Recommends: Hufflepuff House

I love this post more than I love most things.

I like it for a lot of reasons, and very particularly for the Work Is Awesome And Is Undervalued In Comparison To Flashy Talent (because heck yes, this is a thing that should stop now), but I also quite frankly like it because it's a post about Choice.

I haven't read Harry Potter yet (I'm working on it!) but I've watched the movies. I've been distressed and disturbed by the direct family connections between who goes into what house and the almost predestined seeming system: go into the one house, you will be evil; go into another, you'll be a protagonist; go into the others, you'll be invisible. This made me sad, on a lot of levels, and whether the predestination was coming from Nature or Nurture, I didn't like it.

But if the children are sorted by choice, by their values, I like it more. It strips away that predestination and grants agency.

Though it makes me think, and I love that Will's post made me think this at all, and it's this: I'm not the person I was when I was a child. When I was a child, I was a very odd combination of personality impulses that I either inherited biologically or glommed off my parents through familiarity but (more to the point), my philosophy about life and work and the future and that which was important was totally different. And "totally different" in a "totally WRONG" way, by which I mean to say, I'm kind of ashamed of some of the things I thought and believed way back then.

I want the Harry Potter verse to grant agency to the children. I'm just curious as to how that insularity for those formative years works. It took me two decades to wake up one morning and realize the ultra-conservative Christian world I inhabited didn't fit me any more and never would again, and I didn't even have to deal with the trauma of tossing out all my clothes for a new color scheme.

So what I'm saying is: childhood is hard and Will deserves all the Tumblr fame ever. 

RECOMMENDS! What have you been thinking about these days? 


thousand said...

On the topic of Harry Potter: Fairly recently, inspired by some stuff I've been reading elsewhere, such as Less Wrong's interesting Harry Potter Methods of Rationality fanfic, I've been rereading the series; One thing I've been doing during the reread is looking up the meaning of every flower as they're mentioned according to Victorian flower language. Did you know, for example, that petunias typically mean resentment, basically the core of Petunia Dursley's character and motivation? Snape's introductory potion class is especially interesting and revealing when considered in that light, with the questions he asks Harry and what the various flower meanings are - especially his question about asphodel (a type of lily, symbolizing 'my regret follows you to the grave') and wormwood means bitter sorrow or absence. I strongly suspect it's not coincidental.

On the topic of Hufflepuff House - and Choice in Harry Potter - I wish the story held that up as something that actually was supported by canon. The way the houses seem to be basically equal in size every year brings up a lot of questions: Does the Hat have a quota of children, or something? Do the first children get sorted accurately and then the later children not? Or is there something else going on?

A really, really interesting article on Choice in Harry Potter, as it relates to Calvinist theology and with a side comparison to Narnia, is here:

chris the cynic said...

So I was feeling kind of bad about missing the deadline for submitting to This Week in the Slacktiverse, until I just looked back and realized I'd written almost nothing in the past week.

In Game stories and a desire to go off the rails I talk about how in games I always want to be able to change that detail that would completely rewrite the story, especially when that detail would be saving someone that I could have saved if the game hadn't decided to take away control via cutscene or prescripted thingy.

Omphalos workers I explained how the evidence of early people showed up if the world is, as creationists claim, a mere 6 to 10 thousand years old.

I had a bad day, how bad? Trigger warnings for abusive relationships, victim blaming, general acrimonious shouting, accusations of stalking, and the paranoid delusions that led to said accusations. On top of that, the couple is still together. I worry for her, and I think he needs to see someone in one of the psychiatric professions.


I also second the recommendation in the main post. It should be recommended and rerecommended many times.

Loquat said...

I've been thinking about the MMO The Secret World, since it launches in early July and I've gotten to play in the beta weekends. And I can tangentially connect it to the original topic! The game's set in the modern world, with the premise that all conspiracy theories and supernatural legends are more or less true. (Except the ones involving aliens or space travel. No aliens in the game.) There are various secret societies jockeying for power while also fighting Evil; three of them are player factions, and while each one is based in and culturally aligned with a specific region, they'll take recruits from anywhere in the world - most NPCs you meet who belong to one secret society or another are written as having freely chosen the society that matched their values.

