Book Nerds Unite

In Defense Of Hufflepuff

I’m a Hufflepuff, and if you’re laughing, you haven’t thought this out.

Let’s address a few points, first and foremost.

We are going off of the Hogwarts world, specifically the post-Voldemort one. Heroics are no longer necessary. This is just a wizard school, and as normal as it can be within that context.

We are operating on the assumption that you would live in this house, attend this house, and graduate as a member of this house as well, from the first year to the seventh year. These are formative years.

I am not taking this too seriously. You, if anything, aren’t taking it seriously enough.

Okay, ready? Because I’m going to go through your favorite house and prove that Hufflepuff, long scorned and mocked, is the one you want.

  I. Slytherin

Slytherin is the trendy pick for edgy people to consider themselves ambitious, or clever, or cunning or any variation thereof, and that level of trendiness makes it less edgy and more eye-rollingly obvious. Play it cool, Holden Caulfield. I get it. And I do get it. I do. There’s an anti-hero appeal of Slytherin, which, when combined with the American ideals of ambition and magic, forms a potent pair that could point you to the house.

But here’s the thing: Slytherin is just straight up evil. They’re unpleasant, they live in a dungeon, and they’re super racist. Plus, even the coolest, edgiest Slytherins get kind of embarrassing towards the end.

I’m looking at you, Malfoy.

I’m not sure why exactly Hogwarts let a quarter of their school be straight-up evil, and I know, I know, “what about Snape.” Well, how’s this for Snape: he worked for Voldemort before deciding, nah, he’s going to snitch. He was willing to sacrifice innocent people to save Lilly Potter, failed at saving Lilly Potter, and then worked as a spy because he was so sad about not kissing a girl who was already married all while still being a huge dick to Harry Potter in deeply thorough and unnecessary ways.

So, okay, yes: Snape helped. He’s morally ambiguous at best, personally loathsome, and still definitely tortured and killed people pre-redemption.

You know who didn’t kill anyone, like, ever?

Hufflepuffs.

II. Ravenclaw

So maybe you’re a Ravenclaw? What’s not to like about being smart, right?

Besides how unpleasant it would be to hang with self-identified nerds, consider how annoying it would be to live with them. An entire house predicated on knowledge, in a magical high-school? Have some butterbeer, guys. Live a little.

But it’s wisdom, right? Arcane, cryptic knowledge, unfathomable mysteries that exist beyond the pale, for your use and exploitation. I’ll be honest- I almost just sold myself on Ravenclaw writing that.

Except for one thing.

Brains mean shit when it comes to magic.

In the real world, I’d respect Ravenclaw pretty hard. But this isn’t the real world. This is Wizard School, and the “wizard” part is way more important than the “school” half. Education is mad irrelevant in this book; all the crucial information is stumbled upon as the plot requires and given second-hand rather than “learned.”  Yes, Hermione is easily the smartest character in the book, and while she should be a Ravenclaw, she isn’t (more on that latter.) It would be a wash for Ravenclaw is Hermione was in, and wisdom would obviously be proven to be crucial to the Harry Potter story at large. But Hermione isn’t a Ravenclaw. You know who was?

 Luna Lovegood.

Yes, Luna is fun. From a distance. While knowledge is power, and magical knowledge is magical power, so far Ravenclaws share of the pie seems to just be “wacky and being incorrect,” or “blandly academic.” While that may be unfair, Luna’s placement in Ravenclaw shows that there is a tenuous at best relationship between wisdom and magical power, and, furthermore, a very broad definition of “knowledge” that further dilutes the potential value of Ravenclaws at large.

Similarly, if knowledge is power, consider that Ravenclaws don’t have that much power to begin with. Throughout the books, they’ve been little more than cannon fodder and sidekicks for Dumbledore’s Army. The top five powerful wizards and witches would be Dumbledore, Voldemort, Grindelwald, Snape, and McGonagall. If you wanted to round out the top ten to include Kinglsey Shacklebolt, Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, or Mad-Eye Moody, I wouldn’t stop you either.

