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In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage



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  #1  
Old September 19th, 2006, 7:01 pm
blaqlives  Female.gif blaqlives is offline
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In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Discussion of the editorial In Defense of Slytherine: A Different Kind of Courage by Desdemona Black.


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  #2  
Old September 19th, 2006, 8:28 pm
mor37011 mor37011 is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Thought provoking article!

Random thought: Regulus is the heart of the lion....Rufus Scrimgeour looks "rather like an old lion." Hmmmmmmm


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  #3  
Old September 19th, 2006, 9:07 pm
Erendis  Female.gif Erendis is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Well, I agree that not all Slytherins are cowards, and some are very corageous. But some of the evidence you provide isbn't very compelling. For example, Snape would have to face Voldemort 2 hours late or be killed for deserting. Which one does he fear more, being crucioed for being late and perhaps getting killed for not returning, or being killed outright for not showing up at the meeting in a few weeks? The first one doesn't quite carry the same threat, and these are really his only choices (as I doubt Dumbledore would just let Snape stand on the sidelines and protect him). We don't really know enough about Snape to tell whether he is a coward or a lion.

Also, I wouldn't call Merope's actions corageous, unless she thought she would be such a horrible mother that Tom really would be better off if she killed herself. Her death might have been a sacrifice of sorts, but we don't really know what she was thinking then to tell if it was.

And Slughorn was drunk when he gave Harry the memory! That doesn't make him corageous for giving it, as he probably didn't even make a conscious decision in which he could think about the consequences of giving Harry the memory when he was drunk. A good guy, maybe, but not corageous.

And Draco was too afraid to become a murderer, I think. That was worse for him than being killed. So I don't count that as bravery, just lack of strength to get done what needs to be.


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Old September 19th, 2006, 11:45 pm
mmatthew mmatthew is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

I really, really liked that!!
I think that the Slytherin's get short shrift from many people (including, possibly, JK herself) and an appreciation of their qualities will definitely play an important role in book 7. In order to defeat Voldemort, the four houses will have to work together and this won't happen until they can all honour and respect the qualities that each house embodies. Slytherin's attributes are not so obviously attractive as the others, but as you pointed out so well, they are still attributes. I can definitely see some of the Slytherin's mentioned playing pivotal roles in the final installment; Slughorn, Malfoy (all of them), not to mention the great enigma, Severus Snape.

I liked the way you drew attention to the fact that, in the beginning, Griffindor and Slytherin were great friends, suggesting that they are more alike in essence than we are likely to give them credit for. I think we're going to see a bit more about this relationship in book seven and it may turn out to be very significant.

Finally, I agree completely with your suggestion that the Slytherins are capable of putting their emotions to one side in a way that the Griffindors are not. Snape is constantly trying to convey the importance of this ability to Harry. I remember, when reading Dumbledore's death scene, comparing Snape with Hagrid. At some stage in the series, Dumbledore specifically states that he trusts each of these men (I think this is unique to them, I can't think of any other characters he specifically states his trust in). But there is a crucial difference. Speaking of Hagrid, he says "I would trust him with my life" - on Snape he says, "I trust him completely". This seems to me to convey a higher level of trust. Dumbledore knows that there are more important things than his life, things that Snape could be relied upon to do but not Hagrid. For one thing, Dumbledore does not trust Hagrid with his death and in this respect he has judged correctly, for Hagrid would never have been able to kill Dumbledore, no matter how tactically important D's death might have been, no matter how it linked into the overall plan to defeat Voldemort, Hagrid would never have been able to over-ride his emotions and kill the man he loved more than anyone. If my interpretation of 6 is correct, this is exactly what Snape does do, and maybe, just maybe, this is a higher kind of courage. As Ron shows us in book 1, an important element of chess is the sacrifice for the eventual end. I think this is why Snape is so wounded in the final pages of hbp when Harry calls him a coward - because in one way, his actions have been the most heroic we have seen.

Sorry to ramble on - great editorial!!!!!!

