a dubious achievement

Book recs for Slytherins!

Gif source | More recs: slytherin (pt. 2),  hufflepuff (pt. 1 and pt. 2), ravenclaw (pt. 1 and pt. 2), gryffindor (pt. 1 and pt. 2) | text by @viegsen and @juan-nieves

House traits: ambitious, cunning, resourceful, shrewd, achievement-oriented, planner, strong leader, sense of self-preservation, disregard for rules, self-interested, exclusive (but with strong ties within exclusive groups)

  • THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, by Oscar Wilde - horror - Slytherins care a lot about power, we know that much. Power comes from different sources and in different forms though, and in this classic you’ll find a man that goes above and beyond to gain the particular kind of power that comes with youth and beauty, and he will do anything to maintain it. On top of all that, this book has a really weird/great mix of decadence and elegance that gives it a very unique feel that I think a Slytherin would quite appreciate.
  • SNOBS, by Julian Fellowes - fiction - Set in England in the 1990s, Snobs is a kind of fictional tell-all on Edith Lavery, a social climbing young woman who is determined to marry well, and ends up nabbing a kind but extremely dull Earl. Edith is perfectly aware that she is marrying a man who bores her to death for his money and position, and the reader follows this unapologetically cunning and ambitious woman as she navigates the ups and downs of life in the British upper class.
  • THE PRINCE, by Machiavelli - non fiction - In what is possibly the most Slytherin work ever, Machiavelli breaks with the Catholic doctrine of his time to counsel princes that the actions of State leaders need not be guided by the morality of the common man. The ends of the Prince (survival, honor, glory) justify the means used to achieve them. This has greatly influenced the Realist theory of International Reations, and Niccòlo’s advice is still interesting even for the non-politically inclined Slytherin: for example, the advice that a Prince should not leave his fate to chance, but rather make his own fortune, through hard work, prudence, virtue (not the Catholic kind), risk-taking and the ability to adapt to different circumstances.
  • PERFUME, by Patrick Süskind - historical fiction; horror - Ok, so you might think this book only highlights the more stereotypical side of the Slytherin house, but hear me out: here you have a story that portrays ambition, dedication, power, and clearly set goals in a way that you don’t really find in a lot of books. You get the chance to read about a man who is capable of doing anything in order to fulfill his goal, and who learns how to deal with people in a way that benefits him. What is also great about this book is that you get to read about a kind of power that is not really related to money, but to something that you might not even associate with the idea of power: smells. This books is also written beautifully, in such a way that you don’t even understand how descriptions of filth and shit can sound so poetic.
  • DEVIL IN WINTER, by Lisa Kleypas - historical romance - Cunning, resourceful and quite amoral, the “hero” of this novel is your quintessential Slytherin. He made some (less than favourable) appearances in other novels in this series (which you don’t have to read in order), and in Devil in Winter, he enters into a marriage of convenience with a woman he barely knows (who’s escaping abusive relatives) because she’s a heiress. Now isn’t it adorable when a Slytherin falls in love and puts all that ruthlessness and shrewdness in service of their loved one?
  • THE HEIRESS EFFECT, by Courtney Milan - historical romance - There is no question that the hero in this historical romance is a huge Slytherin. A son of a farmer who is making his way to the top, he is really, really, REALLY ambitious, a natural leader, and not above doing extremely morally dubious things to achieve his ends, either. Would he give up all his plans for the love of a woman who is wrong for him in every way?
  • MASTER OF CROWS, by Grace Draven - fantasy romance - Master of Crows is about Silhara, a renegade wizard who is tempted into selling his soul for the promise of limitless power, and Martise, a slave who volunteers to spy on him and betray him in order to win her own freedom. As they fall in love, their needs and ambitions pull them in different directions.
  • DIPLOMACY, by Henry Kissinger - non fiction - If you’re a Slytherin who’s into history or politics, this is fascinating stuff. Kissinger writes about some of History’s greatest leaders and diplomats, like Richelieu, Metternich and Bismarck, and discusses at length the power plays in international politics.
  • THE GREAT GATSBY, by F. Scott Fitzgerald - fiction - I mean… do I even have to say anything? If they read Muggle books, this one (a super rare first edition or something like that, probably) would totally be in the Malfoys’ personal library.
  • THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, by Isabel Allende - magical realism - A family saga where class and ambition are very clearly depicted. Two things make it even better and add a bit of diversity to the Slytherin house: it’s focuses on three generations of women, and it’s set in a Latin American country.
  • WUTHERING HEIGHTS, by Emily Brontë - romance - Ah, if this isn’t a great source of Slytherin angst! Besides Catherine and Heathcliff’s dramatic love story that most of you probably know pretty well, here it’s precisely in Heathcliff that you get to see just how effectively Slytherins can use their drive and resourcefulness to get where they want in life.
  • FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, by Thomas Hardy - romance - Bathsheba Everdene, a young and independent woman, comes into an inheritance that leads her to Weatherbury, where she has to deal with tons of shitty people and difficult situations in order to make a name for herself in a time and place where women are at a clear disadvantage. You’ll find in Bathsheba a clever Slytherin woman that knows exactly her worth; who uses her ambition, intelligence and resourcefulness to be the master of her own life and destiny, and to build a place for her within a society that continually tries to dominate her.
  • CRAZY RICH ASIANS, by Kevin Kwan - contemporary - There are lots of threads to this book. You have super rich, ultra-elitist people who will do anything to stop the “undesirables” from marrying into their Noble and Most Ancient family. You have ambitious, cunning people who would trample all over everyone, including their children, to achieve their ends. You also have privileged but kind people trying to balance their wants with what is expected of them by their family and their social circle. Lots of Slytherins in this highly entertaining story. The sequel China Rich Girlfriend is already out, btw.
Les Mis

