In the previous installments, we looked at an idealist House (Ravenclaw, the person that lives up to an external ideal above their feelings), and a loyalist House (Hufflepuff, who treats and sees everyone as equal of their love and protection). Now let’s look at the other loyalist House, Slytherin.
Unlike the Hufflepuff, the Slytherin has people they prioritize, over whom they feel ownership or devotion. For a Slytherin, family is everything—and they will sacrifice their ideologies to save their loved ones, chosen or born. We see this in Narcissa Malfoy, who betrays Voldemort when she tells him Harry is dead, to save her son and then hustles her family off the battlefield at the Battle of Hogwarts—faced with their life or death, she prioritizes saving them over The Cause. To betray their family feels immoral to a Slytherin, so they spend a lot of time protecting their loved ones, fighting battles for and alongside them, and holding onto them tightly. If and when they choose to make other people part of their Family, they extend the same fierce devotion, sense of ownership, and protectiveness toward them. Not everyone is welcome. The Slytherin is not interested in everyone, and feels no guilt about putting Their Most Important People first.
The Slytherin ‘family first’ mentality is rampant in film. Like Tony Stark as Iron Man. He doesn’t do it out of a sense of Unyielding Moral Right like Captain America (a Gryffindor), but because he sees it as HIS responsibility, because the world is his to protect. His emblem was on the weapons. His name created a dangerous world. Tony does not attach easily, but on occasion people become his… like Pepper and, toward the end, Peter Parker. His total devotion to Family is what makes him incapable of forgiving Bucky. That dude killed my parents; he has to pay. This is what leads to the conflict in Civil War—an epic showdown between a Slytherin’s love for his family and a Gryffindor’s absolute iron-clad “No, I won’t let you do this.”
Elena Gilbert, in The Vampire Diaries, has a Hufflepuff Model of equality and fairness to everyone—until someone threatens her brother, then it’s Family First (the series contrasts her to the highly moral, forgiving Elijah, a Hufflepuff with a Slytherin Model — after Elena kills his brother to save her own, he understands and forgives her. She would Never Forgive). Katniss Everdeen, in The Hunger Games, volunteers for Prim, to save Prim, goes into the arena for Prim, then adopts Peeta and Rue and would die for them. Unlike Gale, a Gryffindor driven by what feels moral to him, she would love to take her family and run away from the war, to hide out in the woods, because… her family comes first. She even asks Haymitch to volunteer to replace Peeta in the second book / movie if Peeta is Chosen to return to the arena (prioritizing Peeta, her person, over Haymitch; and Peeta, being another Slytherin, volunteers so that he can protect her, his person!).
The Slytherin loyalty is not the “you are a person, and just being a person makes you deserve my loyalty” mentality of a Hufflepuff; it’s a deliberate decision to choose someone as special and bring them into your fold. It’s Sam Gamgee, willing to leave Merry and Pippin behind (they are not “his”) but will follow “MY” Mr. Frodo into Mordor, even if it kills him. Sir Guy in the BBC Robin Hood, who would let the world burn to save Lady Marian. Buffy Summers, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who takes it upon herself to save everyone, all the time, because they are HERS to protect. She takes “ownership” of the world. It’s HER responsibility. It’s not a duty, it’s a drive born of possession, a sense of “this world is MINE.” (Like Tony Stark.)
All these characters are willing to die for their Chosen Others, making them devoted, fierce in the protection of loved ones, and focused in their love.
In Star Wars, Finn, Han Solo, and Anakin are Slytherins. Finn shows it in how he “chooses” Rey. She becomes his Person. He prioritizes her, cares about her, and through all three movies, is chasing after her, determined to “save” Rey. “Where is Rey?” is his predictable catchphrase. I am just here for Rey. Even though he adopts others later, finds ways to connect to them, and decides to live and die for a higher cause, for him it’s always because Rey cares, and he cares about Rey. He endangered his life and the lives of others to save her, almost died fighting Kylo Ren for her, even stopped running from the First Order (out of a desire to save his own neck) when he saw her kidnapped. Finn risked everything to board an enemy ship and find her… all for Rey. His person. His chosen one.
Han follows the same course – he wants nothing to do with Leia’s war, he sees no benefit in it for himself, he is in it “for me.” What makes him turn around and charge into action? Leia. Love for her. What makes him heroic? The desire to help Leia. To win Leia. For Leia. Why does he approach his son, knowing it might get him killed? For Leia, and because you don’t turn your back on Family. Ever. Han dies trying to redeem his child. He never gave up, even at the end. He returns as a Force Ghost, to forgive him, and urge him to return to Goodness. He plays as much of a role in Ben’s redemption as Rey does, because she shows Ben the light, and the forgiveness of his Slytherin father enables him to take it.
Anakin has the same fierce devotion to Padme. Whatever he does, even if it’s destructive, is out of love for his Person. He loves her so deeply, and is so afraid of losing her, that the Emperor tricks him into betraying everything —for her. He can kill all the Jedi, because they are not “his.” Padme is his. But his cursed Slytherin possessive love is also his redemption—because at the end, confronted with his son’s possible death, Anakin cannot betray his Family. The “burned” Slytherin who has forgotten love—for himself, for the Jedi, for Obi-Wan, for his dead wife, and his children—un-burns. He dies in defense of his son, because… he is mine. My son. Luke. Mine to save.
Slytherins get an unfair rap, but there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing your family. Your loved ones. With being selective in whom you give your time to. With loving hard and deep. Being chosen by a Slytherin as one of “my people” is awesome, because they don’t give that love to just anyone. And they are willing to die for whatever they decide is “my cause.” In the Bible, when I think of a Slytherin, Ruth comes to mind. After she marries into Naomi’s family, she becomes Family. She refuses to leave Naomi, even when her sister-in-law turns back “for home.” Once you have chosen your family, you don’t abandon them. Upon reaching a foreign land, despite being a stranger and not of their kind, she’s fine, because she’s with Naomi. She keeps to herself, and looks after Naomi by gathering food for them. Ruth does all in service ‘of’ Naomi. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Out of all the Houses, I admire Slytherin the most. Are you one?