The Four Houses of Hogwarts.

Gryffindor; The most celebrated of the four houses at Hogwarts, students who are brave can be sure to find themselves soon to be decked out in red and gold. Notable wizards who were in Gryffindor include Dumbledore, Harry, Hermione, Ron (and eligible family members), Sirius, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin, and many more. Really, almost every wizard of good standing we read about.

Slytherin; the house of the pure blood, the sly and cunning, generally associated with the witches and wizards who have ultimately gone bad. Notable wizards include Tom Riddle, Draco Malfoy (and family), Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, Regulus Black, Phineus Nigellus Black, Severus Snape, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Horace Slughorn. Looking for an evil wizard? You will find all of them (except for two – Quirrel and Pettigrew) have come from this house.

Ravenclaw; the house in which you are sure to find yourself if you are of above average intelligence;  Hermione almost ended up in Ravenclaw, but asked to be put into Gryffindor. Notable wizards include Luna Lovegood, Cho Chang, Professors Quirrel, Flitwick and Trelawney, Moaning Myrtle, Padma Patil, and Garrick Ollivander.

Hufflepuff; the house that seems to be dreaded by all, though according to JK herself, Neville asked the sorting hat to put him in here. Notable Wizards include Nymphadora Tonks, Professor Sprout, Cedric Diggory, Ernie MacMillan, Hannah Abbot, and Justin Finch-Fletchley

In Book Five (my least favorite book, though that is a subject for another time), the sorting hat gives an ominous message in his song , warning that, if the school didn’t pull together to defeat Voldemort, there could be a bigger problem.

In times of old, when I was new,
And Hogwarts barely started,
The founders of our noble school
Thought never to be parted.

United by a common goal,
They had the selfsame yearning
To make the world’s best magic school
And pass along their learning.

“Together we will build and teach”
The four good friends decided.
And never did they dream that they
Might someday be divided.

For were there such friends anywhere                                                                         As Slytherin and Gryffindor?
Unless it was the second pair
Of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw,

So how could it have gone so wrong?
How could such friendships fail?
Why, I was there, so I can tell
The whole sad, sorry tale.

Said Slytherin, “We’ll teach just those
Whose ancestry’s purest.”
Said Ravenclaw, “We’ll teach those whose
Intelligence is surest.”

Said Gryffindor, “We’ll teach all those
With brave deeds to their name.”
Said Hufflepuff, “I’ll teach the lot
And treat them just the same.”

These differences caused little strife
When first they came to light.
For each of the four founders had
A house in which they might

Take only those they wanted, so,
For instance, Slytherin
Took only pure-blood wizards
Of great cunning just like him.

And only those of sharpest mind
Were taught by Ravenclaw
While the bravest and the boldest
Went to daring Gryffindor.

Good Hufflepuff, she took the rest
and taught them all she knew,
Thus, the houses and their founders
Maintained friendships firm and true.

So Hogwarts worked in harmony
for several happy years,
but then discord crept among us
feeding on our faults and fears.

The Houses that, like pillars four
had once held up our school
now turned upon each other and
divided, sought to rule.

 

And for a while it seemed the school
must meet an early end.
what with dueling and with fighting

and the clash of friend on friend.

And at last there came a morning
when old Slytherin departed
and though the fighting then died out
he left us quite downhearted.

And never since the founders four
were whittled down to three
have the Houses been united
as they once were meant to be.

And now the Sorting Hat is here
and you all know the score:
I sort you into Houses
because that is what I’m for.

But this year I’ll go further,
listen closely to my song:
though condemned I am to split you
still I worry that it’s wrong,

Though I must fulfill my duty
and must quarter every year
still I wonder whether sorting
may not bring the end I fear.

Oh, know the perils, read the signs,
the warning history shows,
for our Hogwarts is in danger
from external, deadly foes

And we must unite inside her
or we’ll crumble from within
I have told you, I have warned you…
let the Sorting now begin” – JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This blog is not about the division of the houses, I will leave that subject to those who care to tackle it elsewhere. I am writing today about the value of the houses.

Gryffindor is hailed as the “best” of the four houses by most people. There is also a lot of glamour put on Slytherin, as is typical with “Evil” characters in traditional media. There is something that draws us to the villain in a story, though we generally know that we are nothing like them, and a world in which they prevail would be very chaotic. Ravenclaw gets an honorable mention, as being the house for people who have high intelligence. Hufflepuff, however, is almost a joke to many wizards. A conversation (the first conversation) between Harry and Draco points this out quite simply. ““Play Quidditch at all?”
“No,” Harry said again, wondering what on earth Quidditch could be.
I do — Father says it’s a crime if I’m not picked to play for my House, and I must say, I agree. Know what House you’ll be in yet?”
“No,” said Harry, feeling more stupid by the minute.
“Well, no one really knows until they get there, do they, but I know I’ll be in Slytherin, all our family have been — imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?”
 .” -JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

It is this disdain for Hufflepuff that I wish to talk about. In the above song I cited, it clearly says:

Said Slytherin, “We’ll teach just those
Whose ancestry’s purest.”
Said Ravenclaw, “We’ll teach those whose
Intelligence is surest.”

Said Gryffindor, “We’ll teach all those
With brave deeds to their name.”
Said Hufflepuff, “I’ll teach the lot
And treat them just the same.””

Hufflepuff, in short, was all for teaching all students, regardless of what prowess or qualities they exhibited. The other three, however, were intent on only teaching those students they considered to be worthy; those who were “the best” by their judgment. Gryffindor valued bravery, Slytherin pure blood. Ravenclaw was interested in intelligence. Only Hufflepuff saw the value in everyone, whether they were brave or meek, brilliant or average, pure blood or muggle born. She wanted to give everyone a fair chance.

Why do we celebrate the houses that called for segregation and laugh at the one who wished to be fair and include everyone? Why is it that the one house who valued people over greatness is the one that has the smallest amount of noteworthy wizards? We have more positive thoughts about Slytherin – the house that continuously turns out evil wizards than we do about Hufflepuff. I, myself, am guilty of this. I love the characters that have been shown in the green and silver of Slytherin. Draco and Snape were two of my favorite characters. Until I looked it up, I could not name more than three people from Hufflepuff; Cedric, Ernie and Hannah… conversely, I have no problem naming people from the other houses offhand. Similarly, I know next to nothing about the people in Hufflepuff. I know Cedric had some amount of bravery and intelligence, and that Ernie was a bit pompous, but I have no idea who they are as people. I know a great deal more about Moaning Myrtle, and we almost never saw her outside of a bathroom. (Although, I do have to give props for bathroom scenes; I almost never see a bathroom in a book or movie.)

It is almost like Hufflepuff is simply there because it was easier with four houses than three. Certainly, a house was needed for those wizards who were not deemed worthy by the other houses, but I just can’t reconcile myself to the fact that the one house where everyone was welcome is the butt of so many jokes.

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One thought on “The Four Houses of Hogwarts.

  1. Pingback: Index of Posts. | Inside the Mind of a Dramatic Mother

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