Javert: Hufflepuff. He’s hardworking, patient, and very loyal to the law. Manager Em originally thought he might be a Gryffindor because of his very strong sense of right and wrong, but we decided that Javert’s decision to commit suicide was a very Hufflepuff decision, valuing equality in the eyes of the law. 

Valjean: Gryffindor. He’s got a very strong moral compass and doesn’t care much for authority. 

Fantine: Hufflepuff. We were a bit stuck on this one, but we eventually decided that Hufflepuff would be the best fit. A Slytherin would probably be more willing to sleep with the foreman in order to provide for Cosette, while a Gryffindor would continue to refuse to “play the game” after getting fired. In Fantine’s case, loyalty to her daughter came before her personal pride and morality.

Cosette: Gryffinclaw hatstall. Due to the varied interpretations of Cosette’s character, this one was tricky. Manager Em thought that she would be a Ravenclaw because she’s intelligent and craves knowledge about her childhood. Manager Fae thought that she would be a Gryffindor, because she’s adventurous and bold, and Gryffindors can also be truth-seekers. 

Marius: Hufflepuff. This one was also tricky. We decided he’d be a Hufflepuff because of his loyal decision to stay with his friends on the barricade instead of going after Cosette to England, despite the loss of his true love and the risk of death. 

Eponine: Slytherin. She’s cunning and manipulative, especially if you go by her characterization in the brick, where she lies to Marius in order to make sure that they die together. 

Thenardier: Slytherin. This one was an easy choice, since Thenardier is ambitious, manipulative, and cunning.

Mme Thenardier: Slytherin. Again, an easy choice.

(side note: most of the Sortings of the barricade boys are based on fandom characterization and headcanons, as neither Managers have read the brick)

Enjolras: Gryffindor. Although a lot of the fandom Sorts him as a Slytherin, we decided to sort him in Gryffindor because of his idealism and strong sense of justice. We agreed that even though his willingness to do just about anything to further his cause could be taken as a Slytherin trait, many Gryffindors are also willing to do morally dubious things to achieve a moral goal. After all, Dumbledore himself was a strong believer in acceptable casualties.

Grantaire: Ravenclaw. Manager Em originally thought he might be a Slytherin (possibly only because of the color association and because it would have made a complete House set with him and the Triumvirate). However, Manager Fae pointed out that he’s canonically very talented and creative. His intellectual side might also influence his cynicism, because he knows that the revolution doesn’t stand a chance of working.

