Mon
Sep 30 2013 12:00pm
Can We Stop Sorting Ourselves Into Hogwarts Houses?

Whether it’s through an online personality test, or conversations with friends, or simply in the privacy of their own head, it’s a question every Harry Potter fan has asked themselves: “Which house would I be sorted into?”

“Will I be put with the brainiacs of Ravenclaw? The heroes of Gryffindor? The villains of Slytherin? The... others of Hufflepuff?”

But, guys, it’s been fifteen years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published. Can we finally admit that the Hogwarts Houses are terrible stand-ins for personality types?

For one thing, there’s an evil house. Slytherin has no virtues associated with it. Yes, in the first book the Sorting Hat says Slytherin is for the ambitious, but in fact most Slytherins, like Draco Malfoy, have no ambition. They want to remain the privileged elite of the wizarding world, and so they try to keep out lesser wizards for fear of diluting their financial, political, and mystical power. Slytherin is, in short, the racist house.

That leaves only three houses that are actual personality types, Hufflepuff (hard-working), Ravenclaw (smart), and Gryffindor (brave). But the problem there is that all of our heroes live in Gryffindor, so if you identify with any of the three protagonists—especially Hermione Granger, the smartest, hardest-working witch at Hogwarts—you probably also identify as a Gryffindor. So we have a system where one of the houses is just better than the other three, in which all the virtues reside.

The Hogwarts Houses, roughly, line up with the four classical elements and their related virtues: fire and bravery, air and intellect, earth and practicality, and water and compassion. Except that in J.K. Rowling’s world being smart and hard-working isn’t as important as being brave, and the idea of compassion as a virtue is non-existent. Which means using the Houses as personality types results in a lot of false positives for Gryffindor, while an entire personality type is left on the wayside.

The idea of the four different personality types is done so much better in other stories. In Avatar: the Last Airbender , the four personality types are all on display in the four main benders, the spiritual, problem solving airbender Aang, the healing, compassionate waterbender Kitara, the no-nonsense asskicking earthbender Toph, and the firebender Zuko, whose bravery takes the form of a fierce determination to find the avatar, no matter the cost. But even there, as the hero of the story, Aang’s airy disposition is privileged.

Even better is the Fantastic Four, because they are ALL heroes of equal standing, so there’s no privileging of one virtue over another, and their family dynamic illustrates how the virtues work together. Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, is bravest, rushing headlong into danger, but it’s a foolish bravery that gets him into trouble. Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, is the smartest man in the world, but can get lost in his own mind without his family to ground him. Ben Grimm, The Thing, can clobber any foe and accomplish basically any feat of strength, but his dour disposition requires the others to inspire him. And Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman, keeps her family together through love, compassion, and protection.

Asking, “which Hogwarts House do I belong to?” is one quarter asking “am I a racist?” and one quarter asking “am I the protagonist of my own life?” But asking “which member of the Fantastic Four am I?” is asking “how do I solve problems? Do I rely on my head, my heart, my gut, or my hands?” Inherent in the question is the statement “I am a hero,” and recognizes that there is no one “best” personality. We can all be heroes, each in our own way.


Steven Padnick is a freelance writer and editor. By day. You can find more of his writing and funny pictures at padnick.tumblr.com.

