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Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis



 
 
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  #1  
Old November 12th, 2006, 6:26 pm
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Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

This thread was suggested by several members, but put together through the efforts of Fuelpagan.


Slytherin
Sorting Hat, Year 1Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.

Sorting Hat, Year 4And power-hungry Slytherin
Loved those of great ambition

Sorting Hat, Year 5Said Slytherin,"We'll teach just those
Whose ancestry is purest."
. . .
For instance, Slytherin
Took only pure-blood wizards
Of great cunning, just like him,


Phineas, OotP Ch.23"We Slytherins are brave, yes, but not stupid. For instance, given a choice, we will always choose to save our own necks.


Some questions to start the discussion:

Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?

Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?

What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?

What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?

What are some of the decisions that students from other houses have made that Slytherins would decide differently?

What are the significance of Water and the Snake to Slytherin?

What is the significance of JKR splitting the students into classes and why did she make Slytherin House from a literary perspective?


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  #2  
Old November 12th, 2006, 10:53 pm
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Re: Sytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Sorting Hat, Year 5Said Slytherin,"We'll teach just those
Whose ancestry is purest."
. . .
For instance, Slytherin
Took only pure-blood wizards
Of great cunning, just like him,


People have pointed out that the Sorting Hat keeps saying Slytherin only picks the cunning "pure-blood wizards" but we all know that isn't always true: Tom Riddle, Severus Snape, for example. Also, both of those wizards are highly powerful wizards, which is quite ironic.

So we already see how the Sorting Hat doesn't sort students into a particular House just because of their blood status, family background etc. It's all about one's capability, in my opinion.

Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?


One has to be cunning and clever, in order to be in Slytherin, not evil. I agree with Phineas when he said Slytherins would rather save their necks first, but since we don't know every Slytherin, I guess we can't make that judgment.

Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?


As I said, I don't think it applies to all but of all the Slytherins we've seen, most of them do have a connection to his statement.

- Voldemort: He can't love, and he doesn't love his followers so I doubt he'd ever put their needs before his.

- Snape: He is very mysterious and I'm not going to make a direct statement about him until I have Book 7 in my hands. (Although I do trust him)

- Draco: Oh, he'll do anything to survive.

- Slughorn: He wasn't willing to join Hogwarts at first because he was scared of all the "publicity," for the lack of a better word. He didn't want to risk his life since the Death Eaters' were after him. I don't blame him but yeah, he definitely posesses that quality of a typical Slytherin.


What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?


Since we see this from Harry's PoV, he has this thing stuck in his mind since Hagrid told him all Slytherins turn out to be bad(and that's not true, as we see in HBP) that every Slytherin is evil. So I don't think the response to this question should include something like, "Slytherins are pure evil!"

What I think isolates them from the other Houses is that they are followers (with few exceptions). Most of the DEs came from Slytherin, didn't they? I'm not saying that the other Houses don't have followers but generally speaking, if you hand the Slytherins a leader --who has the leading power at that moment-- they'll follow her. *cough*Umbridge and her Inquisitorial Squad, anyone?*cough*


What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?


Voldemort, Snape, and Draco for sure. I am pretty certain Slughorn will make a return but we don't for sure yet.

What are the significance of Water and the Snake to Slytherin?

I don't know about Water because it's a symbol of re-birth and the cycle of life and death in mythology, but I think each of us knows what the Snake represents. Snakes are kind of seen like evil so (from Harry's PoV) it does match the majority of the Slytherins.


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Old November 13th, 2006, 3:03 am
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Re: Sytherin House : Group Character Analysis

MY 2 BITS...

ONE Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?

I think if there's going to be any Machiavellian characters, they're going to wind up in Slytherin. These people are the ones who are crafty, cunning and clever (the 3 C's! ). They do things for themselves for the most part, but if you're on their good side, they'll watch your back too.

TWO Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?

For the most part, I think Phineas has the right idea. Slytherins are out for number 1 for the most part. Well, at least of the ones who make a concious decision about what they're doing. mugglesrock has a pretty good sense of things with the comment that a lot of the Slytherins (with said few exceptions) are followers. Crabbe and Goyle for one! So moreorless, the ones who are the 'leaders' of the group make the decisions whereas the others just go with them, on the principle that the leaders will look out for them too.

THREE What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?

The fact that they seem to get some of the nastiest kids in the school must be what earns them their isolation. I can't think of any Slytherins that Harry and his homies are on good terms with on a regular basis. It's like Slytherin chooses the bullys of the group.

FOUR What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?

Draco, Snape, Voldie...the Lestranges...darling Lucius if he leaves Azkaban...it's funny because I want to keep listing key Slytherins but really, it's just essentially listing the DEs. So, the DEs!

FIVE What are some of the decisions that students from other houses have made that Slytherins would decide differently?

I don't think Slytherins would run to save another unless they were really good friends with them/really important to them. I could also see them thinking things through a little more. Slytherins seem to think stuff out but in a different sense of Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff thought. Ravenclaw seems to think 'how do I do this?', Hufflepuff elects 'am I doing all I can?' whereas Slytherin seems to think 'will this benefit me?'. Very self-serving for the most part.