As for the game as a whole:

It's clear the dev team spent loads of time on story and atmosphere - the one area I got to play in, an island town suffering a localized zombie apocalypse, is magnificently creepy, and the NPCs are usually well worth listening to. (Stressed-out cop manning the zombie barricades: This used to be such a quiet little town. Nothing worse than the occasional drunk...domestic disturbance...........human sacrifice... ) The investigation quests, where you have to think about the clues and google some elements and think some more, are also a nice change from the usual MMO "kill 10 rats" quest.

On the minus side, they clearly decided to cut some corners on character creation, and their main marketing line, "No classes or levels - total freedom to play the way you want", is less than 100% true. All player characters of the same gender have exactly the same body, without even the option to adjust height, and the game engine apparently requires all hair to be immobile helmet-hair, so there are no long hair options. Mind you, this is a game company that reserved some of its coolest-looking character clothing for the real-money store, hoping to make extra profit off people who really care about their character's appearance. And while the characters themselves do not have levels, their equipment does, and equipment level functions pretty much like character level in that if you wander into an area you're under-equipped for, you will most likely be toast. So (a) players have no way of knowing if the "hard" enemy they're looking at is doable-if-you're-skilled hard or will-roflstomp-you hard, and (b) players who want to do group content have to make sure everyone's got the minimum level of gear for the role they intend to fill, which is already bringing up a lot of peoples' bad memories of gear-scoring from World of Warcraft.

On balance I think it's a good game, but I'm probably going to wait a few months and see how they handle bug fixes and such before shelling out any money.

Makabit said...

My problem with the Sorting Hat, and the construction of the houses, is simple: regardless of whether the child is being classified by an outside source, or choosing the values he or she most cherishes, what actually happens is that at the age of eleven you are being typed for the rest of your formal education. And in the case of Slytherin, it's simply tragic.

You can CHOOSE to be who you are at any time in your life, and good educators will support you in that decision. But being given one model of yourself, at an early age, by a talking magic hat, and then being surrounded with people with values just like yours isn't choice. Especially since, canonically, students do appear to end up in their parents' and sibling's houses, suggesting either a genetic component to what you most value, or surprise! that what you value when you're eleven reflects what you were taught at home.

I did a blog post about some of this some time back:

I tend to regard the whole concept of the houses as really ill-advised.

Patrick Knipe said...

I've been reading elsewhere, such as Less Wrong's interesting Harry Potter Methods of Rationality fanfic

One of the things I remember from the Methods of Rationality as it applies to this discussion is about Slytherin House. If I remember correctly, Harry (or someone close) explains Slytherin as being 'bad' because of its reputation- ie people describe it as bad, so the people sorted into it are pressured into taking on the role. It's also a combination that no one in Slytherin House tells the actual genuine bigots to shut up; essentially, when the image of Slytherin House as a whole is "blood bigots", regardless of whose actually in the House, the non-bigots are compelled to follow along.

The House system... It definitely has its bad sides, ones that are acknowledged (if not actively explored) by the texts itself. Ultimately its main strength is its main flaw; the Houses are very protective groups. For Harry, tying into the whole Hogwarts-as-wish-fulfillment thing for him, this means instant friends (which he's never had) and a sense of belonging right off the bat. If you're being bullied, your fellows will protect you; if you need help studying, your fellows will help you. But it also works both ways; that same fierce protectiveness does breed not only rivalry but full resentment and aggression.

It's very competitive, but it's also extremely divisive.

Makabit said...

Also, as unfair as it may be to the Hufflepuffs, I love this:

Jenny Islander said...

I came to the conclusion a while ago that the House system worked at first, but broke so long ago that people stopped seeing it as broken, if that makes any sense.

First comes Slytherin, for the ambitious, the kids who have a goal already. They are supposed to be assessed for whether it's a goal they are actually suited to or just the one their parents have for them, and also reminded to relax and be kids now and then. Intended graduates: people who actually want jobs in the Ministry (or its predecessor a thousand years ago) or anyplace else with a hierarchy. For them, the thrill of having gotten there ameliorates the boredom of the actual work.

