rhoda_rants: (leia)
[personal profile] rhoda_rants
One of the many rights of passage for a Harry Potter superfan is Sorting. In the early 2000s when the movies started filming, I came across a few Sorting Hat quizzes online, and almost always wound up in Ravenclaw. So, over time, despite not having joined the official site, I just got used to thinking of myself as a Ravenclaw. All my friends, both online and in meat space, expressed very little surprise when I told them this. "Yeah, that suits you," or "Well of course you are," were oft-repeated phrases. And once, from a beta reader, "Either that or Slytherin, obviously," which . . . I'll come back to.

GIF of Harry under the Sorting Hat muttering “Not Slytherin”

So imagine my surprise when the official, J. K. Rowling-approved Pottermore site put me in Gryffindor. "B-but I'm a Ravenclaw!" I sputtered at the screen in disbelief. Why did this bother me so much, and what does it have to do with The Chamber of Secrets?

Well. . .

Chamber of Secrets was a book that I didn't fully appreciate until I finished the series, then read it again in the context of the greater whole. So much of Harry's development and identity hinges on this episode, as well as the details of how Voldemort will ultimately be defeated. Everything you need to know about the big finale is here. You just can't see it yet. And to that end, it's one of the most brilliantly executed slow burn noir mysteries I've ever encountered. I keep rereading the books over and over because every time, I notice another detail that I had no idea was important until after the fact.

So now, with the bulk of the world-building out of the way, we can really start the series. This is where Rowling starts to focus on what this huge war was about, what's at stake, who the villains are, and what it cost everyone who was involved. One of the loose ends that Voldemort left dangling was a diary in which he preserved a piece of his soul--aka a Horcrux, which I'll probably talk more about later. Here is also where we find out about the "blood purity" prejudice that exists in this universe and where that puts our characters. Coming from an already established magical family, as opposed to being gifted with magical abilities in a muggle family, doesn't necessarily give you any special talents or abilities. But it does change your perspective and the expectations others are liable to put on you. As does being Sorted into one of the four Hogwarts Houses.

One of the common criticisms of the HP verse is the competition this inspires in the students that, it’s been argued, might not be as vicious if it weren’t for the House rivalries. A recurring example is Harry’s mutual animosity with Draco Malfoy. One thing that the movie changed that I think works better in the adaptation is the Dueling Club scene:

This is such a pivotal moment, and so fun to watch onscreen. It’s a simple sparring match between Harry and Draco until it becomes something else, and putting the focus fully on the two of them was a great idea. But the biggest difference between book and movie is the point of view. In the book, everything is from Harry’s point of view, so he doesn’t understand why everyone’s staring at him with this alarm and disquiet. Here, though? You hear what the students heard, see what they saw, and it is so much creepier. Which, in my book, is always a good thing. If you haven’t read the books before watching this, you wouldn’t know until Harry tells Ron and Hermione later that he was trying to help. It puts a disturbing spin on his actions before this, and makes even Harry uneasy about his lineage and identity.

That’s the major theme of Chamber of Secrets: identity. Where did you come from? Where do you belong? How do you know you're in the right place? Are you sure you deserve to be there? Those are the questions Harry asks himself throughout this book and movie, and it’s brought to a head in the Dueling Club scene. This is when Harry starts to wonder if he’s in the right House.

As did I. Because I do not belong in Gryffindor. I know this in my bones, just as surely and insistently as Harry knows he doesn’t belong in Slytherin. Because I'm me, I wasn't content to let things go. I took about ten different fan-made versions of the Sorting Hat quiz, all of which put me in Slytherin, Gryffindor, or some combination of the two. Finally, I found this. The  official Pottermore quiz only gives you about seven questions out of all the possible 31, and they're weighted differently because they don't all have an even four responses. This fan-made compilation of all possible questions gets you a more detailed, weighted, and explanatory answer.

Here are my results:

Screenshot of Pottermore quiz results showing
Slytherin = 74%
Gryffindor = 64%
Ravenclaw = 54%
Hufflepuff = 50%

So I guess I'm a Slytherin who squeaked into Gryffindor on a technicality. But definitely not a Ravenclaw. Clearly my betas know me better than I know myself. (Cheers, Gothie!)

Here's the thing: your House doesn't define your entire future. But it does reveal something about your values and strengths. It's easy to oversimplify what all this is supposed to mean. To reduce each House to one specific attribute and not bother digging further. Gryffindor = Brave. Ravenclaw = Smart. Hufflepuff = Nice. Slytherin = Evil. Except when they don't. There are things about Harry that would make him a good fit for Slytherin, but it's not where he wants to be. You could take the stance that Slytherin is just where the evil kids hang out, and Rowling does that to a certain extent, but not completely. It also changes somewhat as Harry grows up and his point of view evolves and matures. He ultimately develops a respect and admiration for a few of his Slytherin peers . . . but he’s not there yet.

This is probably never going to be my favorite entry in the Harry Potter saga, but it gets more interesting every time I return to it.
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