45 comments
Marc Houle
1. MightyMarc
What I'd really like to know is, into which Hogwart's Houses would the Fantastic Four get sorted?
Bernadette Durbin
2. dexlives
I am sad that Rowling never did a "good" Slytherin—I mean, she had some on the side of right, but there's a lot of scope for strong determination. It's more fun to sort the Doctor's companions into Hogwarts houses, because in the new series, there have clearly been representatives of all four houses. For instance, Donna Noble is the prototypical Hufflepuff hero, Martha is clearly Ravenclaw, and Amy is Slytherin (and I *like* Amy Pond.)
Tesh
3. Tesh
I always though the Sorting itself to be unhealthy. We get hints of that here and there, but the core principle of labeling kids (or anyone, really, but especially kids) saddles them with a lot of baggage and stress.
Tesh
4. sofrina
i have never wondered this, but it seems to me that tom riddle was a most ambitious slytherin. nothing less than world domination would do for that one.
Tesh
5. DN10
There WERE good Slytherins. Professor Slughorn and Severus Snape, although I guess the latter is pretty debatable. But I think the first most certainly is not. He fought on Harry's side during the Battle of Hogwarts. And clearly wanted nothing to do with Voldemort.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
6. Lisamarie
Now, I do agree with the general idea that sorting a child at such a young age is probably not the best way to go (although I can kind of hand wave it away as magic that somehow gets to the core of a personality), and it definitely leads to a bit too much us vs. them-ness. And I definitely have complained to others that Slytherin gets an unfair showing (at least until the Epilogue, which is a bit too little, too late).

But, I don't agree with the assertion that Rowling is claiming that bravery is better than intelligence or loyalty/hard-work at all. Yes, since the main characters are Gryffindors, we see more of them, but I just don't get that at all - some of the most crucial characters were from other houses. And compassion as a virtue is nonexistant? Huh????? I actually identify pretty strongly with Hufflepuff, despite the bad rap they get, both in the books (and that may be fairly reflective of real life becase, in general, we tend to value things that are more flashy than hard work and loyalty, especially when young) and from fans. I think Rowling herself has regretted the way they are viewed and wishes she cuold perhaps give them a different mascot (although make no mistake, badgers are not the cuddly roly poly animals one may associate them with).

But, Slytherin aside, I definitely found that one of the messages was how all the Houses needed to work together and each use their unique strengths; that the siloing was a bad thing and not the original itent (except, probably, Salazar Slytherin's). I do wish they'd done a better job of that with Slytherin though.

I AM in total agreement with you that most of the personality tests that sort are kind of dumb though, but so are most internet personality tests ;) Although, according to JK Rowling's 'true' sorting test on Pottermore, I landed in Ravenclaw. I was actually a smidgen dissapointed, I wanted to be a Hufflepuff. :)
Mandy Pietruszewski
7. MandyP12
"Can we stop sorting ourselves into Hogwarts houses?" The answer is no, unless you invent a time machine and stop JK Rowling from inventing it in the first place. I sorted myself when I was twelve-years-old and first read Harry Potter (well, the first three books).

Also, I disagree completely that Draco doesn't have ambition. The Malfoys as a family are ambitious, willing to do anything to get to the top. Of course they support the old-guard racist ways; these racist ways put them on the top of the national heirarchy. (I am confused as to why the writer of this article seems to think that wanting to maintain the status quo that in fact keeps the people who want to be on the top on the top, is not something that ambitious people would do.)

Draco is trying to live up to his family name, his family honor, to keep his family on the top--to meet and exceed the expectations his family has put upon him. And the person standing in his way is a boy with crazy hair and a lightening bolt scar--so of course he does everything he can to keep Harry down. (In fact, come to think of it, I see a lot of similarities between Draco and Zuko. Draco lacks Zuko's inherent bravery, true, but they're really both sons trying to please their overbearing fathers.)

I do agree with others that JK Rowling did a disservice when she didn't create a student who was a "good" Slytherin.

And I'm going to stop myself now. Obviously I have very strong feelings about this. lol
Chris Nelly
8. Aeryl
I always thought that, in the end, Draco WAS the good Slytherin, and it's Harry's childish animosity with him that prevents him from seeing that.

