Claymore: The Importance of Self-Identity

Content Note: Violence, Otherkin Terminology

Claymore Recap: Clare and Jean are on the run after the encounter with Riful; Galatea has returned to the Organization to report that Clare and Jean are dead, in the hopes that her report will buy Clare time and distance from the Organization hunters so that Clare can continue her search for Priscilla. This is the first episode of the Northern Campaign arc, which is the final arc of the anime series. (The manga goes further.) 

Claymore, Episode 18: The Carnage in the North, Part 1

Episode 18 opens with the slaughter of several unknown (to us) Claymore in the northern lands. This is a reference to the coming war that Riful predicted: the male Creature of the Abyss (Isley) who has hitherto dwelt in the north has created an army of Awakened Beings and is moving south. His ultimate goals are unclear, but he intends conquest and war against anyone who opposes him. This includes both Riful and the Organization.

The Northern Campaign is my favorite arc in the anime, because it is essentially the culmination of all the themes we've discussed so far. The arc is about two basic things. Superficially, it is about a war between monsters and super-human warriors, and I think that's something that most anime-fans can get behind and enjoy. But underneath it all, this arc is very viscerally about what it means to be humane.*

Going into the arc of the Northern Campaign, we have learned a number of things about Claymore. At the beginning of the series, we were informed (because Clare and the other Claymore believed it to be true) that Claymore are half-human, half-monster creatures. Clare believed that all Claymore were fated to eventually be taken over by their monstrous natures, and she and the other Claymore were equipped with a Black Card suicide notice should they feel their control slipping.

Slowly, over time, we have seen that the situation is more complicated than that. Clare, Miria, Helen, and Deneve have surpassed their limits and still been able to retain their form and control. Ophelia provides a stark contrast: her control was, in many ways, lost long before she became an Awakened Being. Galatea has demonstrated how one Claymore may use her power to pull another Awakened Claymore back into her human form. And Jean has provided a stunning example of a fully Awakened Claymore who nevertheless completely retained her control and consciousness.

Everything we thought we knew about Claymore and humans and monsters at the beginning of this series was patently wrong. The Claymore are not humane because they are half-human. Ophelia had lost any shred of compassion long before her body morphed into a non-human form, and Jean's non-human body had no impact whatsoever on her honor and sense of self. Similarly, the Awakened Beings are not monstrous because they are half-monsters. Riful has demonstrated intelligence, humor, self-control, and a capacity for respect for her opponents. Later in the arc, Isley will display compassion and kindness when he wants to. And thus it is my firm believe that the underlying message of the Northern Campaign arc is that a person's form does not dictate their actions or their personality.

In the forest, as Clare and Jean travel together, Clare insists that Jean owes her no debt. Clare demonstrates her Quick Sword technique and asserts that because of Jean she has been able to master the technique. Jean changed her thinking, Clare says, because "your body was awakened, but you maintained your humanity." The event demonstrated to Clare that it is possible to retain control over an awakened body, whether it be the entire body or merely a piece of it, as with the awakened arm holding the Quick Sword.

Rubel and Rafaela appear in the forest. Jean and Clare are outmatched, but Rubel is there with an offer: the two women can rejoin the Organization if they take the assignment to aid the Northern Campaign. The offer works with Clare's plans anyway -- Priscilla is in the north, as is Raki -- but there is a threat underneath the offer. "We can find you and kill you whenever we feel like it," Rubel says.

When Clare joins the forces in the north, she is pleased and surprised to find her old comrades -- Miria, Helen, and Deneve -- also assigned to the mission. Helen brashly pulls her sword to playfully challenge Clare and Jean fiercely intervenes. When Helen is shocked that Number 9 Jean would choose to associate with Number 47 Clare, Jean retorts with possibly my favorite line of the series:

"I didn't ask [Clare's] number when she saved my life, and it matters even less to me now."

The story of Claymore is a story of self-identity. All the women in the Claymore Organization are trying to piece together some form of identification for themselves. None of them, save Clare, joined the Organization willingly -- all of them were sold to the Organization, or they were forced to join the Organization in order to survive. Almost all of them are orphans, their parents murdered by monsters, often in front of their own eyes. Their training focuses on isolation and competition; even the type of warrior they become -- Attacker or Defender -- is dictated by whether they are driven by raw revenge or mindless survival.

