Hogwarts Houses: Analysis of Characteristics

by Chantelle

Abstract: This essay puts forward some overlapping characteristics of the four Hogwarts Houses, along with different theories of ‘the darker side’ of a personality trait. Is Slytherin deserving of the ‘dark wizard’ label? Is Hufflepuff really full of duffers? Just which House would work better in the society we live in today?

The majority of the Harry Potter fandom believes they would be placed in Gryffindor. But how would we really know? This is an essay that looks at the finer details of the four Hogwarts Houses and will conclude with which House is practically better and should be given more credit.

Gryffindor – the House of courage, bravery, and chivalrous attitudes with a daring and reckless nature. Most people aspire to be placed in the Hogwarts House of fighters, and this is probably because the three main characters found themselves wearing red. However, there is a severe problem with this House. How do we define the difference between “bravery” and sheer “stupidity?” I think I can answer this. If someone chooses to do something reckless and daring, it is said only to be “brave” when it went well for them in the end. Yet, if someone chooses to do something reckless and daring, it is said only to be “stupid” because the end outcome didn’t go very well.

Here in Gryffindor, you don’t need to have muscles and no brain power. You can be smart, but do something stupid (or brave) and still be placed in Gryffindor. It all comes down to what you would do in a dangerous situation, and in the real world, not many people would have that experience.

For example, if a stranger came up to you in the street and stole your handbag, with your phone, make-up, and other essentials (just try and imagine your playbox or Xstation or something like that, boys) would you recklessly keep hold of the bag and try to fight away the person, or would you let them have it and call the police, giving exact details of what the thief looked like? It is easy to imagine what we would do, or it is better to say it is easier to imagine what we would like to think we would do. I was once reading an article in school about a woman who had learned self-defense and who was living on her own in London. She thought that if the time ever did arise, she could fight off the mugger single-handedly. One day she was coming home late from work and someone did try to rob her. She froze on the spot, her mind went blank and she was unable to think of what to do. The thief ran away with her laptop, but she held onto her bag that he had tried to take from her. She had been injured during this occasion. The police later said to her that it was a very stupid thing to do and she could’ve been killed. Would they have said the same thing if she wasn’t the victim and did fight away the thief?

The woman certainly showed some bravery and recklessness. However, let us take this from a different angle.

If you were mugged, and you had previously thought of what to do if this problem did occur, but when it actually happened to you, your mind went blank, that doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t showing bravery. However, if your mind suddenly thought quickly about what to do and how to fight him logically and later called the police, which side of your personality showed more? Bravery or intelligence? Does that then mean it would show you more of a Gryffindor or a Ravenclaw? All of the Houses seem to overlap, in one way or another.

Look at the three main characters that are all in Gryffindor. Each of them shows bravery but also other personality traits. Harry shows some sides of Slytherin, Hermione could easily fit into Ravenclaw and Ron is fiercely loyal which is a characteristic of Hufflepuff. So then, is sorting really fair?

Ravenclaw – the House of intelligence, wit, and a value for learning. They are commonly associated with being able to think outside the ordinary and have a powerful sense of opinion. No matter what House you are in, everyone admits that it wouldn’t be too bad to be placed in Ravenclaw. They’re the thinkers, and if you really look into it, most Harry Potter fans would be placed into Ravenclaw. We’ve had the intelligence to read a good book, other than something like True Blood.

But the important thing about Ravenclaw is that, in some ways, it is slightly overrated. If you have intelligence, you can think your way out of any situation and make a good decision, rather than being rash and reckless like a Gryffindor. However, smart people are placed in every House, and sometimes I do wonder (and many people won’t like me for saying this) that Ravenclaw is designed for people who have no other interest or personality outside the world of education and academic achievement.

There, I said it. It’s a bit harsh; I know, but don’t judge me yet. Luna Lovegood was very brave and placed into the House of know-it-alls, so just like our trio, not everyone is painted with the same brush.

Although there is another side to the personality of a typical Ravenclaw. If you are quite smart, you can easily think your way out of awkward situations, and many people might use this for deceit and lies. People in Ravenclaw can have ambitious traits in their characteristics, just like Slytherins. This is another overlap.

