Before we begin, here’s a reminder of the part of the Sorting Hat’s song in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, that specifically relates to Slytherin:
‘Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.’
Does that tally with your understanding of members of Slytherin house? Here’s how we reckon Scorpius Malfoy helped us see Slytherins in a whole new light…
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, our first experience of a Slytherin trying to make friends was Draco Malfoy entering Harry and Ron’s compartment on the Hogwarts Express. Now, we know he hadn’t yet been sorted into Slytherin, but it definitely still counted. Malfoy took one look at Ron, and attempted to befriend Harry – with a snide remark about stopping him from making friends with ‘the wrong sort.’ Not a great start for Slytherin social skills, if we’re honest. But contrast that with Scorpius Malfoy in Cursed Child. He greeted Albus and Rose with incredible warmth, even though Rose was immediately suspicious of him. Then, he shared his sweets with Albus – we can’t see Malfoy sharing anything with well… anyone… can you?
As Malfoy continued at Hogwarts, he had two Slytherin sidekicks – Crabbe and Goyle – but it was difficult to know whether you could really count them as his friends. He ordered them around and regularly told them how stupid they were, but we never really got an insight into how this Slytherin really felt about the value of friendship. Scorpius, on the other hand, valued his friendship with Albus to the extent that he helped him no matter what – including physically throwing himself after him off of the moving Hogwarts Express! Scorpius was never scared to voice how important Albus’s friendship was to him – saying out loud how Harry Potter’s son was his ‘best friend’. This emotional honesty and transparency was something we hadn’t seen in a member of Slytherin house before… except perhaps, in the end, in Severus Snape – though he kept his true feelings hidden from most until after his death.
What many Slytherins throughout the Harry Potter series seemed to have had was high self-esteem. Draco Malfoy was convinced of his own Quidditch prowess, Pansy Parkinson was always pretty pleased with herself, and even Horace Slughorn had enough self-confidence to establish the Slug Club and never question whether students would want to join. But in Cursed Child, thanks to Scorpius, we saw a different side of Slytherin altogether.
Teased relentlessly about the rumour that he was the son of Voldemort, Scorpius wasn’t exactly keen on talking about himself. When he did talk – to Rose Granger-Weasley, for example – he was less than self-assured, and often blurted out phrases that didn’t make any sense! Remember that time he told he she smelled like bread? And one of his most heart-breaking lines perhaps summed up this lack of self-esteem: ‘Come on mate, if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s knowing where we’re not wanted.’ Oh Scorpius! Not exactly the kind of Slytherin we’re used to!
But what can we learn about Slytherin from all this? Well… if the Sorting Hat could sort Scorpius into Slytherin and this Malfoy still felt so unsure of himself – clearly lack of confidence doesn’t bar you from being chosen for the house of the snake. Perhaps there were lots of Slytherins just out of sight at Hogwarts who didn’t feel quite so confident, and perhaps the ones that seemed so self-assured, weren’t so confident on the inside after all?
The Slytherins Harry met during his time at Hogwarts had certainly poured themselves a few cups of ambition. Draco Malfoy was so determined to be a Quidditch player, that he bought the whole Slytherin team brooms so he could play Seeker. Horace Slughorn sought to find the brightest and best of witches and wizards to advance the Slug Club and his connections. That’s not to mention the Slytherin Death Eaters we came across – Severus Snape, Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange – a thirst for power, to be close to Lord Voldemort, to change the wizarding world drove them on and over to the Dark Lord’s side.
Scorpius was ambitious too, but his aims were different. Scorpius just wanted to be liked, to have a friend, to go to Hogwarts and study and be happy. He was clever too, ambitious in his magical studies, for his own future. But Scorpius taught us that ambition doesn’t have to be linked to Dark magic or trying to be better than everyone else. He taught us that Slytherins can be ambitious in different, sometimes smaller, ways – but that doesn’t make your dreams any less important or worthy of achieving. And you can admit you’re just a little bit scared along the way…
The most important lesson we can learn from Scorpius Malfoy about this noble house, is that there’s no right or wrong way to be a Slytherin – and there’s certainly no reason at all to whisper, ‘Not Slytherin’ when you’re undertaking the Sorting Ceremony on our website. We didn’t always see the best of Slytherin house during Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts, but that doesn’t mean those Slytherins like Scorpius weren’t learning magic alongside him. And we have to admit the Slytherin colours of green and silver are pretty great!
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