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Theory about the symbolism of Slytherin

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ThatGreekLady, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. ThatGreekLady

    ThatGreekLady Fourth Year

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    There have been many discussions about Slytherin and why it's portrayed so negatively or why it exists at all. I never found the excuses the fans provide for Slytherin to be very convincing and it always bothered me. However, I was thinking that a story doesn't have to be realistic, sometimes it can be symbolic.

    What if Slytherin was meant to symbolize the "darker" aspects of human personality? The reason you cannot get rid of the Slytherin House is that you cannot get completely rid of the darker side of humans either.

    People like Snape are meant to be symbolize that we can redeem ourselves despite our predisposition for evil. That's why Dumbledore even implied that Snape should have been in another House when he said "we sort too soon". He was redeemed exactly by going against the values of his House.

    That's what I was thinking. The Houses are symbols of aspects of human personality and Slytherin is meant to symbolize the negative side of humanity. The reason they cannot disband the Slytherin House is that you cannot completely erase evil from the world either. People like Regulus and Snape are there to show that there is still hope for redemption.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Arthellion

    Arthellion The Chosen One

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    I think JK Rowling was writing a children’s book and slytherin was your traditional bad guy.

    Only later did Rowling realize how discriminatory that could be taken and created some redeeming qualities.
     
  3. ThatGreekLady

    ThatGreekLady Fourth Year

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    I don't know, even in the later books, I was not convinced Slytherin had redeeming qualities. When Dumbledore implied that Snape should have been in another House, I gave up all hope on them. However, that doesn't mean it's bad writing, like I said Slytherin could work as a symbol.
     
  4. Seratin

    Seratin Proudmander Prestige DLP Supporter

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    The fact that the entirety of Slytherin house cut and run shows an aptitude for shallow writing in general.
     
  5. Silirt

    Silirt High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    It was that or fight their parents.
    I'm not disagreeing that it was just shallow writing, but she really should have left it as it was rather than say Slughorn led some of them back to fight for Hogwarts. Now it doesn't even make sense. Why leave the defensive position of the castle if you're going to come back?
     
  6. ThatGreekLady

    ThatGreekLady Fourth Year

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    Them coming back with Slughorn was a retcon, it was not in the books. If anything , in the books it is implied that they joined the Death Eater side as Voldemort said so to Lucius.
     
  7. Silirt

    Silirt High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    That was why I said she should have left it as it was. The retcon just seems like she got cold feet about making them all unwilling to fight for Hogwarts.
     
  8. ThatGreekLady

    ThatGreekLady Fourth Year

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    Yea...I think Slytherin was originally meant to be kinda symbolic for the darker side of humans like I said. However, it seems like she tried to backtrack from this later on. I wish that either she left Slytherin as a symbol for evil or she truly redeemed the House, instead it seems like we are stuck somewhere in the middle, which is confusing. I was actually shocked when Harry in the epilogue told his son that it's okay to be in Slytherin since I saw nothing redeeming about the House and even Regulus and Snape were not exactly good guys, not to mention that Dumbledore implied Snape should have been a Gryffindor...
     
  9. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Unspeakable DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    As said above, some do come back to fight though don't they?

    I remember being quite annoyed in the film when McGonagall sends them all to the dungeon. It felt like it struck against one of the big themes in the book.

    See, you're kinda right that Slytherin were the bad house. They served that role. But that wasn't a big theme, and I don't think JK was trying to push that Slytherin represents the abstract and necessary evil of man. I don't think necessary evil was something the HP series acknowledged or reconciled, particularly.

    Quite the opposite.

    For me a huge part of the HP themes revolve around 'It is our choices that define us'.

    I liked that most of Slytherin chose to leave. Most of them were a product of people who were advantaged by Voldemort's system, and after thinking about it some of them chose to come back.

    Wormtail was a Gryffindor. And Harry was in many ways similar to Tom Riddle. I think that the HP books symbolism and themes are about choice, particularly where it against your environment and self-interest and that that is a heroic thing.

    The Slytherin return didn't feel like a failure to me, it felt like the sorting hat finally being heeded, it felt like the moment that foreshadowed victory for the wizarding world against Voldemort. All four houses finally together by choice, in service of the right choice not the easy one.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  10. ThatGreekLady

    ThatGreekLady Fourth Year

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    By the way there are old comments from Rowling that support my theory that Slytherin is a symbol of the darker nature of humans, which is why you also cannot completely get rid of it. She had said that she was concerned that many of the moderators on a chat room find their spiritual home in Slytherin. That shows that she didn't consider Slytherin a "good" house. She has probably backtracked from this position, but still.
     
  11. TRH

    TRH Seventh Year

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    The only Slytherin stated or implied to return in the book is Slughorn. In fact, as mentioned earlier, Voldemort's dialogue in the book itself implies that most, if not all of them joined the attacking Death Eaters. It was only in a subsequent interview that JKR said otherwise, but honestly, why should we believe that? Why would schoolchildren risk their lives in what seemed like a losing battle against their own parents?