Draco refused to kill Dumbledore, he refused to identify Harry at Malfoy Manor. I think he was meant to show, that despite all the terrible racist ideals he was raised with, and in many ways was unable to break from, he wasn't wantonly cruel, didn't enjoy hurting people like Crabb and Goyle.
Tesh
9. Jeff R.
You've got the wrong attributes going. Slytherin is ambition, Griffyndor is pride, Ravenclaw is curiousity, and Hufflepuff is loyalty. All four neutral/double-edged attributes, and it's only coincidence and accidents of history (Riddle, mainly) and herpephobia that Slytherin happened to be the evil house this century...
Tesh
10. Bryan B.
The Harry Potter stories were about Gryffindor and Slytherin, because the protagonist and antogonist were from those houses.

The purpose of the story was showcase good vs. evil and how people cope with loss, not obssess over the "attributes" of the houses. The story was not meant to be an expose on the houses. If JKR drilled down into that quagmire it would be a drag on the story imo.

That said, Snape was a "good" Slytherin and yes, he was also ambitious.
Tesh
11. Zylaa
In a series where one of the major overarching themes, if not *the* theme, is the overwhelming importance of love, I think it's a bit of a stretch to say "the idea of compassion as a virtue is non-existent." And there's a fairly even distribution of fans identifying across the houses, so clearly people have moved past the one-sided representation in the books (which, as @10 said, was necessary for the story the books told).

I completely agree with @6 that one of the messages of the books was that the Houses needed to work together.

And while I agree with the point that the Sorting Hat isn't the end-all, be-all of personality types... I don't think most people are treating it as such, and I don't think that's why it's stuck around. We keep identifying with our house because even years later, Hogwarts is always waiting to welcome us home.

Saying "I'm a Ravenclaw" does not prevent me from saying "I'd be a waterbender" or from taking several dozen other personality quizzes (I love internet personality quizzes, I must confess). I don't need my Hogwarts house to represent all of me, but it's always going to represent a part of me.

(I, too, am one of the people with very strong opinions on this!)
Tesh
13. NormanM
"We can all be heroes, each in our own way."

At that last line, I immediately stopped thinking about Harry Potter and started thinking about Doctor Horrible:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yGeroywBuo
Tesh
14. Alex the second
Just a note to the author, "Kitara" from The Last Airbender, should be spelled "Katara."
Tesh
15. JAWolf
Ah, but there was a good Slytherin- and right off the bat too: Slughorn. To me, he represents the pre-Voldy Slytherin- the old boy's network of the wizarding world. Yes, classist and elitiest, but willing to accept the talented to use as contacts.
Tesh
16. JakeSsss
Intriguing points, but in answer to your question: no, no we cannot stop doing that.
Joel Salomon
17. jcsalomon
Dumbledore, before his falling-out with Grindelwald, was turning into a Big Bad in a very Gryffindor-ish way. In an alternate universe, Rowling writes the story of a ambitious orphan boy, Tom Riddle, who breaks the Wizarding world free of the tyranny of the Bright Lord and his followers (known as the Bee Stings).
Tesh
18. subby
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NEWS FLASH
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Young adults begin to mature. Begin writing self-important stories as if they are the first cohort to grow past 13yo.
Francisco Guimaraes
19. franksands
@MightyMarc: I was discussing with MandyP12 and I think we came to the definitive conclusion: going from the easiest to determine to the toughest:

Johnny is textbook Gryffindor, he's impulsive, brave and jump into everything head first.
Reed is definitely Ravenclaw, being an academic and wanting to know how everything works and always wanting to increase his knowledge. Maybe a bit of Slytherin for the ambition
I initially thought that Ben was also Gryffindor, since he is also brave and ready for action, but Mandy rightfully pointed out that more important than that, he is loyal and very protective of his friends, this puts him at Hufflepuff.
Sue is the more difficult to determine, but since, as the author points out, she is the member that is more compassionate and keeps the family together, also would get sorted at Hufflepuff.

