the good direction.

Alas, his blatantly preferential treatment of his own house makes him rather useless as a role model to kids of other houses. McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout are fair and, as such, respected by all of the kids. Snape is feared ... but that is not the same thing as respected.

Slughorn is a bit too enamored of the "rich and famous," but he is at least unbiased as far as kids from other houses go. I find him a better choice for that reason alone. As far as not noticing bad tendencies in his kids ... maybe he did notice them but was as unsuccessful at influencing them as Snape was at trying to dissuade Draco from his course of action. For that matter, do we ever see Snape trying to dissuade Crabbe and Goyle from acting like a couple of goons?

As we learn by the end of the book, Snape could have been a great role model to all of the kids ... yet he chose not to be one. His "encourage[ment of] their legitimate ambitions, like winning the Quidditch Cup" seems to have been done at the expense of fairness to other houses, in that he monopolized the pitch for his team to practice--hardly "role model" behavior. I'd forgotten this until I read about it the other day.

Sirius has said that Phineas Nigellus Black was one of the least popular Headmasters of Hogwarts, and he was Slytherin. It makes me wonder ... have there ever been any really fair and unbiased Heads of House from Slytherin--the kind who really did influence all students in a positive way?

Perhaps I should change my opinion and vote to disband Slytherin after all!



PeskyPixie - Dec 14, 2008 3:49 pm (#282 of 445)
"I have heard it from teachers that in high schools where only the most intelligent, successful, competitive and ambitious students are accepted, the general atmosphere can sometimes be quite bad because all children have been used to being the best in their previous schools and it is very hard for many of them if they can't be the best in the new school and there will be competition and rivalry between them instead of cooperation." -Julia

I was actually in a 'gifted' program at high school and all of us were used to being 'the best' in our junior high schools prior to that. Though we were a rather competitive bunch, it was definitely beneficial to realize that we were not as special as we felt when we were in junior high school, but rather, that there were many kids like us every year.

On the other side, there were also 'advanced', 'general' and 'basic' academic levels at our high school, and we 'gifted' kids did become rather cliquish and there was definitely a sense of superiority among us, although most of us did not translate this to bullying (though, admittedly, some did). The 'gifted' kids also seldom dated out of the group; the lowest you could go was with an 'advanced' kid. It was a talking point when one of the 'gifted' girls dated a 'basic' boy!

Hmmm, lots of Slytherin parallels in my own high school experience which I had not considered before!



Solitaire - Dec 14, 2008 8:15 pm (#283 of 445)
It is interesting to consider the Gryffindors we know who might have made good Slytherins. We know that the Sorting Hat says Harry had "a nice thirst to prove yourself." But what did it see in Ron's head? Despite Ron's anti-Slytherin comments and the Hat's comments to Harry, it is Ron whose dreams and ambitions show when he looks into the Mirror of Erised. Would he have made a good Slytherin if he hadn't been filled with preconceived prejudices against Slytherin? We know that Percy had fierce ambitions and a degree of pride that nearly destroyed his relationship with his family. Why wasn't he placed in Slytherin?

Does the Hat really just put people where they want to be?



Julia H. - Dec 14, 2008 11:04 pm (#284 of 445)
Alas, his blatantly preferential treatment of his own house makes him rather useless as a role model to kids of other houses. .... As we learn by the end of the book, Snape could have been a great role model to all of the kids ... yet he chose not to be one. (Solitaire)

No, he is not a role model to kids from other houses. In fact, as I said, he can't even be a role model to his own house. Whether he chooses not to be... in a way, yes, in another way, no. He must be ambiguous precisely about the one moral thing he could teach best. As for the other things... I don't think he ever considers himself a possible role model to Hogwarts students in general. There is always his guilt in the background and there are psychological issues he is struggling with. Besides, he is in charge of Slytherin (perhaps not the best decision in the given circumstances) and it is a difficult job even if a teacher can dedicate himself to the problem entirely (which Snape, having other difficult tasks as well, cannot do). So, no, he never tries to be a role model to Gryffindors, who might not accept him anyway (for various reasons).

It is mentioned that Slytherins like Snape at least. What can you do when you are given the problem group of your school to lead? Whoever is in charge of Slytherin, he has got the specifically selected problem kids of the school and Snape has no special training apart from having experienced the "Slytherin experience". He is generally feared but he also needs his own students' trust if he wants to achieve anything at all. Slytherin is generally disliked by others in the school and with good reason, yet if you are the single person most responsible for these children, you must make them understand that they can trust you. Snape may not choose a good strategy but his possibilites are very limited and I do feel he tries to do something about the Slytherin problem while he can at all. No success, obviously, but I think even if he, personally, could achieve something with Slytherins, it would be eventually wiped out anyway the moment he kills Dumbledore.

Comparing Slughorn and Snape: Yes, Slughorn is better at promoting inter-house relationships, but he is not good at guiding his own Slytherins, as the results show, although he does not have the strategic limitations of Snape (nothing prohibits him from expressing his true opinion about Voldemort, the dark arts and the DE's). Snape is more concerned about Slytherin, his own kids, - there are many teachers at Hogwarts and all of them could promote inter-house relationships (and most of them are in a better position to do so) but he is the only teacher in charge of Slytherin. There is only so much one person can do.

As for monopolizing the pitch... well, he reserved it for them on a specific occasion and with a reason (to train their new Seeker). It is not like others can never use the pitch again.

For that matter, do we ever see Snape trying to dissuade Crabbe and Goyle from acting like a couple of goons?

We see him trying to make them work harder to pass their OWL-s and he does tell Crabbe to loosen his hold on Neville's neck. But the Malfoy-Crabbe-Goyle trio represent just the kind of Slytherin students Snape must be most careful with. They are the children of DE's and they must be made to believe Snape is a DE at heart.

Does the Hat really just put people where they want to be?

Good question. It often seems so. But then those 11-year-old kids should be given some information about what they are choosing from. What would have happened if Harry had not met Draco before arriving at Hogwarts and had not spoken about the Houses with Ron and Hermione on the train?



Solitaire - Dec 15, 2008 12:12 am (#285 of 445)
I think you're giving Snape a huge pass as a Head of House. I realize that being a role model isn't his chief duty.

But the Malfoy-Crabbe-Goyle trio represent just the kind of Slytherin students Snape must be most careful with. They are the children of DE's and they must be made to believe Snape is a DE at heart.

I don't really think this is an issue. Even people like Lucius understood keeping up a pretense, because he did it himself. Snape could have explained away treating all kids fairly by saying that he had to adhere to certain standards as a Professor. The truth is he didn't like Harry and the Gryffindor kids, and he liked picking on them. It served as a kind of way to let off steam.

Solitaire



Julia H. - Dec 15, 2008 12:22 am (#286 of 445)
Perhaps. But he is in a difficult situations, isn't he? And I really don't think he could be a general role-model to Hogwarts kids even if he wanted to be, but he does not want to be, apparently. However, he is the Head of Slytherin and he chooses to be the one teacher who is obviously on their side. Perhaps he does these things to compensate for not being able to do more to teach them how to avoid bad choices when he, of all people, really knows what those bad choices can mean.

Perhaps he is a bit like a father who knows he is not giving his children what they really need (like time and attention, for example) but he feels he cannot help it and he gives them "compensation" such as toys and other things that money can buy to show that he cares. But these things do not help when something more basic is missing. Snape may similarly know that he is not giving proper basic guidance to the children of his House so he spoils them in compensation...

I don't really think this is an issue.

I think it is an issue. Yes, DE's will "understand" he has to pretend but he can't do much to really try and change these kids because that might raise suspicion or at least might give jealous DE's a pretext to make Voldemort suspect him (they do whisper behind Snape's back...). Draco even finds it strange that Snape expects Crabbe and Goyle to pass their DADA OWL's. Having said that, I agree that Snape does not like Harry and Gryffindors in general. But as far as Slytherins are concerned, I think his intentions are good even if his methods are not. But to be fair, he fails at a job which nobody we know has done successfully. Neither Slughorn, nor Dumbledore (as Headmaster) can achieve anything with Slytherins despite their experience and their possibilities. Snape, whose possibilities are more limited, chooses this approach, but he is not the person who alone can change Slytherin.



Solitaire - Dec 15, 2008 1:10 am (#287 of 445)
Draco even finds it strange that Snape expects Crabbe and Goyle to pass their DADA OWL's.

If all Hogwarts students have to pass them, then it is merely an issue of stupidity on Draco's part.

he fails at a job which nobody we know has done successfully

Perhaps none of the Slytherin heads have tried to influence anyone. I'm not sure any of the Heads have much interaction with their kids (other than Slughorn, who seems to enjoy socializing with the kids). I just think their impartiality and fair conduct to all probably speaks for itself. I do not think Dumbledore has had any serious, long-term, one-on-one contact with anyone but Snape and Harry. He watched Voldemort closely enough, but I do not think he gave him much input. Dumbledore seems to have interacted with Snape (post-student years) and Harry far more closely than with anyone else--possibly including even McGonagall.

Perhaps Wizarding Professors do not consider instilling character and a code of values as falling under their jurisdiction. Obviously, parents like the Weasleys and many other students do attend to the development of their children's characters and values. Perhaps parents of Slytherins do, as well; it's just that we do not like their values! I could say more, but I'm getting groggy here.



Julia H. - Dec 15, 2008 1:25 am (#288 of 445)
I do not think Dumbledore has had any serious, long-term, one-on-one contact with anyone but Snape and Harry.

I don't think so either but I find it a grave mistake that Dumbledore watches not only Tom Riddle but generations of budding DE's grow up in his school and does not do anything to stop the bad tendency. As it is, Hogwarts teachers train a whole army of wizards for Voldemort. Dumbledore, as Headmaster and as Voldemort's most powerful enemy, simply should not let that happen. It should be one of his top priorities to turn as many as possible away from the dark side. If Snape can start changing at the age of twenty, there surely must be kids who can be influenced in the right direction in their teens. It would probably require a lot of well-organized work and not only on the part of one single teacher - but success would be worth the trouble. Let the children make their choices but first you should make them truly understand the alternatives.



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 15, 2008 7:28 am (#289 of 445)
I don't think so either but I find it a grave mistake that Dumbledore watches not only Tom Riddle but generations of budding DE's grow up in his school and does not do anything to stop the bad tendency. As it is, Hogwarts teachers train a whole army of wizards for Voldemort. Dumbledore, as Headmaster and as Voldemort's most powerful enemy, simply should not let that happen. It should be one of his top priorities to turn as many as possible away from the dark side. If Snape can start changing at the age of twenty, there surely must be kids who can be influenced in the right direction in their teens. It would probably require a lot of well-organized work and not only on the part of one single teacher - but success would be worth the trouble. Let the children make their choices but first you should make them truly understand the alternatives.-- Julia H.

I agree. I think this is a major flaw in Dumbledore's personality, that he sees change coming in only the form of lone dedicated individuals, and so tended to ignore the group. It is why he was not going to be the one who could vanquished the Dark Lord.

Snape should never have been made head of Slytherin House. We can see the help he provided in the fight against Voldemort, but it is difficult to measure whether the harm he did as Slytherin House leader was greater in the long run.

Slughorn strikes me as hating confrontation. I imagine he ignored the brewing trouble in Slytherin while he was its head, unless it caused him personal discomfort.

It is interesting to consider the Gryffindors we know who might have made good Slytherins. We know that the Sorting Hat says Harry had "a nice thirst to prove yourself." But what did it see in Ron's head? Despite Ron's anti-Slytherin comments and the Hat's comments to Harry, it is Ron whose dreams and ambitions show when he looks into the Mirror of Erised. Would he have made a good Slytherin if he hadn't been filled with preconceived prejudices against Slytherin-- Solitaire

That's an interesting question. Ron is able to walk away from the Mirror without too much trouble. He has dreams and desires, but he is not willing to use any means to achieve them. If he had been placed in Slytherin, I imagine they would have trained up his ambition, just as Gryffindors tend to cheer on their House mates in feats of derring-do.

"Ambition" is the desire for prestige and power. It is not necessarily linked to skill or ability. Harry with the HBP potions seemed Slytheriny to me, because he wanted to look like the best in Potions and get the praise from Slughorn without actually knowing what he was doing. I think there is a difference between wanting to be good at something, and ambition.



Julia H. - Dec 15, 2008 7:56 am (#290 of 445)
Snape should never have been made head of Slytherin House. We can see the help he provided in the fight against Voldemort, but it is difficult to measure whether the harm he did as Slytherin House leader was greater in the long run. (Mrs Brisbee)

While I can agree with the first sentence, I'm not sure about the second one. The harm that was done to Slytherin was not done by Snape, he just could not help it, and, as I said, others who had been in a better position to help before him had not achieved anything either. The problem of Slytherin should not have been an internal Slytherin House problem. It should have been viewed as an all-Hogwarts problem and addressed on school level rather than on House level. I think the probable reason why Snape was made Head of Slytherin may have been that he was the only teacher from Slytherin at the time at Hogwarts and there must be a rule that a Head of a particular House must come from the same House. While it seems to make sense at first sight, it may become just another rule before reason when applied without sense.

Yet, in the end, "in the even longer run", I think Snape ultimately made redemption possible for Slytherin House as he died for the greater good, killed by Voldemort's snake. Snakes are so important in the story, that it must have some significance when the "too-soon-sorted" Head of Slytherin, who is fighting for the school and the wizarding world in general, gets killed by the snake of Slytherin's Heir. Of course Slytherin House is not redeemed instantly, as we see at the end of the book, but the Slytherin tradition is at least divided from that moment on. There will be something / someone to look up to for those future Slytherins who do not want the dark side anymore or who want to find something that unites Slytherin with the rest of the wizarding world.



Solitaire - Dec 15, 2008 8:11 am (#291 of 445)
If Snape can start changing at the age of twenty, there surely must be kids who can be influenced in the right direction in their teens.

But it is precisely Snape's age and experience which makes him able to do that. First of all, younger kids will still have parental influence (unless they are rebels, like Sirius, who are disowned by their families). Snape actually seemed to need to experience the evil of Voldemort before being able to turn from it. Could DD have counteracted that? Hard to say ...

Ron is able to walk away from the Mirror without too much trouble. He has dreams and desires, but he is not willing to use any means to achieve them.

You're right, of course. He was far less tempted by it than Harry was, and he never returned, as Harry did. Perhaps having had a magical upbringing, Ron was more aware of the dangers of such an object than Harry would have been. It takes Dumbledore to point them out to him.

I do not think Snape harmed Slytherin House. In fact, thanks to Harry's revelations of Snape's true loyalties and his fight against Voldemort, as well as Slughorn's fight on the side opposing Voldemort, we finally see Slytherin on the way to being united once again with the other Houses. Once all of this is recorded in Hogwarts: A History, for all to read, perhaps the Slytherins will see that striving to maintain unity is the best way of serving oneself.



PeskyPixie - Dec 15, 2008 9:36 am (#292 of 445)
Doesn't JKR say that Slytherin House (in the time of Harry's kids) has lost its Pure-Blood mania but still clings to its Dark leanings? If so, then we have come quite a way in a mere nineteen years and I am hopeful about the future on this House.



Julia H. - Dec 15, 2008 12:29 pm (#293 of 445)
Edited Dec 15, 2008 1:49 pm
But it is precisely Snape's age and experience which makes him able to do that.

Yes, that's how Snape starts changing. But from a more general perspective, parents usually teach their children not to play with fire or electricity instead of letting them undergo a terrible experience. Without that, a lot more people would get burned or would cause catastrophes. If a headmaster realizes that in a number of families the parents encourage their children to take matches to the school and experiment with them there, he can be expected to do something about it. Simply banning these "games" is not enough if the problem is large-scale.

Yes, the children are under the parents' influence, which makes the teachers' job very difficult. But parental influence does not automatically stop when the children leave Hogwarts. On the contrary, it is the influence of Hogwarts that ends for most of them. If Hogwarts could save at least some Slytherins, it would be worth the effort. It does not mean they all have to end up in the OotP. It is an achievement if - despite their parents - they don't join Voldemort or they give up the pure-blood craze. The next generation might go a longer way.

In some cases, it is even possible that children influence their parents. I don't have very romantic ideas about Slytherin parents but I can imagine, if Narcissa, for example, had to face the possibility of losing her son's love because of her DE connections, she would choose Draco over Voldemort. That, in turn, could force Lucius to reconsider his choices... OK, that's beginning to be the realm of fan fiction.



Orion - Dec 15, 2008 2:46 pm (#294 of 445)
"If Hogwarts could save at least some Slytherins, it would be worth the effort. It does not mean they all have to end up in the OotP. It is an achievement if - despite their parents - they don't join Voldemort or they give up the pure-blood craze. The next generation might go a longer way." (Julia)

IMO, they can be pure-blood-crazy as long as they want as long as they give up running around and killing muggles or take muggle-borns' wands away. Who minds if they go on marrying each other and stitch family trees? Freedom of thought, please!



tandaradei - Dec 15, 2008 2:47 pm (#295 of 445)
Folks, I'm going to stick now to my idea that Snape should taste like Hickory-laced coffee. I realize we can only project tastes from those we've had, so maybe this won't be a popular decision. But I've just come to feel some certainty here, regarding my own imaginative result.



Solitaire - Dec 15, 2008 9:45 pm (#296 of 445)
Tandaradei, there is a whole thread specifically devoted to that issue: Polyjuice Potion: Who Tastes Like What? I do not think you've posted there yet.



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 16, 2008 6:34 am (#297 of 445)
I do think Snape's leadership caused harm to Slytherin House. Dumbledore said he did not know whether Voldemort would return in ten years or fifty. How many generations of kids is that? Yes, the parents have far more influence and responsibility for their children's moral character than Snape, but a Head of House who appears to support the Dark Lord is one more current pushing the kids away from making the right choices. It was chancy, and Snape could easily have ended up in the annals of history as nothing more than a hated dead bad guy who got killed by his own boss.

Yet, in the end, "in the even longer run", I think Snape ultimately made redemption possible for Slytherin House as he died for the greater good, killed by Voldemort's snake. --Julia H.

I do not think Snape harmed Slytherin House. In fact, thanks to Harry's revelations of Snape's true loyalties and his fight against Voldemort, as well as Slughorn's fight on the side opposing Voldemort, we finally see Slytherin on the way to being united once again with the other Houses. Once all of this is recorded in Hogwarts: A History, for all to read, perhaps the Slytherins will see that striving to maintain unity is the best way of serving oneself.-- Solitaire

Interesting thoughts. This hinges on Slughorn making the choice to fight, and even more important, that Snape be revealed as a hero. What would have happened if neither man came out of the final battle looking like a hero?

I wonder if this could finally provide a motive for Dumbledore's final plan that has been perplexing me for so long: Why was Snape so vital? I haven't been able to figure out why Dumbledore considered Snape so important, so much so that he was worth endangering all the Order and the Trio, he was worth so much despite being completely cut off from the Order, no longer a useful spy, etc., etc. Could Dumbledore's big plan have included Snape as the big hero of the piece, leaping in to kill Voldemort once the Horcruxes were all vanquished, thereby providing a major Slytherin hero who remade Slytherin's dream for all future Slytherin House children to admire?



Soul Search - Dec 16, 2008 9:36 am (#298 of 445)
I have been wondering why Slytherin House existed at all.

Each of the Hogwarts's founders had their own house within the school where they taught those students they selected. The founders had a falling out and Salazar Slytherin left. Why did his house continue? Who stepped up to take over the house and teach the students that had been selected by Salazar Slytherin?

The Sorting Hat could have been the continuing link. It must have been created before Slytherin left, or it would not still be sorting students into that house. It still sorted new students into Slytherin house, so something had to be done with them. Hogwarts just couldn't evict students that had been sorted into Slytherin House by a magical hat!



Julia H. - Dec 16, 2008 9:50 am (#299 of 445)
Mrs Brisbee, your questions always start a flood of thought in me... I can't help it.

Dumbledore said he did not know whether Voldemort would return in ten years or fifty. How many generations of kids is that? Yes, the parents have far more influence and responsibility for their children's moral character than Snape, but a Head of House who appears to support the Dark Lord is one more current pushing the kids away from making the right choices.

First of all, though that may be what Dumbledore said, his asking Snape to help him protect Harry and his keeping him at Hogwarts may suggest he was expecting Voldemort to return in time to find Harry at school. Even if he could not know it for sure, he seems to have been preparing for that situation. If he did not tell that to Snape directly, it is only in character with him.

Secondly, we know very little about the Hogwarts years before Harry. We do not know, for example, when Snape became Head of Slytherin. One possibility is that he had become Head of Slytherin just a few years before Harry started. Dumbledore was apparently searching for signs and news of Vapormort all those years (he did find out Voldy was in Albania, for example) and we know that he and Flamel decided to remove the Philosopher's Stone from Gringotts before Voldemort's actual reappearance. In this case, Dumbledore may not have been planning to have Snape work as Head of Slytherin for a very long time before Voldy's return.