I really, really liked that!!
I think that the Slytherin's get short shrift from many people (including, possibly, JK herself) and an appreciation of their qualities will definitely play an important role in book 7. In order to defeat Voldemort, the four houses will have to work together and this won't happen until they can all honour and respect the qualities that each house embodies. Slytherin's attributes are not so obviously attractive as the others, but as you pointed out so well, they are still attributes. I can definitely see some of the Slytherin's mentioned playing pivotal roles in the final installment; Slughorn, Malfoy (all of them), not to mention the great enigma, Severus Snape.

I liked the way you drew attention to the fact that, in the beginning, Griffindor and Slytherin were great friends, suggesting that they are more alike in essence than we are likely to give them credit for. I think we're going to see a bit more about this relationship in book seven and it may turn out to be very significant.

Finally, I agree completely with your suggestion that the Slytherins are capable of putting their emotions to one side in a way that the Griffindors are not. Snape is constantly trying to convey the importance of this ability to Harry. I remember, when reading Dumbledore's death scene, comparing Snape with Hagrid. At some stage in the series, Dumbledore specifically states that he trusts each of these men (I think this is unique to them, I can't think of any other characters he specifically states his trust in). But there is a crucial difference. Speaking of Hagrid, he says "I would trust him with my life" - on Snape he says, "I trust him completely". This seems to me to convey a higher level of trust. Dumbledore knows that there are more important things than his life, things that Snape could be relied upon to do but not Hagrid. For one thing, Dumbledore does not trust Hagrid with his death and in this respect he has judged correctly, for Hagrid would never have been able to kill Dumbledore, no matter how tactically important D's death might have been, no matter how it linked into the overall plan to defeat Voldemort, Hagrid would never have been able to over-ride his emotions and kill the man he loved more than anyone. If my interpretation of 6 is correct, this is exactly what Snape does do, and maybe, just maybe, this is a higher kind of courage. As Ron shows us in book 1, an important element of chess is the sacrifice for the eventual end. I think this is why Snape is so wounded in the final pages of hbp when Harry calls him a coward - because in one way, his actions have been the most heroic we have seen.

Sorry to ramble on - great editorial!!!!!!


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Old September 20th, 2006, 12:08 am
The Obsesser  Female.gif The Obsesser is offline
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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 dictionary.com...

Quote:
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.
n.
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.


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Last edited by The Obsesser; September 20th, 2006 at 12:10 am. Reason: fixing tags
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  #6  
Old September 20th, 2006, 12:29 am
charmer19  Female.gif charmer19 is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Wow, great editorial!!! One of the best I've read!

I personally have felt kind of strange when I've read the books over because I didn't hate the Slytherins- well, ALL the Slytherins, at least. I always felt a sneaking fascination with Snape, even before he became a murderer, because he is just so real and complex, as the author mentioned in this editorial. And, horrible person that I am, I was PITYING Snape when he killed Dumbledore!!!

But the point is that I agree that being "cunning to achieve their ends" DOES NOT mean "bad." I have heard Slytherin House be defined time and time again (by non-Mugglenet HP readers, of course) as "the evil house." NOT TRUE- I know great people who could fit in Slytherin.

Granted, I hated Draco Malfoy until the sixth book. But I now genuinely pity him, as I do Snape.

But Regulus... I have to wonder about him. Sirius said he was "soft" and "an idiot" (OotP), and then this soft idiot goes out and tries to take on Voldemort? The pieces don't seem to fit. But maybe Sirius had a slightly distorted view of his brother. Hmmm....


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  #7  
Old September 20th, 2006, 1:21 am
mrsweasley5  Undisclosed.gif mrsweasley5 is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

I wrote a fanfiction in which a Slytherin who had come of age was too afraid of his Death Eater father to tell him he didn't want to be "one of the boys" but ended up rescuing Ginny and Hermione from a "gathering" during which Voldemort was to appear.

I refuse to believe that an entire house could contain only bullies, snobs and psychopaths.

Even Sodom and Gomorra(sp?) had Lott.


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Old September 20th, 2006, 1:30 am
sinistrari  Female.gif sinistrari is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Kudos to the author of the editorial; you've made an excellent point that even seasoned HP fans tend to ignore. Not every Slytherin is the embodiment of the House's less attractive qualities. One can be clever without being manipulative, and certainly can exhibit a certain level of courage without feeling the need to leap blindly into battle (as a 'true Gryffindor' might).

