Can the Sorting Hat Predict the Future?
The Hogwarts Sorting Hat holds one of the most important tasks in all of Hogwarts: Sorting generations of students. Despite this, no one knows all that much about the mysterious accessory. In Harry Potter’s first ever Sorting, the Sorting Hat claims that Godric Gryffindor took the hat right off his head and bewitched it. Since its creation, there has long been a debate about the ethics and practicality of Sorting children into single-character-trait-based Houses while they are at such a young and impressionable age. Many believe that Sorting students into what is essentially “good,” “evil,” “smart,” and “kind” will only propagate these stereotypes. There is certainly a myriad of research to suggest that remaining around only like-minded people can increase the shared mentality in the participants. However, what really interested me is the thought that perhaps instead of the Sorting Hat basing its decision on the children’s 11-year-old attributes, the Sorting Hat can actually see the wearer’s future.
When you think about it, the Sorting Hat seeing the future is not entirely out of the realm of possibility. We know that Godric Gryffindor was a talented wizard and he imbued the hat with not only his power but also the knowledge and requests of the other three founders. He seems to have given the hat Legilimency skills and perhaps even brought it to life all in order to keep Sorting after the passing of the founders. In addition, when not in use, the Sorting Hat resides in the Headmaster’s office. After centuries of listening in and learning from all of the powerful witches and wizards who have held the office, who is to say that the Sorting Hat has not developed powers of its own?
The biggest issue here, though, is what would the hat do with the ability to see the wearer’s future? My thought is that instead of the Sorting Hat’s decision shaping the student’s future, the wearer’s future shapes the decision.
Confused? Let me explain.
Instead of a student being Sorted into Gryffindor and then becoming brave, the hat runs through various scenarios in which the new pupil is Sorted into different Houses and makes the decision based on what it sees. There is already a precedent in the Harry Potter series to suggest that fate can greatly affect decisions. Most notably, the prophecy given by Professor Trelawny to Dumbledore works on the idea of fate, with some leeway given to account for the fact that the child who would bring about Voldemort’s demise could be either Neville Longbottom or Harry Potter. In the end, regardless of which child Voldemort attacked, the point was that he would select one of the boys. In doing so, Voldemort ensured his own downfall.
Furthermore, in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it is suggested that Neville is fated to kill Nagini, just as Cedric Diggory is fated to die in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In this case, perhaps the Sorting Hat knew that Neville was to destroy Voldemort’s final Horcrux. Because of that, the hat placed Neville in Gryffindor not because it saw that young Neville had “daring, nerve, and chivalry,” but because it knew that in Gryffindor, he would develop his brave heart. The hat knew that being in Gryffindor would give Neville the push he needed to eventually accomplish his fearless goal.
So what do you think? Do you believe that the Sorting Hat is just a hat that is really good at guessing? Or perhaps that hat really does have something up its sleeve (“though [they] have none”)?