|Herzfield of dA, source|
That's right, I'm a Ravenclaw!
Well, okay, so this sorting hat quiz classified me as Hufflepuff, with Ravenclaw as a close second. I dug that up today to be your treat of the week. If you've never donned the sorting hat before, give it a whirl, and tell me where you're sorted!
Warning: it takes a bit of time. If you know of any better of more accurate quizzes, do tell.
The whole concept of sorting and school houses in Chapter 7 is challenging. We get right off the bat that each house is a caricature--there's the hero, the friend, the scholar, and the prince (Machiavelli style). But we're not told the exact methodology of sorting. The sorting hat senses much of Slytherin in Harry (which is the stereotypical Bad Guy house), but Harry begs for Gryffindor, and his request is granted. Since I've always identified as a Ravenclaw up until today, I wonder how I would fare. How much of the sorting has to do with what you aspire to be or hope to accomplish, your values as it were, and how much of it depends on the reality of things, the way you are now?
Throw into that recipe that all the houses (except apparently Slytherin, which is, again, reserved for baddies) have a good mixture of all the personalities. What we've seen so far from Hermione shows Ravenclaw. Ron is an aspiring Gryffindor whose goofiness suits him to Hufflepuff. Harry too would fit well with the modest, fair-minded, friendly crowd, though he's shown moments of courage in standing up for his friends.
|Tetsuya Nomura, source|
Masha observes that, excepting the badger for Hufflepuff, the patron animals of the Hogwarts houses together make up a Chimera. This brings to the forefront of my mind the idea that the houses of Hogwarts are actually four different aspects of one person. Though more developed in some than in others, most characters--and all real people--have to some extend the daring of Gryffindor, the loyalty of Hufflepuff, the cleverness of Ravenclaw, and the potential for power that is in Slytherin. It would do very well to explain the stereotyping of the houses because each house is not a complete personality, but an aspect of one boiled down to its essence (oooh, alchemy terminology--totally unintentional!). It also eases my discomfort in the houses' selective virtues.
From my limited knowledge of the English public school (equivalent to American private schools), the house system is a tradition used as a built-in social structure, which allows for inter-student regulation and keeps the adults' arms free of disciplinary duties. My expectation is that we won't see a whole lot of authority figure intervention in the formation of morals and in peacemaking. Hogwarts even has prefects, which is taken straight from the English fagging system. The fagging system is extremely controversial because of how it put power into the hands of unsupervised children and often led to bullying and abuse. People like C.S. Lewis--and my father-in-law for one--remember the public school system with a resigned kind of horror, or at least extreme distaste. On the positive side, division into houses is meant to foster loyalty and give incentive for upright behavior and academic success. So I'm alert for potential complications to arise from the Hogwarts housing system.
Now to state the obvious, in Chapter 7 we're introduced to Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape, men who will become the angel and the demon on Harry's shoulder, respectively. The association with Snape and the pain in Harry's scar is too (intentionally) tactless for me to take at face value. Dumbledore, whose reserved charm lured me in the first chapter, secures loyalty in my heart forever with the following:
Albus Dumbledore had gotten to his feet. He was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there.
"Welcome!" he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
He sat back down. Everybody clapped and cheered. Harry didn't know whether to laugh or not.
"Is he--a bit mad?" he asked Percy uncertainly.
"Mad?" said Percy airily. "He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes. . ."
I see why these students idolize him!
In addition to professors and houses, we meet a crypt-full of ghosts in this chapter. It seems suitable in the order of fantasy creatures that after witches we get ghosts. And while they too are caricatures, they are residents and former students of the Hogwarts houses, which begs the question . . . what happens to witches and wizards when they die? Or anybody? Because these ghosts aren't a species in themselves but formerly living persons. To me, that odd bit of absence at the beginning is jarring. However, I can hardly see how Rowling would incorporate an explanation without ruining the pace and light-heartedness of the narrative.
This glaring absence may be key to a larger silence in the novels. Spirituality is left out of the story entirely. Masha notes that Rowling's magic is materialist. It deals only with the physical realm. Magic is the inherited ability of wizards to exert influence on the world around them. A spiritualist backdrop would come with a lot of baggage Rowling was wise do avoid. But I don't believe for a minute that this means the question of right and wrong, good and bad, the just and the wicked, is nonexistent. Only that the avoided complications smooth the path for a clear-cut story, with obvious and inarguable views of right and wrong. Harry Potter is, after all, a fairy tale.