So I’m a Potterhead. Got into Harry Potter as a kid and have stayed into it ever since. One of my favourite things about the series (like many others I’m betting), is the very concept of being sorted into Houses. I just thought it was so cool to be sorted into houses with people who were similar, or at least shared similar values, and be shown what qualities you exhibited/ valued. So, like other Potterheads, I took as many sorting hat/ house quizzes as possible. When I first took an online quizzes (probably in late 200os, can’t even remember at this point), I’d always get Gryffindor, with the occasional Ravenclaw. When I first took the Pottermore quiz, I surprisingly got Slytherin. When I took another Pottermore quiz, I got Hufflepuff. And finally, I came across a quiz that contained all possible Pottermore questions and sorted you based on the percentage of how much you fit into the Houses (aka the most accurate one). That quiz stated that I was 64% Hufflepuff, 64% Ravenclaw, 62% Slytherin, and 54% Gryffindor. So in other words, I pretty much fit into all the houses (LOL). But, on a more serious note, this entire sorting business got me thinking about each house and their interpretations.
Gryffindor is seen as being the house of heroes, brave people. Ravenclaw’s are seen as being the individualistic scientists. Slytherins are seen as the clever, shrewd, tricksters. And finally Hufflepuff, is commonly seen as the house of leftovers, people who aren’t particularly brilliant. Partly out of ego (I’m a Hufflepuff) and partly out of genuine interest, I ended up googling the houses, the Harry Potter series, rereading the books to see what they said about the houses, and roaming odd chat rooms to see how other people interpreted them. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people held the previously mentioned viewpoints. But other people, those who enjoy nit-picking and analyzing things (people after my own heart!) actually provided in-depth viewpoints that didn’t necessarily agree or even disagree with the previously mentioned viewpoints. I quite enjoyed reading the latter people’s points and hence I’ve decided to write my own version of what I think sorting really does/ means and what each house signifies.
Firstly, I don’t think that sorting actually tells you what trait you exemplify the most. I made this mistake and assumed that if you were sorted into Gryffindor, it was because you were brave. Or if you were sorted into Ravenclaw, it meant that you were smart. However, this is clearly demonstrated to be wrong through the various characters who don’t always live up to their House. A famous example being Petter Pettigrew who sold out his friends out of fear. Rather, I think the sorting hat tells you what trait you value the most and then sorts you based on that. So if you value being in the spotlight for your bravery, then you’re in Gryffindor. If you value being ambitious and want to make something out of yourself, then you’re in Slytherin. It’s about what you value vs. what you demonstrate. You can be brave but not be in Gryffindor (Luna). You can be smart but not in Ravenclaw (Hermione). You can be loyal but not in Hufflepuff (Ron). You can be resourceful and cunning but not in Slytherin (Harry). It’s your values the sorting hat bases your sorting (along with personal preference for houses).
Now let’s get into the houses themselves.
Gryffindors are commonly assumed to be among the best. They’re seen as brave, chivalrous, and bold. They will stand up for others and will do so at their own expense. But they’re also very egoistical, reckless, and self-righteous. They want the glory that comes with being brave. They want the audience to witness their feats. They dive in head-first, without thinking about the consequences. They like the theatrics to show off their skills. They aren’t always concerned about doing the right thing. They’re the risk-takers, the fearless fighters, not afraid to get down and dirty and be absolutely brutal. It’s not about being fair or even. And their moral compass may not even be pointed in the moral direction. But they are noble, or at least attempt to be noble in their own way. They do believe in mercy and forgiveness. They will fight for their causes, even if there is no hope in winning. They are strong-willed, refuse to give up, and will stay till the end (even if their motivations are a little suspect).
Ravenclaws are commonly assumed to be among the brilliant. They’re seen as incredibly smart, creative, logical, and keen learners. They love working out problems or figuring out solutions and crave knowledge. But they’re also arrogant, obsessive and self-absorbed. They’re not interested in making small talk or talking to people seen as “ignorant.” They don’t need an audience as long as they have books or any other sort of knowledge keeping them company. They only like the theatrics for the sake of being able to know them. It’s not about using your knowledge for the good of the world. They will manipulate people if it suits them. They will use pawns rather than fight themselves. But they are able to be objective. They are able to intuitively sense the underlying politics and motivations that drive people. They are the ones who learn the most from mistakes and try to correct them. They are the visionary inventors who propel our society forward.
Slytherins are commonly assumed to be among the sharpest. They’re seen as ambitious, loyal, and clever. If you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours. But they’re also sly, willing to bend the rules to reach the top, and not afraid of stepping over others or those who betrayed them. They’re the social climbers. They stand with their own and close the ranks to outsiders. They like the theatrics in order to prove that they have greatness. It’s not about supporting your causes or defending them. They pick and choose their battles, often willing to abandon at any sign of defeat. They’re willing to be deceitful and even dominate others in their quest to achieve greatness. But they are resourceful. They have excellent self- preservation skills and live purposeful lives. They’re the negotiators, able to be diplomatic and work with others for a common goal. They are the leaders willing to do the difficult things to get the show on the road.
Hufflepuffs are commonly assumed to be among the hardest-workers. They’re seen as loyal, just, and honest. Everyone pulls their own weight and does their fair share of work. But they’re also stickler’s for team work, inflexible when it comes to justice, and skeptical. They’re impartial to a fault and refuse to align themselves with anyone until sufficient proofs have been provided. They don’t care for the theatrics, unless purely for enjoyment. It’s not about forgiveness or sympathy. They won’t hesitate to call you out on dishonesty or unfairness. They’ll willingly play the role of the judge, jury, and executioner. Mercy is not one value they hold dear. They prefer the safer path, one that’s been judged to be true with no tricks or discrimination. They value practicality, straight-forwardness and equality. They’ll work tirelessly to achieve the greater good, whatever that good may (or may not) be, without any expectations for recognition.
In sum: The Harry Potter houses/ sorting represent the traits you value the most rather than those you represent and the 4 houses are open to interpretation.