The Harry Potter characters whose Hogwartshouses are up for debate
Do you feel more cunning than courageous? More loyal than wise? Everyone has doubts about who they are and – in theory –having a wise old hat tell you once and for all sounds like it would bring anend to all of that angst. But what if the doubts still creep in?
In this article, we sort through (get it?)those times the Sorting Hat had some trouble making a decision, as well asfocus in on those witches and wizards who didn't always feel that the SortingHat had placed them in the right house. And of course, there’re the characterswe feel might have better belonged elsewhere... Perhaps when you’ve read thisarticle you might agree with Dumbledore’s words: ‘I sometimes think we Sort toosoon...’
Beware! There are about as many spoilersfor the Harry Potter books and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in this pieceas there are gnomes in the Burrow garden...
"Hmm,’ said a small voice in his ear.‘Difficult. Very difficult"
The famous Thinking Cap boasts ‘I’ll eatmyself if you can find/ A smarter hat than me’ in its start of term song, andit would never publicly admit to having doubts about its sorting abilities. Butsometimes, it takes a suspiciously long time to make a decision.
MinervaMcGonagall was one Hogwarts student that presented a dilemma for the SortingHat. She was a Hatstall – a student whose sorting takes longer than fiveminutes – and in her case it was the choice between Gryffindor and Ravenclawthat took the time. Given how quickly she answered the Ravenclaw door-knocker’sriddle, we can see that she would have done well in that wise house. On balancethough, we think the Sorting Hat went the right way with Minerva McGonagall:duelling with Snape, sticking up to Umbridge and defending Dumbledore – she’sgot a lion heart of pure red and gold.
The line between Gryffindor and Ravenclawseems to be a bit of a head-scratcher for the Sorting Hat. The same houses werein contention for Hermione Granger, who revealed in Harry Potter and the Orderof the Phoenix that the Sorting Hat ‘seriously considered’ putting her inRavenclaw. It’s not the biggest surprise if we’re honest – top of her year andarguably one of the brightest witches of her age, we didn’t need the lostDiadem to work out that she would have flourished in Ravenclaw. We’ll neverknow whether Hermione steered the Sorting Hat away from Ravenclaw or whethershe was always heading (get it?) towards Gryffindor, but we’re glad it decidedon red and gold in the end – it wouldn’t have been quite the same without ourfavourite trio plotting in the scarlet common room.
Maybe the Sorting Hat was trying to changePeter Pettigrew’s fate by placing him in Gryffindor rather than Slytherin? Ofall the Hogwarts houses, Slytherin boasts the largest number of Death Eaters,after all. A Hatstall like Minerva McGonagall, the Sorting Hat clearly foundsorting Wormtail difficult. But we can’t help but feel that this time theSorting Hat went the wrong way. It seems more cunning than courageous to fakeyour own death and spend twelve years hiding as a rat. Perhaps the Sorting Hatwould argue that fear can overcome anyone, sometimes even a Gryffindor, andthat was what had led Peter Pettigrew down the slippery slope and into LordVoldemort’s service. But we’re not so sure…
"There’s no need to tell me I’m notbrave enough to be in Gryffindor"
The Sorting Hat never admits that its finaldecision is wrong, but it does umm and ahhh in students’ ears while itdeliberates. And the longer the student is left sitting on the stool, the morelikely they are to doubt the Sorting Hat’s eventual decision. In Harry Potter’scase, the Sorting Hat’s indecision stayed with him for years afterwards,despite it respecting his desperate plea of ‘Not Slytherin, not Slytherin’. InHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, it took Harry pulling the sword ofGodric Gryffindor out of the Sorting Hat, to allay his concerns that he shouldhave been a Slytherin.
Although the Sorting Hat respected Harry’schoice, it wasn’t so kind to Neville Longbottom; it was determined to place himin Gryffindor, despite him asking for Hufflepuff. Throughout his first yearNeville was plagued with doubts, at one point choking out: ‘There’s no need totell me I’m not brave enough to be in Gryffindor’. We hope that when Dumbledoreexplained that ‘there are all kinds of courage’ Neville felt more at home. Andif he didn’t, we reckon killing a giant snake with Gryffindor’s sword probablydid the trick.