Then comes Ravenclaw, for the kids with thirsty minds, who may make great discoveries or rediscoveries, but in the meantime need to be guided to at least stick their heads out of the library window now and then. Intended graduates: scholars, researchers, teachers--people who could preserve and foster magic.

Gryffindor is supposed to be for the kids who crave excitement or wish they did. The out and out adrenaline junkies could be channeled if not throttled back and the scared kids who wanted to be brave could be taught about courage instead. Intended graduates: People who do difficult, daring magical things, but know to do them quietly so as not to scare the Muggles; also Aurors, curse breakers, dragon wranglers, etc.

Finally, there's Hufflepuff. Hufflepuff was originally for the steady, relatively mature kids who realized that they were eleven, that the world would not end if they didn't jump into the deep end of whatever interested them now now NOW, and that being a decent person had to come first. Also, while fanon has a lot of the abused kids in Slytherin, I imagine that most of them went to Hufflepuff, especially the abused Muggleborns. Helga was accepting of all who wanted to be students at the school, after all. Intended graduates: Solid, well-rounded citizens of the Magical World who can be counted on to do the right thing even when nobody is looking. Slytherins sign the documents and make the speeches, Ravenclaws patent the potions and break new theoretical ground, Gryffindors are shiny and often justifiably famous--but Hufflepuffs keep the foundations dry, Hufflepuffs make the wheels turn.

Anyway, my two knuts. (That came out dirtier than I intended.)

Bificommander said...

I haven't read the books and seen only two of the movies, but I still found this interpretation funny, even if it most certainly does not solve any of the inherent problems with the system:

I also tried the Secret World beta. I really like the idea when I first heard about it. Nowadays... well, the concept still sounds fun but I'm looking forward more to Guild Wars 2 atm, and I'm not sure I want to invest time and money in another MMO. So when I found a Beta invitation in my mail box (must've subscribed to it at some point. I can't even remember I did.) I wasn't hyped up. But hey, I could try.

My impressions: The mood and setting are cool, but there's not much else that appeals to me. Character design is limited, graphical quality is acceptable at best and the combat is rather lackluster MMO fair. It hardly mattered I had an assault rifle, the zombies still ran up to me before I got two shots of, so I might as well have been melee-ing. Plus the game crashed often on me. It's a beta of course, but it's supposed to be the last one. The Guild Wars 2 beta didn't crash this often, and the release date for that has not been set. I actually got fed up with it quickly, since I couldn't finish a quest before crashing, then reloading to find I had naturally been killed. The rest of the game just wasn't fun enough to invest time in, so I doubt I want to pay every month plus 50 euros in advance. If this was a single player game with single-player style combat, I'd buy it. But not as the MMO it is now.

Peter said...

The way the Methods of Rationality deals with it is very interesting I think. At it's core it comes down to the fact that in cannon the Hat will never put someone in a house they genuinely do not want to be in, despite there personalities. This means that whenever someone is border line between two of them, many people will shy away from Slytherin just because of it's reputation. As a result of this, to try and keep the numbers remotely equal the hat is forced to relax the cunning standards of people going into Slytherin to be able to accept the people who don't mind the reputation. These people lower the reputation of Slytherin further and so the problem gets worse each generation.

DavidCheatham said...

About the only benefit of the House system I can see is that it has a side effect of cutting down on bullying, or at least providing a safe area where bullying doesn't happen. It, in theory, removes the nerds and freaks (Ravenclaw) and the normal kids (Hufflepuff) away from the two common source of bullies: the preps and rich kids (Slytherin) and the jocks and class clowns (Gryffindor).

However, this doesn't _quite_ work, for three reasons. One, there is such thing as internal bullying (like with Luna Lovegood), and two, people often change over seven years. And people often end up in the wrong house. (Like Hermione arguable did, and it's worth pointing out she was little bullied to start with because of that. It's easy enough to imagine a Ron with a slightly different personality bullying Hermione the entire time they're there.)

And this side effect, to whatever extent it works, is completely overwhelmed by the negative aspects. Namely, as is pointed out by @Patrick Knipe, surrounding children only by children who believe and act the same as them is...not a good idea.