I just wanted to point out a small detail, though: Bellatrix, possibly one of the most twisted and "evil" characters in the books, is also named after a star. It could be argued that even she is not all bad, but there is little canon evidence to support that.

Still, excellent work!


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  #9  
Old September 20th, 2006, 2:58 am
DezieBlack  Female.gif DezieBlack is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Oooh, yes indeed she is! The Amazon Star, I see. *smirk* How appropriate.

And I agree she is CERTAINLY a Slytherin I wouldn't want to be buddies with.

I always thought it was derived from the Latin for "war," you know--but I guess that's where the star gets its name, "trix" being the feminine ending. "Warrioress," if that's a word...only for some reason (and my Latin grammar is very foggy) "Bellatrix" sounds almost more like the feminine of an adjective like "warlike." Too long since Latin.

I did read somewhere that JKR peruses star charts for names. Not a bad idea. Well, I guess I'll have to revise: apparently people named for stars _can_ be all bad--just not ladies named for stars in good ol' Taurus (I was born under Taurus).

Thanks for calling this to my attention. -Dez


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Old September 20th, 2006, 3:06 am
Emerald63  Female.gif Emerald63 is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

An interesting editorial, Desdemona. I started off not agreeing with your premise at all, but I kept reading. Eventually I did find some things I could agree with - and like - although there were a couple points I still doubt.


Quote:
He chooses (under the influence of mead, and with a little prodding from Harry’s Felix Felicis, true) to be brave like Lily Evans.
Desdemona, do you really feel Slughorn would have given up that memory if he hadn't been fed mead and Felix Felicis? I think those two factors had an enormous impact on his behavior, enough so that I'm not sure what he did ended up doing could be termed a choice. And personally I feel Lily offering herself for definite and immediate sacrifice is indeed different than Slughorn perhaps endangering himself and with still much potential to successfully be hidden from Voldemort (with Draught of Living Death, e.g.). To compare the two is to under-value Lily's act.


Quote:
I’m betting [Draco will] muster up the courage to do the right thing.
Possibly, but for what motive? Not even Harry's motives are entirely noble on every occasion. I can't believe Draco would do something completely out of the goodness of his heart and with no benefit to himself or his family. So I guess I'm asking if courage to do something that will get you something in return is really noble courage or just... "a different kind of" ambition?


Quote:
Regulus’ position within Leo is often referred to as the heart of the lion — could the heart of the lion be Slytherin? .... Here was a Slytherin who saw what had to be done (the defeat of Voldemort) and (most probably) sacrificed himself to see it through. Those cunning folk use any means to achieve their end
Now these are thoughts with which I agree! That position of the star Regulus alone ought to tell us something about Regulus the character's true nature. And an excellent take on the Sorting Hat's commentary, Desdemona.


And you have some very lovely thoughts concerning Merope, especially:
Quote:
And so she made what I see as a very brave choice, indeed, especially for Merope Gaunt. She risked losing the one thing she had never had — love — and she did. And though she had been mistreated by everyone in her life who should have loved her — father, brother, husband — she did not make the choice her son did.


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Old September 20th, 2006, 3:25 am
DezieBlack  Female.gif DezieBlack is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Great points, all. And no, I don't rank Slughorn's actions with Lily's--Harry did (to get what he wanted). I was echoing Harry's words there, "Be brave like my mother, Professor..." (British version, pg. 458) And as to whether or not Horace made a choice--I liked to think he did, but, as I said, I'm very partial to the old fellow.

As for Draco, you may well be right. Never liked him much myslef.

Glad you found things you liked in the editorial, though. Thanks for reading.

-Dez


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Old September 20th, 2006, 3:37 am
TGA TGA is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Quote:
Originally Posted by DezieBlack View Post
Great points, all. And no, I don't rank Slughorn's actions with Lily's--Harry did (to get what he wanted). I was echoing Harry's words there, "Be brave like my mother, Professor..." (British version, pg. 458) And as to whether or not Horace made a choice--I liked to think he did, but, as I said, I'm very partial to the old fellow.
I, too, believe Slughorn made a choice in that scene. He may have been drinking but he was clearly capable of deciding whether or not to extract the memory and hand it over to Harry.


