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Old 01-12-2009, 08:06 AM   #1 (permalink)

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I have always had this complaint about the HP books.

JK portrayal of the students in Slytherin. She never gave them any depth or other traits other than being mean, cruel, bullies and muggle haters...

Where as the other houses had charries that ran the gamut of all character traits. I mean not all of the claws were smart. Some of the badgers had the capacity to be really mean they they wanted to be. Not all of the lions were brave. Peter turned in his own friends to save his own hide.

So why on earth couldn't the Slytherins get the same attention and dimensions as the other houses. I mean een before we get to the school Hagrid says "there isn't a witch or wizard whose gone bad who wasn't from Slytherin."

Is that all they were? Were all of them like this?

Was this a fair portrayal of Slytherin
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think its more the fact that we are seeing the story through the eyes of people that have been hugely affected by the atrocities of members who were in Slytherin. So right away the view of them is tainted by fear, anger and sorrow. The main character commentaries that we get - Harry, Dumbledore, The Weasley's and various members of the Order have ALL had their lives directly impacted. But so have many many others.

So that leads to the above mentioned feelings, and therefore not wanting to get to know them. The Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs can generally intermingle, but the Slytherins keep more to themselves. And the others like it that way.

I believe it is more the fact that the magical population's view of them is tainted and the mutual social separation - and therefore lack of depth due to our main characters not "knowing" them. This then organically wove its way into the story to produce what we have. Rather than JK making it a conscious decision to depict them that way. Instead, she let the characters tell it as they see it.

If that makes sense?
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:45 AM   #3 (permalink)

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But then she makes a point of having Snape be from Slytherin but be working for the good side the entire time. Then Peter is in Gryffindor and he is even a friend to James and the gang and he turned out to be no better than a "typical Slytherin"

I understand that its told through Harry's point of view. But he has no contact with the magical world at all and right off the bat his perception is tainted against the Slytherins by Hagrid. Who frankly had no reason to say what he said.

I dunno maybe I am the only one that feels this way, bcus frankly in my heart of hearts I believe that I would have been honestly sorted into Slytherin. Not because I am a mean person or want to be an elitist, but because I am ambitious and cunning and I want what I want out of life and I am willing to work hard for it. And I just hate that Slytherin was vilified like it was.
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Old 01-12-2009, 10:10 AM   #4 (permalink)

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i agree with Tomasina Riddle why don't the Slytherin's get a more in-depth discription?

and the only real characters you see that are portrayed as muggle haters are the main ones, but what if like Tomasina Riddle a lot of Students were sorted into Slytherin because they are ambitious and cunning to get there does that mean they are evil? its not fair to say that Slytherin's are the only student's to turn bad cause look at Peter Pettygrew it depends what you have inside of you.

if that makes sense?

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Old 01-12-2009, 10:23 AM   #5 (permalink)


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You're just saying that because you are a Slytherin, then again so am I so what the hell, I'll go with it.

I guess it is how you really look at it, we don't really meet a lot of Slythies in the books and the book is basically I guess Harry's P.O.V about people and events, therefore the Slytherins would seem two dimensional as he never tried to get to know them in the books.

However in the sixth and seventh books we do get to see another side of Draco Malfoy since Harry follows him around so much, we get to see how much he loves his parents and that he doesn't necessarily believe in everything that the Dark Lord is all about, in the seventh book we also see that hmm I don't know if this is the right word but he's compassionate and can be brave. In DH we also see the Malfoys as a loving family. So even though for most of the books those in Slytherin House do seem kind of two dimensional in the end we see that they can be different to how they appear. Snape's memories for example were a great way to show that not all is what it seems with the Slytherins. I think however that by the end of the series it was just too late to start giving all knew descriptions of characters that we know only to be mean, since their characterization would probably take up waayyy too many pages.
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Old 01-12-2009, 10:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You're right Tomasina, just because a person was from the Slytherin House does not make them a bad person, I am sorry for my prejudice in other threads. It truly does depend on the person and not the house they are from. D.E.
are likely to have originated from all sorts of houses, it's a persons choice to be who they want to be.
It's horrible Slytherins are veiwed in such an unsavory light when every house has equal chance to have some one there to mean, or grow up to be evil because each house may have it's values but it is a persons individual choice what they choose to make of themselves.

