Why is Slytherin allowed to exist?

I’m only casually aware of Harry Potter from seeing a couple of the movies. So maybe someone better versed in the lore can explain this, as I have long found it perplexing.

Shouldn’t the sorting hat say “this one needs to go straight to prison, or at least be expelled”? Or if that’s too harsh, how about putting them in an intensive program designed to rehabilitate them?

I mean, I assume the Jedi Academy didn’t have a Sith Wing. What am I missing here?

I’m sure someone will have a far better answer but the Houses are representative of certain skills or traits. Slytherin values skills like ambition, resourcefulness, loyalty (to Slytherin), cleverness, etc. These traits make Slytherin members more prone to becoming dark wizards but several of them turn out to be, for lack of a better word, “good.” Likewise, the other houses can produce dark wizards, though I don’t think there are any documented from Hufflepuff. So, it’s sort of a takes-all-kinds deal of the Wizarding World - Slytherin are behind a lot of bad stuff but they can also be instrumental in the progress of the Wizarding World.

Does seem weird. Relevant quote: “… another curious decision of the school’s there, to dedicate an entire house to the children in its care who are evil” (from Mitchell and Webb’s “Welcome to Hufflepuff”).

According to Harry Potter, the bravest man he ever met was a Slytherin.

I don’t know that I would agree with him, though.

“…he also tormented 11 year olds because he was bullied in high school, but that’s beside the point.”

Ha, nice. I love their “are we the baddies?” sketch.

Coincidentally, I just happened to be reading an essay about this (“Is Ambition a Virtue? Why Slytherin Belongs at Hogwarts” by Steven W. Patterson, in Harry Potter and Philosophy).

The author’s take is that ambition is the defining characteristic of Slytherin, and ambition can be a virtue. He discusses the Aristotelian point of view on virtue, where a virtue is a mean between two extremes, or between an excess and a deficiency of some quality.

That IS quite the coincidence! Interesting.

I also think that people tend to overlook the possibility of institutional culture changing over time. Do we have any reason to think that Slytherin was so much more baddie-prone than other houses before Voldemort turned it into his power base? The two (?) prominent pre-Riddle Slytherins I can think of are Horace Slughorn and Leta Lestrange, both of whom had their issues but neither of whom was actually evil.

Similarly, think of the Grindelwald period at Durmstrang, during which it appears that not just a House but an entire school was largely corrupted towards cruelty and abuses of power. But we find by the time of the Second Wizarding War that Durmstrang has largely rehabilitated itself.

Good point.

(You’ve making some good points in several threads lately.)

What about Slytherin himself building a secret chamber and hiding a monster there to kill mudbloods? Evil from the start.

I get why Slytherin exists. I just don’t get why JK Rowling took it so far. I found it ridiculous that during the final battle, not a single student from Slytherin volunteers to stay and fight. Only Slughorn fights, assuming you don’t count Snape.

I mean, can’t at least 20% of these kids fight for good?

Well it’s not as if safety is a primary concern at Hogwarts; sure there’s a lot of lip service of the “safety” variety, but in practice the students are basically in harm’s way, often intentionally, seemingly all the time.

Also, so was the evilest.

Don’t forget that Hogwarts doesn’t exist in a vacuum - it’s part of the overall Wizarding society, and the Headmaster has to answer to a Board of Governors. And we’ve seen that Slytherins have lots of economic and political power in that society - which you’d expect from a house that emphasizes personal ambition, ruthlessness, & loyalty to that house. The Malfoys, the Blacks, the Lestranges, etc. would all raise a stink if anyone even suggested closing Slytherin.

Ah, okay, like Skull and Bones or something.

I wondered the same, but decided that the decision came down to not wanting to be stabbed in the back by the 80%, and no good way to determine at that moment who were the trustworthy ones. Remember that the death eaters were literally at the gates of Hogwarts.

Because the Wizarding World is fucked up. You have Slytherin racists, government-employed Dementors walking around assaulting innocent civilians, and as we’ve seen in the books, give them a little nudge and they go full-one fascist within a couple of months. And that’s just the Brits - the Americans are even worse, what with their summary executions and all.

These are not good people.

I assume that when the four founders created Hogwarts together, there was some sort of unbreakable magical contract or something that requires all four houses to continue to exist.