Thirdly, now that I have been thinking of it for a while, I can even see why Snape may have been useful as Head of Slytherin (although he may have been given the job mainly because he was the only Slytherin teacher at Hogwarts at the time). If Snape got the Head of House job as soon as he became a Hogwarts teacher (because of Slughorn's retirement), that was still at the time when Voldemort was around. If there were DE kids at Slytherin (and presumably there were), the House must have been a Dark place, where the Dark Arts and antisocial behaviour were fashionable. Somebody had to contain these kids. In this situation, I can see why a Head who is a Dark Arts expert and an "insider" in Slytherin could be useful. Snape could be expected to be able to deal with any Dark Arts related "tricks", for example. Voldy soon fell after Snape had become a Hogwarts teacher but the Dark Arts knowledge these kids had accumulated earlier was still there. Moreover, DE kids must have been disturbed, frightened and therefore dangerous after Voldy's downfall. Snape may well have got practised in his skills as a healer of Dark-Arts-related injuries in these years. (Remember how confident Hagrid is in PS that Snape would not hurt a student?)

Finally, I don't think Snape had to appear to be as supportive of Voldmort in these years as in the actual books. Even during the second war, he "only" had to be ambiguous but nobody expected him to openly support Voldemort until the end of the HBP year. Ambiguity is, of course, bad enough when you deal with children but in the years before Voldy's return, the situation was different. Every former DE still out of Azkaban was "repentant", so to speak, at the time (possibly including parents of DE kids) so Snape could probably be more "himself" in those years. After all, at Karkaroff's hearing, Dumbledore announced it to the wizarding world at large that Snape had been the Order's spy. (The only way I can think of that Snape was able to explain that to Voldemort later is if he had been a double agent with Voldemort's knowledge in the first war just like in the second.) So those who knew that Snape had been a DE also knew that he had also been a spy for the Light Side and that was proof that he had changed and that he had Dumbledore's trust despite his past. While this fact probably did not endear Snape to any Gryffindors, the message sent to Slytherin students in general was not necessarily a bad one. (DE kids may have thought they "knew better", though.)

In fact, when I say Snape was trying to encourage Slytherin students to pursue legitimate ambitions (instead of Darker ones) such as winning sports games, I find some justification for that in the fact that before Harry's arrival at Hogwarts, Slytherin had won the Quidditch Cup and the House Cup several times - precisely in the years when Voldy was far away and Snape was probably the Head of Slytherin. (The "non-political" nature of these occupations may also have made it possible that Snape could somehow deal with the problems of Slytherins - such as Dark Arts interests - without having to advertise his political allegiance too loudly.) Perhaps these victories helped to channel the aggression and the frustration of Slytherin kids in better directions in those years.

All in all, while Snape could not at all be a desirable role model for Slytherin students when Voldemort was around, I don't see that he necessarily did any particular harm to Slytherin students while Voldemort was away. If he had been Head of Slytherin for fifty years with no Voldy in sight, the memory of his DE past (along with the memory of the DE past of other old guys or the memory of even Voldemort) would have simply faded away causing few or no problems to the newer generations of students.



Julia H. - Dec 16, 2008 2:55 pm (#300 of 445)
Snape could easily have ended up in the annals of history as nothing more than a hated dead bad guy who got killed by his own boss.

Could Dumbledore's big plan have included Snape as the big hero of the piece, leaping in to kill Voldemort once the Horcruxes were all vanquished, thereby providing a major Slytherin hero who remade Slytherin's dream for all future Slytherin House children to admire? (Mrs Brisbee)

These ideas seem to be a bit contradictory to me but perhaps they are not. I don't believe that too much happened in the war for Snape's sake. Dumbledore was his guide and mentor who saved his soul when it was in the greatest danger although Snape had to take the first step towards Dumbledore (which was just as well). Apart from that, Snape pretty much had to be ready (and he was ready) to do anything Dumbledore or the greater good required him to do. Yes, Snape could have gone down in the annals of history as Voldemort's right hand man (killed by his boss) but that was a possibility he had to accept. (Anything.) He must have been aware of this possibility all along after Dumbledore's death. In fact, I'm quite sure that was exactly what he believed would happen when he was dying (if he was able to think about it in those moments). No living soul knew about his true allegiance. He was giving Harry his memories but he thought Harry would have to die within hours and then there would be no one to tell Snape's tale to anyone.

If Dumbledore knew Harry would not die, he must have trusted that after the victory Harry would stand up for Snape but, of course, if events had not gone quite in accordance with Dumbledore's plan... well, Snape's future reputation was just one of the many, many things at risk. (But that is why I think Snape sacrificed more than his life for the cause.)

Whether Snape could have ended up killing Voldemort or whether it might have been a version of Dumbledore's plan... I don't know. I don't really see Dumbledore preparing Snape for such a moment although he did comment on his bravery and he let him guard and deliver the sword of Gryffindor so that Gryffindors could use it (which could have some symbolic meaning).

Why was Snape so vital? I haven't been able to figure out why Dumbledore considered Snape so important, so much so that he was worth endangering all the Order and the Trio, he was worth so much despite being completely cut off from the Order, no longer a useful spy, etc., etc.

I can see why Snape was important. On the one hand, Snape had to guard Hogwarts, which was not only Dumbledore's favourite place but also an institution where wizarding children and teenagers were concentrated. The future of wizarding Britain. Perhaps Dumbledore suspected that Hogwarts could be a place where Harry and Voldemort would face each other because the place was so important to both of them and because he suspected one of the Horcruxes was hidden there so he wanted Snape to be on the spot. On the other hand, while Dumbledore was alive, he was the single most important person who was able to contain Voldemort. Dumbledore knew that after his death there would not be another person with this kind of power. He probably expected Voldemort to take over the Ministry (and the school) and he wanted Snape to be an absolutly trusted (as far as we can say that in connection with Voldemort) and influential "DE" so that he would be able to slow down Voldemort a little and provide some background help to Harry. Then, of course, he had to tell the final secret to Harry. Dumbledore always seemed to be quite confident that Snape would be able to do all the jobs he had to do, so I guess he trusted Snape's abilities and bravery quite as much as his loyalty.

As for endangering the Trio and the Order... I suppose you are referring to the Chase. That was a Machiavellian move but I can see Dumbledore's "greater good" logic behind it. Dumbledore thought the advantages of the "seven Potters" idea were greater than the disadvantages of letting Voldemort know when Harry's journey would take place. In this way, he hoped to secure Snape's position as a future Headmaster (Dumbledore said so and it must have been very important to him). Well, at least we can say that Dumbledore gave priority to the relative safety of lots of children over the safety of a few adults. It is a difficult decision but not unheard of in war situations.

Also, while Snape indeed told Voldemort the exact date of Harry's departure, I don't think Voldy would have been very far away from Privet Drive if Snape had not told him. Even if he had heard a different date, he would have made it sure that the neighbourhood was guarded by his DE's every day. With Apparition and Voldmort's ability to fly, he would have been chasing them within minutes if he had been alerted by a guard DE and a large group of DE's could have arrived with him. What is more, I don't see what would have prevented Voldemort from stationing a large group of DE's outside the Dursleys' house every day in July. So even without Snape, the chase and the battle would have taken place and Order members would have been at risk.

I'm sure the Order members were not ignorant of the danger of being chased and attacked. After all, that is why they used the Polyjuice Potion, several safe houses and that is why so many of them accompanied Harry. If anybody, Moody was surely prepared for every possibility. That is what he was famous for (he had already expected a battle when the Advanced Guard took Harry to 12GP in OotP) and Dumbledore knew that Moody would be prepared to face a whole army. Moody even said that not even You-Know-Who could split himself into seven, which means he expected Voldemort to turn up and I think he would have turned up and his DE's would have turned up anyway. Dumbledore must have thought the inevitable danger was not very much increased with Voldemort being informed of the exact date, while there were some rewards to reap for the sake of the greater good.



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Post  Mona on Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:44 am

Mrs Brisbee - Dec 17, 2008 9:01 am (#301 of 445)
Wow, Julia, two wall-o-text posts! You do have some interesting points in there, though.

First of all, though that may be what Dumbledore said, his asking Snape to help him protect Harry and his keeping him at Hogwarts may suggest he was expecting Voldemort to return in time to find Harry at school. Even if he could not know it for sure, he seems to have been preparing for that situation. If he did not tell that to Snape directly, it is only in character with him.

Possibly. That still brings forward the question of how much should be sacrificed on the basis of that one Prophecy. I'm not sure Harry really needed Snape's protection at school, unless Dumbledore believed that the attack would come from within Slytherin House and Snape would be privy to it. So, possible, but not concrete.

Secondly, we know very little about the Hogwarts years before Harry. We do not know, for example, when Snape became Head of Slytherin. One possibility is that he had become Head of Slytherin just a few years before Harry started.

True. We don't know how long or what circumstances. Snape might have been the only choice, if no other teachers had been in Slytherin House.

Thirdly, now that I have been thinking of it for a while, I can even see why Snape may have been useful as Head of Slytherin (although he may have been given the job mainly because he was the only Slytherin teacher at Hogwarts at the time). If Snape got the Head of House job as soon as he became a Hogwarts teacher (because of Slughorn's retirement), that was still at the time when Voldemort was around. If there were DE kids at Slytherin (and presumably there were), the House must have been a Dark place, where the Dark Arts and antisocial behaviour were fashionable. Somebody had to contain these kids. In this situation, I can see why a Head who is a Dark Arts expert and an "insider" in Slytherin could be useful. Snape could be expected to be able to deal with any Dark Arts related "tricks", for example. Voldy soon fell after Snape had become a Hogwarts teacher but the Dark Arts knowledge these kids had accumulated earlier was still there. Moreover, DE kids must have been disturbed, frightened and therefore dangerous after Voldy's downfall. Snape may well have got practised in his skills as a healer of Dark-Arts-related injuries in these years. (Remember how confident Hagrid is in PS that Snape would not hurt a student?)

Perhaps your best point. Snape did start work at Hogwarts during the first war. He actually might have been a useful spy for Dumbledore at Hogwarts.

Finally, I don't think Snape had to appear to be as supportive of Voldemort in these years as in the actual books. Even during the second war, he "only" had to be ambiguous but nobody expected him to openly support Voldemort until the end of the HBP year. Ambiguity is, of course, bad enough when you deal with children but in the years before Voldy's return, the situation was different. Every former DE still out of Azkaban was "repentant", so to speak, at the time (possibly including parents of DE kids) so Snape could probably be more "himself" in those years. After all, at Karkaroff's hearing, Dumbledore announced it to the wizarding world at large that Snape had been the Order's spy. (The only way I can think of that Snape was able to explain that to Voldemort later is if he had been a double agent with Voldemort's knowledge in the first war just like in the second.) So those who knew that Snape had been a DE also knew that he had also been a spy for the Light Side and that was proof that he had changed and that he had Dumbledore's trust despite his past. While this fact probably did not endear Snape to any Gryffindors, the message sent to Slytherin students in general was not necessarily a bad one. (DE kids may have thought they "knew better", though.)

Was Snape's spying common knowledge, though? Dumbledore mentions it at Karkaroff's hearing, but how many details filtered their way into the school?

In fact, when I say Snape was trying to encourage Slytherin students to pursue legitimate ambitions (instead of Darker ones) such as winning sports games, I find some justification for that in the fact that before Harry's arrival at Hogwarts, Slytherin had won the Quidditch Cup and the House Cup several times - precisely in the years when Voldy was far away and Snape was probably the Head of Slytherin. (The "non-political" nature of these occupations may also have made it possible that Snape could somehow deal with the problems of Slytherins - such as Dark Arts interests - without having to advertise his political allegiance too loudly.) Perhaps these victories helped to channel the aggression and the frustration of Slytherin kids in better directions in those years.

Possibly. I'm glad they were apparently directed away from Dark activities, but Snape's widespread reputation for unfairness still speaks to a deep problem within Slytherin. The kids there are being trained to expect privilege, for the rules just not to apply to them, to expect favoritism. Dark activities could be suppressed for awhile, but if the attitude of entitlement is still encouraged, once Dark Arts are added back into the mix there's even more trouble.

The other thing that comes to mind is the short number of years Snape was away from Hogwarts between being a student and becoming a teacher. He was a student at the beginning of the war, hanging out with DE wannabes and calling other students "Mudblood". Some of the people watching this (or being victims of this), from both his House and the other Houses, would still be students at Hogwarts when he starts his teaching career. I would think that would cause some sort of damage, unless Snape openly repudiated his former behavior and alliances.

(Edit: Okay, I think Julia's second post boils down to her saying, "No, I don't think part of Dumbledore's plan was to set Snape up as a big Slytherin hero", so I won't do a point by point answer post for that one!)



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 17, 2008 10:16 am (#302 of 445)
The Sorting Hat could have been the continuing link. It must have been created before Slytherin left, or it would not still be sorting students into that house. It still sorted new students into Slytherin house, so something had to be done with them. Hogwarts just couldn't evict students that had been sorted into Slytherin House by a magical hat!-- Soul Search

Yeah, that Hat is an odd duck. The Sorting Hat, although it divides the students, wants them to unite. It has no problem helping defeat Slytherin's heir, twice producing Gryffindor's Sword, despite supposedly containing 1/4 of Salazar Slytherin's ideals. It seems Godric Gryffindor has stacked the deck, as the item that was supposed to belong to all the founders turns out to be his personal magic hat. So there's probably twice as much Gryffindor ideals as the other founders in there. But Gryffindor was just as happy to divide the students as the other founders, excepting Hufflepuff. Maybe it's the Hufflepuff part that wants unity, although I have a feeling Rowling wants us to see Gryffindor as the House twice as awesome as any of the others.



Julia H. - Dec 17, 2008 12:15 pm (#303 of 445)
Mrs Brisbee,

That still brings forward the question of how much should be sacrificed on the basis of that one Prophecy. I'm not sure Harry really needed Snape's protection at school, unless Dumbledore believed that the attack would come from within Slytherin House and Snape would be privy to it. (Mrs Brisbee)

Harry needed protection while he was a Hogwarts-age kid. Not necessarily on Hogwarts territory but Dumbledore can't have foreseen everything and in any case, he could work with Snape the best way if Snape was at Hogwarts. We know it from the books that Snape did not only protect Harry by directly guarding his safety (as he did in PS) but by being Dumbledore's spy among the DE's. But he was also a spy in the first war. I don't think Dumbledore sacrificed much by keeping Snape at Hogwarts, rather that he made a rational decision.

Snape started to teach at Hogwarts while Voldemort was still powerful. Then Snape had been a spy for Dumbledore for about a year. It was a risky job - if he had been discovered by Voldemort to ever communicate with Dumbledore, he would have been a dead man and Dumbledore would have lost his spy. Giving Snape a teaching position at Hogwarts had the following advantages:

1) Since Voldemort thought Snape was his spy at Hogwarts, Snape's job became a bit less dangerous and a bit less difficult because from that moment on, he was officially allowed (by Voldemort) to regularly communicate with Dumbledore. (I imagine during the previous year, Dumbledore and Snape had had to very carefully organize a way to get in contact every time but regular contact is essential in the job of a spy.) Now it was easier for him to pass on information to Dumbledore.

2) By becoming a Hogwarts teacher, Snape became from a simple spy a double agent. That made it possible for Dumbledore to not only find out information about Voldemort but to misdirect and manipulate Voldemort through Snape. We know Dumbledore fully exploited this advantage in the second war. In the first war, he did not have much time for that because of Voldemort's sudden disappearance but it is probable that Dumbledore was planning something like that when he hired Snape.

3) As Voldemort's spy, Snape would have a special status among DE's and Voldemort clearly did not want him to give away his "true allegiance", therefore there was no danger of Snape being forced to take part in a battle or other DE activities.

4) Although Snape was not a personality type especially well-suited to guide and mentor children, as I said in my previous post, he was probably able to keep up basic safety and discipline in Slytherin House and could perhaps deal with DE kids (the potentially most dangerous kids) better than an outsider could have dealt with them. Sometimes you just have to decide whether you want to choose an ideal role-model for a particular position or someone who may be good at maintaining law and order in a chaotic situation.

5) Having said that, I also think that with or without the additional bonuses coming with a spy, Snape may even have been the best alternative for Dumbledore to pick. It is only speculation but: If Slughorn had just retired, then Dumbledore needed a Potions teacher and a Head of Slytherin, in one person possibly (unless he already had another Slytherin teacher at Hogwarts - do we know that?). My question is: How many potions experts from Slytherin could be available just that moment for the job whom Dumbledore could trust? Snape happened to be just that kind of person. (Not all Slytherins were potions experts, many Slytherins were allied to or sympathizing with Voldemort, some may have been reluctant to openly associate themselves with Dumbledore, still others may have been the ones Dumbledore did not like or trust.) What is more, Dumbledore knew Voldemort was trying to plant a spy in Hogwarts - the easiest solution to this problem was letting Voldemort think he had already got that spy.

Some of the people watching this (or being victims of this), from both his House and the other Houses, would still be students at Hogwarts when he starts his teaching career. I would think that would cause some sort of damage, unless Snape openly repudiated his former behavior and alliances.

Yes, and some could have witnessed his Worst Memory and similar things. We don't know what the exact terms were that Snape had to accept when accepting the job Dumbledore offered to him. Snape was not perfect but if you give someone a second chance, you have to accept that the person has a past, otherwise he would not need a second chance. BTW accepting a second chance can be a brave thing, too.

Was Snape's spying common knowledge, though? Dumbledore mentions it at Karkaroff's hearing, but how many details filtered their way into the school?

News seems to travel fast in this tight wizarding community. I'm sure people were interested in what was going on at Hogwarts. If there were journalists at the hearing, the news that Dumbledore (!) had hired a former DE could have easily made it onto the pages of newspapers in the current political atmosphere. I sort of think that Snape's DE past was known roughly as widely as his having returned to the good side before Voldy's downfall because Karkaroff's hearing may not have been the only occasion when Dumbledore had to defend him or his own choice.

To sum it up: We don't know but it is at least possible that Dumbledore did not know any trustworthy Slytherin potions experts who wanted this job at the time and were excellent role-models for all students while at the same time being able to contain Dark Arts leaning DE kids. For all his faults, Snape may have come closest to this ideal personality and then he could also be expected to become a more effective spy in the long run if he was at Hogwarts.

There was also the additional advantage that Dumbledore could mentor and guide and protect Snape because Snape was by his side. Dumbledore was for second chances and that was the best way he could give Snape a second chance and I don't think he made a bad deal and I don't think Dumbledore or Hogwarts would have likely done better with someone else in the same position.



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 18, 2008 7:01 am (#304 of 445)
1) Since Voldemort thought Snape was his spy at Hogwarts, Snape's job became a bit less dangerous and a bit less difficult because from that moment on, he was officially allowed (by Voldemort) to regularly communicate with Dumbledore. (I imagine during the previous year, Dumbledore and Snape had had to very carefully organize a way to get in contact every time but regular contact is essential in the job of a spy.) Now it was easier for him to pass on information to Dumbledore.-- Julia H.

2) By becoming a Hogwarts teacher, Snape became from a simple spy a double agent. That made it possible for Dumbledore to not only find out information about Voldemort but to misdirect and manipulate Voldemort through Snape. We know Dumbledore fully exploited this advantage in the second war. In the first war, he did not have much time for that because of Voldemort's sudden disappearance but it is probable that Dumbledore was planning something like that when he hired Snape.

3) As Voldemort's spy, Snape would have a special status among DE's and Voldemort clearly did not want him to give away his "true allegiance", therefore there was no danger of Snape being forced to take part in a battle or other DE activities.

I do agree that it helps protect Snape and his role as spy, but it is also using Hogwarts and the students as a protection for Snape. Where should the line be drawn in using a school and its children in war? How does this influence how the students think about the war, and how the Houses are perceived? If Snape's spy role was more important than his teaching role, than there is going to be trouble when their interests clash.

4) Although Snape was not a personality type especially well-suited to guide and mentor children, as I said in my previous post, he was probably able to keep up basic safety and discipline in Slytherin House and could perhaps deal with DE kids (the potentially most dangerous kids) better than an outsider could have dealt with them. Sometimes you just have to decide whether you want to choose an ideal role-model for a particular position or someone who may be good at maintaining law and order in a chaotic situation.

That is possible. Snape though is influencing not only Slytherin House, but also how the other three Houses view Slytherin House. It may have been the only option if Slytherin House was so corrupted the best option was to isolate it, but its sad to think that, and I would have preferred to see the children at least presented with better options.