SIX What are the significance of Water and the Snake to Slytherin?

And I'm back to the Zodiac...Water signs are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. They are the extremists of the Zodiac; they can be excessively stubborn, exotic, exciting, deep but shallow...you never quite know what they're thinking. I think that's a Slytherin whole-heartedly.

SEVEN What is the significance of JKR splitting the students into classes and why did she make Slytherin House from a literary perspective?

One needs some evil to balance the good. Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff don't seem to house quite the antagonists that Slytherin does. I think JKR splitting the students helped to outline the division of the wizarding community and, with the songs of the Sorting Hat being featured, the attempts to try to get everyone to band together in a time of need. There always needs to be a few reluctants/antagonists.


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Old November 13th, 2006, 3:54 am
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Re: Sytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?
I think ambition is the predominant trait, and a desire to do well and be recognized. I was going to say cunning as well but then I thought of Crabbe and Goyle

Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?
Not necessarily. For one thing, people and their priorities change. I mean, look at Severus, making the UV to protect Draco. He didn't have to risk his life for Draco's but he did. I think Phineas just projects his own priorities and opinions onto others.

What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?
I think there was something of a schism originally due to Salazar's falling out with the other founders and the whole purebloodist/Chamber of Secrets thing.
Later I think the separation was widened by Riddle--I get the impression that he kind of took it and made his own House. After all, he and Slughorn, the Head of Slytherin House during his time at Hogwarts, are both ambitious, but they are so in very different ways. Obviously all the Slytherins wouldn't have a reputation for becoming Death Eaters when Riddle was a student We really have no idea who Grindelwald's followers were, so we don't really know a lot about what the reputation of Slytherin was at that time. I doubt that they've always been thought of as 'evil' or you'd think something would have done about it.

What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?
The obvious ones...Voldemort, possibly Slughorn, Draco, and of course Severus

What are the significance of Water and the Snake to Slytherin?

Well, as to the water thing, for some reason I always think of Snape's speech about having to be everchanging and flexible when fighting the Dark Arts, and the fluidity and change of water. Regarding snakes, something I think kind of goes against the grain of a lot of our ideas about snakes is that in ancient Greece, the snake was a symbol of healing. I think that may end up figuring in somehow.

What is the significance of JKR splitting the students into classes and why did she make Slytherin House from a literary perspective?
I think the whole point of the Houses is the idea of balance and cooperation between elements that are different but complementary. Gryffindor and Slytherin always seem to be at odds bc they're 'opposites', but I think it will come through in the end that you need people with different backgrounds and perspectives and abilities to have a well-rounded group. I think Harry will come to understand that these differences shouldn't be divisive, but that they are designed to fit together, like puzzle pieces. As to how Slytherin fits into this specifically......I have no idea.


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  #5  
Old November 14th, 2006, 12:05 am
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Re: Sytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?
I’d say cunning is the most predominant quality you must have to be a Slytherin, though ambition is probably up there as well. I’d agree it isn’t purebloodedness despite the fact that Salazar only wanted to teach purebloods.

Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?
I think Phineas’ statement is for the most part true, though there are always going to be some exceptions to the rule. For the most part, Slytherins will do what they believe will benefit them the most. The implications of this are that Slytherins would tend to operate alone and would for the most part only do something for another person if they see value in it for themselves.

What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?
Perhaps their ambition and their tendency to be self-serving isolates them in that they may step over other people’s toes in trying to achieve their goals. Also, I agree that they tend to be followers rather than leaders – and they follow whoever appears to have the most power or those who would be most likely to help them achieve their goals.

What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?
  • Voldemort - reasons are self-explanatory
  • Snape – we still don’t really know what side he’s on
  • Lucius – he may escape from Azkaban
  • Draco – I’m curious to see what he’ll do in book 7
  • Slughorn – I’m confident he’ll make a return
  • Blaise Zabini, Crabbe, Goyle – may have limited or no roles

What are some of the decisions that students from other houses have made that Slytherins would decide differently?
Slytherins would probably decide to think of themselves first in a dangerous situation, and may go by the motto “whoever falls behind is left behind”. They’d probably solve problems by trying to out-wit others (as I see them using logic to put plans together) rather than trying to directly fight them.

What are the significance of Water and the Snake to Slytherin?
Snakes represent shrewdness, transformation, life, death, rebirth, power, life force, and knowledge. They’ve also been a symbol of evil in many mythologies, the most prominent in my mind being the story of Adam and Eve. But also in that story the serpent represents knowledge and experience. As for the significance of water, I suppose that ties in with the fluidity of the way a snake moves, but I’m not really sure how it relates to Slytherin.

What is the significance of JKR splitting the students into classes and why did she make Slytherin House from a literary perspective?
Slytherin’s element (water) is the opposite of Gryffindor’s element (fire); Slytherins are cool while Gryffindors are hot. Slytherin as a House represents a strength of the mind involving putting knowledge to use to achieve ones (often ambitious) goals.

