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The eternal dilemma of trying to Sort myself into a Hogwarts House

Before I even begin, I’m going to list what I believe to be the main characteristics of each House, for definition’s sake. It’s a bit simplistic but necessary for knowing my starting point.

Ravenclaw: wit, wisdom, love of learning, the ability to think for oneself, logic, original thought, highbrow, independence
Slytherin: ambition, resourcefulness, a desire to accomplish great things, cunning, creating social connections that will advance your prospects
Hufflepuff: decency, fair play, loyalty, kindness, patience, hard work, humility, trustworthiness, friendliness
Gryffindor: boldness, integrity, courage, a strong sense of morality, standing up for what is right and good, daring, determination, nerve, compassion

So into which Hogwarts House would I be Sorted?

Let’s start by discussing Ravenclaw. Due to my own prejudices, I’m always suspicious of anyone who Sorts themselves into Ravenclaw. Rightly or wrongly, this House is usually associated with being intelligent and having a brilliant mind, therefore claiming that you’re a Ravenclaw primarily signals to me either:

1. delusional arrogance in thinking that you are superior in intellect to other people and that this makes you better than them in some way
OR
2. insecurity within yourself that makes you feel like you have to prove to others that you’re clever because your brilliance is not always obvious from the outside
OR
3. pride – it’s important to you to be seen by others as very intelligent and to make sure they know it

I find this concept of Ravenclaw troubling because I don’t think that anyone should ever be judged by how intelligent they are because it has no bearing as to what’s in their hearts or whether they’re a good person. Besides, there are many different types of intelligence, skills and talents.

However, if I put aside my prejudices and look at the main traits of Ravenclaw that I listed at the beginning, I definitely would identify with quite a few of them. At school, I was always very enthusiastic about learning and loved the thrill of academic competitiveness. My curiosity was boundless and I often raised my hand in class to ask questions, to which the teachers didn’t always know the answers. Like Hermione, I also frequently thrust my hand in the air to answer questions that the teachers asked the class. I loved to read but I was very picky about what I liked and wouldn’t tolerate books that I found boring. So although I consider it a Ravenclaw trait to love reading, I don’t have that desire to read anything and everything like some people do. Also, if I had to choose between sitting still or having fun being active and energetic outside, I’d choose the latter, which I don’t think is very Ravenclaw.

Wisdom is another characteristic of Ravenclaws and I guess that I do feel like I have more of it than average, if just through the experience of what I’ve had to endure and learning from it. I also like to think that I have the Ravenclaw trait of being able to think for myself (but I have a feeling that everyone thinks this of themselves).

My brain is naturally very logical but I also tend to daydream and get completely sucked into my own world inside my head and get lost in my thoughts. Having playtime in my imagination is one of my favourite things and I can become so absorbed in it that I don’t notice time passing. My memory can also be freakily amazing. All these things are very Ravenclaw, I suppose.

Overall though, I’d say that I wouldn’t be in Ravenclaw and will always cheekily tend to suspect that Ravenclaws are intellectual snobs who enjoy the kind of things that I find deathly dull: opera, literary fiction, ballet and art galleries.

Moving on to Slytherin. I always was very ambitious and wanted to accomplish great deeds. When I was young, I wanted to grow up to end hunger, poverty, corruption, violence and injustice. Basically I wanted to save the world. I don’t know if wanting to save the world and help others is a very Slytherin trait (I view Slytherins as having more of a tendency towards self-interest and selfishness) but the Slytherin ambition to do great things is there. I had selfish desires for personal accomplishment too though; I wanted to be the best I could possibly be. Whether it was academic subjects, sport or acting, I wanted to get the highest marks in class/tests/exams, run the fastest, jump the longest, throw the furthest, put on the best performance in a play. I was scared of not fulfilling my potential, which is very Slytherin.

However, I hate many things that the House represents. The Slytherin desire to hobnob and network with influential, important and famous people is rather sickening. It’s exclusionary and sycophantic. Using other people to advance yourself just feels wrong. Another thing is that in the Harry Potter books, most Slytherins tend to be bullies and bigots who are obsessed with pure blood and status. Any sane and decent person would therefore want to avoid Slytherin, which would lead me, along with Harry, to chant “Not Slytherin, not Slytherin, not Slytherin” to the Sorting Hat. I definitely wouldn’t Sort myself into Slytherin.