5) Having said that, I also think that with or without the additional bonuses coming with a spy, Snape may even have been the best alternative for Dumbledore to pick. It is only speculation but: If Slughorn had just retired, then Dumbledore needed a Potions teacher and a Head of Slytherin, in one person possibly (unless he already had another Slytherin teacher at Hogwarts - do we know that?). My question is: How many potions experts from Slytherin could be available just that moment for the job whom Dumbledore could trust? Snape happened to be just that kind of person. (Not all Slytherins were potions experts, many Slytherins were allied to or sympathizing with Voldemort, some may have been reluctant to openly associate themselves with Dumbledore, still others may have been the ones Dumbledore did not like or trust.) What is more, Dumbledore knew Voldemort was trying to plant a spy in Hogwarts - the easiest solution to this problem was letting Voldemort think he had already got that spy.

It is quite possible that Snape was simply the only former Slytherin teacher at Hogwarts, and got Head of House by default. There are only twelve professors (not counting the Headmaster). Binns would be hopeless as a Head of House and the DADA teacher never lasts, so thats actually only nine others besides Snape. Divide that by four and its a small pool indeed, and some Houses may be represented far less than others. After Dumbledore is killed, we see McGonagall call on Hagrid to stand in as Head of Gryffindor even though Hagrid has been a professor for only a few short years, so there also appears to be few former Gryffindors. And if Slytherins in general were the most adamant supporters of Voldemort, Slytherin pickings for teaching posts may have been thin indeed.

Yes, and some could have witnessed his Worst Memory and similar things. We don't know what the exact terms were that Snape had to accept when accepting the job Dumbledore offered to him. Snape was not perfect but if you give someone a second chance, you have to accept that the person has a past, otherwise he would not need a second chance. BTW accepting a second chance can be a brave thing, too.

SWM, where Snape calls Lily "filthy little Mudblood" in front of a whole crowd of people, occurs in his 5th year, and we know from Lily that his calling people "Mudblood" was widespread even before that incident and that he's hanging out with the DE Jr crowd. I think the math works out that first years would be seventh when Snape becomes a teacher. He also had two more years after that at school during the first war, so even more years worth of students might associate him with the DE Jr club and anti-Muggleborn activities.

News seems to travel fast in this tight wizarding community. I'm sure people were interested in what was going on at Hogwarts. If there were journalists at the hearing, the news that Dumbledore (!) had hired a former DE could have easily made it onto the pages of newspapers in the current political atmosphere. I sort of think that Snape's DE past was known roughly as widely as his having returned to the good side before Voldy's downfall because Karkaroff's hearing may not have been the only occasion when Dumbledore had to defend him or his own choice.

It would all come down to how Snape presents himself, then. Do the students at Hogwarts know that he repudiates the Dark Lord and his anti-Muggleborn agenda? This would be particularly important to the students that were there when he was also a student, I would think. This first impression could set the tone for how Snape is perceived for years, and in turn influence how Slytherin House thinks of itself, and what the other Houses will think Slytherin House stands for.



Julia H. - Dec 18, 2008 10:37 am (#305 of 445)
I do agree that it helps protect Snape and his role as spy, but it is also using Hogwarts and the students as a protection for Snape. (Mrs Brisbee)

Snape the spy is protected in the first place because he is useful for the Order and in the fight against the war. Dumbledore already "uses" the school to protect Trelawney who does not seem to be particularly useful for Hogwarts at the time. To some extent, the school is also "used" to protect Hagrid but Hagrid again is useful as a game-keeper, although years later, when he becomes a teacher, it seems to be more for the sake of his rehabilitation than because of Hagrid's talents as a teacher. (Has any reader ever complained that students are "used" to rehabilitate a not very skillful teacher when Dumbledore could probably try to recruit Grublly-Plank permanently?) Using the school and the students in the war does not originate with Snape, it is because the Headmaster of the school is the only one who can successfully contain Voldemort. That is the given situation.

Where should the line be drawn? The danger Voldemort means to the whole wizarding community (including the students of Hogwarts and their families) is grave and immediate enough to give it priority over a lot of other things. If Snape has an important job fighting against the dark side and if it takes hiring him at Hogwarts, then the advantages and disadvantages of this must be weighed against the other realistic possibilities.

On the one hand, if Snape is the best alternative available, then he is the best alternative available and choosing someone else available would have more disadvantages. In this case the school is not "used". On the other hand, if Dumbledore happens to know one or more reliable Slytherin potions experts never touched by dark interests or the pure-blood mania who are eager to accept the Hogwarts job and he still chooses Snape, it must be because he finds Snape very important as a spy. Since it is war and Dumbledore is the single most powerful wizard fighting against Voldemort, he must weigh, for example, the lives he can save by closely monitoring Voldemort with the help of a loyal double agent against the claims of the students who may find Snape a less than desirable role-model or who may be offended by seeing him as a teacher because he had once called them Mudblood.

Luckily, there are other teachers who can be good role-models for Hogwarts students - the school can tolerate one genuine "second-chancer" well enough. As for Slytherins, it seems that simply having a good role-model Head does not save Slytherin kids anyway: Slughorn promotes inter-house relationships and likes Muggle-born students, but that does not change the general atmosphere in his House the least. I've said before that reforming these students would take a team-effort, possibly an all-school effort with Dumbledore as the leader, with special programmes designed specifically to promote ideas like tolerance, respect for life and so on. One swallow does not make a summer in Slytherin, Slughorn proves that, while a large-scale common effort to change Slytherin would not fail just because Snape is Head of House. (He is not that bad). If Slytherins are isolated, it is not Snape who isolates them, they have been isolated before and IMO it would take a very, very exceptional Head of House who could reform them alone.

As for those whom Snape called Mudblood: Yes, it is a problem but the whole discussion started with the question of the harm Snape might have done in the long run if Voldemort had not returned so quickly. The students who were personally involved in the name-calling will go out in a few years and others will get to know Snape for the person he is now and not for the budding DE he once was. (As far as I can recall, it is never mentioned that Snape would call anyone "Mudblood" when he is already a teacher or that he at all refers to anybody's birth in any way.) Even the students who used to be offended by him can be made to understand that people can change - it is not a bad thing to learn and to remember later. Otherwise if the general atmosphere in the school is such that the idea of personal development and change is not acceptable (not mentioning the ability to forgive), then it really does not matter who guides the Slytherins at any given time: If nobody believes people can change, then there will be neither will, nor way to help them.

To be continued...



Julia H. - Dec 18, 2008 10:42 am (#306 of 445)
Edited Dec 18, 2008 12:18 pm
Snape though is influencing not only Slytherin House, but also how the other three Houses view Slytherin House.

I just don't see that he at this stage does any additional harm. Slytherin is hated and isolated enough before Snape becomes even a student there. He does harm later, when he has to appear to covertly and then openly support Voldemort but I agree with Solitaire that he makes up for this damage when his real role in the war comes to light. (Not mentioning now the additional advantage that his role is vital in the fight against Voldemort.)

This much disadvantage is IMO acceptable in exchange for a useful ally in a dangerous war, who, as I said, can even help to make Slytherin House a physically safer place at least. (BTW, if Dumbledore had time for these things and he could break the rule / tradition, he might try and swap Snape for McGonagall and McGonagall for Snape as Heads of their respective Houses. Let each work with the other House for a while. That shock therapy could help to deepen the understanding between the two rival Houses and their Heads: McGonagall could try to reform and understand the Slytherins and Snape would be forced to identify with the Gryffindor students.)

I would have preferred to see the children at least presented with better options

Of course, but you seem to suggest that it is altogether a mistake to employ Snape and that it happens for Snape's benefit only and at the expense of students. However, that does not seem to be the overall message of the whole story. I think Dumbledore's initial decision (which must indeed seem dubious when it is made) ultimately pays off. Precisely because this Head of Slytherin is not a man of unquestionable reputation (which is the origin of the harm he does), he has the chance to guard the safety of Hogwarts students (Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs) and that of even his colleagues in very dangerous times in a way in which no one else could protect them.

A different aspect is the one that regards Snape as a person. Whatever the students know / think / believe of him, Dumbledore knows that in reality Snape is changing and is improving and deserves a second chance. Dumbledore is very good at understanding people's true motivations and he does not often base his decisions about people whose lives he can influence on the general perception of others concerning these people. He has his own opinion about generally admired Tom Riddle and he turns out to be right. If you know better than the others that a particular person is not what he is generally perceived to be, why should you make a decision on the basis of others' beliefs just to conform to the general opinion?

I don't think the most important thing is Snape openly repudiating his former behaviour, which would be the easiest thing for a hypocrite. When Snape first becomes a teacher, Voldemort is still in power, so even if Snape is ever so loud about his remorse, he must retain a certain ambiguity - just enough to avoid making Voldemort suspicious, but which children could nevertheless perceive. Two months later, after Voldemort's downfall, a lot of people are "remorseful" (to paraphrase a famous writer: there is heavy traffic on the Road to Damascus) and that probably results in the devaluation of open demonstrations of remorse as far as credibility is concerned. Yet Dumbledore probably has both the chance and the obligation more than once to explain his position concerning Snape when Snape's DE past comes out and then he can address an even larger issue than the Mudblood comments and explain that Snape has changed. (I'm not sure if Snape is up to such tasks when he is freshly mourning Lily and feels his guilt most acutely.) I think it is more important that Snape is willing to dedicate his life to put his old mistake right. Oh, yes, it is more difficult and takes more time to let people know that your mentality and your life have changed when you do it through deeds rather than through words. But it is more creditable for those who finally do understand it and, well, Dumbledore is not for the easy ways and solutions.

Would it be morally more right to leave a genuinely remorseful young man, willing to change and potentially useful to a very important cause, alone and without the possibility to do something positive when you know he needs help and needs a way to complete his change and when you are the only one who can help him change and who can give him a second chance for a better way of life - just because others do not know him for what he really is now?



mona amon - Dec 19, 2008 7:26 pm (#307 of 445)
Perhaps the real problem is not how the school is run but what the Slytherin kids are being taught at home. Most of the teachers I know would agree that a home environment which militates against what the students are taught will probably have a greater influence on the students than the school. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few....I guess the bottom line for most kids is drawn, in one way or another, by what happens at home. (Soli)

This would be more true of a day school. In a boarding school like Hogwarts the kids stay at school most of the time, from the age of eleven to seventeen, except for a couple of months each year. I feel that the school ought to take more responsibility for the way these kids are brought up. Anyway, if the Hat has this way of picking all the kids with this type of home background and herding them into one house, that's a good case for disbanding Slytherin.

Perhaps I should change my opinion and vote to disband Slytherin after all! (Soli)

LOL!

Doesn't JKR say that Slytherin House (in the time of Harry's kids) has lost its Pure-Blood mania but still clings to its Dark leanings? If so, then we have come quite a way in a mere nineteen years and I am hopeful about the future on this House. (Pesky)

JKR says a lot of pro-Slytherin things in her interviews, but these are simply not demonstrated in the books. I see absolutely no change in the way Slytherin house is portrayed in the epilogue. Harry of course tells his son that he's ok with Slytherin, and I believe him. But Harry is exceptional. If we had heard Ron saying something similar, it would have been more to the point. I feel that in the interviews she bows to public opinion a bit. Children's books ought to advocate fairness, justice, etc, etc. After she became aware of public opinion regarding Slytherin house, she still had time to change things in the later books, but she sticks uncompromisingly to her original vision of her world, a world in which Griffindor is the greatest and Slytherin is evil. That's artistic integrity and I admire her for it.

If there were DE kids at Slytherin (and presumably there were), the House must have been a Dark place, where the Dark Arts and antisocial behaviour were fashionable. Somebody had to contain these kids. In this situation, I can see why a Head who is a Dark Arts expert and an "insider" in Slytherin could be useful. (Julia)

Here my one-tract mind finds another case for disbanding Slytherin. If only a dark arts expert can control this bunch of kids, it's time to split up the group.

Yet, in the end, "in the even longer run", I think Snape ultimately made redemption possible for Slytherin House as he died for the greater good, killed by Voldemort's snake. --Julia

It's a nice thought, but I really don't think redemption for Slytherin house is possible as long as the Sorting Hat picks and chooses the Slytherins according to Salazar's looney principles. I'm not sure how much it will help to set up Snape as an example when the majority of the kids come from families which probably feel they were better off during the Voldemort regime. These families would regard Severus as a traitor.

Yeah, that Hat is an odd duck. The Sorting Hat, although it divides the students, wants them to unite. It has no problem helping defeat Slytherin's heir, twice producing Gryffindor's Sword, despite supposedly containing 1/4 of Salazar Slytherin's ideals. It seems Godric Gryffindor has stacked the deck, as the item that was supposed to belong to all the founders turns out to be his personal magic hat. So there's probably twice as much Gryffindor ideals as the other founders in there. But Gryffindor was just as happy to divide the students as the other founders, excepting Hufflepuff. Maybe it's the Hufflepuff part that wants unity, although I have a feeling Rowling wants us to see Gryffindor as the House twice as awesome as any of the others. (Mrs. Brisbee)

Very well said!



Solitaire - Dec 19, 2008 8:19 pm (#308 of 445)
In a boarding school like Hogwarts the kids stay at school most of the time ... the school ought to take more responsibility for the way these kids are brought up.

Alas, "ought to" and "does" are quite different.



Julia H. - Dec 20, 2008 2:07 pm (#309 of 445)
Why can't they just put that Hat away into a school museum of some sort? They could still keep the names of the Houses if they want to so as they can honour those who founded the school. It seems originally it was a nice and wise thought to establish a school for wizarding children and the founders must have put a lot of effort into it. They were even friends at the time. But it does not mean Hogwarts still has to follow the dated and dangerous ideas of any of them. They could find new principles of sorting - principles none of which is based on a negative characteristic (such as the pure-blood mania). They could sort according to academic interest, or alphabetically even, or they could use a conscious sorting system with the purpose of having as mixed houses as possible in terms of talent, birth, sex or wealth to promote tolerance and cooperation because that is what the wizarding world needs. The families who cannot put up with this could take their children to Durmstrang but some of the old pure-blood-proud families would probably accept the new system anyway.



Orion - Dec 20, 2008 2:44 pm (#310 of 445)
That is a good idea. The Hat is biased, as Mrs Brisbee points out so well, and outdated. Throw them together and wait what happens. They can't possibly try to do each other in more than before.

The other founders should never have let Salazar walk away. You have to fight for a friendship.



Soul Search - Dec 20, 2008 3:12 pm (#311 of 445)
I don't think the Sorting Hat is to blame for the attitudes of Slytherin House.

The Hat has sorted muggle-borns into Gryfindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. If we go by the Hat's first year song, only Helga Hufflepuff welcomed muggle-borns to Hufflepuff House.

We have no examples of muggle-borns being sorted into Slytherin, but Snape had a muggle father and was sorted into Slytherin. To most Slytherin students, that would be just as bad as a muggle-born.

It does not appear the Sorting Hat has any pureblood bias, just Slytherin House itself.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 22, 2008 12:46 pm (#312 of 445)
The harm that was done to Slytherin was not done by Snape - Well, as Solitaire points out, Snape certainly didn't do anything to minimize the ideology of "blood purity" that Slytherin House so valued. In fact, the password to get into their common room in CS was "pure blood". Considering the events happening at the school at this particular time, there is no way this action can be interpreted as anything other than an overt re-enforcement of the sort of racism that was so important to the historical Slytherin ideology.

he just could not help it, - In what way "couldn't help it?" We know that Voldemort would have accepted the "keeping up appearances" explanation for any apparent transgression of the DE code Snape might have committed. In fact Voldemort even compliments Lucius for his own outward appearance-keeping while privately adhering to the DE principals. If Snape had wanted to do anything, he certainly could have.

If only a dark arts expert can control this bunch of kids, it's time to split up the group. - Agreed.

I really don't think redemption for Slytherin house is possible as long as the Sorting Hat picks and chooses the Slytherins according to Salazar's looney principles. I'm not sure how much it will help to set up Snape as an example when the majority of the kids come from families which probably feel they were better off during the Voldemort regime. These families would regard Severus as a traitor. - Another excellent point, Mona.



Dryleaves - Dec 22, 2008 1:25 pm (#313 of 445)
Snape certainly didn't do anything to minimize the ideology of "blood purity" that Slytherin House so valued. In fact, the password to get into their common room in CS was "pure blood". Quinn

Is it the Head of House that decides the password to the common room? DD seems to make up his own passwords to his office, but when Sir Cadogan is guarding the Gryffindor common room he seems to be the one who decides when to change password and what the password should be. Flitwick seems not to be the one in control of the passage to the Ravenclaw common room. The password to the Slytherin common room may be due to some magic that keeps the spirit of Salazar Slytherin alive, and Snape may not be able to do much about it. But I guess it is bad enough if the pure-blood ideology is kept in the very walls of Hogwarts through magic.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 22, 2008 1:55 pm (#314 of 445)
A fair point, Dryleaves, about the password to Slytherin. Still, as you say, it is bad enough if the pure-blood ideology is kept in the very walls of Hogwarts through magic.



Julia H. - Dec 22, 2008 2:13 pm (#315 of 445)
I agree that passwords are not controlled by Heads of Houses. Sir Cadogan thinks up his own passwords while he is guarding Gryffindor Tower and "abstinence" is the password after the Fat Lady gets drunk at Christmas and is apparently sick. It is never mentioned who invents the passwords for Slytherin House but I don't see that it should be the Head any more than in Gryffindor House. I can't remember any scenes in which Snape as Head of House promotes the pure-blood ideology, makes racist remarks or even tolerates students making such remarks in his presence.

If Snape had wanted to do anything, he certainly could have. (Quinn)

I don't think Snape could have truly changed Slytherin House alone. I've already noted that Slughorn couldn't do it either although he did not have to keep up appearances. I don't see why the harm that has been tolerated for centuries and is still being tolerated by everyone becomes suddenly the exclusive fault of the one person who is burdened with more tasks than any other Heads of Houses we know and who must give priority to other - important - jobs over the reformation of his House, which he could not accomplish without help anyway. I mean yes, he can do things that he can explain as "only keeping up appearances" and he probably does such things. The problem is that anything that can be explained to Voldemort as "keeping up appearances" is not likely to be very useful or far-reaching. For example, Snape can tell his students not to use the "M-word" - he could explain that as "keeping up appearances" but it would not change a thing in Slytherin House, deep down. As far as we can tell, Slytherins use the "M-word" when Snape is not present. Perhaps they already know he would not tolerate it if he heard it - but unfortunately such things do not change a deep-rooted attitude. If Snape could truly change and did successfully change Slytherin students, that would be something Voldemort would notice. But I still don't think accomplishing any real changes would be a one-man task.

Actually, we know Snape does things that can be explained as "keeping up appearances". For example, he tells Crabbe to loosen his hold on Neville's neck, he teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts to Hogwarts students (I mean he really does teach them) and he saves Harry's life more than once. He's got far more to explain as "keeping up appearances" than Lucius.

But I guess it is bad enough if the pure-blood ideology is kept in the very walls of Hogwarts through magic. (Dryleaves)

Bad enough but it is not something Snape does. This would be further proof that only an all-Hogwarts effort could achieve anything.



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Quinn Crockett - Dec 22, 2008 2:52 pm (#316 of 445)
it is bad enough if the pure-blood ideology is kept in the very walls of Hogwarts through magic. Bad enough but it is not something Snape does. - Well, we really don't know that. True, we don't know that Snape sets the password for his House, but we don't know that he doesn't either. Regardless, what we see of Snape's behavior makes it very likely that he doesn't do anything to quell the simmering fanaticism of any young Death Eaters in his House.

We see that he makes at least one exception for his quidditch team to take over the pitch so they can practice - even though another House's team had already reserved the time.
We see him teach one of his students - in front of most of the rest of the student body - the Serpentsortia spell for the specific purpose of attacking another student.
We know that he deliberately reveals Lupin's condition to the students, playing up the prejudice against werewolves (even Ron is not immune to this) and knowing that the parents would call for Lupin's immediate termination.
We see Snape taunt a non-Slytherin student in front of other students at their very first meeting, even though the student has done nothing wrong.
Snape calls a non-Slytherin student names in front of other students and belittles another on a regular basis, all while students of his House are witness to this behavior.

These are all just off the top of my head. The point is, Snape hardly sets any kind of decent example for his students to emulate. On the contrary, he seems to want them to march themselves straight to the Riddle House to sign on the dotted line.



Julia H. - Dec 22, 2008 3:50 pm (#317 of 445)
True, we don't know that Snape sets the password for his House, but we don't know that he doesn't either. (Quinn)

I just don't see a reason why we should assume he does.

Regardless, what we see of Snape's behavior makes it very likely that he doesn't do anything to quell the simmering fanaticism of any young Death Eaters in his House.

I don't see that anyone else does anything similar. What exactly could Snape alone do?

We see that he makes at least one exception for his quidditch team to take over the pitch so they can practice - even though another House's team had already reserved the time.

It has nothing to do with the pure-blood ideology, racism or the Dark Arts and there is a special reason - training a new seeker.

We see him teach one of his students - in front of most of the rest of the student body - the Serpentsortia spell for the specific purpose of attacking another student.

Yes, that is bad - though at least he is there to prevent any real harm and it happens in a Duelling Club, where students learn to duel and to defend themselves. In any case, it is because he is angry with Harry - I do not approve of it at all but the reason is not pure-blood or DE ideology.

