Newt and Hermione: Why Two of the Smartest Characters Are Not Ravenclaws
As Potter fans, no one can argue the importance of the Sorting Hat and its quintessential wisdom as to where each Hogwarts student should be placed. Gryffindor is home to the brave and daring; Hufflepuff is home to the steadfast and kind; Ravenclaw is home to the wise and eccentric; and Slytherin is home to the sly and ambitious. The whole system seems straightforward and even uses primary colors to differentiate each House. What remains confusing is when there is an overlap. I am a Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw Hatstall who has suffered identity issues because of it. Several characters, even if they weren’t Hatstalls, exhibit enough traits of not one but two Houses, which can make us wonder, “Why didn’t they end up in [X] House instead?”
Let’s focus the lens a little closer on “the brightest witch of her age” and – according to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – the current Minister of Magic: Hermione Jean Granger.
Hermione is purported to be a near Hatstall since the Sorting Hat took its time deciding whether to place her in Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. She is logical almost to a fault, with a keen eye for detail and a penchant for puzzles that we see throughout the novels and screen adaptions. Time and time again, the reason for Hermione being placed in Gryffindor has been attributed to one defining moment.
‘Me!’ said Hermione. ‘Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery and – oh Harry – be careful!’ (SS, ch. 16)
It has been said that this is what clothes our gifted girl in red, simply because bravery and loyalty are things she values. But I would like to take it one step further, for you can value something without acting upon it. I value nature conservation, but unfortunately, I do not make the extra effort to find the recycling bin.
Hermione doesn’t just value these things. She acts upon them. Defending the weak (i.e. chivalry) and bravery are Gryffindor traits she possesses in spades. This is the girl who had no trouble brewing an illicit upper-level potion while breaking a social more by bringing two boys into the girls’ bathroom. This is the girl who had no trouble socking Draco Malfoy a good one in the jaw. This is the girl who jinxed the DA sign up sheet so in the event that they did have a whistleblower, whoever squealed would certainly regret it.
In the films, Ron remarks that he and Harry “have been a bad influence on her,” but something tells me that our supposedly calculated queen had that Gryffindor flame beforehand. She did wait up past bedtime to chastise Harry and Ron before they were friends.
Now, my other case (cough) involves a gangly ginger who looks dashing in blue. I’m not talking about Fred Weasley (this time). Newton Artemis Fido Scamander is the newest golden boy of Hufflepuff House.
Like Hermione, if it weren’t for his actions, he would make a good Ravenclaw himself. Using sweet Luna as a Ravenclaw reference, we can see that the Magizoologist shares many of her qualities that coincide with Ravenclaw. Newt and Luna share an understanding of outcast creatures and people. They are not among the common fold of society and seem to embrace their nonconformity. They are both extremely intelligent and observant; although, they do not wave this gift around flamboyantly. They are both soft-spoken, except when something of great importance requires their voices to be firm. They see the value in acceptance and friendship because their comfort zone is on the outer margins of society, and they both have the mental acuity to solve puzzles that others deem hopeless.
If Newt is such a perfect Ravenclaw candidate, what put him in Hufflepuff? The answer is his choices. We don’t necessarily know whether Newt Scamander was a Hatstall in his first year, so we are just going to have to go with what we know about him from the Fantastic Beasts films.
He is very nurturing based on the interactions we’ve seen. Whether it’s injured creatures or an abused young man, Newt Scamander approaches every situation with the benefit of the doubt and unequivocal understanding. I’m not saying Ravenclaws (or any other House) are incapable of being kind; I am simply saying that gentleness of heart seems to be a key trait among the badgers. Look at Cedric Diggory. He goes out of his way to let his opponent know what he knows even though he is technically forbidden to do so, just like Newt was forbidden to bring the case to New York. Newt also probably shouldn’t have dropped everything like a hot potato to go to Paris and reassure the woman he loved. Are you catching my theme here? To a Hufflepuff, sometimes social mores and supposed wisdom go against honor, and for a Hufflepuff, that is unacceptable. Bugger what isn’t usually done. A Hufflepuff’s concern is what should be done.
That’s why Hermione and Newt were Sorted into their respective Houses. “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” (CoS, ch. 18).