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Old 01-12-2009, 05:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I think it's important to note that two of the most prominent characters from Slytherin House, Snape and Malfoy, were not one-dimensional characters. We learned a great deal about them in the last two books, and they ceased to be the sort of "evil Slytherin" that was portrayed throughout the other books. If other characters did not receive the same kind of development, I think it's more because they weren't important characters (like Pansy, for instance), and less because of maintaining that viewpoint of Slytherin house.
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I think it's important to note that two of the most prominent characters from Slytherin House, Snape and Malfoy, were not one-dimensional characters. We learned a great deal about them in the last two books, and they ceased to be the sort of "evil Slytherin" that was portrayed throughout the other books. If other characters did not receive the same kind of development, I think it's more because they weren't important characters (like Pansy, for instance), and less because of maintaining that viewpoint of Slytherin house.

I agree with FoxFire & Tomasina and my fellow Slytherins. Like Tomasina, I am also ambitious and cunning at times. I actually think that most people have a mixture of the various traits from the different houses- Ravenclaw- intellectual, Hufflepuff-faithful/loyal, Gryffs-brave and Slytherin-cunning and/or ambitious. As I am a post grad student I have a touch of Ravenclaw in me

I enjoyed the final book as we were shown a different 'softer' side of Malfoy who was terrified by Voldemort and the true motivations behind Snape's desire to help the good side.
Just my 2 cents.
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I agree with a lot of what's been said here. It's from Harry's point of view, so Slytherins are automatically going to be viewed as more bad than good. I also think it was not all that accurate to what I first imagined Slytherins to be, and more of a generalized description. However, by understanding the pressures behind Snape and Malfoy, it may be more reasonable of them to react how they did, given that they have strong personalities.

I'm not sure if what I just said made any sense. Overall, I feel Slytherins are inaccurately and unfairly portrayed, but try to remember that the books are from Harry's point of view.
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think that the fact that the story is told from Harry's point of view is largely a factor here. It's not that Slytherins have no depth, or even that Harry hates Slytherins just based on the ideas he was given by Hagrid. I think it has more to do with the fact that Harry was 11 years old when he met Hagrid, and being a child still, he clung to the views he was presented with. Harry was very impressionable at 11, being entirely in the dark about his past and his family, and he desperately wanted to fit in. So of course, since Hagrid was his first friend in the wizarding world, he could trust Hagrid's view of things.

Also, I don't think Hagrid really meant that ALL Slytherins were bad. He just meant that he didn't know of one bad wizard who wasn't in Slytherin. Which is a big distinction. Slytherins are, I am sure, just as wonderful as any Gryffindor or Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. And they have just as many admirable traits as any of the other three houses.

As Harry grew older (or was forced to grow older than his age, due to mitigating circumstances), he started to realize that Slytherins weren't all bad, and that he could in fact communicate with them the way he could with most everybody else. Another factor here is the Slytherins' treatment of other people, and their belief of superiority over everybody else. Not every Slytherin acted this way, of course, but a vast majority of them did. I believe this stems from Salazar Slytherin's view of the magical world. He had certain ideas about wizards and muggles, and he made sure people knew about them. His successors (the students in his house) know all about Slytherin, and therefore they try to live up to his extraordinarily high standards.
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Old 03-05-2009, 10:59 PM   #11 (permalink)



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Even though I myself am truly a Gryffie, as I was placed on this site I think that Slytherin always gets such a bad reputation. What house you're in doesn't define who you are--it's your actions that define you. People were simply placed in Slytherin house because they're cunning and able to manipulate people to get what they want, and who ever said that was a BAD thing? Sure, this can be abused, but that doesn't mean that EVERYONE from Slytherin is sneaky to the point of being a dark wizard or just a flat out rude person. Being cunning is not the only thing that Slytherin is known for either. All the houses have different personality traits associated with them, like Gryffindors are supposed to be brave AND chivalrous, and as Tommy said, there are a number of Gryffindors who proved that wrong. Like Peter Pettigrew. And Cormic McLaggen

Unfortunately, being cunning is one of the atributes that comes in handy when wanting to take over the world And Voldemort happened to be sorted into that house, along with a number of his supporters. Plus, there is that whole issue with Salazaar turning against the other three founders. So, the poor Slytherins pretty much just had everything working against them Doesn't mean they're not capable of being just as brave, smart, and loyal as a...Grypuffclaw
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:11 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I think the reason behind this is because Slytherins were particularly known to get what they want by all means necessary. Rowling felt portraying the darker side of that opinion more so than the "good?" students particularly because Slytherin wasn't really liked by any house, period. Also, when Harry first hears of this house he freaks out thinking it's made of nothing but bad folks. I on the other hand, happened to love Pansy, and felt she only said things to impress Malfoy. So really, there's this hidden side to all the characters I feel, if you really pay attention to the book.
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Old 04-19-2009, 01:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
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It is very important to consider the case of Draco Malfoy when speaking of Slytherin House. He is a revealed as a character with depth in the 6th book, HBP, which is essential to recognize.

