This isn’t incendiary at all, I just feel like talking about it, because the Gryffindor/Slytherin rivalry makes ZERO SENSE to me sometimes? The good vs. evil thing not only paints Slytherin in a frustratingly negative light, but I think it misrepresents Gryffindor as well, suggesting that in order to be a Gryffindor you have to stand for a glorious cause, or be the people’s hero, or be outgoing and aggressive and fight everyone’s battles. Heroism CAN be subtle.
The principal difference between Gryffindor and Slytherin is that one is after glory, and the other is after power. It isn’t a matter of being selfless versus self-preserving — that’s too simple. Both houses desire recognition and approval, they’re resourceful and take risks and bend rules. They’re all about action — they get shit done. Glory/fame is more about being validated by the populace, and power is more about personal success; glory is spiritual, power is material. And while Gryffindor IS typically more about saving others and being courageous, and Slytherin IS more about survival and knowing when to back down, their differences are not so black and white. Glory can be a purely personal endeavor; power can be used to help others.
I can definitely see why Gryffindors and Slytherins would butt heads often, because they’re both naturally suited to leadership and are very alike in their determination. But they don’t directly oppose one another; they’re two sides of the same coin.