Next is Hufflepuff. I identify with most of the Hufflepuff traits from the list at the beginning.
On my final day of school, when the Upper Sixth were gathered together informally and given a title and a small goodbye gift (for example they gave me a Scratchcard!), the title I was given was ‘the kindest/nicest person you will ever meet’ so that was very Hufflepuff. In my Leavers Book, somebody wrote ‘you never have a bad word to say about anyone'; this made me so happy and proud because I deliberately never talked about anyone behind their back and refused to gossip but I didn’t think that anyone had noticed.

I have another very Hufflepuff memory at the school I went to before sixth form. Once when my closest four friends and I went to the staffroom to ask for the keys to the costume cupboard, the teacher who came to the door with the keys [hi Mrs Smith if you’re reading!], asked us “Who is the most responsible?” and in a split second my four friends all pointed to me and chorused “JENNY!”, which was very amusing. So Mrs Smith gave me the keys to look after and be responsible for and I did so diligently. I think I’ve always been middle-aged at heart in the sense of being very responsible and dependable, which I regard as Hufflepuff traits.

Although I was very competitive, I valued fair play and honesty more. This extended to all areas of life but it’s easiest to give an example from sport. In hockey or netball, if I was the last person to have touched the ball before it went out of play, I would immediately say so to the referee instead of pretending it was the opposing team who knocked the ball out. I wanted to win but not at the expense of integrity; I wanted to win fairly or not at all. These Hufflepuff traits are stacking up.

Another Hufflepuff (or is it Gryffindor?) memory that comes to mind is one time at school when Fruit Pastilles were being distributed to everyone (I can’t remember why), we were each given two. I was given one orange one (I didn’t really like orange ones all that much; they weren’t as bad as green or yellow ones but they weren’t the delicious red and black ones) and one black one (score!). I decided to eat the orange one first to get it out of the way so that I could save and savour the best one for last. After I’d just finished eating the orange one, someone in our year group came down the stairs and saw that she had missed the Fruit Pastilles being shared out. She was so sad and looked so bereft and asked if there were any left. Everyone quickly wolfed down their remaining sweets so that they wouldn’t have to share. I looked down at my precious black Fruit Pastille in my hand and couldn’t bring myself to eat it knowing that the other girl hadn’t had any Fruit Pastilles at all. With a heavy heart, I gave it to her, which she was surprised about because we weren’t in the same group of close friends. I was glad that I did the right thing but oh the disappointment of not getting to eat the black Fruit Pastille. Such a ridiculous, trivial, insignificant thing now but it stuck in my memory for some reason.

However, my pride would prevent me from Sorting myself into Hufflepuff because in the books, the impression is given that a lot of people think that Hufflepuff is a bit pathetic. It shouldn’t matter what other people think but in reality it would bother me; I don’t like to be underestimated or looked down upon. Hufflepuff also doesn’t see a lot of glory and I do like glory and winning (there’s the Slytherin in me raising its ugly head again). So I wouldn’t Sort myself into Hufflepuff either.

And so we arrive at Gryffindor. I’m always aware that lots of people want to be in Gryffindor by default because that’s the House that the main characters are in. My brothers always immediately say that I’d definitely be in Gryffindor because I’m exactly like Hermione Granger (apart from that I was very sporty too) – I don’t know if that’s because of my brains, bossiness (*cough* strong leadership *cough*), my sense of morality, my dislike of breaking rules or always believing in and standing up for what’s right, no matter what the cost. The Sorting Hat very nearly put Hermione into Ravenclaw though so I can’t necessarily use her as a measure for which House I’d be in.

I do think that I’d be a good fit for Gryffindor in a lot of ways in regards to the Gryffindor traits in the list at the beginning and I do love excitement, which I think Gryffindor would provide. However, the core trait of the House is courage/bravery and although with this illness I am forced to be brave to make it through every day, I don’t have any choice about it. If given the choice, I wouldn’t want to have to be brave all the time. If something is important, then hopefully I would choose to be brave but I would prefer to not to have to be. I don’t know if this disqualifies me from Gryffindor.

