Slytherin is the house renowned for its ambition and resourcefulness – though it has an unfortunate reputation for producing Dark wizards too. Yet these aren’t the only things that make a Slytherin. We look at other ways you can belong to this house…
Those who belong to Slytherin are well known for their skills of self-preservation and using cunning techniques to get exactly what they want. So, you would probably believe that all Slytherins just want to look out for number one. However, that is a massive stereotype. There are plenty of Slytherins who have gone above and beyond – one that immediately springs to mind is Leta Lestrange. At the end of Crimes of Grindelwald, Leta realised that Newt and his brother Theseus were in peril and decided to rescue them. She pretended to join Grindelwald, but it was just a ruse. Instead, she destroyed his skull hookah to cause a distraction and give them both enough time to escape. Leta ended up paying a heavy price for this when she was swallowed by the flames. Though she had been known for her self-serving attitude, she ultimately sacrificed herself to save those she loved from certain death. She certainly proved that being a Slytherin doesn’t automatically mean you are selfish.
Slytherins have a reputation for their ambition being rooted in seeking as much power and influence as possible. You can understand why, when former students included witches and wizards like Lucius Malfoy, Dolores Umbridge and the one who was after control of the entire wizarding world… Lord Voldemort. Nevertheless, there are those whose ambition manifests itself in a different way. Scorpius Malfoy was one such Slytherin. His ambitions were smaller and lot of his were rooted in doing the best he could academically and expanding his magical knowledge. Who can forget just how thrilled he was to come across Hermione Granger’s very impressive book collection? He demonstrated that not all Slytherins are driven by the same thing and proved that just because his goals appeared to be smaller, it didn’t make them any less worthy or important.
Haughty, regal, snobby, high-maintenance – these are just some of the rather unflattering assumptions people make about the members of this house. While Draco Malfoy was someone who lived up to this image of what Slytherins are like (he certainly liked to sneer at others), there are plenty who didn’t have quite such a hard exterior – you could hardly call Horace Slughorn unfriendly. Yes, he had his Slug Club and like to surround himself with people who he could benefit from, but he wasn’t overtly mean or cruel. In fact, he was often rather jovial and very full of compliments for those he thought deserved them. And he wasn’t the only pleasant Slytherin to spring to mind. There was also Andromeda Tonks, Scorpius Malfoy and Albus Potter (when he was in a good mood) to name a few. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be cold just because you belong to Slytherin.
Andromeda Tonks was a Slytherin whose primary incentive in life seemed to be love. She gave up her entire family because of her love for Ted Tonks. There is no doubt that she deeply cared for her daughter Nymphadora – she even became an ally of the Order of the Phoenix because of it. She was also devoted to her grandson Teddy, who she ended up raising single-handedly after Tonks and Remus both died in the Battle of Hogwarts. For Andromeda, love came before ambition or power, and she demonstrated how that wasn’t incompatible with being a Slytherin. And if we are talking about love, we should also give a nod to her sister Narcissa. While she wasn’t a good person – what with her support of Voldemort and highly unpleasant views – she was devoted to her son and valued that above all else. She even defied Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts, when she lied and told him that Harry was dead so she could get back to the castle to find Draco. Her desire to do this wasn’t noble, but it was because of love. So as much as some of them may try to hide it, Slytherins do have big hearts after all.
If Cursed Child taught us anything, it is that you shouldn’t get caught up believing that all Slytherins are extremely self-assured. Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy were two wizards that didn’t always feel confident about their place in the world. Scorpius’s self-esteem wasn’t particularly high – and it probably had a lot to do with the false rumours about him being the son of Voldemort. Albus Potter felt like an outsider as the only Slytherin in a family full of Gryffindors, that clearly dented his confidence. And even though Draco Malfoy seemed to have a lot of swagger during his time at Hogwarts, he still struggled with insecurity – especially after he found himself in over his head with the Death Eaters. So, while a lot of Slytherin folk might seem to be very self-possessed, inside they could well be struggling – but that doesn’t mean they don’t belong in the serpent house.
Bravery and chivalry are the most recognised traits when it comes to Gryffindor – though they don’t have the monopoly on courage. There have been many Slytherins who have also demonstrated these characteristics. Regulus Black and Severus Snape are two perfect examples. Both of these men were complex and had made poor decisions earlier in life – they had been members of Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters after all. Yet, both had been incredibly daring and turned against their former leader, risking their lives to do the right thing. Whether it was Regulus stealing Slytherin’s locket – with the intention of destroying the Horcrux and defeating the Dark Lord, or Snape becoming a spy for Dumbledore which placed him in constant danger, there is no way you could call either one of them cowards. And we reckon that there would be plenty of other Slytherins willing to step up to the plate too.