Just as an aside, if the Houses all worked together, I envision they’d each use different strengths in solving a problem (assuming the problem involves danger): Ravenclaw would study the problem logically and put together research and information regarding it. Slytherin would take that knowledge and form a clever plan which would have the greatest chance of success. Gryffindor would physically put the plan into action, using bravery and daring to overcome adversity. Last but not least, Hufflepuff would oversee the whole thing and make sure everyone is working fairly together.


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Old November 14th, 2006, 12:33 am
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Re: Sytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicole View Post
Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?
I think, like people have said, the drive to do whatever it takes to succeed is an important one. I always tend to imagine that Slytherins are quite resourceful because of that - which is perhaps backed up a little by Snape's habit of potions ad-libbing.


Quote:
Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?
No, I don't think it applies to all of them. Maybe a majority, but I think there are some pretty big exceptions to the rule. I think Slytherins may have a good understanding of social networks and the way they can bring about a domino effect, though - for example, by doing good by one influential person, they would maybe realise more easily than others that it could reflect back on them positively in the long term.


Quote:
What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?
I think they have more of a tendency to gang up into little cliques, which puts them at a disadvantage, since they're all so busy with their little in-House power games that they don't get as much of a chance to socialise with other Houses. What I mean is, in Gryffindor, whilst they may have groups of friends, when it comes down to it they all seem to stick up for one another. Parvati sticking up for Neville being a good example. I don't get the impression that this kind of thing is quite as prominent in Slytherin. For example, could you see Blaise Zabini sticking up for Draco?


Quote:
What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?
Voldemort, definitely. Snape for sure (how could he not? He shared the title of book 6 with Harry, after all.) Slughorn seems likely, since I believe he may have further knowledge of Lily to provide. Draco is an unresolved character, and whilst I don't know whether Narcissa is an official Slytherin, I would include her in that.


Quote:
What are some of the decisions that students from other houses have made that Slytherins would decide differently?
Slytherins would perhaps not go so willingly on a whimsical trip to the DoM with Harry Potter I'm specifically talking Luna, here.


Quote:
What are the significance of Water and the Snake to Slytherin?
Water is often related to emotions. I think Slytherins are actually quite an emotional House - in that they know how to use them, to control them and so on. They know what will hurt most, and they know what will get someone on side. Also, water is quite a flexible element. It can fit into small spaces and navigate complicated mazes. This goes with what I said about resourcefulness - I think the Slytherin's are quite adaptable, almost chameleon-like. They can be what they need to be in a situation to succeed.


Quote:
What is the significance of JKR splitting the students into classes and why did she make Slytherin House from a literary perspective?
Contrast with the Gryffindors. Also, like Sarapsys said, elements need each other. They work together, they contrast, etc. If they all worked in harmony, they would unstoppable (which JKR mentioned in the MN&TLC interview, didn't she?)


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Old November 15th, 2006, 7:10 am
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Re: Sytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicole View Post
Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?
I'd say no, there are several qualities that may qualify one, as the Sorting Hat indicates. Crabbe, for example, exhibits no cunning or ambition that I can see. I presume he is a Pureblood, or thinks purebloodedness is important. Snape, on the other hand, seems to possess both cunning and ambition, but has a full Muggle for a father. He is also a Slytherin.

Quote:
Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?
I think some readers construe Phineas's statement too strictly. It depends on what is meant by a 'choice'.

Rowling has stated in interviews that a 'normal' mother would have made Lily's choice. I think she does not intend to suggest that all Slytherin females are abnormal mothers.

The way I see Phineas's statement, a Slytherin may bide his/her time and seem to submit to intimidation and threats if they see a chance to get free down the line, rather than dying nobly. But if the only alternatives are completely unaccaptable, I think Slytherins, too, can exhibit courage. I think Regulus Black is an example. He chose to leave the Death Eaters apparently because something he learned cause him such great revulsion he could no longer be a part of it. But, technically, he did have the choice to suck it up and obey Voldemort. It was just not a choice that was acceptable to him.

I also think Phineas's statement, interpreted strictly, contradicts the Sorting Hat's description of the Slytherins:
"Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends."

Quote:
What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?
Their reputation as the Dark Arts house. In Harry's year, it also doesn't help that three out of five boys, including the 'leader' of his year, are sons of Death Eaters. I would suspect Slytherin may have been less isolated in Riddle's day, and even in the Marauder Era, when Slughorn was the Head of House (with his emphasis on networking) and Voldemort was just becoming a big factor in the Wizarding World.

Quote:
What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?
Voldemort, naturally.
Also Snape and Draco will have a lot of importance, I think.
Sluggie, Bella, Narcissa, and Lucius will also appear and take actions of some significance, I would guess.
And I think Regulus Black will be important for his past actions (though dead).

Quote:
What are some of the decisions that students from other houses have made that Slytherins would decide differently?
A Slytherin would have handled Umbridge differently from Harry. Organizing the DA is fine, but a Slytherin would have avoided attracting her negative attention and doing all those detentions with her.


