Podcast Question Of The Week – Episode 87

This week we meet the most major Ravenclaw of the series, so our question asks you to take a critical look at the way the Hogwarts Houses are portrayed by Rowling throughout the books.

The series focuses on Gryffindor, but we have gotten a lot of information about all of the Houses outside of the books, such as on Pottermore and from interviews with Rowling. For example, Rowling tells us that many Slytherins are good, but yet, she doesn’t show us many good Slytherins in the books. Does Rowling show well-rounded views of each House in the books, or do the characters we see exhibit more stereotypical House qualities? And as one of the only major Ravenclaws in the series, is Luna’s lovable eccentric qualities an accurate representation of her House, or does she give readers a limited view of Ravenclaws?  

Leave us your response below & we just might read them on the next episode of Alohomora!

  • Bill White

    I personally don’t think she gives a balanced idea of the other houses but I don’t think this detracts from the story because we only ever meet other students tied to harry’s experience. I would like a side book not fan fiction that relates luna lovegood and the crumpled-horned snorkack or Draco malfoy and the Pure blood craze. just to give us stories centered on other characters and their stories because I’m sure neither luna or draco’s lives are roses and gumdrops

    • I think this is what Jo is planning with the upcoming Newt Scammander movie thing…? A story in the magical world completely devoid of Harry. Should be interesting!

  • Saiyangirl

    I’d definitely say that the view Jo gives us of most houses is stereotypical and limited. Only Gryffindor is truly well-rounded, and I’ve always felt it’s a shame that my own house (Slytherin) is portrayed in such a negative fashion. Of course it is easier that way plot-wise, and it partly makes sense because we see the HP world through Harry’s perspective, but it definitely is a narrow view, and having at least some characters from other houses go against stereotypes would’ve been nice. Asides from Zacharius Smith, I can’t think of any stereotype-disconfirming characters (excluding Gryffindor characters here).

    As for Luna- I wouldn’t say she gives us a limited view of Ravenclaw, since we see a lot of Ravenclaws that are more grounded than Luna is (like Terry Boot, Cho Chang, Padma Patil, Michael Corner, and Anthony Goldstein). This actually always led me to believe that contrary to what Pottermore states about Ravenclaws, she really was the odd one out. It did appear that she was bullied by her fellow Ravenclaws, and there have been other occasions in the series when Ravenclaws turned out to be surprisingly judgemental (e.g. when Harry was chosen as Hogwarts Champion in GoF through no fault of his own). She always made me wonder where the other Ravenclaws like her were though- some of the ones portrayed in the series seemed more unsociable and detached than in possession of the otherworldly, creative quality Luna portrays.

    • MugglesinStMungos

      That’s a really good point about Ravenclaws being disposed toward judgment or close-mindedness. There might be a sense of intellectual superiority that comes from literally having been told (by being sorted into Ravenclaw) that your defining characteristic as a human being is your intelligence. I actually think Luna shows that she has some of the judgmental characteristics of a Ravenclaw. As readers, we’re more apt to think of her as ‘open-minded’ because she believes different things from Harry or Hermione or any other character we’ve met thus far in the series, but we can see through her clashes with Hermione that she can be just as stubborn as someone who relies on facts and logic to inform her view of the world. It’s important to note that despite Luna’s ability to believe so-called impossible things, she isn’t really open to the idea that she might be wrong, which seems like a Ravenclaw quality. A similar dynamic is present in DH when Hermione starts arguing with Xenophilius about the existence of the Resurrection Stone. Hermione says there’s no proof it exists; Xeno tells her there’s no proof it doesn’t; Hermione says you could claim anything exists if that was your only argument; and Xeno tells her he’s glad to see her open up her mind a little. But, like his daughter, Xenophilius is practicing his own brand of close-mindedness in this situation by clinging to his belief in the Stone without proof (yes, the Stone is real, but as far as Xeno knows there’s no proof), and a bit judgmental and condescending in his attitude toward Hermione for failing to do the same. Luna behaves in much the same way, partly because most of her beliefs come from
      her father. That’s not to say she’s a close-minded person, just that she’s defensive and protective of her beliefs, which is a very Ravenclaw thing to be even if she at first appears different from the rest of her house.

    • I too wish we could see more people from, well, every house. I just think, like you said, that it wouldn’t work for the plot. Or at least, it would be a lot harder. We would have even more characters than we have now and even more trailing backstory’s and tangents. Not that I am complaining, but considering you can do some real damage to a wall if you throw OotP at it, another couple of chapters would really have made that thing a publisher’s worst nightmare.

