Sorting Hat Saturday: Star Wars

Luke Skywalker: Ravenclaw. While Luke has some traits of every house, his inner journey is essentially the journey of a young boy searching for truth. Having spent his whole life on his aunt and uncle’s farm, he gazes at the horizon, dreaming about what’s out there beyond the two suns of his home planet. While this could be interpreted as a Gryffindor quality, a longing for adventure and heroism, remember how reluctant he was at first to get involved with the Rebellion. I think it must have been more of a longing to see and experience something beyond the limited, monotonous world he was raised in. To discover that “bright center of the universe” he believes Tattooine is farthest from. His inner growth throughout the three movies is all about learning, about gaining knowledge and wisdom, and about uncovering secrets that have been hidden from him. Luke agrees to let Obi-Wan teach him to be a Jedi, and later leaves the Rebellion to find Yoda and continue his training, so this is clearly something that is important to him. He even puts up with Yoda’s criticisms and frustrating idiosyncrasies because he believes that he can learn something from the strange old creature. When he discovers that Darth Vader is his father, he seems to care less that his father is someone so horrible and more that his two most trusted mentor figures lied to him. In the end, he becomes an intelligent, intuitive young man who trusts his instincts and is wise enough not to fall for the Emperor’s manipulations. He pieces together his own, more complete version of the truth from the many different “certain points of view” he is given, and he emerges with a balanced view of the world that cannot easily be corrupted.

Leia Organa: Gryffindor. Far from being a damsel in distress, Leia is a fiery warrior princess. Like many Gryffindors, she believes strongly in her cause and is willing to die for it if necessary. She stands up to her captors in A New Hope and refuses to betray the location of the rebel base even under implied torture and extreme emotional manipulation. She’s more than capable of holding her own in battle, although her role in the Rebellion seems to be more political and she takes part in only a few of the large-scale fights. There are moments when Leia’s strategic side shows and she reveals a Ravenclaw or even Slytherin edge, a leader who can put her own feelings aside. For instance, locking Luke and Han out of the rebel base on Hoth was not exactly a Gryffindor move, and I don’t mean that it was cowardly. I just mean that it’s a logical, strategic decision that was necessary to keep the rest of the Rebels safe, not an emotion-driven, rush-into-danger-impulsively Gryffindor choice. However, even here, her motivation is her loyalty to her cause, and her decision is a selfless one. On the whole, she’s a bold, brave Gryffindor who will fight tooth and nail for what she believes in.

Han Solo: Slytherin. Ironically, in the situation on Hoth that I mentioned above, Han is the one doing the Gryffindor thing, rushing into danger to try to save a close friend. However, there are very, very few people he would be willing to do that for, and the fact that he does so for Luke shows just how much he respects and cares for him. Han’s whole modus operendi is to look out for himself first, and Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca are unique in that they’re just about the only exceptions to that rule. Even when he joins the rebellion, it’s more about him being there for them than about him suddenly becoming a selfless and idealistic Gryffindor or a loyal, hard-working Hufflepuff.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Hufflepuff. It would be so easy to call him a Ravenclaw just by virtue of the wise old mentor archetype, but then again, Dumbledore himself was one of those, and he was a Gryffindor. Obi-Wan values loyalty more than truth or knowledge. He sees missing data from the Jedi archives as simply an inconvenience to his mission, whereas a Ravenclaw would have been morally outraged at the thought of important information being covered up. Likewise, he plays his own part in covering up information when he tells Luke that Darth Vader killed his father. He easily rejects personal attachments in favor of loyalty to the Jedi as a whole and accepts their Code without ever really questioning it. He begs Yoda not to make him face his former friend and apprentice, but when he is ordered to, he goes through with it despite his reluctance, stopping just short of killing Vader. Many years later, he serenely sacrifices his own life for the greater good and makes plans for Yoda to continue Luke’s training. He sees himself as a piece of something greater than himself, and he is driven by loyalty and duty above all else.

Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker: Gryffindor. Darth Vader may be the villain, but he has very few Slytherin traits. For one thing, he has almost no ambition. While his younger self gave lip service to becoming “greater than any Jedi”, that power he’s craving is not the kind he ends up with under the Empire. He seems more focused on being able to decide how to live his own life, love who he loves without having to hide it, and protect the people he is closest to from dying. Those are not really Slytherin goals. He’s not particularly cunning, either. It’s the Emperor who comes up with all the grand schemes, in which Darth Vader is really little more than a pawn. As a young man, he had little patience with the diplomacy and negotiation that Padme insisted was necessary to democracy. He doesn’t think through his actions, and he doesn’t really stand for anything, which is why he’s so easily drawn into the Dark Side. But impulsive heroics and a deep-seated need to save everybody are Gryffindor traits, ones that can be seen in Harry himself, even if in this case they are tragic flaws that lead to his downfall. My only hesitation is that Gryffindors usually have some kind of guiding beliefs or moral compass; however, this the one Gryffindor villain from the Harry Potter books is likewise lacking in this, and that is what leads him to the Dark Side as well. At least, unlike Peter Pettigrew, Darth Vader retains his bravery and impulsive nature after his fall from grace.

Padme Amidala: Hufflepuff. Probably the most difficult character to sort, Padme is a bit of everything. She’s intelligent, but her priorities are not centered around knowledge, truth, or wisdom. She’s strategic, but only in a selfless, ideal-driven way, much like Leia. She’s courageous, but she prefers to find a diplomatic solution rather than fight it out on a battlefield. I think her strongest trait is her loyalty: to the people who elected her, to the Republic in general, to the idea of democracy, and to her boyfriend/husband. It’s when these loyalties come into conflict that she is undone.

Yoda: Slytherin. Not for ambition, but for cunning. Yoda is nothing if not cunning. While he’s certainly wise and intelligent enough to be a Ravenclaw, he’s also very pragmatic. For one thing, he’s able to separate himself completely from emotions and personal affections, making decisions purely based on logic. While this is a Jedi thing in general, it comes far more easily to him than to anyone else, even the loyal Hufflepuff Obi-Wan. He’s also good at telling people exactly what they need to hear so that they will do what he wants; for example, he does not tell Luke the true identity of his father so that it will be easier for him to fight and kill Darth Vader. He’s clever enough to trick and test Luke when they first meet, convincing him that he is only an ordinary swamp-dwelling creature agreeing to take him to Yoda before revealing his true identity. And while he’s not driven by ambition, he has no problem with the suggestion that the Jedi take control of the Senate after getting rid of Palpatine.

Emperor Palpatine: Slytherin. Of the very worst kind: power-hungry, ruthless, and manipulative. I’m not sure what else there is to say here. There’s not a single thing he does that isn’t 100% pure Slytherin villainy.


Sorting Hat Saturday: Renegades

This past week, I read Renegades, by Marissa Meyer, and wrote a review of it over on my book blog. Of course, being the Harry Potter fan that I am, I couldn’t help thinking the main characters’ conflicts came down to this: she’s a Ravenclaw trying to be a Slytherin, and he’s a Hufflepuff trying to be a Gryffindor.

Nova was raised by the Anarchists, a group of self-proclaimed villains who are definitely Slytherins, almost every one of them. They’re cunning and ambitious to the extreme. After losing control of the city to the Renegades, they live in the shadows for years and years, plotting their return to power. They’re absolutely ruthless, willing to resort to any means necessary to achieve their goals. They look after their own, much like Slytherins are said to on Pottermore, murdering and blackmailing in order to keep each other safe. However, there are a few more Voldemort-like types, who have no affection even for their partners in crime and care only for themselves. Nova does her best to fit in among these people and has gotten to be very good at it. She can be sneaky and subtle when she needs to. Yet, at her core, she doesn’t have any of their ambition and is not nearly as ruthless. She’s a brilliant inventor, designing everything from weapons to gloves that allow her to scale the side of a building to a working elevator for her dollhouse when she was a little girl. She’s happy to have philosophical discussions with the people she’s supposed to be spying on, has her own opinions that are not necessarily those of the group she is loyal to, and becomes more and more conflicted as she realizes she has not been given the whole truth. She is quiet and contemplative, a creative thinker, and an individual who has never had the chance to really define herself before. She has taken on the traits of her adopted family, but those slowly peel away over the course of the book, and she becomes less Slytherin and more Ravenclaw as it goes on.