Now that this is settled, a more intriguing question is if the characters of Harry Potter knew bending what super heroes would they be?
Tesh
20. Thoraiya
You know why we want to get sorted at Hogwarts? Because otherwise women get stuck being the freakin' compassionate one every single time. I'm glad there's no compassionate house, because otherwise someone would tell me I should be in it. Ravenclaw FTW.
Tesh
21. oliveramy
@20. Yes! And if the women are anything other than compasionate they are considered cruel, ice queen, or diva.
If anything, houses have given us women a reason to be proud of our personalities. Compassionate or not. Go Ravenclaw!
Tesh
22. miriam12
I agree that the Hogwarts houses are very simplistic. Everyone is in turns brave, kind, intelligent, and ambitious.
I also agree that for most of the books, Slytherin is presented not as the ambitious house, but the evil one. I think this gets slightly redeemed at the end of the series with Snape, though.
Gryffindor isn't neccessarily the 'good' house, however. Courage and bravery can be admirable traits, but does anyone else remember Cormac McLaggen from the sixth book? He was brave to a fault, to the point where he couldn't hear any criticism and caused damage where he meant to help. In addition, Harry's courage also proves to be a weakness at times; his hero complex stems directly from this. Hermione and Ron both call him out on this (Hermione in the fifth book, Ron in the fourth) and it's a major flaw that results in Sirius' untimely demise. So I wouldn't say Gryffindor is the 'good' house.
Fan favorite Luna Lovegood is from Ravenclaw. And Hufflepuffs are just plain nice. In the second book, when everyone is freaking out because they think Harry is opening the Chamber of Secrets, Hufflepuff Hannah Abbot takes the time to point out that maybe Harry's responsible for petrifying Colin, but he's also a nice person. I'm going to disagree with Hannah on this because Harry can be quite cruel, but it demonstrates Hannah's character as a Hufflepuff: someone who tries to see the best in people.
Tesh
23. AD
The houses of Hogwarts are based on the four Medieval HUMOURS.

Gryffindor=Sanguine
Ravenclaw=Melancholic
Slytherin=Choleric
Hufflepuff=Phlegmatic

Also, Reed's power always seemed more watery (flexibility) even though his personality said air. Invisibility seems more like an air power. I'm still confused about that mismatch.
Hannah Davis
24. Buffy_Wedlin
Everyone seems to forget that Cedric Diggory was a Hufflepuff too...he certainly is a positive example from that house.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
25. Lisamarie
I would never forget Cedric Diggory ;)

And Tonks!
Tesh
26. AD
I found a link!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Temperaments

I'm telling you, humours, man.
Douglas Edwards
27. Horneater_Goldeneyes
Thank you!

Harry Potter's popularity does NOT make the Sorting Hat system useful at all. It's a children's story's storytelling device.

The only point of interest attached to it is that it helps illustrate the point: "we choose to be good guys or bad guys, not 'fate' or anything like it." Even in Harry Potter the Sorting Hat is sodding useless (aside from having a big ass sword in it of course)!

If a friend self-identifies as a Hufflepuff, immediately seek anti-depressants!
Tesh
28. catprog
I recall a fanfiction.

Slitherin is the evil house. So any good person who would be sorted into Slitherin chooses some other house.

Self furfilling prophecy.

That could apply to Hufflepuffs represenation as the useless house too.
Tesh
29. Slytherwin
This seems ridiculous to me. I'm sorry if that's offense, but it's true. I feel as though the author of this article only watched the Harry Potter movies and never read the books. It would seem like they were never very immersed in the world outside of the main character(s) and certainly didn't dig too deep into fandom.

Slytherins aren't the evil house. That is just in no way true. Plenty of pureblood families had children in other houses, and we know it's not impossible for non-purebloods to get into slytherin. Whatever the house may seem to champion from the sole perspective of Harry Potter, himself, not all within the house agreed with pureblood doctrine, racism, or elitist attitudes. That has been made clear through interviews with JK Rowling.

