The Sorting of Neville Longbottom

The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account, but it doesn’t always give you what you want. Harry was able to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin, but Neville was put in Gryffindor despite his preference for Hufflepuff.

In Neville’s case, the Hat was determined to place him in Gryffindor: Neville, intimidated by that house’s reputation for bravery, requested a placing in Hufflepuff. Their silent wrangling resulted in triumph for the Hat. – Pottermore

It’s easy to imagine Neville as a Hufflepuff. Even aside from the fact that Helga Hufflepuff took all the students the other founders rejected, and would have accepted him regardless, he’s a pretty good embodiment of Hufflepuff traits. He is down-to-earth, humble, and generous. He’s hard-working and always seems to try his best despite not doing very well in his classes. He certainly values fairness and justice, and he’s less-inclined to break the rules than some of his Gryffindor peers. Meanwhile, he spends the first six books as a timid, awkward, easily-overlooked kid who seems utterly out-of-place in Gryffindor. While he does show some signs of bravery, such as standing up to the trio in Sorcerer’s Stone and joining Dumbledore’s Army in Order of the Phoenix, it’s hard to say at that point that Neville is defined by his bravery. It’s not until Deathly Hallows, a full seven years after the sorting ceremony, that his true heroism begins to show.

So why, then, did the hat refuse to put him in Hufflepuff when it’s honored similar requests before? His preference was different from Harry’s in one very important way. While Harry asked not to be a Slytherin because he knew of their reputation for dark magic and evil, Neville was just intimidated by Gryffindor, not repulsed by it. He didn’t think he was good enough for Gryffindor and thought he would have to settle for Hufflepuff in order to avoid embarrassing himself. Putting Harry in Slytherin would have meant dismissing his values and denying him a choice. Putting Neville in Gryffindor, on the other hand, was a vote of confidence.

In many cases where a character doesn’t quite live up to what their house is supposed to stand for, I think we can assume the hat was trying to give them a chance for growth. For instance, Peter Pettigrew is a cowardly Gryffindor, but he was almost certainly placed there because the hat saw his admiration of his more heroic friends and hoped he could become more like them. Gilderoy Lockhart is an incompetent Ravenclaw, but his skill as a writer indicates intelligence and creativity that could have been put to better use. On a more positive note, Hermione grows from a stuck-up know-it-all to a courageous young woman as a result of her time in Gryffindor. It’s as if the sorting hat can see not just a person’s potential but where they’ll have the best chance of reaching their full potential as well.

Neville didn’t truly want to be a Hufflepuff or value Hufflepuff work ethic and fairness over Gryffindor bravery. He simply wasn’t ready yet to accept his own potential, and as a Hufflepuff, might never have embraced it. Being placed there would only have confirmed his fears of inadequacy, while being sorted into Gryffindor gave him a chance to grow in confidence and courage.

Or, in other words, the Sorting Hat takes your choice into account if you want it for the right reasons. It takes your choice into account if your value system doesn’t match up to a house you’re suited for, if you have a deep personal reason for what you want, or if your choice will give you a chance to grow into a better person. It doesn’t take your choice into account if your choice would limit you. Neville did value bravery and heroism and was simply afraid he’d never be capable of them, so by putting him in Gryffindor, the hat made sure that he would.

Advertisements

Sorting Hat Saturday: A Wrinkle in Time

Meg: Ravenclaw. Meg is the perfect example of a gifted child whose grades do not reflect her abilities. Although her mother refuses to tell her what her IQ is, it’s implied to be pretty high. However, Ravenclaw isn’t purely about intelligence any more than it’s about grades or test scores. Ravenclaws are the researchers and experimenters of the world, hungry for knowledge and filled with a love of learning. Meg displays those qualities in ways that have nothing to do with school. As a child she loved playing number games with her father (which resulted in her learning “far too many shortcuts” and having trouble showing her work at school). On their journey through the universe, she constantly attempts to make sense of the strange things around them, looking at everything with an open mind and yet not without thinking critically about it all. Once Charles Wallace is taken over by IT, Meg is the one who figures out most of what needs figuring out, like how to use her faults to resist IT’s temptation and how to use Mrs. Who’s glasses to rescue her father. She has to be very brave, as well, but her journey is mostly about finding answers and seeking understanding, and it is her intelligence, self-knowledge, and emotional strength that enable her to succeed.

Charles Wallace: Ravenclaw. Is there any question here? Not only is Charles Wallace a child genius whose mind “breaks out of the ordinary mold” entirely, and who understands the mysteries of the universe more thoroughly than even the greatest adult minds, but he’s also far more comfortable with his outsider status and high level of intelligence than Meg. His fatal flaw is his pride, but it’s not the ambitious pride of a Slytherin; he’s simply used to being the smartest person around and doesn’t anticipate a situation where his mind literally isn’t strong enough to do what he wants it to.

Calvin: Hufflepuff. While Calvin is certainly intelligent, he’s driven by his heart more than his mind. He’s a team player who fits in well at school and yet is kind and warm towards the unpopular Murray kids. He seems to be at his happiest when he is helping or protecting others and is more than willing to take on his friends’ mission as his own despite having no personal stake in it.