Adrian was raised by the leaders of the Renegades, a group of self-proclaimed superheroes who rule the city. While nominally heroic, the Renegades have taken on Gryffindor traits taken to their worst extremes. They are proud and condescending, believing that they truly know better than the ordinary people and deserve to be in charge. They enjoy being famous and admired, and Adrian believes they’ve lost sight of what they originally stood for. He believes strongly in justice, which is one of the core Hufflepuff values, and is very much a team player, viewing the other members of his team as equals rather than followers. He doesn’t see his powers as making him any better than the ordinary people. He believes in helping and protecting the ordinary people caught in the crossfires of their war with the Anarchists, but he doesn’t have any interest in dominating those people or being worshiped by them. While he’s very brave – a product of his life as part of a very Gryffindor organization – his core values and beliefs are more Hufflepuff, and even his loyalty to the Renegades is more Hufflepuff (because they’re his friends and family) than Gryffindor (because they’re right).

Sorting Hat Saturday: “Mad Eye” Moody

Continuing the project I started last week of sorting adult Harry Potter characters whose houses are unknown, this week I’m looking at Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody. He was definitely a difficult one, both because he’s so secretive and because he embodies traits of every single house. He’s brave, he’s loyal, he’s intelligent, and he’s cunning. But which house does he fit into best?

Not Hufflepuff. That’s my first thought. While it’s true that he’s hard-working, as well as being loyal to Dumbledore and the Order, he’s so distrustful and paranoid that it’s almost impossible to imagine him among the team players of Hufflepuff. Ravenclaw is also unlikely. While Moody has a brilliant mind and is – like many Ravenclaws – a bit eccentric, he doesn’t seem to value knowledge for its own sake. He’s far too practical for that.

Gryffindor might be the logical choice. And yet, I’m not sure that’s a good fit, either. Moody’s bravery is different from Harry’s or Lily’s or even Dumbledore’s. In Order of the Phoenix, the portrait of a former Hogwarts Headmaster tells Harry, “We Slytherins are brave, yes, but not foolish … Given the choice, we would always choose to save our own skins.” There’s not a lot of evidence of that, though, in the characters’ actions. Many of the Slytherin characters are just cowards, no bravery involved at all, but then you’ve got Regulus Black sacrificing his life for a chance to bring Voldemort down – not exactly saving his own skin. I suppose Snape would describe himself as “brave but not foolish”, but I think it might be an even better description of Moody. For an Order member and an Auror, bravery is pretty much in the job description. But he is not “foolish” – ie. reckless and self-sacrificing in the way Gryffindors tend to be. In fact, he’s kind of paranoid about his own survival. He drinks only from his own flask because he’s afraid of being poisoned, and he trusts nobody, not even his fellow Order members.

What about the other Slytherin traits? He can be ruthless at times, for example suggesting that the Ministry take Karkaroff’s information and then send him back to Azkaban. And he’s cunning, too: while it’s the fake Moody who claims, “It was once my job to think as Dark Wizards do”, the comment seems fairly accurate and is taken in stride by those who know the real Moody well. Having been in the same House as many dark wizards at Hogwarts would only have helped him there. He’s clever and strategic enough not only to lay a false trail as to when Harry will be moved from Privet Drive, but also to realize that they still need to be prepared for battle. Besides, there’s the fact that his house was undisclosed in his Ministry file. That’s definitely something a Slytherin would do; a Hogwarts House gives valuable insight that could easily be used against you, or provide an element of surprise when the enemy doesn’t know exactly what to expect.

Dumbledore seems to trust Moody a great deal. Would he really place that kind of trust in a Slytherin? I think so, under the right circumstances. If Moody was a Slytherin, and if he went to Hogwarts during Voldemort’s rise to power (which he must have), he clearly chose not to associate with his future Death Eater peers, perhaps even gravitating toward Dumbledore as a teacher and role model. Dumbledore did not hesitate to trust Snape, and I strongly suspect that Mundungus Fletcher was also a graduate of Slytherin, so there’s no reason other members of the Order could not be as well.