  • Mythrandier

    As far as Luna is concerned, I think she is the truest representation of Ravenclaw. “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.” Additionally, we find out later that Luna is the only student that Helena Ravenclaw really likes; the daughter of the founder of the House.
    Concerning members of other houses, we only see the most vocal members of each house. I believe that at the time Harry was at Hogwarts there were good Slytherines, for example, but they made up a minority. We don’t really know anything about either Marcus Flint or Blaze Zabini.
    Also bear in mind that we do see everything from Harry’s perspective and the Slytherines that might be “good” and support Harry would have wanted to stay quiet so as not to be beraitted by Malfoy or Pansy.

  • AccioPotassium!

    As a Ravenclaw myself, the Ravenclaw house has always been the house of the fundamental teachings of logic. The house in which believes that the mind is stronger than barbaric strength it almost every situation. The house in which embodies the idea to try to discover as much information about the amazing world around us, and to base our ideas upon logical reasoning. The Ravenclaw house does not believe in what one feels, but to believe in ideas in which are supported by factual and testable evidence. Luna Lovegood obviously
    doesn’t follow all my listed perceptions, but what makes Luna a true Ravenclaw is her ability to think differently compared her peers, and her personality seems to challenge past beliefs on long standing concepts. So in
    some ways she is a noble poster child of Ravenclaw, but maybe not in her logical reasoning in all of her beliefs of this very strange magical world.

    • Luna is one who asks “Why?” and someone who challenges and questions logic. She counters Hermione and imagines more possibilities than just mundane logical ones. She expands her thought process to include the impossible. This makes her a true Ravenclaw. …I am assuming she has learned this from her father.

  • Elvis Gaunt

    Lets look at all the reasonably developed Slytherin characters. Voldemort and Bellatrix are nothing but evil. Lucius is more opportunistic than evil (I find the Malfoys quite fascinating after the information Jo released on the family’s background on Pottermore). Slughorn is self-centered and seems shrewd but he is also fair means no harm to anybody. Draco, Snape and Regulus have all been lured to the dark side when they were young but have seem the error of their ways and redeemed themselves. This raises the question; did they make those choices when they were young because of the environment within the house. They wanted to appear cool to their house-mates and live up to its reputation. Would they have turned out to be different people had they been in a different house. In short, did the house influence their choices (at least when they young) rather than their choices influencing their house or did the two have a synergistic effect. We will never know. We also have Crabbe, Goyle and the Carrows but they all just seem to be the epitome of stupidity with a touch of sadism. Slughorn says he got the whole of Black family in Slytherin apart from Sirius. That would mean Andromeda too and she is really nice and gentle and married a Muggle-born. I love the few sentences we get from Phineas Nigellus; he has his biases but wise enough to see beyond them too. That is a well-rounded set of characters even though we don’t see the less prominent ones.

    The Ravenclaw characters have been discussed on the show; Luna, Cho, Flitwick, Lockhart and Helena and Quirrell was missed. Aren’t they sufficiently distinct from one another again with the limited interaction Harry has with members of that house.

    I would like to include Fleur in Ravenclaw and Krum in Slytherin becuase of the tables they choose at the great hall and they add to the diversity of these two houses.

    We know very few Hufflepuffs but even among them we have Cedric (the perfect gentleman), Ernie (good-natured but pompous), Zacharias Smith (downright unpleasant), Tonks (the punk) and Professor Sprout.

    Yet we have the house stereotypes well rooted in our minds because we see things through Harry’s mind and it is a mark of Jo’s brilliant writing. We imagine characters like Burke, Umbridge and Greyback to be Slytherins, though we have no evidence, due to the stereotypes we hold and it reinforces the image.

    • Snatch The Snitch

      Completely agree. If you look close enough there is “good” and “bad” in all houses when you analyze through your own eyes. Slytherin perceived as the most evil of the four had some bad dudes: Voldemort,Bellatrix etc….However Snape and Draco(although not generally nice people) made the right decisions in the end. So did Regulus, and Slughorn isn’t that bad of a guy. Gryffindor, people’s favorite house, has some characters that aren’t exactly great..at least through Harry’s eyes( I tend to agree)..Cormac McLaggen, Colin Creevey, Romilda Vane. An interesting side note Umbridge is confirmed to be a Slytherin by Jo. Even more interesting is that Merlin was confirmed Slytherin on Pottermore. You can check these on the wikia; they have the sources at the bottom.

      • Elvis Gaunt

        Thanks for that additional bit of information. I tend to forget some of the nuggets we get on Pottermore. I assumed Merlin predated Hogwarts. We can add Wormtail to the list of not-so-great Gryffindors.

