Not All Slytherins Are Evil

The Slytherin Hogwarts crest.

Cunning. Ambitious. Determined. Evil. Mean. Cruel. Muggle haters. All words that have been used to describe the Slytherin house. However, these words are not true for us all. While there have been evil wizards, and witches, in the past, most commonly cited being Voldemort, there have been plenty of good to come out of the house. Merlin, for example, was a Slytherin. Many worship this man as the greatest wizard of all times. So why is it that the house, that has produced many leaders, has such a bad reputation? This may lie in some of the truly devilish characters that have stepped into the dungeons of the Slytherin common room.

The Slytherin House ~ A History 

Before we can look into the bad reputation that the house has gathered over the years, we need to first look at the founders. Or, in this case, specifically Salazar Slytherin. As one of the four founders, Salazar Slytherin begin his house with the belief that Hogwarts should only be teaching wizards and witches of a pureblood status, a belief that some within the house still have today. However, the other three – Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw – felt that this method of selection was cruel and should not be used. Thus the beginning of the bad name amongst the Slytherins.

Salazar Slytherin

Salazar, before being kicked out of the school due to his beliefs by the other three founders, created a room that could have served as almost a headquarters to Slytherins in the future. However, due to the lack of knowledge of the room, the Chamber of Secrets became a myth for many of years. Within the room, position far under the school, stood a statue of Salazar Slytherin himself, along with several snakes. The room was to be used for Slytherins wanting to practice the dark arts, and was created to lure in a create that only his descents could control. Descendants that possessed the ability to speak in parseltongue, the ability to speak to snakes, would later be seen to be able to control this creature, to an extent. Something that Salazar Slytherin had intended. Thus causing the beginning of the controversy of the Slytherin house that we know today.

The Greats

  • Merlin

Merlin, noted to be one of the greatest wizards of all time, was a known Slytherin. The well-known wizard fought for the rights of Muggles, and Muggle-borns, through an organization in which he called the ‘Order of Merlin’. However, as the time progressed, the group turned less from an activist organization for muggles to an award given to those witches and wizards that do excellent things at a ‘personal risk or for the betterment of the wizarding world.’ Thus the Slytherin house can take a great pride in the ‘most famous wizard in history.’

  • Severus Snape 
Severus Snape

The well-known potions master, and spy for the Order of the Phoenix , took great pride in the house that he was the head of. Within the span of time that Severus was in the position of head of Slytherin everything was in line and very little funny business came about. However, after his untimely death, the house, and the students in the potions classes, took a turn for the worse. With the Battle of Hogwarts approaching quickly, many members of the Slytherin house were torn between their families and doing the right thing.

One may cite the few questionable decisions that the Half-Blood Prince made throughout the series, but all of them were done with great consideration or passion. The two most common arguments against the greasy haired male are the fact that he was just a bit cruel to Harry and his killing of Dumbledore. However, with each of these actions came a series of events leading up to the actual issues at hand. In the case of Harry, the fact that Severus had to see the love of his life’s son grow up looking like the man that tortured him throughout his time at the school. It is understandable that there would be a little bit of a grudge. In the case of Dumbledore, Severus was instructed, by Dumbledore himself, to kill him in order to keep his secret alliance with the dark lord. By doing so Severus kept Voldemort’s trust, saved Draco, and continued to help the order.

Severus killing Dumbledore

Before his passing, Snape did just as much for the light side outside of the school as he did within. It is shown that throughout the series, Severus is bring information from the Death Eater meetings to Dumbledore. By doing so, Severus is being one of the most underrated teachers, or characters in general within the series.

  • The Malfoy family (Draco, Lucius, Narcissa)

Yes. I know what you are thinking. How in the world could the Malfoys’ be some of the greats? However, in this case they are. While Lucius, and Draco, did many questionable things, not once were they not looking out for their family. If we look past Draco’s first few years at Hogwarts, where he was an absolute nightmare to those around him, we can see the empathy that he gains. One example of this being the fact that he couldn’t kill Dumbledore. Though he was ordered to do so by Voldemort, and the fact that he was so sure that he would be able to do it, he could not do it when the time came. We also see just how far the youngest Malfoy had come in the scene with the vanishing cabinet and the bird. When Draco noticed that the bird had died in the process, we can see just how bad he felt for the poor, innocent creature.

We Heart It
Draco Malfoy opening the Vanishing Cabinet

While Draco had found redemption by the end of the series, by throwing his wand to Harry in the final moments, Lucius’ redemption may not be as clear. While it may have easily been missed within the chaos of the Battle of Hogwarts, Lucius and Narcissa run into battle without their wands. They had no intention to fight, they just wanted to save their son. At this point, Narcissa had already lied to the dark lord himself, stating that Harry was dead when he really was not. The Malfoy parents wanted nothing but to save their family in the middle of one of the biggest battles in wizarding history. And in my book that is redemption enough.