It's truly a shame that Hufflepuffs are known as the catch all category and given so much flack, but they have their own attributes. They are hard working and loyal. Yes, I identify strongly with Hermione Granger, but I would most certainly say that I belong in Slytherin. One attribute does not a solid house match make. Ron was brave and yet cowardly at times. People are more complex that the scenarios the author of this article seems to be attributing to HPverse, but in fact, JKR addressed this repeatedly during the series. You are not your bravery or your loyalty or your brains or your ambition. You are your choices. Hermione is a good example of this BECAUSE she CHOSE Gryffinder and that is the most important point. Yes, she's as hard working as any Hufflepuff and loyal. Yes, she as smart as any Ravenclaw. And I would definitely say by the way that she constantly tries to prove herself in school and took on so many classes in third year with the use of a time turner that she is ambitious just like a Slytherin. But she apparently was primarily mostly brave and smart when she was sorted and she chose Gryffindor.

Draco Malfoy is very loyal to his family even by the Harry's standards. He is willing to work hard when push comes to shove and he never seemed unintelligent to me. Does that mean he should be a Hufflepuff or a Ravenclaw instead? No, his slytherin attributes were strong within him and he probably chose that house out of the four. We chose which parts of our personalities we allow to remain the way they are. I am not the most hardworking of individuals, but I COULD be if I CHOSE to be. Anyone with motivational problems knows it's not simple, but it's also possible.

Besides all of that for my explanation and within your article you are boiling the houses down into the tropes which they are not. You only need to look to pottermore to see the house acceptance letters to know that they aren't quite so black and white as you've made them.

Ravenclaw:
"Ravenclaw prized learning above all else"
"this is the house where the cleverest witches and wizards live"
"Ravenclaws learn quickly and ... enjoy the challenges the door sets "
"the most individual-- some might even call them eccentrics"
"we think you’ve got the right to wear what you like, believe what you want, and say what you feel. We aren’t put off by people who march to a different tune; on the contrary, we value them!"
"‘I assert our inalienable right to party.'"
Doesn't sound quite like the dull one note bookworms you seem to think they are. Quite the opposite. Ravenclaws are smart and studious to be sure, but they can be lively animated and fun just like anyone else. A very important quality is that they are more openminded on the whole.
What they say about Slytherins:
"They’re not all bad, but you’d do well to be on your guard until you know them well."
Clearly not all students at Hogwarts think Slytherins are evil bastards. They aren't being stereotyped that way unless you happen to be in a severe house rivalry with them and have a lot of personal bad blood with them (see Harry Potter and gang).
About Gryffindors:
"I’d say Gryffindors tend to be show-offs. They’re also much less tolerant than we are of people who are different"
Seems like a pretty big flaw to me. I've got courage, but this is the reason I personally would not choose to be sorted into Gryffindor. Sure, some must be openminded, but we see all too often in the books how Ron can be mean and thoughtless when it comes to people different from him.

And Hufflepuffs:
"nobody could say they’re not nice people. In fact, they’re some of the nicest people in the school."
Well, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws are in a bit of a (much less viscious) rivalry themselves, but that's certainly not uncomplimentary.
Let's move over to those Hufflepuffs for their house welcome letter.

Hufflepuffs:
"Our emblem is the badger, an animal that is often underestimated, because it lives quietly until attacked, but which, when provoked, can fight off animals much larger than itself, including wolves."
I'd say that's a great description for hufflepufffs.
"Hufflepuff is certainly the least boastful house, but we’ve produced just as many brilliant witches and wizards as any other"
Again disproving your theory that Hufflepuffs are truly just the wimp house according to canon. Not true in the least. They can be brave and they can be brilliant.
"Hufflepuffs are trustworthy and loyal. We don’t shoot our mouths off, but cross us at your peril; like our emblem, the badger, we will protect ourselves, our friends and our families against all-comers. Nobody intimidates us."
"the friendliest, most decent and most tenacious house of them all"
It goes on. I could pick out more. Keep in mind these things are canon.

