Everyone feels sorry for Hufflepuff. Well, that is, everyone who isn’t in Hufflepuff. Widely regarded as the loser house – the default house for any newcomers to Hogwarts who don’t manage to fit into any of the other three – and given barely any semblance of a spotlight by the books and movies, it’s hard not to. However, I’ve recently convinced myself that the popular opinion has to be wrong.
Just think about it. While having a house totally set up for the reject students may seem like a good idea in theory, a little bit of thought would reveal it to be a terrible idea. Though the intention may be to make everyone feel welcome and give the underqualified students a group of friends to band together with, one can’t assume that the students are stupid enough not to notice that there was no common quality shared by all of the students of the badger house. They would realise that the Gryffindors were brave or courageous, that the Ravenclaws were intelligent (one way or another) and that the Slytherins were all a little too ambitious for their own good. If there was no defining quality of a Hufflepuff scholar, it is logical to assume that this would not be kept under the radar for very long.
This would place a target on the entire house’s back. Yes, there would be a lot of Hufflepuffs around to stand their ground, but there are three times as many non-Hufflepuffs. Teenagers, as we know, can be cruel beasts. Though the majority would probably be very nice and not care at all, there would be a significant number who take the opportunity to bully people for being a part of the ‘reject house’.
Bullying at a place like Hogwarts is a major concern. If you’ve read the books, you’ll be aware of the way the Marauders humiliated a young Severus Snape. You should also recall that it was Moaning Myrtle’s forced isolation due to bullying during life that led her to be a victim of the basilisk. People were also constantly hiding Luna Lovegood’s things. Even as early in the series as Harry’s first flying lesson, an injured Neville has his remembrall stolen by Draco Malfoy, who intended to use his broomstick to hide it somewhere out of reach.
Magical bullying is a very real threat at Hogwarts. Apart from the evidence we are shown, is it hard to imagine some of the meaner students turning on a house they perceive to be lesser than themselves? After all, there are less serious instances of this in the books. Even though none of them seem to go out of their way to persecute them, many students (particularly members of Gryffindor) seem to harbour an intense distaste for Slytherin.
On top of the way in which ‘reject’ Hufflepuffs might be chosen as targets, we must also consider the plethora of methods of humiliation available to bullies at Hogwarts. Something as seemingly innocent as Wingardium Leviosa – learned by first year Charms students – could be used as an effective weapon in the spread of misery. That’s not even beginning to touch on any of the more advanced spells and potions.
Not much of this would get very far without being noticed. Teachers at Hogwarts are not typically dumb. If one house seemed to be harassed more than the other three, they would know about it. More than that, though, it wouldn’t be allowed to happen in the first place.
So clearly, Hufflepuff being the place where Hogwarts hides all of its students not brave enough for Gryffindor, witty enough for Ravenclaw or cunning enough for Slytherin is just not a viable option. Where then, do you ask, do those other students go?
Not to Hogwarts, obviously.
Hear me out. Hogwarts is a very private institution. It is a select entry school and it certainly doesn’t need to advertise to gain a decent sized student body. Those who do know about Hogwarts look forward to the day they get their letter and after that, the day they finally board the Hogwarts Express and begin their journey to awesome wizardry. The muggle children who are surprised by their letters seem to mostly trot off to Hogwarts with excitement, too. This school is not wanting for members, so they can afford to be choosy.
Why, then, would they send out letters to students that do not possess certain qualities that would help to place them into a house? The defining traits of the houses are basically positive ones, after all. Members of Gryffindor house are primarily known for their bravery, courage and chivalry. Those in Ravenclaw possess sharp wit and notable intelligence, along with great creativity and a propensity for learning. Students of Slytherin are typically cunning, ambitious and quite resourceful (and I feel that I should mention that they are not required to be of pure wizarding blood). Hufflepuff has its own set of traits, too. Hufflepuffs demonstrate loyalty and tolerance and are able to work hard, sticking with both projects and friends to the end. They are firm believers in fair treatment.
These are not just idle claims with the purpose of talking up Hufflepuff. They are mentioned in-universe and are demonstrated. Take Cedric Diggory, for example. Your mind probably automatically went to The Goblet Of Fire, but there is evidence even earlier than that of him sporting the favoured Hufflepuff traits. He ends one Quidditch match by catching the golden snitch, winning the game for his team. However, when he finds out that this was because Harry was rendered unable to play due to a few pesky dementors, Cedric demanded that the match’s score be nullified, even though his team won. This is a great demonstration of the fairness at the heart of Hufflepuff.
Naturally, he does demonstrate some of these qualities in The Goblet Of Fire. It is through Cedric’s guidance that Harry is able to figure out what to do with his golden egg. After being saved twice by Harry in the final maze, Cedric also refuses to take the cup on his own and insists that Harry takes it with him – a move which sadly leads to Cedric’s death.
Now, you may say that I have used examples from a rather exceptional Hufflepuff student. This may be true, but the limited amount of attention paid to the Hufflepuff house in general makes a fair analysis difficult. If we do not go by the few characters of this house that we get to know, we must clearly make our judgements based on what we are told – this would be the values of loyalty and so on. Either way, we must accept that Hufflepuff is not a loser house. It’s a house where nice people go.
I’m right. Face it.
Rachel of Ravenclaw, signing off.