  • dustcharm

    I have to say that on the whole I don’t think the Houses are totally well represented in the books. Indeed, the series focuses on Gryffindor, Harry’s house, so we see the most of them. Gryffindors may be brave, and we see a lot of that, but we also see the side of Gryffindor that is arrogant or “show-offy” as Jo said in one of her interviews. We see this in Cormac McLaggen, but especially in James and Sirius. We don’t see too terribly much of this side of Gryffindor, but it’s there. Or we have those like Hermione, who have very obvious qualities of other Houses (Ravenclaw in her case), but who value Gryffindor bravery and friendship more. Or Percy, who is obviously very ambitious, and was willing to leave his family for the sake of his career – until he actually did show a bit of his Gryffindor. But Peter Pettigrew is a Gryffindor with little, if any, Gryffindor qualities. Very interesting the mix we see within Gryffindor.

    With Ravenclaw, most of the characters we know from the House are very brief in their appearances – save for Luna. We see Cho a bit more than some, but I’m not convinced we got to know her very well, seeing as Harry has the most time with her after she’s lost Cedric and she is, I imagine, not her usual self. Ravenclaws may be known for their intelligence and wit, but with Luna, we are able to see their quirky side as well. Many Ravenclaws can be quite eccentric, as I understand it, and Luna is probably a good representation of that. I almost feel like with Ravenclaw, we might have seen more of the exception (the eccentric and quirky) rather than the norm. Just a thought.

    With Slytherin… I know Jo has said that there are plenty of good wizards to come out of this House. And therefore, since she said it herself, it must be true. But in the books we don’t see this. We see pride and ambition. We see very proud purebloods who think they are better than Muggleborns, but it’s also almost as if Slytherins think they are better than just about everyone else. And the Heir was Voldemort. I feel like that was quite a statement in itself.

    And as a Hufflepuff myself, I have several thoughts on this House. 🙂 I feel like it is unfortunate that Hufflepuff has earned this poor reputation in the fan community. People being embarrassed to be in Hufflepuff on Pottermore. In Hufflepuff’s description from the Sorting Hat in SS/PS, we hear that they are “patient,” “loyal,” and “unafraid of toil.” That doesn’t sound so bad to me! “Unafraid of toil” sounds quite similar to bravery, if you ask me – it’s just that Hufflepuffs will remain peaceful until provoked, to defend themselves and their family or friends. People seem to forget that Cedric Diggory, the first Champion from Hogwarts in the Triwizard Tournament, was in Hufflepuff. Tonks was in Hufflepuff. Nearly all of Hufflepuff House stayed to fight alongside nearly all the Gryffindors in the Battle of Hogwarts., while many Ravenclaws and all of Slytherin left. Yes, we see people like Zacharias Smith, who just make you crazy, but as we have established, every House has some variation within it. So I guess for me, biased or not, it seems like Hufflepuff has earned some reputation more from the fans than from what was actually in the books.

    All this said, I think the books (with some exceptions), tend to focus on the defining traits of each House. There just wasn’t time to go much further into it.

    Sort of on another note… This also got me thinking that the fact is, every person is a mix of many things, so it’s probably extremely rare for someone to fit perfectly into any one House. House placement would come down to their values. Not always a conscious choice, necessarily, but if the Sorting Hat sees inside your head, it can see what you think is important. And isn’t that exactly the idea – it sees what you think it important, sees who you are, and places you based on that. Maybe it saw that Hermione was very bookish, but that she valued friendship and bravery more. Maybe that’s also why people like Pettigrew end up in one House over another, when they appear to belong without question somewhere else. Maybe he values friendship and bravery, because that’s what he would like to be, but when it comes down to it, he isn’t really brave. Random thought, and a bit of a tangent, but that’s where my mind was going, I guess!

  • Hufflepug

    I don’t think there’s any “accurate” representation of Ravenclaw because there are many different types of intelligences. Luna is more creative, observant, and speculative than anyone else in the series, and despite chances of being wrong she continues to think this way and often hits the nail on the head. (“It’s obvious. We have to talk to someone who’s dead.”) We don’t know much about the Ravenclaws in Harry’s year and I wish we had a little more information on how they think because they all seem really normal. Perhaps they’re more like Hermione- Terry Boot was pretty jealous of her Proteus charm later in this book. We can assume that Cho is a good student if she was dating such a shining pupil as Cedric and she seems to have a lot of interpersonal intelligence since she’s so popular. Lockhart was basically a clown but did know how to cover his tracks and get away with it for however many years and Witch Weekly smile contests. It’s likely that Ravenclaws span from Hermione-level logic to Luna-level creativity with several types of intelligences between, and maybe Luna was bullied by the Hermione-type students. The prefect that wrote the Pottermore note may have just preferred the Luna-type people and wanted to give that representation of Ravenclaw to the nervous first years.