I do feel that it’s important to have integrity in the small things as well as the big things, which is very Gryffindor, or at least very Hermione. To give a tiny example: at school, we weren’t supposed to walk over the grass as a shortcut from Clough House to the Dining Hall. But everyone used to cut across the grass, even the staff. Except me. I was the lunatic who sprinted down the path all the way around the grass just to arrive at the Dining Hall at the same time as my friends, who had sauntered there across the grass. I think everyone thought I was insane but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to do otherwise – my Dad was friends with the gardeners so I knew how hard they worked to try to keep the grass nice. Everyone cutting across it killed the grass and made it brown and a muddy mess. I couldn’t bear to treat the gardeners so badly. Nobody seemed to care though, no matter how much I told them. I just cared too much about everything.

While I’m in the business of telling self-complimentary anecdotes, I might as well go the whole hog. Solely for the purpose of demonstrating another Gryffindor trait, of course…
I visited the costume cupboard quite often with my friends; it was really fun. You could only reach it by going to the top floor and then climbing up a heavy wooden ladder because it was quite high up above the ground. One time when my friends and I were coming down, after we reached the ground, the ladder fell with an almighty crash against the floor. Everyone except me panicked and scrambled away as fast as they could. The headmaster’s office was directly below, two floors down, so if he was in there he would definitely have heard it. My heart was racing but I forced myself to stay calm and pick up the ladder, slotting its hooks back into the wall and went to sit on the stairs, waiting. I reasoned that none of us had done anything wrong and tried to convince myself that there was nothing to be scared about. Also, I didn’t want anyone who came up the stairs wondering what the noise had been to be worried and not know what happened. Sure enough, soon I heard footsteps climbing the creaky wooden stairs and it was indeed the headmaster’s face that rounded the corner. It was actually quite funny because his eyes widened when he saw me sitting on the step; I was the last person that he expected to see. Anyway, I explained everything and showed him that the ladder wasn’t broken or damaged. He asked me if anyone else had been with me, which I didn’t answer. I think that he sensed my discomfort so he just nodded and said “they were all scared and ran away perhaps?”, to which I couldn’t help my mouth twitching into a guilty smile but I still didn’t say anything. He nodded and left it at that. I was glad in the end that I had stayed behind and done what I thought was the right thing, even though I was scared of getting into trouble.

In conclusion, I think that I could easily be Sorted into any of the Houses but none are the perfect fit. This is probably the same for most people. If forced to choose just one though, I usually say Gryffindor but with a whole lot of caveats. I don’t like to be boxed into one single House because incorrect assumptions can be made. In the future if anyone asks, I’ll just send them the link to this blog post. Which won’t be annoying for them at all…

I’d love to know which House you’d Sort yourself into and why. Let me know in the comments.

6 comments to The eternal dilemma of trying to Sort myself into a Hogwarts House

  • Oh my goodness I LOVED these stories! They really do illuminate what an amazing person you are. I think we would have been kindred spirits in school together, because I always kept the rules and tried to get others to do the same, and when it came to it, I was very brace in confronting teachers. (Most of the time I was terrified and never raised my hand in class, but if it came to Standing Up for Truth and Freedom, I did – and teachers were astonished to see this quiet mouse suddenly opining forthrightly on controversial issues.)

    It’s that whole thing of not being brave unless you have to – I actually think Neville is a great example of this. He’s scared but does brave things when it comes to what is right. I often feel this about illness stuff – I mostly just want to hide, but when it comes to the protectioion of others I feel I must roar, even though I still feel scared. I wonder if actually bravery always feels like you’re braver not because you want to, but because you ‘must’. You just have to. After all, it wouldn’t be bravery if we didn’t feel scared in the first place. If people like doing things that scare them, that just makes them reckless – or horror-film afficionados- neither of which is the true Gryffindor spirit.

    And you’re so GOOD – in the best, joyful-light sense of the word. You’re the goodest person I know! That fruit pastille story really moved me. Partly because you also sort pastilles in the correct taste order, and partly because I also save the best till last, so I know what a sacrifice this was. I think what you did was really beautiful. I like to think I would have done the same, but I might just have stuck it in my mouth quietly.

    I think you’re the perfect possible combo of Hufflepuff and Gryff (and would definitely put you in the mould of Hermione – but nicer, and sportier.)