Sorting Hat Saturday: Hogwarts Graduates

For most of the Harry Potter characters, even the adults, it’s very obvious which Hogwarts house they were in when they were younger. For a few, however, we never find out, and while J.K. Rowling has given insight into some of these on Pottermore, others remain mysteries. So here are my thoughts:

It would be easy to assume that Aberforth Dumbledore was a Gryffindor to match his brother Albus, and he does have the bravery and impulsiveness associated with Gryffindor. However, he expresses a feeling of being overlooked and overshadowed by his brother, which likely would have grown stronger if he were in a different house, perhaps one that did not get as much respect. He is also extremely loyal, particularly to Arianna, and seems far more grounded than Albus, who was always full of brilliant ideas and big dreams. He does not mind working hard without any personal gain or ambition, first as Arianna’s caretaker and later at the Hog’s Head pub. While many others might have taken advantage of a famous relative to become famous themselves, Aberforth seems to shy away from the spotlight and prefer a simple life. Therefore, I think there’s a strong argument to be made for putting him in Hufflepuff.

Barty Crouch Sr. has all the traits of a textbook Slytherin. He is ruthless, ambitious, and willing to sacrifice others to preserve his reputation. However, he is also strongly opposed to dark magic, and Slytherin’s reputation as the darkest house would likely keep him away. I think the hat would have tried to persuade him, as it did with Harry, that Slytherin would be the best fit, but eventually given in and put him elsewhere. Where, you ask? I could see him as a very misguided version of either Gryffindor or Hufflepuff. On the one hand, he strongly values justice and law, in a very rigid way. He wants to see wrongdoers punished, and he’s dedicated his life to making sure they are. On the other hand, he’s not truly fair. He throws people in Azkaban without trials and secretly arranges to save his own Death Eater son despite publically disowning him at the trial. It takes a lot of bravery to stand up against evil, and he certainly makes a lot of enemies by doing so. Gryffindor might not be out of the question for him either.

Barty Crouch Jr., on the other hand, could only have been a Slytherin. He shared his father’s ruthless ambition but not his aversion to dark magic. Besides that, though, he was a master of trickery and disguise. He almost singlehandedly brought Voldemort back from the dead by manipulating a school competition, not by any means an easy task to pull off. He also managed to fool Dumbledore not once but twice: the first time as a young boy who Dumbledore seems to think may have been innocent of the crimes he was convicted of, and the second time disguising himself as one of Dumbledore’s old friends and colleagues, then spending a year teaching at Hogwarts undetected. The younger Barty Crouch was Slytherin to the core, which – come to think of it – was likely one of the factors playing into his strained relationship with his father. Not to mention that it might have given the elder Mr. Crouch a reason to believe that his son – who he’d certainly raised to hate dark magic and had previously been proud of – was in fact guilty, rather than simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Amelia Bones is surely a Hufflepuff like her niece. As one of the Wizengamot members presiding over Harry’s trial in Order of the Phoenix, she stands out among her peers as being level-headed and open to hearing Harry’s side of the story. She is there to hold a fair hearing, not simply to ensure Harry is expelled from school, which sets her apart from Fudge and Umbridge. This devotion to justice is exactly what made her a good Head of Magical Law Enforcement, and – unfortunately – a target for Voldemort. Names in Harry Potter often carry clues about the character as well, and Amelia comes from a Germanic root that means “work” – perfect for a hard-working Hufflepuff!

Rufus Scrimgeour might look like a Gryffindor at first sight, and he’s certainly brave. You’d have to be to spend most of your life as an Auror. However, my instincts are saying Slytherin. Scrimgeour does not crave power for its own sake, but he’s certainly convinced that he knows best how to fight Voldemort, and his methods are those of a Slytherin. His campaigns are, in fact, more about public perception than actual warfare. He wants the magical world to believe he’s accomplishing something, and if that means trying to bribe the Chosen One into being a Ministry puppet and sending a man who is almost certainly not a Death Eater to Azkaban, then so be it.