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Old September 20th, 2006, 3:40 am
SmoothieKing33  Male.gif SmoothieKing33 is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

This brings up the question, is there anything inside Harry besides a bit of Voldemort that would have landed him in Slytherin? Pointing out that Slytherins use "cunning to meet their ends." The only two people known to have really damaged Voldemort are Slytherins.
(1) R.A.B.... assuming this is Regulus Black, RAB was a Slytherin and destroyed a seventh of Dumbledore.
(2) HARRY POTTER! Don't condemn me by saying that Harry isn't a true Gryffindor. He certainly is, but only because of the decisions he made. He literally chose to be in Gryffindor when the Sorting Hat was placed on his head, and he eventually chose to be Dumbledore's man.
Harry will not fight Voldemort the way Dumbledore did, by charging in and throwing statues around. He will use his Slytherin cunning.
I also don't know if Dumbledore wasn't as cunning as a Slytherin. Sure, he seems to be Gryffindor 100%, has a pet phoenix and a phoenix for a pet, but was that all choice? The way he operates the school and keeps an eye on Harry seems to be Slytherin-like. Harry has always been Dumbledore's favorite boy, but why? Is it possible that Dumbledore had never seen a student like himself, a student that chose Gryffindor over Slytherin?


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Old September 20th, 2006, 4:07 am
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

This is one of the best editorials I have read this year. It is thought provoking and well supported by evidence and logical assumptions. Some of what is written about some of those named is questionable, however.

Merope Gaunt, although descended from Slytherin, probably never attended Hogwarts. The same probably holds true for all the Gaunt family. It is my belief all the Gaunts may instead have attended Durmstrang. Draco Malfoy says during GoF that he almost went to Durnstrang but his mother insisted he go to Hogwarts so I think it likely that others, including the Gaunts, may have done this too.

Much of what you say about Snape showing courage is incorrect. Like Erendis (post #3, above), in most situations I think Snape was choosing what was best for him rather than what was right. However Snape did show some courage on occasion so it would not be right to call him a coward.

Other than these points and few areas of conjecture I am in agreement with this editorial and I repeat what I said about it being one of the best I've read this year.


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Old September 20th, 2006, 4:37 am
GryffinWildmage  Female.gif GryffinWildmage is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Very interesting... I like this take on the Slytherins, that they too have courage. We see everything in the books through Harry's red-and-gold tinted glasses, so it's not something that is big in the books. But I like seeing people go into the other Houses, because there is just so much we don't know.


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Old September 20th, 2006, 5:46 am
blessed_dragon  Female.gif blessed_dragon is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

I don't really have time to write a really thoughtful response (I'm supposed to be doing actual homework right now) I do want to just state that I thought this was a wonderful editorial. All of the other houses are sung praises daily and whenever Slytherins say anything good about our house we aren't ever taken as seriously. This editorial presented the facts about Slytherin in a way that nobody can dismiss. Excellent job!


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Old September 20th, 2006, 6:04 am
notasquib2  Female.gif notasquib2 is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

Nice editorial. Harry should take a lesson from you, Dez, because Dumbledore obviously wanted him to develop some empathy for Voldemort, just as you have done for Slytherins.

Glad to see someone else brought up Bella. Anyone who tortures people into madness is as close to unredeemable as I can imagine, star name or not.

This editorial reminds me of a post I made a long time ago and an editorial by Dementom, about Dumbledore possessing the signature qualities of all four houses and how that made him exceptionally qualified to be Headmaster. I recall the speech made by the sorting hat in the fifth book—something about how it wonders whether the students should all be divided. I think that when you are sorted into any of the houses, even though you may possess some of the qualities valued in the others, the house to which you belong molds and shapes those qualities it values. For example, a Slytherin First Year could enter the school being fairly unassuming despite generations of pure blood, but could come through the seventh year convinced of her own superiority. Perhaps Gryffindors become bigger risk-takers, Hufflepuffs become helpmates, and Ravenclaws become most likely to never leave the library. It's hard to say whether this means Hogwarts is fine-tuning the strengths that are already there in students, or if it is allowing the qualities that are not embraced by the houses to become rusty. I wouldn't be surprised if, during the war, the sorting hat is destroyed and the notion of dividing students into houses dies with it, as a sort of JKR moral to the story. I hope not, though, because I went to college at a basketball school and there is nothing like a good healthy rivalry.