We know that he deliberately reveals Lupin's condition to the students, playing up the prejudice against werewolves (even Ron is not immune to this) and knowing that the parents would call for Lupin's immediate termination.

We know he "lets it slip". Harry immediately assumes that it is intentional and not the result of a real slip in his anger and / or because of the physical consequences of the events of the previous night - like bumping his head several times into the wall of the tunnel after being hit by three Expelliarmus spells at the same time. Headwise, Snape may not be on top form that morning. (BTW, the prejudice against werewolves is not quite the same as the prejudice against muggle-borns - one mistake and werewolves can really be dangerous, as Lupin's example has just shown. Apparently, werewolves appear in the standard DADA course-book for the school and the Greyback character somewhat justifies that.)

We see Snape taunt a non-Slytherin student in front of other students at their very first meeting, even though the student has done nothing wrong.

Again, that is not because of any pure-blood bias on his part. Harry is a "special case" and we have no reason to assume that this is what Snape usually does.

Snape calls a non-Slytherin student names in front of other students and belittles another on a regular basis, all while students of his House are witness to this behavior.

Unfortunately it is so but the reason he gives is the students' performance in class. I am not saying it is good but there is no emphasis on blood-status. In fact, Neville is a pure-blood. If JKR wanted us to think Snape actively promoted pure-blood or DE ideology at Hogwarts, she could have made him taunt Hermione about her birth - but he never does that, much as he may dislike her otherwise.

On the contrary, he seems to want them to march themselves straight to the Riddle House to sign on the dotted line.

I don't see that he seems to want that. He is a harsh teacher whose words can hurt and he obviously dislikes Gryffindors but that in itself does not mean he encourages anyone directly or indirectly to sign up with Voldemort.

On the other hand, also just off the top of my head:

He never allows any fights in the school. True, he always blames Gryffindors but we know when a Gryffindor (Neville) is seriously endangered by a Slytherin (Crabbe), he stops the Slytherin (in front of other Slytherins) even though the authority figure present (Umbridge) would probably not mind the strangling.

In CoS, when Dumbledore is removed and Malfoy tries to flatter Snape, he stops Malfoy by telling him Dumbledore will be back soon. It happens in front of Slytherins and Gryffindors.

In HBP, when Voldemort is powerful again, he gives two DE Slytherin kids detention for not trying hard enough to pass their DADA exams.

He saves the life of a Gryffindor student injured by Dark Magic.

He teaches Gryffindors (already identified as "Dumbledore's Army") useful DADA information in his classes.

When Slytherin's Heir sets Slytherin's monster on the school, Snape, as Head of Slytherin, works with the other teachers to protect the students of the school. Snape also makes the Mandrake potion, which saves the students attacked by Slytherin's monster. He is a member of the teachers' team protecting all the students - he is actually setting quite a good example to his own students.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 22, 2008 4:12 pm (#318 of 445)
It's not just about "blood purity". It's about the general sense of entitlement and superiority that goes hand in hand with - and I would say leads directly to - the "blood purity" mania so prevalent in Slytherin.

... there is a special reason - training a new seeker. - Then the team should have booked the pitch if it was so important that their new Seeker get trained up. But there's more to it than just "training a new seeker". The reason Slytherin had a new seeker in the first place was because Lucius Malfoy - a known Death Eater (even if the rest of the community may have had doubts, Snape ceratinly knew the truth) - had bought his kid a place on the team by handing out fancy new brooms.

In HBP, when Voldemort is powerful again, he gives two DE Slytherin kids detention for not trying hard enough to pass their DADA exams. - Yeah, they are already DE Slytherins. And Voldemort already has heard and bought the "keeping up appearances" excuse back in GF. Big woo.

He teaches Gryffindors (already identified as "Dumbledore's Army") useful DADA information in his classes. - Such as? Anyway, it was his job. So, big woo again.

When Slytherin's Heir sets Slytherin's monster on the school, Snape, as Head of Slytherin, works with the other teachers to protect the students of the school. He is a member of the teachers' team protecting all the students - he is actually setting quite a good example to his own students. - Again, it was his job. All the teachers were taking a turn. It's not like Snape volunteered especially. Big woo #3.

He never allows any fights in the school. - If students want to fight, they will. Snape has nothing to do with this. And in fact we see him take the side of his own Slytherin student in the aftermath of such a fight, even though that Slytherin student had actually tried to kill another student (by using the illegal "Avada Kedavra" curse). Though both students were equally at fault for fighting, the Slytherin student was apparently not punished at all, while the other student was - despite the fact that the Slytherin student knew perfectly well what spell he was using and what it would do. He was only lucky that the other student was able to deflect the AK spell.

You seem to think these things don't matter but they do.



Julia H. - Dec 22, 2008 4:36 pm (#319 of 445)
The reason Slytherin had a new seeker in the first place was because Lucius Malfoy - a known Death Eater (even if the rest of the community may have had doubts, Snape ceratinly knew the truth) - had bought his kid a place on the team by handing out fancy new brooms. (Quinn)

Buying brooms for the students is probably not illegal. Team members are chosen by the captains of the teams not by the House Heads. Snape knew the truth about Lucius Malfoy but since Malfoy had been offically acquitted and his son was a Hogwarts student, I don't know what Snape should have done about Draco at that moment. I think Draco may have just become the Slytherin Seeker and that is why they had not reserved the pitch earlier. In any case, the only occasion when Snape does that is when there is a special reason and it is not the general "superiority" of Slytherins.

I don't quite understand your "big woo-s" as arguments. Yes, Snape is doing his job when he is taking part in the protection of all the students and when he is teaching DADA. What else is he supposed to do apart from his many jobs??? (Hogwarts DADA teachers do not always do that much and Snape is supposed to keep up appearances.) In CoS, by working as a team member with the other teachers, he demonstrates that a Slytherin can work on the same team with Gryffindors and Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs for the good of the whole school. Is it not what the Hat keeps demanding and what Slytherins seem to make impossible? In this context, it is important if the Head of Slytherin takes the side of the school and sets this kind of example to his students: protecting those in danger, regardless which House they belong to; doing your job and your duty; acting as a member of the whole Hogwarts community; not taking the side of the killer of muggle-borns or of Slytherin's Heir.

EDIT: I don't recall the AK incident. Could anyone clarify?

I expect parents everywhere would be relieved to know that the only reason a teacher insults and makes fun of their children is because they are not too bright. (Solitaire)

I've simply meant that does not prove Snape encourages pure-blood ideology or DE attitudes.



Solitaire - Dec 22, 2008 4:38 pm (#320 of 445)
Unfortunately it is so but the reason he gives is the students' performance in class.

Whew! I expect parents everywhere would be relieved to know that the only reason a teacher insults and makes fun of their children is because they are not too bright.

that ... does not mean he encourages anyone directly or indirectly to sign up with Voldemort.

In Snape's case, I think his real errors are errors of omission. It isn't so much what he does but what he does not do that helps perpetuate Slytherin prejudices. He does not discourage prejudices and persecution on the part of his students.



Orion - Dec 22, 2008 4:45 pm (#321 of 445)
"We see him teach one of his students - in front of most of the rest of the student body - the Serpentsortia spell for the specific purpose of attacking another student."

Doesn't he do that specifically to find out whether Harry is a Parseltongue?



Julia H. - Dec 22, 2008 4:57 pm (#322 of 445)
I think his real errors are errors of omission. (Solitaire)

There are things Snape does not do but there are also (good) things he does. (I listed some of the latter). How much can we expect one person to do, especially in Snape's situation? I don't agree that he sends his students to Voldemort or that he promotes DE values as Quinn seems to suggest. Snape can't do miracles but neither can Dumbledore.

Interesting point, Orion.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 22, 2008 6:31 pm (#323 of 445)
In any case, the only occasion when Snape does that is when there is a special reason and it is not the general "superiority" of Slytherins. - That we see. But clearly the Slytherin Quidditch team felt that they were indeed being given their rightful (in their eyes) preferential treatment. They were being told - and had it in writing - that they could use the pitch even though another team had already followed the correct procedure and reserved it.

I don't quite understand your "big woo-s" as arguments. - Because, Julia, you are trying to suggest such things as Saint Severus valiantly defying Voldemort by teaching the "known DA members" DADA - as if he was secretly coaching them after lights out or something, when in fact he was simply the appointed DADA teacher for that particular term, and certainly had no control over which students he was given to teach.
When they learned about "Slytherin's monster", Snape didn't go to Dumbledore and say, "I volunteer to patrol the corridors, Headmaster, to protect the students from harm." No, in fact all of the teachers - some more eagerly than others - were on corridor duty.

"We see him teach one of his students - in front of most of the rest of the student body - the Serpentsortia spell for the specific purpose of attacking another student." Doesn't he do that specifically to find out whether Harry is a Parseltongue? - It doesn't matter. All the students see is that this teacher showed overt and potentially deadly favoritism to the young Slytherin he was coaching.

I don't recall the AK incident. Could anyone clarify? - Sorry it was the Cruciatus, not the AK. Either way, he used an illegal "unforgivable" curse - or tried to - on another student without consequence.

Snape chose his "situation" so I don't see that as an excuse. Besides, the students don't know about that, don't need to know about. All they know - all they see - is how he treats people.



Julia H. - Dec 22, 2008 7:56 pm (#324 of 445)
That we see.

Yes, that is what we see. Of course, we can imagine whatever we want to.

Because, Julia, you are trying to suggest such things as Saint Severus valiantly defying Voldemort by teaching the "known DA members" DADA - as if he was secretly coaching them after lights out or something, when in fact he was simply the appointed DADA teacher for that particular term, and certainly had no control over which students he was given to teach.

No. That is not what I said. We were not talking about defying Voldemort at all. You seemed to suggest that Snape was actively encouraging the students of his House to join Voldemort and that he did not even do what he could have explained as "keeping up appearances" to Voldemort that was against the dark and pure-blood attitudes of Slytherins. I was trying to show that he did do such things, one of them was effectively training his students against the dark arts. He was teaching them things that were useful in the fight against Voldemort. Yes, it was his job and it was not the most valiant part of his fight. (He did fight valiantly, BTW) But it was also a kind of example, a kind of attitude towards the dark arts. As we have seen, some DADA teachers got through the year without teaching anything. Snape did not use his cover as an excuse to not do this job properly.

Snape didn't go to Dumbledore and say, "I volunteer to patrol the corridors, Headmaster, to protect the students from harm." No, in fact all of the teachers - some more eagerly than others - were on corridor duty.

Let's try again. I never said Snape had volunteered or that he was the only one. We don't know that anybody volunteered, I suppose it was taken for granted that everybody would participate. My point was that he did set an example of a Slytherin being a useful member of the Hogwarts community, a Slytherin protecting muggle-borns and a Slytherin doing his duty for others. These were the very things that Slytherin students should have learned and at this point they could see their Head of House doing precisely these things. (Besides the corridor duty, Snape also made the Mandrake potion - he even seemed to volunteer to make it...) When everybody knows that Slytherin's Heir has opened the Chamber and Slytherin's monster is attacking muggle-borns and Slytherin students sympathize with this - does it not count that their Head shows he is on the side of the whole school, on the side of the attacked, on the side of the Headmaster removed by a Slytherin parent?

It doesn't matter. All the students see is that this teacher showed overt and potentially deadly favoritism to the young Slytherin he was coaching.

I don't think only appearances matter. And he did keep the situation in control.

Either way, he used an illegal "unforgivable" curse - or tried to - on another student without consequence.

I suppose you are referring to the Sectumsempra incident. I thought you were talking about an incident when a Slytherin student tried to kill another student in front of Snape. In the Sectumsempra incident, Snape is not present when Malfoy tries to use the Cruciatus Curse on Harry so he does not know that an Unforgivable was almost used. He only arrives after the end of the duel and finds one of the students half-dead. Both students were fighting but Snape punishes the one who in the end managed to injure (almost kill) the other one. McGonagall agrees.

Malfoy is in the hospital wing anyway, and this is already a situation where Snape has to be careful with appearances. On the one hand, even if Voldemort allows him to "keep up appearances", hampering Draco's job by giving him detentions may be risky. On the other hand, he does have to hamper Draco's job somehow because that is what Dumbledore wants him to do. Dumbledore wants him to watch Draco and win Draco's trust so that he (Snape) could keep an eye on Draco's schemes. Even when it is absolutely clear that Draco does not trust Snape, Dumbledore expects Snape to successfully watch him. Now that Snape has just saved Draco's life, there could be a chance that Draco might trust him again a little so Snape may not rush to punish him. This is a situation in which his job as a spy interferes with his job as a teacher and he cannot help it.

Snape chose his "situation" so I don't see that as an excuse.

I think he chose to join the fight against Voldemort on Dumbledore's side - and then he did whatever Dumbledore wanted him to do so I don't agree that all the details were his choice. He only chose to try and do anything that Dumbledore asked him to do regardless whether it was too much, too difficult or nearly impossible.

Besides, the students don't know about that, don't need to know about. All they know - all they see - is how he treats people.

Yet, appearances are often deceptive. Besides, I don't agree that the way he treats people has the overall effect of advising students to join the DE's. He makes mistakes and he has to keep up appearances towards Voldemort but in other cases he sets a good example. I don't see that Snape does any more harm to Slytherin House than what necessarily follows from his role as a spy and that is what he cannot help (as long as he does not want to just give up and leave). And I still think that he makes up for that inevitable harm by the good that he does in the long run.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 22, 2008 8:36 pm (#325 of 445)
You seemed to suggest that Snape was actively encouraging the students of his House to join Voldemort - I was saying that Snape didn't do anything to discourage the Slytherin students from joining the DE cause. And from the way he behaves, he does not set much of an example of either tolerance or equality for others outside of his House. That falls right into the DE agenda. The prevailing attitude of "us vs. them" that "Slytherins are Supreme" and so on is just as big a part of - and leads straight to - the prevalent racism (and attempts at genocide later in the saga).

does it not count that their Head shows he is on the side of the whole school, on the side of the attacked, on the side of the Headmaster removed by a Slytherin parent? - Does he? I don't see him going to any great lengths to stand out on this point. On the contrary, he does exactly what is required of him as a member of the Hogwarts faculty. No more.

I don't think only appearances matter. - I know and that's the problem. Appearances do matter very much. Particularly to children who, let's face it, aren't really going to understand (or necessarily care) about all the secrets and lies that may be going on inside a person's head.

And he did keep the situation in control. - So what? What the heck did he think he was doing telling a student how to perform that kind of a spell - particularly for the specific purpose of attacking another student - in the first place?? And then to stand there smirking when the student was too terrified to move. This is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about.



Julia H. - Dec 23, 2008 4:41 am (#326 of 445)
On the contrary, he seems to want them to march themselves straight to the Riddle House to sign on the dotted line. (Quinn, #316)

I was saying that Snape didn't do anything to discourage the Slytherin students from joining the DE cause. (Quinn, #325)

I do detect here some change of opinion at least in appearances that rewards the half night that I spent on this conversation.

The point is, Snape hardly sets any kind of decent example for his students to emulate.

And from the way he behaves, he does not set much of an example of either tolerance or equality for others outside of his House.

I cited the "teachers versus Slytherin's monster" case as such an example. You dismiss this on the grounds that Snape was only doing his job. I think it is perfectly possible to set a good example when you simply do your job or your duty. Your argument is not fair because whatever good Snape does or however much more good he would do that could be regarded as a "good example" it could all be easily classified as "part of his job". He's got so many jobs (and he is obliged to accept whatever job he is given) that he can hardly do anything that is not part of one of them. (After GoF he probably can't even breathe in a way that is not part of one of his jobs.) Actually a lot of the "bad appearances stuff" is part of his (other) job but you don't seem to acknowledge that.

I don't see him going to any great lengths to stand out on this point. On the contrary, he does exactly what is required of him as a member of the Hogwarts faculty. No more.

He always does what is required of him and he is required to do more and more. I can't remember any other members of the Hogwarts faculty doing more than what is required of them. I don't see why it is problem with Snape and Snape only.

What the heck did he think he was doing telling a student how to perform that kind of a spell - particularly for the specific purpose of attacking another student - in the first place??

Well, it was a Duelling Club designed specifically to teach students to duel and defend themselves. Besides, if Dumbledore had figured it out in the previous 50 years that Slytherin's animal might be a snake and if he had realized (by reading Harry's mind) that Harry had heard strange voices and had even been following the voices, it could be useful to test (in a controlled situation) how Harry reacted encountering a snake. It may have made a bad impression, yes. But some of it may have been just a part of Snape's job. You make much of this single incident while dismissing the counter-examples in which Snape is setting a good example and making a good impression.

Appearances do matter very much. Particularly to children who, let's face it, aren't really going to understand (or necessarily care) about all the secrets and lies that may be going on inside a person's head.

I just don't think appearances are all that matter. JKR does not seem to want to imply that. Lockhart. Fudge. Karkaroff. Umbridge. Barty Crouch Jr. Lucius Malfoy. Tom Riddle. As for children, psychologists say that children can sense when a person is acting. It is not the appearance that counts to them but the credibility of the person, the genuineness, the consistency. Snape, however, has to "act" anyway because that is essential in his spy's job and children will instinctively know he is acting because he cannot be, could not be consistently "good".

The "wrong appearances" of Snape allow him to do his other job as a spy and ultimately to be very useful for the school and the wizarding community even though good impressions are sacrificed along the way. Fudge, for example, cannot sacrifice the favour of the public when Dumbledore tells him at the end of GoF what he has to do. Fudge insists on keeping up appearances. Fudge ends up practically helping Voldemort because of that. Snape helps to bring him down. Snape dies for the good cause, which should count for something. Quite a good example ultimately.

I must quit this conversation now.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 23, 2008 12:33 pm (#327 of 445)
Snape, however, has to "act" anyway because that is essential in his spy's job and children will instinctively know he is acting because he cannot be, could not be consistently "good". - Nice try, but we all know that Snape isn't "acting" horribly to people at all. That he is genuinely a hateful, spiteful, sneak bent on revenge for all the wrongs (both real and imagined) done to him. Sure, Dumbledore is able to use this to his advantage, but that's kind of beside the point.

You make much of this single incident while dismissing the counter-examples in which Snape is setting a good example and making a good impression. - Pardon me for "making much" of an incident in which a teacher deliberately instructs a 12-year-old boy on how to attack another boy - a boy who it is common knowledge that teacher despises.
(No, I promise you, madame, your son was never in any real danger....... Yes, I am aware that the archery teacher had deliberately helped the other boy to shoot straight at your son. But I can assure you, madame, that, had the other boy actually hit your son, the archery teacher would have been right there at your son's side to pull the arrow out.)



Julia H. - Dec 29, 2008 7:19 am (#328 of 445)
Nice try, but we all know that Snape isn't "acting" horribly to people at all. That he is genuinely a hateful, spiteful, sneak bent on revenge for all the wrongs (both real and imagined) done to him. Sure, Dumbledore is able to use this to his advantage, but that's kind of beside the point.

It is difficult to see what is beside the point and what is not. It probably depends on us. I thought the argument was about Snape promoting racism and pure-blood ideology as Head of Slytherin, actively wanting (or perhaps seeming to want) to march his students to Voldemort. I still maintain the opinion that he has to be ambiguous when Voldemort is around (for various reasons). But apart from that, there are simply no instances in the books (prior to DH) in which Snape as a teacher actively promotes DE ideology or practices. There is no reason to believe that the "Pureblood" password was his responsibility, and he did not tolerate a Slytherin student trying to AK (or to Crucio) a fellow-student in his presence. He is never caught commenting on anyone's blood-status or tolerating such comments, never caught openly advertising the DE organization, never caught at any DE or Dark Arts practices (despite his obvious reputation as a Dark Arts expert), except that he once advises Malfoy to use the Serpensortia spell. Not nice, surely, but while you liken it to an archery class, it can with at least as much reason be likened to a duelling training, in which participants aim at each other and learn to defend themselves, which does not happen in a normal archery class. Anyway, it is one such instance - and Snape was in control, which counts, since it happened in a school in which an official inter-school competition involved sending students to fight dragons or placing kids under water for a whole hour (not mentioning regular Quidditch games). In the other cases, he is simply hateful and bent on revenge for the reasons we know but not because of any genuine DE inclinations and not to encourage his students to become DE's. On the other hand, on various occasions he also proves himself a teacher reliably and actively working for the common goals of the school in real cooperation with the other teachers even against Slytherin-related or Dark dangers, helping to protect Gryffindors or Muggle-borns. His students see that, too. Yes, he is "only" doing his duty but he is doing his duty towards the whole of Hogwarts as opposed to narrow Slytherin-interests or any Dark or racist goals.