And none of them were Ravenclaws.

Brains and study don’t give you the edge in battle. When push comes to shove, books go out the window.

III. Gryffindor

Boy oh boy.

So it’s come to this. You had the nerve (or bravery) to decide you were a Gryffindor. Of course. They’re the heroes, right? The brave, dedicated, lovable bunch you’ve followed for seven books and eight films.

Except they suck.

We’re talking about the best house to be in, remember? So consider this story: a wealthy legacy kid gets a scholarship to a prestigious school, is given preferential treatment, and becomes a star athlete due to some rule-bending which gets shushed up and the entire school is warped around how special he is.

Sound familiar?

Harry Potter is a cool-kid jock in the coolest frat.

Yeah, he’s brave. But let’s understand that bravery can cut both ways. The Gryffindor’s have bravery, after all: to do whatever they want. There are no consequences to the boldness the Gryffindor’s have: the same sort of boldness, I imagine, they’d use to magically shove you into lockers. They run the school and the house cup just floats to them every year, because Dumbledore is crazy biased. Besides stealing the cup, Gryffindor is such a jerk that it steals people. Ron Weasly is clearly a Hufflepuff, being loyal but not overly brave himself (spiders, yo) as is Neville Longbottom, who becomes the head of Herbology later, which is a classically Hufflepuff position. Similarly, Hermione is clearly a Ravenclaw and if I have to explain that, I’ve lost you already. But Gryffindor needed all the protagonists. The other houses get split-second cameos outside of the eye-rolling bro-off between Gryffindor and Slytherin. And sure, when Voldemort was around, that made sense. But we’re in a post Voldemort world here. We are examining houses in a fully neutral context, and all that leaves Gryffindor as is a clique of jocks borrowing faded glory to keep up a beef that divides half the school.

It’s a magic frat with a magic frat way of life. Fine, sure, but be aware. Without purpose, Gryffindor might not be the most pleasant place to hang. They’re a bunch of duel-happy rule breakers more interested in their grudges than just living with magic.

IV. Hufflepuff

First of all, I get it. You wanted another house. One with more history, or identity than just the “good dude,” location and the one-book celebration that is Cedric Diggory but consider: the advantages Hufflepuff has to share.

Hufflepuff is clearly the stoner house. It’s both the herbology department and its name is derived from both “huff,’ and “puff.” It values loyalty, kindness and generosity which are all underrated virtues.

But that’s who you live with.

Would you want to go to your insane magical prep school living with the jockish Gryffindors who have a cult relationship with their star quarterback- sorry, seeker– who’s also, like, totally famous? Would you want to live in a dungeon with emo, evil weirdos who consider themselves edgy and, also, are unabashedly evil? I’ll be honest; living with Ravenclaw wouldn’t be too bad, but it’s a waste of magic school to worry about the school part. But Hufflepuff? They have no identity.

Break that down and understand the gift that is.

Finally, you’re free.

Hufflepuff don’t care about your ancestry like Slytherin a flawed metric of intelligence like Ravenclaw does. It doesn’t need to prove itself obsessively like Gryffindor: instead, Hufflepuff is content to simply allow magic to dwell within it, to exist free and to grow and flourish as it needs to. The other houses draft you into grudges and lives, predetermined, but Hufflepuff is open and free to anyone.

Remind you of anyone?

That’s right. Hufflepuff is America.

So next time you’re thinking about Harry Potter, remember for a moment the unsung heroes of the story. The actual, honest-to-goodness kids with straight-up magic who had the nerve to be undefined, who stood against insane, stifling labels shouted by a magic hat that would decide their lives and personalities. The Hufflepuffs stood divergent (see what I did there?) against the tyranny of titles. They fought fate and destiny to do their own thing.

That’s who I am, after all.

I hope you are too.

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