Combeferre: Ravenclaw. This one’s fairly obvious, due to Combeferre’s role of the brains of the Triumvirate.

Courfeyrac: Hufflepuff. Again, Courfeyrac is the hearts of the Triumvirate.

Jehan Prouvaire: Ravenclaw. Jehan’s very creative and intellectual, which we thought would put him in Ravenclaw. 

Bossuet: Hufflepuff. This one’s basically just a headcanon, but we thought it fit.

Joly: Ravenclaw. Again, mostly a headcanon, but Joly’s known to be intelligent.

Bahorel: Gryffindor. Bahorel’s known to be bold and brash, which are very Gryffindor traits. He also seems to have a strong moral compass.

Feuilly: Hufflepuff. This one’s another headcanon, based on his fondness for hard work.

anonymous asked:

I'm confused about what a hero/protag is meant to do. Are they the same for books or is there a difference? I see stuff about heroes/protags besting more experienced people, defeating villains, etc. but in my novel my main protags become a part of the world they find and they help in a big defeat, but they are in no way leaders of it. They don't have a large part in the climax/defeat, it's just from their pov, just participate. Is that bad? Are they supposed to 'defeat' everything themselves?

Settle In Everybody, Time For Hero Theory

There is a difference between a hero and a protagonist (just as there is between a villain and an antagonist), but it has nothing to do with the type of media. A hero is someone who does heroic, noble, or good acts, while a protagonist is the leading or central character of the story. In other words, a story’s protagonist does not have to be a hero, and a hero does not have to be a protagonist.

The difference seems to be largely semantic nowadays. People refer to the “hero/ine” of the story when they refer to the main character, regardless of the character’s… well, character. This isn’t wrong, strictly speaking, but for purposes of this post (and your question), have the distinction in mind.

It sounds to me like your characters are at least protagonists in a world with other heroes, if not heroic protagonists in their own right. Read on for more—I have a point, I promise.

[Some spoiler tags: Game of Thrones (book 1 death), Last of Us (play it, it’s worth it!), Harry Potter (book 7 final battle), the Hobbit (book, ending spoilers). Read on with caution.]

Protagonism vs. Heroism

Being the protagonist of the story just means that you are the character the story is about. This does not automatically make you a heroic character—what makes you a hero is your actions. The protagonist is something that is nearly universal in stories everywhere—it’s very hard to find a work without a protagonist. (Similar terms and story roles to protagonist are the deuteragonist and tritagonist, but getting into those would merit another post.)

Heroism can mean saving kittens from trees, slaying dragons, being morally superior to the villains, and generally being a stand-up kind of person. Heroism involves morality and goodness, which may or may not be what the story is about.

Protagonism as Progress

Protagonists move the story forward, whether this be by narration, action, or something else. The story is about them, and so whatever happens in the story has to do with them somehow. This may or may not include doing things like taking down the big villains. Not every protagonist has an antagonist or a villain to defeat in show-stopping spectacle of strength or guile.

Whether or not the characters have big, showy successes over the villains, if the story is about them, they are the protagonist. One can argue that the characters should have some amount of success/fail in their character arc, but whether this manifests as full-on war with the Big Bad or a personal development is up to the story itself. The successes or failures of the characters do not have to be over villains for them to be protagonists, or even heroes.

Heroism as Protagonism

Protagonism and heroism can absolutely coincide. If a story is about a morally good character slaying an evil three-headed dragon, said character is both the protagonist and the hero of the story.

However, if the above story were to be told about or from the point of view of the (doomed) evil dragon, the dragonslayer is the antagonist, even if they remain a heroic character. The dragonslayer would still be a hero for their good actions, but would be the antagonist of the story. The story’s protagonist would then be the dragon, since the dragon is now the central character.

Non-Heroic Protagonists

Surely you have at least heard of the term antihero. As the name implies, the antihero is the anti hero—their traits and qualities oppose those of traditionally heroic characters. An antihero might be deceptive, apathetic, completely amoral, anything that would place them squarely outside of conventional “hero” territory.