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 29, 2008 7:52 am (#329 of 445)
I don't think Snape was actively moving his students towards Voldemort as Head of House, but I also don't see that he was actively moving them away from Voldemort, either. I do think his favoritism encouraged Slytherins to think of themselves as privileged and entitled during a volatile time, though, and I can't see that as good for them or the other Houses, or the Wizarding World at large, considering what is going on.

The Slytherin wall and password that you guys bring up is interesting. We know that the Gryffindor portrait can be changed out, but we don't know about the other Houses' door protectors.

What if, as some of you suggest, the Slytherin prejudice is built into the very stones and is immutable? Is it right to continue with Slytherin House if that is the case? How is it handled in the future if children have to continue to spout Pure-Blood ideology just to get into their common room?

Personally, I'm for abolishing the Sorting, not just Slytherin House, but I seriously doubt that the Wizarding World would agree. It's a long tradition, and, for example, even if Helga Hufflepuff thought that all students should be accepted, and the House system has lead to Hufflepuff being looked down upon, I don't think Hufflepuffs themselves would agree to stop the sorting.



mona amon - Dec 29, 2008 10:13 pm (#330 of 445)
Both Julia and Quinn make good points. And as for Mrs. Brisbee's points, I agree with every one of them! Trying to look at it objectively, I have to conclude that Snape was a very bad choice as Head of House for Slytherin.

Now Snape has his good points. Dumbledore's man through and through, he is always ready, as Julia points out, to take an anti-Slytherin/pro rest-of-the-school stance when the school is threatened. And he certainly does not encourage the racist or pureblood ideology prevalent in his house. However, I do not feel this is enough of an example for his Slytherin students, because how do they know how sincere he is? They can dismiss such examples as 'keeping up appearences' as a teacher under Dumbledore. The Sltherins would have known that he had to do certain things or fall out of favour with the Griffindor headmaster. The sad truth is that Snape was not in a position to set a good example even if he wanted to, which he very often wasn't bothered about anyway.

So the Slytherins would perceive their head of house as someone who

Stands up for them (Good)

Supports them in bad behaviour (Bad)

Is a sport who encourages them to play mean tricks on students from other houses (Bad)

Is a supporter of the Dark Lord (Very bad of course!)

I may have left out some points.

Well, it was a Duelling Club designed specifically to teach students to duel and defend themselves. Besides, if Dumbledore had figured it out in the previous 50 years that Slytherin's animal might be a snake and if he had realized (by reading Harry's mind) that Harry had heard strange voices and had even been following the voices, it could be useful to test (in a controlled situation) how Harry reacted encountering a snake. It may have made a bad impression, yes. But some of it may have been just a part of Snape's job. You make much of this single incident while dismissing the counter-examples in which Snape is setting a good example and making a good impression. (Julia)

Yes, it was a duelling club where kids were supposed to be taught how to defend themseles. A teacher cannot take advantage of that to set up one of his own favourites against a student he is prejudiced against. Very bad example for Draco and the rest of the students. We have absolutely no evidence that either Dumbledore or Snape suspected that Slytherin's monster was a snake or that Harry might possibly know parceltongue. If they did I would like to know why they did not take more action to prevent Slytherin's monster from ravaging the school.

Unfortunately in Snape's case his good examples are rather ineffectual, while his bad examples do cause harm.

The "wrong appearances" of Snape allow him to do his other job as a spy and ultimately to be very useful for the school and the wizarding community even though good impressions are sacrificed along the way. (Julia)

I can agree with that. But it was Slytherin house that ended up getting stepmotherly treatment for the greater good. I dont see why Snape had to be head of house except that it was convenient to Dumbledore to keep him in that position. So Slytherin House which needs a strong guide gets an immature, prejudiced, anti-Griffindor double-agent who has to pretend that he worships the Dark Lord.

What if, as some of you suggest, the Slytherin prejudice is built into the very stones and is immutable? (Mrs. Brisbee)

What bothers me is that no one even tries to do anything about it. We have another 'rotten and unjust system'-the enslavement of house elves, but we also have at least one person fighting for their cause, and one person (Dumbledore) who agrees with her.



Dryleaves - Dec 30, 2008 4:05 am (#331 of 445)
I do think his favoritism encouraged Slytherins to think of themselves as privileged and entitled during a volatile time, though, and I can't see that as good for them or the other Houses, or the Wizarding World at large, considering what is going on. Mrs Brisbee

I think a problem with Snape as Head of House is that to him the Gryffindors are the ones who are privileged. He has never really grown out of the House rivalry and has too little (i.e. none at all, I think) distance to it, except maybe that he at least shows his loyalty to the school and not only to his house in a time of crisis.

I pretty much agree with Mona's summary of Snape as Head of House, but I also think DD puts Snape in an impossible position (considering his other job as spy) if he intends for the Head of House to be someone who will change Slytherin from within, so I do not think that is his intention. Maybe DD's reasoning is that the most important and urgent task is to get rid of Voldemort once and for all and then concentrate on the more long-term change of Slytherin House to prevent it from producing more dark wizards. In that case it may at least be a good thing to have a Head of House in whom he trusts completely.

The problem of Slytherin House ought to be an issue for the wizarding world as a whole, I think. Some reforms seem to be made after Voldemort's fall, but the question is if it is enough. I agree with Mrs Brisbee that the sorting tradition is a strong one and probably very difficult to change without protests. The School of Hogwarts also very much seems to be built upon the division into four, based on its four founders.



Soul Search - Dec 30, 2008 8:01 am (#332 of 445)
Dumbledore may not have had a choice except Snape for head of Slytherin house. How many other Slytherin staff members were at Hogwarts?



Orion - Dec 30, 2008 8:34 am (#333 of 445)
Why does a head of house have to be a former member of that house? If you stick to that rule, suddenly you're saddled with an immature, prejudiced, neurotic wreck who walks on a tightrope just because you didn't bother with hiring a suitable Slytherin prof in time. Probably precious few Slytherin profs were hired all those times because of Hogwarts' inbuilt anti-Slytherin-bias.

As I can see not a single good quality of the House itself, it being full of the people I can't stand (and who have wrecked the economy during the last years, taking our savings with them) I opt for dissolution and a very tight reign over those students which have been x-rayed by the Hat and found Slytherin-matching. And the Hat should be there for assessment only, not sorting, because the sorting should be alphabetical, with the exception of difficult combinations of personalities which should be avoided. Maybe the students could be pre-interviewed or pre-tested or pre-sorted and only be permanently sorted after a week or two.



Julia H. - Dec 30, 2008 10:39 am (#334 of 445)
I agree with everyone who says Snape could not do much to guide Slytherin House in the right direction. But he was not actively encouraging them to join Voldemort either, except when he had to appear to actively support Voldemort and that was bad enough but more of these problems came from his role as a spy than from his personality (which was also problematic but, as Mona says, Snape had his good points too). Then again Dumbledore may have had his reasons to choose Snape as Head of Slytherin. He may have simply made a mistake but it is also possible that he chose the best of the available possibilities - or at least what he thought to be best in a difficult and controversial situation. I don't think being Head of Slytherin was good for Snape either, BTW.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 30, 2008 2:21 pm (#335 of 445)
more of these problems came from his role as a spy than from his personality - This covers a multitude of sins, doesn't it? Anything we don't like about Snape we can just wave away with, "Well he had to do that because of his role as spy".
No, the problems came directly from who Snape was as a person and had nothing whatever to do with "his role as spy". "His role as spy" works, in fact, because of his personality, not the other way around.
None of the behind-the-scenes stuff matters in the classroom, least of all when you are the target of the teacher's little vendettas. I mean, let's face it: Snape was a student's greatest fear - confirmed by the boggart. That pretty much says it all.
Snape may have been a spy, but he was still a teacher and, as such, responsible for helping to bring up a generation of healthy, responsible, well-rounded individuals. While he may not have actively en-couraged his students to join the Death Eaters, he didn't do anything to dis-courage them either; and in a world where a genocidal maniac is powerful, what's the difference?



Dryleaves - Dec 31, 2008 4:48 am (#336 of 445)
I think Snape's role as a spy is a problem. Even if Snape would have been a fair teacher without personal issues (or at least with appropriate distance to them), the job as a spy would have been as good as incompatible with the task of being a good leader for the house where most of the DE's children are. DD probably regards the spy role as the important one, and with a leader of Slytherin who is also a spy, he might be able to get information from the students about their parents, but this also means that the Slytherin Head cannot go through with a massive anti-pureblood ideology programme. It is not a good thing with an ex DE Head of House who cannot unambiguously show his sympathies for the good side, but in this case it is not the Head of House himself who chooses the priority of the roles. Whatever his personality would be, his possibilities to be a good leader to the Slytherins would have been limited in some way.

Having said that, I will also say that I do not think Snape would have been the perfect Head of House even in a context where he had not been a spy. There are pros and cons in his personality and in his leadership, but I think the cons might be more weighty in this case.



Solitaire - Dec 31, 2008 7:42 am (#337 of 445)
I don't think Snape really likes kids, and liking kids, IMO, is kind of a prerequisite for being a fair and effective role model. As a teacher for 23 years, I've had the misfortune to work with teachers who really don't like kids, and they are never happy in their jobs. Those like Snape, who are extremely intelligent, have a more difficult time coping, because they tend to consider themselves as so far above their students (and peers) intellectually.

I often wonder how they wound up in teaching, because the part of the day with the kids is the fun part! It's certainly the biggest part, because we are with kids for about 8 hours a day, sometimes more. Planning and grading can be tedious at times, but interacting with the kids is always interesting. If the teacher hates that part of the job, he isn't going to be as effective as he could be, because he will lack patience and empathy, particularly with kids who struggle in some way.

Snape actually manages to teach his charges, but I often wonder how much more effective he would have been had he actually liked them and considered them worth his time and effort. Then again, how much interaction did the Head of House have with his or her charges? We do not see McGonagall spending loads of time with the Gryffindors after-hours. Do Sprout or Flitwick spend more time with their houses? It's hard to say. They all seem to be available when wanted for counsel or supervision around the castle. Come to think of it, the only professors who seem to enjoy spending time with their charges after-hours are Lupin and Slughorn ... and Hagrid, of course. But he falls more into the category of a friend. Still, all of the above, including DD, seem to actually like most of their students ... except Snape.

I've kind of lost track of where I was going. Sorry. I was just thinking that the Heads of Houses can probably have a greater influence on their students--all students from all houses--even outside the classroom, if they actually like the kids.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 31, 2008 2:41 pm (#338 of 445)
I think maybe what you were trying to say, Soli, is that Snape never would have gone into teaching by choice. He went into that profession more or less out of necessity, never having been properly trained or advised on how to deal with the "quotidienne" of life as a Hogwarts professor. Perhaps this is what Julia meant by, "it was his role as spy that was the problem" - in which case, I can see that and would agree with you there.

It's true that Snape was not at all equipped to handle the role, particularly at first. But after ten years or so - with no Voldemort anywhere even on the horizon and "his role as spy" shelved indefinitely - Snape should have been able to settle down into his position and focus on the task at hand: grooming the next generation of witches and wizards.

It is true that we don't see McGonagall spending much time with students of her House. But she is also the Deputy Head so that may have something to do with it. Of Sprout, Dumbledore says that she was the one who knew Cedric Diggory best. We could possibly infer from that that she has greater interactions with her students than other Heads.



Solitaire - Dec 31, 2008 4:43 pm (#339 of 445)
I agree that Snape would never have chosen teaching as a profession. The fact that he feels trapped in the job certainly must contribute to his ill humor ... and he tends to take it out on the kids. I think Sprout and possibly Flitwick may have been closer to their students. With DD frequently away from the castle, McGonagall undoubtedly spent a large chunk of her out-of-class time doing some of his duties. She was also an Order member, something we do not know to be true of Flitwick and Sprout. I'm not sure what Snape does when he isn't spying on his off time ... supervising detentions, perhaps? Interestingly, he doesn't seem to be away that often, as he usually manages to pop out of nowhere whenever Harry is breaking a rule!



Michael Franz - Jan 1, 2009 8:24 pm (#340 of 445)
What does Snape actually teach these kids in Potions class anyway? He writes the potion formula on the blackboard and spends the rest of the time randomly insulting people. They might as well enchant the blackboard and have it teach the class.



mona amon - Jan 1, 2009 9:06 pm (#341 of 445)
I think he used to write his own recipes for the potions on the board, which seem to be superior to Libatious Borage's. Bright kids like Hermione seem to benefit from this. She does very well in his class. In sixth year, when Slughorn tells them to follow their textbooks, she doesn't do as well as Harry, who's following Snape's instructions. But he's not a good teacher, no.



Solitaire - Jan 1, 2009 9:30 pm (#342 of 445)
They might as well enchant the blackboard and have it teach the class.

Great idea, Michael! I wonder if I could do that with my 8th grade social studies class? That way, they might actually write down the notes!



Dryleaves - Jan 2, 2009 3:51 am (#343 of 445)
LOL at the enchanted blackboard!

Strangely enough, Snape actually seems to have managed to teach even Harry a few things, as Harry gets an E in Potions in his OWLs. At least at some occasions, I think, Snape's insults are also mingled with an explanation of what mistake the student has made, but such information is usually much more effective when it is conveyed in a more friendly manner.

I am not sure Snape's role as a spy is ever completely shelved. At least from DD's point of view, Voldemort is always lurking somewhere at the horizon, even if he is not seen. I agree that Snape's personality is much more suited for spying than for being Head of House and therefore I wonder why he was appointed Head of House in the first place. Maybe there were no other options. But if you are both Head of House and spy it seems you cannot do both jobs properly.

If Minerva's duties as Deputy Headmistress are interfering with her duties as Head of Gryffindor House, which sounds reasonable that they should be, what does this imply about the importance of the Head of House? Why was not someone else appointed Head of House of Gryffindor? Were there no other options there either? It is a little interesting that the two rivalling houses should be without proper guidance (for different reasons).



Julia H. - Jan 2, 2009 11:38 am (#344 of 445)
Snape teaches something practical as many other teachers do. We don't see many professors who "teach" very much in their classes (Lupin is an exception) at Hogwarts. In Snape's class students have to learn to make those potions and potion making techniques through practice. To me it seems that the only safe way to practise making those potions is in class with a teacher's supervision and it is important that they do the practical things somewhere. Snape still manages to teach some background theory. Hermione first learns about Polyjuice Potion in Snape's class, which implies that there are other things besides just following the instructions on the board. Then the students have to write theoretical essays for homework - again I think a reason can be safety: It is safer for students to go to the library and find out information than brewing potions outside class. It is not ideal but making potions takes a lot of time and there doesn't seem to be any possibility for practising outside class.

In comparison, what happens in other classes? In Flitwick's or McGonagall's classes, the students are shown how to do a spell and then they practise till the end of the class. Again, there must be some information or explanation given (like McGonagall's Animagus class) but not more than during Potions. On the other hand, when Snape becomes the DADA teacher, he seems to teach more - he talks about Dark Magic, non-verbal spells, about ways to fight Dementors - it seems more teaching is going on there but then again it is because of the type of the course. (The teacher who seems to do the largest amount of work during a class is Professor Binns - he keeps on talking but he is hardly the best teacher at Hogwarts.)

I don't think Heads of Houses in general spend a lot of extra time with their own students. Snape may well spend just as much time as the others. In OotP, Draco runs to Snape when Montague is found and needs rescuing, which suggests Snape is a Head of House to whom it is possible to turn with at least certain kinds of troubles and the students know it. I still find it important that Snape's House wins the House Cup precisely in the years when he is their Head and when Voldemort is truly away. Still, I am not saying that Snape is an ideal teacher - he is not - but when we talk about personality and spying, I think the two things affect each other. Snape's personality may be more suited to spying than to teaching but then again that he has to be a spy affects his personality. And we can't really judge what Snape is like when there is no Voldemort around because Voldemort is trying to return in the first book already. I'm glad others agree that Snape does not encourage his students to be DE's. Whether not discouraging them equals to encouraging them... of this he is not more guilty than all the other teachers, Dumbledore included. Besides, that is why I think it is important that he can set and does set a good example (besides the bad ones) when he works for the good of the whole of Hogwarts, together with the other teachers in critical situations.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 2, 2009 1:56 pm (#345 of 445)
Whether not discouraging them equals to encouraging them... of this he is not more guilty than all the other teachers, Dumbledore included. - Now this I don't agree with.

Dumbledore specifically gives his "choosing what is right over what is easy...." speech to the entire school - including those students visiting from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang - in the specific context of an innocent boy having been "murdered by Lord Voldemort". Dumbledore does so because he wants the students to know precisely what sort of maniac they're dealing with when it comes to Voldemort, and that they shouldn't think they'll be safe just because they're only children.

Well, we do see McGonagall come into Gryffindor House a few times, mostly in her nightgown, which I think indicates that she is pretty in touch with what goes on there. We know it is she who gives out the Captain's band to the Quidditch team, for example.
I think where McGonagall differs from Dumbledore is that, though she is very outspoken against "you know who" she is also generally putting her role as teacher/caretaker first. Which means that she feels she must maintain that boundary between herself and her students, even though she does care for them. However, we see that she is visibly upset by the thought that Harry and Ron are missing their friend (whose petrification she knows has something to do with Voldemort). She doesn't question Harry at all when he tells her about his "snake" dream, rather, she believes him and takes him straight to Dumbledore to get help. She intervenes when Fake Moody is bouncing Draco-as-Ferret around the Great Hall. She runs out to protect Hagrid from the Umbridge brigade at great risk to her personal safety (which the 5th years taking their Astronomy OWL all witness). Finally, it is she who gives the final call to arms in the Battle of Hogwarts.

Snape's House winning the House Cup may have a lot to do with his favoritism. He may be taking points from students of other Houses for such things as taking notes during his lectures or giving the answer when he wanted another student to respond. I don't think this was something that he only started doing when Harry's class arrived.



Julia H. - Jan 4, 2009 9:37 am (#346 of 445)
You see I just don't think Dumbledore (let alone McGonagall) ever tried to do anything about Slytherin House specifically. Yes, Dumbledore did talk about Voldemort and about choosing what was right to the whole school but it was simply not enough to change anything in Slytherin. Dumbledore, as Headmaster and an extremely able wizard / teacher, could probably have tried to do more. If I compare Snape to him, I think speaking to Slytherins openly about choosing the right thing and opposing Voldemort was what Snape could not have done or at least not very effectively. Precisely the kids who were most at risk of choosing the wrong way (kids of DE's) would have believed he was only acting for appearances' sake. Had Snape let them see the true extent of his change in a creditable way (and without that he had no chance of achieving anything), it could have easily got back to the DE's (many of whom were jealous of Snape) and to Voldemort, endangering Snape's job as a spy. (In fact, even if Snape did talk to Slytherins about these things "behind the scenes", it is not at all surprising that it had no effect at all.) I think, of all Hogwarts teachers, Snape's hands were mostly tied when it came to openly (verbally) discouraging anyone from supporting Voldemort. He did things that were good examples but he could hardly have done anything more open than that. (It is even possible that Dumbledore preferred the situation in which these children were under some kind of control at Hogwarts with their parents believing their Head of House was sympathetic towards their way of thinking to the situation in which these kids didn't go to Hogwarts at all but attended Durmstrang and learned the Dark Arts or were home-educated in a direct DE environment.)

The other teachers could have done more than Snape but they chose not to. Dumbledore's speeches to the whole school had very little effect on those whose own parents sympathized with Voldemort. McGonagall, as Deputy Headmistress, did nothing to address the special problem of the school. Yes, she sympathized with her own students and colleagues and fought against Voldemort but Snape also fought against Voldemort, only in a different manner because his job in the fight was different.

However, we see that she is visibly upset by the thought that Harry and Ron are missing their friend (whose petrification she knows has something to do with Voldemort). She doesn't question Harry at all when he tells her about his "snake" dream, rather, she believes him and takes him straight to Dumbledore to get help. She intervenes when Fake Moody is bouncing Draco-as-Ferret around the Great Hall. She runs out to protect Hagrid from the Umbridge brigade at great risk to her personal safety (which the 5th years taking their Astronomy OWL all witness). Finally, it is she who gives the final call to arms in the Battle of Hogwarts.

These are incidents in which McGonagall is setting a good example by what she does but none of these actions is aimed specifically at discouraging Slytherins from becoming DE's. Snape does similar things when he saves Harry's life in PS, when he helps saving Harry's life in GoF, when he tries to persuade the Minister about the fact that Voldemort has indeed come back in GoF, when he does not cooperate with Umbridge etc. Both Snape and McGonagall do these things but neither approaches Slytherins specifically with the aim of influencing them in the right direction.

McGonagall appears in Gryffindor House a few times, yes, always when there is some great trouble. This, I think, is her duty and she is great at that. But it does not mean that she is spending extra time with her students regularly. She has her own "problem student" in her house: Neville. Does anyone (besides Fake-Moody) ever think of sitting down with Neville acknowledging that he may need special attention, although they all know the trauma of his life?

