Harry Potter: The Four Hogwarts Houses Explained

Updated on July 4, 2019
K S Lane profile image

K. S. Lane is a certified Potterhead and trivia nerd. Ask her about any spell and she'll tell you what it does!

So, you've just been sorted into your Hogwarts House. It's an exciting time in any new witch or wizard's life, but it naturally comes with a lot of questions. What does it mean to be sorted into your house? What does it say about your personality? Your strengths and weaknesses? And, most importantly, your house is the best one out of them all, right? This article explores some of the key traits that define members of each of the four Hogwarts houses; Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. It lists the main characters associated with each house and delves into the strengths and weaknesses that define the culture of the four houses.

This article outlines some of the traits of each of the four Hogwarts Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.
This article outlines some of the traits of each of the four Hogwarts Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. | Source

Which House have you been sorted into?!

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Gryffindor House:

The emblem of Gryffindor House is a lion, symbolising strength and courage
The emblem of Gryffindor House is a lion, symbolising strength and courage | Source

Founder: Godric Gryffindor

Head of House: Professor Minerva McGonnogall

Ghost: Nearly Headless Nick

House Colours: Red and gold

Main Characters: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Neville Longbottom, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, and Ginny Weasley.

Gryffindor is arguably the most focused-on house in the Harry Potter series and gets the most page-time devoted to explaining the story of its foundation and its culture, which makes sense considering the three main characters of the series are all sorted into Gryffindor. However, amongst the series' fans there are surprisingly few people sorted into Gryffindor house, making it almost like an exclusive club. If you've just been sorted into Gryffindor, congratulations!

"You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave of heart, their daring, nerve and chivalry set Gryffindors apart."

— J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Strengths:

Courage: Gryffindors stand strong in the face of adversity and show bravery in everything they do. This can be overt, in the case of Harry's bravery when facing Voldemort, or more subtle, for example in the case of Neville continuing to persevere and get back on his feet even though he struggles with an intense fear of many things.

Daring: Gryffindors aren't reluctant to put themselves in physical danger when they feel there's a good reason. Harry, Ron, and Hermione run unflinchingly into danger time and time again during the series.

Chivalry: Gryffindors feel a strong sense of responsibility to protect the weak and will act nobly, putting others before themselves. This trait makes them highly charismatic and popular with others.

Strong moral compass: Gryffindors tend to see the world as being split into right and wrong and will go to great lengths to pursue and defend the good while fighting the bad.

Weaknesses:

Hot-headedness: Because they're brave and daring Gryffindors can sometimes react instinctively while ignoring logic, leading to them being hot-headed and occasionally short-tempered. In The Philosopher's Stone Harry chases Draco Malfoy into the sky on his broom over a fairly mild insult, despite the fact that he's never flown before and is putting himself in serious danger.

Recklessness: In addition to being hot-headed, many Gryffindors can be reckless in the pursuit of their goals. This happens when their daring and courage are misused or taken too far.

Arrogance: Gryffindors tend to be popular, charismatic, and good at most things that they do. Because of this, some Gryffindors can develop inflated senses of themselves and become arrogant.

Hufflepuff House:

The crest of Hufflepuff House is a badger, symbolising hard-work and loyalty
The crest of Hufflepuff House is a badger, symbolising hard-work and loyalty | Source

Founder: Helga Hufflepuff

Head of House: Professor Pomona Sprout

House Ghost: The Fat Friar

House Colours: Black and yellow

Main Characters: Newt Scamander (featured in the Fantastic Beasts franchise), Cedric Diggory, and Nymphadora Tonks.

Hufflepuffs are sometimes seen as the underdogs of the Harry Potter world. They're dependable and reliable and relentlessly good, but rarely get the chance to take the centre stage along with houses like Gryffindor and Slytherin. While this may disappoint some Hufflepuffs, it's important to remember that the contributions of Hufflepuff house across the series as a whole are undeniable. Hufflepuffs are among the first to stand up and support Harry during his hunt for the final Horcruxes during the battle of Hogwarts and prove their loyalty and dedication time and time again. The best analogy for a Hufflepuff is a player on a sports team that passes the ball along so that another can score a goal; while they're not the centre of attention and don't win fame and glory, they're still critical in the end result of the play. As a side note, J. K. Rowling herself has said that Hufflepuff is her favourite House, so if you've just been sorted into Hufflepuff be proud of yourself!

"You might belong in Hufflepuff, where they are just and loyal, those patient Hufflepuffs are true and unafraid of toil."

