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I just read a question regarding Slytherin, then I searched around and found this question and corresponding answers: How far can a Hogwarts student persuade the Sorting Hat?

This brings up another question: Why didn't Harry want to go to Slytherin? He didn't even know he was a wizard until a few days before and had no relatives who could tell him about Hogwarts. So why was he so adamant about Slytherin when he had no clue what the differences between the houses were?

I have to say, I only saw the movies and didn't read the book - maybe there he is introduced into the houses before he is judged by the sorting hat?

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    The downvote fairy has been busy around here! I think this is a good question, and both answers make sense to me... – Ingu Shama Jun 30 '15 at 8:23
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As you have not read the books, the following conversation happens between Harry and Ron in the train compartment:

"What house are your brothers in?" asked Harry.

"Gryffindor," said Ron. Gloom seemed to be settling on him again. "Mom and Dad were in it, too. I don't know what they'll say if I'm not. I don't suppose Ravenclaw would be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin."

"That's the house Vol-, I mean, You-Know-Who was in?"

"Yeah," said Ron. He flopped back into his seat, looking depressed.

It is mentioned here that Voldemort was in the Slytherin house. Harry already knew that Voldemort had killed his parents. So it may be his disgust, anger, fear of being evil or hatred towards the house because Voldemort was in Slytherin; Harry very badly doesn't want to be sorted into Slytherin.

That's why,

Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.

In the movies, Ron does not specifically tell Harry that Voldemort was in Slytherin, but he tells him that, "All the darks witches and wizards come from Slytherin" soon after the Sorting Hat yells, "Slytherin!" for Draco Malfoy.

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    Accepting this as an answer because of the quotes, but the other answers are also good. – Thomas Jun 30 '15 at 8:41
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    IIRC there was a conversation with Draco on the train that had a big part in it, too. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jun 30 '15 at 15:27
  • Yes. He disliked malfoy .. – captainsac Jul 17 '15 at 11:01
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+100

Harry was opposed to becoming a Slytherin for three primary reasons;

  • His visceral dislike of Draco Malfoy

  • The fact that he receives a very negative impression of Slytherin from his newfound friends; a former Gryffindor (Hagrid), two current Gryffindors, (Ron's older brothers) and a would-be Gryffindor (Ron)

  • The fact that the man who murdered his parents was in Slytherin House.


He takes an immediate dislike to Draco (who seems confident that he'll be joining Slytherin):

‘Well, no one really knows until they get there, do they, but I know I’ll be in Slytherin, all our family have been – imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?’

He learns (from Hagrid, whom he greatly admires) that Voldemort and most dark wizards and witches were members of Slytherin house:

Better Hufflepuff than Slytherin,’ said Hagrid darkly. ‘There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one.’

‘Vol– sorry – You-Know-Who was at Hogwarts?’

‘Years an’ years ago,’ said Hagrid.

Harry gives us a major insight into his thought process when he speaks to Ron. Clearly the whole "Voldemort was a Slytherin" thing is weighing heavily on his mind:

‘Gryffindor,’ said Ron. Gloom seemed to be settling on him again. ‘Mum and Dad were in it, too. I don’t know what they’ll say if I’m not. I don’t suppose Ravenclaw would be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin.’ ‘That’s the house Vol– I mean, You-Know-Who was in?’

He learns a little bit more about Slytherin house from the Sorting Hat as it praises traits that he has little affinity for; cunning, ambition and a willingness for ends to justify means:

Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.

He notes that the Slytherins look less than nice (although by this point, he's already been substantially influenced against them):

‘Bulstrode, Millicent’ then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Harry’s imagination, after all he’d heard about Slytherin, but he thought they looked an unpleasant lot.

His new arch-nemesis was just sorted into that house.

Malfoy swaggered forward when his name was called and got his wish at once: the hat had barely touched his head when it screamed, ‘SLYTHERIN!’