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  #8  
Old November 21st, 2006, 12:02 pm
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Re: Sytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by RemusLupinFan View Post
I’d say cunning is the most predominant quality you must have to be a Slytherin
I agree with Sarapsys on this one that cunningness is not a quality that all Slytherins possess, look at Crabbe & Goyle or Pansy Parkinson-complete cow. As for ambition I agree that it is a trait that is looked for in most of the Slythrines who have non- Death Eater Parents because C&G look like they have no ambition at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarapsys View Post
Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?
Not necessarily. For one thing, people and their priorities change. I mean, look at Severus, making the UV to protect Draco. He didn't have to risk his life for Draco's but he did. I think Phineas just projects his own priorities and opinions onto others.
That is an excellent point about Snape, he is a Slytherin and a Death Eater as well yet we see that he doesn't run away from his responsibility even though he might be in mortal peril. Making the unbreakable is one of the examples then daring to play the role of a Double spy...all this indicate that not all Slytherins are self-centered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarapsys View Post
What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?
I think there was something of a schism originally due to Salazar's falling out with the other founders and the whole purebloodist/Chamber of Secrets thing.
I agree the pure-blood fanaticism is one of the reasons why the Slytherins are an isolated group, moreover the bad reputation-of producing the most Dark Wizards then all the houses combined together- about which Ron talked about on the Hogwarts Express (PS/SS) also makes the Slytherins a group of people whom most people condemn.


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Old November 21st, 2006, 1:57 pm
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Re: Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?
I think basically what the Sorting Hat says: cunning, ambition, cleverness. Definitely not on your probability of ending up as a Death Eater of evil overlord. However, there's also the point that Sarapsys made about Crabbe and Goyle. Maybe the Sorting Hat looks at the distinguishing qualities of each house in turn, and if you are completely the opposite of that house's qualities - eg daring and nerves - Gryffindor, loyalty and patience - Hufflepuff - then you're automatically out of that house. Also, about Crabbe and Goyle etc - the Sorting Hat says in Slytherin 'You'll make your real friends' - this doesn't necessarily have to be 'real' as in true, but maybe the sort of friends who'll get you places? Like Riddle's Slytherin friends - he got them places with the Death Eaters, didn't he, if you think about it. And there is also Slughorn's little 'Slug Club', in which he likes to associate himself with those most likel to succeed and achieve. Relevant much?

Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?
Afer thinking about it, I've always taken this to mean that Slytherins will think about a decision before they make it, rather than just rushing in blindly, as Harry and other Gryffinsors often do. If this is the case, then the only implications are that Slytherins prefer to think about how a decision will affect them, therefore 'saving their own necks', rather than how they can help others, however selfish that might come across. Also, there's always the fact that Phineas may have been generalising, making the same error as Hagrid in PS.

What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?
Obviously it's common knowledge that Voldemort and his Death Eaters were in that house, as people like Hagrid automatically make the assumption that all Slytherins are evil, even though we've seen that this isn't the case in HBP, and Jo herself has cleared this up in the MuggleNet interview - "they're not all bad. They literally are not all bad." Also, I like the idea of Salalzar himself isolating himself from the other three being passed down into the houses. Physically, they're not all that isolated - Slytherin's common room is a dungeon, and we know that Hufflepuff's is near the kitchens - which is underground. So it's just mental isolations as opposed to physical ones - although that doesn't apply to the actual students, as we obviously see.

What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?
Voldemort, obviously. Also, Snape - after HBP there's no way he can shrink into thw woodwork. Draco, however, I have dounts about whether will appear or not. I think his role is done and whilst we may see him in the epilogue (if, of course, he survives ) I don't think he's going to make much of an important appearance in book 7. Regulus Black, Bellatrix, Lucius and (if he was a Slytherin) Greyback I can see reappearing too.

What are some of the decisions that students from other houses have made that Slytherins would decide differently?
They wouldn't have rushed off to the Ministry quite so quickly. Hermione acted in a similar way that I would have expected a Slytherin to - trying to reason with Harry and persuade him against it, although in the end her loyalty to Harry brought her down to doing it, which I don't think would have happened with a Slytherin. I also don't really see a Slytherin repeating Ron's chessboard actions in PS, or creating the DA. Joinging in, maybe, but not

What are the significance of Water and the Snake to Slytherin?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarapsys
Well, as to the water thing, for some reason I always think of Snape's speech about having to be everchanging and flexible when fighting the Dark Arts, and the fluidity and change of water.
I like this idea and it also ties into how a snake moves. It shows how adaptable they are to their situations, too. Here's something interesting - water as a classical element is often represented as a cauldron. And what house is our favourite Potions master (correction - our favourite Potions masters ) from? Slytherin! And from a psychological perspective, water represents intuition, whereas fire is feeling, which I think sums up the traits of Slytherin and Gryffindor nicely!

What is the significance of JKR splitting the students into classes and why did she make Slytherin House from a literary perspective?
It's kind of like she's splitting up this powerful force; like has been said before, together, the students of Hogwarts (or most of them; Crabbe and Goyle again ) would be very powerful. There is also the fact that you need contrast and balance within something as large as Hogwarts.


