I’ve been on a Harry Potter kick in recent weeks. One of the first things any fan of the series does is try to figure out which of Hogwarts’ four houses they belong in. People have created quizzes and lists of qualities to help in that decision. And if you play Pottermore (it’s actually a website, so I don’t know if you play it or visit it or what), you go through an intensive questionnaire to be sorted. People take pride in their houses and form communities and friendships based on them.
And I know that everyone has their opinions of the four different houses. There’s an analysis of the Pottermore system of sorting that I find quite interesting, but still a bit biased. Of course, it’s hard not to be biased at all when it comes to categorizing the houses. So, biased or not, I thought I’d throw my own opinion out into the ring.
I’ve found that a lot of people tend to categorize the houses into two groups. The “good” houses, that people want to be sorted into, and the “bad” ones, which they want to avoid. Gryffindor and Ravenclaw almost always fall into the “good” category. Slytherin is generally seen as bad. And Hufflepuff can go either way. Some think Hufflepuff is a nice, idealist house, but would never want to be a part of it. Others like to poke fun at what they see as pushovers.
I suppose before I really dive into this, I should clarify one thing. Almost every quiz I’ve taken, the amount of time I’ve spent thinking about it, and people I’ve talked to have pointed me toward one conclusion. I am a Ravenclaw. Which is probably obvious by the thought process here, yes?
Since I’m a member of this house, it seems like a good place to start. That way I can explain my bias and how it affects my view of the other houses.
Overall view: Ravenclaws are the academics of Hogwarts. They value knowledge, logic, and learning above everything else. They are more solitary than the other houses, in my opinion, but still have a great deal of pride in their house. They aren’t competitive, from what I’ve seen. They simply enjoy learning and put a great deal of effort into it. And they aren’t always smart in every subject, just the ones that interest them. And not all smart kids are nerdy looking. In fact, some of us are super-mega-foxy-awesome-hot. (If you get that reference, 10 points! Also five points for every other reference to it that you can find in this post.)
Opposing view: I think a lot of people see Ravenclaws as snobby and those kids who always get A’s (well, O’s actually). They think that they’re always trying to prove that they’re the smartest person in the room and don’t really care about other people.
Perceived Pros: Ravenclaws are levelheaded. They won’t let emotions rule them. They’ll always have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong. They’re also creative types. They can see out-of-the-box solutions to ordinary problems, probably due to the fact that they have to solve a riddle any time they want to enter their dorm area.
Perceived Cons: Ravenclaws can be a little distant. Like I said, they’re logical first and foremost. This can sometimes come across as cold and uncaring. And sometimes, Ravenclaws would rather read a book than be with other people. They might even have trouble connecting with other people. And their thought processes can be incredibly difficult to follow, let alone actually understand.
Example from the books: Luna Lovegood. I love her character. Luna isn’t some nerdy bookworm, yet she’s still one of the most intelligent students you meet at Hogwarts. I love that J.K. Rowling made a point to show that smart doesn’t always mean book smart. Luna was a creative thinker. It’s nearly impossible for outsiders to understand what’s going on in her head, but she can come up with a solution to nearly every problem. Need to get to London? Ride the thestrals. Need to find an artifact that no one alive has seen? Ask a ghost. Luna isn’t proud either. She’s confident in herself. There’s a big difference between the two.
Gryffindors get the most press from the Harry Potter books. Harry and his friends are a part of this house and so we see more of it than the other houses. Naturally, it’s the most liked of all the houses. Except, to be honest, I’m not all that impressed with it.
Overall view: Gryffindors are the adrenaline junkies of Hogwarts. Described as brave, daring, and possessing nerve and chivalry, Gryffindors value friendships and love adventure. They are people-persons (people-people?) who are willing to sacrifice rules for the sake of friendship. (Just look at Hermione. She was smart enough to be a Ravenclaw, but I think she was smart more to impress than for a love of learning. She wanted to show that she was good at what she did. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. As time went by, she realized that her brains were necessary to help her friends. And soon, she was using her smarts to further her plans. But when it came down to it, she chose her friends and family over being right or a rule follower.)
Opposing view: Gryffindors are seen as the good guys. In fact, most people classify Gryffindors as good guys, Slytherins as bad guys, and the other two just kind of do what they want.
Perceived Pros: Gryffindors are fun. They love to have adventures, whether it’s pulling pranks or traversing the galaxy for intergalactic travel to Mars. They’re pretty laid back. They don’t get worried by much, as they view the world as totally awesome. Gryffindors are fiercely loyal to each other, viewing their house and a tightly knit family. They’re the type of people who will get you into crazy situations, yes, but you can trust they’ll have your back no matter what.