    By the way – I love your analysis of the houses – really helpful. I definitely have Slytherin elements. I was considering all the ways I fit in the different houses (and you’re right – we all fit in all the houses) but OH MY GOODNESS your description of Ravenclaw made me laugh so much! I think I may just be super-arrogant, after all…! :-) It was the end line about intellectual snobs that made me guffaw – that’s me!! I prob am an intellectual snob (whilst also recognising that I’m not nearly so clever as most of the folk I know from oxford days, and cannot get science into my head, nor general knowledge facts.) And I can’t write half so well as I’d like to. But I do love all those activities you find so boring, and I’m terrible at sport! (Huh! Maybe we wouldn’t have been mates in school after all…!)

    But reading through this helped me clarify. I’m not nearly nice enough to be hufflepuff, and I’m not cutthroat enough to be Slytherin. Lots of people say I’m Gryffindor, but it was your comment about wisdom that clarified it for me. Wisdom is a precious word to me. If I could sum up what I would love my epitaph to be in one word, it would be ‘wisdom’. Not knowledge in the dry academic sense, but more like a deep spiritual wisdom that helps others.

    So Ravenclaw I am! (Though Gryffindor in exceptional circumstances.) Ravendor?? :-)

    I LOVED THIS! Thank you!

    • Jenny

      I loved reading your wonderfully long comment – thank you for taking the time to write it. You’re the best. I find this stuff really interesting.

      Quite a few people whom I love most are Ravenclaw so what I wrote about Ravenclaw was hopefully taken in a tongue-in-cheek way ;-P

      I have no idea how I ended up being more harsh about Ravenclaw than Slytherin. Maybe when it comes to intelligence, I recognise delusional arrogance, insecurity and pride in myself. So subconsciously when I wrote about Ravenclaw, I was actually rebuking myself and was in denial about the more Ravenclaw, geeky side of my personality. Maybe also secretly I wanted someone to say “Jenny, you’re a genius! You’d be in Ravenclaw!” bahahaha. Oh dear.

      And we definitely would have been friends at school – you’re awesome (and definitely not arrogant). Besides, I liked every single person at school and was friends with everyone lol.

      I love that we rank fruit pastilles in the same taste order. That’s clearly the important thing here. Any other way is madness. Although I don’t think I’ve had any fruit pastilles since my school days (and wouldn’t now because sugar).

  • (And compassion an important word for me, too – so Gryff a close second)

  • As a child/teen I was very much Ravenclaw. My main purpose was to learn as much as possible, and I read everything. My nicknames included walking library, walking dictionary and walking encyclopaedia at different points. I was more of a Luna type Ravenclaw though – being autistic meant I appeared rather odd and my special interests could be quite niche, and others didn’t always understand my logic.

    Nowadays I’m more Hufflepuff. Being kind is more important to me than being right, and I want everyone to get along, or at least not be hostile towards each other. That wasn’t the case so much when I was younger. I might not be the one at the front campaigning for change like Gryffindors, but I’ll show my support behind the scenes and help out with the more routine tasks. When I first took the Pottermore sorting hat test I was surprised to be sorted into Hufflepuff as I thought I was Ravenclaw. I’ve accepted it now as I’ve done more research into the different houses and realised my priorities have changed. I’m not sure how much of that is from being ill, or if it would have happened anyway.

    I do have Slytherin traits, and when I was younger I was very ambitious and wanted to be the best at things. I’m probably more Slytherin than Gryffindor as I’m not very brave. I wish there had been more examples of good Slytherins in the books, as being ambitious and cunning isn’t a bad thing, it’s how it’s used that counts.

    I think most people have varying quantities of each house, it’s just what is most dominant that determines where you get put. I did like that the main characters had aspects of another house where they’d probably fit in (Harry in Slytherin, Hermione in Ravenclaw, and less obvious but still there, Ron in Hufflepuff). The main characters I identify with are Hermione, Neville (I’m dyspraxic so am clumsy and disorganised) and Luna (odd and having unusual interests).

    • Jenny

      I loved reading this – thank you for taking the time to write it. I find it fascinating.

      I like the idea of how we can change from identifying more with one House to identifying more with another as we grow up and change ourselves. As Dumbledore said, “I sometimes think we Sort too soon”.

  • Sarah

    You’re the bravest person I’ve ever known. You deffo qualify as a Gryffindor! Despite not wanting to be brave, you show extraordinary bravery every day, in the most horrific of circumstances. True Gryffindor spirit.