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Old December 23rd, 2006, 3:32 am
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Re: Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

OK how about a few new questions:
What are the redeeming qualities of Slytherin house?

What besides the pureblood issue could have sparked the split between Gryffindor and Slytherin?
Do you feel that given the context of the time period (wizard persecution) that Salazar was justified in his paranoia against muggleborns


  #11  
Old December 23rd, 2006, 2:39 pm
Pluvius  Undisclosed.gif Pluvius is offline
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Re: Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

I'm afraid I can't answer the latest questions (as I haven't had enough time to think about them properly) but I wanted to throw something out there, with regard to the predominant quality of a Slytherin.

What about cowardice? I don't think this applies in all cases, but to me the fact that, as everyone has pointed out, so many are 'followers' suggests they are cowardly. They will always have (or need) someone to hide behind. Take the relationship between Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle: Crabbe & Goyle are Malfoy's "cronies". They follow him round, he pretty much tells them what to do. If they get into trouble, Malfoy will be the one smart enough to talk them out of it. They hide behind his brains. At the same time, he hides behind their brawn, never going anywhere without them. The Death Eaters hide behind Voldemort, who, IMO, hides behind this identity he has created for himself, and behind his "servants". Bullies are said to be cowards, right? This is a thing that so sets Slytherins apart from members of the other houses, particularly Gryffindor, and perhaps explains why there is such great conflict between Gryffindor and Slytherin (the other houses being on the periphery most of the time) - Gryffindors are characterized by (and selected for) their bravery.

I hope none of those statements were too obvious.

Another thing I wanted to say was a theory I have about Slytherin having developed into a caricature of itself over the years. The children sorted into the house (while probably still possessing the cowardice I suggested) are socialized into behaving in the way they do. While this obviously doesn't explain the ones who become pure unadulterated evil purveyors (it obviously takes a bit more than peer pressure to push someone into attempting world domination) it might explain why so many of them seem to "go bad". The fact they are cowardly suggests they may be more susceptible to influence from others, ao perhaps the tradition of being nasty has survived from years and years ago when Slytherin perhaps was elite in the sense of only recruiting pure-bloods, and the new Slytherin recruits learn from and emulate their older housemates who promote the sense that they are superior to members of all the other houses.

So I suppose I have reduced the entire dynamic of Slytherin to the fact they recruit cowards who hide behind a potentially outdated image of the house itself, and the characteristics which its members are expected to have.

Phew.

Let the flaming commence.


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  #12  
Old December 23rd, 2006, 2:52 pm
Finn_Solomon  Male.gif Finn_Solomon is offline
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Re: Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

What's so bad about cunning, ambition, shrewdness and self-preservation? Highly desirable qualities in many walks of life. A Slytherin would make an excellent military strategist or commander. I'm reminded of one of Terry Pratchett's maxims- a brave man would make an incompetent leader, because he rushes headlong into battle without thought for others. Whereas the coward is more interested in getting out alive, and will more often than not come up with the best plans.

I really hope Book 7 would feature a Slytherin who will end up helping Harry because it'll show that you can't take a group of people and label them all bad. Not Snape though, but a fellow student.


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  #13  
Old December 23rd, 2006, 5:53 pm
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Re: Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pluvius View Post
I'm afraid I can't answer the latest questions (as I haven't had enough time to think about them properly) but I wanted to throw something out there, with regard to the predominant quality of a Slytherin.

What about cowardice? I don't think this applies in all cases, but to me the fact that, as everyone has pointed out, so many are 'followers' suggests they are cowardly. They will always have (or need) someone to hide behind. Take the relationship between Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle: Crabbe & Goyle are Malfoy's "cronies". They follow him round, he pretty much tells them what to do. If they get into trouble, Malfoy will be the one smart enough to talk them out of it. They hide behind his brains. At the same time, he hides behind their brawn, never going anywhere without them. The Death Eaters hide behind Voldemort, who, IMO, hides behind this identity he has created for himself, and behind his "servants". Bullies are said to be cowards, right? This is a thing that so sets Slytherins apart from members of the other houses, particularly Gryffindor, and perhaps explains why there is such great conflict between Gryffindor and Slytherin (the other houses being on the periphery most of the time) - Gryffindors are characterized by (and selected for) their bravery.

I hope none of those statements were too obvious.

Another thing I wanted to say was a theory I have about Slytherin having developed into a caricature of itself over the years. The children sorted into the house (while probably still possessing the cowardice I suggested) are socialized into behaving in the way they do. While this obviously doesn't explain the ones who become pure unadulterated evil purveyors (it obviously takes a bit more than peer pressure to push someone into attempting world domination) it might explain why so many of them seem to "go bad". The fact they are cowardly suggests they may be more susceptible to influence from others, ao perhaps the tradition of being nasty has survived from years and years ago when Slytherin perhaps was elite in the sense of only recruiting pure-bloods, and the new Slytherin recruits learn from and emulate their older housemates who promote the sense that they are superior to members of all the other houses.