    As a (proud) Hufflepuff, I have to say it bugs me how its characters seem to act in the books. 90% of the time Hufflepuffs are important to the storyline because they’re mad at Harry for something. They all seem loyal to a fault and close-minded. Sure Tonks is a puff, but it’s never explicitly stated in the series, so to those who don’t read extra information from Jo she hardly even counts as a portrayal of Hufflepuff at all.

    Slytherin is a doozy. I think their flat portrayal is probably a result of Jo needing a clear enemy group when just starting to write, unaware of the complexity that they would have to have eventually. The Death Eaters’ children are the loudest and they trump the views of anyone else in the house with their purist mentality. I always imagined Draco and his posse sitting back in the common room and ordering first years around, trying to make them like little human Kreachers who adhere to their views. Slughorn is the best example of someone who’s cunning and a bit invested in status but still good at the core. Most are more along his lines, I’m sure. Even Draco questioned his choices at the end.

    • YES, YES, AND YES. I agree with everything you said. Rather than viewing each house as a single personality trait (you either have it, or you don’t) it is better to view the houses as scales of various degrees spanning from one end to the other. (I.e. Ravenclaw: logical to creative) it gives a much rounder and fuller view of the house as a whole. I also think you can put a positive or negative spin on each house’s attributes, depending on your own views and opinions. Slytherin’s cunning nature is not inherently negative, it is just the perspective we get through Harry.

      • Hufflepug

        Totally! My friends and I were talking about how we think Katniss from The Hunger Games could potentially be a Slytherin. She’s cunning and knows how to twist things and play people to get the ends that she wants, but she’s the hero of the story and she knows how to separate right from wrong most of the time. That’s not negative in any way!

        • Hmm, yeah, I’ve never sorted any of the Hunger Games characters…I can see Katniss as a slytherin. According to the wiki, the traits of slytherin include: traditionalism, resourcefulness, ambition, cunning, leadership qualities, self-preservation, determination, cleverness, fraternity, and power. Katniss fits several of these qualities. Possibly the only two she doesn’t have are traditionalism and power…? And maybe ambition? I mean she would have been pretty okay to live with her family in 12 had the whole plot not happened. I’m not really sure about the definition of fraternity in this context…

          • Hufflepug

            Yeah but I think she, like almost everyone, fits into more than one house which is why some of those traits don’t work. I feel like a good case could also be made for her to be in Gryffindor 🙂 My point was just that she fits lots of Slytherin traits even though she’s the protagonist and so people (like Harry and his friends) shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Also those traits you listed are very interesting; I’d never looked at all of the ones the wiki says! It seems like even some of those could overlap with other houses – like cleverness for Ravenclaw, fraternity for Hufflepuff, and leadership for Gryffindor. Interestinggggg…

  • TrevorTheTurtle

    I don’t know if the houses are portrayed in a limited way, it might just be that Harry and the Gryffindors we know do the “stereotyping” themselves based on what they hear about the houses from the first, and we are with them all the time, plus they are immediately separated and sent to live with people that are allegedly like them, so I see why they don’t bother trying to socialize with them all that much. A lot of Slytherins probably are not as unpleasant as Malfoy and his friends, but they are not gonna openly turn against the most prominent kids of their own club, after all, they have to live with these people 24/7, so they keep to themselves and stay out of it. They sort of remind me of a high school I know that has this horrible reputation because the students are always picking fights and they have been known to gang up on people at parties and clubs on many occassions, but I happen to know a couple of kids from there that are really nice. Still, this has been going on for a long time, I’m not saying I get it how this keeps happening year after year with different kids, but I guess there is some sort of vicious cycle going on where the younger kids imitate the older ones, I don’t know. There is always Slughorn to consider…

    Luna is absolutely an accurate representation of Ravenclaw in my opinion. I think brains are often associated with logic and grounded people, and that’s valid, but thinking outside the box is a sign of cleverness too. I’m not saying she does not go overboard in what she believes is true, but when she’s right she’s got this Dumbledore-ish way of seeing the more mysterious things in the magical world, only she says them in this matter-of-fact way, like they’re not news to her at all. Her awkward truths are often wise, she is the only one who thinks of thestrals to go the Ministry, and she’s the only one who makes Harry feel better about Sirius, cause she senses what happens after death in a way. We see a few Ravenclaws superficially, who seem more conventional, and then there’s Cho, who can’t really be judged at the time we get to know her, so I guess Luna is simply a weird Ravenclaw, but still a Ravenclaw through and through.