J.K. Rowling may have portrayed the Slytherins as terribly mean because she wanted to emphasize that point. It was important for readers to understand that Slytherins were typically darker than the other houses in order for them to understand the origins of Lord Voldemort, the Death Eaters, etc.
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Old 05-14-2009, 12:11 AM   #14 (permalink)
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i really don't know why jk doesn't do that but i like the way u bring in the creatures and snakes usally mind their own buisness exept if u get in their way,so they should be more like that
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Old 06-02-2009, 04:24 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Also, I don't think Hagrid really meant that ALL Slytherins were bad. He just meant that he didn't know of one bad wizard who wasn't in Slytherin. Which is a big distinction.
I completely agree.

Also, I think it was supposed to be that way. Readers were meant to make assumptions about Slytherins, so that the developments with Draco and Snape would have more of an impact. And it was written from Harry's point of view and from what he saw of Slytherins, they weren't very nice. Plus, they already had a bad reputation. That would make it more difficult for them to associate with other houses if so many others were biased.
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:13 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I agree with a lot of this. First off, it's Harry's point of view. And one of the first things he hears about Hogwarts is that "there isn't a witch or wizard whose gone bad who wasn't from Slytherin." So, right then, he's thinking that Slytherin is a bad house, and if he gets sorted into that house, he's a bad person.

But that's just because of what's been said to him. So then he meets Draco, and Draco's acting all high and mighty, and rude. So, Harry thinks that because this kid knows he's going to be in Slytherin, then of course everyone else in the house has the same personality as Draco.

But also, the only Slytherins we really get to know are Voldemort, the Death Eaters (which we automatically assumed came from Slytherin, or at least I did, sorry), Snape, and Draco and his group of friends. Which, from the very beginning, don't really have a very good reputation. So we go through all the books reading, because Harry thinks so, that Slytherins are bad people. But what about all the other Slytherins that we didn't get to meet? Whose to say that they weren't some of the nicest people in Hogwarts, but are just really cunning?

So yeah, I think the main thing behind this...problem...is who's views we caught in the story - like Harry's, the Weasley's, Dumbledore, ect. If the story had been completely different, we'd probably be thinkin' the same things about Gryffindors
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Old 07-15-2009, 11:24 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I think it's important to note that two of the most prominent characters from Slytherin House, Snape and Malfoy, were not one-dimensional characters. We learned a great deal about them in the last two books, and they ceased to be the sort of "evil Slytherin" that was portrayed throughout the other books. If other characters did not receive the same kind of development, I think it's more because they weren't important characters (like Pansy, for instance), and less because of maintaining that viewpoint of Slytherin house.
I agree with this. I think that Jo wanted us to see the Slytherin house much of the wizarding world saw it, much like Hagrid saw it when the idea of houses was first introduced.

Also, it's interesting to think that, thinking back, our very own Harry was almost sorted into Slytherin!

Now, thinking of that from the new vantage point of the fact that Slytherin characters are not simply evil, it's intriguing to think what made the hat think Harry was right for Slytherin.

Finally, Bambi brings up an interesting point. 99% of the things we read and the dialogue of HP is from the point of view of Gryffindors. Hell, the most non-biased view of Slytherin in the book is from Dumbledore who, I believe was also a Gryffindor.

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Old 07-15-2009, 09:02 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I completely agree. I have thought a lot about this, because I feel that Slytherin has been given a unfair reputation. Everyone here has brought up a lot of good points, the main one being that the books are told from Harry's point of view. Harry has a dislike of Slytherin because of his problems with Malfoy, Snape, and - most of all - Voldemort.

Harry is, in a sense, the super Gryffindor. Always charging in places without thinking, ready to be a hero. The story is shaded through Harry's eyes to make Gryffindors look faultless ans Slytherins to look evil. We know that this is not the case, exeptions being Wormtail and Snape.