To the poster who made the Regulus-Scrimgeour comment, I submitted an editorial a while back about this connection. It hasn't made it in yet and I don't think it will, but believe me, the thought has occurred to me, too, and I bet a lot of others.


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Old September 20th, 2006, 11:46 am
Perman  Undisclosed.gif Perman is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

I very much disagree with the notion that bravery is something exclusive for the good and the noble. The ability to seek whatever you want, for whatever reason you want, no matter what obstacles you face is bravery. If you follow that thought, Voldemort is brave, he experimented on himself despite the obvious risks.

Some of you would disagree with this, as Voldemort would risk ALL his servants before ever risking his own life, but this does not make him a coward, it makes him an extreme cynic with a completely different set of priorities than most of us. You say, he's afraid of death huh? Well, most of the rest of us are afraid of that, but wouldn't go to the lengths he went. Well, he went there because of his supreme self-confidence (which is a sign of bravery in a way) and to call him a coward just because he would risk everyone and everything else to not die is wrong, it explains his priorities, not his bravery.

On the other hand, as fear of death is a fear most of us possess, I would agree that the man who would risk his life to save someone, despite his fear of dying is braver.


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Old September 20th, 2006, 4:03 pm
squibpott  Female.gif squibpott is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

I'll admit at first I was ready to disagree with your article but the more I read the more compelled I became to agree with you. These are all lovable or pitiful Slytherin characters and I wholly agree with you on there courage stakes. The idea of not letting emotions cloud your judgemenet is certainly interesting too.
Poor Merope though, her character has pulled at my heartstrings since I first read her. I feel such pity for her but at the same time would it not have been a more brave thing to live on for her child to care for him even though she could not bare to live any longer?
That whole '...chose between what is right and what is easy' idea. It would be far easier for her to just succumb to death that and to struggle with life and look after her child.


Wow Perman. I have to agree with you despite being a dispicable and disgusting a character Voldemort does show some signs of reckless bravery though I think you really said everything.

Quote:
Glad to see someone else brought up Bella. Anyone who tortures people into madness is as close to unredeemable as I can imagine, star name or not
Mmm I was inwardly screaming Bellatrix's name when I read that part of the editorial, not only does she have one star but a whole bleeding constellation named after her and she's as far from redemption as you could possibly go, except maybe Voldemort. On the thread of Merope, I didn't realise that she was the Taraus star , my star, cool! Also how many people how that the Regulus star is the Alpha star in the Leo constellation? Alpha -Alphard. Regulus Alphard Black but that's surely on other threads.


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Old September 20th, 2006, 5:15 pm
Belgarath2  Female.gif Belgarath2 is offline
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Re: In Defense of Slytherin: A Different Kind of Courage

I really loved this editorial, I get so annoyed when people seem to think that the self-righteousness of Sirius and James is the only sort of courage in the world. I agree that Slughorn was being brave by giving the memory up mainly because it was something he was so terrified of doing. Overcoming your fear and doing what's right shows much more courage than leaping into battle because you've been trapped indoors for a year.

I have one issue however:

I think Helga Hufflepuff, who wanted to “teach the lot, / and teach them just the same” (OotP, U.S. hardcover, pg. 205) is the only Hogwarts founder completely without guilt (but that is a subject for another day).

Personally I believe that Helga chose her house members just as carefully as the other three did. she was looking for pupils who were fair, honest and loyal: but i also think she wanted pupils who would fit in and become part of a big group. She wasn't interested in stand alone glory like the Ravenclaws or the Gryffs. At least this is what the Hufflepuffs seem to be like today, like a cliquey gang who are willing to give you their friendship and help, but will turn against you if they think you've hurt one of their members. Qualities that aren't the best really.


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