— J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Strengths:

Loyalty: Hufflepuffs make the most loyal friends that a person can find. This means that Hufflepuffs identify strongly with their House, as seen in Goblet of Fire, where the majority of Hufflepuffs turn against Harry because they think he's trying to undermine one of their own, Cedric Diggory.

Dedication: Hufflepuffs are some of the most hard-working students and employees in the Wizarding World. While they may not have a natural love for learning and knowledge like Ravenclaws or the cunning and ambition of Slytherins, they try their hardest in everything they do and are rewarded for it.

Honesty: Hufflepuffs feel a strong desire to speak and act honestly in everything that they do. Gryffindors also value this trait, which is part of what makes Hufflepuff-Gryffindor friendships so strong.

Humbleness: Unlike the other houses, which are all prone to arrogance, Hufflepuffs almost never display this trait. They are modest and humble in everything that they do and tend to stay away from those who exude self-importance.

Weaknesses:

Naivety: Hufflepuffs are generally optimists and able to find the good in everything, but this does mean that they can be naive. If they're not careful, they can be easily tricked and taken advantage of.

Poor Self-Esteem: Because Hufflepuffs have a tendency towards modesty, they can sometimes fail to see their own worth. At best, this can cause them to simply underestimate themselves, but at worst it can cause severe problems with a lack of confidence and self-worth.

Lack of ambition: As Hufflepuffs are the antithesis of Slytherins, they struggle with ambition as they can become content in situations which are beneath their capabilities or don't challenge them enough.

Ravenclaw House:

The crest of Ravenclaw House is an eagle, symbolising wit and learning
The crest of Ravenclaw House is an eagle, symbolising wit and learning | Source

Founder: Rowena Ravenclaw

Head of House: Professor Filius Flitwick

House Ghost: The Grey Lady

House Colours: Blue and bronze

Main Characters: Luna Lovegood and Cho Chang.

Of all the Hogwarts Houses, Ravenclaws get the least amount of attention over the series. They have the least main characters and many Ravenclaws are disgruntled by the fact that some of the characters exemplifying their house strengths and culture (for example, Hermione and Dumbledore) were sorted elsewhere. Despite this, Ravenclaws have a strong sense of house identity and fellowship and there are many online communities of friendly Ravenclaws willing to welcome a new member into their fold!

"Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw, if you've a ready mind, where those of wit and learning can always find their kind."

— J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Strengths:

Intelligence: While not all Ravenclaws are naturally intelligent, all members of the house have a strong thirst for knowledge and learning that makes them among the best students in the Wizarding World, which extends to a generally high level of intelligence and knowledge among members of the House.

Curiosity: One of the main traits that defines Ravenclaw House is a desire for exploration, inquiry, and learning. Because of this, Ravenclaws are generally highly curious about the world around them and are constantly asking questions to expand their own knowledge.

Creativity: Ravenclaws tend to be 'out of the box' thinkers and as such can be highly creative. This creativity effects their spell-work and their way of relating to others and also means that many Ravenclaws are artistic and have unique approaches to solving problems.

Individuality: Ravenclaws are highly individualistic and don't tend to 'follow the crowd' or succumb to peer pressure. In essence, they do what they want to. This is most obviously exemplified by Luna Lovegood, who wears radish-like fruits as earrings and is fiercely true to her own identity, even when people tease her for it.

Weaknesses:

Disconnected with the outside world: Because Ravenclaws tend to live inside of their own heads, they can come across as vague or disinterested with others. Some are genuinely disdainful of others and the outside world, but most simply don't understand that their constant daydreaming is inappropriate in certain situations.

Arrogance: Ravenclaws can be arrogant about their own intelligence and use it as a justification to view themselves as being better than others.

Isolated: Some Ravenclaws purposefully isolate themselves from others, even their fellow Ravenclaws. This can be for innocent reasons, for example if they want to be alone to study for an upcoming test or read a good book, but it can also be a byproduct of arrogance; they may view themselves as being better than others and therefore not want to associate with inferiors.

Slytherin House:

The crest of Slytherin House is a serpent, symbolising cunning and ambition
The crest of Slytherin House is a serpent, symbolising cunning and ambition | Source

Founder: Salazar Slytherin

Head of House: Professor Severus Snape

House Ghost: The Bloody Baron

House Colours: Green and silver.

Main Characters: Voldemort (Tom Riddle), Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape, Horace Slughorn, Albus Potter (featured in the Cursed Child).

