Sorting Hat Monday: King Lear

Sorry about the lack of Sorting Hat Saturday … or Sunday. I spent my weekend dealing with a migraine, which I assure you was far less enjoyable than blog writing would have been. Anyway, better late than never. King Lear is, in my opinion, one of Shakespeare’s best plays, so I hope I did it justice.

Cordelia: Gryffindor/Hufflepuff. Hufflepuff would be the obvious choice: she is extremely loyal to her father even after being disinherited, and she’s nothing if not forgiving. She’s also someone with principles and integrity in a world full of deceit and betrayal. However, there’s also a great deal of courage in her refusal to back down from those principles. Refusing to offer the king false flattery requires courage, and raising an army to defend her father certainly does. If not for that combination of courage and loyalty, she could have stayed happily in France with her husband and left King Lear to lie in the bed he made. The only question is which one is stronger, or which one she values more, and I don’t have an answer to that.

Goneril and Regan: Slytherin. King Lear’s two eldest daughters could not be more different from their youngest sister. They are the worst kind of Slytherins: the kind that care for no one but themselves and take what they want at any cost, even by harming those they should care for.

Edmund: Slytherin. I take back what I just said; Goneril and Regan have a rival for the title of “worst”. I’m not sure there’s any explanation needed for why a man who manipulates his father into believing his firstborn wants to kill him in order to become his heir would be a Slytherin.

Edgar: Gryffindor. Edgar is not very smart, falling easily for his brother’s tricks, but you could argue that wanting to believe the best of people is a Gryffindor trait. He’s certainly courageous, not to mention a natural leader, since it’s his taking up the mantle of kingship that offers a flicker of hope at the end.

The Fool: Ravenclaw. The fool from King Lear is known for not being very funny, but he’s certainly insightful. As one of the few people to see through all the layers of falsehood and understand who the other characters truly are, he never ceases to remind King Lear that he himself (the king) is the real fool, and that his youngest daughter, who he banished, was more worthy of his love and trust than her sisters. It would take a Ravenclaw to come up with the kind of wisdom he frequently offers.

King Lear himself is a hatstall. He’s not steadfast or loyal as a Hufflepuff would be, and he may see himself as a wise old king, but his lack of real wisdom disqualifies him from Ravenclaw. He falls for others’ cunning plans too easily to be a Slytherin. If I had to choose, I might put him in Gryffindor by process of elimination. While he never shows himself to be especially brave, he’s certainly reckless and impulsive.

On a very different note, is anyone else reminded of Sirius Black’s family? We’ve got an elder brother, a heroic character framed for a crime and forced to flee; an evil younger brother who repents in his final moments; two evil sisters, one of whom betrays the other in the end; and a good sister is disinherited for refusing to put up with the family’s nonsense. That’s an awfully big coincidence …


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