As a Harry Potter fan, I take nearly every online Sorting quiz I come across. You have to know your Hogwarts house so that you can bond with your fellow housemates when you meet them. “Your house will be something like your family in Howarts,” McGonagall tells the new students in Chapter 7 of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. We all assume when she talked of family, she meant the best kind: loving, supportive, and understanding. Who doesn’t want that?
Yes, horrified. Let me explain. As a book-lover, I have sorted into Ravenclaw in the past. Of course, a lot of those quizzes went something like this:
The Sorting Hat tells us the traits that go with each house. Gryffindor is for the brave and chivalrous; Hufflefpuff, those who are loyal and patient; Ravenclaw for the witty and learned; and Slytherin for the cunning and ruthless.
When Pottermore told me I was a Gryffindor, I couldn’t understand it. Brave? Bold? Daring? Last thing I would say about myself. How could I possibly have gotten Gryffindor?
One reason I got a different house was that the Pottermore Sorting is very different from the kind you find on Facebook. Unlike most quizzes, I wasn’t able to figure out how to game it to get the answer I wanted. The questions are nothing like the ones we’re all used to getting. The oddity of Pottermore’s quiz got me wondering if fans have misunderstood what the houses are really about.
According to the house definitions given by the Sorting Hat, some of the characters don’t seem like they are in the right houses. Why is Hermione Granger in Gryffindor when she is a brilliant bookworm? She’s the sharpest student in all of Hogwarts, yet she isn’t in Ravenclaw.
What about Luna Lovegood? While she is creative and intelligent enough for Ravenclaw, she also is patient with those of her fellow students who pull pranks on her because of her odd ways. Her gentle and forgiving heart also makes her a candidate for Hufflepuff.
Perhaps the most obvious house misfit is Gryffindor Neville Longbottom, who proves his bravery by the end of the series, leading the students still at Hogwarts in an underground resistance while Harry is out looking for Horcruxes, and using Godric Gryffindor’s sword to kill Nagini. But he doesn’t start out that way.
When Neville first arrives at Hogwarts, he’s a hot mess, easily intimidated by Snape, and so nervous he forgets the passwords to his common room. Looking at him, who would think he could be a hero? And yet, the Sorting Hat put him in Gryffindor. With time, he became what Gryffindor is all about, but he had to grow into the role.
Talking to Snape, Dumbledore says:
Dumbledore, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, p. 680.
“You know, I sometimes think we Sort too soon…”
The implication is that Snape, who is a Slytherin, was brave enough to be a Gryffindor, that the Sorting Hat made a mistake. But I think Dumbledore is being dense here.
The Sorting Hat is much more subtle than any quiz could be, because the Sorting Hat knows the truth: everyone belongs in every house. The characteristics listed are in all of us to varying degrees. No one is any one thing.
Consider Harry himself, who “wishes” himself into Gryffindor. While Harry is undeniably brave, he is also loyal (he stayed true to Dumbledore despite everything), smart (he realized that Hagrid winning a dragon’s egg in a pub couldn’t be a coincidence), and even cunning at times (remember the trick he pulled with the Felix Felicis on Ron?). He may not be all these things all the time, but then no one ever is.
I am grateful to the Pottermore quiz for opening my eyes. We all belong in all the houses, even me, because we have some of all these characteristics in us. Some we come with naturally (I will always have my nose in a book), and some take work (gathering my courage to call the bank). But they are all in us. It’s up to us to nurture them.
Which house(s) do you identify with? Did you get a different result on Pottermore? Which Harry Potter Character do you think was in the wrong house?