I’ve got beef with the Hogwarts sorting system.
It’s…to put it bluntly, idiotic. Now, I don’t honestly care, but I’m bored and feel like ranting, so here goes.
There are two major flaws with it: One in universe; the other in the real world. Yes, that’s right. I’m blaming you. Shall I describe why?
Let’s begin with my in universe problem. To put it bluntly…it’s segregation, and unnecessary segregation at that. There are four groups: The reckless, courageous, leaders, the smart, witty, and no doubt outcast intellectuals, the cunning, ruthless, hardworking, and diligent…whatever you call someone who has ambition, and the poor buggers who are kind and honest but still never catch a break. All groups have major flaws, and all have their good sides as well. Gryfindoor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff. To dissect it further…well, just look at Hufflepuff’s name. There’s no chance in hell that any main character would come from there. It has puff in it.
No, instead our four groups are: Gryffindoor, the protagonists. Ravenclaw, the quasi allies of the protagonist. Slytherin, the morally corrupt antagonists. And Hufflepuff, the group Rowling threw in there because she liked the number four better than three. Hell, in book one, she didn’t even specify what it was for, and the impression I got was that it was a neutral house.
Now, that isn’t to say that Hufflepuff is without its major characters. It spawns one minor, bland, uninteresting, totally useless love interest—who affects the plot even less than Hedwig does—and a guy who gets slaughtered in the one book he actually has any character development in. Cedric Diggory is pretty much better than Harry in every way possible, making most of us glad he died-he was, to put it bluntly, a Sue, and not a well written Sue at that. Still, others mourned his death, giving us arguably one important character from the least important house. Yay. Even if he was an ensemble darkhorse. This makes Hufflepuff, to everyone’s immense surprise, tied with Ravenclaw in the amount of characters that have some significance, although Luna Lovegood is more loved by the fans than he is and Ravenclaw plays an important role in the end, so Ravenclaw still wins overall.
Back on the subject (Wow, long tangent.) What the whole process is is segregation. You put the smart kids in one group, the ambitious kids in another, the honest but not too ambitious or bright kids in the third, and in the last you put the risk takers and leaders. This is quite clearly unfair-it’s obvious that Ravenclaw will have the best grades, Slytherin the second best, Hufflepuff the third and, lastly Gryffindoor. This isn’t to say that some students with the potential for Ravenclaw or Slytherin won’t trickle down into Hufflepuff or Gryffindoor—Hermione and Neville are prime examples of possible Ravenclaw candidates, and it’s obvious that Harry would make an incredible Slytherin—but the odds are unlikely, and the only reason Harry wasn’t put in Slytherin was because he was so damn gullible—ironically nullifying him from a Ravenclaw position, funnily enough. In short, each house will get different grades. To boot, the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw houses have a much better chance of winning the house cup-one group is comprised entirely of good students; the other is full of complete rule followers and generally nice people. Despite this, neither house has won for at least a decade. Why? Personal biases. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff’s are expected to act the way they act, and are thus not rewarded for their good deeds. Gryffindoor and Slytherin, however, are expected to break the rules and be general assholes. Instead, they’ve both won nonstop for the past decade.
But that’s not important. What’s important is the fact that this impacts their futures heavily. The people in universe seem to share our biases towards the schools-meaning that, if they had to choose between a Gryffindoor or a Hufflepuff when hiring a new person for a job…well, let’s just say that the Hufflepuff might possibly manage to get a low wage job somewhere, somewhere that would require tedious but not particularly important work. In all likelihood, a clerk somewhere, maybe a semi respected herbology researcher. The same applies for Slytherin’s-no former Gryffindoor in their right mind would hire a Slytherin. A Ravenclaw maybe, but a Slytherin? Purgatory no. The same would apply if it where the other way around. See, the houses don’t separate their students based on what number they draw, in which case the things at school would be a friendly rivalry. Instead, it’s based on personality type-leading to violence and sabotage, as well as hatred. Ron mentions wanting to kick out all the Slytherin’s because they produce the most Dark Wizards-keep in mind that Harry was one step away from becoming a Slytherin.
In addition: It’s bad for the students. Children, especially teenagers, need diverse environments in which to grow—environments with the leader and risk taker type, the intelligent and witty type, the cunning and ambitious type, and the kind and honest type. They shouldn’t be stuck with just a single group of people all their school careers, they need to branch out, make new friends, come to know the many other personalities at their school. It’s unhealthy, the way Hogwarts does it. Imagine if you only interacted with other nerds your entire life. It’d be great for the first year or so, but after a while you’d come to realize how awful it is when we’re all alike. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but that’s true for me. Humans need diversity. Not just from other cultures, religions, and political beliefs: They need diverse types of humans themselves. I am not smart. I am kind, generous, and honest—in short, a Hufflepuff, hence my obvious support for them. But I interact with, “Ravenclaw’s,” on a daily basis: true nerds. Hence why I’m here. Many of my friends are Slytherin’s—the kind of people who have big dreams, and are willing to work hard to get there. Admittedly, I don’t like leader’s and outgoing people all that much, so I’m a bit of a hypocrite, but my direct family is comprised of, “Gryffindoors,” so that’s good enough for me.