Also, we need to keep in mind that the majority of the story takes place during a war. In war, the individual is often not thought about, people favoring to take a whole country (for example) as one group with the same ideas. Since the main fighters on one side of the war were Slytherins, it makes sense for the people on the other side to just lump all Slytherins in together as one. Instead of individuals with different thoughts.
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Old 07-28-2009, 03:46 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I dissagree. I think there are at least two, maybe three or four characters in the book (from Slytherin house) who demonstrated good-natured acts. Horace Slughorn--although he was a bit of a coward, he would buck up when he needed to. He was kind to most of his students, even if he did have a tendency to pick obvious favorites. Severus Snape--he acted bravely and truly became an aly to Dumbledore. I believe he became a friend aswell. He did many, many brave things in his lifetime. Even if he was a death eater..his first and possibly only best friend was, indeed, muggle born. The third, whom I'm not sure can truly count, Draco Malfoy or Narcissa Malfoy, if you do not wish to commend Draco. They acted with cowardice for most of their lives, and defintely believed that those of pure blood were above those of 'lesser bloodlines'. But I think that in both cases, their own personal families meant more to them than killing and being ruthless. In all, I completely agree with many people here who say that the story was presented from a biased point of view. It was. But, there is no denying that there are exceptions to every house. I believe Dumbledore once says that he believed the sorting was done at too early an age.
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:50 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I also think Slytherins were given a biased reputation. I have to agree with the fact that most of this was from Harry's point of view, which was partially influenced by his parent's death and Hagrid's judgement, so naturally, he hated Slytherin. Immediately, we get a biased representation of Slytherin.

But I also think the people in Slytherin choose to be in Slytherin because of their family. Maybe their character traits are different, but their choices are Slytherin so they end up there. I remember Dumbledore saying something about our choices showing who we truly are far more than our abilities, and I think that may have led to the students with a history of dark arts being in Slytherin. The are influenced by their families who supported Voldemort, so, consequently, Slytherin ended up having more Voldemort supporters, who hated muggle borns and thought pure bloods were above everyone else.

I guess you start to see in the later books that some Slytherins like Draco were willing to work hard to bring family pride, a Hufflepuff or Gryffindor trait. Snape was loyal, which I believe is a Hufflepuff trait. But you don't see that until the end, and Harry's point of view sort of puts that in a biased way, even if you grow to accept them.

I'm not sure if I could understand that, but I think Slytherin was given a biased representation at the beginning, but the major characters (Draco) lived up to it. In the end, we see more depth though.
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:52 AM   #21 (permalink)
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i dont think all slytherins are bad im mean look at slughorn and snape thye represented slytherin and both werent supportors of voldemort i agree with ravenclawrox** its really just their reputation and alsobecause most voldemort supporters are from slytherin
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:35 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I think not.
Although i cannot speak positively for slytherin based on the characters.
But draco did turn out good at the end of it all.

Slytherin, i believe i read somewhere, is the house that is a go-getter.
Determined to succeed in what they want.

But i completely agree with you.
The reason JK made slytherin sound ghastly was because Voldemort was from that house.
She had to encourage slytherin to be Evil even if it really wasn't.

Gryffindors Neville was one of the firsts coward person i had read of, just noting that.
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Old 08-20-2009, 11:30 PM   #23 (permalink)
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It's been ages since I've read the last book, but one point from it (if I remember it correctly at all) is that while there were some students from Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor that stayed for the finale, ALL of Slytherin House left. It's bugged me for ages now and seems like the biggest blow against the argument that 'Slytherin House isn't bad' that Rowling has been insisting from start to finish. If they weren't bad, why didn't any of them stay to fight (that we know of)?

I've always felt the Slytherins were slighted somehow. Maybe it's Harry's POV narration, maybe it's how Rowling ties everything together, but I keep waiting for examples of good Slytherins and all I seem to find are Slytherin matyrs.
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:40 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Well Slytherins are cunning, ambitious and seeking for individual power or/and gain. And when determining the side of a Slytherin i think we should count his/her family and how s/he was raised which forms the thoughts and ideas, and we should have his or her character, attidute in count and combine these with the qualities a Slytherin does have.

Also some say there were not any muggle-borns in the house since Salazar Slytherin preferred it but i think that's another topic to debate since in the last book there's a line one of the snatchers say something like ''There are not a lot of mudbloods in Slytherin.'' which appereantly sounds like there can be some.

