In the Harry Potter series, because Harry is in Gryffindor, we learn a lot about life in Gryffindor tower and the type of people there. We also get to know quite a few students from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff and thanks to Pottermore we have gotten a lot more information on the common rooms and histories of the other houses, but that’s not enough to know what it’s really like as a Slytherin. The only Slytherins we ever come into contact with in the books are super evil or dumb as a rock, but there have to be good students as well. What is life like for them?
We know that Slytherins are known for being sly, cunning, ambitious, good leaders, and they always stick together. If you look at this list, however, some of the words have negative connotations. I know that Slytherins were supposed to be the antagonists and using words like cunning make them even scarier, but the same traits would look a lot different if you used “happier” words. Slytherins would be smart, artful, street-smart, knowing, determined, and resourceful. Slytherin is sounding a lot better already isn’t it? I know I would much rather be in the house of intelligent self-starters than the sly and cunning. It just projects a whole different image.
So back to the original idea. If I take my new words and apply them to Slytherin, I come up with a whole different type of person from Draco Malfoy and Millicent Bulstrode. This is a person who seems to have the best traits of both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. They’re smart, they understand the world, they pick a path and fight to reach their goals, they look out for their own, and people want to follow them because they’re good at leading. This is a good person who functions and thrives in society. They may not necessarily have a huge array of friends, but they have the skills and personality traits to be successful, which is one of the main goals of Slytherins. So where are these students during the story? They’re not nearly as interesting as a blonde ferret like boy who becomes a Death Eater at age 16, but they have to exist.
On the other hand, despite the positive attributes these student’s have, it is entirely possible that generations of dark wizards coming from Slytherin and parenting future Slytheirns could cause the apparently horrible batch of Slytherins that came in with Harry. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson, and Millicent Bulstrode were bullies who took advantage of the system, and they comprised the majority of their class. Their parents were all obviously dark wizards which affected how they were brought up. Could the fall of Voldemort when they were only recently born cause their parents to raise them to be worse than usual? If that’s the case, were the younger classes of Slytherins closer to the original guidelines of the house?
I like to imagine a Slytherin who, despite their dark upbringing, have a moral compass who takes them to the right side. They may struggle with which side they’re on but in the end conscience would win and they would end up as a CEO or the Minister of Magic or a position that would be similarly fit for a Slytherin.
What I’m still not sure about is what this student’s school life would be like. Would they be a teacher’s pet? Would they sit in the back but turn in every assignment and get straight A’s on the DL? Would they slack off but suddenly in 4th or 5th year turn everything around and pull their grades to the top? And who would they be friends with? People in their house only? More from other houses who match their ideals? This is the person I’d be interested in reading about and who I’m trying to write about in one of my stories. Someone who is put on a bad path and struggles with it and find their own way.
If you look at it differently, Slytherin is kind of awesome.