Harry Potter is a more intricate, clever, fascinating world than we could ever conceive in our wildest, wildest dreams. But every now and again, we come across a detail or piece of information from JK Rowling’s books that – on our ninth reading – doesn’t quite make sense. Like why was cowardly traitor Peter Pettigrew sorted into Gryffindor? And how did a pair of brutish dunces like Crabbe and Goyle end up in Slytherin?
A new fan theory has shed some light on the thinking process behind the Sorting Hat and why sometimes its decisions don’t make all that much sense.
User Straw_Boats suggests that the centuries-old hat bases its decisions on the personality traits 11-year-olds value the most, rather than the ones they possess themselves.
They note the widely-held belief that “the brave go to Gryffindor, the intellectual to Ravenclaw, the cunning to Slytherin and the hardworking to Hufflepuff (or, if you believe the Sorting Hat in The Prisoner of Azkaban, Hufflepuff just gets the leftovers).”
But, pointing out the anomalies of Neville who, at 11 years old, certainly isn’t brave and Draco who – on entering the school – is not yet cunning, Straw_Boats puts forward a new theory:
“I’d argue it sorts a child based on their values. Specifically, a child who believes Bravery and Courage are the most important traits would go to Gryffindor, where as a child who values Intellectualism and Love of Learning above all else would go to Ravenclaw. The key difference is that a child need not possess that trait, but merely value it.”
Drawing attention to Harry’s advice for his son Albus – “The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account” – they suggest that it’s what the students desire that really matters.
“This explains how Draco, completely inept at becoming cunning (but growing up in a family where it is prized), can be sorted into Slytherin while Hermione (who is an intellectual, but wishes to become like her heroes in Gryffindor) can choose to become a Gryffindor. Additionally, this neatly explains how polarized the houses are towards one another. If you take all the kids that value bravery and stick them into one house (an environment where everyone else also values bravery above all else), you’ll start to see them all become brave (and, in some cases, to the exclusion of the other traits).”
We can’t help but recall our favourite Dumbleore quote:
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”