Each Claymore has much the same history, the same past, the same unspeakable terror in their background. Each Claymore receives the same training, the same assignments, even the same silver eyes and blond-white hair. Not surprisingly, they grasp for the few pieces of self-identity left to them. Their humanity. Their ranking. Their nicknames. Ophelia's obsession with defining a technique for herself -- Rippling Ophelia -- wasn't a vanity; it was a necessity. Helen's rank-striving is driven at least as much by an attempt to find and claim a place for herself in the world as it is by a need for competition. Clare and Jean are less interested in their rankings, but at the same time they are both tormented by the thought of losing their human forms against their wills. Identity is important to the Claymore, just as it is to most of us.

When Miria takes charge of the group, she outlines her strategy. There are 24 warriors there, with 5 warriors of relatively high rank: Miria-6, Flora-8, Jean-9, Undine-11, Veronica-13. These 5 high-ranking warriors will head smaller teams of Claymore who will take on individual Awakened Beings in the battle ahead. Miria divides up the group, and then she and the other survivors of the male Awakened Being hunt meet secretly with Clare. Jean, as another Awakened Claymore, joins the group.

Clare asks Miria, as an experienced tactician, what the odds are that the Claymores will be successful in this campaign. Miria says: "This operation has zero probability of succeeding." The others are taken aback. If they have no chance to survive and win against the army of Awakened Beings, then why are they here? What is the Organization thinking? Miria's guess is that they are there are pawns, a sacrifice to slow down the enemy and give the Organization time to plan.

I'm not sure what to make of Miria's theory. If Clare is the weakest fielded Claymore as Number 47, and if 24 Claymore have been assigned to the Northern Campaign that leaves a potential 23 Claymore left behind, so over half the Claymore will be sacrificed in this doomed battle. Given that another 4 Claymore were killed into the opening sequence, that brings the number down to 19. And another 3 Claymore died as part of Jean's team in the Riful arc, so without any replenishing of the ranks that leaves 16 commissioned Claymore behind in the Organization. Oh, and Ophelia is dead, so that makes 15. That would seem like putting a bit too many eggs in one sacrificial basket, but it's worth noting that none of the Top 5 are in the campaign. We've been informed that the Top 5 are exponentially more powerful so possibly they wouldn't need any of the 24 cannon-fodder Claymore to back them up, and of course there's always more Claymore up and coming through the training ranks. Still, this seems awfully risky to me. Possibly the Organization is just making a really bad decision? (Wouldn't be the first time.)

Moving on, a very real question is why Miria and the others stay if they're so certain they won't succeed. My guess is that the idea of abandoning their posts just doesn't work for them at this point in time. Where would they go? An outcast Claymore has no friends: they are hated by humans, hunted by ex-comrades, and dogged by yoma and Awakened Beings. Then, too, there is the point that Claymore do not run from certain death because their entire lives have been moving toward certain death. They are told from the beginning that they are doomed to die either in battle or as a monster, and that the one thing they should truly wish for is an honorable death and to take as many monsters with them as they can. Why should they run now from the death they have always been marching steadily towards?

When three scouting Awakened Beings attack the city, Miria stays calm. She assigns her own team, Jean's team, and Flora's team to each take an Awakened Being, and orders the two remaining teams to wait in reserve and back up the teams as needed. The scouting Awakened Beings are impressed by Miria's battle plan, but one notes: "She's tough, but her greatest weakness is her team." Miria has spread the weak and inexperienced Claymore of the group around to each team. Several of the warriors are shaking with fear and will not be much use in the coming battle. Here is a note, reproduced in full, that I jotted while watching this episode:

"Org training sucks."

The Organization's training does suck: it's incredibly inefficient for turning out strong, useful teams. The ranking system, though useful for carving out a self-identity, encourages the careful hoarding of knowledge, lest an opponent gain an edge in their rank-striving. Imagine if techniques like Teresa's yoma-sensing, Ilena's Quick Sword, or Galatea's yoma-attunement were taught as part of the Claymore training, instead of insights that individual students just have to stumble upon? How would the Awakened Being hunts be structured differently if Claymores operated in teams as a matter of course instead of as unusual exceptions? For that matter, how would the Awakening rates change if Claymore operated in teams and could talk each other down from their limits?

The charitable answer is that the Organization deliberately limits their potential because they fear creating stronger Awakened Beings. The cynical answer is that the Organization limits them because they don't want to lose their control over the Claymore and find themselves on the losing end of an organizational coup.