Somebody mentioned Hagrid and Lupin as teachers who like spending their free time with their students. In fact, they only spend their free time with specific students. Lupin spends extra time with the son of his late friend. It is good, of course, Harry needs his help but he is not getting the extra attention because he is just a student who needs extra attention.

Another example: After OotP, Draco's father is in prison - does it occur to any of the teachers that Draco might need special guidance? Snape and Dumbledore know what Draco is preparing to do and why but Snape has to spy on him, he cannot try to openly persuade him not to serve Voldemort. Dumbledore must not reveal that he knows about Draco's plan but he does not have to pretend he does not know Draco's family trouble, yet he does nothing to influence Draco (except when he is already dying and cannot do much) and he does not ask anyone else (e.g., McGonagall or Slughorn) to try to do something. I find it absolutely unfair when all the blame for Slytherin House is put on Snape because he (of all teachers) does not openly discourage them from joining Voldemort, when nobody helps him and when the problem is far greater than what Snape alone with or even without his extra tasks could solve.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 4, 2009 3:03 pm (#347 of 445)
I think it's very simple: McGonagall's very manner discourages joining with Voldemort. She is appalled at the very idea. Snape's manner does not.

Dumbledore is outspoken against Voldemort from the beginning, culminating in the "what is right over what is easy" speech. But Dumbledore could not do away with Slytherin House, even if he wanted to. That would be for the Board of Governors (and probably the Ministry) to decide.



TomProffitt - Jan 5, 2009 3:42 am (#348 of 445)
The existence of Slytherin House may well be a magical contract of sorts anyway and not something easily done away with. Even the "Snape Regime" kept the Four Houses and I'm sure they would have gladly arranged something different if they could.



Solitaire - Jan 5, 2009 8:19 am (#349 of 445)
Things under Snape were really run by the Ministry, though, weren't they? I'm sure he did not hire the Carrows! Snape valued intelligence, and those two just remind me of a grown-up Crabbe and Goyle. Anyway, wasn't the aim at that point for everyone to be Slytherin? I don't have my book handy, but I thought that is what Voldemort said when he shoved the Hat on Neville ...



Julia H. - Jan 5, 2009 10:29 am (#350 of 445)
I think it's very simple: McGonagall's very manner discourages joining with Voldemort. She is appalled at the very idea. Snape's manner does not. (Quinn)

But that is parallel with McGonagall fighting Voldemort openly and Snape fighting Voldemort secretly while appearing to be his ally. As for Dumbledore, I simply think he was in a position to do more about Slytherins than Snape - even giving an anti-Voldemort speech was something Dumbledore could and Snape could not do. Simply doing away with Slytherin House would not have been a solution: The (former) Slytherin students would have still been the same and changing them would have taken more efforts.

I'm sure he did not hire the Carrows! (Solitaire)

I'm sure, too. Months or weeks before Snape becomes Headmaster, portrait-Dumbledore tells him if he does not stay in "Voldemort's good books", the school will be left to the mercy of the Carrows. It seems the Carrows had been picked as future "teachers" even before the Ministry fell.


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Mrs Brisbee - Jan 5, 2009 10:58 am (#351 of 445)
Voldemort also never got the chance to test his one-House-fits-all policy for any substantial length of time. The Hat seems to have objected to being burned, did it's double duty as Gryffindor's Hat and gave Neville the Sword, which Neville used to turn Voldy mortal, and then Voldy died along with his very short-lived one-House experiment.

Besides the Hat, there is also the castle itself that might be vested in the House system, as the Founders seem to have built in common rooms and dorms for their hand-picked students. One the other hand, the rooms' magical doorkeepers don't seem to care who goes in so long as they can produce the password, so maybe that's not an insurmountable problem.



Orion - Jan 5, 2009 12:29 pm (#352 of 445)
If I was headmistress at Hogwarts I would integrate bathrooms inside every common-room-dorms-unit. They have to clamber out of the portrait hole to go to the loo in the night, imagine that. OT off.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 5, 2009 2:05 pm (#353 of 445)
I find it hard to believe that there isn't at least a half bath (sink and toilet) somewhere inside the actual walls of each House. But never having gone to boarding school, perhaps this is perfectly normal and I wouldn't know.

But that is parallel with McGonagall fighting Voldemort openly and Snape fighting Voldemort secretly while appearing to be his ally. - Not really. None of the behind-the-scenes things matter a single whit when you're talking about setting an example.

McGonagall's attitude is out there for all an sundry - including Doloros Umbridge, but most especially the students of all Houses - to see. Meanwhile Snape plays favorites with his own House, openly denigrates Gryffindor House (Dumlbledore's own House), and all of the other inappropriate things we've already discussed.
All the Slytherins - and anyone else - see is what Snape presents: a spiteful, childish, bully of a teacher who abuses his position and takes out his personal demons on the students he dislikes, and who it's no secret has always wanted the DADA position. Hardly a stellar example of someone who is anti-Voldemort.



Julia H. - Jan 7, 2009 11:06 am (#354 of 445)
All the Slytherins - and anyone else - see is what Snape presents: a spiteful, childish, bully of a teacher who abuses his position and takes out his personal demons on the students he dislikes, and who it's no secret has always wanted the DADA position. (Quinn)

But these things have nothing to do with Voldemort and DE's.

Hardly a stellar example of someone who is anti-Voldemort.

No, not a stellar example, though he does set a good example in certain critical moments. But Snape was not hired to be a stellar example of anyone anti-Voldemort. I think if Dumbledore had not wanted a spy so much (and I don't blame him for wanting one, even though I'm not at all happy with what that meant for the spy), he could have told Snape (exploiting his promise in a different way) to try and and turn as many students away from Voldemort as possible by talking or acting or by showing them his personal example or whatever means either of them could think of. I'm sure it would have been included in his anything and in time Snape might have been able to learn how to do that job just a he learned how to be an effective spy. It would likely have been better for Snape as a person, too. But Dumbledore wanted a spy in the first place, someone to spy on Voldemort and the DE's and even a spy inside Hogwarts, in Slytherin House, and he made Snape a spy, not a stellar example, when Snape's fate was in his hands.

Unfortunately, the stellar examples, such as Dumbledore or McGonagall, who had been in their places long before Snape became even a student, did not achieve much, as far as the morals in Slytherin are concerned, either.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 7, 2009 12:51 pm (#355 of 445)
But these things have nothing to do with Voldemort and DE's. - And herein lies the crux of our disagreement, because I think they have absolutely everything to do with Voldemort and the Death Eaters. If the Head of House comports himself in such a manner as to openly favor his own House and to openly denigrate others, when Voldemort later promises a wider brand of "favoritism" to this same group of people, how can these students be expected to feel remotely compelled to refuse him?

he does set a good example in certain critical moments - Such as? I'm not addressing anything Snape does "behind the scenes" or actions he might take on Dumbledore's orders, in full view of the reader alone. I'm talking about the way he conducts himself in front of his students on a daily basis.



Julia H. - Jan 7, 2009 1:22 pm (#356 of 445)
Such as?

I think I did mention some of them in the long discussion above. Things Snape does not do "behind the scenes" include his cooperation with the other teachers against Slytherin's monster (Slytherin's monster!) and heir in CoS, by watching over the students as they go from one place to another (among whom the Muggle-borns are in greatest danger) by patrolling the corridors and by making the potion which saves the victims of the Basilisk. In PoA, he helps protect the school, more specifically Harry (as everybody thinks) from an escaped murderer and alleged supporter of Voldemort (at least the scene in which he helps searching the castle for Sirius is not a secret to students). Starting with GoF, his anti-Voldemort activities must become secret and behind the scenes, it is true, but that is not exactly his fault and at the same time these activities become more important and more intensive. He still tells Crabbe to loosen his hold on Longbottoms's neck - he cannot do more because he has to check Sirius's whereabouts. I also think that it counts that he teaches useful skills as a DADA teacher. I know your answer is that it was only his duty. However, you yourself had also said that Snape did not do even what he could have passed off to Voldemort as "keeping up appearances". Well, I think, he did exactly those things when he did these duties properly.

Another point of fundamental disagreement between us is that in your eyes his "behind the scenes actions" do not count, not even the ones, he did at Dumbledore's orders. I think these actions count. Snape's "behind the scenes actions" were as important and at least as effective as the on-stage actions of others. Nor was he the only one who followed Dumbledore's orders. Nobody managed to change Slytherins but all of them contributed - in their own ways and specific jobs - to Voldemort's defeat.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 7, 2009 2:40 pm (#357 of 445)
So, basically the examples of "positive" Slytherin behavior from Snape amount to.... him just doing exactly what any teacher in the same position would do. If it was the job of all the teachers to patrol to corridors, how can you single Snape out for doing so? Because he exhibited "cooperation"? Well, that's what most reasonable, adult professionals do. I mean he could hardly say, "No, I'm not doing it" without looking like a complete idiot, could he?
If it was the Potion Master's job to brew the mandrake juice thing for the petrified students, then why does Snape get some kind of congratulations for it? Does Filch get special recognition for sweeping up around the castle? No, because it's his job.

As for his "teaching useful skills in DADA", in his very first class he - once again - uses Harry as a means to vent his personal frustrations, trying (but failing) to jinx him. He then gives Harry detention because he was humiliated by the strength of Harry's shield charm.

Anyway, how can the behind the scenes stuff possibly count in the eyes of the students of Hogwarts if they didn't even know about it?



Julia H. - Jan 7, 2009 4:03 pm (#358 of 445)
Now I'm not sure whether you still don't get what I'm saying or you are just having fun. But since (as a teacher) I have enormous practice at explaining the same thing again and again let's try once more. What I'm trying to say is that Snape could not have exhibited any more "anti-Voldemortness" than he did because of his job as a spy. I do not "single him out" for doing his duty, others did that, too, well done. However, the fact that the Head of Slytherin cooperated with the other teachers for the sake of Muggle-borns etc. (yes, because it was his duty, but doing his duty was the right thing to do) could be a good example to other Slytherins, who may not have cared much about what Gryffindor and Ravenclaw teachers were doing but they may have noticed that their own teacher, too, sided with the school - effectively - against Slytherin's heir, against the idea of killing Muggle-borns.

And I still don't see who on earth did effectively anything to change the way Slytherins were thinking even if being outspoken and pro-Gryffindor and generally admirable? Worse still, I don't see anybody (who did not have to pretend to be on Voldemort' side) even cared about Slytherins.



mona amon - Jan 7, 2009 9:30 pm (#359 of 445)
And I still don't see who on earth did effectively anything to change the way Slytherins were thinking even if being outspoken and pro-Gryffindor and generally admirable? Worse still, I don't see anybody (who did not have to pretend to be on Voldemort' side) even cared about Slytherins.

A very good point, Julia. This house seems to have been written off as a hopeless case by the rest of the WW.



Solitaire - Jan 7, 2009 11:34 pm (#360 of 445)
Actually, Julia, all of the things you cite about Snape having done that were not behind the scenes seem to Harry & Co. a lot like Snape is lying in wait for them to make a mistake. In fact, to a lot of us, it's only after we know his history that we are able to see him as having done positive and helpful things.

Snape reminds me of that proverb, What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say. To paraphrase it for Snape, I would say that his manner of doing things is often so poor or so unkind that the merit is obscured and the opportunity to be a role model is lost.



Julia H. - Jan 8, 2009 7:41 am (#361 of 445)
Solitaire, I mostly agree with you, but I really don't think Snape was hired to be a role model. Also, Harry, the Gryffindors and most students of Hogwarts did not need Snape as a role model. They had role models Snape could never had competed with. When I listed those things I concentrated on the way Slytherin students (from their isolated, "elitist" and blood-status-conscious positions) could or could have perceived them. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have achieved anything. I really don't think it was or it could have been enough for Slytherins to see an ideal role model or even several role models in the school. A special programme would have been necessary, with people who could both approach these students personally and represent the anti-Voldemort viewpoint creditably and convicingly.



Solitaire - Jan 8, 2009 8:00 am (#362 of 445)
Snape wasn't hired to be a role model, I agree. Snape was hired to save his own life and, eventually, to help train Harry to survive. That still does not mean he couldn't have acted as a role model. If he found the students' behavior irritating and some of their academic performances stupid--and we know he often did--why not use his own behavior to model the type of behavior he would like to see ... or counteract what he didnot like? Just because teaching was not his first choice of profession doesn't mean he has to be a miserable bully.



Julia H. - Jan 8, 2009 8:20 am (#363 of 445)
Snape was hired to help bring Voldemort down, not simply to save his own life. It was Trelawney who was hired to save her life, as she did not have to do anything in return. Snape was protected only as much as it is sensible for any army general to protect his soldiers if he wants to have them when he needs them.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 8, 2009 11:16 am (#364 of 445)
Snape was hired to help bring Voldemort down, not simply to save his own life. - No, Snape did not have to be part of the Hogwarts staff to report on Voldemort and the Death Eaters. He could have done this from anywhere - wizard "telecommuting"? There was no reason to hire Snape, particularly when he was so unqualified to teach. He had already been turned down for a post, in fact, and Voldemort knew this (a whole story in and of itself). I think it's pretty clear that, like Trelawney, he was hired so Dumbledore could protect him.

This house seems to have been written off as a hopeless case by the rest of the WW. - Well, in fairness, we only really know what happens between this house and the others, how Hogwarts as a whole views this house, with the ominous cloud of Voldemort lingering over the wizarding world. Prior to his appearance, things may have been quite different. And it seems that Voldemort himself was the one who actively stirred up the ancient rivalry between Slytherin and Gryffindor.



Steve Newton - Jan 8, 2009 11:33 am (#365 of 445)
I kind of thought that part of Snape's value to Voldemort was that at Hogwarts he could spy on Dumbledore. This would make his employment there necessary to ensure his continued usefulness.



Julia H. - Jan 8, 2009 11:39 am (#366 of 445)
I said Snape was protected as much as any soldier (spy) would be protected by his commander. Yes, it was safer for him to be at Hogwarts but he got this protection because he was useful and possibly "longer lasting" and more effective as an asset in this way and not or not in the first place because he needed protection as a (civilian) person. That is a difference. Trelawney did not have to do anything in return for the protection she got (she was even allowed to stay when she could not teach), while Snape could only move into Hogwarts when he had been a spy for a while and Dumbledore may have seen what he was worth. It was promotion from "spy" to "double agent".

Well, in fairness, we only really know what happens between this house and the others, how Hogwarts as a whole views this house, with the ominous cloud of Voldemort lingering over the wizarding world. Prior to his appearance, things may have been quite different.

Voldemort's lingering presence lasts for decades. DE's graduate from Hogwarts already during the first war. It does not seem that anybody tries to stop any of them then. It is hard to say that these long-standing professors do not have time to address the problem.



wynnleaf - Jan 8, 2009 12:03 pm (#367 of 445)
Snape had a great deal to explain when LV returned. Apparently it was rather difficult to explain everything away. Suppose another thing he had to explain was how all the Slytherins saw him as a role model for anti-Voldemort behavior and sympathies? Remembering, of course, that those kids had relatives who were DEs. Sure, I guess he could try and explain that as trying to fool Dumbledore. But LV isn't really that subtle a fellow. LV was already hard to convince, even with Snape coming across the way he did.



TomProffitt - Jan 8, 2009 2:33 pm (#368 of 445)
Suppose another thing he had to explain was how all the Slytherins saw him as a role model for anti-Voldemort behavior and sympathies? Remembering, of course, that those kids had relatives who were DEs. Sure, I guess he could try and explain that as trying to fool Dumbledore. But LV isn't really that subtle a fellow. --- wynnleaf

I think this a very very poor argument. Wasn't Tom Riddle the model student everyone thought would one day be Minister of Magic? Didn't Lucius caution Draco that it would be advantageous to at least to appear to be pro-Harry? Voldemort and the Death Eaters had a proven track record of fooling the Wizarding World as to their true intentions. Snape could easily claim he was merely "trying to fool Dumbledore" and have it accepted by Voldemort and the other Death Eaters.

That said, I don't think we should be laying the actions of Slytherin students solely at Snape's feet. Just as Harry had many more role models than Minerva McGonagall, so too did Slytherin House have many role models to choose from.

I'd put more blame on Godric Gryffindor and his stupid hat than I would on Severus Snape for the behavior of Slytherin Students.



Julia H. - Jan 8, 2009 3:53 pm (#369 of 445)
Wasn't Tom Riddle the model student everyone thought would one day be Minister of Magic? Didn't Lucius caution Draco that it would be advantageous to at least to appear to be pro-Harry? Voldemort and the Death Eaters had a proven track record of fooling the Wizarding World as to their true intentions. Snape could easily claim he was merely "trying to fool Dumbledore" and have it accepted by Voldemort and the other Death Eaters.

Still there is the difference between Snape and Lucius (and other DE's) that Snape was in fact fooling Voldemort and he already had to explain things that had truly harmed Voldemort or were harming Voldemort.

If Snape is a successful positive role model, that means Voldemort is effectively losing future followers. I am not sure "appearances" are supposed to go that far. (For example, it seems Karkaroff did not hope to be able to explain the help he had given the Ministry resulting in the capture of DE's as a way of merely keeping up appearances or fooling the Wizarding World. He appeared to think he had crossed a certain line.) If, however, all the DE kids are sure that the anti-Voldemort "veneer" is only acting on Snape's part, then he is not a positive role model at all, because they will only perceive him as a "role model" of deceiving the light side.



TomProffitt - Jan 8, 2009 4:13 pm (#370 of 445)
Julia, still, I think it was more a quirk of fate for Snape. I think he was just a jerk, not someone intentionally playing a part. It was just advantageous for him to be a jerk in this instance.

I don't want to get off topic on this though, this has more to do with what I'm saying on the Snape thread. Don't blame Snape for the behavior of the Slytherin students, the behavior of the parents and a thousand year tradition at Hogwarts carry a lot more weight than the actions of a single teacher.



Solitaire - Jan 8, 2009 9:11 pm (#371 of 445)
I liked McGonagall's blunt exchange with--and charge to--Slughorn just prior to the evacuation of the Slytherins and younger kids from Hogwarts:

"If you wish to leave with your students, we shall not stop you. But if any of you attempt to sabotage our resistance or take up arms against us within this castle, then, Horace, we duel to kill."
"Minerva!" he said, aghast.
"The time has come for Slytherin House to decide upon its loyalties," interrupted Professor McGonagall.

Go, McGonagall!



wynnleaf - Jan 8, 2009 9:17 pm (#372 of 445)
"The time has come for Slytherin House to decide upon its loyalties," interrupted Professor McGonagall.

I'm not sure that McGonagall gave that choice to the House, only to Slughorn. As I recall, she told the entire Slytherin House to leave following Pansy.



Solitaire - Jan 8, 2009 9:43 pm (#373 of 445)
Whatever she meant, that's what she said. If any Slytherins had stepped forward and wanted to fight with the school against Voldemort, do you think she would have refused?



wynnleaf - Jan 8, 2009 10:23 pm (#374 of 445)
If any Slytherins had stepped forward and wanted to fight with the school against Voldemort, do you think she would have refused? (Solitaire)

I don't know. After all, she clearly distrusts Slytherins, or why order them all to leave? Her assumption is that they're all for LV. If some had offered to stay and fight ("We want to fight alongside all of you who hate and distrust us!! Please??" -- hm, well, if at least), I'm not sure that McGonagall would have actually let them at that point. Of course, if JKR had actually written many Slytherins returning with Slughorn later, I think they could have stayed mainly because by then the action was underway and it would be less likely that their help would be rejected.



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 12:07 am (#375 of 445)
I too think she may have refused. "If you wish to leave with your students, we shall not stop you. But if any of you attempt to sabotage our resistance or take up arms against us within this castle, then, Horace, we duel to kill." Despite her high-sounding words, I see no option here for Slytherin house to actually prove where its loyalties lie. They can either leave, or stay back and keep very quiet. Actually, I don't even see an invitation to stay back even if they keep quiet. I certainly don't see any invitation to join them in fighting Voldemort.

Later, in the Great Hall, Pansy points to Harry and says "grab him". Immediately the rest of the school in one movement rise and point thir wands at the Slytherins, and McGonnagal tells them to get out.

She seems to have just as strong an anti-Slytherin bias as anyone else.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 9, 2009 4:44 am (#376 of 445)
McGonagall told all the Houses to leave. It was also made clear that anyone of age could stay to help. The only one specifically made to leave was Pansy. None of the Slytherins chose to stay. I wish Rowling had created a few Slytherin students who could do the right thing, but that they didn't isn't down to McGonagall throwing them out of the castle, because she didn't.

I'm with Solitaire that that was a great McGonagall moment. Slughorn needed to be kick-started. He's a classic example of someone who does the easy thing instead of the right thing. As much as Snape was a bad guide to the DE wannabes in the school, so to was Slughorn. He liked his own comfort, and ignored trouble that might cause him discomfort. I think his memory in HBP showed that he actually knew what was festering right under his nose, but did his best to avoid confrontation. It looks like his Slug Club was crawling with future Death Eaters, but they were the ambitious select he wanted to cultivate, so he just overlooked their unsavory characteristics. I think McGonagall was right to call him on it, in very stark terms. And he did rise to the occasion, finally.



