What I Learned from My Hogwarts House Identity Crisis

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Hello friends. Today, I'd like to discuss something a little more... obscure. So if you follow me on social media or if you've read my June Wrap-Up post, you may have noticed one of the things I’ve mentioned is that I am "forever in a Hogwarts House identity crisis." I'm not going to go into depth about that throughout this discussion, per se, but it definitely contributes greatly to why I am writing this post. Because the thing is, I liked Harry Potter a lot. At the time, I thought Hogwarts Houses were a fabulous thing. And there are still plenty of positive things about them, such as bringing the community together, bolstering friendly competition and house pride, etc etc.

However, I've realized a few things since then. Please bear with me as I talk about them.

The key thing: humans (Muggles) and wizards/witches are complex creatures. They cannot be stereotyped and categorized so easily. A single person can be courageous, ambitious, loyal, and wise. It's not as simple as possessing one trait or another. Not everyone (in fact, most people) don’t fall into a single category. But with Hogwarts/the Sorting Hat categorizing people in this way, we fall under the impression that those people aren’t anything more than what their House represents.

There are so many ways for personalities to develop, but when in a certain House, it’s like being tied down. You are expected to be a certain way and I don't think you can truly expand your horizons and it’s hard to become someone greater than the stereotype/House you're sorted into. The way you are nurtured greatly impacts the person you become, so growing up in a school that forces you into Houses based on a specific set of personality traits...? It just doesn't make sense to me.

While there is limited ability to choose what House you want to be in (as Harry *minor spoiler for Book 1* chooses to be Gryffindor over Slytherin *end spoiler*), often the House you are in seems to seal your fate. While not all Slytherins are evil, for instance, most people associate them with evil, and that's what many of them become. Gryffindors are expected to be courageous, daring, and bold. They’re expected to be heroes. But there are other ways of being courageous in less loud and attention-seeking ways. Basically, people aren’t always brave in the let-me-fight-you way. But I think people feel the pressure to conform to the standard of the loud and proud Gryffindor.

Speaking of loud and proud, I’d like to discuss the "friendly competition" among the Houses. It’s honestly not that friendly. A lot of the stereotypes cause people to shy away from developing inter-House friendships. Especially Gryffindors and Slytherins, who tend to be sworn rivals. And not in a good way. Yes, it’s understandable if you want to win the House Cup or annihilate people in Quidditch, but it’s a bit much when they play dirty off the pitch and in real, day to day life. While this is probably more the case in the books than among us Muggles who are lucky enough to live in a world with Pottermore, it still may cause tension and false impressions of people.

Lastly, people change. A LOT can change between the ages of 11 and 17. This time is the prime time to start exploring, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. People should have the opportunity to develop through unique, new, and liberating experiences. They should discover who they are for themselves, not be told who they are from the start.

We should be able to choose our own destinies and write our own stories, not have someone (or something) tell us what we have the capacity to accomplish.

NOTE (8.10.16): I am not, by any means, trying to say that this system did not work for the characters in J.K. Rowling's fabulous series. There seemed to be a bit of a misunderstanding when others before read this post, and I just wanted to clarify by saying that what I meant by this post was that given my circumstances and traits that I actually possess, this system would not work for me. If I were thrown into the Harry Potter universe, I would be a complete mess. Because I would feel like I'd be forced into a box of expectations and I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Maybe that means I'm weak (aka the Hufflepuff is finally emerging in me), or maybe it's something else. But it's my opinion, and I wanted to clarify and defend it.


  1. I understand what you mean. You're not wrong but at the same time I don't remember any students doing something because of their houses. They're not what they are because of their houses. Also, I think the rivality between Slytherin and Gryffindor is not just about the houses but also because of the parents. But you're right, sometimes they go too far.
    I agree with you when you said it gives false impressions though. But in the Muggle world we put people in boxes all the time so maybe the houses are a way to show that more obviously. Maybe I'm analizing too much haha

  2. I get what you're saying, but while the kids were proud of their houses I don't think they really made it their full identity. I think they were just groups of students in a way, and while those groups did have an idea attached it was more a way to give them a family and close community away from home. A lot of kids in real life join groups with certain ideals, but they usually don't let it dictate how they always act.