When Flora goes in for the kill on an Awakened Being, Clare realizes that the opponent has Galatea's yoma-attunement abilities. On the basis of her experience with Galatea, Clare manages to save Flora and disrupt the Awakened Being's power. He crows in delight: "I'm starting to have fun here. This is why I can't give yup being a monster." And we're back to self-identity again: the Awakened Being they fight is monstrous not because of his inherent physical body but because he chooses to be monstrous. I don't mean that he choose to be monstrous when he Awakened -- an event that was probably an accident he could not control -- but rather that he chooses to be monstrous now, on a daily basis. He's using his physical body as an excuse; like Ophelia, he enjoys killing and torturing.

Jean, wounded and weak, faces off against her own Awakened Being. He taunts her, "You aren't much of a leader, are you? A good leader would have known her weakest fighters before the battle even started. And those are the soldiers you [should] sacrifice, but you wasted valuable time trying to protect them." Is he right? Is Jean's greatest weakness that, unlike the Organization, she cannot sacrifice her soldiers like pawns for the greater good? We'll talk about that and more in the next episode.


* I have repeatedly talked about Claymore in terms of what it means to be human. Several readers have considerately informed me that the term "human" when held as a stand-in for a "person" can be distressing to Otherkin. I am grateful for this correction. I hope that the use of humane here in this framing is appropriate. Yet I am concerned because it seems likely that the root for humane is the same as the root for human. I therefore use the term tentatively here, and am open to suggestion or correction. Thank you.


Camelliagirl101 said...

Delurking to say that ever since I was little, when I tried to draw "pretty" villains into my picture stories because it worried me that the bad guys in Disney movies were always ugly, I've been really disturbed by the idea that physical beauty=goodness. I don't always catch it; I picked up on it in "Billy Budd" but somehow not in "Lord of the Rings" until I read a damn Cracked article about how Sauron had the first interracial army of oppressed minorities.

So I'm incredibly pleased that this series, which would have been an interesting and good series even if it were just "hot claymores vs ugly monsters," has taken on the sort of--racism? looksism? that's so inherent in fantasy.

Form is not destiny.

And I'm pretty sure that the idea that it is is the basis of all -isms. Sexism? Your breasts or penis determine your personality. Racism? Your bone structure and your skin make you who you are. Physi-fucking-ognomy? Yup.

So! Thank gob for Claymore.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yes! This is something that is bothering me more and more lately, Ugly Villains and Pretty Heroes. Ran into this again last night with Green Lantern -- if you lined the whole cast up and said "rank them from Pretty to Ugly", you'd have an even line of Heroes --> Supporting Cast --> Villains. Grr.

Nathaniel said...

Its a trope that be and often is played with. Draco in leather pants anyone?

Even in animation, the medium most vulnerable to this it isn't always so. Make Maleficent's skin ungreened and take away the horns and you got a fine looking woman.

Asha said...

I had thought Draco in Leather Pants was more a fandumb reaction when the antagonist happens to be pretty? It's the result, not the cause? *shrugs* Maybe I misunderstood. It seems a symptom of 'good is beautiful,' than anything else.
Interesting take on that was Disney's Gargoyles. The main protagonists weren't pretty, but they weren't hideous, either. Yet they try so hard to make sure that, if good is ugly, they aren't too ugly.

Bificommander said...

Hmm, I must say I once again wasn't very open to deeper interpetations when I was watching the series myself. This last arc is basically where I gave up and was just annoyed by the dragged out Dragonball Z-esque fight scene. I hadn't interperted the behavior of Super-Simba as that he had an actual choice in the matter, I felt there was still a large portion of his monsterous nature acting up. He could control his urges to fight better than your run-of-the-mill youma, but got excited over battle anyway. Ana's interpetation that he's choosing to fight might be true... but I personally wasn't convinced that his desire for a good fight wasn't part of his youma nature.

Though if it isn't, there's perhaps a second question: Is this guy actually any worse than Claire? I don't remember, but I don't think Super-Simba is ever seen killing ordinary humans, he just enjoys fighting strong Claymores. Claire is mostly fighting here because she wants to test her strength against Ascended Beings and to finally kill Priscilla. Oh, and because an organization that she knows is highly untrustworthy tells her to. Which makes me wonder if the Claymore's can really claim the moral high ground here. They want to kill youma, the youma want to kill them. Untill we know if these improved and more controled youma still need to kill humans to survive, there's not much difference. (Admittedly, I thought of this now, not when I was watching it.)