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 5:32 am (#377 of 445)
I wasn't really accusing McGonagall of throwing the Slytherins out of the castle. But she never gives them any encouragement to stay. "If you wish to leave with your students, we shall not stop you. But if any of you attempt to sabotage our resistance or take up arms against us within this castle, then, Horace, we duel to kill." does not give them much room to prove their loyalties.

I think his memory in HBP showed that he actually knew what was festering right under his nose, but did his best to avoid confrontation.

I think he was just taken in by Tom Riddle's charm, just like all the other teachers except Dumbledore.

It looks like his Slug Club was crawling with future Death Eaters,

In Tom Riddle's time, yes, when he did not know what DEs were. But after that he seems to have been a lot more selective. "I don't think Slughorn is interested in Death-Eaters." (Blaise Zabini, HBP Chapter 6). And he has always been anti-Voldemort. Yet McGonagall is biased against him because he's a Slytherin.



Solitaire - Jan 9, 2009 8:01 am (#378 of 445)
The only one specifically made to leave was Pansy. None of the Slytherins chose to stay.

Actually, three Slytherin students--Crabbe, Goyle, and Draco--did stay, although not to fight against Voldemort, it seems. Crabbe ended up dying and nearly killed the other five, including his buddies, with what Hermione said was probably Fiendfyre. His unwitting good deed was that he helped destroy the Horcrux.

Yet McGonagall is biased against him because he's a Slytherin.

I don't think McGonagall is biased against Sluggy because he is a Slytherin. McGonagall was a general preparing her troops to go into the battle of a lifetime, whose outcome would affect the lives of all Wizards, perhaps for generations to come. She didn't need anyone sabotaging that effort. Rather than being biased against old Horace, she wanted to know where he stood. She didn't even say "You're either for us or against us." She knew it was a time to speak up and declare loyalties, and she wanted him to declare himself. If he did not want to choose sides, then he was free to leave and stay out of the battle.

To be honest, I think McGonagall knew Horace was not a supporter of Voldemort. I just think she needed to hear it. Maybe she thought he needed to say it ... because if he declared himself on the side against Voldemort, then he really would have to stand and deliver ... or be thought a coward who fled rather than fight for a cause. Face it--up to now, Sluggy's only cause has been his own comfort. Here he is forced to look both inside and outside himself. Fortunately, he finds the stuff to fight.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 9, 2009 8:25 am (#379 of 445)
Actually, three Slytherin students--Crabbe, Goyle, and Draco--did stay, although not to fight against Voldemort, it seems. Crabbe ended up dying and nearly killed the other five, including his buddies, with what Hermione said was probably Fiendfyre. His unwitting good deed was that he helped destroy the Horcrux.

Heh, I stand corrected!

But Pansy is still the only Slytherin student McGonagall specifically throws out of the castle.



Julia H. - Jan 9, 2009 9:11 am (#380 of 445)
Actually, three Slytherin students--Crabbe, Goyle, and Draco--did stay, although not to fight against Voldemort, it seems.

I always thought they stayed secretly somehow, not with anyone's knowledge.



TomProffitt - Jan 9, 2009 9:21 am (#381 of 445)
But Pansy is still the only Slytherin student McGonagall specifically throws out of the castle. --- Mrs Brisbee

I'll have to go back and look at that again, each time that I have read that passage I interpreted it as McGonagall throwing out the whole House rather than take any chances.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 9, 2009 11:51 am (#382 of 445)
Yet McGonagall is biased against him because he's a Slytherin. - I think she's biased against him because he's lazy, not because he's a Slytherin. She basically treated Lockhart the very same way in CS, knowing that Lockhart would choose to flee the scene rather than actually fight Slytherins monster.

McGonagall had to assume that Slytherin House was loyal to Voldemort, particularly after Pansy's outburst. It might not have been fair, but it's not as if she locked them all up in the dungeon. She just told them to leave.



wynnleaf - Jan 9, 2009 12:51 pm (#383 of 445)
"Thank you, Miss Parkinson," said Professor McGonagall in a clipped voice. "You will leave the Hall first with Mr. Filch. If the rest of your House could follow."

Sounds like she's directing "first" Pansy, and then "the rest of your House" to leave Hogwarts.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 9, 2009 1:09 pm (#384 of 445)
You need to read back before Voldemort's interruption, and then forward after the Slytherins are asked to leave.

The plan is for ALL the Houses to leave, and that doesn't change. It is decided that anyone who is of age can stay. That doesn't change, either. After Slytherin, McGonagall says: "Ravenclaws, follow on." It's because the Houses are supposed to leave. The text supports that the other two Houses get the same treatment. It was all planned out that way already.

Pansy is singled out as an individual, and asked to leave. She is also the only one the rest of the school pointed their wands at, not the other Slytherin students. The other students can follow her out, or choose to stay.



Solitaire - Jan 9, 2009 7:42 pm (#385 of 445)
Edited Jan 9, 2009 9:19 pm
She is also the only one the rest of the school pointed their wands at

Hehehe **evil chuckle** I can hardly wait to see that scene in the movie. Imagine what it must feel like to have every kid in the three other houses pointing his or her wand at YOUR stupid face, and not one adult saying "Wands away, please!" heheheheheheeee I can't help it ... I get an evil thrill of glee whenever I imagine it!

Edit: I bet Hermione was thinking how nice Pansy would have looked just then with another pair of antlers! hehe



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 10:06 pm (#386 of 445)
That doesn't change, either. After Slytherin, McGonagall says: "Ravenclaws, follow on." It's because the Houses are supposed to leave. The text supports that the other two Houses get the same treatment. It was all planned out that way already.

Pansy is singled out as an individual, and asked to leave. She is also the only one the rest of the school pointed their wands at, not the other Slytherin students. (Mrs.Brisbee)

That's true. Funny how one can mis-read things when one is biased. I read McGonagall's "If the rest of your House could follow." and hardly noticed the "Ravenclaws, follow on." And I read "The Griffindors had risen and stood, not facing him but the Slytherins" and completely missed "all of them looking towards Pansy instead"!



Julia H. - Jan 10, 2009 7:52 am (#387 of 445)
Yet McGonagall is biased against him because he's a Slytherin. - I think she's biased against him because he's lazy, not because he's a Slytherin. She basically treated Lockhart the very same way in CS, knowing that Lockhart would choose to flee the scene rather than actually fight Slytherins monster.

Which reminds me... we don't know about Lockhart's House affiliation, do we? While I agree that McGonagall's (and the other teachers') treatment of him was totally justified, I wonder whether it would indicate prejudice if I supposed Lockhart might have been a Slytherin... He was certainly ambitious and used any means to achieve his goals. But then the Hat did make mistakes sometimes. If Pettigrew was a Gryffindor, Lockhart could also be in any House ... but I would like to know!



Quinn Crockett - Jan 10, 2009 11:27 am (#388 of 445)
Yeah, I thought of that, Julia. But I don't think it changes anything. I think McGonagall was responding to their respective actions (or perhaps more accurately in-actions) and not whatever House they were in.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 11, 2009 1:00 pm (#389 of 445)
I definitely didn't read McGonagall's getting Slytherin house out of the school as being the "isolated" house. But I am very disappointed that JKR's comment about Slytherins fighting against Vold isn't actually IN THE BOOK. As someone pointed out, Vold specifically says about Draco to Lucius, "He did not come and join me, like the rest of the Slytherins."

I'm very bummed about this because under no circumstances do I think Slytherin should be disbanded. They are the water element and without them it is an incomplete world. They are the feminine counterpart of Gryffindor/fire. Yes, as a whole they need to evolve from cunning to creative but there are four elements and JKR specifically said the houses reflect that. The question might be how to practically set about encouraging Slytherin to become the balance to fire that it should be.

For a while I say Quidditch and House Cup should be disbanded. Maybe there could be less competitive exercises with Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff and Gryffindor/Slytherin learning how to interact and understand eachother.

Edit: I can't believe I can still edit after all this time... anyway, I was reading back in the thread and really liked Solitaire's idea of having Heads of House being from other houses. In other words, it would be constructive for Head of Hufflepuff to become Head of Slytherin. I like it.



mona amon - Jan 11, 2009 8:58 pm (#390 of 445)
I'm very bummed about this because under no circumstances do I think Slytherin should be disbanded. They are the water element and without them it is an incomplete world. They are the feminine counterpart of Gryffindor/fire.

Being hopelessly mundane and practical, I don't see how being the water element is going to help anybody. I don't see why male and female counterparts (if that is what they are) should be isolated and not allowed to mix. To disband them all and mix them up (random sorting) is, I feel, the best solution.



wynnleaf - Jan 11, 2009 9:05 pm (#391 of 445)
I think the point of the water element is that Slytherin represents one of the 4 "elements" and as such, is supposed to be just as necessary for "harmony" as the other elements. The idea that the House characteristics are something that needs to be squelched or even disbanded because the House characteristics are less admirable than the others is contrary to the idea that JKR herself put forth of it representing one of the 4 equal elements.

On the other hand, JKR does seem to act as though Slytherin characteristics aren't equal to the others. In that regard, I think she's confusing the whole literary point of the Houses.



mona amon - Jan 11, 2009 10:12 pm (#392 of 445)
I still don't get it. Nor am I likely to, as my mind doesn't work that way. I agree with you that if she had planned some symbolic balance between the 4 houses based on the four elements, she's confusing the point by making Slytherin characteristics 'less equal' than the others. Also, I don't think she shows us why these characteristics have to be isolated for harmony to be acheived, instead of blended.



Solitaire - Jan 11, 2009 10:34 pm (#393 of 445)
JKR does seem to act as though Slytherin characteristics aren't equal to the others.

Perhaps Slytherin does not emphasize a well-rounded individual, but really focuses on self too much??? The students from other houses seem to be more well-rounded. They also seem to interact (date, have friends) with each other more. Whether this is due to the three other houses cutting out Slytherin or Slytherin not wanting to mix in is hard to say. The three did cut out Slytherin when it came to the DA, but I think it was due to not being able to trust them.

I think it's obvious that ambition in itself is not a bad thing. Without it, no one would do anything! It just needs not to be the ruling characteristic, I think.

Is it possible that, with the exception of Slytherin (who seemed to emphasize the Pure-blood issue), the House heads helped their students NOT to become too one-sided? I can see where Ravenclaws could become arrogant in their intelligence, if they were not tempered. Flitwick is so kind with all of the kids that he seems the perfect Wizard to counteract that tendency.

McGonagall is certainly brave, but she is also no nosense and very intelligent. She values intellect and initiative. I do see her as someone who can keep those brave Gryffindors focused, but she knows when to "give them their heads," so to speak. This was apparent when she was marshaling her forces for the Battle of Hogwarts.

The Hufflepuffs seem to be very well-rounded, to me. The kids get good grades, and they seem to have a modicum of ambition. They are willing to stand up and be counted, and they are loyal to their friends. Maybe everyone should be sorted into Hufflepuff!



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 12, 2009 2:19 pm (#394 of 445)
mona amon, JKR has sort of dropped the ball in my opinion, not showing us Slytherin students that are likeable. All we've got is Severus and Harry telling us at the end that he was almost sorted into Slytherin. Of course, this might have been due to the Hat "reading" Vold's soul bit.

I've always seen our Trio as representing the other three houses and how a student can incorporate other house qualities. Obviously, Hermione with Ravenclaw, Although Harry is not cunning and ambitious, JKR notes several times that Harry related to or at least understood young Tom's motivations, both in the orphanage scene and in the Sluggy memory. And, although many disagree, I view Ron as a Gryffindor with Hufflepuff qualities. His loyalty and the whole family closeness reminds me of what I imagine a Hufflepuff friend would be like!



TomProffitt - Jan 12, 2009 2:40 pm (#395 of 445)
Although Harry is not cunning and ambitious ... --- me and my shadow 813

Are you certain of that? Vowing to finish of Voldemort by himself seems pretty ambitious to me. I have to admit that he's more of a "dang the torpedoes and full speed ahead" type than what anyone could call "cunning."



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 12, 2009 2:48 pm (#396 of 445)
I had a feeling this would be challenged...

1 a: an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power b: desire to achieve a particular end - Webster Dictionary

I meant "a" not "b". It goes without saying that Harry was determined to finish his mission.



TomProffitt - Jan 12, 2009 2:57 pm (#397 of 445)
Yes, but which definition of ambition was the Sorting Hat using when it made it's songs? Which defintion is used when sorting? We have no definitive way of knowing.

ETA: But when I think about it he did show quite a bit of ambition where Quidditch was involved, in particular as to how victory would relate to his relationships first with Cho and later with Ginny.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 14, 2009 3:11 pm (#398 of 445)
I tend to think the Sorting Hat's comment to Harry about Slytherin "it's all here in your head" could *for me* easily refer to the soul bit, which literally was in his head or at least is symbolised by the scar on his head.

This doesn't mean I don't think Harry could have 'Slytherin' qualities, or that ambition is wholly 'negative'. I wish I had more ambition sometimes. I'd have more of a savings account!

I do feel that Harry relating to young Tom in the Pensieve memories is JKR's way of indicating Harry is by no means the complete antithesis of Tom Riddle and that Harry is able to see that without judging himself.

(edited for clarity)



PeskyPixie - Aug 16, 2009 8:08 pm (#399 of 445)
Slytherin should not be disbanded. Go Green & Silver!!!

I thought that DH would reveal that Dumbledore was once a Slytherin.



Solitaire - Aug 16, 2009 10:56 pm (#400 of 445)
Believe it or not, Pesky, I'm with you. Slytherin needs to be a part of Hogwarts for it to be "whole." All of the houses need to work together to complement each other. That is how it was meant to be, I think. The balanced Wizard has traits of all houses. Certainly the balanced Wizarding World needs all of the houses to function properly.



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wynnleaf - Aug 18, 2009 12:30 pm (#401 of 445)
I thought that DH would reveal that Dumbledore was once a Slytherin. (Pesky)

I still think he was more Slytherin than anything and I don't think JKR ever tells us what he House was. I'd expect if Machiavelli was a wizard, he'd have been a Slytherin, and JKR herself said DD was Machiavellian. Willing to use any means to obtain his goals? Well, that fits, more or less -- it's just that his goals were good. Or maybe he talked the Hat out of it.



legolas returns - Aug 18, 2009 1:07 pm (#402 of 445)
Its your choices that make you who you are according to Dumbledore. Didn't Hermione say that Dumbledore was in Gryffindor. I could actually see the sorting hat thinking that he could fit all the houses like it did with Harry but Dumbledore asking to be put in Gryffindor.

I was actually quite dissapointed with the number of "good" slytherins by the end of the book. A number of slytherins got "burned" and then saw the error of their ways e.g Regulus (gave his life to get the Horcrux) and Snape. Snape was not exactly a nice person but he ultimately gave his life for the cause of good. Five start effort and commitment. The Malfoys at the end did not really care who one as long as Draco was ok. They had also been treated as second class citizens and abused by Voldemort for so long but they did not actively fight against him. Slughorn was so ashamed of what he had told Voldemort and he continued to cover/lie about the secret. It took a lot of trouble to lower his defences and required Felix Felicis to help Harry. He did duel Voldemort at the end so he could be classified as good even though he needed a good deal of persuading to do this. Harrys "death" by Voldemort probably guilt tripped him into acting. Better late than never. The rest of Slytherin house joined Voldemort.



PeskyPixie - Aug 18, 2009 1:15 pm (#403 of 445)
In PS/SS Hermione does mention that she has read that Dumbledore was a Gryffindor. I had thought that it would be interesting if this turned out to be one of the rare occasions when she was wrong.



Julia H. - Aug 18, 2009 3:46 pm (#404 of 445)
Fawkes seems to be a Gryffindor bird.



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 18, 2009 6:05 pm (#405 of 445)
I agree, Julia. I cannot imagine Dumbledore not being in Gryffindor. All the association with red and gold and Godric's Sword to me must be because he is the Gryffindor representative in the story.

What I would really like to know is how in the world Wormtail got Sorted into Gryffindor. Sorry, Slytherins, but if there is anyone in our story who sacrifices others for his own gain, it's Peter.

Also I would think Lockhart was in Slytherin... are we ever told?



Julia H. - Aug 19, 2009 7:27 am (#406 of 445)
Lockhart seems to be a Slytherin - using any means to achieve his goals. He is not exactly brave like a Gryffindor, not really wise like a Ravenclaw, and he does not make me think of a Hufflepuff either. However, Pettigrew and Snape are the proof that sometimes some students are misplaced.

I think Snape and Lockhart (as characters) are contrasted in several ways in CoS. Then in the Duelling Club scene, we have Snape supporting Malfoy, and we have Lockhart (sort of) supporting Harry. Since Snape is a Slytherin who should have been a Gryffindor, I quite like the idea that Lockhart could be a Gryffindor who should have been a Slytherin, just for the sake of symmetry.

As for how Pettigrew got sorted into Gryffindor - good question. Did he ask the Hat to put him into Gryffindor? It could be due to an eleven-year old kid's lack of self-knowledge. But should not the Hat know better in some cases? BTW, once I suggested that there was something wrong with the Hat in that year and it put Snape where Pettigrew should have been and vice versa. I know Snape wanted to be in Slytherin, but it was a mistake on his part, and his mistake came in handy for the Hat, "who" had already realized that it had robbed Slytherin House of one of its rightful members by mistake (Pettigrew must have been sorted before Snape), and it decided to put things right by sorting a misguided would-be Gryffindor into Slytherin.



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 19, 2009 11:51 am (#407 of 445)
JKR said in the 2005 Melissa and Emerson interview that the Sorting Hat is never wrong, so we have to honor her statement. I imagine Peter had a similar personality to Neville, in that he was passive and a follower and there was potential within him but, unlike Neville, Peter chose the opposite path from "the brave of heart".



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 19, 2009 12:30 pm (#408 of 445)
Then again, she said in the same interview that Grindelwald was dead.



Julia H. - Aug 19, 2009 12:33 pm (#409 of 445)
Then JKR does not agree with Dumbledore, who almost says Snape was sorted into the wrong house.

The problem with the Hat never being wrong is that the kids basically have a choice, so it is not the Hat alone that makes the decision.

It is impossible to squeeze so many different (and complex) personalities into only four different boxes. Was not Cedric brave? Was not Regulus brave? Was not Percy extremely ambitious? What about Romilda Vane? And so on...

EDIT: I don't think that mere hesitation would make anyone a true Gryffindor.



Soul Search - Aug 19, 2009 12:34 pm (#410 of 445)
Does Pettigrew qualify as a Gryffindor because of that little hesitation in Deathly Hallows that caused his silver hand to strangle him?



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 19, 2009 1:16 pm (#411 of 445)
The main theme of the series is to unite the four houses IMO. So IMO it makes sense that many characters would purposefully be shown to have some "opposing" traits than their House or displaying traits other Houses are known for.



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 19, 2009 3:08 pm (#412 of 445)
Sorry, I was in a rush earlier and couldn't elaborate. To me JKR had Dumbledore say that line to display DD's admiration for Severus. Of course it is possible to be a brave Slytherin or a manipulative Gryffindor.

The problem with the Hat never being wrong is that the kids basically have a choice, so it is not the Hat alone that makes the decision.

To me, regarding the above quote, it is precisely because the kids have a choice that the Hat is never wrong. It simply externalises their choice, desire, intentions. So IMO Dumbledore's comment to Severus was not that the Hat was wrong, but that it Sorts at too early an age. A child at age eleven is perhaps too young to make such a choice, and is sometimes a very different person than they are after they mature. Certainly, in the case of people who make radical decisions that alter them entirely (as with Severus leaving the DE's and Peter betraying his best friends) this is true. Whether they had that potential inside of them from birth is probable.

In Severus's case, I hate to think what would have happened to him had he begged the Hat to Sort him into Gryffindor, particularly after the incident on the train. Even if the Hat recognised Severus's potential for bravery without his asking to be Sorted one way or the other, the idea of him in that dormitory with James and Sirius for seven years is not good. It is horrible that he had Mulciber and Avery's influence, yes, but I don't know which would have been worse. I truly do not believe the Marauders would have ended up being "nice" to Severus or vise versa. It would have been ugly and Severus might never have reached his potential for immense bravery (had he not been faced with Lily's death).

So given how Severus probably needed to go through all he did prior to becoming a double agent in order to be worthy of Dumbledore's comment, in that sense, the Hat was not wrong to put him in Slytherin.



Orion - Aug 20, 2009 1:23 am (#413 of 445)
So, Shadow, for me the consequence from that what you write is that indeed not only Slytherin should be disbanded but also every other House. If indeed the Sorting is too early there is no real reason to divide up children into their respective character traits, because everybody should be well-rounded instead of one-dimensional.

