Slytherin Traits

Slytherin Traits

Each of the four Hogwarts is defined by specific characteristics prized by the founder responsible for the house. Salazar Slytherin can be argued to be the “villain” of the founding four, which often results in a tainted view of those in Slytherin’s house. Generally, the Slytherin characters we meet are dark wizards or aspiring dark wizards. It can indeed be argued that this is a huge misrepresentation. Are they simply cunning, devious, and ambitious? Is there any good to be said about Slytherin House?

Here are the good and bad traits of Slytherins…

Good Slytherin traits:


This is an important one. Ambition is a trait that is inextricably linked with the Slytherin house. Although it can seem different in the wizarding world, being ambitious is a highly desirable quality.

Ambitious person strives to better themselves and reaps the rewards from their successes. This is most clearly seen in Severus Snape – who commits himself to destroy Lord Voldemort after he kills Lily and James Potter.

Of course, ambition in excess, like all traits, can become problematic (look no further than Tom Riddle!). Lord Voldemort’s ambition to become immortal is perhaps excessive.


It can be argued that loyalty is a Hufflepuff or Gryffindor trait, but it has a strong foothold in Slytherin ideals.

It is true that sometimes Slytherin loyalties are misplaced or somewhere outside the normal realms of dedication – but not always.

The Death-Eaters are the epitome of loyalty. Mostly, they stayed true to Lord Voldemort during the 13 years he was “gone” and came as soon as he returned and called them.


Confidence, not arrogance, can be an incredibly endearing trait. Slytherins are very self-sufficient and self-assured in their abilities.

In “Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince”, we see a young Tom Riddle finding out that he is a wizard. His immediate reaction is to say he knew he was special. Instead of being afraid of what made him different, Tom Riddle was confident that he was meant for more extraordinary things.

Don’t get me wrong, he took it a little far, but this original confidence in an 11-year-old boy is a trait to be admired.


We so often believe only a Gryffindor can be brave. This is absolutely untrue. Slytherins have shown bravery again and again throughout the series.

Let’s start with, arguably, one of the most compelling stories of bravery in the Harry Potter series. Regulus Black saves his house elf Kreacher to begin the fight against Lord Voldemort. Regulus orders Kreacher to leave him to die in the cave where Voldemort hid Salazar Slytherin’s locket (a Horcrux; part of Voldemort’s soul). A courageous act.


Slytherins are notoriously cunning, but this is a good thing! Being cunning means picking up, and acting on, the more minor details. This form of intelligence has been misconstrued as a deceptive trait.

Draco Malfoy uses Madam Rosmerta in “Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince’ to sneak poisoned mead into Hogwarts, knowing that the bottle wouldn’t be checked over if it came from a trusted source. Cunning!


Slytherins are natural-born leaders. 16-year-old Tom Riddle had already fashioned himself a small gang of followers. Harry comments that even students older than Tom Riddle were awed by him.

Draco Malfoy shows leadership with his two friends Crabbe and Goyle, who often follow his every move.

Phineas Nigellus Black, Sirius’ ancestor, was a Slytherin and former head teacher of Hogwarts. Severus Snape and Horace Slughorn both show leadership in their subjects and their positions as heads of Slytherin House.


Determination is often paired with Gryffindor, but we see many Slytherin examples of perseverance.

Draco Malfoy is determined to help his family escape disgrace by following the dark lord’s orders to kill Albus Dumbledore – even though it is clear he doesn’t want to!
Severus Snape is determined to atone for recounting the overheard prophecy to Lord Voldemort, which ultimately resulted in the murder of Lily Potter – whom he was in love with.


The Bloody Baron is an incredible example of deep introspection. After killing Helena Ravenclaw in a fit of rage, he kills himself with the very same knife after being “overcome with remorse”. The Bloody Baron subjects himself to a life as a ghost, always wearing heavy chains, as an act of penance for taking a life.

Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy also show introspection. At the Battle of Hogwarts, they realise they might be on the wrong side of the war; they defect and quickly escape to be free of Voldemort.


Slytherins always have a strategy in mind; this can be beneficial!

Severus Snape is strategic in “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows” when he casts the doe patronus to draw Harry to the sword of Gryffindor – ultimately leading to Lord Voldemort’s defeat.


Who would you want by your side if you’re in a tricky situation and need help getting out of it? I’d recommend a Slytherin.
Slytherin House performs incredibly well under pressure and in any form of crisis.

Horace Slughorn managed to hide his Horcruxes memory from Albus Dumbledore for many years; he also has managed to form a group of incredibly successful wizards under his watch so that he can benefit from their friendships. As well as always carrying around vials for potential black-market sales! (Aragog didn’t need the acromantula venom anymore, it’s resourceful, not theft – I think).

Bad Slytherin Traits:


Being malicious means having an actual desire to cause hurt or pain; this is a significant flaw in the Slytherin character type. Lord Voldemort is a clear example of acting out of a sheer desire to cause harm; an excellent example of this is his travelling back to Little Hangleton to kill his grandparents as revenge for not seeking him out.


Dolores Umbridge a well-known Slytherin and a renowned master manipulator. In “Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix”, Umbridge manipulates her way into becoming Hogwarts High Inquisitor and, eventually, headmaster after having Dumbledore removed.

Slytherins generally are very good at playing on the emotions of others to get their way. Using the Imperious Curse on thousands of wizards is perhaps the greatest manipulation tactic of all time.