Mrs. Murray: Ravenclaw. Meg and Charles Wallace’s mom is defined by her immense capacity for belief and understanding. Not only is she a brilliant scientist in her own right, she’s open-minded toward the weirdness happening all around her. She’s willing to believe and accept that her youngest child is an unusually gifted genius while still allowing him to be a five-year-old as well. Not only that, but she’s able to keep faith that her husband is still out there and be open-minded about the crazy project he was working on when he disappeared. Keeping in mind that Mrs. Murray herself hasn’t seen anything weirder than Mrs. Whatsit dressed in stolen bedsheets, it’s pretty incredible that she doesn’t think her whole family has gone insane.

Mr. Murray: Ravenclaw. While we don’t know a huge amount about Meg’s father, who is gone for most of the book, we do know he was a scientist and a very intelligent man. He must have been open-minded to believe that tesseracts could be possible and dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge in order to test out such a dangerous experiment himself. While he’s one of the less-developed characters, everything about him points to Ravenclaw.

Sorting Hat Saturday: The Lion King

Simba: Gryffindor. While he’s a little hesitant and unsure of himself, Simba’s whole story is about finding courage, something he has no shortage of as a cub but has to re-learn as an adult. Young Simba is adventurous and fearless, while the older Simba has a lot to be afraid of but learns to put that aside and do the right thing anyway.

Nala: Hufflepuff. While she’s just as brave as Simba, Nala’s defining trait is her loyalty. She is loyal to the pride and stays even when Scar takes over and things go horribly wrong. Although she loves Simba deeply, she’s horrified to find him avoiding his own duties and does her best to convince him to return and take his place as king. A Gryffindor in her place might be plotting rebellion, but she’s too humble to think that she could do so herself, as ready as she is to support Simba when he returns to claim his rightful place. She has strong opinions about what the right thing to do is and who should be in charge, but those ideas are rooted in her Hufflepuff loyalty and work ethic.

Mufasa: Gryffindor. Brave, noble, selfless, and an actual lion – what else could he be?

Scar: Slytherin. Ambition? Check. Cunning? Check. Self-preservation? Check. Willing to “use any means to achieve [his] ends”? Oh, definitely. Scar is more of a Slytherin than half the actual Slytherin characters in Harry Potter.

The hyenas: Slytherin. The hyenas are slapstick comic relief villains and thus are too silly to be cunning or manipulative in the way Scar is. You could argue that they’re ambitious, though, playing their part in Scar’s evil plans in hopes that they will stand to benefit. Mostly, though, they’re selfish and slippery, doing whatever seems most likely to benefit them at the moment. They’re the Crabbes and Goyles of the Lion King world: while they’re not evil masterminds plotting world domination, and wouldn’t be capable of doing so, they put themselves first and therefore are drawn to the biggest and most powerful allies – who they’re also willing to turn on in an instant.

Timon & Pumba: Slytherin. Yes, they do look like Hufflepuffs at first glance, but think about it. Why do they save Simba’s life? Not because he’s another living creature and it’s the right thing to do, but because they think a lion friend could turn out to be useful. When he saves them from another lion, they’re proven right. Their “Hakuna Matata” attitude – namely, that problems are someone else’s to deal with – is hardly that of the Hufflepuffs, who, like the Gryffindors, nearly all stayed to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts. While they do ultimately care enough for Simba to help him defeat Scar, they make it clear that they don’t understand why he would want to do so. They are good friends to each other, and eventually to Simba, but they don’t have a Hufflepuff’s sense of loyalty to something greater and certainly not any work ethic. While they’re not that ambitious and are too comical to be truly cunning, they look out for themselves (and each other) first, prioritizing their own wellbeing and survival above any greater sense of purpose – a Slytherin trait, and the same reason I put the hyenas in Slytherin. In a movie mostly filled with noble Gryffindors and duty-driven Hufflepuffs, they’re outliers among the heroes.

Rafiki: Ravenclaw, of the Luna Lovegood variety. Behind his weird mannerisms, he is wise, perceptive, and a bit mystical. He believes in things he can’t see and speaks with the dead as if they’re still alive – and while he seems crazy, he’s also right. It’s his knowledge and advice that help Simba realize he has to return to Pride Rock.

Zazu: Hufflepuff. He reminds me a bit of Bahgeera from The Jungle Book, who I put in Ravenclaw; they are both sensible, no-nonsense mentors who the young Gryffindor heroes rebel against. However, Zazu is defined by his loyalty first and foremost. He is loyal to Mufasa and endures everything from Simba’s childish antics to Scar’s cruelty while remaining steadfastly devoted to his king; it’s not until a much more mature, grown-up Simba defeats Scar and takes the throne that the bird’s loyalty shifts from Mufasa to the new king. He believes in hard work and devotion to duty and is endlessly frustrated by young Simba’s flighty independence and disgusted by Scar’s selfish tyranny. He may be stern and serious rather than warm and fuzzy, but the things he values most definitely point to Hufflepuff.