I think Draco in leather pants is in part a consequence of Beauty=Good, and in part a reason for keeping it. Audiences tend to make excuses or justifications for pretty villains, or refuse to see them as villains at all, so a work that wants to have a clear villain is better of making that villain ugly. But by perpetuating the villains=ugly stereotype, they reinforce audiences expectations that if a character is beautifull, he or she is probably not intended as the villain of the story.

Camelliagirl101 said...

I like your interpretation of Draco in Leather Pants. Seriously, that's a great way to articulate an argument about "Billy Budd" I've been trying to work out for a paper. Mind if I use it? How should I cite you?

Bificommander said...

Go right ahead and use it. You don't have to cite me as a source as it isn't part of any publication of mine other than this post, unless this is a requirement for the paper (as in, it would be grounds for a bad grade or reprimand of some kind if you fail to mention it). My name is Ivan Mous, I don't have any official references you can cite (unless you're interested in a report on radiation damage in gas amplification detectors :) )

I wasn't aware of Billy Budd myself, I just looked at wikipedia. Assuming that this isn't sensitive information untill you've finished and published/handed in the paper, could you tell me how that formulation applies to the novel? The wiki entry doesn't mention beauty, but I don't know if the book does. Or is it the interplay of expectations of the law feeding back to how the people choose to interpet the law or something like that?

Camelliagirl101 said...

The wiki entry doesn't mention beauty? They missed a huge chunk of the book then :)

Most of what we know about the title character is that he's really pretty and good--though we never see him doing anything particularly good, we see him "accidentally" killing or hurting people by when he's "out of control"--and most of what we know about the antagonist is that he's really pretty in an evil way. Dark hair, dark mesmerizing violet eyes, hooked nose, pale, very Maleficent. And that he inexplicably dislikes Billy and tries to get him implicated in a mutiny plot.

The in-class arguments sympathized with Billy, basically because of authorial fiat and his prettiness, and some people sympathized with Claggart by placing him in Melville-ian leather pants. Everyone ignored the fact that they were both very dangerous men, one in a crude way and one in a refined way.

Fluffy_goddess said...

To be fair to the Harry Potter fandom, I think there are also people who get sucked into Draco In Leather Pants territory because, let's face it, Harry Potter is full of characters who are good or bad by authorial fiat, and a lot of the villains are hugely sympathetic. Sadly, if you start trying to untangle moral event horizons from things done *to* the characters instead of *by* the characters, you get a mess.

Then again, the nature of fandom is to try to connect with characters you'd like to feel would like you, and bonus points if gaining their affection is a challenge because it's so rarely given. So that's going to skew things.

Ana Mardoll said...


Are there any Good Guys in HP that have HORRIBLE PARENTS? (Harry does not count. Harry has HORRIBLE GUARDIANS.) If I held sympathies for Draco (I don't; I'm not invested in the series at the moment), I would hold them because at his age I did and said and thought a lot of crappy things because that's how I was raised to do and speak and think. It's not easy to break out of parental expectations at that age, and particularly (I would imagine) when your dad is a Grand Reigning Poobah in the Secret Death Eater club.

Dav said...

I was kind of gobsmacked the other day to run across men discussing their first erections coming from Ursula in Little Mermaid - specifically, the "Don't forget the importance of body language" bit, where she undulates her hips.

I'm not quite sure how to parse that. Mostly I'm surprised that I'm surprised; it's not that I don't know that some people find fat bodies attractive. It's not that I don't think Ursula was sexualized, especially when I rewatch those scenes as an adult - those breasts! that outfit! the eels! that voice! the tentacles! - but somehow I *am* still surprised. (I don't think she's sexualized in the same way as many of the thinner villains, but she's clearly a target of desire.)

And, you know, I feel kind of good about it. Not thrilled that fat people are always comic relief and/or evil in Disney, but I guess I'm happy that one made it to sexy primary villain rather than secondary comic relief villain, especially as a fat woman who pretty much doubts her own desirability to anyone on the planet. Yay? I guess? I dunno. I'm so conflicted, y'all!

Ana Mardoll said...

Huh. Yeah, I just went from shocked to sort of happy in about 30 seconds, so that was weird.

Now I'm wondering how many formative sexual awakenings came via Disney. If ya'll won't judge me, my first crush was on Mosenrath from the Aladdin TV show. ( ) I SAID DON'T JUDGE ME. LOL.

Interesting also that a lot of these formative experiences surround VILLAINS. Is it that they're unattached (so one doesn't have to have Eric/Ariel or Aladdin/Jasmine Die For Our Ship), or is it the always awesome Villain Song, or is it back with the Fantasies post about how our culture makes sex so shameful that we have to project it onto villains in order for it to fit? Or maybe villains are just better characterized than every-person heroes?

