Maybe it’s time you revisited that topic. If you’re even moderately involved in online or in-person Harry Potter fan discussions, today’s post isn’t going to tell you anything you don’t already know, but I hope my personal examples will make reading it worth your while.
You’ve probably heard it said that your Hogwarts house (whichever house you identify with most–whether selected by you or by Pottermore) is more indicative of what you value than of the person you currently are. That statement now seems incredibly obvious to me in light of not only the books (e.g., Harry’s choice not to be placed in Slytherin) but also my own house and those of my friends and family, but I had never heard the idea articulated until recently.
Let me illustrate it with my own story. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough–or if you go back through the archives to around 2012-13–you may know that I used to consider myself a Ravenclaw (and still have a Ravenclaw blog title and tagline, which probably won’t change) and had a bit of an identity crisis when Pottermore placed me in Hufflepuff. But over the years since then, I have become a very proud Hufflepuff. There’s a bit of a chicken and egg question here–did I realize that I was really a Hufflepuff all along, or did I accept the Pottermore pronouncement as fate and write myself a personal narrative to fit? Or–a third option–did my house identity lead me to aspire and strive to become a person who belongs in Hufflepuff? I think this last theory best explains what happened. Before being sorted, I already valued loyalty, hard work, and kindness (a quality not specifically mentioned by the Sorting Hat but popularly associated with Hufflepuff) to some degree–otherwise I wouldn’t have answered the sorting questions the way I did–but being sorted into Hufflepuff pushed me to articulate these values more clearly than I ever had before and to begin consciously striving to emulate them.
Now, here’s the key–I don’t always exemplify these traits, but I strongly admire them when I see them in others, more than I admire traits associated with other houses. I think that’s a big reason why I loved Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them more than a lot of people did–because, as I argued in this post, it’s a movie about one actual Hufflepuff and (as I see them) his very Hufflepuff-like friends. People don’t necessarily think of Hufflepuff when they think of me, but when someone does place me in the correct house (this happened a couple of weeks ago), I’m very happy, and I take this as a sign that I am becoming the kind of person I want to be. We see this with Harry Potter. He probably could have fit into any of the houses, but his choice placed him in Gryffindor. And throughout the series (especially in Chamber of Secrets, but later too) we see him worrying about whether he’s really brave enough to be in Gryffindor or whether, instead, he’s simply foolhardy. I think we see it with Neville too–he doesn’t immediately appear to be a brave person, but being brave is important to him (because of his parents, we later learn), and he eventually becomes brave. We could think of it this way: If you’re constantly thinking, “I don’t deserve to be in this house,” you’re probably in the right house.
This theory explains why I know some very sweet people who strongly identify with Slytherin–maybe they’re tired of being pigeonholed as sweet people. It probably explains a lot of other things that I haven’t thought about yet. How about you? Do you think you belong in the house where Pottermore placed you, and why or why not? I know this topic gets discussed a lot, but I never get tired of it, because I think it can be a fascinating and useful tool for understanding who we are and who we aspire to become.