Pottermore: Will You End Up a Hufflepuff?
“You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,
And unafraid of toil“
DISCLAIMER (11/2/11): Over the past three months, I’ve received an array of comments from readers who are upset with my take on the House of Hufflepuff. So in hopes of quelling the angry masses and extinguishing the flaming pitchforks, I decided to throw up this disclaimer.
The breaking point was a reader who implied this entry offends thousands of little kids who were sorted into Hufflepuff on Pottermore. Errr…well poo! That wasn’t my intention.
To explain this entry, I should probably take a minute to explain my writing. Anyone who has read this blog from the beginning knows I have a sarcastic streak. While I enjoy analyzing Harry Potter as a piece of literature, I also enjoy making ridiculous observations about it. This blog isn’t the end all and be all of Harry Potter truths. This blog is (hopefully) an entertaining look at a literary phenomenon from the perspective of someone who is one foot in/one foot out and a decade behind most fans.
I like to stir the pot (or for our purposes, stir the cauldron). I will choose the wise ass response over the logical one any day. That’s what makes this blog mine.
So if you’re going to be offended by some outright Hufflepuff mockery, you may want to skip this entry. But as I told the reader who accused me of sucker punching thousands of little children in the self-esteem, I’m not aiming this entry at people who are actually sorted into Hufflepuff on Pottermore. I’m aiming it at the way Hufflepuff was written. Ravenclaw was given intelligence, Gryffindor was given bravery (and most of the main characters), Slytherin was given ambition, and poof Hufflepuff was left with niceness. They should have gotten more. Maybe “niceness and the ability to time travel” or “niceness and really good culinary skills”. I dunno. I didn’t write the books. But they should have been given something.
That said, on to the entry:
With Nymphadora Tonks, Pamona Sprout, Cedric Diggory, and…some other wizards among its ranks, Hufflepuff boasts a list of Hogwarts alumni who are…um…covered in dirt or dead? (((cough)))
Listen, I’ve done a lot of Hufflepuff bashing on this blog. A lot of Hufflepuff bashing. Recently, this blog has been 3/4ths Harry Potter talk, 1/4th Hufflepuff bashing. For just a small sampling, check out: It Ain’t Easy for a Hufflepuff, “I’m a Hufflepuff!”, and Cause Nobody Cares About Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. Subtle, I know.
The problem with Hufflepuff, or at least why it’s the easiest house to poke fun of, is that it’s so inclusive. That alone is not a bad thing, but when you take into account that every other house at Hogwarts has a very selective set of criteria for admission and Hufflepuff does not, it’s a glaring issue. For while you must be ambitious to enter Slytherin, brave to enter Gryffindor, and intelligent to enter Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff agreed eons ago to accept everyone, even if they don’t really fulfill the basic house requirements.
If a student comes to Hogwarts who isn’t ambitious, brave, or smart, Hufflepuff must take him. It doesn’t matter if this student isn’t particularly hardworking or loyal. Until this lazy lump of a wizard fails out of school, he’ll be counted among the Puffs because that’s how the Puffs roll. It speaks volumes for their kindness, but does a number on their reputation.
That makes Hufflepuff the leftover house, plain and simple. The house for wizards who don’t have what it takes for the other houses. Helga Hufflepuff says it herself: “I’ll teach the lot, and treat them just the same”, a sentiment reiterated by the Sorting Hat: “Good Hufflepuff, she took the rest.”
Translation: Hufflepuff is where you go when no other house wants you.
If you are truly brave and chivalrous, you’ll end up in Gryffindor. If you are honestly ambitious and cunning, you’ll be a Slytherin. And if you’re witty and intelligent, you’ll find yourself in Ravenclaw. If you’re easily distracted by shiny objects, welcome to Hufflepuff!
While that’s not to say brave, ambitious, and/or intelligent wizards don’t find themselves among the Badgers, there is still the implication that they aren’t brave, ambitious, or intelligent enough.
Counter argument (yes, there’s a counter argument): Maybe Hufflepuffs are very brave, ambitious, and intelligent, but their loyal, hardworking nature wins out. Like a brainy Gryffindor or a loyal Slytherin, a Hufflepuff student might possess many of the qualities found in the other houses, just to a lesser degree. It’s very possible (actually, it’s highly likely) that a wizard could find himself in Hufflepuff simply because he is a genuinely nice guy. He may stand tall in the face of danger, outsmart his fellow wizards, and strive for greatness, but above all else, he’s a super swell fella. His fairness wins out. He works hard to get what he wants, doesn’t seek out danger, and never steps on any other wizard on the way.
Kind of makes you a little nauseous, doesn’t it? If you look at it that way, some of the Hufflepuffs seems downright perfect – selfless and caring and just.
Or they look like a “load of duffers”.
The problem is how vastly undefined Hufflepuff is, especially when compared with the other houses. Incredible wizards with varying traits and a strong penchant for fairness and loyalty are mixed in with dull wizards with no standout talents at all. It’s almost like the nicest wizards are paired with the painfully bland ones because the Ravenclaws would leave them in the dust, the Gryffindors would get them killed, and the Slytherins might kill them. It’s for their own safety.
Okay, let’s look at this from another angle. You’re a first year Hogwarts student and you’ve been standing in the Great Hall anxiously awaiting your sorting for what seems like forever. You stare out at the sea of current and incoming students. You want to impress them, to be their friend. You want them to think well of you. And you know that your very first introduction to them will be through the simple house name the Sorting Hat shouts out. They will never hear the inner workings of the sorting, the ruminations of the Hat as it weighs your traits against each other. They will simply define you by the house you are placed in. Maybe they’ll get to know you better later and form a different opinion of you, but for now, this is all anyone will have to gauge you by.
What do you want them to think of you? That you’re brave and chivalrous? That you’re ambitious and cunning? That you’re intelligent and creative? Or that you’re patient?
Patience is a virtue. It pays to be nice. Yes, yes, I know. But it also singles you out as sugary sweet surplus. You’ll do well, but you probably won’t truly excel at anything. You won’t cause trouble, but you won’t be the first to stop it, either. And you’ll probably find yourself running to the Gryffindors when the Avada Kedavras hit the fan. Might as well side with them; your house won’t ever amount to anything alone.
I know it sounds cruel, especially after I ran to the defense of the Slytherins, conducted a chorus of praise for the Gryffindors, and hoped against hope to join the Ravenclaws. I’m not saying I dislike the Hufflepuffs; I’m saying I dislike the system. If the defining characteristics of the other houses are bravery, ambition, and intelligence, something like “hardworking” comes off as weak. You need only look at Cedric or Tonks to know the Hufflepuffs are anything but weak. Still, they seem so gentle and easy-going compared to the other wizards, it’s hard to take them seriously.
Or maybe that’s their secret. Behind every fair decision and every kind gesture, lies a Hufflepufs biding his time. No one suspects the innocent Hufflepuffs. They could easily catch everyone off guard, rocket to power, and be the greatest wizards the world has ever seen.
But they won’t, of course, because that wouldn’t be fair to everyone else.
(Please address all pro-Hufflepuff hate mail to email@example.com. But remember, if you were truly a Hufflepuff, you wouldn’t send hate mail.)