Instigator / Pro
21
1566
rating
21
debates
66.67%
won
Topic

Slytherins (the House) Are Misrepresented in the Harry Potter Books/Movies

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
9
6
Sources points
6
6
Spelling and grammar points
3
3
Conduct points
3
3

With 3 votes and 3 points ahead, the winner is ...

K_Michael
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Last update date
Category
Movies
Time for argument
Three days
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Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
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Rated
Characters per argument
30,000
Contender / Con
18
1495
rating
47
debates
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Description
~ 138 / 5,000

The is a large general discrepancy between Slytherin behaviors in HP and the Sorting Hat's and others' descriptions of the House's values.

Round 1
Pro
As you accepted this debate, I presume that you are familiar with Harry Potter.

And power-hungry Slytherin
Loved those of great ambition.
-The Sorting Hat [1]

We Slytherins are brave, yes, but not stupid. For instance, given the choice, we will always choose to save our own necks.
-Phineas Nigellus Black, Slytherin, Former Headmaster of Hogwarts [2]

Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
-The Sorting Hat [3]

Without cunning, there is no innovation. Without ambition, there is no accomplishment.
Salazar Slytherin [4]


So, to summarize, (and if you've got a problem with my summary you can put your own terms on, and we'll work something out) Slytherins are "ambitious" [1, 4], cunning [3], and put themselves first, [2].

Now let's review the behavior of Slytherins in the book.

Draco Malfoy 

The first day of school, he tries to make friends with the popular boy, Harry Potter. This attempt fails when he estranges himself by insulting Ron Weasley. Now, a failed attempt does not constitute a failing as a Slytherin. But Draco makes no effort to endear himself and instead becomes bitter enemies with The Boy Who Lived.

If you want to rise in power, it is best to have powerful friends. It is very important not to have powerful enemies. Draco has no regard for his future standings, despite the given "ambition" of Slytherins. Horace Slughorn at least got that principle with his "Slug Club."


Lucius Malfoy

Possibly the worst Slytherin ever, despite his wealth and connections.
In the second book, He decides to sneak one of Voldemort's Horcruxes into the school for the purpose of re-opening the Chamber of Secrets, in order to further his pureblood elitism. All sounds perfect, except he does it when HIS OWN SON IS ATTENDING HOGWARTS! A cat, a ghost, and three students were petrified by this basilisk, which could easily have killed all but the ghost, and anyone, including Draco, could've stumbled across the serpent and died. Seriously, he's had this for ten years between Voldy's death and his own son attending Hogwarts, but he decides to use it now. 
Later in the same book, he also tried to kill Harry Potter down the hall from Headmaster Dumbledore's office, where Albus is.
In the book, it doesn't specify that he was going to kill him, but attacking a student is bad, especially when a suspect is currently wanted for opening the Chamber of Secrets.

Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe

I am unaware of either of these people having any ambitions. Basically, they're friends with Draco because their parents are all Death-Eaters.

Voldemort

Voldemort's a pretty good Slytherin. First, he became the leader of powerful wizards and witches by creating a blood purist campaign, despite the fact that he's a half-blood himself. Cunning? Check. Ambition? Check. 
However, as we know that he is the Heir of Slytherin and opened the Chamber of Secrets while he was a student, why didn't he just carry out the blood purists' plot then? There is no reason I can think of to wait.

So what?

Most of my examples also showed that person acting like a Slytherin, kinda dis-corroborating my claim. My point is that compared to the other houses, there are far too many exceptions.
Gryffindor has very few exceptions, mostly Peter Pettigrew and Neville Longbottom, though both have their moments of courage. 
Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw aren't as well documented, but there are no examples of either that act a way that directly contradicts their House.

So J. K. Rowling has misrepresented Slytherin with these exceptions, and basically made them out to be the bad guys, possibly for the sole purpose of making Snape extraordinary in his sacrifices, etc. (The Snape contrast plot is entirely baseless, except by experience as a writer myself, and some gut feeling, but consider it if you will.)
Con
Grouping every possible personality into only 4 groups is no easy task, and as such it only stands to reason that some "rounding off" must be done. In fact, almost no one actually fits perfectly into their house, Hermione for example could be placed in either Gryffindor or Ravenclaw just as easily, and Harry Potter had to choose to be a Gryffindor to be recognised as one. Ron has elements of Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor in his personality but lands in Gryffindor because he ultimately aligns with those traits most strongly.
There is no rule that says you have to perfectly match your house, almost every character has traits from other houses or lacks certain traits usually associated with their house. The fact that Crabbe and Goyle are bumbling idiots rather than cunning sociopaths does not change the fact that Slytherin fits them best, because while they are too stupid to have any real ambition or cunning they still have the underlying low IQ version of a Slytherin personality. They are conniving but not cunning, ruthless in their goals but too stupid to have any realistic or ambitious plans other than being powerful death eaters (which is presumably their respective goals).
As for Draco Malfoy, his actions do not contradict Slytherin in the slightest because while HP is a good connection to have he is the antithesis of what Slytherin represents and is the one who destroyed Voldemort whom the Malfoys are allied with.
Lucious Malfoy's poor timing can mostly be attributed to being a plot device, and his attempted murder of HP can be attributed to a temporary lapse in self control induced by extreme anger. He is very much a Slytherin type person, but his cunning is undermined by psychopathic fits of rage and JK Rowling plot devices.

