Out of the 4 Houses in Hogwarts-Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin-there is one house that stands out from the rest as the official "Black Sheep" of the wizarding school. I am of course talking about Slytherin House. Lord Voldemort's own Alma mater. The very House that educated every dark Witch or Wizard in the Harry Potter Universe. With such a tainted and dark history, why would anyone be proud to be a member of Slytherin House? Why is Slytherin House still a House at all after the debacle of Salazar Slytherin's departure? To answer this question, we must first look at the personality traits that the Sorting Hat will consider before declaring who belongs in which house.
The Proud and Chivalrous Gryffindor...
Gryffindor House is easily the fan favorite. Contributing more members to Dumbledore's Army than any other house, Gryffindors exhibit: courage; chivalry; determination; and, nerves of steel. Gryffindors are always the first to arrive; the first to take charge; the first to volunteer for dangerous jobs; and, the most likely to act without thinking. Exuberant in nature, Gryffindor's are basically the jocks of the wizarding world, and among the most loyal of friends. Brave and Kind are two traits commonly associated with Gryffindor's; but so are Arrogance and Recklessness. When faced with a life or death scenario, a Gryffindor will jump in head first without stopping to think or even to properly assess the situation. The fan favorite they may be, Gryffindor House would never accept me as one of their own. What about the other houses?
The patient and boring Hufflepuff...
Patient, loyal, fair, and mild agoraphobia; members of Hufflepuff don't put much stock into things like intelligence; bravery; or anything really. So long as the student will keep their head down, do their work, and make sure that everyone is playing by the rules; that student will excel in the most boring of all houses. They are more loyal in their friendships than a Gryffindor, yet the only situation with with they truly excel is in following someone smarter and more ambitious than they are. I believe it's safe to say that if I was sorted into Hufflepuff, I'd take a flying leap off of the astronomy tower. Maybe I would be better suited to be in a house dedicated to knowledge and intelligence.
The wise and easily distracted Ravenclaws.
Ravenclaw. Home to geniuses, philosophers, inventors, day dreamers, chefs, pastries, Quidditch, walls, paintings, people . . . What were we talking about again? Oh that's right, the ADHD house full of brilliant minds and eccentric magic practitioners. They'll try any type of magic they can, so long as they'll learn something from the experience-and nobody dies of course. They aren't Gryffindor's after all. Their curiosity sends them on tangents more often than not, and they are obsessed with furthering their own knowledge. So much so that they often forget there are other people around. Easily the most intelligent in all of Hogwarts, they might be too intelligent. I've seen TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and Scorpion; sometimes insane intelligence can be a serious detriment. Which leaves only one house left.
The powerful and ambitious Slytherins.
Slytherin's are natural leaders, perfectly fit for political office or business management. They are ambitious, cunning, resourceful, and highly achievement-orientated. While a Gryffindor will charge head first into danger without thought, a Slytherin will carefully gather information and weigh every possibility before reaching a decision. For one, they know that without properly analyzing the situation there's a strong potential that acting irrationally could make the situation worse. On the other hand, their strong sense of self-preservation might assuage their decision to jump in without thought, just in case. It's this strong sense of self that has most people convinced that Slytherins are nothing but cowardly snakes willing to say or do anything to get what they want; which couldn't be further from the truth. Slytherins calculate every possibility much like a Chess Grandmaster surveys the bored at all times. It's this reason why they excel in leadership positions and political office. They do what needs to be done, even if it means being ridiculed and shunned. There's a word for that: courage.
But wait, what about all of those dark witches and wizards that followed Lord Voldemort? Well, that's easy. They didn't follow Voldemort because they were in the same house; they followed him because they were friends when Lord Voldemort was still Tom Marvolo Riddle. Tom Riddle most likely started amassing his following his very first year at Hogwarts. He was always evil at heart, but the second he learned about magic and magical education he became the handsome and charming Tom Riddle that we see in the flashbacks. A master manipulator, Voldemort gave Slytherin House a bad name not because Slytherins are bad people, but because Voldemort is just that good at brainwashing people.
As far as the pure blood aspect of Slytherins, well, look at the source. 1,000 years ago Salazar Slytherin declared magical education must only be given to pure blood wizards. 1,000 years ago. When the Catholic Church was burning people at the stake for being a witch and disease and famine were commonplace in the muggle world. Witches and Wizards must have been living in secret away from muggles for Thousands of years before Hogwarts was even built. With the best anti-muggle spells built into the very walls. Secrecy was a way of life for them. Their secrecy literally meant life or death. The wrong word to the wrong person could end up destroying countless magical lives. I'm willing to bet that Salazar Slytherin's choice to restrict magical learning based on Blood Status wasn't out of bigotry. He made a hard choice to protect the wizarding way of life. Remember the Slytherin tendency towards strong self preservation? Bingo. Remember their tendency to plan ahead? There's the Chamber of Secrets for you. Slytherin must have been convinced their lives were in jeopardy by teaching muggle borns. If that was the case, war would have been inevitable. Wizards have magic, but muggles at that time had gun powder. 300-400 wizards-most of them students-against tens of thousands of muggles. Hogwarts would end up being a stronghold and last line of defense. Hence the spell that awakened the stone soldiers. It was put in place to protect the students. In a situation like that, wouldn't it be nice to have a Basilisk on your side that you have full control over to use for protection that can kill just by looking at their intended target? Salazar Slytherin wasn't a bigot, he was a leader. He didn't hate muggles, he feared them. He-as it turned out-was alone in his fear of muggles. The other leaders didn't share his trepidation and were more willing to trust muggles with a secret or two. An argument ensued and Slytherin left rather than watch the wizarding world be exposed while forced to do nothing. Of course none of this would have been explained to the students. Why make hundreds of children afraid if it can be avoided? So, they only heard bits and pieces of arguments about purebloods resulting in Slytherin leaving, promising death to muggle borns. Rumors spread, and after 1,000 years Slytherin became the bad guy and House Slytherin became anti-muggle. Which is why there still exists a Slytherin house in the first place. Slytherin was a great man and what he looked for in witches and wizards had a tendency to create the most influential wizards in the world. Why disband a system that works just because one of the leaders succumbed to fear? It's not logical. Slytherin's are not bad people, they're just politicians. It's a common mistake. ;-)
Someone should get a hold of J.K. Rowling and tell her she needs to write the founding of Hogwarts story. Set the record straight once and for all.
Source: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/, and www.cbs.com