Sneakiness is almost synonymic with Slytherin. Young Tom Riddle uses candied pineapple to soften Professor Slughorn so that he can disguise his thirst for knowledge about Horcruxes as an academic curiosity.

Slughorn himself attend Aragog’s funeral under the guise of support for Rubeus Hagrid, when in fact, he meant to harvest some of the dead spider’s venom to sell! Sneaky.


Slytherins often have an exaggerated sense of their potential and importance. Lucius Malfoy comes to mind.

Draco Malfoy says, “Wait till my father heard about this” so often in The Harry Potter series that it becomes comical. Lucius Malfoy is seen as untouchable and powerful when we first meet him. We soon learn that he is far from those things, but his arrogance is so inflated in the Dark Lords’ absence that it is impossible to see any positive traits underneath (let me know if you think of any!).


Unfortunately, being selfish goes hand in hand with many of the existing negative traits of a Slytherin.

Even Severus Snape, who had a redemption arc, acted for himself. He wanted to protect Lily Potter’s son because HE loved her, not because he felt like he owed Harry after having his parents killed. Slytherins sometimes do surprisingly kind acts, but I challenge you to find one that doesn’t have some form of self-serving consequences. They’re inherently selfish.


We have to talk about this one because it’s very well hidden! Think about it; Horace Slughorn collects accomplished wizards so he can benefit from their successes, and the Malfoys simply believed they were owed everything because they were “pure-blood”.

Crabbe and Goyle – I don’t need to say anything about these two to show their laziness, do I?


Slytherin House is literally based on Salazar Slytherin saying he only wanted to allow “pure-bloods” into Hogwarts. Pretty judgemental attitude to have, but we see it all the way through The Harry Potter series. The Malfoy throw the term “mudblood” around like a weapon.

Death-Eaters are a group of people who want to make wizards superior to “muggles” by enforcing the magical world as the better race. It’s not only judgemental but also prejudiced.


I think it’s important to note that being susceptible to peer pressure is a negative trait. Very often, we see the members of Slytherin House unable to stand up for what they believe in.

Crabbe and Goyle are just followers of Draco Malfoy; who knows what they believe in or stand for? Some of the Death-Eaters claimed to have only ever feared Voldemort and what he might do if they didn’t commit to him. Lucius Malfoy becomes a shell of himself in the final book as he realises he is being held emotionally hostage by Voldemort. Draco Malfoy was bullied into attempting to murder Albus Dumbledore to “prove himself” to the Dark Lord. You would never see a Gryffindor in this position.


It’s challenging to think of many portrayals of Slytherins who have shown empathy for others.

Voldemort is completely uncaring of others. Draco tries to get Hagrid fired despite knowing he is innocent. Snape shows little care to anyone other than Lily Potter, and Barty Crouch Jr kills his father…


Although Slytherins are confident in their abilities, they can act a little scared when it comes to it.

Draco Malfoy is terrified on multiple occasions; when he has to go into the forbidden forest, when he faces Buckbeak, when Hermione punches him and when he attempts to murder Albus Dumbledore.

That’s without mentioning Horace Slughorn turning himself into a chair to avoid the death eaters…

Slytherins and The Zodiacs:


This is the sign of the Slytherins! Tom Riddle, Severus Snape and Lucius Malfoy are all Capricorns.

Capricorns are stereotypically; hardworking, ambitious, loyal, persistent, impatient, and prideful. Capricorns are master planners and don’t mind playing the long game if it means success. Does this remind you of anyone? Lord Voldemort, perhaps?

It’s evident that if zodiac signs are linked to Hogwarts houses, Capricorns belong in Slytherin. They go together like Fred and George Weasley.


Geminis are intelligent and adaptable but also impulsive, nosey, and unreliable. Draco Malfoy is both a Slytherin and a Gemini.

  • Draco is persistently nosey, desperately trying to get others into trouble by discovering what they may be up to. Norbert the Dragon is a prime example of this behaviour. However, he comes up with some ingenious plans:
  • Fixing the broken vanishing cabinet to allow death-eaters into Hogwarts.
  • Turning Crabbe and Goyle into young girls to keep watch for him.
  • Putting Madam Rosmerta under the imperious curse to poison some mead.

So, if you’re a Gemini, you might be a Slytherin too.


What are Slytherin’s traits and weaknesses?

Slytherins have many weaknesses, the most important being their sinister nature and arrogant tendencies. Despite this, we can see some positive traits in them, too, with prominent displays of bravery and leadership.

What are the core values of Slytherin?

Slytherins value status and ambition. They admire people who work hard and strive for greatness, but they also respect you if you were born into a pure-blood family. Although they show some positive displays of cunning, most of Slytherin’s core values revolve around success by whatever means necessary.

What does Slytherin value most?

This is tricky. Ultimately, Slytherins value tradition. Families get placed into Slytherin House because of their ancestry (besides Sirius Black, who revelled in being the defect). The Black family motto was “Toujours Pur, ” meaning “Always Pure” to reflect their status as a “pure-blood” wizarding family. Salazar Slytherin believed only pure-blooded wizards should be allowed to attend Hogwarts, and Slytherins value this above all else.

Remember, intelligence is a step away from arrogance, courage is a step away from recklessness, and loyalty is a step away from conformity. Whatever Hogwarts House you belong in, it’s all about the steps you choose to take.

Kaysleigh Hudspith
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