What they think of other houses:
"However, it’s true that Hufflepuff is a bit lacking in one area. We’ve produced the fewest Dark wizards of any house in this school. Of course, you’d expect Slytherin to churn out evil-doers, seeing as they’ve never heard of fair play and prefer cheating over hard work any day, but even Gryffindor (the house we get on best with) has produced a few dodgy characters."
"Ravenclaws, in particular, assume that any outstanding achiever must have come from their house"

The dynamic of this house being in rivalry with Ravenclaw and friendly with Gryffindor creates a relationship which would cause them to be prejudiced against Slytherins. (Are you getting that these house characteristics and more importantly those characteristics being applied to characters as though they are real people with real psychology produces a skewed view with entirely different perspectives depending on which side of the barrier you are on? Harry Potter was the wizard we got to follow through this world, but he's not the only one and his perspective cannot be entirely correct all the time)

Slytherins (woot! woot!):
"Firstly, let’s dispel a few myths. You might have heard rumours about Slytherin house – that we’re all into the Dark Arts, and will only talk to you if your great-grandfather was a famous wizard, and rubbish like that. Well, you don’t want to believe everything you hear from competing houses. I’m not denying that we’ve produced our share of Dark wizards, but so have the other three houses – they just don’t like admitting it. And yes, we have traditionally tended to take students who come from long lines of witches and wizards, but nowadays you’ll find plenty of people in Slytherin house who have at least one Muggle parent."
I can't resist when it comes to defending my house. WE ARE NOT ALL EVIL. JK ROWLING SAYS SO.
"We play to win, because we care about the honour and traditions of Slytherin."
"We also get respect from our fellow students."(Though admittedly sometimes tinged with fear)
"But we’re not bad people. We’re like our emblem, the snake: sleek, powerful, and frequently misunderstood"
"Slytherins look after our own"
A bit of loyalty for you.

What they think of other houses:
Ravenclaws:"Apart from being the biggest bunch of swots you ever met, Ravenclaws are famous for clambering over each other to get good marks, whereas we Slytherins are brothers."
When it comes to the other two houses the welcome letter just makes jabs (okay, so we aren't evil but no one said we were the nicest house. We don't even say we are), but nothing excessively vile. Things that make it seem like Hufflepuffs are silly and Gryffindors are just jealous of how awesome slytherins are. It also mentions that many people think Slytherins and Gryffindors are very similar (something I somewhat agree with).

And lastly we move on to Gryffindor:
"It’s where the bravest and boldest end up"
Other than boasting that it's the best house that's all there is to say about it in the pottermore welcome letter. Which house is a one note stereotypical house with no evidence to shore up it's assertions now?

Just kidding.

All seven books are a homage to what being a Gryffindor is. It's not that Gryffindors can't be loyal, ambitious or brainy. It's they are brave and choose to value that above other qualities. No matter how smart Miss Granger is, she always puts bravery first when push comes to shove (which is what bravery is all about- pushing and shoving. Silly Gryffindors!). And I hope this shows that it's not that Slytherins are evil or can't be loyal or brave or smart. Or that Hufflepuffs are boring and can't be brave, smart, or ambitious or that Ravenclaws are dull and can't be brave ambitious or loyal.

What it all boils down to is these two points:
1) People have any number of personality traits within themselves. They tend to have a bit of everything really but some people have some things more than others. What is most important is what traits people choose to value.

2) The books (which have more nuance than the movies) are telling a tale through the eyes and mind of one prejudiced, pre-judging teenage boy. He doesn't like slytherins because he doesn't like Snape or Malfoy. Zabini or Nott never messed with him at all, but I doubt he'd care. (I love Harry and all, but everyone is flawed.) He see Ravenclaws as being boring and insignificant. Perhaps because he doesn't value learning and only takes the time to befriend one of them. He thinks Hufflepuffs are boring and insignificant (on the whole), perhaps because he doesn't get to know any of them but Cedric.

And maybe because he's got other things to do like save the world.