But enough talk. Have at you!
Here’s where I call you guy’s out.
Most of you claim to be Ravenclaw’s. Like, all of you, excepting a few. Fair enough. If you’d like to think that your most defining feature is your intelligence, so be it. Sure, it means that you value your intelligence over you’re ambition and your kindness, but I’m not here to judge. That’s fine by me. However, most Harry Potter fans also have a serious stigma against Hufflepuffs. That is…not fine by me. Well, technically it is, since I don’t give a damn, but it irks me somewhat.
Hufflepuff has been stated to, “Suck.” It’s been called, “The worst house.” I’ve heard people say that it’s their least favorite house, and that it’s a total joke.
Is being a decent person really all that bad?
I mean, come on. Harry’s a relatively good person. As are Luna, and Hermione, and Ron. Most of the protagonists are decent people, to some degree. So why is being a really decent person so bad? Do you prefer people who break every rule and taboo they can? Do you prefer a balance? What? Yes, we all like the Robin Hood daredevils who break the rules when they feel like it and still remain heroes, but what about the normal heroes? The guys who donate their time and money at the soup kitchen? The people who earn honest, decent livings and raise happy families? The people who are just generally good Samaritans who want to help other people? Yes, yes, it’s not as flashy as being a daredevil leader, or an ambitious and cunning person-who-I-can’t-think-up-a-name-for, or a brilliant and clever thinker, but just because it’s not exciting doesn’t make it, well, bad.
I’m just saying.
Rowlings portrays them…well, to put it bluntly, awfully. Stephanie Meyers could have done it better.
Ok, maybe that was a bit cruel, but still. You get my point.
To wit: Gryffindoor is treated like infallible gods off morality (With the sole exception of Wormtail. Needless to say, he’s one of my favorite characters) wheras Slytherin is basically portrayed as the exact opposite. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw barely exist as far as Rowling is concerned. This would be brilliant, awesome story telling—that is, if it were from Harry’s point of view. It’s not. It’s third person semi omniscient. So while we do get a good whopping of Harry’s thought—and, of course, his biases—we don’t get anything from a neutral perspective, which we should given that the narrator is speaking in third person. Simply put, my problem is that all the houses are to morally narrow, when they shouldn’t be. I’ve met total assholes who have been brave, and good people who were ambitious.
Also: I checked the Harry Potter wiki. Apparently, Tonks was a Hufflepuff. Who knew? She was another semi-main character Hufflepuff, and she also died. Noticing a pattern here?
I'm just doing this because I found it funny. Please don't think I actually care, as this was just a way to entertain myself in class.
Very well thought out. I agree with all your points, except: I still think it makes for one hell of a story and I'm okay with the way Jo did it. I actually rather like the houses as they are. It would be boring if they were more realistic.
PS: I'm a Slytherin. I'm not evil.
....or am I?
I think that JK Rowling has done a lot of what you are suggesting on purpose, to prove a point.
The students are forced to pick their houses and their friends at a young age just as Harry is forced early on to pick between Ron and Draco. I believe that JK meant to show us how little students know about themselves at that age, and how the people you surround yourself with can affect what you do (not saying that it will, but that it can and typically does).
I also feel that you are supposed to realize that the rules that guide the sorting, and the basic principles of each house can be applied to anyone. The only difference is what an 11-year-old chooses to associate with, and define themselves as for the rest of their lives.
The prejudice of students from one house to another is very well utilized in the story, merely in demonstrating how foolish it is to judge someone especially without depth. JK sets the prejudice between the houses, just to destroy it. Take Snape for example. Snape was the stereotypical Slytherin throughout the first novels. He was cruel to the students, biased toward students in his own house, and very strict in judging failure, but Snape wasn't all bad. As the story progresses Snape fights for good, and ultimately delivers the message to Harry that saves the wizarding world.
I think she purposefully skimps detail on these houses to demonstrate how truly ignorant the basis of prejudice is. You are meant to judge the Hufflepuffs without knowing them. Just as she purposefully pits the Gryffindors and Slytherins against each other for no reason other than their respective houses, to later show what problems this can cause.
P.S. I'm a Hufflepuff too.
First of all... She did specify what Hufflepuff was all about... they are Just, Patient, and Loyal. It bugs me when people say they are just the outcasts.
Second... Smart people can be houses other than Ravenclaw (for example Hermione), and brave people can be in houses other than Gryffindor (for example Luna). The houses shows what the character prides themselves on and work towards, not actually what they are particular the best at.
Third... Once it comes time for them to get jobs, they wouldn't look at the houses you were put in. Even if they did, because the houses reflect the characters personal priorities, the jobs each house would choose would most likely differ from one house to the next.
I do agree that as human we need diversity. However like I keep saying just because people are in the same house does not mean the are the same. Look at Ron, Harry, Hermione, Neville, Fred/George, Seamus, Dean, Ginny etc. They are all in the same house but very different.