Why Peter Pettigrew Is a Gryffindor
Peter Pettigrew is probably one of the more despised Harry Potter characters out there. And that is fairly deserved. It is this same scorn that causes many people to question just why he even is a Gryffindor. But as distasteful as Pettigrew is as a person, he still belongs there.
First of all, I need to address one of the main reasons people have trouble seeing Pettigrew as a Gryffindor: He’s not a hero. While there have been more efforts over the years to look beyond the simple surface stereotypes of the four Houses, many people still automatically label Gryffindor as good and Slytherin as bad. Thus, many people argue that Pettigrew would fit better into Slytherin. But just because he’s a Death Eater doesn’t mean he’s a good Slytherin. He’s far from cunning and never seems to display any ambition, especially given that he was okay living as a rat for 12 years.
All right, so we’ve established that despite the instinctive urge to put all the villains in one House, Peter Pettigrew is not a Slytherin. But what makes him a Gryffindor? Funnily enough, Harry Potter himself provides us with an answer. It’s possible to influence the Sorting Hat with your own wishes and desires. This is the key reason Peter Pettigrew became a Gryffindor.
Think about the image we get of Pettigrew before his betrayal. We see a follower, someone who’s impressed by his companions and longs to be like them but can’t quite measure up. And that’s honestly the core of Pettigrew’s character. He wanted to be a hero but was always outshone by his more impressive friends. Unfortunately, he let that failure twist him until he became the despised character we saw in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
But let’s go back again. If you take an 11-year-old boy, who’s done nothing wrong, who desperately wants to be a hero, and put him under the Sorting Hat, what happens? He becomes a Gryffindor. Of course, Pettigrew would ask the Sorting Hat to put him in Gryffindor, the House of heroes and champions, and the Hat would have no reason to refuse. After all, for all his faults, Pettigrew isn’t devoid of courage.
It’s hard to see that sometimes, given what he becomes, but there are moments of bravery that shine through. First, there’s his decision to become an illegal Animagus, a process full of risk, and then choose to spend full moons with a werewolf, a dangerous undertaking, especially given that Peter was a small prey animal. Also, there was his decision to become a spy, a position that put him in a lot of danger. This may have been morally wrong, but Pettigrew could have just stayed out of the war if he were a true coward. He may have been on the wrong side, but he still fought.
There’s also his death. In his last moments, Pettigrew hesitated instead of killing Harry, the boy he owed a life debt. There was a moment, however small, where he considered defying Voldemort’s orders in order to do the honorable thing, which would be repaying the debt. Whether he actually would have, we can never know, but regardless, that moment did happen.
Thus, Peter Pettigrew is a morally corrupt character who commits a terrible betrayal. And we are allowed to hate him for that. But for all his crimes, he lived and died a Gryffindor.