Tom Riddle, as a pretty succesfull and skilled student in Hogwarts, gets involved in Dark Magic because he thinks they were the magic that few wizard or witches would dare to or able to get into, looking for more and more power, he even passes beyond the known boundaries of Dark Magic at his time. And the Death Eaters joins him because, the first ones were admiring him for his great power and skill (i'm sure they all would love to be like him) and the later ones when he rises as the Dark Lord, they think they can be the part of the world Voldemort aimed to create, a word they'd have power over others especially on muggles.

There are many Slytherins that we do not know about and some may see and follow the power in other things, why not?

When looking at all those information i come to the result that a Slytherin is not really fully bad or good. They will lead for where they think their individual benefit is. The most appearent example to that is the Malfoys. It looks like they have lost their enthusiasm for their lord as he starts to hurt the family. They all feel uncomfortable that Voldemort uses their mansion as a base. Narcissa in exchange for the information that her son is alive lies to Voldemort when she finds out Harry is alive, such a vital information she hides from the Dark Lord! This means she no longer cared about Voldemort and his deeds anymore but only her son’s life. Later on in the battle they seem to be not joining and fighting at all. In the last book they all seem to be unwilling to obey Voldemort but do it because they fear for their lives.

Another thing which is affective when being sorted as you know the person’s family. Being a child of fully Slytherin family Sirius Black might have been in Slytherin and he’d make a different one if he were a Slytherin. I believe he chose Gryffindor over Slytherin.

When it comes to being coward, i dont think it is a characteristic of Slytherins. Of course there can be cowardly people among them but that does not make it the house’s feature since we know there are also brave ones like Snape. Instead they prefer avoiding or running away from the danger not because they are afraid because being not involved in a fight that they can avoid there’s no point take risk for their individual well-being and benefit. That’s where they conflict with Gryffindors.


A little bit out the topic about Peter Pettigrew ,he definitely has nothing to do with known Gryffindor features, especially the one about being loyal/faithful and i have not seen any sign that shows courage. In my opinion, he has chosen Gryffindor over some other house, probably over Slytherin because he seems to act for his own benefit as well. But i dont have any idea why he’d do that choice.

That's my idea about Slytherins.
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:28 PM   #25 (permalink)
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But then she makes a point of having Snape be from Slytherin but be working for the good side the entire time. Then Peter is in Gryffindor and he is even a friend to James and the gang and he turned out to be no better than a "typical Slytherin"

I understand that its told through Harry's point of view. But he has no contact with the magical world at all and right off the bat his perception is tainted against the Slytherins by Hagrid. Who frankly had no reason to say what he said.

I dunno maybe I am the only one that feels this way, bcus frankly in my heart of hearts I believe that I would have been honestly sorted into Slytherin. Not because I am a mean person or want to be an elitist, but because I am ambitious and cunning and I want what I want out of life and I am willing to work hard for it. And I just hate that Slytherin was vilified like it was.
I agree very much so.However the way Slytherins are portrayed through the views of other students, and adults that only "EVIL" comes of Slytherins gets on my nerves.Slytherins can be just as kind as anyone in any other house can be.My father says "Their always evil!They can never be good!*Reffering mainly to Lucius and Draco Malfoy*" is unfair, because snape was an ok guy who made horrible decisions but meant well most of the time after Lilly died.Or that is my view.

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I think it's important to note that two of the most prominent characters from Slytherin House, Snape and Malfoy, were not one-dimensional characters. We learned a great deal about them in the last two books, and they ceased to be the sort of "evil Slytherin" that was portrayed throughout the other books. If other characters did not receive the same kind of development, I think it's more because they weren't important characters (like Pansy, for instance), and less because of maintaining that viewpoint of Slytherin house.
This is exactly what I mean The reason most of them are mean is because they aren't such important characters.I bet most of us have all thought Draco Malfoy a bad guy at some point.I did until I read the sixth book.Same as with Snape,however,Pansy did not have a big role,much as she was a follower of Draco,and a girlfriend of his.That's all she really served as in the story, a mean follower of Draco who was probably infatuated with him x) so there was no need for her to change, as Draco is, saysa FoxFire not a one dimensional character. so he needs room to grow and change, snape as well.I hope that made sense.LOL



On another note, in the movie when they mention the love potion notice how Pansy drifts toward it, I was pretty sure I saw her glance over her shoulder before she moved toward it(glanced over at Draco who was barely paying any attention to what was going on right then).And then she seemed utterly disappointed when Slughorn puts the lid on the cauldron. Just a thought.
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