And not just for the Slytherins...I point to Cormac McLaggen, a Gryffindor who ate poisonous Doxy eggs on a bet, and is so self-centered that he hijacks the Gryffindor Quidditch team mid-game, with his reckless behavior eventually sending Harry to the hospital. Likewise, Marietta Edgecombe, a Ravenclaw, decides that being in a resistance movement in direct violation of Ministry rules is perhaps not a good idea, and betrays everyone, even her friend. (Ana, if you've only watched the movies, she was cut out, so bother trying to remember her.)

And that self-reinforcing system is even worse in the 'present' day, with Slytherin full of Death Eater children and repeating racist nonsense that the head of the House doesn't stop. (Although that problem, at least, isn't inherently part of the system. But the rest is, and even minus that, the Slytherin echo-chamber is probably not a good idea. in fact, that's how and where Voldemort got his support in the first place.)

Only the Hufflepuffs seems to be immune to the effects. We never see Hufflepuffs with 'too much' of their house attributes. Although we see a few with too little. For example, in CoS, they don't show any loyalty to Harry...although they manage to so while sitting in the library studying in their off time, so, ha, they still have 'hard work' going for them. (There was a fun idea that Umbridge was a misguided Hufflepuff for a while, taking 'loyalty to the Ministry' to the extreme, but I think Rowling shot that down.)

EdinburghEye said...

Offered without further comment: The Sorting Hat: What Kind of Activist Are You?

Laiima said...

I can't entirely agree with your assessment re: Hufflepuff, because if I did agree, I'm back to being Ravenclaw instead, but I enjoyed the insights!

chris the cynic said...

I've been in summer camps where the campers were pretty much randomly assigned to teams to compete for something very much as useless as the house cup. It resulted in friendly competition and a set of people who were definitely on your side. (In theory.) And it meant you got to be a part of something.

Since that was how teams where chosen, it meant no one had to be picked last (and events were rather huge) most of the time.

For things like that it can work well.

But that was chosen at random, and the kind of thing you want to be chosen at random. Each subset should be a microcosm. The idea isn't to separate people but instead to bring people together by giving them a, completely arbitrary, thing to have in common.

Actually the summer camp did it twice one was that you were assigned to a color (red vs gray) the other was you were assigned to another team the exact details of which varied depending on how many campers there were. This was set up so that there was no relation between red vs gray and the other teams. Say there were for teams (their frequently were) if you were a gray member of team one you would have positive interaction with reds via the reds on the same team as you. And you'd have positive interactions with the other teams because teams 2, 3, and 4 all had gray members that you'd be on the same side as during red vs gray activities.

And, of course, that says nothing for most of the time when you're just doing what interest you during camp activities and don't have any of this team stuff going on, free too make connections as you will.


The Hogwart's system might be able to get some of the same functionality: feeling like you're part of something bigger than yourself, having a theoretical group of allies built into the system. But since it's also based on personality, or at least aspiration, it's dividing up the kids in ways that are more likely to create echo chambers than introduction to new ideas and it allowed the inherent tribalism in "Our team is the best," to be mapped on to sets of values and ideologies to the point that being pro Gryphendor might mean putting down hard work.

Because there is only one division, there's nothing to encourage the students to mix beyond their houses. A Gryphendor never has cause to root for a Ravenclaw because all styles of competition pit house against house.

It sets the system up as: They don't think like us, they don't act like us, they don't share our values, and they're never on the same side as us. They're the Other.


I kind of would prefer the Hogwarts system be a university. My university is made up of several colleges each with their own departments, professors, courses and degrees. But the point of having it all under one roof is to share resources and let people get the benefits of all the schools. So maybe you're all invested in hard sciences, but you can still take a class on philosophy or art or whatnot to expand your horizons.

So Slytherin has all of the, "I want to get ahead in life," majors.
Gryphendor has the, "I want to do cool shit," majors.
Ravenclaw has the, "I'd like to keep on learning," majors.
Hufflepuff has the, "I came here to be a better person by working my ass off and actually do something that matters unlike you self serving bastards," majors.

