Sorting Hat Saturday: Mary Poppins

Welcome to my fourth Disney-themed Sorting Hat Saturday. Today I’m sorting the characters from one of my favorite movies from my childhood, Mary Poppins, which was a lot harder than I initially expected.

Mary Poppins: Gryffindor/Hufflepuff. Mary Poppins is hard to sort because, despite being the main character, she’s not as well-developed as you might imagine. It’s her impact on the Banks family that matters more than who she is herself. Much like the fairy godmother from Cinderella, she appears from out of nowhere, and her backstory is never elaborated on, nor are her reasons for helping the family. However, we do get to see quite a bit of her personality: she is a no-nonsense sort of woman constantly followed around by nonsense and chaos, who is kind and indulgent with the children but also firm about things like medicine and bedtime, and who doesn’t seem to care what a normal person would do in any given situation, instead stubbornly doing whatever she thinks is best and getting away with it. She seems to be driven by a need to help people, showing up out of nowhere to bring a troubled family closer together. The patient and subtle way that she does this, showing rather than telling and letting Mr. Banks figure things out on his own terms, makes me think Hufflepuff might be a better fit than Gryffindor. As does “A Spoon Full of Sugar”, which is all about learning to enjoy things others might see as work. However, her unwillingness to back down and disregard for social norms seem more Gryffindor than Hufflepuff. I think the Sorting Hat would probably have a hard time with her.

Burt: Ravenclaw. Almost every time we meet Burt, he’s doing something eccentric and creative, like improvising musical routines or drawing intricate chalk landscapes. Like many Ravenclaws (Luna, for instance), he is unafraid of the unusual and bizarre. He not only goes along with the chaos that seems to follow Mary Poppins around, he’s often the instigator; while she puts up a front of being sensible and down-to-earth, he has no problem floating around on the ceiling or trying to jump into chalk pictures. I did consider Gryffindor, but while Gryffindors tend to have a strong purpose in life, Burt is content to simply float along, enjoying the view from the rooftops and occasionally giving out good advice.

Mr. Banks: Slytherin. The children’s father is ambitious and goal-oriented, with little time in his life for fun or frivolity. His intentions are certainly not bad ones – he wants to provide for his family and move up in his company – although he loses sight of things that have less material value but are just as worthwhile, like spending time with his children. I’m hesitant to put him in Slytherin, because Mary Poppins walks all over him so easily, but she seems to have that effect on everybody, so we’ll let it slide.

Mrs. Banks: Slytherin. At first glance, Mrs. Banks looks like a Gryffindor; as a suffragette in the early 1900s, she fights for change and clearly values bravery. But she slips easily from one persona to another: the fierce suffragette, the loving but distracted mother, the dutiful wife. I’m not sure any of them are more “real” than the others. They’re all based on what she wants most at the time. She wants the right to vote, so she campaigns for it. She wants a peaceful household, so she defers to her husband and tries to influence him subtly rather than speaking her mind. She wants what’s best for her children, so she worries when they disappear and uses her “Votes for Women” sash to make a tail for their kite. Everything she does is based on the situation, a kind of adaptability that is better suited to Slytherin than any other house.

Jane: Hufflepuff. We don’t really see enough of her personality to say for sure, but she’s kind, sweet, and good-natured, so Hufflepuff seems like a reasonable guess.

Michael: Gryffindor. Unlike Jane, Michael is stubborn and outspoken. He doesn’t trust Mary Poppins right away and doesn’t let anyone tell him what to do. His impulsive and reckless behavior can get him into trouble, but on the other hand, he stands up for himself and is protective of his sister.


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