Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pottermore Sorting Psychosis

When JK Rowling announced the opening of Pottermore, millions of Harry Potter fans began to speculate about what online wonders await. Many were (and are) desperate to gain early access to the site. I have to admit I was one of them. I managed to find the magic quill on day 2 of the early beta testing sign-up in early August.  When I wrote this, I was still waiting for my owl to let me into the beta site. Although the full site will open to the public from October, there’s already been a lot of excitement surrounding the site. 

Get sorted!
The books were first published in 1997 and then shot to cult-status popularity not long after, and now seven books, eight films, and one theme park later, most Harry Potter fans have a Hogwarts house they already identify with. Of course the Sorting created by JK Rowling herself trumps any of the online quizzes, but what strikes fear in most fans’ hearts is: What happens if the Sorting Hat places me in the wrong house? There has been a lot of buzz on the internet about this already  from wizard wrock songs to twitter, where Evanna Lynch, an avid Harry Potter fan who played Luna Lovegood in the films, announced she was sorted into Gryffindor (For those not in the know, Luna is a Ravenclaw). I do however, have it on good authority that the actress who played Pansy Parkinson, Scarlett Byrne, did in fact get sorted into Slytherin. There have been rumours that Tom Felton (who plays Draco Malfoy, another Slytherin) was sorted into Hufflepuff! This is of course, only a rumour and has been denied by Mr Felton, who is also still awaiting his Pottermore owl.
If like me, you’re also anxiously awaiting your Pottermore owl, and stupidly nervous about getting sorted, let’s have another look at the Hogwarts houses.  You may not end up where you thought you’d be!

  Home of the brave
Gryffindor House is always described by the Sorting Hat as for those who are brave of heart, daring, chivalrous and full of nerve. Although all these attributes are often thought of as positive, many Gryffindor haters often dote on the negative connotations of bravery, such as its’ more ostentatious nature or that to recklessly rush in without a plan is actually not always the best course of action. Gryffindors and especially Harry get teased for playing the hero without thinking of the consequences.  In fact, bravery has in the past has had more negative connotations and was associated with boasting, swaggering, bravado, and showing off. Lions are an obvious choice of a mascot, brave and fearless and known as the king of the jungle. So, if you’re brave and full of daring, then perhaps the Hat will place you in Gryffindor.

  All for one and one for all
Hufflepuff House often gets billed as the ‘other’ house, but those sorted here are known for being just,  loyal, patient and true. They are not afraid of toil and their founder Helga Hufflepuff was quoted by the Sorting Hat to have said she’d ‘teach the lot and treat them just the same’ which 1,000 years ago is pretty progressive in terms of equal rights for wizarding folk. Sounds like a pretty good house and hard to find any negative attributes. Not sure why they get teased so much, but I suspect it’s probably because their mascot is a badger and their name is reminiscent of an empty threat or a puff of air. Perhaps the origin for Hufflepuff is from huffle an obsolete usage meaning ‘a sudden gust of wind’ and puff.  Either way, if you’re all for equality, this sounds like the house for you.

  None the wiser
Ravenclaw house is the house for the clever swots. Probably most Potter fans *think* they fall into this category and maybe if you read as much as Hermione does, then you are a Ravenclaw. The house of the wise, those of wit and learning with steady minds, Ravenclaw seems the most one-dimensional of all the houses – it’s just the place for clever people. Despite the name, their mascot is not a raven, but an eagle. Ravens have been associated with death or as harbingers of bad news, while eagles are known as the king of birds with sharp sight and the ability to soar to great heights. Eagles have also been associated with various reigning powers throughout history. Perhaps if you have a sharp eye and an insatiable quest for knowledge, Ravenclaw is where you belong.

  The end justifies the means
Last, but certainly not least (I saved the best for last!) is Slytherin House. Slytherins are known for their cunning and ambitious nature and described as shrewd and power-hungry. I can understand why being sorted into Slytherin may not make many people jump for joy. Of course, the Harry Potter books are told from a Gryffindor’s point of view and there are a lot of preconceived notions and generally negative rumours surrounding the house of the snakes. It probably doesn’t help matters that He Who Shall Not Be Named was in Slytherin and many of the Death Eaters come from the same house.   There is also that obsession with pure blood ancestry that is beyond acceptable by today’s standards. Okay, so they’re a bit elite and old school, but not all Slytherins are bad – let’s not forget about Severus Snape!  Slytherin attributes aren’t that bad either. Cunning didn’t always have its negative connotation; in fact it originally referred to someone who possessed knowledge.  Ambition can be a very good thing and drive people to achieve great feats. The snake as house mascot may also hurt a positive view of Slytherin. Snakes have long been associated in the West as a symbol of temptation and evil, of course, for almost as long, snakes have been revered by many other cultures as a symbol of wisdom and magic. Perhaps if you can have a bit of perspective and are keen to achieve, you may belong in Slytherin.   

No post on Sundays
I hope that helps alleviate any potential sorting pressure that you may be feeling while you wait for your Pottermore owl to arrive. Although the sorting seems important, I’d like to end with an excerpt from the Sorting Hat’s song in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which reminds us that although we may be split into different houses, we shouldn’t let that divide us.
 ‘I sort you into Houses
Because that is what I'm for,
But this year I'll go further,
Listen closely to my song:
Though condemned I am to split you
Still I worry that it's wrong,
Though I must fulfil my duty
And must quarter every year
Still I wonder whether sorting
May not bring the end I fear.’

Guest blog by:
Ashley Wagner who hopes the Sorting Hat places her in Slytherin, or else her father will hear about this!
Update: I did receive my Pottermore owl, and I was sorted into Slytherin without paternal intervention. Good luck to everyone still waiting!


  1. Update: Tom Felton has now announced his sorting status in a panel in Dragon*con this weekend. He said he hasn't even gotten his Owl! He isn't in or sorted.

  2. Thanks, Cissy! I thought I heard that as well, unfortunately, I didn't have anywhere official to link to! If there's an announcement anywhere, I'll update the article!

    You're also superfast to comment! xxx

  3. Ash I just finished reading the entire blog. I love it! Well written regarding each house. It truly is a source of great pressure to get into the house we think we belong to. I can't imagine not being a Slytherin but I know it might happen. I am prepared for whatever awaits me. ALl houses have really positive qualities. Still, I am hoping to be in the dungeons!

  4. Links to the English dictionary should now work for everone!

    Thanks, Cissy! I really hope you're in Slytherin with me. x

  5. Love it!! I'll admit that I'd laugh hysterically if Tom *did* end up a Puff, but he'd take it in good grace, I'm sure.

    As much as I know I'm a Ravenclaw, I'll be happy wherever I go...because JKR wrote the questions, it'll be right in any House.

    Here's hoping for an owl soon!