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Old September 19th, 2006, 11:08 pm
The Obsesser  Female.gif The Obsesser is offline
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Join Date: 08th June 2004
Location: Earth Mk II
Posts: 19
Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

This was a brilliant editorial. Huge props for pointing out a crucial point - that Slytherins are not all cowards.

The house of Slytherin is described as cunning in many of the Sorting Hat songs, and that seems to have been taken very negatively, when in fact, the word has simply come to acquire that connotation. According to

cun·ning (kŭn'ĭng) adj.
1. Marked by or given to artful subtlety and deceptiveness.
2. Executed with or exhibiting ingenuity.
3. Delicately pleasing; pretty or cute: a cunning pet.
1. Skill in deception; guile.
2. Skill or adeptness in execution or performance; dexterity.
Deceptiveness has acquired a negative connotation, but the other definitions are quite positive. To be "executed with ingenuity" is certainly quite a feat, and requires a good amount of bravery. One of the synonyms is devious - but another is imaginitive. Not to mention that the word is derived from Middle English, the present participle of connen - to know.

Slytherins have plenty of courage. Take Draco, for instance. He could easily have given up at the beginning of Book 6, when Voldemort told him he had to kill the most powerful wizard in the world or his parents would die. He had three seperate attempts to kill Dumbledore through the school year, and after the pitiful failures of the first two - the necklace and butterbeer - and his seemingly-futile attempts to fix the cabinet, he could have given up. It took him enourmous courage to get through that year. Enormous courage to run through Hogwarts with the Death Eaters, and just plain guts to point his wand at Albus Dumbledore. Yes, this courage isn't the kind we revere. Most people don't consider this courage because they think Draco should have stood up to Voldemort in the first place. No, he didn't do the right thing until he put down his wand. But that doesn't mean what he did was at any point easy.

Slughorn's delivery of the memory to Harry wasn't easy, either. He hates himself for giving all that information to the boy who grew up to become the most evil wizard of all time. I think, deep down, he hates himself daily, as he's walking around his dungeon picking out the best potion-makers or sending out invitations for the next Slug Club dinner. Why? Because it was mostly due to his favoritism that he humored a student so long ago, and divulged that dangerous information to Tom Riddle. And it took enormous courage to reveal the memory that has haunted him all these years.

Or take Regulus Black. As the author points out, he was obviously very talented, despite what his brother says. He joined the Death Eaters, probably the biggest mistake of his life. But he was able to reconcile that mistake in an even bigger way - the removal/destruction of a horcrux. And you can't say Snape doesn't have any courage. There is no possible to be a double agent without having a heck of a lot of courage.

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch tells his son "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway, and you see it through no matter what."

Draco knew he couldn't kill Dumbledore, Regulus Black knew he couldn't bring down Voldemort, and Slughorn knew he couldn't fix his mistake - but they tried anyway. And they all saw it through.

Though here at journey's end I lie in darkness bured deep,
Beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep,
Above all shadows rides the sun, and stars forever dwell,
I will not say the day is done, nor bid the stars farewell.
- JRR Tolkien

Last edited by The Obsesser; September 19th, 2006 at 11:10 pm. Reason: fixing tags
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