  • Snatch The Snitch

    I don’t think it is stereotypical if you analyze it away from Harry’s POV. I’ll give you examples of people the would fall into different places in each house. If you examine each of these characters related to their respective houses you will see their is a wide spectrum. Gryffindor – Sirius, Hermione, Fred & George, McLaggen, Collin Creevey, Romilda Vane (def wouldn’t want to hang with the last 3). Ravenclaw – Ollivander, Luna, Marietta Edgecomb (traitor!),Lockhart, Quirrell, Uric the Oddball(dude wore a jellyfish on his head need I say more?). Hufflepuff – Cedric, Ernie, Tonks, Zacharias Smith, Newt Scamander (pretty adventurous for a Hufflepuff?). Slytherin – Voldemort, Umbridge, Draco, Snape, Regulus Black, Slughorn, Phineas Nigellus, and Merlin( confirmed by pottermore). Important to note not every Gryffindor is awesome. Also, not every Slytherin is “bad”. Snape, Draco, and Regulus did the right thing in the end wether they were nice people or not. Slughorn isn’t that bad of a guy and Merlin is just awesome.

    • Woahhhhh, am I late to the party or was Umbridge actually confirmed to be a Slytherin?! I cannot see this. I know she’s evil and all but, WHAT? Not sure where to put her myself, I just don’t see her in slytherin.

      • Snatch The Snitch

        Yeah on the wiki there a source where Jo confirmed it when asked by a fan. I don’t think she even deserves a house. She should’ve been sorted into the Giant Squid’s mouth

        • Hahahahahaha I literally can’t think of a better place for her! It is a little annoying though that she is a slytherin (now that I know about it) ’cause it’s like, oh okay, just drop another bad guy on slytherin. It makes her character less complex. That’s partially why I like that Lockhart ended up being a ravenclaw–I mean, I’m not skipping for joy or anything–but it adds depth to his character at the very least. The slytherin stereotype lives on I guess!

          • Snatch The Snitch

            I see your point but….what other house could she be put it? She’s an evil b****; she belongs alongside Voldemort. I would actually applaud Voldemort for killing her. While I don’t think there is a stereotype on houses, I do think a lot d-bags get put into Slytherin. When looking at most characters I think the vast amount could almost be put into any house except maybe a handful. Voldemort and Umbridge though I just can’t see anything other than Slytherin.

  • elliecanfly

    It is definitely true that many characters in the books seem to follow the stereotypical character traits of their houses. Our view is purely down to Harry’s perception of, in many cases, people he really doesn’t know that well at all. The Slytherin students Harry is associated with during his time at school mostly appear as a gang of bullies, particularly evident when Quiddich is involved. We rarely see one-to-one interaction between Harry and any of the Slythern students, which goes a long way to explain why we, and Harry, tend to put them in boxes.
    Humans naturally like to categorize people, so what Jo writes about in terms of houses definitely reflects the way society likes to see things in black and white terms. Making assumptions about people before we know them is one of the horrible things about our culture, so the very idea of putting eleven year olds into groups based on what the sorting hat sees in their personality strikes me as a very wrong thing to do. People can definitely change, as Dumbledore professes, it is down to our choices. I think that people would be influenced by being put in a certain house and subconsciously absorb some of the traits which they might have not had in the first place. For example, for many people sorted into Hufflepuff might lack the self-belief to be adventurous and chivalrous compared to if they had been sorted into Gryffindor.
    That said, Jo is not lazy with this and she does show us plenty of examples of people who break the mold. For example, Slughorn and Snape are people with Slytherin values but as adults are shown to be good at heart, making the right choices in the end, and are indispensable because of it. Ravenclaw has a huge variety of characters, I love that on Pottermore the eccentricity of the house is highlighted, and we have examples of this in terms of Luna, Ollivander and Lockheart, three highly contrasting characters. The books could perhaps go further to explore the different types of Hufflepuffs, however, they got Tonks so for me she makes up for everything.


    No, I don’t think Jo gives a well-rounded view of all houses because, although she is writing the books, we see the whole series through Harry’s eyes. Even if we came across a “good” slytherin, I doubt Harry would like them or take time to investigate since the only thing he would register is: Slytherin = BAD. Since we see everything through Harry, I am not surprised or worried about not seeing a balanced view of any house. If the books were all centered around Draco Malfoy, I am sure we would see more of the Slytherins and I am sure everything to do with Gryffindor would be ‘bad.’ It is just the perspective of the main character, and something we need to always remember when looking at the text through our ‘Harry colored glasses.’