Except, you know, with a lot more thought as to what majors go with what house than I just put into things because that's seriously very little thought put in and the opposite of enlightening.

The question still comes up:
Why do people dorm by college?
Why can't you switch majors?

Rikalous said...

The discussion of how being in a House full of people just like you feeds into negative traits makes me think that the Sorting system would be a good deal less screwed up if during the founding of Hogwarts one of the founders had pointed out that the four of them did their great deeds by working together and capitalizing on their differences.

Flash forward a few centuries, and the just-sorted-into-Gryffindor Harry gets assigned to his dorm, which he'll be sharing with Draco, Ernie Macmillian, and, um, (checks book for male* Ravenclaw Harry's age) Terry Boot. There's still the instant social group, especially useful for the freaked-out muggleborns, but without the echo chamber and built-in prejudices. Quidditch and maybe a House-Cup-like thing can be competed in by teams where how you were sorted doesn't matter.

*Given the fact that the staircase to Hermione's dorm turns into a slide when Harry and Ron try to climb up it, I doubt the founders would have had co-ed dorm rooms.

Stuart Armstrong said...

Obligatory Mitchell and Webb Hufflepuff reference:

DavidCheatham said...

@chris the cynic

Because there is only one division, there's nothing to encourage the students to mix beyond their houses. A Gryphendor never has cause to root for a Ravenclaw because all styles of competition pit house against house.

To be fair, because the Gryffindors loathe the Slytherins on principle, they're rooting for both Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff when those teams play Slytherin. Although this is probably not a good thing.

But students do mix a little beyond their house...but only in a classroom environment, which are obviously not for socializing, and they only mix with their own year. In fact, Quidditch matches are one of the only place we even see the names of a lot of non-Gryffindor non-Harry's-year students.

There are hypothetical other clubs at Hogwarts, like gobstones and chess, where students of all years probably met and interact with, and aren't team games (gobstones is apparently something like Pogs or marbles) so the competition is probably not house-based. Although really, they appear to just be something that exists to pad out the video games.

Will Wildman said...

I note, belatedly, that I have been recommendsed again. Thanks, Ana! You do wonders for my site traffic. =)

On the subject of the houses, there's one thing that I think tends to get elided in a lot of theoretical discussions of the Hogwarts houses is that the student body in each one isn't all that noticeably distinct. Gryffindor has cheaters, Hufflepuff has know-it-alls, Ravenclaw has bullies - only Slytherin is depicted as uniformly awful and interchangeable, and it's hard to say how much of that is supposed to just be Harry's biased perspective. So for all that it sounds on the surface like the Sorting Hat might create a bunch of insular echo chambers, that doesn't appear to be true in practice, simply because people are too complicated. So I'm not sure how utterly different it would be if houses were assigned at random, or according to favourite colour, or the number of marshmallows you can hold in your mouth at once.

jill heather said...

I never quite understood the sorting. Gryffindor was clearly aimed at the major characters, whether or not they were really appropriate for that house. (They did all seem to desperately want to be in it, if that is all that matters -- perhaps it really is. But it's still somewhat absurd: Hermione, Neville, Luna, perhaps even Dumbledore all belonged in different houses.)

There are a lot of things that don't work about the way the school is set up, but I mostly ignore it, because I rather enjoyed the books and thinking too much about them irritates me at their lost promise and semi-failed worldbuilding.

Spoilers through to book 3 ahead:

Hagrid, in book 1, tells Harry that every wizard who ever went bad was in Slytherin. But in book 1, Hagrid still thought Sirius -- a Gryffindor -- was a Death Eater. I suppose he could have been lying to Harry, but it's still an odd comment to make.

Will Wildman said...

(They did all seem to desperately want to be in it, if that is all that matters -- perhaps it really is. But it's still somewhat absurd: Hermione, Neville, Luna, perhaps even Dumbledore all belonged in different houses.)