There's also a nice quote from the following book that indicates Harry's mental state

“Harry well remembered putting it on, exactly one year ago, and waiting, petrified, for its decision as it muttered aloud in his ear. For a few horrible seconds he had feared that the hat was going to put him in Slytherin, the house which had turned out more dark witches and wizards than any other – but he had ended up in Gryffindor, along with Ron, Hermione and the rest of the Weasleys.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5 (The Whomping Willow)


Within the film version, it's also worth noting that when Minerva MacGonagoll reads out the names of the houses, there's more than a little disgust in her voice when she mentions Slytherin House. Harry would certainly have noticed.

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    The bounty is very much appreciated. Glad you found the answer useful. – Valorum Jan 18 '16 at 13:31
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Hagrid tells Harry some things about the Houses and he states that Slytherin is the worst of all. So the person that tells him he's a wizard, really cares about him and all that, his first friend, tells him it's the worst house therefore Harry did surely not want to become a member of the house this person thinks is the worst.

Also when on the Hogwarts Express, I think Ron and Hermione are talking about the Houses of Hogwarts. Especially Hermione is quite sure about the House she wants to visit, which is Griffindor, but I think she says as well Ravenclaw wouldn't be the worst. As they're talking about the Houses they mention that Slytherin is the worst house and i remember somebody saying that even You-Know-Who was a Slytherin. So why would Harry go to the House the murderer of his parents was in?

Also I don't think that the first meeting with Draco was an advertisement for Slytherin.

  • Ok, I didn't remember that they were mentioning Voldemort was a Slytherin. But did he know that Draco was going to be a Slytherin? – Thomas Jun 30 '15 at 8:30
  • I think not at the point where they meet the first time, but Darco Malfoy was under the sorting hat before Harry Potter was under the sorting hat, so therefore Harry knew when he talked to the sorting hat and he was sure he did not want to go to the same house as Draco Malfoy – Zanser1609 Jun 30 '15 at 8:35
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    Hagrid also tells Harrh about houses and specifically says Slytherin is the worst. I've got no quotes on hand and really its just an addition to what you've already got so I won't make my own answer, but it may be worth sticking something in :) – Mac Cooper Jun 30 '15 at 8:37
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    @Thomas In the book, I'm pretty sure Draco mentions hoping that he'll be in Slytherin while on the train, talking about how his father was also in Slytherin. – Chris Hayes Jun 30 '15 at 9:27
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    I think you got something wrong. The house is not fully evil. It's just the other way round (referring to what Hagrid said in PS): All the dark wizards were in Slytherin. So it's not all Syltherins are evil but all Evils are Slytherins. But I think it's stated that Hagrid did not fully tell the truth, so it's not even that all Evils are Slytherins. – Zanser1609 Jul 1 '15 at 8:23
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In addition to what the characters have told Harry about how Slytherin is an evil house, it was also a way for the author to show us that Harry is going to be a good guy.

It gives us a first impression showing that even though his muggle aunt and uncle raised him poorly and he should have every reason to hate muggles, he is still good at heart.

It is also foreshadowing the fact that Voldemort and Harry Potter will become rivals by setting them apart: even though they have nearly the same background (they both were half-bloods and orphans raised by muggles, they hated the enviroment that they grew up in, they both had the same wand core, and finally were capable of being in Slytherin). However, Harry still had a good heart when Voldemort was corrupt.

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    Yes, but I think the question was looking for an in-universe answer... – Rand al'Thor Jan 17 '16 at 16:45
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Perhaps he felt that he may have some SLitherin attributes in his makeup and that being inducted there would release his demons and dark side

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    I'm not really seeing it. All the attributes he's heard of are very negative and he's clearly in no mood to listen rationally to the arguments in favour of being in Slytherin. All he seems to care is that it's the house of the guy who killed his parents and the guy he just met who he insta-hated – Valorum Jun 14 '16 at 7:21

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