    As a proud Eagle (woohoo!) I am infinitely glad for Luna. When I first started trying to figure out my house alliance, I thought I couldn’t possibly be a Ravenclaw, (I suck at math, I don’t particularly enjoy school, my grades are not the best in the year,) BUT I *am* very creative, I value learning and education, and I am a little bit on the eccentric side. Without Luna there to bring these quirky/creative sides of Ravenclaw to light, I am not sure if I would have ever found my true home. (Awwwwww) But for real, I do think Luna shows an alternative side of the Ravenclaw house that we often don’t see, (whether because we see so few Ravenclaw students, or because so few eccentric Ravenclaws exist.) Anyone who hears about Ravenclaw always associates us with nerdy know-it-alls who just want the best grade, and while I am sure we have a few people hanging out in the common room, studying Arithmancy until their faces are blue, it’s nice to see other aspects of the Ravenclaw house too. GO EAGLES!

  • TheUltimateHatStall

    Since the story is told through Harry’s P.O.V. we do get a biased perspective of the houses and what they represent. You could even say that the house DEFINED THAT PERSON. At least in Harry’s eyes. Draco was AUTOMATICALLY bad because he was in Slytherin. And as Hagrid pointed out “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin.”
    But as Harry grows and as Jo evolves the story the person is not defined by their house. Peter Pettigrew who is a coward for leaving Voldemort but has the courage to bring him back to life. Courage and Bravery are typical Gryffindor qualities but here we see them used in a way that is contrary to everything we have ever seen the Gryffindors to. They are the good guys and here is Pettigrew being the BAD GUY. The qualities no longer define the person but ENHANCE WHO THEY ARE.
    Just like Cedric who is loyal, humble and unafraid of toil. We see him and he isn’t a “duffer” as described by Hagrid. He is loyal to Harry, and helps him. Humble, he does not let the fame of being one of the champions get to his head. Nor does he pride himself in being the HOGWARTS favorite. We see he is unafraid of toil because he is in a competition where people are known for being seriously injured. These qualities enhance Cedric rather than define him. When we see Cedric on the surface you wouldn’t know these things about him but as Harry, and us in turn the readers get to know him we see who he truly is a hufflepuff till the end.
    ON THE SUBJECT OF LUNA: She is defintely a Ravenclaw through and through. But if you look deep down you see that she personifies these more than they define her. When I first met quirky Luna, I questioned her placement into Ravenclaw but I was looking at her and the Ravenclaw traits on the surface not deep down. We know that Luna is quirky which we learn that many Ravenclaws are, that she has highly unusual academic interest (Nargles anyone?) she is creative and she clearly witty, clever and creative. A true Ravenclaw. But she is these things and they bring out the better side in her, rather than Ravenclaw overpowering her.
    So even though we are seeing these characters through “Harry tinted glasses” we can still see these people in their true light, we just have to look a little harder into the text and remember that the one quality that defines a house, is not the one quality that defines all members of that house. These qualities which define the houses round out the characters and make them so much more alive and real, and not stereotypical at all.

  • ArchdukeSeverus

    Personally I believe that in the Harry Potter books we aren’t getting a clear of the houses other than Gryffindor as a whole. It is possible that we don’t get to see the full scope of Gryffindor either. What we see in the book is basically (to quote John Granger) the viewpoint of a house elf with a camera over harry’s shoulder (We also get a few of Harry’s thoughts). This perspective is very limited so we only get to experience characters who are directly involved with Harry, so for this reason it could be possible that even in Gryffindor house there is a lot more variation than the personalities of the characters experienced.
    This limited perspective clouding the information about the other houses is most certainly the case. For example in Slytherin we only really experience the Slytherins that goad Harry. I’m sure there are plenty of other students that are Slytherins that get on with there life not being rude to Harry and other students they may have reason to dislike. I may go further to say that the Slytherins we get to know best (with an obvious exception of Slughorn) are all death eaters or their children.
    In the case of Luna she is a very extreme example of the Ravenclaw houses quirky genius side and certainly doesn’t represent the whole Ravenclaw population. The other Ravenclaws we meet seem to be intelligent yet mainstream popular people, certainly in the case of Cho and Roger Davies and maybe even Padma Patil.
    What we see of the Ravenclaw house students in the story is certainly not enough to be able to determine the average characteristics of the house and this is also true from Hufflepuff and Slytherin as well.