Let’s take another example to explain that point further. If you’ve done something stupid and broken a school rule but you really can’t explain why you’ve broken it or you’ll get into even more trouble – (I’ve done this many a time) – but somehow you think quickly about how to get out of it – this is showing creativity and intelligence, but can also mean you can be a little cunning. Another example of this would be in the world of work. If you want to use your knowledge to the best of your ability, and you think the only way you can do this is by reaching the top pedestal – this is showing ambition. So which House would be more relative to these two examples, Slytherin or Ravenclaw?

Hufflepuff – the underrated House in Hogwarts. They don’t really have time to shine unless you count that brief moment with Cedric Diggory. They’re loyal, hardworking, protective, and caring. In my opinion, everything that a good person should consist of. When the sorting hat says, “and dear old Hufflepuff took in the rest and treated them all the same,” in my eyes, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Hufflepuffs have no personality and are only placed into this House because they don’t fit anywhere else. This might be J.K. Rowling showing that Helga was a typical Hufflepuff, loyal to the school she created, fair-hearted, hard-working, and looked past the competitive nonsense that the other Houses created. She rose above it, and she was the better person. This shows Helga was beyond caring and if people were like her, the world would be a better place. Didn’t the sorting hat once say that the Houses should unite to be stronger?

Loyalty is a personality trait I value above all others. If people are loyal and honest, hardworking and caring, they are the perfect best friend. They’ll always be there for you and you can always count on them. Such a perfect collaboration should be valued more in the series. I remember Dumbledore even admitted that “kindness was a value that seems to be taken for granted,” and this is completely true when discussing Helga Hufflepuff.

Although, there are indeed overlaps between Hufflepuff and the three other Houses. Loyalty goes hand in hand with chivalry, and therefore Gryffindor. If you are loyal to someone, you will be there with them through everything and this sometimes means using courageous spirits. They are also hardworking, just like Ravenclaws, and this means you have to own some sort of intelligence but this does not necessarily mean in the world of education. Slytherins have the closest friendships, quite like the loyalty in a Hufflepuff.

So Hufflepuff is the House of what everyone should aspire to be, but unfortunately, it is taken for granted. Almost all of Hufflepuff stayed behind to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts because of their loyalty. They really should be given more credit.

Lastly, Slytherin – most people concern this House with being “bad” but as I have proved with the other Houses, each personality trait is different, and too much excess of any of them can result in the less desirable side of the personality. Typical Slytherins are ambitious, own close and strong friendships, are cunning, and have a powerful sense of self-preservation. Self-preservation isn’t bad; it just means that quite like a Ravenclaw, you have the intelligence to know when something is too reckless, unlike a Gryffindor.

The reason why most Slytherins joined Voldemort was that they saw it as an easy way to attain power and they knew how strong Voldemort was, and they also knew being with him was better than against him, contributing to the trait of self-preservation. This also means that they may not have the sense to know when something has gone too far. All of the Slytherins left in the battle of Hogwarts because they were self-preserving, not because they were on the side of Voldemort. Not all Slytherins would be Death Eaters, just as not all Gryffindors would support the Order of the Phoenix.

Overall, I hope you have changed your mind about a few of the school Houses. Especially when concerning Hufflepuff and Slytherin, the less desirable of the four.

Personally, I would like to be placed in Hufflepuff. I’m fiercely loyal, quite reckless, and ambitious and even though I try to hide it, smart. So then, sorting hat, where would you sort me?

Hufflepuff. Because the sorting hat lets you choose where you are placed, and deep down the Houses don’t really matter. The whole reason for sorting is to show which side of your personality you want to act on most. If you have qualities of Gryffindor and Slytherin, but you care more about being brave than ambitious, choose Gryffindor. If you’re intelligent and loyal, but you care more for intelligence, choose Ravenclaw. Meanwhile, Helga Hufflepuff has the right idea and she’ll treat you all the same.

J.K. Rowling is trying to say that your personality shows through your own actions and what you singularly choose to act on and what you want to become. It’s our life, and it all comes down to our own personal choice. What do you choose?