Mr. Ollivander is definitely a Ravenclaw, with his deep knowledge and understanding of wandlore. Harry mentions a couple of times that he is not entirely sure if he likes or trusts Mr. Ollivander, who seems more fascinated than horrified by the idea of Voldemort’s power. However, this is not because Ollivander is secretly a Voldemort sympathizer or because he craves that sort of power for himself. It’s an intellectual fascination. Ollivander has devoted his life to studying wands and magic, and Voldemort is an intriguing case study, if also a horrible person.

Sorting Hat Saturday: Charlie Brown

Maybe it’s from watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving yesterday, but I find myself with the inexplicable urge to sort the Peanuts characters into Hogwarts houses. So, here it goes:

Charlie Brown is a Hufflepuff. Despite being rather unpopular and taken advantage of, he never ceases to be kind to those around him and always does his best, whether that means attempting to put together a Thanksgiving feast with just two other kids and a dog to help him, putting hard work into directing a Christmas play, or simply letting his little sister tag along after him. He sees the untapped potential in the simplest things, like an undersized Christmas tree, and follows his heart rather than his head.

Lucy is a Slytherin. She is bossy and proud, always determined to be in charge, and not especially sensitive to others’ feelings. She is also an entrepreneur at a young age, selling faux-psychiatric advice, and she complains that she never gets what she really wants for Christmas. When Linus is running for class president, she is not above resorting to threats and intimidation to get him elected. What Lucy wants, she gets, by whatever means necessary.

Linus is a Ravenclaw. Neither as humble and underestimated as Charlie Brown nor as ambitious as Lucy, he simply wants to read his favorite books, cling to his blanket, and dream about someday meeting the Great Pumpkin. He’s constantly bursting with knowledge, for example quoting the Bible in response to a question about Christmas and giving a speech about the importance of giving thanks when Charlie Brown complains about Thanksgiving as “another holiday to worry about”. His opinions are not always valid – ie. the Great Pumpkin – but like Luna Lovegood, he refuses to doubt or be embarrassed by his stranger theories.

Sally is a Slytherin, but of a different type than Lucy. She is not bossy or mean-spirited. Rather, she is sweet, kind, and naïve. However, while Charlie Brown vents about the commercialization of Christmas, Sally writes an extra-long list to Santa and suggests that he send large amounts of money if the gift list is too confusing. While Charlie Brown goes out trick-or-treating in an effort to be included by his peers, Sally opts to spend the night in the pumpkin patch – and then becomes furious when the Great Pumpkin doesn’t arrive. And when Linus runs for class president, she truly believes he can change the problems she sees in the school, such as too much homework and lockers she can’t open. She is easily won-over by what she sees as fantastic schemes and then shocked when they fall through; although she is naive, she demonstrates a hunger for great things, which is definitely a Slytherin trait.

What if Helena Ravenclaw was Slytherin’s protégé?

Silly question, I know. She wouldn’t have even been in his house; she was a Ravenclaw, after all. But they have a lot in common. They both played a direct part in the founding of Hogwarts, Slytherin as one of the founders, Helena as a founder’s child and part of the first generation of students. They both grew apart from the other three founders and eventually fled the castle, never to return. They both did something or took something with them that left Hogwarts in a fractured state. And they both played an unknowing role in Voldemort’s rise to power, Slytherin as his ancestor and inspiration, Helena by telling him where to find Ravenclaw’s lost diadem.

Helena didn’t have the greatest relationship with her mother, so perhaps there was another teacher she saw as a role model instead – and there’s not much Gryffindor or Hufflepuff about her. Perhaps she looked up to Slytherin and wanted to be more like him; perhaps he even told her that if she weren’t Rowena’s daughter, he would have picked her for his own house. The lover who comes to find her when she runs away was a Slytherin, so perhaps she associated herself with Slytherin house in other ways as well.

Depending on the timing, her decision to steal the diadem and flee might even have been influenced by Slytherin’s own departure. She didn’t steal it out of longing for the wisdom it could bring, but rather, because she thought it would help her become greater than her mother. That’s pure ambition right there. If she witnessed Slytherin’s fight with Gryffindor and subsequent departure, if she knew what he had left lurking inside the school, if she saw the growing fracture between the houses and perhaps felt torn between her mother and her mentor, she might not have had much reason to want to stay.