Lesson Seven Homework: Basilisk, Cultic Snake, Occamy
Required: While in some literature, the Basilisk, and snakes in general, are not portrayed as Evil, J K Rowling seems to be content to follow the larger reputation of snakes as creatures of Evil (or, at least no friend to humankind—which can be said for some centaurs as well).
Do you think it’s “fair” to have three Hogwarts’ Houses have totems which seem largely “good” and “noble,” and to have Slytherin House have a serpent as its totem? Why would JKR decide that at least one of these Houses had to have something seen as negative be its symbol? And, does she make attempts to broaden one’s appreciation for the Good in the personal attributes of Slytherin students by discussions between Harry and the Sorting Hat and Harry and Dumbledore? What of the ending of the series (if you have gotten that far)? What could have JKR been thinking that not even ONE Slytherin student stays to help defend Hogwarts? Is every Slytherin a coward? Is every Slytherin only interested in himself or herself? Is every Slytherin hoping that Lord V wins? Is that really realistic (assuming we think any of the plot could have happened)? Then–what are we to do with that Arch-Slytherin, Prof. Severus Snape?
Extra Credit: On the other hand, you probably have read a few things about the other House totems which display traits which aren’t very nice. Discuss another House animal symbol and see if any “balance” between Good and Evil also exists—as it does in the serpent. Cite a work or two in which the symbol doesn’t seem so “goody-goody”! (These can be other HP books, or others.)