Is Hogwart’s Sorting System Bullshit?

Note: I wrote this essay as a supplement for a college application. This is not the complete essay. In fact, I edited it to make it flow better. (Not sure if that worked.) Also, the title is new.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Westeros (CaptnArrri/Ariana Filippini)

What do you think about the Hogwart’s sorting system? How do you feel about the Hogwarts house you were sorted in?

Power structures lead to groups, which may have labels placed upon them. These labels are little boxes. Once one is put into a little box, one cannot escape. Every decision one makes and every action one takes will be explained as a characteristic of the little box that he or she is in. For the sake of this essay keep in mind that labels are evil and categories are bad. They put limits on human beings. Got it?

Now, it is your first day at Hogwarts and the Sorting Ceremony is about to begin. Will you be placed in Gryffindor with the brave, Ravenclaw with the smart, Slytherin with the clever, or Hufflepuff with the kind?

To be honest, little eleven-year-old you are probably a mixture of all of these things. However, you must be put into a house which will determine who you are for the next seven years—in some of the most crucial, developmental years of your life, when you change all the time.

Nevertheless, the Sorting Hat is god and he knows best.


Therein lies the problem.

Eleven-year-olds have so much potential. Putting them in one house over another creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once in Gryffindor, they will act more like Gryffindors and act less like Slytherins. This is because people not only build their identities based on what they think they are, they build them in opposition to things they think they are not. By doing so, all of these young witches and wizards self-regulate their identities, their passions, their capabilities, and their potentials.

It is as ridiculous as it seems.

These young witches and wizards are thrown into a power structure that limits their ability to express other interests and uphold other values in order to maintain a general social order. They are expected to exhibit the characteristics their houses embrace and fill the established roles of their respective houses. In other words, students are forced to assume the tropes of their assigned houses: Gryffindors are the heroes. Ravenclaws are the strategists. Slytherins are the villains. Hufflepuffs are the sidekicks.

All of these groups, these students, are unreasonably pressured to fit into molds which cause them to interact differently (and sometimes unfairly) with each other. Gryffindors and Slytherins antagonize each other. Ravenclaws are known as the nerds and oddballs. Hufflepuffs get written off as pushovers. This dynamic leads to students placing trite stereotypes, which stem from prejudice and discrimination, on fellow students. The tension this breeds among the population is apparent in petty house-rivalries. The remedy to this problem may be getting the students to stop labeling and defining their peers’ character by their houses’ values.


That being said, I believe that it is unfair for others to dislike me for my association with and pride in the House of Slytherin. This house teaches its students to be analytical, self-confident, and firm. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, shrewd, cunning, or achievement-oriented. Thankfully, powers structures are fluid, with change occurring constantly. That allows the roles and labels within power structures to change as well, because a name is only what you make it. So it is up to me and my fellow Slytherins to use our resourcefulness, our ambition, and our cunning for the betterment of all.

Slytherin House Poster (Society6/LiquidSoulDesign)


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