My Fall 2020 was a time for realizations and self reflection and to be quite honest, a large part of that was thanks to taking LIT 80Y: the “Harry Potter” class. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was an escape for me for many years and taking this course took me back to my younger self. At age 11, I identified as a Ravenclaw; being randomly placed in this imaginary house for an online class felt eerily comfortable after so many years of people laughing at the idea of me being a Ravenclaw, claiming that I could be nothing but Slytherin and convincing me to believe it too.
This random house assignment based on which section I was enrolled in for the course, probably insignificant to all of the other students in the class, caused me to fall into a deep spiral of self reflection of who I am and what I value. The conclusion was that I want to live my life in a way that makes me feel at peace in the present, excited for the future, and make my past self proud, ultimately causing me to change my major and reconsider my entire life’s direction.
Yeah, I am one of those “personality quiz people” who loves to take any and every personality quiz that crosses my path. I don’t do this because I take much stake in the results, most of the time they are full of crap. I love personality quizzes because they make you think about yourself from a different, maybe more objective, perspective. That said, I did not write a personality quiz for you today. This is because no quiz can replicate the magic of the Sorting Hat which does take students’ opinions on the matter of their house placement.
Your Hogwarts House should reflect your values, not the actions you take or what others may perceive you to be. This is why Neville Longbottom was sorted into Gryffindor instead of Hufflepuff. Yes, Neville shows loyalty and honesty like a Hufflepuff, but Neville views bravery as incredibly important. He is a Gryffindor because he values courage over all else.
As you are reading my explanations of each House, think: does this align with your values?
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
Gryffindor’s in the HP series are a pretty rowdy bunch, at least from Harry’s very unreliable perspective. J.K. Rowling’s (JKR) characterization of the house makes Gryffindor seem like a gaggle of adrenaline junkies rather than the chivalrous warriors she may have intended to achieve. It seems that almost every Gryffindor student we meet throws themself into danger without even thinking about it first, however, I do not think it is reflective of what Gryffindor actually represents.
Instead, Gryffindors can be shy and introverted. Maybe you are quick to stand up for others, but maybe you wish and wish you had the courage to do so. You can seek adventure without considering the consequences, but you can also feel trapped, hoping you muster up the courage to set yourself free. You can be book smart like Hermione, caring like Ron, or resourceful like Harry and still belong in the cozy common room of Gryffindor. The common thread, and all you need to be a true Gryffindor, is to hold a reverence for courage in your heart.
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
I detest the notion that three of the Houses represent a certain “specialness” and Hufflepuff just takes the rest. This implies that Hufflepuffs are losers that are just average, nothing “special.” It doesn’t help that JKR kills off the only important Hufflepuff characters, Tonks and Cedric. If this characterization of Hufflepuff was true, the Sorting Hat would have nothing to say, or sing, about the House.
Because of this, Hufflepuff often gets the stereotype of being super laid back, even a “stoner House.” While there are definitely stoners in all four Houses (Ronald Weasley if you will), the reality is that Hufflepuff is a strong House representing loyalty and hard work. Hufflepuffs value persistence and commitment through the end. This is not to say that stoners can’t be hard workers in any way, but that being a Hufflepuff is not anything to be ashamed of. Instead, it is something to be proud of. Even if follow-through is difficult for you, whether it is out of your control or not, what truly matters is that loyalty, honesty, and hard work are what you hold dear.
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Ravenclaw seems to be one of the more common misconceptions of the series. It is often argued that Hermione should be in Ravenclaw (which completely disregards the several times she has clearly stated bravery more important to her), and implied that Ravenclaw holds straight-A students and nothing else. The most prominent Ravenclaw that we know was Cho Chang, who, besides her racist name, was made out to be a silly and over emotional girl in an attempt to preserve JKR’s pedestal for Gryffindor, and Harry.
Ravenclaw may potentially be the most diverse House in skills. With the values of learning and creativity, Ravenclaw is host to a myriad of people. Ranging from the uptight scholars that you would expect to artistic types that maybe don’t get the best grades. Ravenclaws can have ADHD, be acing one subject and failing all the others, or just have bad test anxiety. Ravenclaw represents the pursuit of discovery and the hunger to create, not necessarily a good report card. The grades aren’t what matters, it is the value of learning that makes a Ravenclaw.
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.
Slytherin is the trickiest of the Houses given the evil representation JKR placed on it. Needing a source for antagonists, JKR villainized ambition and resourcefulness by tainting the entire House with traditional values of blood purity which, by the way, is the only way that Crabbe and Goyle could get into a House that values success so deeply. There are traditions that aren’t problematic, however, JKR made that choice to make a good story.
Ignoring the Slytherin characters that we know from the series, except perhaps Professor Slughorn, is of utmost importance to understanding the House. Slytherin is home to those who value ambition above all else, not necessarily those who demonstrate cutthroat ambition in their actions. It could be that you are a Type B personality that admires the ambition you see in those around you. It could be that your ambitions are achievable and you know how to use your resources to get what you want. You most definitely are not evil if these are the traits that you view important in life.