But really, Harry's truth is not the end all be all of truth. It's certainly not JK Rowling's truth.

And you shouldn't let it be your truth either.
Douglas Edwards
30. Horneater_Goldeneyes
@29

Or youre reading way too much into a very simple sorting system meant to be used as a storytelling device.

Pretty much everything it does well is done much, much better in other series ( Wheel of Time springs to mind).

The reason no one cares about Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw is we meet what, one or two prominent members from each house? And most of them are notably more incompetent versions of other characters (Harry> Cedric, Hermoine> Luna). And then Slytherin has all of your mid-tier antagonists aside from what Slughorn, who was like the 4th coolest Defense teacher.

Its just not fleshed out enough to be interesting. Especially when there are far more interesting fantasy class systems out there.
Christian Gray
31. Slytherwin
@30
I am also a fan of the wheel of time, but the sorting hat is not supposed to be a class system. Not in any way similar to the class system set up in other series.

I am not reading into it too much, either. The author of this article spoke as though all the opinions that Harry shows towards the houses is all there is to it (and he didn't even consistently hold those opinions as expressed by the author of the article). That is simply not true. The author of the series, JKR, established many times and many other places that Harry's view of things was not realistic to how the wizarding world, other characters, and Hogwarts actuallly were. That is one of the points I was proving in my post. I think she would know better than anyone else what exactly what Luna's personality v Hermione's entailed or what exactly the sorting procedure was meant to do and how it divided and what it all meant.

Most importantly though by making the assertions he has the author of this article shows that they missed an overall theme of choice v. destiny that spans the Harry Potter books.

The side characters aren't incompetent versions of other characters. Not one bit. They aren't fleshed out properly either, I agree. But this series was never meant to be the high fantasy with backgrounds and character development for side characters that the Wheel of Time or other such series are. Look at the cast we had for those books. It was enormous and ridiculously convoluted resulting in an EXTREMELY long series. Comparing Harry Potter to that is apples and oranges. Side characters have different purposes in each.

I won't say that JKR is a literary genius or a groundbreaking writer, because she's not. She did do a poor job in places with the craft of her story and as a huge fan I will still freely admit it. But her supporting characters were meant to be much MUCH more concise within the book series.


Though I should add like high fantasy novelists she has plotted out the world, customs, heirarchy, and yes, character backgrounds and whatnot for all of those apparently under developed characters you were commenting on. Just because she didn't put all the details in the books (which were about one singular character from his perspective almost exclusively in a way very disimilar to WOT) doesn't mean she didn't create them. Most of them were just too superfluous to be kept for the final manuscripts.

To understand my point you must look beyond the books into the established canon lore of the world and then you will understand that what seems simplistic through the perspective of a prejudiced young teenager is not at all so.
Douglas Edwards
32. Horneater_Goldeneyes
I tire of this "Word of God" after the fact stuff with Harry Potter.

Just because JKR wishes she had more foresight doesn't mean she gets to just say "this is how things were "when she didn't bother to include any of it in her books.

And if she were really interested in establishing such, she would write more books expanding that world. She didn't, so I refuse to care.
Christian Gray
33. Slytherwin
She is creating a movie expanding the world now after she's had some distance from the series so moot point.

Pottermore's information is taken directly from her notes that she took on the world and characters while creating the books so moot point.
Douglas Edwards
34. Horneater_Goldeneyes
I could cite things from Tolkein's notes, it doesn't mean they matter for anything in a meaningful discussion of LotR.
Christian Gray
35. Slytherwin
I would disagree strongly. If someone said something inaccurate about the nature of the elves in LOTR I would cite the trilogy, the prequel, the Simarillion, and the his notes to prove my case.
Christian Gray
36. Slytherwin
I think you are arguing that the writing is deficient in HP. This is entirely your opinion, and I can't refute it. In some cases I agree. Certainly, citing the author's notes has no bearing on the quality of the writing within the books. Even if I didn't agree, it's an opinion. I can't very well say you are inaccurate when you are expressing an opinion.

