Attentive Harry Potter fans identify a serious problem with the representation of Hogwarts’ Slytherin house in the books and films alike.
Harry Potter fans have spotted a glaring issue with the representation of the Slytherin house in the franchise. Slytherin is one of four houses at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the other three being Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw. Students are placed into one of these houses during their induction by the magical Sorting Hat, and though they seemingly have no control over the house they are placed into, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two reveals that the Sorting Hat will take inductees’ wishes into consideration.
A recent thread on the Harry Potter Subreddit asked fans for their controversial opinions on the franchise, which amassed a number of responses from fans keen to voice their discontent with certain aspects of the story. One user noted that despite the fandom’s attempts at portraying the Slytherin house as “nuanced and ambitious,” Harry Potter media has never done so, instead problematically envisioning Slytherins as two-dimensional characters with a tendency towards villainous traits. The full quote can be read below:
How Harry Potter Franchise Could Fix Their Slytherin Problem
The Harry Potter franchise has historically painted Slytherin as being home to evil, villainous witches and wizards, with a number of Death Eaters and Voldemort himself formerly being part of the house during their time at Hogwarts. The traits that define the house include cunning, pride, and self-preservation, all key characteristics of the Death Eaters, which explains why so many of them have been historically placed into Slytherin. With so many antagonistic forces being former members of Slytherin house, it is hard to separate them from the negative connotations they have amassed. Many members of the Black family, notorious for their involvement with Dark Magic and the Death Eaters, were sorted into Slytherin, except for Sirius, who was sorted into Gryffindor, and coincidentally enough, was one of the few heroic members of the Black clan.
This creates a very clear divide wherein Gryffindor is associated with good whereas Slytherin is equated with evil. Other notable Gryffindors include Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter, and Minerva McGonagall, all some of the franchise’s most noteworthy heroes. This divide only strengthens arguments for Slytherin as the evil house, but the damage done isn’t irreversible. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two’s reveal that Severus Snape was a double agent for the Order of the Phoenix all along, which means that he is perhaps the most heroic character in the whole franchise, despite being sorted into Slytherin as a student. Furthermore, Harry tells his son Albus Severus Potter that Slytherin would gain a brilliant new wizard if he were to be placed there by the Sorting Hat, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child indeed confirms this to be the case.
Harry Potter has shown that it can remove the negative connotations associated with Slytherin by showing that heroic characters can also be inaugurated into its house. This isn’t enough, though, and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore showed that the franchise continues to perpetuate negative stereotypes when it comes to the types of witches and wizards in the house. Voldemort and the Death Eaters’ close ties to Slytherin, as well as the rivalry between Harry and Draco Malfoy, have made it difficult to fix the franchise’s representation issue, but reducing its number of antagonists and increasing its heroic characters, as well as highlighting their positive traits, is a sure way to reverse the damage inflicted.
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