August 07, 2007
I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yesterday afternoon. And I was going to write a post last night, but got sidetracked when I got involved with a conversation over IM with a friend who had also read the series. During that he mentioned that he didn't like the epilogue. I agreed with him, but there was one thing I did like about the epilogue.
I liked when Harry complimented Severus Snape to his son. I liked that he named one of his children after Severus. In many ways Severus was the best character in the novels. He had a backstory and he had more depth than anyone outside Harry himself (and arguably more than him). And it says a lot that Harry was able to get over his hatred of Severus enough to go to the lengths of naming one of his children after him. That is a big step to take.
Now, I suppose I should get to the actual point of all of this...Severus Snape, to my mind, is the ultimate example of someone from Slytherin House. Forget what Dumbledore says about thinking that they sort too young in refrence to Severus. Yes, what Severus does is brave which fits into Gryffindor quite well, but it is my belief that the two houses are actually pretty closely linked.
Obviously, I'm not Rowling, and this only my interpretation. But to my mind the defining characteristic for someone in Slytherin House is a willingness to do anything to succeed at a certain goal, a drive that is so significant, that they won't let anything stand in their way. Discard their fondness for the Dark Arts (it comes from the willingness to do anything for the goal), their inherent arrogance (which could similarly be seen as a side-effect; in order to be that driven they have to have an utter confidence that they're right), the pure blood breeding (the two most significant Slytherins in the series are both half-bloods, and in Severus' case it rings false when one takes into account his deep affection for Lily, Harry Potter's mother). They can't all be assholes (Slughorn isn't really, and Riddle wasn't always. He was described as being quite charming when he first came to Hogwarts, and was able to do it again for Ginny's benefit in the second book).
Now where do I get this idea that that drive is the defining characteristic for Slytherins? In the first book, the Sorting Hat's rhyme has the following lines, "Or Perhaps in Slytherin/ You'll make your real friends/ These cunning folks use any means/ To achieve their ends." and in book four the Hat says the following lines, "And power-hungry Slytherin/ Loved those of great ambition." Now I suppose, that could simply reference the Slytherins willingness to sink to depths such as the Dark Arts or their greediness and desire for power that is common for most of them (but not all. What of Snape? Did he do anything suggesting that he was power-hungry? He wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, but did he really get any extra power from it?).
Now with that in mind. Snape is willing to do anything and everyting in his desire for revenge against Voldermort. Now, not all of the Slytherins carry that drive to that extent (Draco fails in his bid to kill Dumbledore, Regulus Black falters and refuses to go all the way for the Death Eaters). But absolutely nothing is going to stop Severus or Tom Riddle other than outside factors beyond their control, and they're going to do everything they can to minimize/eliminate those factors. When it comes down to it there isn't anything that necessitates Slytherins must be bad people though things are weighted heavily in favor of that being the case, as a lust for power is among the simplest things that can inspire that drive, and they'll dip into black magic to succeed at their task (but then again even Harry and Hermoine will drop to the level of the Unforgivable Curses).
I got to the point that I have thought of a character I would like to write up, but can't because it would require the character (as originally thought up) to be in Rowling's world. I wanted to write of a Slytherin that wasn't just a random asshole or an archvillian in training (this idea first came about before I read the last book). I wanted to write about a Slytherin who's drive led him to commit some evil acts, though I always did picture him as ultimately repentant when he found something he was even more desirous of. And he realized the depths that he had sunk to were interfering with his new goal. Oh well.
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