But when it comes to the world, characters, plot, etc. of the story there things that are true. Harry's last name was Potter. McGonagall has fully fledged story and personality that is skimmed over to some degree in the series but delved into in the notes. Those things are just true.
Tesh
37. Rex_teh_first
@Horneater, so if some one reads a book and imerses themselves into the story. That is some how wrong? I guess you never read many books. THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT TO READING!!! There is more to reading than just the words on the page. A good book makes you want to be in that world.
F Shelley
38. FSS
pottermore sorted me into Slytherin. So screw that Potter son-of-a-mudblood...
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
39. Lisamarie
@36, I like your thoughts. I defnitely lean more towards your side of things regarding authorial intent and supplementary material. For exaulple, I think Tolkiens notes are absolutely a part of meaningful discussion on LOTR. Depending on the topic they may not be strictly canon, but I think it definitely can illuminate what an author was thinking and trying to get across, even if, for editorial reasons, every little detail can't be in the book. And I consider Pottermore pretty solidly canon.

My husband is a Hufflepuff and I'm a Ravenclaw, so it was fun to see the other letter (I haven't seen the Gryffindor one)...but I think it illustrates that all the Houses have their good and bad points, and of course they may be a bit biased towards their own house and prejudiced towards the others. At some level it could just be some good natured rivalry, but of course it can be taken too far as well.
Christian Gray
40. Slytherwin
@39
That's how I see it too. We can't very well see the interaction between Malfoy and Zabini in the books because they are told from Harry's POV, and when would he have the chance to observe them? But JKR has stated that there is a stark contrast between the two. Zabinis don't get involved in the conflict and don't carry the same prejudices.

It might not be in the books, but I'd say it's still a very valid argument when discussing the topic of how slytherins are or are not.

Also I always thought Hufflepuffs were the most admirable of houses. :)

Every house has general flaws and valuable traits, and then the people within them have an even more diverse set of flaws and valuable traits because no one is perfect.

The main three characters have flaws in spades for example, but clearly they also have a lot of characteristics that are admirable.
Tesh
41. JW Booth
Now we'll ask, "What Westeros house do I belong to?"

Until the next big seive comes along.
Tesh
42. JessWaffle
No I don't believe we can stop.

Calgary Roofing
Sunny Jackson
43. LibraryTechChick
I think you guys are forgetting that the sorting is criticized heavily in the series itself; Rowling wasn't supporting the idea of labeling people, she used to sorting to criticize the way that happens in real life.

Rowling only uses this trope to subvert it. Tonks was a Hufflepuff, and she died a war hero. So was Cedric Diggory, the Hogwarts Champion in book 4, who was Voldemort's first victim of the second wizarding war. Luna, a Ravenclaw, believes in a lot of weird theories. Slughorn was Slytherin and was not evil. Snape (a Slytherin) was a spy within Voldemort's ranks, and he remained loyal to the love of his life and saved lives in the process. Wormtail was a Gryffindor and turned traitor out of cowardice.
Sunny Jackson
44. LibraryTechChick
It looks like this guy didn't even read the books and doesn't know what he's talking about. He's made a ridiculous number of false claims and easily corrected errors. He's just a troll. This shouldn't even have been published.
Tesh
45. Slytherwin
@LibraryTechChick

I agree completely. I should have just used that as my basis of the argument. While the sorting is clearly not so black and white as this author portrayed it, it is also criticized in the books.

I agree that this article should not have been posted. I am very disappointed in Tor and not just because it's criticizing my favorite fandom. It's completely off base. Had they approached it from a different angle I could see it (ie: is the sorting and classism shown in certain series such as harry potter good for the fanbase?). That leaves room to explore flaws without having to stoop to base and false accussations. The author's flippant tone and lack of fact checking is really terrible. It's like I'm watching Fox news.

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