On Hogwarts houses

When I was younger, like a large portion of the world I was pretty into the Harry Potter books. I wouldn’t say I was obsessed- I owned very little Potter paraphernalia outside of the books. But from the release of book five onward, every time a book was about to come out I would have to have it and I would read it in a day or two. I recall reading The Half-Blood Prince in about ten hours.

One thing I surprisingly didn’t think much about, though, was where I thought I belonged in terms of Hogwarts’ four houses. Like most kids I probably would have wanted to be a member of House Gryffindor (whoops, Game of Thrones is starting to take over my brain it seems). But I know now that if I were to put on the Sorting Hat I wouldn’t be Gryffindor. I’m not brave or adventurous enough for that, I think.

A while back, if I remember correctly it was shortly after the last Harry Potter movie came out, a new website began in beta called PotterMore. There was a huge rush of people wanting to get on the site, but invitations had to be sent out and people had to sometimes wait literally for months before they could get in.

Part of the process when first getting in was to fill out a personality quiz (I think) that would determine your house. Various people were sorted, but there was one house that people started to complain en masse about being sorted into: Hufflepuff.

To them, Hufflepuff somehow felt like the biggest slap in the face. What’s the defining trait of Hufflepuff, they wondered. Some people probably would have even preferred to be a Slytherin, even though it has the connotations of evil.

Which leads me to how this post came about, and why I’m suddenly talking about the merits of Hogwarts houses at a time when Harry Potter isn’t really in the news anymore. Recently, Robin, a friend of mine, said via a Facebook status that she had taken an online quiz that sorted her into a Hogwarts house. The house she got was Hufflepuff, and she wasn’t too happy about that.

Before I even knew what I was doing, I found myself telling her that she shouldn’t be upset that she got that house. Hufflepuffs, in reality, are nice and genuinely hard-working people. Robin is also genuinely nice and hard-working, so this sorting seems to make sense for her.

Yesterday, Robin linked me to a particularly insightful comment someone left on Reddit that presents an alternative view as to why people are sorted into their various houses. The commenter suggests that the good traits that seem to define house membership are also closely related to a bad trait.

So for Gryffindor, they are seen as brave and courageous, but they’re also overly reckless. Look at how many times Ron, Hermione and Harry have been injured and almost killed. Ravenclaw are known as being wise and intellectual, but at the cost of being kind of snobby and pretentious. There’s not much of a spotlight on Ravenclaw in the books, but they seemed to have a sort of “you’ll never be as smart as me” type of disposition. Slytherins are ambitious and tend to be powerful, but that’s because they’ll do anything to get that power, including stepping on their friends. And finally, there’s Hufflepuffs. They are genuinely nice, honest, loyal and hard-working people, though apparently their bad trait is that they might be a little dumb, though I’ve never seen Hufflepuffs in the books as dumb people.

The Reddit commenter sees Hufflepuffs as basically Samwise Gamgee of the Lord of the Rings series. They may been seen as slow, but as Robin pointed out, Sam was basically the reason that they One Ring was finally thrown into the fires of Mount Doom.

I also began to think back to a cool post I saw where someone took the time to categorize a whole slew of Game of Thrones characters into Hogwarts houses. My current favourite character in the series, Davos Seaworth, was though to be a Hufflepuff. Ser Davos is one of the only decent men left in Westeros and his highly honourable. It was at that moment that I began to think I wouldn’t mind so much being a Hufflepuff. As my friend Liz also pointed out, J.K. Rowling herself identifies as a Hufflepuff, and look how much literary ass she’s kicked in the world.

When it comes down to it, I have a bad feeling that I might end up as a Ravenclaw if I were to take a quiz of the sort. I don’t want to make myself sound like someone who thinks he is smarter than everybody, but I fear that sometimes I give off that impression to people even if I don’t genuinely feel that.

So don’t hate on those Hufflepuffs, folks. I’d wager that if a zombie apocalypse were to hit the Earth, Hufflepuffs would probably survive the longest.


2 thoughts on “On Hogwarts houses

  1. rivertaylor

    I really agree with everything you said here (being a proud Puff myself <3) but just one small thing – J.K. Rowling identifies as a Gryffindor. The idea that she is a Hufflepuff is a widespread myth. However, she is also the first to own up to the bad sides of Gryffindors, and she is a strong advocate of Hufflepuff house (in spite of not having written us a particularly significant part in the series). The webchat clip in which she says this is very well-known, and you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDKY5QUqAB0 Unfortunately I couldn't find a full version of the webchat where she states that she is a Gryffindor, but it came just before this in the interview.


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