Collage by Kellie
I’m an obsessive person. When I like something, I like it so hard that every person even remotely tangential to me or my life is affected by it. Part of this stems from my inherent desire to understand everything, to categorize and analyze and…well, sort. But you’ve read the title, so you know where I’m going with this.
Tumblr is a cool place where people who like things get together to like them together without scaring each other away, and one cool thing that people on Tumblr seem to love –so much– is sorting characters from not-Harry Potter into Hogwarts houses. I do it, too! It’s fun! But it can also be incredibly aggravating when somebody sorts one of your favorite characters into the wrong house. So today, I have created a practical guide to sorting your favorite characters into houses.
To begin, let me state that sorting is less about personality than it is about values. But why? Because Harry didn’t want to be in Slytherin. Because Harry WANTED to be brave – because he values bravery. Hermione could easily have been in Ravenclaw, and Ron in Hufflepuff, but they weren’t. Because, like LeAnn Rhymes, sorting is ALL about values!
Gryffindor is a house characterized by seemingly antiquated ideals of chivalry, but don’t let that trick you into thinking every Gryffindor is old fashioned. Gryffindors place value on honor and bravery and daring, but that does not mean that every Gryffindor is necessarily honorable or brave or rash. How else could Neville Longbottom, Cormac McLaggen, Minerva McGonagall, and Percy Weasley even have been in the same house? And what about Wormtail? The thing that connects these characters, though, is that they admire and aspire to bravery above all else. You can be smart or loyal or cunning and still wish to be brave. And that’s what matters.
Hufflepuff is for LOSERS. Lol jk, it’s actually a pretty sweet house, and thanks to Pottermore’s equalizing powers, its reputation has improved quite a bit over the past year. As JK Rowling’s daughter once put it, Hufflepuff is the house that everyone SHOULD want to be in. Because above all, Hufflepuffs value loyalty, respect, trust, and that crazy thing called love. It’s why Tonks, one of the bravest and smartest witches in the HPverse, was a Hufflepuff. Because it is love and family and loyalty that she values most. It’s why she never used her powers as a metamorphmagus to look like Fleur, okay. To thine own self be true. And that’s the word.
Ravenclaws are like, real smart – but not always conventionally so. Take everybody’s favorite airhead for example – Ms. Luna Lovegood. Why did JK Rowling choose to depict the most prominent Ravenclaw in the series as a space cadet? Because Ravenclaw is not about book smarts. Ravenclaw is about the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, about curiosity, about falling in love with the world around you and wanting to know everything about it. Luna is intelligent, of course, but more than that, she is curious. She’s also brave and loyal and cunning and a million other things, but that’s not what motivates her; it’s her fascination with people and places and things that makes her distinctly Luna.
Slytherin is for evil people who do evil things because they love being evil and shit. Except it’s completely not even like that at all. The thing about Slytherins is that they’re ultimately always going to be looking out for themselves (and, to a degree, their immediate families). It’s why Narcissa Malfoy stopped at nothing to protect Draco. It’s why so many Slytherins are for the enslavement of muggles and the lowering of the status of half-bloods and mudbloods. Because Slytherin is about Otherness. When you remove the concept of Slytherin from the context of Harry Potter, though, Slytherin just becomes a fancy metaphor for “hipster” or “elite academic” or “generally ambitious person.” Let me reiterate – bravery, loyalty, intelligence, and ambition are not mutually exclusive values. While Slytherins place the HIGHEST value on ambition and personal recognition, that does not mean that they cannot also be brave and intelligent and loyal.
So I hope we all learned a super cool lesson here today. Maybe the next time you want to sort your favorite characters into Hogwarts houses, you’ll stop to think about what motivates their actions and drives their characters before you start to list off personality traits.