In regards to the book series, Slytherin House is painted in an overwhelmingly negative light by J. K. Rowling. Almost all of the negatively portrayed characters are members of Slytherin and the main villain, Voldemort, is heavily connected with Slytherin, being a direct descendant of the House's founder. Despite this, Slytherins all over the world are fighting back against their bad reputation by being valuable and helpful members of the Harry Potter community. Many Slytherins even enjoy the darkness that their reputation casts over them and are proud of the strengths of their house.

"Or perhaps in Slytherin you'll make your real friends, those cunning folk use any means to achieve their ends."

— J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Strengths:

Ambition: A trait that nearly all Slytherins have in common is strong ambition. They want to be the best; the smartest in the class, the most popular in a group of friends, the boss at work. Because of their strong drive and work-ethic they often achieve these heights too, becoming valuable members of society and powerful in the world of work.

Cunning: Slytherins are highly intelligent, but not in the same way as Ravenclaws. Rather than seeking to expand their knowledge, they simply find ways to use their existing skills to their advantage. This makes them clever and cunning and can assist them greatly in their quest for fame and power.

Resourcefulness: Slytherins are able to make the best out of any situation. They're highly adaptable and resourceful and can find ways to use even the worst hand to their advantage.

Determination: Like Hufflepuffs, Slytherins are highly determined. Their determination, however, is more self-focused. They will use their strong work-ethic to fulfil their ambition and advance their own position. While this may seem self-absorbed, Slytherins recognise that by focusing on self-improvement they can become better friends and family members and be more useful to society as a whole.

Weaknesses:

Machiavellian: "The end justifies the means" may as well be the Slytherin house motto. Slytherins will often do morally ambiguous things to achieve their goals. This can be a positive, as they're willing to get their hands dirty to get things done while members of the other houses may shy away from such a thing, but it can also make them seem cold and calculating.

Power Hungry: When Slytherins don't place any checks on their natural ambition it can have disastrous consequences. They can become obsessed with gaining power. At its most mild, this can cause them to be fixated on surrounding themselves with powerful people, as in the case of Professor Slughorn. At its worst, it can cause them to abandon all morality in their obsession with power and do horrific and depraved things, as seen in the case of Lord Voldemort's quest for ultimate power over the Wizarding World.

Discriminatory: Over the course of the books, time and time again the reader witnesses Slytherins attack those wizards who aren't pure-blood and bully others who they perceive as being weak even if they are pure of blood, such in the case of Malfoy's torment of Neville. Some Slytherins have a tendency towards arrogance and, even without meaning to, can insult and demean those who they see as being inferior.

Now that you've learnt about the four Hogwarts Houses, you're ready to board the Hogwarts Express!
Now that you've learnt about the four Hogwarts Houses, you're ready to board the Hogwarts Express! | Source

Which Hogwarts House is the Best?

The answer to this is the one you're sorted into. This may seem like a cop-out; 'oh everyone's special in their own way,' but if you think about it logically it makes a lot of sense. Each Hogwarts house prizes the traits that their students have. For example, Gryffindors believe that courage is one of the most important traits a human can have, and because of this strive to be brave in everything they do. They prize the trait that their house exemplifies, and therefore they're almost definitely going to see their own house as the best. This logic follows with the other houses too; Hufflepuffs treasure loyalty and are loyal, Ravenclaws care about expanding their own knowledge and wisdom and are wise due to this, and Slytherins value cunning and ambitious and therefore embody these traits. Because of this, you're almost always inclined to view your own house as the best (unless you've been sorted incorrectly), and so you should! Be proud of your house and your own strengths and values!

In Conclusion:

Each of the four Hogwarts Houses has their strengths and weaknesses. Gryffindors are brave, Hufflepuffs are loyal, Ravenclaws are smart, and Slytherins are cunning, but it also goes far beyond that. Congratulations on being sorted into your Hogwarts House and make sure to take time to explore the community surrounding whichever house you've been placed into. A quick google search can reveal forums and entire websites of like-minded people who might just become life-long friends!

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 K S Lane

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      • profile image

        StarSort 

        2 months ago

        I agree with the most. Actually, I think that Ravenclaws and Slytherins are very similar in some ways. Also, Ravenclaws usually want to be cleverest in the room too, and they are very competitive.

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 

        3 months ago from sunny Florida

        It is good to know this information. I do not know a whole lot about HP except that my grandson is a huge fan. His most recent birthday party was a Harry Potter theme and we were all sorted using a magical hat. What fun it was as the had wriggled on our heads and our house was announced Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

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