So I suppose I have reduced the entire dynamic of Slytherin to the fact they recruit cowards who hide behind a potentially outdated image of the house itself, and the characteristics which its members are expected to have.

Phew.

Let the flaming commence.
I sincerly doubt that all Slytherins are cowards. Malfoy was asked to do something voldemort himself could not accomplish and he accepted the task. A coward would have slit his throat. Secondly, I don't believe that slytherins are susceptible to influence from others I rather think that they use others to get what they want. There is nothing wrong with shrewdness it wins wars. Dumbledore was shrewd. As for the image of Slytherin house being outdated that depends on what you consider the true image of Slytherin house to be: Ambition or Prejudice. Ambition betters humankind. And that prejudice is only present in about one-fourth of Slytherin house.
By the way: Snakes were a symbol of healing in many cultures.


  #14  
Old December 23rd, 2006, 5:58 pm
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Re: Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn_Solomon View Post
What's so bad about cunning, ambition, shrewdness and self-preservation? Highly desirable qualities in many walks of life. A Slytherin would make an excellent military strategist or commander. I'm reminded of one of Terry Pratchett's maxims- a brave man would make an incompetent leader, because he rushes headlong into battle without thought for others. Whereas the coward is more interested in getting out alive, and will more often than not come up with the best plans.

I really hope Book 7 would feature a Slytherin who will end up helping Harry because it'll show that you can't take a group of people and label them all bad. Not Snape though, but a fellow student.
Excellent points. However, I don't think it's cowardly to think of a plan to get yourself out of a tough situation alive. That's smart. Or cunning, or shrewd. Those are actually good things to be.

In my opinion, the Slytherin who turns out to be a good guy (besides Snape, of course) will be Tonks. Another case of not judging people on first impressions or without adequate information.


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Old December 23rd, 2006, 7:46 pm
Maiab Maiab is offline
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Re: Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

I feel that Slytherin greatly suffers from disconnect between what we are told about them and what we are shown.

Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?

We are told that ambition, cunning and purebloodedness are Slytherin traits. What we are shown is that it is enough to be a half-blood and want in, which wish is usually caused by the family background. No young Slytherins were shown to be particulary ambitious or cunning - in fact these qualities seem to be far more pronounced in young Gryffindors. Some adult Slytherins seem to exhibit the supposedly defining House traits more.

Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true?

Well, this, like so much else, seems to fly in the face of "great ambition" and "power-hungry", because to achieve such goals one has to take risks and self-preservation is by no means a defining Slytherin trait according to the Hat. Cunning I see as a tendency to look for cost-effective solutions. Jumping at an ambrasure would never be Slytherin's preferred way of dealing with it... but in the end risks and sacrifices they are willing to take should depend on how much they care about attaining their goals. If they were depicted having their supposed House traits, which they largely are not.


What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?

I strongly feel that it is yet another disconnect between what Slytherins are supposed to be and strive for and how they are depicted in the books. No truly ambitious and cunning people would have become so isolated! I mean, they are supposed to go for success, right? So, they should have been sucking up to people in power and networking, rather than alienating everybody, coming out with the pureblood pride at the most inappropriate times and basically turning their noses up at the whole world. Yes, they have been tarnished by Voldy and having a lot of their own in his camp. All the more reason to do their utmost to live down that reputation!

What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?

LV and Snape. I could see Draco, Slughorn, Bella and the Malfoy couple doing something important, too. I also hope that we will learn that some of the "good guys" with unknown backgrounds are Slytherins, because so far stereotyping has been rather blatant.

What are some of the decisions that students from other houses have made that Slytherins would decide differently?

Always supposing that Slytherins in question would have lived up to the qualities that they are supposed to have:

Slytherin wouldn't have gone after the Stone, correctly concluding that an 11-year-old can't hold off a halfway decent adult wizard. Would have tried to lure McGonaggal there on the fateful night instead, though, so that she could deal with it. Or even better - created a distraction that would have lured a lot of people there and made it impossible for any one person to enter unobserved.

Slytherins would have told the trustworthy teachers all about the entrance to the Chamber, instead of going to Lockhart (?!) and then going after the basilisk themselves (?!!!). To be honest, it was never clear to me why Harry and Ron did this - Ginny chances would have been much better if they had an adult with a clue along.

In GoF, a Slytherin wouldn't have told Cedric about the dragon, would have listened to what Bagman had to say and would have worked much harder on the egg clues. Would have also asked his extended family for advice on the tasks . Wouldn't have waited underwater, wouldn't have helped Cedric in the maze beyond putting out imperioed Krum (who was just plain dangerous to leave running around) and wouldn't have shared the trophy with him.

In OoTP a Slytherin wouldn't have clashed with Umbridge, maybe tried to neutralize her by sucking up. Some kind of small illegal study group would have been right up Slytherin alley, I think. In fact, those kids who got good marks in DADA, but weren't part of the DA almost had to have something similar going. Instead of haring after Harry to the MoM, a Slytherin who cared would have stunned him, IMHO, and checked with OoTP members available - Snape and the Weasleys.