Sorting Hat Saturday: The Jungle Book

Because apparently I’m on a roll with kids’ movie-themed Sorting Hat Saturdays, here are the Jungle Book characters. This is based on the animated movie, not the live action one:

Mowgli: Gryffindor. He’s very, very brave. He’s not afraid of trying to survive on his own in the jungle and refuses to leave even with an evil tiger after him. When he finally confronts Shere Khan, he doesn’t allow himself to be intimidated and is very much ready to fight for his life.

Bagheera: Ravenclaw. He values brains over brawn and logic over emotion, and while his own actions are shaped by his affection for Mowgli, he also knows that a human child doesn’t really belong in the jungle and will be safer with his own people. He has good insights into others and always seems to know what they will do. He almost looks like a goal-oriented Slytherin, but he’s not very ambitious and is more intelligent and practical than cunning, so I would lean more toward Ravenclaw overall.

Baloo: Gryffindor. He’s not necessarily very good at his attempted acts of heroism, but it’s not for lack of courage. He wants to do the right thing and isn’t afraid to risk danger to help others. He is eager to help Mowgli learn to survive in the jungle and loves him like a son, but is willing to let him go for his own good, which requires its own form of bravery. In the fight with Shere Khan, his willingness to risk his own life for Mowgli’s sake requires the same sort of courage that defines the noblest of Gryffindor characters. I did consider Hufflepuff based on his loyalty and his “bare necessities” philosophy of life, but I’d say that overall he is defined more by his bravery.

King Louie: Slytherin. He’s an orangutan who thinks that using fire will make him human and is willing to kidnap a human child to gain it. He has the ruthless ambition thing down. There are a lot of Slytherin characters in The Jungle Book, but King Louie is probably the one who fits the best. He’s also the least obvious, though, in that he’s not really a straightforward villain and – unlike Kaa and Shere Khan – doesn’t really have malicious intentions toward Mowgli.

Kaa: Slytherin. He’s literally a sneaky snake. What more can be said?

Shere Khan: Slytherin. He’s not brave – in fact, he’s defeated by his own fear of fire – but he is good at appearing fearless and intimidating. He’s intelligent, but not in a Ravenclaw “books and cleverness” kind of way. He’s very good at being sneaky and manipulative.

The Vultures: Hufflepuff or Slytherin. They work as a team and value friendship and community. They even get a little song about the importance of friendship. They are loyal to each other and eager to welcome Mowgli into their group. However, they’re so terrified of Shere Khan that they abandon Mowgli when the tiger shows up. They do come back and help him in the end, but they do it with Slytherin methods, coming up with a plan for Mowgli in which the human boy, rather than the vultures, plays the most dangerous part.

Sorting Hat Saturday: Finding Nemo

One of the funny things about being a teacher is how often it makes me think back on my own childhood. Yesterday in afterschool, they showed Finding Nemo – a movie I loved when I was eight but haven’t seen or thought about in years – and now I can’t stop thinking about it! Of course, one thing I’ve acquired since I was eight is a tendency to compulsively sort characters from other stories into Hogwarts houses, so here I go:

Marlin: Gryffindor. While Nemo believes his father to be cowardly and afraid of the ocean, he’s afraid for Nemo, not for himself – and he learned the hard way to be cautious. When his son is taken by a scuba diver, he immediately abandons his cautious nature and risks everything to try to find him.

Nemo: Gryffindor. Like father, like son. Nemo is eager for adventure, becoming increasingly frustrated by his father’s overprotectiveness. He swims out into the open ocean to prove he’s not afraid, is willing to go along with Gill’s dangerous escape plan even though he’s the one put most at risk by it, and swims into a fishing net to try to save Dory, who he’s just met. He’s nothing if not brave.

Dory: Hufflepuff. As much as she reminds me of Luna Lovegood, she’s not a Ravenclaw. She’s defined not by her eccentric mind but by her caring nature and persistent optimism. She puts everything she has into helping Marlin even though she has nothing to gain from it, does her best to comfort him and keep him going even as he becomes more cynical, and believes that things are bound to get better if you “just keep swimming”.

Gill: Slytherin. Gill is a strategist first and foremost. The other tank fish look at Nemo and see a scared and lonely child, but Gill sees a fish small enough to swim through the filter that keeps the tank clean, and he immediately starts piecing together a plan to escape. He later regrets risking Nemo’s life and then risks his own life to help Nemo escape alone, but it’s not uncommon for Slytherins to treat those they care about very differently from those they only see as pawns. (See also: Severus Snape, Narcissa Malfoy, Professor Slughorn)

Nigel: Ravenclaw. A pelican who frequently visits a dentist’s office to watch root canal procedures? A sea-bird who is captivated by the story of a clownfish father trying to find his son and puts the pieces together to realize he knows who the son is? A member of a fish-eating species who has fish friends and carries them in his beak without being tempted to eat them? Well, according to Pottermore, “[Ravenclaws] are the most individual – some might even call them eccentrics, but geniuses are often out of step with ordinary folk”.

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: 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.