Harry Potter—House Analysis

By Bec C.

The four houses of Harry Potter produce much debate among fans, arguments based on what house a person is in. When you were a child everyone wanted to be in Gryffindor, along with Harry. This was where all the good guys are after all. Nobody wanted to be in Slytherin, unless you wanted to look tough, for that was for bad guys or evil and mean people. However, as you grew up you learnt that the houses were not nearly so black and white, and that in each person might be found traits of the four houses. Even the members of Gryffindor were debated, questions asked as to whether Hermione wouldn’t have been better suited in Ravenclaw, and Neville in Hufflepuff. And yet bot members proved themselves, and with the aid of suiting hat quizzes, and the newly opened Pottermore scores of Harry Potter fans are getting the chance to prove their house identities as well. But is it as simple as being only one house? And is it the end of the world if another house is chosen for you?

“You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart. Their daring, never and chivalry Set Gryffindors apart “– The Sorting Hat.

As Harry’s own house, this is the house that is most known, and the one that many people growing up identify with first. As a teacher, I have found it difficult to get some students, avid fans of Harry Potter, to even name the other 2 houses (they all know Slytherin) as Gryffindor is the house that has the most impact. And should you be a Gryffindor you should be proud to join the ranks of the famed trio. With bravery and chivalry as its core character traits it is easy to see why Gryffindor has a reputation as being the house of the ‘good guys’, and yet characters such as Peter Pettigrew have shown this is not always the case. Just because you have the tendency to be brave doesn’t mean you always act it, and just because you are a Gryffindor doesn’t mean you have to be brave in every situation, or rush in head first. Most of us have a bravery within us at times, though not all of us are the sort to go sky diving, or face down a deadly animal. There are different sorts of bravery, the bravery to stand up to your friends, to stand up for what you believe in, or even to stand up against adversity. For every act there is a kind of bravery that might accompany it, so if you are sorted into Gryffindor and don’t feel particular brave or chivalrous, do not despair, for a different kind of bravery to the obvious kind may lurk beneath your kind.

“You might belong in Hufflepuff, where they are just and loyal, Those patient Hufflepuffs are true, and unafraid of toil” – The Sorting Hat.

While Slytherin has the bad rep of being the bad guys, Hufflepuff’s reputation is equally bad, in that most people look down on the house. Beyond this line, nobody knows much about Hufflepuff, and as such they are often the most picked on house of the four, and the least understood. From the sorting hat’s stanza you learn that hufflepuff’s are hard workers, they’re not afraid to slog it out in the long run or try their best. They are also loyal, and it is interesting to note that they, and not the brave Gryffindors, are the ones who were given this traits. I’ve also always liked that they’ve had the word true associated with them, it makes them seem like the people you can trust, people who won’t let you down. And when push comes to shove would you rather someone brave and daring, who may rush in, or someone loyal and true, who isn’t afraid of hard work at your back. It is fitting that the champion of Hogwarts from the Goblet of Fire was a Hufflepuff and not a Gryffindor, as a tournament would certainly be hard work, in preparing and practicing. In a sense, Hufflepuffs are picked on because many do not see what’s so special with being hard working and loyal, but with a generation of children growing up with remote control vacuum cleaners, and things getting easier and easier due to technology, isn’t a person who is hard working, and who will remain a true friend to the end, something to be valued?

“Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw, If you’ve a ready mind, where those of wit and learning, will always find their kind” – The Sorting Hat.

It’s not hard to see why Ravenclaws have a reputation for being the smart ones, sometimes too smart for their own goods and, as a result, a bit snobbish. They are the house that have to answer a riddle just to get into their common room, and the house which normally has the academically motivated students (the reason why it is often debated Hermione belongs along their ranks). They would be the ones to think things through, to weigh up options before leaping in. The ones to value intelligence over brave acts. And yet Luna has showed that a superiority complex is not necessary among the Ravenclaw students, and that there are different ways of being witty and resourceful. Luna’s cleverness comes from her open mind, making her seem a bit of an oddball at times with the things she believes. Even without Luna though, you should find yourself proud to be considered a Ravenclaw. And let’s face it, as most Harry Potter fans are avid readers, who love books, isn’t it fair to say that there is a little bit of Ravenclaw in all of them?

“Or perhaps in Slytherin, You’ll make your real friends, those cunning folk use any means, to achieve their ends” – The Sorting Hat.

With an introduction like that it is easy to see why Slytherins have the reputation for being the bad house. And yet, can anyone honestly say that at some point in their lives they haven’t put their own needs above the needs of others? Slytherins primarily value themselves. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Slytherins are the ambitious ones, the ones who see their future and are prepared to take the steps to reach that future. As such it is Slytherin’s you expect to seek positions of powers, to become famous musicians and actors, to put in the hard work to reach a goal that others may mock. They are a determined bunch, and are quite bright. Sometimes the methods they chose may be frowned upon by others, and cunning and ambition can easily be swayed into doing deeds that may be seen as evil, but that doesn’t mean that they are all bad. Of any house it seems Slytherins are the opposite side of the same coin to Gryffindor, and in fact Harry had to convince the sorting hat not to put him in Slytherin. A determined nature, a certain disregard for the rules, and ambition, do any of these traits sound familiar? Like Hufflepuffs, Slytherins are often misunderstood, their reputation rather than their own choices speaking for them. If you’ve ever tried hard for something, or were determined to prove to everyone your true worth, then you may have a bit of Slytherin in you, and when it comes down to it, doesn’t everyone?

Essentially when it comes to the houses, no one is 100% one house, and 0% the others. Some people may more strongly have traits in one house than the other, others may be more of a mixed bunch, having an even mix of all 4 houses. So many people I know have such a mix, that I am often amazed by what they get sorted as. I myself am a Ravenclaw, but I can easily see times when I have been brave like a Gryffindor, and times when I haven’t been afraid of hard work like a Hufflepuff. I have made my way through many years of uni essays when at times I have wanted to give up. And of course I have had times when I have showed myself to be cunning, and naturally ambitious. It was this ambition that pushed me to try my hard at my school exams, and into trying my best at university. While I am mostly a Ravenclaw it is hard to deny that I, like almost everyone else, has traits of the 3 other houses within me. So if you get sorted into a house you weren’t expecting, don’t despair. The sorting hat may be seeing something you don’t, and it might be time to examine your character and ask yourself just how prevalent those traits are, and whether it is time you accept yourself for who you are, whether Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or something in between.