Perceived Cons: Gryffindors can be irresponsible. They don’t care much for rules, preferring to have fun. While that can be exciting, they don’t often consider consequences. In my mind, Gryffindors are the opposites of Ravenclaws, which is why I might not seem to think very highly of them. They are driven by emotion, rarely plan things out, and don’t appear to have a care in the world.
Example from the books: Neville Longbottom. I know, I could have chosen any one of the main characters from the series, but I just really love Neville. Even though we didn’t see too much of him, we still saw him grow so much. Some people wonder why the shy boy was put into the house of the brash and daring, but this Harry Potter wiki page brings up an excellent theory. Children are sorted, not only based on the qualities they possess, but on the qualities they value and the ones they may develop later in life. Neville was able to find his bravery and loyalty because he was in Gryffindor, I’m convinced. The house drew him out of his shell.
I find that I think of the Hogwarts houses in pairs, being similar but with different values, if that makes sense. In my mind, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor are two sides of the same coin. Both houses value loyalty and friendship over almost everything. But where Gryffindors are driven by a desire to have adventures, Hufflepuffs are more like hobbits, content, happy, and helpful. Gryffindors are more concerned with their own satisfaction and Hufflepuffs with other people’s.
Overall view: Hufflepuffs value people. They want to make others happy and enjoy the company of their friends. Of all the houses in Hogwarts, it’s the one we hear about the least, so I find I can’t offer too much insight into it. Unlike their Gryffindor counterparts, however, they place a high value on justice, so there’s probably less of the rule breaking. They aren’t afraid of hard work and are they type of people who will always try their hardest, even if they don’t really care about what they’re doing.
Opposing view: Let’s be honest. Most people think of Hufflepuffs as doormats, as happy-go-lucky kids who just want everyone to get along. They don’t find anything impressive about them. But take a look at their house mascot.
I’ve personally always had a certain affection for badgers, but I blame Brian Jacques for that.
Perceived Pros: Hufflepuffs are the type of people who always have your back. Even if they can’t do much, they’ll try. If nothing else, they provide emotional support. They’re some of the hardest workers you’ll ever meet. Why else do you think the Hogwarts Champion for the Triwizard Tournament was from Hufflepuff? I don’t find it at all surprising.
Perceived Cons: Like I said, Hufflepuffs get made fun of a lot for being the “wimpy” house of Hogwarts. And I found something quite shocking about them in my research. Their dormitory is the only one that has any sort of defense against intruders. If anyone taps the wrong barrel or with the wrong rhythm, they are soaked with vinegar, according to this page. So they obviously value their privacy, maybe a little too much?
Example from the books: Nymphadora Tonks. You heard me. Bad-ass Tonks, member of the Order of the Phoenix, was a Hufflepuff. She valued people over everything, proving to be a loyal asset in the fight against Voldemort. Still think they’re wimpy? J.K. Rowling is a Hufflepuff too.
If Gryffindor and Hufflepuff are paired together, then that means Ravenclaw and Slytherin are as well. These are the two logic-oriented houses. Where Ravenclaws love learning for learning’s sake, Slytherins have a purpose behind what they learn. They only pursue that knowledge that will aid them in their goals.
Overall view: Slytherins are, in a word, ambitious. And I don’t see anything wrong with ambition. Sure, there are some that are selfish in their drive for success, but there are plenty who aren’t. Unlike some Ravenclaws, Slytherins are more likely to put their knowledge into action.
Opposing view: Slytherins are considered the bad kids of Hogwarts, which I find funny considering it’s Gryffindors who constantly break the rules. While Slytherins might break rules to get what they want, they’re smart enough not to get caught. But I digress. Slytherins, like their founder, are considered to be elitists and power-hungry.
Perceived Pros: Slytherins are focused and driven. They will do almost anything to succeed, which can be either good or bad, I suppose (did someone say Draco Malfoy?). They’re the movers and shakers of the wizarding world.
Perceived Cons: Slytherins can have questionable morals. Like I said, success is their goal and they don’t like to let anything get in their way. And let’s face it, kids rise to expectations. So when the consensus is that Slytherin is the house for bad kids, they’ll rise to those standards. It’s a sad truth.
Example from the books: Severus Snape. Poor Snape. He lost the girl he loved to the boy he hated and watched the man he served kill them both. Then he has to deal with Harry, who reminded him of both James and Lily (even if he would say “That’s absurd!”). But he decided that he would be loyal to that first love, even after she died, and proved to be key in defeating Voldemort.
That’s all I got. My thoughts on the four houses. I know this is a long post, so thanks for sticking around through it. As a reward, you can have this fun article describing characteristics of the four houses for people who are stuck in the muggle world.
What do you think of the houses? And for those of you keeping track of points, there are 60 available.
Until next time, word nerds!