Are Hufflepuffs Duffers?
An original editorial by Robbie Fischer
According to the "Sorting Hat" on the official Harry Potter website, I am a Hufflepuff. I don't know what factors went into the Sorting Hat's
decision, but I'm not agonizing about it. I know I'm pretty brave, and
I'm pretty smart, and I have a good deal of ambition (and I'm no angel,
either), so it's not as if I couldn't have made the grade in any of the
other Hogwarts Houses. But if Hufflepuff is where I belong, so be it.
Still, knowing that I'm a Hufflepuff, I do feel a need. A need to
explain to myself, and to all of you, that Hufflepuffs aren't really the
"bunch of duffers" they are so often portrayed as being.
Some passages in the Harry Potter books may give you the idea that
Hufflepuff is a house full of mediocrities. They don't often get any
glory (remember, Cedric Diggory was one of the few who got them any).
They don't stand out, collectively, as being powerful or brilliant or
valiant or genteel. The best things said about them is that they are
loyal, hardworking, and friendly. At other times you get the sense that
Hufflepuff House gets whatever is left over after the other Houses have
had their pick.
Taking the positives with the negatives, it's hard to say what exactly
Hufflepuff House stands for. I suppose that's appropriate, because it
would be way-overgeneralizing to ascribe the same character to everyone
in the same house. Not everyone in Slytherin will be equally nasty, and
not everyone in Gryffindor is equally noble or brave (as we have seen in
the cases of Percy and Neville). They aren't all clones. They may share
certain characteristics but not in the same proportions.
But what are the characteristics of Hufflepuff, really? Or is it simply
a House of negative characteristics, of people who aren't particularly
clever or brave or blood-pure, a catch-all for "the lot" or "the rest"?
Do the sometimes-listed attributes of friendship and labor really
describe what the Sorting Hat looks for in their heads, or do they
simply come about of necessity because Hufflepuffs have to work harder
and pull together, simply to keep up with the rest of the school?
Well, I'm at a bit of a loss. I guess everybody is, and even the Sorting
Hat can't keep its own story straight. Sure, a lot of people say they
would rather quit school than be a Hufflepuff, but consider the
following specimens of Hufflepuff quality:
First, of course, Cedric Diggory. I think the fact that he was
practically the ideal young man explains a lot of why his death was so
cruel. The first thing anyone noticed about him was that he was tall,
quiet, and handsome. Some resentfully added that he was an empty-headed
pretty-boy. But actually he seems to have been pretty sharp, getting top
grades, tying with Harry for the win of the Triwizard Cup, and becoming
a prefect. He was also, evidently, a quidditch player and team captain
of rare talent, who remains at this writing the only known Seeker to
have bested Harry Potter. And besides that he was a decent, humble,
affectionate soul whose sense of fairplay sometimes worked to his
disadvantage--who seemed tenderly in love with Cho Chang--who seemed
truly embarrassed by his father's arrogance, deeply loved by his
parents, liked by so many people, and showing promise of being a good
friend to Harry if he had lived. I don't think there was anything
mediocre about Cedric. He was an awesome person, and the fact that his
head wasn't turned by ambition or the desire to show off only makes his
memory more precious.
Second, take Zacharias Smith--who, for quite the opposite reasons,
explodes a lot of the misconceptions people bear towards Hufflepuff
House. He is also, apparently, a pretty strong quidditch player,
possibly the star of his house team. He, too, led Hufflepuff to a
victory over Gryffindor. Besides that, though, he couldn't be more
different from Cedric Diggory. Smith is aggressive, suspicious, the type
of person who questions everything and gets on a lot of people's nerves.
Though not essentially a bad person, he is somewhat unlikeable. But no
one questions his intelligence or prowess as a wizard, and at the end of
the day it wasn't Zacharias who turned sneak. If he had been sorted into
Slytherin, Smith might have turned out to be a real nightmare of a
person. But as a Hufflepuff, he stands a chance of proving his courage
against the forces of evil, right alongside the bravest of the
Gryffindors. If they don't stuff him in a vanishing cabinet first.
Next, you have Susan Bones. We don't know much about her, and I think
most of the excitement about her before the Fifth Book was due to Chris
Columbus' daughter playing her in the first two movies. What excites ME
about Susan is that she takes after her Auntie, Madam Bones of the
Department of Magical Law. From the thin evidence we have so far, Susan
seems to have a very insightful, inquisitive, orderly mind. She is also
the first person outside Harry's immediate circle of friends to realize
what his life must be like.
OK, then there are Ernie, Justin, and Hannah, who admittedly aren't so
exceptional. Ernie is fairly smart but somewhat pompous and at times
indecisive. Justin is a little slow on the uptake. And Hannah pitches a
hissy-fit at the drop of a hat. But hey, not everyone in Gryffindor is a
great hero either, and not every Ravenclaw is a big genius. Likewise you can't
expect greatness of every single Hufflepuff, either. They're just
average people, but by golly, they're part of Dumbledore's Army. And
they might be Harry's best friends outside of Gryffindor.
And finally, let us not forget Professor Sprout. She has a magical (!)
touch with things that grow. Some of them are quite dangerous, and in
many ways her job is very risky and challenging. Sprout seems to be one
of the better teachers at Hogwarts, though. And she has a good rapport
with students from houses other than her own. Maybe she looks a little
dumpy and eccentric, but she carries a lot of authority and carries it
lightly. She can brew a mandrake restorative draft, console the family
of a dead student, deal with teething tentaculas, AND look daggers at
Gilderoy Lockhart, which means she's no fool.
Hufflepuff does not need your pity. It is an honorable house, and I am
honored to be an honorary partaker of such a distinguished tradition.