How do you figure? The case I make in the linked post is that everyone effectively chooses their own house (often subconsciously) according to the virtue that they believe is most important, which isn't necessarily the one that they possess in the greatest quantity. Neville, being the overlooked average kid who's mostly good at unflashy things and doesn't like to show off, was raised by an entire family of evidently flamboyant and audacious magicians who kept telling him he wasn't as good as his parents, who had fought Wizard Hitler* with every ounce of their being. It seems quite natural to me that he would show up at Hogwarts 100% convinced that 1) courage is more important than any other virtue, and 2) he hasn't got any. Which, in retrospect, actually makes the Sorting make a lot more sense, because it's actually a powerful affirmation: hey, new kid - you know that key to success, that ultimate quality that you believe is the most important thing to achieving your dreams? You've got it.

Luna, conversely, was raised to believe that the world didn't work the way everyone else said it did, and that figuring out the truth for yourself was the only way clear. Naturally, she'd end up in Ravenclaw - where else would you expect?

It's still pretty much unarguable that they don't allow/encourage/force houses to mix as much as they ought to. Rowling implied in subsequent interviews that drastically increased inter-house harmony was one of the key features of Hogwarts' own happily-ever-after.

*Strictly speaking, this isn't accurate- Grindelwald was Wizard Hitler. Voldemort doesn't have nearly as clear a counterpart, since all the popular terrorist figureheads these days seem to be religiously-flavoured.

jill heather said...

I don't think Luna made much effort figuring things out, honestly, and neither did Xenophilius (who I assume was also Ravenclaw), they just believed things that they wanted to believe (loyalty mattered to Luna, she would have been in Hufflepuff); Dumbledore, as an adult, preferred courage to brains, but as a teenager did not; Hermione just once said that brains didn't matter, but spent seven books less one sentence acting as if they mattered a great deal, that courage without brains was not particularly admirable (though I recall she had said she wanted to be in Gryffindor, so perhaps).

I confused my sentences a little as I edited them. If we want to say that Hufflepuff is loyalty or fairness or hard work, Ravenclaw brains, Gryffindor courage and Slytherin power -- well, you need to balance out wanting to be in house X because your family was there (it seems that Regulus wanted Slytherin because the Blacks all went there, not because he was into power; Percy Weasley doesn't seem to fit in Gryffindor, either, except that his parents and older brothers went there) or because you think it's the best house because of reputation or what you secretly think is important. But no single one of those reasons -- want a house, feel you belong in a house, prefer the attribute of the house -- actually works for all the characters, to me.

Will Wildman said...

I don't think Luna made much effort figuring things out, honestly

No, or else she'd have been an actual scientist (or witch equivalent), but there's no indication that you have to be good at whatever the key virtue is, just that you have to believe it's important. (Again, see Neville.)

Where else would you put Percy? He's quite the suck-up to his boss(es), but he tries to take charge of situations and he sticks with his job even as it becomes increasingly likely that he'll be murdered by terrorists purely as collateral damage when they hit the ministry. He doesn't show any particular affinity for pure knowledge or cunning solutions. His devotion to his job could be seen as a kind of loyalty, but he displays little to his family, and his ladder-climbing at work could be ambition, but I don't ever get the impression that he wants power for the sake of power - he just thinks that he can't trust anyone else to do the job right. All of these features and flaws seem in line with the overall picture of Gryffindor.

Hermione just once said that brains didn't matter, but spent seven books less one sentence acting as if they mattered a great deal

Not that they didn't matter, but that there are more important things - willingness to step up to a challenge, putting knowledge into practice in order to help people - which she demonstrates constantly. She's the one who comes up with Dumbledore's Army, against all rules and potential actual torture, because she so hates the idea of people being denied the knowledge they need in order to protect themselves. Additionally, if we're trusting what the books say, Hermione explicitly declares at one point that she's looked at the houses and she thinks Gryffindor is clearly the best, although Ravenclaw wouldn't be bad. She comes to the reasoned conclusion that she wants to be in Gryffindor, having carefully reviewed its qualities (spreadsheets may have been involved). Her methods are very brainy, but they keep pointing in the direction of bravery.

chris the cynic said...

Voldemort doesn't have nearly as clear a counterpart, since all the popular terrorist figureheads these days seem to be religiously-flavoured.