There are those characters that fall in the middle of the scale, as well. Some characters are not heroic, but are not antiheroic either—and that’s fine.

Then you get villain protagonists, which would be like our dragon above. The dragon is the villain of the story—burning villages, eating people, being evil—but when the story centers around the dragon rather than the dragonslayer, the dragon is the protagonist.

The Role of the Protagonist

It sounds like your main protagonists may not be instrumental in the takedown of the big bad. This does not strip them of their protagonist titles! The story is still about them, regardless of their role in the final battle.

The point of the protagonist is to give your story a voice. The story is told about (and sometimes through) them—so the story you tell is largely dictated by their actions, whatever they are. If the protagonist sees the battle, that’s fine. If the protagonist participates in the battle, that’s also fine. If the protagonist is instrumental to the battle, that’s just as fine. What makes a character the protagonist isn’t their ability to take down antagonists/villains and overcome obstacles. What makes a character the protagonist is being the central character of the story. That is really all it takes. Stories are written and told about all kinds of characters—some of which are heroes.

The Role of the Hero

Just as protagonists are vast and complex, so are heroes. If your characters are heroic, it might involve the military defeat of a villain, or it might involve the rescuing of another of character, or something like standing up to a bully. Heroes come in a lot of flavors, one of which is the battle-tested action-hero type.

The point of a heroic character is usually to serve as a counterpoint to a more villainous character. Remember—a hero without a villain is useless, and a villain without a hero is successful.

Some works do not have a heroic character at all, and they work just as well without them. A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) factions are never completely good or evil, and most of its characters are equally morally ambiguous. Ned Stark, arguably one of the most “heroic” characters in the series, didn’t even make it through one book.

Works that show all characters as morally dubious can even go out of their way to subvert the idea of a heroic character. The Last of Us gives us Joel, a morally grey character who is completely fine with the murdering of other people; Ellie, a character who becomes desensitized to death and murder over the course of the story; and Marlene, a character who has the greater good of humanity at her back, but a morally dubious method of achieving it on her shoulders. Whether or not Joel’s final act of saving Ellie is considered morally correct is extremely debatable, depending on the player’s thoughts and feelings.

Success and Defeat

Regardless of whether a character is a hero, a protagonist, or any other kind of character, they never need to defeat everything themselves.  There are stories where characters tackle every task themselves, and there are stories where characters enlist the help of every other available character in order to take something on. Neither of these tactics are wrong. The thing to consider when working with your protagonist is whether or not it fits with their character arc to play an active role or a passive one in the current undertaking.

Sometimes, characters need help from other characters. If your character needs to bring on a few extra pairs of hands to get something done, that’s fine. Consider the role of Neville Longbottom in the final Battle of Hogwarts: Neville beheaded Nagini the snake after Harry told him that the snake needed to die in order to defeat Voldemort. Without Neville—a non-protagonist hero—the battle could have turned out very differently.

Sometimes, characters outright fail to complete or succeed at a task. A failure to accomplish something doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the line, though: consider the role of the notorious Barrel-Rider of Hobbit fame. Bilbo Baggins was not supposed to wake Smaug the dragon in his search for the Arkenstone, but did so—and made things worse in talking to him to such an extent that Smaug went out and destroyed Laketown. This failing does not ruin or invalidate Bilbo as the protagonist or as a character. The story moves forward, and we even see Bilbo communicating the dragon’s weakness and thereby helping to take Smaug down.

Going even further with the Hobbit example, Mr. Baggins literally sleeps through most of the Battle of Five Armies, and cannot participate at all! A protagonist does not have to be a part of The Final Battle to be an important part of the story.

Some Final Thoughts

Heroes and protagonists are both important. However, remember that they do not always coincide: heroes don’t have to be protagonists, and protagonists don’t have to be heroes. Characters who do not participate in big battles or defeat opponents far above their skill level are no less protagonists or heroes—there are a lot of things that go into characters besides that.