The Houses corral children of arbitrarily chosen character traits into Common Rooms and prevent contact between the groups. So these character traits are amplified instead of softened. Gryffindors tend to be rash, Hufflepuffs tend to be naive, Ravenclaws tend to be aloof and Slytherins tend to sell their own grandmothers. No character traits which should be nurtured.



wynnleaf - Aug 20, 2009 7:39 am (#414 of 445)
Personally I think that the idea of sorting 11 year old kids based on their character traits into a House they'll keep for 7 years, is a huge mistake. It doesn't matter whether the supposed traits are good or bad -- the idea is hugely flawed.

However, the idea of having Houses is fine. I have always felt they should drop the sorting based on character traits and simply sort at random. But even without the Houses based on character traits, there would still most likely develop a kind of House "Character" by which each house was known. And there would probably also develop some long time rivalries between individual houses. But without the sorting by traits that the Sorting Hat can supposedly determine in 11 year old kids, and without family members being able to consistently choose their house resulting in long-standing family affiliations with particular houses, I think the house system would probably work quite well.

In some ways, the family affiliations with particular houses is even worse than the Sorting Hat trying to sort kids based on character. A boy like James, who may have been highly influenced by family stories of Gryffindor, could choose the house based on his own notions of what was the "best" house. Same goes for Malfoy kids. All the family had been in Slytherin, so regardless what their actual character traits were, they were going to put on the Hat already determined that it will put them in Slytherin. Sure, there were some siblings who were in different houses -- like the Patil twins. But mostly, we see entire families sorted into the same house. Is it because they all had the same personalities? The same character traits? Probably not. It's because long-standing bias among families for what's the "best" house means that the young first years sat down on the stool under the Sorting Hat desperately hoping to be in a particular house, and the Hat complied with their choice.

And then there's the muggleborns or other kids who didn't grow up learning a bias toward or against any of the Houses. Still, you could easily see a friendship made on the train and then the child sees the new friend sorted into a particular house, and then going to sit on the stool hoping and hoping to get into that house. Or like Harry, who disliked one kid, Draco, who was in Slytherin, and then heard incorrect info that all dark wizards were from Slytherin, and as a result sat on the stool thinking desperately, "not Slytherin". The same could happen to many kids. Their childhood "enemy" is certain he/she will be sorted into a particular house, and so the other child sits on the stool begging the Hat, "Not that house!"

And so you'd have lots of kids sorted, not based on true character traits, but simply on a myriad of biases which, because of the traits which are repeatedly proclaimed as supposedly characterizing each house, are likely to remain unchanged.



PeskyPixie - Aug 20, 2009 9:28 am (#415 of 445)
Let's not forget that Slytherins can be very brave (the trait is not exclusive to Gryffindor). Intelligent and brave, but ambitious and cunning as well. That makes sense to me. However, JKR seems to have put every last nasty kid in Slytherin. Creeps like Crabbe, Goyle, Amycus and Alecto don't really belong in any of the Hogwarts houses. Then again, maybe the default setting of the Sorting Hat (for nasty kids) is Slytherin, due to Salazar's twisted views of the world.



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 20, 2009 9:51 am (#416 of 445)
I suppose that's how I feel, Orion. Or at least that is what I think Dumbledore was alluding to in his comment.

For instance I was a bit surprised in "Nineteen Years Later" that Ron still had a similar attitude to when he was a child. This concerned me, and although I love Ron I'd say he is one of those situations where even with all that happened to him he seems to be the same person he was when he was Sorted, given what we are shown.

Is the Gryffindor / Slytherin issue partially because of Quidditch, as has been mentioned on this thread in the past? I suppose, but I think that is just a "legal" way to express the animosity.

I don't think Slytherin should be eliminated. Aside from the esoteric 4-elements, etc., it represents the "survival instinct" and has much wisdom to contribute to those who feel they must always put others first.

If I was to be Sorted, the Hat would have a tough time choosing between Gryffindor and Slytherin, as I am mainly Gryffindor-like but I put myself first and let others take care of themselves as I feel this is the quickest way to learn life's lessons. The main non-Slytherin difference with me is I do not manipulate; I refuse to overpower another's free will to get what I want. In the case of Aragog, I would have been honest with Hagrid and let him make the decision.



Hieronymus Graubart - Aug 21, 2009 2:23 pm (#417 of 445)
It’s hard to decide if sorting at random would be better.

But even without the Houses based on character traits, there would still most likely develop a kind of House "Character" by which each house was known.(wynnleave)
Also, families would still have their affiliations based on the supposed House “Character” or simply on some family members randomly sorted into the same house.

It is true that sorting kids at random into houses where they don’t fit would prevent these supposed House “Character” to become stronger every year. But how would these kids feel about this?

Even after decades I still remember how I felt when I was alphabatically sorted into another classroom than all my friends.



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 21, 2009 3:32 pm (#418 of 445)
To me the basic problem comes back to the fact that we have no real "positive" examples of Slytherin characters. As is being discussed on the Slughorn thread, if he is the best example of what a true Slytherin is supposed to be like, (IMO) forget it. But I don't believe that JKR meant for him to depict the truly optimum Slytherin nature.

The four elements and their qualities is how JKR delineated the four Houses. For discussion's sake, I am going to list the qualities of them from wikipedia:

Masculine: Air personalities tend to be kind, intellectual, communicative, social, and helpful. However, they can also be cold, superficial, impractical and very insensitive to other people's emotions.

Feminine: Earth personalities tend to be calm, practical, hard working, wise, stable, patient and sensual; however, they can also be stubborn, possessive, jealous, nearsighted and very harsh.

Masculine: Fire personalities are believed to have good leading qualities, and also tend to be extroverted, rebellious, passionate and enthusiastic; however, they can also be moody, hot-tempered, snappy, uncontrollable and angry.

Feminine: Water personalities tend to be emotional, deep, nurturing, sympathetic, empathetic, imaginative and intuitive; however, they can also be sentimental, over-sensitive, escapistic and irrational.

As has been mentioned, Gryffindor House is headed by a woman and Slytherin by a man. Perhaps the first order of business to soften Slytherin's harsh nature is to have a nurturing woman as Head of House. Perhaps after all she's been through, Narcissa would be up for the challenge.



Julia H. - Aug 21, 2009 3:39 pm (#419 of 445)
Narcissa? Why not Andromeda? As a Black, she may have been a Slytherin - a truly good one. Do we know about that?

A major problem with Slytherin seems to be that kids are sorted there on the basis of negative character traits (in practice at least if not in theory). At least that should be changed.



PeskyPixie - Aug 21, 2009 3:48 pm (#420 of 445)
In the books, ambition seems to be equated with nastiness. I think that JKR herself has issues with this (ambition) and as such, we get no truly good examples from Slytherin House.



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 21, 2009 4:01 pm (#421 of 445)
A major problem with Slytherin seems to be that kids are sorted there on the basis of negative character traits (in practice at least if not in theory). At least that should be changed. - Julia

Yes, IMO from my experience with "watery" people (myself included) we are generally the artists of the bunch. This is reinforced by the feminine/left nature of the water element, and left-handed people have come to be known as creative (right brain dominant, which is the creative side as opposed to the analytical/scientific side). I know I'm not telling any of you anything you don't already know, but as far as Sorting based on "positive" character traits, this would be the perfect House to emphasize artistic children.

We have Dean Thomas and Luna as the examples of artists. There are no "art" classes at Hogwarts... perhaps this should begin? To continue the thought, basing the Houses on personal interests and focus:

Earth=Herbology; Care of Magical Creatures

Fire=Quidditch; wand work like Transfiguration and Dueling (the WW equivalent of fencing?)

Air=Astronomy and Arithmancy type classes (Charms with Flitwick?)

Water=Potions, artistic things like designing architecture, robes, brooms, etc.?

Regarding Andromeda, we're never told. I assumed that, as she is Sirius's favorite cousin, married a Muggle, and Tonks was a Hufflepuff, that she was not in Slytherin. JM2K

edit: Regarding "ambition and cunning", IMO these are not qualities of the water element but of Salazar himself. This is the root of the problem, as Salazar is not a fine example of the water element whatsoever. He might have been emotional and intuitive, but he seems to have emphasized the emotion of hostility and the intuition of hunting down those he decided needed to be eliminated.



PeskyPixie - Aug 21, 2009 4:04 pm (#422 of 445)
But isn't Sirius the first Black who isn't a Slytherin?



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 21, 2009 4:44 pm (#423 of 445)
Pesky, I do think both Slughorn and Sirius make a comment about that. So, if it's true, let's nominate Andromeda the new Head of Slytherin House! She might want to be the new Muggle Studies professor.



Solitaire - Aug 23, 2009 1:17 am (#424 of 445)
I totally agree about Wormtail and Lockhart. I'll add Umbridge to the pot, as well. She is very Slytherin, to me. Isn't it interesting that all three seem to be kind of frauds? There is the definite suggestion that all three are not exactly amazing Wizards. Peter kind of rides along on the Marauders' coattails, Lockhart takes credit for other people's achievements, and Umbridge can't even manage to get rid of the mischief the Twins cause.

Dumbledore, who almost says Snape was sorted into the wrong house
Dumbledore also knows by this time that Peter was the one who betrayed James and Lily, so he has two reasons to say this.

I agree that Percy's personality looks a lot more Slytherin than Gryffindor.

maybe the default setting of the Sorting Hat (for nasty kids) is Slytherin, due to Salazar's twisted views of the world.
That is an interesting observation, Pesky! Isn't it funny, too, how so many of those associated with Slytherin seem kind of ... "troll-ish"? Crabbe and Goyle, Marcus Flynt, Millicent Bulstrode, the Carrows. Remember Harry's initial reflection the night he came to Hogwarts ... the Slytherins looked like an unpleasant lot! Of course, the Malfoys, Blaise Zabini, and the Blacks do seem rather good-looking, so perhaps they offset the trollishness of some of the others. Most of them are pretty unpleasant, though. Sluggy really does seem to be the only Slytherin who is personable.

Julia, I've often wondered about Andromeda's house affiliation. She married a Muggle-born, which seems rather un-Slytherin of her. Wouldn't her contemporaries (somewhere around the age of Bella, the Lestrange brothers, Lucius) have brought a lot of unpleasant pressure to bear? I suppose, however, that she could have waited to pursue that relationship after Hogwarts. Still, the fact that she was Sirius's favorite cousin makes me wonder if she might have bucked the family tradition ... and maybe encouraged Sirius to do the same. Tonks, as we know, was a Hufflepuff. Is it possible that Andromeda was, as well? Could that have been where she met her husband? The fact that she was not mentioned by Slughorn could have been as simple as maybe he was thinking specifically of the male family members.



Julia H. - Aug 23, 2009 3:23 am (#425 of 445)
LOL, aren't we doing exactly the same as the Sorting Hat? We are putting all the nasty characters (Lockhart, Umbridge) into Slytherin and refuse membership to Andromeda on the grounds that she is a normal human being! How are we going to improve the House with this attitude of ours?

As for Andromeda marrying a Muggle-born, yes it is un-Slytherin but also un-Black. A lot of people speculate that Eileen Prince must have been a Slytherin and yet she married a Muggle.



Hieronymus Graubart - Aug 23, 2009 7:40 am (#426 of 445)
If the Sorting Hat’s default setting for nasty characters was Slytherin, why did it put Peter Pettigrew, Cormac McLaggen and Romilda Vane all into the wrong house? Aren’t they nasty?

The problem with Peter was that he was a follower (not everybody can be a leader) and Slytherin, requiring ambition, is not fitting for followers. The sorting hat had probably determined that Peter had enough Gryffindor qualities to most likely follow Gryffindor leaders. This worked good until Peter realized that Voldemort was the biggest bully on the ground.

The rest of Slytherin house joined Voldemort
I still would like to see some evidence for this immortal prejudice.

When Voldemort claimed this, he was obviously more interested in hurting Lucius than in saying anything he beliefed to be true. So lets have a closer look on the Slytherins we know:

Crabbe and Goyle were the only Slytherin students we could really watch fighting for Voldemort. Paradoxically they ”did not come and join” him, as he claimed, but stayed at Hogwarts to catch Harry Potter for him.

Draco Malfoy did his best to stay neutral without arising his companion’s suspicion (he used every possible excuse to oppose their actions). Yes, he told this death eater that he was on his side. But what else could he do? Explain that killing an unarmed neutral civilian would be against the rules of war as established in the treaty of Den Haag?

Pansy Parkinson screamed: “Potter’s there! Someone grab him!” She didn’t say: “Follow me! We’ll grab him!” or at least “Come on, let’s grab him”. Obviously she had no intent to be with the grabbing party. So would you really expect her to join the army? Or would she stay save behind the lines at Hogsmeade?

Pansie’s gang of Slytherin girls were never seen to do anything on their own, only chearing to their leader. Would they join the army if Pansy didn’t?

Millicent Bulstrode was not a member of Pansie’s gang and deserves her own post going here to keep this short.

Blaise Zabini is an arrogant pure-blood-fanatic who looks for more than beauty in a girl. Is this because he feels that his mother (beeing famous for her beauty and for having married seven rich man) should have been more selective in her choices? Would it be enough to join Voldemort? Blaise’s presence at the Three Broomsticks when Katie Bell was imperioed doesn’t proof that he is a death eater or helped Draco. Katie was imperioed by Madame Rosmerta, who herself had been imperioed, but probably not at this day. Do we have anything else against Blaise?

Theodore Nott? Rebelling against his death-eater-father would be as good a motive to stay behind the lines as supporting his death-eater-father would be a motive to join the battle. I would need to reread OotP anf HBP thoroughly to analyze this character. For the moment he seems to be the best candidate for a Slytherin student who joined Voldemort.

Who else is left? Some sixth-years already off-age who were deliberately ignored by Harry so that we don’t know anything about them? Would underaged Slytherins be allowed to join the battle? Do we count Slytherins who were students during the Harry Potter Years but had finished school before DH? (We never met them again and don’t have any evidence that one ot them came close to Hogwarts during DH.)

So, which Slytherin students did really join Voldemort (names and reasons please)?

(Edited to correct the link.)



Steve Newton - Aug 23, 2009 9:13 am (#427 of 445)
I thought that Blaise was not in the Three Broomsticks when Katie received her present. He was seen but I thought that later events showed that it was Draco using Polyjuice Potion.



Solitaire - Aug 23, 2009 10:24 am (#428 of 445)
I thought Madam Rosmerta had been Imperius-cursed to give Katie the necklace. **muttering to self to reread that section**



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 23, 2009 7:05 pm (#429 of 445)
:pouting obnoxiously:

My idea of placing children based on their interests was a good one. Any thoughts?



Madam Pince - Aug 24, 2009 4:41 am (#430 of 445)
But... I thought that's what the Sorting Hat does? Sorts based on interests? (Wouldn't "interests" also be a part of "personality"?)

Or were you saying sort them based on their astrological sign, like Water, Earth, Fire, Air?



mona amon - Aug 24, 2009 9:27 am (#431 of 445)
So, which Slytherin students did really join Voldemort (names and reasons please)? (Hieronymus)

I don't know any names, but Voldymort's claim that all the Slytherins (except Draco) joined him couldn't be based on nothing, even if it wasn't strictly accurate. We certainly don't see any of them fighting on the good side, whatever JKR may have claimed in interviews. My guess is that most of them first went and pledged allegiance to Voldemort, and then quietly sneaked away. Self preservation!



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 24, 2009 10:24 am (#432 of 445)
Madam P, I don't see personality as the same as interests. For instance, one could be an extroverted leader type whose interest is Herbology so rather than Gryffindor they would be in Hufflepuff, or a brainy aloof type who loves Potions (or art!) would be in Slytherin.



Madam Pince - Aug 24, 2009 11:01 am (#433 of 445)
But why does an interest in Herbology translate to Hufflepuff? I'm not getting it...



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 24, 2009 11:07 am (#434 of 445)
I was suggesting the Houses be for particular interests in this post

When I began middle school (about age 11 or 12) we could take electives that interested us. I am proposing the Houses be Sorted by interests not personality traits.



Madam Pince - Aug 24, 2009 12:59 pm (#435 of 445)
OK, now I see what you're saying, I think. So there should be an "artistic" house and a "caring for living things" house and so on. Gotcha.

Good idea if it had originally started out that way, but what about what the Sorting Hat has told us already about the personality characteristics of the people in each house? So are you saying that rather than disband Slytherin, they should just toss that out and re-do the whole idea from the beginning? Disregard the fact that each house was originally based on the personality characteristics of each founder, and the personality types they preferred to be around and to teach?

That could be done, certainly. But while you're at it you'd almost have to toss out the house names -- there wouldn't be any real reason to keep the names Gryffindor, Slytherin, etc. Just name them Earth, Air, Fire, Water. Or Arts, Living Things, and... some other names which I'm not clever enough to think of right now. That's a thought.



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 24, 2009 1:10 pm (#436 of 445)
Yes, that's the idea and we could call the Houses anything. Air, Earth, Fire and Water works for me! I was just trying to think of how to get away from focusing Slytherin on Salazar's traits.



Madam Pince - Aug 24, 2009 2:22 pm (#437 of 445)
That's a feasible idea. So it would "disband" Slytherin in a way, but keep the four-house system.

I wonder if the ghosts of Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Godric Gryffindor would be ticked, though. It was no fault of theirs that Slytherin was such a poo... and then their memory gets tossed out with Salazar's bathwater.



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 24, 2009 6:06 pm (#438 of 445)
Madam P, you probably mean 'souls', right? HH, RR, GG and SS aren't ghosts. But it isn't to say their memories would get tossed; there could be statues, portraits, plaques, official memorials of any kind in order to honor their founding the school. Perhaps wings of the school could be named in honor of them, for instance.

If the school would really consider disbanding Slytherin House I think an overhaul would be good in order to prevent losing the 4 House system. This would also allow the Water element a chance to balance itself and return to its inherent qualities of emotionality, intuitiveness, nurturing, and great imagination.



mona amon - Aug 24, 2009 9:53 pm (#439 of 445)
I wonder if the ghosts of Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Godric Gryffindor would be ticked, though. It was no fault of theirs that Slytherin was such a poo... and then their memory gets tossed out with Salazar's bathwater. (Madam Pince)

Nice way of putting it, Madam P!

Although it's only Salazar who gets a bad press (and rightly so, for he really was a twisted old loony to the extent of being homicidal), we are shown that Rowena wasn't that wise when it came to her personal relationships, and anyway, what a bunch of control freaks the whole lot of them were! How arrogant to magically ensure that their personal prejudices were followed even centuries after they'd turned to dust.



Mrs Brisbee - Aug 25, 2009 3:56 am (#440 of 445)
Helga Hufflepuff seemed to me to be open to teaching anyone who wanted a magical education, so in her case I think she went with Gryffindor's sorting idea just to keep Hogwarts going. All those people Salazar, Godric, and Rowena wanted to exclude would get in anyway as long as Helga rounded out the quartet. She is the one founder who I think would be fine with the Sorting getting the boot.

I like MAMS idea. There needs to be a re-sorting option, though, because what one is most interested in could change over the years. Maybe at the end of third year, when the children's interests might have been redirected by their electives, and the end of fifth year, after their OWLS.



Madam Pince - Aug 25, 2009 4:41 am (#441 of 445)
Yeah, I know they aren't ghosts. I was just mostly being flippant.

I don't much care for the idea of re-sorting later, though. As McGonnagal said, your house becomes like your family. You have ties and attachments to the people in it. It's not like it's merely a dormitory. Thus "switching up" halfway through wouldn't be very appealing, as far as I'm concerned.



Mrs Brisbee - Aug 25, 2009 5:26 am (#442 of 445)
Well, I think in most cases people wouldn't switch. But if they wanted too, a re-sorting would provide the means.



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 25, 2009 3:22 pm (#443 of 445)
I think a re-sorting option would be fine, and I agree most kids wouldn't really feel the need to switch Houses just because their interests have expanded or changed. They'd probably be such good pals with their dorm mates they'd want to stay. And at this point it will be discouraged to "judge" Houses based on being wimpy Hufflepuff or evil Slytherin. For instance, Charlie Weasley and Hagrid would have been sorted into "Hufflepuff" now known as "Earth" House. Neither of those boys would be considered wimpy.

And those in the new "Slytherin" House, now known as "Water", could very well be on their way to designing the next Firebolt!

edit: Madam P., no hard feelings about the ghost nitpicking? -- you know how it is around here



Madam Pince - Aug 25, 2009 6:53 pm (#444 of 445)
Oh no! Not at all! I totally understood. No worries!



me and my shadow 813 - Aug 25, 2009 9:25 pm (#445 of 445)
This could go on the HBP movie thread, but it seems more directly related to our recent discussion here:

I saw it again tonight and was struck by the Sluggish Memory, when Slughorn asks Tom how he knew he liked crystallized pineapple. Tom responds slyly, "Intuition." It totally brought my mind to the water element description I just posted. Intuition my toenail, Riddle! More like Legilimency.

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