Dav said...

I always assumed my villain fantasies had something to do with my kink preferences. *cough* I suppose it could be a "reform the bad boy" impulse, except as I recall, "reform" was never high on my list of fantasy priorities. (Have we achieved TMI yet?)

It was a long-ass time before I parsed any sort of interest into sexual interest, much less actual crush, so I never really had a first crush, but I was oddly fixated on Galactor for a number of years, for pretty much the reasons listed at the link below - "Master of disguise. Super genius. Hermaphrodite. Cool hat." Also, he was pretty evil. (

And many, many of the villains are *slightly* gender bendy, which I personally like, so . . . there's that? I dunno. So much of my personal preferences do not match up well with what I'm informed is mainstream people's preferences.

I suspect that some of it is that villains are sexualized, so it's kind of a weird feedback loop. It's also a matter of believing the character is sexually aware enough *to* fantasize about, which I guess is a subset of character development (sort of). Most of the Disney heroes are either weirdly absent for the whole time or weirdly innocent. But the villains clearly have agency, they have experience, and they are fully adults. It's true elsewhere, too: Superman is so wholesome I'd be surprised if he really knew what sex *is*. But Lex?

Bificommander said...

@Camelliagirl101: I should say, I read the plot-synopsis on wiki, not the analysis. Hey, I was already supposed to be working ;)

gyroninja said...

Sirius Black is the only one that comes to mind. Otherwise yeah it's kind of disturbing how strongly evil seems to run down family lines in that series. It's really weird because the whole muggleborn thing is supposed to be about how who your parents are don't matter, but then it seems like the rest of the series sabotages that message.

Ana Mardoll said...

Am now wondering why so many Disney villains are either effeminate males (Scar, Jafar) or masculine women (Ursula, Maleficent).

Ana Mardoll said...

I mean, it sort of makes sense given that many of the main characters are young children and it takes a tremendous strength of will and character to break away from certain family values at a young age -- oh look, a place where the Hogwarts Houses could have been used for good, but no! -- but yeah, it's kind of sad that ultimately family seems to dictate function.

Dav said...



If someone's willing to trangress gender norms, what *won't* they do?

I'm only a minor inconvenience away from releasing my bat army across the world. True, my bat army only fertilizes fruit and eats mosquitos, but still. If I were even less femme than I were now, they'd probably do that *and* drink the blood of innocents. (We might come out ahead in that scenario. Surely some innocents would be willing to donate a pint of blood every so often so that there would be less malaria and greater fruit yields.)


The whole House lineage thing really plays that tendency out in nasty ways, too. I mean, maybe you weren't born evil, but then you're sorted into Slytherin semi-automatically, and there's very little space to mingle pleasantly with students from other Houses. Add to that the lovely self-reinforcing way that people treat all Griffindors as X and all Slytherins as Y, without much distinguishing between them, and it's pretty grim.

gyroninja said...

Yeah the fact that everyone is pretty much neatly sorted into protagonists, antagonist, and inconsequential side characters by age 11 really bugs me too. I never really thought of how it would be self-perpetuating in-universe, though.

Nathaniel said...

Would you really call Maleficent that masculine? Sure, she has a deep voice, but she is also in a large, flowy dress and has huge fingernails.

Ana Mardoll said...

@Dav, Heh. Good point, and I like your bat idea. :)

@gyroninja, yeah, I think HP is a bad combination of tribalism and toxic parenting. :(

@Nathaniel, I only remember her voice, so yeah. "Sleeping Beauty" isn't one that I pop in to re-watch pretty frequently, I'm afraid. But she and Ursula both had very deep voices. Can someone weigh in on Snow White's villain?

gyroninja said...

I remember that she was a Queen, and that she was obsessed with beauty "Mirror Mirror on the wall, etc etc", and something about a poisoned apple, but that's about it.

I don't know if having a deep voice should count as masculine for these purposes though, I think that's a general villain thing. Even Scar and Jaffar, among the more otherwise effeminate male villains in the Disney canon, have pretty deep voices even as far as men are concerned.

gyroninja said...

Basically the only way I think you could make a trend of masculine female villains is if you're already count traditionally "villainous" traits like power, authority, and ambition as masculine.

I think the effeminate male thing is actually a sort of (sad) trope though. It's an easy way to make the (demographically hetero-normative) audience uncomfortable without a lot of work. Although even when it comes to Disney I can think of counter examples (most notably Gaston, who's hyper-masculine to the point of self-parody).