Lucius Malfoy (left), Draco Malfoy (middle), Narcissa Malfoy (right)

The Not-So-Greats 

  • Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix Lestrange

This crazy witch, while one of the most memorable, can not be  considered in any way to be a ‘good guy’. She has become credited with the killing of Sirius Black, and Dobby. All of which were loved characters in their own way, shape, or form. Along with this murderous attitude, she seemed to be in love with the Dark Lord himself. If you can even call it love at that point. Bellatrix cannot be deemed one of the most hated characters in the series, though she was closer to the top after the final movie(s)/book.

While she has done a great number of horrific things throughout the series to our main characters, Bellatrix was most known for her killing of Sirius Black. At this point in the movie/book, Bellatrix  pushes Sirius through the veil and ends his life. Because of this event, and the events that occur during the Battle of Hogwarts, Bellatrix has been deemed one of the cruelest characters throughout the series.

  • Tom Riddle (Lord Voldemort)
Tom Riddle (left) and Voldemort (right)

Tom Riddle. He who shall not be named. The Dark Lord. Lord Voldemort. A truly evil wizard to walk the halls of Hogwarts. The leader of the Death Eaters, a group against Muggles and Muggle-born wizards and witches. He has been shown to know nothing of the feeling of love. Hence why Lily Potter was able to defeat him simply by showing the purest of love to her son, Harry Potter.

Voldemort, the main villain within the series, was after the ‘Boy Who Lived’ since Harry’s first year at Hogwarts. However, due to the weakness that he, Voldemort, was facing, he could not truly comeback until Harry’s fourth year. At this point though, no one believed Harry and the Dark Lord had a chance to rally his forces and gain the strength he needed to put up the fight that he did.

  • Dolores Umbridge
Dolores Umbridge

This evil witch is arguably the most hated character within the series. While not what one would typically describe a Slytherin to be, in terms of looks, she had every trait of a Slytherin in terms of personality. The difference between her and some of the greats is the means in which she chose to use these traits. While she was clearly loyal to the ‘rules’, she was also cunning in how she pursued the punishment of some of her students, specifically Harry Potter.

Many hated this obsessively pink woman from the beginning. However, after the incident with Harry and the enhanced pen during a detention, those who where still hesitant to hate the new professor quickly rethought their feelings. Not only did she physically hurt her students during detention, in Harry’s case leaving a permanent scar, but she also took light of the death of Cedric Diggory during the past year’s Tri-wizard tournament. Thus the hate of this witch only grew.

Slytherins Aren’t the Only House with Evil People

To be a Slytherin in today’s day and age is to be proud of who you are without taking crap from others. While many of Slytherins are shown to be this evil being, it is not true in the slightest. We are hard headed, yes, and stubborn but not evil. In every house, with the exception of the Hufflepuffs, there has been groups of people that do not live up to the morals of the houses. Below are just a few.

  • Peter Pettigrew

This Gryffindor was one of the marauders during his time in Hogwarts. However, as they grew older, Pettigrew choose his path. But it was not the path that one would expect. Pettigrew turned to the side of the Death Eaters and became a loyal member to the Dark Lord. With this new alliance, Peter gave up the location of Lily and James Potter, and in turn their infant son Harry. If that wasn’t bad enough, Pettigrew also blamed Sirius Black for these events, resulting in Sirius getting twelve years in Azkaban.
Peter Pettigrew
  • Quirinus Quirrell

This Ravenclaw was most notable for the being the Dark Arts Professor in Harry’s first year. Quirrell was always an awkward character and always seemed to be nervous. During the end of the first book/movie it was shown why. It was only at this point, when Quirrell removed his turban and the head of Voldemort was growing out of the back of his head, that his awkwardness made sense. Quirrell was a close follower of Voldemort and it showed in the moment that Voldemort used his body in order to get the Sorcerer/Philosopher’s stone, a stone that would give him eternal life. His mission was not successful.

Quirinus Quirrell with Voldemort growing out of the back of his head

We Are Not Evil

While Slytherins can be a little stubborn, or sarcastic, or harsh. We are not evil people, for the most part. Yes there have been people in the past the have done horrible things in the name of the Slytherin house, but that is not all of us. We are the house of ambition and loyalty. Slytherins will get things done with the most determination of any person. Slytherins can be great friends if you can get past the reputation that has been given to the house of the snakes. All it takes is a little time to get us to open up and you will not regret it.