Not the Heir of Gryffindor

by Allison Keeley

One of the most common theories about Harry Potter is that he is the heir of Gryffindor. It is true that some evidence points towards it (the sword, the fact that St. Godric’s symbol is a stag, Godric’s hollow, etc.), but I believe this theory cannot be true because one of the fundamental themes of the book: that it doesn’t matter who your family is.

While family ties are strong in many characters in the book, family is seen as something that you don’t have to be tied to (if in bad circumstances). Sirius and Andromeda Black, both pureblooded wizards, reject that family tie and either run away or reject the principles they felt were wrong. These characters are seen as being stronger than their counterparts who stayed to do the wrong thing. If Harry really was the heir of Godric Gryffindor then Rowling would have put more of an emphasis on family ties. Instead, she demonstrates that doing the right thing is more important than clan loyalty.

Secondly, Dumbledore and many important characters have emphasized how a person’s family background doesn’t matter. Especially in Goblet of Fire when Hagrid has been revealed to be a half-giant, Harry tells him no one cares about it and is backed up by Dumbledore. Your relatives don’t have any sway on who you are. Relations not being the most important thing emphasizes that it is your actions, not your family that decides who you are.

Also, value of blood ties and pureness of blood are shown to be a negative trait in these books. Voldemort is the only one who really talks about his ancestry at length and old wizarding families who trace their ties tend to produce Deatheaters. Hermione, the Creeveys, and Lily Potter, who are all muggle-borns, are shown to be strong, trustworthy, and loyal people. You don’t have to be linked to an old wizarding family to be a good witch or wizard.

Finally, Godric Gryffindor is not shown to be the best of the founders, at least in the last poem. While Slytherin favors pure-bloods, Ravenclaw wants those who are smart, and Gryffindor wants those who are brave, it is Hufflepuff who shows the best attitude towards the students, wanting to “take them all and treat them all the same.” Some of the noblest characters from the book are Hufflepuffs, Cedric being the ideal Hufflepuff. Rowling wouldn’t build up one founder to make Harry the heir of another one.

Harry can’t be the heir of Godric Gryffindor because it would be against the themes Rowling has been establishing throughout the books. Who your ancestors or relations are isn’t supposed to matter, what matters is how you treat others, especially those inferior to you. Making Harry the heir of Gryffindor seems unnecessary and violates the one of the themes Rowling has built up from the very start.