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Only normal subgroups can be used to form quotient groups: their key definition is that they plus their cosets form a group.
One key intuition is that "a normal subgroup is the kernel" of a group homomorphism, and the normal subgroup plus cosets are isomorphic to the image of the isomorphism, which is what the fundamental theorem on homomorphisms says.
Therefore "there aren't that many group homomorphism", and a normal subgroup it is a concrete and natural way to uniquely represent that homomorphism.
The best way to think about the, is to always think first: what is the homomorphism? And then work out everything else from there.