Why Slytherin Isn’t Inherently Evil


Sydney Gager, Editor

We’ve all heard it before. Slytherin is the evil house, right? I mean their mascot is a snake. But just because we’re told Slytherin is evil, doesn’t mean they are (anymore than every Gryffindor is brave–cough cough Peter Pettigrew). Slytherin is for driven, ambitious, and cunning people. Not racist, conniving, and evil people as J.K. Rowling likes to pretend. 

And yes, I am going to argue that J.K. Rowling portrays her own creation incorrectly. 

Before I continue to explain why, here’s your reminder that there are spoilers in this article, including a detail from the Cursed Child. 

Rowling is slowly understanding that Slytherin is made up of many people other than Death Eaters (she made a big step forward with Albus Potter being sorted into Slytherin), but unfortunately the original material is flawed. At the Battle of Hogwarts, we are told that all Slytherins (except for Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle) decide to leave. Even the room of requirement–where students have been hiding all year–has students from every house but Slytherin. This doesn’t make any sense! All Slytherins aren’t evil. Even if you believe they would have avoided the Battle of Hogwarts because they didn’t want to fight their relatives (although doesn’t everyone want an excuse to fight their racist uncle?), they definitely wouldn’t have enjoyed the regimen of Death Eaters who regularly tortured children–they would’ve sought refuge in the room of requirement. Rowling ignored this in favor of a black and white picture of Hogwarts, but this is an outdated way of looking at the house system.

I think the big thing that’s lost about Slytherins is their loyalty. (And yes, this is Hufflepuff’s trait–but Slytherins and Hufflepuffs have more in common than you think). Slytherins aren’t big on fighting for the greater good, but they will do anything for their select groups of people. They’re often closed off, so it’s hard to get close to them, but if you do, you’re protected for life. Similarly, a burned Hufflepuff (someone who is Hufflepuff at heart but due to their experiences no longer feels connected to these values) can often be mistaken for a Slytherin. Where a Hufflepuff wants to protect everyone at all times, Slytherins simply focus on protecting their own. 

Slytherins are most likely to be in power because they are social climbers by nature. Slytherins are fit for politics (and not just because, like Gina Linetti, they have great hair and love lying). They are flexible and they’re good at manipulating others to their side. They don’t just do this for their own gain, they do this because they’re driven and will use their power to benefit those they deem worthy. (Although this may sound negative, this is what all famous leaders do–both the good and the bad ones). 

Slytherins also get a lot of flack for lacking empathy, but this is often because of something the rest of us forget. Maddy Saffer explains “they focus more on themselves and what they need. They’re super in tune with their own emotions but not the emotions of others.” Focusing on one’s own needs isn’t selfish, it’s essential to self care. Once your own needs are fulfilled, then you can help others. Slytherins aren’t huge on empathy, but if they get the cues they need, they’re often very compassionate. (Basically empathy is walking in someone else’s shoes, compassion is caring for someone). Slytherins are great friends because they know how to take care of themselves first and then will use their energy to destroy anyone who hurts you. Plus they’re very fun because they know how to get away with pretty much anything. 

J.K. Rowling’s series paints a picture of Slytherins who are evil 99.99% of the time. But based on the traits of the house, it’s clear that Slytherins aren’t anymore inherently evil than any other house. 

Be on the lookout for Part Two, where I’ll interview with a Slytherin to learn more about their drive and whether they’re evil or not (spoiler alert: they’re not!)

While there have been evil Slytherins, Slytherin house isn’t evil. Slytherins are goal-setters, leaders, and self-care warriors who will protect their family (whether that’s literal family or their found family) no matter what.