What are the significance of Water and the Snake to Slytherin?

Snake is the symbol of both danger and healing and water is fluid, adaptable, always finds a way, yet is difficult to press beyond a certain point.

What is the significance of JKR splitting the students into classes and why did she make Slytherin House from a literary perspective?

Mostly for school competition and rivalry. Well, the other Houses are hardly present actually, but Slytherin is clearly there to be a source of routine friction for Harry and Co. I really wish that she had been more consequent and consistent where Houses are concerned and less Gryffindor-centric.


  #16  
Old December 24th, 2006, 10:43 am
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Re: Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maiab View Post
What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?

I strongly feel that it is yet another disconnect between what Slytherins are supposed to be and strive for and how they are depicted in the books. No truly ambitious and cunning people would have become so isolated! I mean, they are supposed to go for success, right? So, they should have been sucking up to people in power and networking, rather than alienating everybody, coming out with the pureblood pride at the most inappropriate times and basically turning their noses up at the whole world. Yes, they have been tarnished by Voldy and having a lot of their own in his camp. All the more reason to do their utmost to live down that reputation!
I like what you say here about Slytherins. In fact, you're describing the Slughorn model of networking, which is a very ambitious and cunning thing. I wonder if, during the thousand years of Hogwarts history, this is the more typical way that Slytherins have behaved. Certainly, bullying and acting exclusive is not the way to win friends and influence people.


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  #17  
Old December 25th, 2006, 8:59 am
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Re: Slytherin House : Group Character Analysis

Is there a predominant quality that a Slytherin must have in order to be a Slytherin?
I think Sarapsys has a good point, when we talk about Slytherins we usually think of Malfoy, Voldemort and Snape, not the "not so bright" ones. Taking that to account I, too, would lean for Ambition being their biggest quality. I think even Crabbe and Goyle have ambitions, the fact that they are quite stupid doesn't mean they don't want power. I believe the way they behave shows it, Malfoy offers them the power their small brains can't achieve all they have to do is put their muscles.

But there's something else there not many have taken into account, their Pure-Blood Status. Yes, there is people like Voldemort who are not Pure-Blood, I believe that in one hand they are so ambitious and cunning they make up for it, but also remember the Gaunt's blood line was as pure as it could get. Wasn't purity one of Slytherin's main concerns, wouldn't that push him to choose people over other qualities? I believe that plays a big role when choosing people like Crabble and Goyle.

Do you feel that Phineas' statement applies to all Slytherins? If yes, then what are the implications of it being true? If no, then why to you feel Phineas doesn't know what constitutes a Slytherin and their choices?
I think it's strongly connected to being cunning, which might not be the case of all Slytherins. Part of that implies studying the pros and cons of every situation and when doing so you might decide it's better to save yourself than risk it all for nothing. There's a saying that comes to mind right now, "a soldier who runs can be helpful in another war." This, of course, can be seen as cowardice, but I think there's more to it than that.

What is it about the Slytherin house that isolates it from the other houses?
I think the Blood issue plays a very important role here. They believe themselves to be special, to be above others and as such they can't be mixed with people inferior to them. They have power, (we've seen that most of the Slytherins come from wealthy families, so they don't need to ask others for help) and to keep the blood pure they just marry among each other, they don't need others. In fact if they got too much in contact with others their whole 'philosophy' would crush to pieces. What would happen when the kids realize mud-bloods are just like them? In this I agree with Pluvius, they are t be kept in a closed circle where they are taught to think what their parents need them to think, that they are superior. We've seen this happen in real life.

What Slytherins will be key players in the last book?
Well Voldemort is a must at this point. I believe Snape too after what happened in the last book. The others I'm not sure... I think it'd be interesting to see Draco again, but if Harry doesn't go back to school then I don't know if we'll see much of him.

What are some of the decisions that students from other houses have made that Slytherins would decide differently?
I believe this would require an event-by-event analysis, but at a first strike I think they would have acted in the exact opposite way than most of the Gryffindors, as someone mentioned above they Gryffindors are all about impulse while Slytherin are all about thinking and calculating.

What are the significance of Water and the Snake to Slytherin?
I had never thought about it to be honest… I liked the definitions that Maiab and Sarapsys provided above, about water being flexible and finding its way around things, I think it can be strongly connected to Slytherins’ being cunning. As far as the Snake goes, well, I can’t help connecting it to Adam & Eve’s snake, it’s such a strong symbol, an apparently harmless snake who is smart/cunning enough to twist words and convince others to make them do what he wants them to do, to fulfill his ambitions. To me it just matches with too many Slytherin qualities.

What is the significance of JKR splitting the students into classes and why did she make Slytherin House from a literary perspective?
I believe each House represents a stereotype you’d usually find in any school/life. The brave kids most people likes (Gryffindors), the bullies everyone despises (Slytherin), the Know-It-Alls (Ravenclaws) and the low profile students who can be very good people yet no-one pays them much attention (Hufflepuffs).