Albus Severus Potter was a different caseentirely. Before he even arrived at Hogwarts he was terrified that he would beSorted into Slytherin. And then, his worst fear came true. The whispers filledthe Great Hall just like they had when his father arrived all those yearsbefore. This time though, it was with shock rather than excitement – shock thatHarry Potter and Ginny Weasley’s son had been Sorted into Slytherin rather thanGryffindor. Side-note: never let it be said that the Sorting Hat bows to peerpressure or celebrity. We might have expected Albus to struggle with theSorting Hat’s decision, and he did at first. But it soon turned out thatSlytherin was exactly where he was supposed to be.
"And you all know the score:/I sortyou into houses/ Because that is what I’m for"
True. It’s the Sorting Hat’s job to sort,but it’s our job to mull over its decisions. And we too have some doubts.
Let’s start with Gilderoy Lockhart.Apparently little Lockhart had above-average intelligence when he arrived atHogwarts and as we know he turned out to have a real talent for Memory Charms.But surely a true Ravenclaw wouldn’t have needed to modify the memories of moreknowledgeable and daring witches and wizards? And they certainly would havebeen able to sort out a few pesky Cornish Pixies? Then there’s his ambition forfame, which was evident even at school, where he once created ‘an illuminatedprojection of his own face which he would send skywards in imitation of theDark Mark’. We’re sure that made him lots of friends...
With all of this taken into account, we’ddare to say that Lockhart showed far more cunning and ambition than he ever didwit and wisdom. Perhaps Lockhart wouldn’t have felt the need to prove himselfso much if he’d ended up in a house better known for these traits, likeSlytherin.
We need to talk about Severus Snape. Surelynot? We hear you cry. Yes – Snape was Head of Slytherin. Yes – Snape had aburning ambition to be the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.Yes – he was king of all things cunning in his role as double agent to bothDumbledore and the Dark Lord. But are these what made up the very core ofSeverus Snape? Without Lily Evans entering his life we might have said yes.Snape’s love for Lily gave him a defining characteristic of another Hogwartshouse: Loyalty. This was his essential driving force, it even infiltrated hismagic and showed up in his Patronus. His love for Lily, and his loyalty to herabove ambition, above self-preservation, was – as Dumbledore puts it – the bestof Snape. Would Hufflepuff have been a better fit?
Don’t misunderstand us, Luna Lovegood is anexcellent Ravenclaw. She shared a lot of Luna-style wisdom with Harry duringher time at Hogwarts, in particular reminding him that the ones who leave usare never truly lost behind the Veil, as well as demonstrating a gift forlogical thinking. We’re not sure we could come up with an answer as to whetherthe Phoenix or the flame came first under such immense pressure. And it musthave taken some seriously impressive magic to make her Gryffindor lion hat roarso realistically. But Luna’s loyalty and kindness – key Hufflepuff traits –really did know no bounds. Luna insisted on coming to the Ministry to help herfellow DA members – it was her idea to ride the Thestrals. And Luna was one ofonly two members of the DA who were loyal enough to answer the call of thecharmed Galleons the night Malfoy let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts.
Where all these doubts take us, we suppose,is to somewhere more certain: we, like the characters in the wizarding world,are all made up of a mixture of cunning, curiosity, courage, kindness and awhole lot more. Perhaps the Sorting Hat shows witches and wizards the traitsmost dominant in them already, or perhaps the Hat Sorts to encourage traitsthat thus far have lain dormant? We can never really know, but as Dumbledoresagely said: ‘It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far morethan our abilities.’
Have you tried our official SortingCeremony to discover where you truly belong? It’s available on our newWizarding World app. Don’t worry if you were previously sorted into a Hogwartshouse, you have the choice to keep it if you’re unhappy with the Sorting Hat’schoice, just like Harry.
Written by：The Wizarding World Team