    Speaking of things Rowling did to try and rationalize Slytherin's virtues after the fact, didn't Pottermore say that Merlin was sorted into Slytherin? Now that's a next-level retcon nightmare to add onto this.
     
  12. ThatGreekLady

    ThatGreekLady Fourth Year

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    I honestly wish she didn't use retcons like that especially since the timeline doesn't even make sense. (Merlin predates Hogwarts)

    I think she should have left Slytherin to be the "bad" House as she actually wrote it and maybe disband it at the end of the books to replace it with a more positive House if she saw it as necessary. Either that or she should have admitted that Slytherin is the bad House but she wanted to have it for the sake of symbolism, like I said. (they didn't get rid of Slytherin for the same reason why you cannot get rid of evil etc.)
     
  13. Dystopian Destiny

    Dystopian Destiny Fourth Year

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    I think they came back later because they wanted to see who was winning and be a part of that side. It was a risk, but their alignment would be beneficial. If they were caught on the wrong side, they could always tell they were spying. After all they came back to fight, but is it mentioned anywhere that they did fight?
     
  14. Dasha

    Dasha Second Year DLP Supporter

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    Didn't McGonagall said that only people of age can fight?

    That would leave only Harry's year and a part of the year bellow. So like 15 people.

    Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Nott, I belive were Death Eaters almost for sure. Zabini calls Ginny a traitor and Pansy is pro Voldemort, so they are unlikely to come back. That leaves other girls and six years, i.e. less than ten people, who were friends with those mentioned above, so not exactly a lot or a very representative sample of all Slytherins, I think.

    Also not all people from other houses fought. Wiki says: "number of older Ravenclaws, a quarter of Hufflepuff and half of Gryffindor". Colin and Ginny sneaked in after.

    Maybe some people just were realistic about their fighting skills.

    I wish someone from Slytherin come back just to prove a point, but given the above, plus the fact that they would have to go against their parents/people they know, means I don't think the fact that they didn't means Slytherins are evil.

    In the end, we know Astoria did stop being blood supremacist eventually (kinda). Slughorn come back, Snape did his part, Draco didn't.

    PS: Also Slytherins might have been unwelcome even if they did comeback, thought to be on DE side.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
  15. AgentSatan

    AgentSatan Second Year

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    I look at the Voldemort war as the magical counterpart to WW2. I think that death eaters were like Nazi's, and Voldemort was like Hitler. So I suppose slytherin house is symbolic of the Nazi's, and I would argue muggleborns would be the Jews. In fact, pureblood doctrine is remarkably similar to Nazi Germany. We are a superior race; mudbloods are lesser than us, and we are putting them in their place.
     
  16. Silirt

    Silirt High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    WWII equivalent is supposed to be Grindelwald, it happens at the same time. Riddle was inspired by him.
     
  17. AgentSatan

    AgentSatan Second Year

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    That doesn't make sense. Grindelwald had doctrine that no wizard should have to hide from muggles. WW1 was about conquering land, not discrimination. I guess it does make sense, because Grindelwald wanted to conquer all of Europe. From a motivation perspective, however, Grindelwald's war is totally different from WW1.
     
  18. Silirt

    Silirt High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    Okay, so the thing is, other European countries would never have declared war on Germany if Hitler had not been expanding through Europe at a worrying rate, the last straw being the invasion of Poland. They didn't find out about the discrimination the Nazi party was exercising until later, and at the time they didn't really lose sleep over it. Had Hitler kept to his own borders, he would have been allowed to continue his discriminatory practices indefinitely. Grindelwald believed in the subjugation of the muggle world under magical rule, which he stated would lead to an end to squabbling among muggles.
    Riddle is only a boy in the forties, when Dumbledore has to duel Grindelwald(if it makes any difference, I'm pretty sure Grindelwald is Austrian) so by the time he comes on to the scene, he's an admirer taking his own stab at becoming the next great dark wizard. Given the time periods, Rowling most likely wanted the Death Eaters to represent some sort of reactionary terror group. The closest thing that comes to mind is the Klan.
     
  19. AgentSatan

    AgentSatan Second Year

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    The death eaters don't strike me as the KKK or some terrorist group, because of how Voldemort has an agenda to rule. The definition of a terrorist group according to NATO is "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property in an attempt to coerce or intimidate governments or societies to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives". That is not in line with what Voldemort wants to do. He's not trying to coerce governmental and societal change; he's trying to conquer Wizarding Britain. Thats why I think the best comparison is WW2 and the Nazi's.
     
  20. Silirt

    Silirt High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    There were like hundreds of elected officials who were active Klan members. You've got the grunts who do lynchings, then you have the higher ups who run for office and the grunts intimidate people who don't vote for them. I realize it's an example from the U.S, but there were and are remotely similar groups in Europe. The Golden Dawn comes to mind.
    Another thing, a very essential thing- Voldemort is British. He's not a foreign invader, which was the fear with Hitler, that he would invade Britain. He does not really care for government positions either, he wants to be immortal and everything else is just a means to an end.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
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