What are the redeeming qualities of Slytherin house?
Well I think both their ambitions like their cunningness could be ‘redeeming qualities’ if put to good use. After all it’s not bad to be either, it’s just that when being like that and living in an atmosphere as closed as the Slytherin’s, it’s easy to go off track.

What besides the pureblood issue could have sparked the split between Gryffindor and Slytherin?
As I was writing this post it hit me that Slytherin and Gryffindor couldn’t be more different. I think Phinea’s quote is the perfect example of how different they had their takes on stuff. Gryffindor was all about courage and doing the right thing, while Slytherin was willing to go to accept that the ‘end justifies the means’. I think it’s one of those relationships where it can be interesting to be different at first, but sooner or later it blows up in your face.

Do you feel that given the context of the time period (wizard persecution) that Salazar was justified in his paranoia against muggleborns.
I don’t think racial prejudice can be justified, no matter the time. I can understand how time changes though and how some things are easier to accept at some times while it’s impossible to accept at others. Still I won’t justify him, after all the other Founders lived at that time too and didn’t mind accepting muggleborns.


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Last edited by Puchula; December 26th, 2006 at 3:09 am.
  #18  
Old December 29th, 2006, 2:57 pm
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Since its well-known that Slytherin favors the dark side, why is it still there?

Why not just abolish Slytherin house forever? Expell or re-assign houses to those already in Slytherin? I'll bet that if they started hanging around with better kids some Slytherins might change. Of course, some are too far gone *coughmalfoycough*, but they could just be expelled!! Ahh, that would be the perfect Hogwarts! But, then some parents might sue for their kid being expelled for no good reason... can you sue a wizard?


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  #19  
Old December 29th, 2006, 3:04 pm
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Re: Since its well-known that Slytherin favors the dark side, why is it still there?

I think this came up in a JKR interview before, and she said that the Four Houses were something akin to the four elements: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. The Yin and Yangs of Hogwarts, and without one, Hogwarts would fall apart. Not all Slytherins are horrible.

EDIT::

In fact:

Quote:
ES: Why is Slytherin house still -

JKR: Still allowed!

[All laugh]

ES: Yes! I mean, it's such a stigma.

JKR: But they're not all bad. They literally are not all bad. [Pause] Well, the deeper answer, the non-flippant answer, would be that you have to embrace all of a person, you have to take them with their flaws, and everyone's got them. It's the same way with the student body. If only they could achieve perfect unity, you would have an absolute unstoppable force, and I suppose it's that craving for unity and wholeness that means that they keep that quarter of the school that maybe does not encapsulate the most generous and noble qualities, in the hope, in the very Dumbledore-esque hope that they will achieve union, and they will achieve harmony. Harmony is the word.

ES: Couldn't -

JKR: Couldn't they just shoot them all? NO, Emerson, they really couldn't!

[All laugh]

ES: Couldn't they just put them into the other three houses, and maybe it wouldn't be a perfect fit for all of them, but a close enough fit that they would get by and wouldn't be in such a negative environment?

JKR: They could. But you must remember, I have thought about this -

ES: Even their common room is a gloomy dark room-

JKR: Well, I don't know, because I think the Slytherin common room has a spooky beauty.

ES: It's gotta be a bad idea to stick all the Death Eaters' kids together in one place.

[All crack up again ]

JKR: But they're not all - don't think I don't take your point, but - we, the reader, and I as the writer, because I'm leading you all there - you are seeing Slytherin house always from the perspective of Death Eaters' children. They are a small fraction of the total Slytherin population. I'm not saying all the other Slytherins are adorable, but they're certainly not Draco; they're certainly not, you know, Crabbe and Goyle. They're not all like that. That would be too brutal for words, wouldn't it?

ES: But there aren't a lot of Death Eater children in the other houses, are there?

JKR: You will have people connected with Death Eaters in the other houses, yeah, absolutely.

ES: Just in lesser numbers.

JKR: Probably. I hear you. It is the tradition to have four houses, but in this case, I wanted them to correspond roughly to the four elements. So Gryffindor is fire, Ravenclaw is air, Hufflepuff is earth, and Slytherin is water; hence the fact that their common room is under the lake. So again, it was this idea of harmony and balance, that you had four necessary components and by integrating them you would make a very strong place. But they remain fragmented, as we know.
From MN/TLC Interview with JKR (Page Three)


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Last edited by griffiegrrl; December 29th, 2006 at 3:10 pm.
  #20  
Old December 29th, 2006, 9:20 pm
ravenclaws_heir  Undisclosed.gif ravenclaws_heir is offline
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Re: Since its well-known that Slytherin favors the dark side, why is it still there?

Remember, the Slytherins are picked for being the most ambitious, which involves acquiring power for some people. Power, and the attainment of power, may require deeds which would be considered evil. The house has indeed had more dark wizards than any others, which i find to be one of the natural consquenses of ambition.

Personally, I'd rather be in Slytherin then Griffindor...but I'm a natural Ravenclaw anyway..hence, my name.


 
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