Ana Mardoll said...

Ah, good point on Gaston. Well, possibly it was just a brain blip confirmation bias on my part. I do get those. ;)

Asha said...

I like to bring up Gargoyles a lot as a contrast, but Disney did a lot of good work in that series- and the villains could be very pretty, especially Xanatos. Of course, the whole thing seemed to be an exercise in Beauty is Not Good, but even that was toyed with in Elisa Maza. She was gorgeous, and half black half Native American. The villains ran the gamut of beauty to ugly, as well as the good guys.

And, given that I had a crush on both Goliath AND Elisa... huh. Interesting to think about.

gyroninja said...

I'm also willing to cut Disney a little bit of slack here because I think when you make female villains, especially in the sort of fairy tale-esque stories you usually get from Disney, you can end up in kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

I'm not really sure how to explain what I'm trying to say, but what I mean is, if you give a female villain "masculine" flaws, like ambition, you risk making it look like you're demonizing women in positions of authority (think about how often queens tend to be evil in fairy tales compared to kings*).

But if you try to make them cunning or manipulative instead, you risk ending up with some kind of femme fetale character that makes it look like you're demonizing female sexuality in general.

And if you don't give them any exaggerated flaws, they don't tend to make for good fairy tale villains.

*Although I think this is even more than just sexism, while I'm at it. When you see evil Kings in fairy tales, they're usually usurpers (Scar is a great example). It's a reactionary thing where not only is it a good thing that there's a man in charge, but it should be one particular man (because he was born that way), and don't you get them funny ideas about "voting" or anything.

Makabit said...

Sirius and Regulus Black have an entire Horrible Family.

As for Draco--he's very much a product of his family and culture, and I do have a lot of sympathy for him. Actually, for all the Slytherin students. Hogwarts' house policy has all sorts of awful ramifications, but worst of all, it means that all the children of the magical fascists are put together, told to have primary loyalty to one another, and then everyone is contemptuous when they turn out just as could be expected.

I have always suspected that Draco's endless contempt for Ron Weasley is based not entirely on his ingrained snobbery, but also on the fact that Ron's parents love him, and he has siblings, and a big, loving family who yell at each other. Harry may be the Official Rival, but Ron is the one who has everything Draco actually wants, and thinks he shouldn't want because it's declasse.

The way the character was handled at the end of the series had potential, but it sort of fell flat for me.

Makabit said...

"Otherwise yeah it's kind of disturbing how strongly evil seems to run down family lines in that series. It's really weird because the whole muggleborn thing is supposed to be about how who your parents are don't matter, but then it seems like the rest of the series sabotages that message."

I blame the house system at Hogwarts. I really, really do.

Also, Rowling falling into easy fantasy tropes, but mostly the houses.

Will Wildman said...

I'm confused by the idea that Scar was feminine or Ursula was masculine, but as anyone who's stopped by my blog lately knows, I'm confused by a lot of gender concepts in general, so I could readily believe I'm missing stuff on that count. (I like Ursula in general just because I'm amused that Disney basically made the villain of their most famous feature film Sexy Cthulhu.)


It's really weird because the whole muggleborn thing is supposed to be about how who your parents are don't matter, but then it seems like the rest of the series sabotages that message.

I think there's kind of a huge difference between 'your biology doesn't determine who you are' and 'the attitudes of and interactions with your parents for the first 11 years of your life won't bias you'. So I'm not really seeing the sabotage.

The House system really is horrendously flawed for any kind of educational system - I mean, it's very strongly implicit in the books that you're not placed according to your aptitudes, but your values, which ensures that you'll end up in whatever house best matches what you've been told will BE the best house, so in general your parents will probably approve, but ideally school is also about broadening your horizons, so there should really be a lot more cross-house interaction, if there must be houses. Perhaps students would start out rotated through each house in order to learn to appreciate its associated virtue (courage, knowledge, constancy, cunning) and then could spend the last three years in whichever house they felt suited them best afterwards.

Makabit said...

I've written a blog post to the effect that if I am ever headmistress at Hogwarts (unlikely, they've never even acknowledged my resume the last four times I applied for the Defense Against The Dark Arts teaching job), the Sorting Hat is goin' to a museum.

The kids will be put into houses based on a random lottery, modified so that a child cannot attend a house attended by either parent.

I certainly never thought of Ursula as masculine. Ursula is a WHOLE lotta woman.

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