  • I Snitched the Snatch… Wait,

    I think that Jo tries to put Gryffindor in the best possible light, as it is Harry’s house. She got sorted into Hufflepuff on Pottermore so I think that must be why she has a soft spot for the Puff’s. It says that Hufflepuff was the second house to stand by Harry, next to Gryffindor, because of course, Gryffindor needs to be first, even if it’s for chess-playing. I think what Jo leans towards is that Ravenclaws are unique, more than clever. We have Terry Boot of course, and Penelope Clearwater who both go out with Gryffindors, is this a thing? Luna and Cho are different in their own way, all Ravenclaws have different qualities, so in actual fact, no Ravenclaw is the same.
    Talking about Slytherins however, Horace Slughorn has the qualities of a Slytherin but isn’t bad, he stays with Harry and is on the good side, he didn’t want to join Voldemort. I think this is the only example of a good Slytherin that Jo shows us. Although I know plenty of nice Slytherins, I don’t think it will ever change its status as the Evil House.

    • Um, yeah. The Ravenclaw/Gryffindor thing, is totally a thing. There are a million fanfics. (Though probably there is a fanfic for every single pairing possible.)

  • Jane

    I think that because the book was written in Harry’s POV, albeit in third person, the series is biased towards what Harry sees, and that is through what people tell him and how people act around him. Since the first magical person Harry meets is Hagrid, who straight-away tells Harry that Slytherins are no-good, and later on with the Weasley’s saying the same thing, it causes Harry to become predisposed to not like Slytherins, therefore causing the series to show a negative view on Slytherins. the negative feedback that he gets from Slytherins like Malfoy only encourage Harry’s dislike towards them. And for the other two houses, Harry doesn’t have as close as an association, so i guess all he has to go on house quality-wise is stuff that the Sorting hat has said in it’s songs throughout the years.

    And with the topic of Luna and whether she is a synecdoche for Ravenclaw, i think that she only represents a portion of the whole; each house is not singularly defined as one characteristic, but a mix. So Ravenclaws can be the stereotypical people who study and learn for the sake of learning or have that unique view on the world like Luna or a mix of the two. With no other major Ravenclaw characters other than Cho (and she is only really seen as a love interest to Harry- that’s just my opinion), there are not really any other people that we can relate Luna to and see whether she is the exception or the rule.

    • Claire Marie

      I think the strongest Ravenclaw defining moment we see that isn’t part of what Harry thinks is later in this book when Hermione gives all the members of the DA their gold coins. She explains that there is a Protean Charm on the coins and Terry Boot comments on how advanced the magic is. He then asks her, “Why aren’t you in Ravenclaw? With brains like yours?”

  • thegiantsquid

    I believe that the ideal Ravenclaw House is accepting of differently-minded people, and certainly a Prefect would want to perpetuate that idea (speaking about the letter from Robert Hillard). However, I think it’s important to remember that these are children we’re talking about. Even if your House is supposed to be for oddballs, the oddest ball of them all is still an outsider for being too extreme. Children like to find someone to pick on, something to point out, and a reason to laugh behind their hands. Luna may unapologetically have a more eccentric form of intelligence than her Housemates, so they, being children, will make fun of her because she doesn’t fit their norm. Reminiscent of Neville, anyone?

    I would hesitate to define any one character as the ultimate representation of any one House, simply because I think everyone is multi-faceted and boxing them up can be very limiting. Luna does, however, give a dose of variety into the Ravenclaw representation, and certainly embodies a spirit of wit and even logic. She does seem to value learning, though we can’t be sure how much textbook knowledge that is because we never go to class with her. But she is always reading the Quibbler, and she has a curiosity about unusual things.

  • I Snitched the Snatch… Wait,

    In Philosophers/Sorcerers Stone, Harry doesn’t know whether he has been told how evil they are but that the Slytherins looked like an unpleasant bunch. Harry was basically guided through Hogwarts by other people’s opinions, that Gryffindor is the best, Slytherin is evil and the rest, who cares about the rest, nobody he’s met have told him anything about them… the first major other character is probably Cho and the Hufflepuff, probably Cedric or maybe Justin Finch-Fletchley as he’s petrified by the basilisk.

  • Claire Marie

    I would say that Jo doesn’t give a well rounded view of each house, but I think the reason behind that is because Harry can only be in one house. Obviously Harry’s thoughts and feelings are going to be partial to Gryffindor over any other house. I also think that we do get one example of a “good” Slytherin in Regulus Black. We see how he cares for a creature of lesser standing, and turns away from his prejudice against others to do the right thing. He also gave the ultimate sacrifice in the attempt to bring down Voldemort. As to Ravenclaw, when I think of their house I think of the academics. However, I have made the mistake before to associate brilliance with sound logic and I think this is the reason we know so much about Luna. She is entirely illogical at times, but is still very accomplished at magic. As a math teacher, I see this a lot. I will have students that are very smart, but their strengths are more towards English and the arts rather than math and science. As a result, those students tend to make less calculated decisions and do not always factor logic into their methods. However, these students are no less smart than those who lean towards math and science – they just have different strengths. So I do think Luna embodies the qualities of her house, but not perhaps in all of the stereotypical ways – especially those stereotypes that we would get from Harry.