In the end I think this debate comes down to whether you can contradict certain traits of the house but still fit into that house better than others, or if you have to strictly have the described traits of the house. I would argue that the answer is the former because practically everyone is an imperfect fit into their respective house.
Round 2
Pro
Slytherins are consistently in direct contradiction to their house values whereas the other three houses have almost no contradictions. If people that don't fit well in the other three houses, they go to Slytherin. But there should be a bunch of Hufflepuffs that aren't ambitious, smart, or brave, without being hard-working or loyal.
Pettigrew isn't smart, loyal or cunning, but seems to be mostly motivated by fear. He literally fits nowhere but gets put in Gryffindor, most probably just to have a friend that will betray the Potters. 

Imagine if Ravenclaw was like Slytherin House. There would be several people who aren't smart. Let's say that the four House values are rated as average, below average, and above average. There would, statistically, be people who go to Ravenclaw that have average intelligence and are below average everything else. But as far as the evidence shows, there are none. 
Con
Slytherins are consistently in direct contradiction to their house values whereas the other three houses have almost no contradictions.
If that's the case, you will have to find more examples, since the ones you already provided have been shot down like a WW1 aircraft in an advanced extra-terrestrial dog fight.
Round 3
Pro
The fact that Crabbe and Goyle are bumbling idiots rather than cunning sociopaths does not change the fact that Slytherin fits them best
Granted, I can't seem them in any of the other houses, but Rowling is still representing Slytherin badly. There should, by the math I showed earlier, be as many Ravenclaws of average intelligence as there are Slytherins of average cunning. 

the [examples] you already provided have been shot down like a WW1 aircraft in an advanced extra-terrestrial dog fight.
That's a matter of opinion. I don't personally believe that your rebuttals in R1 actually negated my points. The voters may decide for themselves.
Con
Granted, I can't seem them in any of the other houses, but Rowling is still representing Slytherin badly. There should, by the math I showed earlier, be as many Ravenclaws of average intelligence as there are Slytherins of average cunning. 
Ravenclaw is defined entirely by being bright, witty etc. Whereas Slytherin is more subject to interpretation. IRL examples of Slytherin type people range from Hitler to Bill Gates. Both are cunning and ambitious but they are completely different, whereas almost every IRL Ravenclaw type is a scientist or artist.
In fact, now that I mention it, although Ravenclaw is more straightforward than Slytherin, it is still not entirely what you would expect. Take Luna Lovegood for example, she is a right-brained Ravenclaw (more of an artist than a scientist) but Ravenclaw by it's description appears inherently left-brained in many ways. A Ravenclaw could theoretically be poor at academics and even appear dumb on the surface, but be a super-witty artistic genius who is only bright/witty when it comes to creativity. Perhaps this is similar to the case of Crabbe and Goyle, who appear to be borderline retarded but actually posses a form of low animal cunning under the right circumstances.

That's a matter of opinion.
Nothing is truly a matter of opinion.
Round 4
Pro

almost every IRL Ravenclaw type is a scientist or artist. 
You just say this, but you have no idea. According to basic math (1 out of 4 options), roughly 25% of the world is technically a "Ravenclaw." Obviously, artists and scientists don't make up 25% of the population, so you're most definitely wrong.


although Ravenclaw is more straightforward than Slytherin, it is still not entirely what you would expect. Take Luna Lovegood for example, she is a right-brained Ravenclaw (more of an artist than a scientist) but Ravenclaw by it's description appears inherently left-brained in many ways. A Ravenclaw could theoretically be poor at academics and even appear dumb on the surface, but be a super-witty artistic genius who is only bright/witty when it comes to creativity.
I don't think you understand. There should be, on average, one mediocre (in every aspect, left or right brained) intelligence Ravenclaw for every "conniving" rather than "cunning" Slytherin, because they are still more intelligent than they are brave, loyal, or ambitious. That's how math works. if you have a 0 in G, H, and S. (Houses abbreviated because I'm tired of writing them out), then it only requires a 1, rather than a 2, for R to be your best fit. But we see no evidence of average intelligence Ravenclaws. Hufflepuff has only about 3 characters you ever get to ever know a little bit, and none of them are unloyal. Gryffindor has maybe 1 coward or person of average bravery: Pettigrew. I'm not saying that he isn't brave though. Pettigrew was a traitor, but he stayed with Voldemort despite his fear of the Dark Lord. Neville stood up to Harry in Book 1, and was simply amazing in 7, so he's not average or below either. So the fact that there is disparity for Slytherins alone indicates a misrepresentation of the House simply because Rowling wanted some bad guys.

Nothing is truly a matter of opinion.
This is also an opinion.

~~~
Since I won't be able to refute anything you bring up in the last round, I would like you to only contend my arguments and restate your own, rather than making any new points, since I can't argue against a brand new argument in the last round.


Con
According to basic math (1 out of 4 options), roughly 25% of the world is technically a "Ravenclaw." Obviously, artists and scientists don't make up 25% of the population, so you're most definitely wrong.
There is no basis for the assumption it would be an equal 1/4 split. Ravenclaws are actually the rarest type of person because most people are dumb.

There should be, on average, one mediocre (in every aspect, left or right brained) intelligence Ravenclaw for every "conniving" rather than "cunning" Slytherin
Not necessarily.