Can we talk about how it's 2016 and people are still getting crap about being Hufflepuffs? Despite the fact that J.K. Rowling has openly defended Hufflepuffs, and despite iconic names like Cedric Diggory, Tonks, and Newt Scamander emerging from our ranks, we are still the constant butt of everyone's jokes. The older I get the more I am affronted at the idea that someone can be criticized for being loyal and hardworking but not necessarily ~cool~ in this current climate that seems so otherwise accepting of ~uncool~ people, but maybe this theory on how the Sorting Hat works in Harry Potter will soothe some of my #nerdrage.
We all have a loose idea of how the Sorting Hat works, of course, thanks to its cryptic poems every year before the ceremony. We also know from Harry's perspective and Hermione's commentary that the Sorting Hat regularly speaks to students; we even (Warning: Cursed Child spoilers) get some confirmation of this from Albus Severus in Cursed Child, when he expresses disappointment in the alternate universe where he was sorted into Gryffindor, seeming to imply he had influenced the hat to sort him into Slytherin in the original timeline.
Growing up we all just assumed that Hogwarts Houses were set in stone, predetermined from birth, and that talking to the Sorting Hat only tipped people who were on the edge of two different choices for Houses. But what if that wasn't the case at all? What if, in fact, the simple exchange between each student and the Sorting Hat was everything in deciding what Hogwarts House they belonged in?
Enter Tumblr user pdwebb0621, who has thought on this long and hard, and might just have the answers we never knew we needed.
For Gryffindor you have to have the courage to speak to the hat. When Harry had the hat placed on his head he said “Not Slytherin.” I’m willing to bet that everyone in Gryffindor spoke to the hat. Hermione even said on the train to Harry and Ron, “I hear Gryffindor’s the best.” Imagine little Hermione being thrown into a world she never knew existed, knowing next to nothing about the wizarding world. She only wanted to make friends, she wanted to be a Gryffindor because she heard great things, so she asked the hat. Then there’s Ron, who’s entire family expects him to be a Gryffindor, like the rest of them. As he sits with the hat on his head, he crosses his fingers and repeats to himself over and over,” Gryffindor. Gryffindor. Gryffindor.” I could go on but I think that I’ve made my point.
The rest is mostly speculation but stay with me
In Slytherin, the students there are from (mainly) all Slytherin families. They have already accepted their fate as a Slytherin. Of course with a few exceptions, such as Sirius Black.
Ravenclaws would, obviously, began to try and unravel the hat’s inner workings. I mean come on, Ravenclaws are naturally driven to know things so future Ravenclaws would piece together who and what the hat is while the hat is picking at their brain.
Last but not least, Hufflepuffs. Now this one took me a while to understand, but I believe that I have come up with a convincing argument. As we all know Hufflepuffs typically center around equality. When the sorting hat is placed on a witch or wizards head that is destined for Hufflepuff, the Hufflepuff speaks to the hat. Not in the way that a Gryffindor would, but in a way all their own. A Hufflepuff would open up their mind to each house, even Slytherin, and ask the Hat to put them where they needed to go. That is honestly what seperates the Hufflepuffs from the rest of the houses, they were willing to go to any house.
Now a lot of people say that the Sorting Hat is not a great way to sort kids because they are at a defining age and will change over time. While that is true, the Sorting Hat is in fact a genius way to sort children. Nothing defines us better than our actions. We become who we are by our own actions, by who we want to be. By putting us with people who started the same way as us, we can learn from their experiences because they know how it was in the beginning.
Not only does pdwebb0621 address the issue of how the Houses are chosen, but addresses the long-discussed issue of whether or not it's OK to sort so young — a topic that Bustle editor Lucia Peters tackled at length in a piece studying psychological and physiological changes in adolescence, titled, "The Hogwarts Sorting Hat Is B.S., And Here's Why." But this theory acknowledges that the Sortings aren't necessarily lifetime Sortings, but much more of an impression of that child right then and there, a photograph of their personality and impulses suspended in time.
It makes sense, then, that we don't necessarily know the Houses of many of the older characters, like those in the Order of the Phoenix; as personalities and the Houses we "belong" in shift over time, we put less importance on them and what they say about us. Well, hopefully — because yikes, the Hufflepuff bias is real.
Which brings me back to the most important part of this theory — the defense of Hufflepuffs. This theory really is a tribute to the openminded, accepting, and trusting nature of Hufflepuffs, highlighting what is often heralded as a weakness of the House as their greatest strength. I'm already proud to be a Hufflepuff, but reading pdwebb0621's theory on the Sorting Hat makes me even prouder.
Images: Warner Bros; Giphy