I am now imagining an utter train wreck of a book that disgusts your very soul yet compels you to turn the pages with the force of a car accident you can't pull yourself to look away from inspired by one of these two deplorable books, but with MAGIC, telling the story of Voldemort's life has he intended for it to play out.

It is a bizarre and disconcerting thought.

DavidCheatham said...

@Will Wildman
Voldemort doesn't have nearly as clear a counterpart, since all the popular terrorist figureheads these days seem to be religiously-flavoured.

The closest American Death Eater counterparts would be something like, until 1981 (And the 'death' of Voldemort), they're the (original 1865) KKK, and you could even make an analogy that the ideology continued afterwards, same as the remnants of the KKK continued after their mass arrests. But that's not the greatest analogy, as that KKK never had any sort of charismatic leader, and the timeline's all goofy.

I suspect the actual analogy that Rowling (Being British and all.) was thinking of was more neo-Nazi groups. Some of which have indeed been run by a combination of charismatic leadership sucking people in (Early Voldemort) and the fear of the leadership just killing you if you didn't do exactly what they want. (Later Voldemort)

Although it's worth pointing out that these 'wizards neo-Nazis' don't have the same ideology as 'wizard Hitler'. Grindelwald, aka, 'Wizard Hitler' thought that Wizards should rule Muggles. We don't have any evidence that Grindelwald had problems with non-Pureblood wizards. He thinks Wizards are _better_, and if they were in charge there wouldn't be such stupidity. (In fact, you can make him a slightly sympathetic character if you realize he thought this after seeing WWI start and end, and then WWII start. And he thinks 'If wizards were in charge...would those wars have happened?' Of course, starting _another_ war is not a particularly good idea.) Grindelwald is, if you will, the 'Nietzsche superman' part of Nazism, the idea that some people are better than other people.

Whereas the Death Eaters actually seem to be directing their anger and attacks mostly towards non-Pureblood wizards. In fact, at the start of the sixth book, offscreen, they killed some Muggles...but as part of a extortion to get the Minister of Magic to cede power to them. 'Give us power or we'll keep killing those Muggles you like'. And sometimes they just do it for fun. But they don't even bother to attempt to even contact the Muggle government, or break the Statutes of Secrecy.

One gets the idea that under Voldemort, Muggles would just suffer a lot of unexplained killing and disappearance, which would be wizards killing them for sport, but no one's going to be showing up to boss them around. This is because the wizards in the movement literally consider Muggles animals and wouldn't spend any time on the, anymore than we'd attempt to boss around a family of squirrels. (And Wizards that mate with them rather stupid, and the offspring only partially human...and of course a 'Wizard' that comes entirely from such animals can't really exist.) So Voldemort is the 'Not even human' part of Nazism, the idea that some people aren't even _people_.

DavidCheatham said...

This, exactly. Assuming the sorting is 'based' on anything at all.

As we really have no idea how many students argue with the hat, we have no idea how much self-selection there. Harry and Hermione both picked their House out of two options (Slytherin and Ravenclaw being their other choices), and Ron and Neville wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else either. If, let's say, 70% of students pick their house, it's somewhat moot to argue the 'basis' of's whatever you want.

Sometimes we see the Hat drop on someone's head, and then instantly pick a House, like with Draco...but the idea it did that because he was thinking 'I MUST BE IN SLYTHERIN' very strongly is just as plausible as the idea it didn't give him a chance to argue.

But the House that the Hat originally picks for you (Regardless of what you eventually go with) is clearly based on what you _believe_ is important, not traits you have, or even traits you think you have.

Oh, and someone was talking about how it would work better to Sort randomly. YES. I point to this:

Fred and George Confound the Sorting Hat for Harry's Sort, resulting complete and total chaos and resulting awesomeness. Ron is sorted into Ravenclaw and, convinced he's secretly super-smart, starts studying and becomes so. Hermione and Neville are sorted into Slytherin and out-cunning the entire House. Harry and _Draco_ are sorted into Hufflepuff, a house where people don't put up with Draco's racism. Crabbe and Goyle are sorted into Gryffindor, and become bodyguards to...previously-meek Hannah Abbott who is now been informed she is brave, so decides to try to be that.

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