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Ravenclaw Giles- by _extraflamey_

In honor of the upcoming release of The Half-Blood Prince...

... I would like to dip a tentative toe into HP fandom and ask the following discussion question of certain members of my f-list:

Why Slytherin? Why Draco?

As someone who really isn't a fan of Draco or the Slytherin children en masse, I have my own thoughts on the subject, but I would like to hear from you. Let's get a real discussion going if we can.

Comments

Part of it comes from loving the underdog and totally despising the little brats who get everything on a silver platter.

I wish I could find the link now, but selenak (I believe) pointed me to a good discussion that denies the silver platter charge. Damn it. Suffice it to say that I would've been interested to hear your take on it.

I do believe myself that the accusation of privilege, especially where Harry is concerned, is exaggerated by Slytherin fans. Quite often, Harry himself has been treated very shabbily by his classmates and by the wizarding world at large. Many Hogwarts students believed Harry opened the Chamber of Secrets, to cite one example, and ostracized him because of that suspicion. And just look at how he's treated in the wizarding press.

Still, a number of your points are valid. I think you're absolutely correct regarding the whitewashing of wizarding history, for one. And I certainly have problems with how Slytherin is presented by JKR in existing canon. As I mentioned above, in a series that champions personal moral choice, a Hogwarts house that is seemingly destined for evil- or, at the very least, petty nastiness- is profoundly out of place. Either JKR plans to deepen the dynamics between the houses, or she is inadvertently undermining her own message.
I do believe myself that the accusation of privilege, especially where Harry is concerned, is exaggerated by Slytherin fans.

*gasps* I'm scandalized! And I would definitely argue the point, except there's a much better explanation than I can provide at Harry Potter--Pampered jock, patsy, fraud.

Many Hogwarts students believed Harry opened the Chamber of Secrets, to cite one example, and ostracized him because of that suspicion

Very true. All but Draco, it seems. He must've heard the rumors flying about Harry being a parselmouth and that Harry was a dark wizard, maybe even the heir of Slytherin, but he automatically knew it couldn't be Harry. There's no explanation of that given and I'm really curious as to why he never suspected him.

And just look at how he's treated in the wizarding press.

Again, quite right. But then it seems to be standard operating procedure for muggle celebrities to get it both ways in life, mocked by the press but receiving their adoration and celebrity through it as well.

she is inadvertently undermining her own message

I hadn't even thought of it that way, but you're right. In a series that seems devoted to tolerance and justice, the Slytherins are getting the shaft. I remember spotting a passage in one of the many Harry Potter explication books out there answering the question "why does Dumbledore allow the Slytherins to stay if they're all evil?" and the answer was that Dumbledore has to give them a chance to redeem themselves, or else it just wouldn't be fair to automatically exclude them. It's like they're considered evil from the start, do not pass go, don't collect 200 dollars.
The Harry-as-privileged (or the opposite) discussion hobsonphile referred to is here:

http://www.livejournal.com/community/hp_essays/25893.html

So I won't repeat any of the points marinarusalka makes.

Re: Slytherins - I have to point out here that even leaving Snape as the ambiguous character par excellence aside, book 5 offers Phineas Nigellus (or rather the portrait of same), who is presented (by the author, not fanon) as sarkastic but dead-on in most of his observations, and most certainly a Slytherin. Also, the song the Sorting Hat sings directly points out the division between the houses was originated by all of the Founders, not just Salazar, and that it wasn't good, that they won't survive unless it's overcome.
There are definitely two ways (at least) to read Harry's privilege or lack thereof. I'm buying the Slytherin view not just because I'm enamored of muggle-tossing but because the author's preferences become grating when she refuses to give much more than a 2-D characterization of the majority of Slytherins.

I wonder if that division of the houses isn't just a story point but is also perpetrated by the author.