As part of Potterhead July, a month-long celebration of Harry Potter hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight, I wanted to discuss whether Hogwarts houses actually create unity or whether they divide students. I’m going to try to keep this short because if I don’t, it will end up being novel length. 😉
I think the intention behind them was to create unity among students who had common values: courage, power, friendliness & helpfulness, knowledge. By creating houses based on these traits & values, students would be surrounded by people with whom they had something in common. In theory, by being with these people, you can easily make friends who will support you and help you. And I think that the houses do succeed in doing this to at least some extent.
But I also think that being sorted into a specific house creates division.
I admit, I have fun telling everyone I’m a Ravenclaw and I can understand the great deal of pride that some people feel for their house (and would expect this to an even greater extent in the actual characters). But I think in actual practice, it would be a disaster for students to be sorted this way (okay, maybe disaster is a bit of a strong word…) and I truly believe it creates more division than unity among the students at Hogwarts (and maybe even among us Harry Potter fans).
Think about the books (or the movies) for a minute. A vast majority of the characters we get to know on any meaningful level are Gryffindors. Why? Because our main character, and his two best friends, are also Gryffindors. Sure we get a couple of other characters who are in other houses, but 99% of the major players are in Gryffindor. This in itself shows that Harry only really becomes familiar with those who are in the same house as him. He’s united with his house members, but doesn’t seem to be very united with the members of Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff and definitely isn’t united with Slytherin. Wouldn’t you want ALL your students to feel united with each other?
That brings me to another point: if houses didn’t create division, there would be no major rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin. But there is! Members of the two houses are expected to be incredibly competitive with each other and even to downright dislike members of the other house. How is that uniting the students?
When it comes down to it, I think houses may unite students within their own houses but it certainly creates a lot of division between the houses. While I’m sure it’s nice to feel united with fellow house members, I would hope that the adults at Hogwarts would want their students to feel united with all of the other students, not just one group of them.