Does Ron Weasley really deserve his place in Gryffindor house?
ABSTRACT: A discussion as to whether Ron should have been placed in Gryffindor house, after all.
I've been thinking a lot recently about what it means to belong to a particular Hogwarts house. The Sorting Hat outlines clearly from the moment Harry begins his magical journey the distinct definition between the four:
'You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
and unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.'
--- 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone', page 88, UK hardback.
Throughout the course of the novels, the members of the famous trio each display qualities relating to all four of the houses at some point, when put in different situations. However, Harry and Hermione fundamentally remain constant, definite Gryffindors. Their bravery can be proved simply through the form of their boggarts; Harry's being the image of fear itself, and Hermione's merely being the failure of an examination. It is therefore Ron's allegiance who puzzles me the most. If we apply the boggart analogy to him, we find that his takes the form of a spider; something which, particularly in England where the story takes place, need not be feared. Is this an indication of his true, more complex personality? I therefore wish to explore which house truly fits Ron's personality best, by matching his traits and actions to the criteria outlined by the Sorting Hat at the very beginning of the series.
Let's begin with the house that he was, in fact, sorted into; Gryffindor. Gryffindors are outlined as being 'brave' and 'daring'. It is indisputable that Ron displays both of these qualities frequently, by accompanying Harry throughout his journey to conquer Lord Voldemort. However, there are several points in the story which contradict Ron's worthiness to have been placed in Gryffindor. For example, his inability to tell Hermione how he really feels about her. This may seem insignificant compared to the fact that he has laid down his life several times to help Harry, but, in my eyes, it is a much more important representation of his character. This is a different form of bravery, one which is much more difficult to come to terms with; the ability to fully understand and admit your own emotions. The Gryffindor specification states that house members must be 'brave at heart'. Yes, Ron does have the courage to participate in battle to save the hearts of others. However, he is unable to act upon the greatest desire of his own heart. He doesn't have the courage to speak out, and instead chooses to cover his true feelings with an unimportant relationship with Lavender Brown. He does not even tell his best friend, Harry, about his feelings, and a friendship within which you cannot be yourself is more of an acquaintanceship than a true friendship. I therefore conclude that Ron's place in Gryffindor is questionable, which leads me to discussing his suitability to the other houses.
Hufflepuff is the house which values loyalty and patience. If any member of the trio is going to desert the group, you can pretty much guarantee that it will be Ron. Was it not Ron who turned against Harry when he became a participant in the Triwizard Tournament? Was it not Ron who, in 'Deathly Hallows', abandoned his friends in favour of cooked meals and a proper bed? It is very rare that Harry and Hermione should fall out, and if they do, it is for a much more justifiable reason than simply jealousy or fatigue. It is therefore safe to assume that loyalty isn't one of Ron's strengths. Another quality valued by Hufflepuff house is justness. Ron often relies on Hermione to complete his own homework, was willing to illegitimately consume Felix Felicis before his first Quidditch match, and treated Harry and Hermione less than fairly whilst on the hunt for the Horcruxes. I think it can therefore be concluded that Ron does not belong in Hufflepuff house.
Ravenclaws are described as being intelligent and ready to learn. Although Ron's intelligence is greatly overshadowed by Hermione's, he is certainly not unintelligent. This is reflected in the fact that he only failed two of his OWLs, gaining him more qualifications than both Fred and George put together. We must not forget Ron's incredible skill for the game of Wizard's Chess, either. This is a game which requires a quick mind, and the fact that he can easily beat Hermione at it shows how Ron can be considered intelligent. However, Ron does lack one of the most important qualities associated with Ravenclaw house; although intelligent, he does not value intelligence. He, unlike Hermione, does not spend hours a day reading text books, or completing essays. It is this which separates intelligent witches and wizards from the true Ravenclaws; the desire to learn at every given opportunity. I therefore think that Ron does not belong in Ravenclaw house, either.
That leaves Slytherin, the house which values cunning and ambition. This is the house which I believe is the most likely alternative to Gryffindor as to the house in which Ron should have been placed. Although Ron is a pure-blood, he is not exactly proud of it, and so it is not his blood heritage alone which makes him a suitable candidate for Slytherin house. A cunning person is someone who uses their skill, intelligence and deception in order to achieve what they want. Ron has displayed these qualities on numerous occasions, such when he used his skill in Wizard's Chess in order to help Harry obtain the Philosopher's stone, or when He and Harry interrogate Malfoy with the use of Polyjuice Potion in 'Chamber of Secrets'. It is also indisputable that Ron is ambitious; the image he saw in the Mirror of Erised was of himself in the position of both Head Boy and Quidditch Captain. If Ron were not ambitious, why would he be jealous of the amount of attention that Harry receives? It could also be argued that Ron's bravery, the characteristic which defines a Gryffindor, is equal to that of Draco Malfoy's; the two have both have fought on different sides of the same battles, and both have, at some point, veered off from the path that they have chosen to follow. Yet Malfoy was placed in Slytherin house. Would it be wrong to assume that Ron was equally likely to have been placed in Slytherin? The Sorting Hat places students based on their characteristics, not what 'side' they are on. Ron and Malfoy could therefore have been sorted into the same house, regardless of whether or not they were fighting for 'good' or 'bad'.
I therefore believe that Ron could have just as easily been placed in Slytherin house instead of Gryffindor. I am pretty certain that he belongs in neither Hufflepuff nor Ravenclaw, but there are several reasons as to why he could have been placed in either Gryffindor or Slytherin. It is for this reason that I am not sure as to why the Sorting Hat chose to place him in Gryffindor. As it had been shown with Sirius and the rest of the Black family, a new student is not always sorted into a house based solely on the fact that their entire family were members of that house. Obviously, the Sorting Hat decided to place Ron in Gryffindor house along with Harry and Hermione. However, I personally believe that Ron could have just as easily been placed in Slytherin instead.
[Prefects Who Gained Power:] A study of Hogwarts prefects and their later careers... That sounds fascinating...
Ron Weasley Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4, Page 58
Natalie McDonald, who appeared in Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire, was based on a real girl Rowling knew who was dying of leukemia. She wrote to JK Rowling asking what was going to happen in the next Harry Potter book as she would not live long enough to read it.