  • CentaurSeeker121

    I think I have to agree with thegiantsquid on this one. I feel like trying to put each character into a box like that could be limiting because I feel like each character has more than one layer to them which I do feel makes it kind of hard to say that they are indeed the ultimate representation of their house while some others are not. Professor Quirrell might have been a brilliant academic and Professor Lockhart might have brilliant in his own right but they both turned out to be bad guys, along with Pettigrew of course. Whereas Snape and Regulus Black were from Slytherin and they both turned out to be good in the end.

  • Mama_Slytherin

    I feel the house issue is the one spot where Rowling “dumbed down” the series, and it irks me. Okay, maybe it irks me more than some people since I am a Slytherin and I feel they got a very one-sided story in the books. I understand that since the main characters are in Gryfinndor that is the house we will see the most broad view of, but even then it is not what it could have been. We see that not everyone has to be super talented and brave (Neville), or exceptionally nice and moral (James), but those examples still come around to the core Gryfinndor values in the end.

    As for the Luna portion of the question I will restate what I put in the forums about her:

    Let me say, I love Luna. I really do. She reminds me of myself in some
    ways – not so much the excess of whimsy but more that she knows herself
    and does not let anyone sway that. I was a “weird” and “artsy” and
    “geeky” kid in school (and still am) and I never let anyone try to
    change that or got too worried about others not liking me. So I love
    that part of her.

    But you brought up some points about the
    description of Ravenclaw on Pottermore and the idea that the Ravenclaws
    we see in the books are not like Luna. Granted, we see few of them but
    all the same none of them stick out like Luna. Personally I feel that
    the little blurb on Pottermore was written with Luna in mind
    specifically – I find it way to pointed to her personality to think
    otherwise. No where in the book canon do we see evidence of this whimsy
    aspect of Ravenclaw other than in the person of Luna. We hear about “wit
    beyond measure” and a love of learning, but that is it. I kinda felt
    like that Pottermore blurb was an attempt to more firmly place Luna in
    her house when in all honesty she doesn’t seem to fit anywhere but with

    • Luna LoveDuck

      High five, you made some great points about Luna!

  • Luna LoveDuck

    One of the things that most intrigues me about Luna is that she’s such an oddball, while no-one else in Ravenclaw seems to be. Luna is a great example of the fact that unique, smart, or gifted people often have a difficult time fitting in. In that respect, I think she perfectly embodies what I was expecting the Ravenclaw students to be like. When Ravenclaw was first introduced to us in the books, I got excited, anticipating that those students could be a way to introduce a bunch of brilliant, eccentric loners. I thought that Ravenclaw would be a fun safe haven for nerds! So I was surprised when Luna was ostracized, and when she was the only person of her kind that we got to meet. I suspect that behind the closed doors of the Ravenclaw common room, the other students might actually be a bit more strange than they like to let on. They just have a hard time accepting Luna because she just has the guts to be authentic no matter who she’s around!

  • Mike Rohrssen

    I think when Jo originally started the series she wanted to make it as easy as possible for younger readers to identify which house was which, The Sorting Hat basically gives a one or two word phrase that can describe each house very easily (Gryffindor – brave, Slytherin – cunning, Ravenclaw – brainy, Hufflepuff – loyal) And since Jo knew we’d be spending most of our time in the Gryffindor house she never felt the need to expound upon the other houses and the individual nature of their members. Honestly, the only reason I think Luna is a member of Ravenclaw is because she would naturally have to be from a different house or else we would have seen her before, and you can’t have her be from Slytherin obviously, and Hufflepuffs probably still hold some resentment towards Harry based on the actions of books 2 and 4.

    All that being said however, I’ve always wanted Jo to write a short kids book called “Larry, The Nicest Slytherin” as just a random kid from a year below Harry who is experiencing all of the events of the books but never really harboring any ill will towards Gryffindors

  • Hermione Evens

    I think Mrs. Rowlings description of the houses through the charactors or all pretty stereotypical. But, I have a different point to bring up concerning the houses. To get a good look at each of what each of the houses represent, you need only look at the main four gryffindors. Neville represents hufflepuff. He is extremely patient, hardworking, and is a great friend when he’s needed. But he’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. Ron represents the good hearted slytherin. We see in the books that, in the shadow of his brothers, has a thirste to prove himself. But he is not the stereotypical slytherin because he’s not a bully. Hermione is raven law for obvious reasons, but she relizises that there are more important things. And harry shows the qualities of a chivalrous honorable gryffindor. Throughout the series, though, they a became the gryffindors we knew they could be!