In almost every single instance that I’ve told someone they’re a Hufflepuff, the reaction has been one of great denial and indignance. Most act as if I’ve mortally offended them. This attitude seems to be very prevalent worldwide, as waves of people took to social media when Pottermore was released, lamenting that they were placed in Hufflepuff house. I, as a Ravenclaw with strong Slytherin tendencies, must admit that I did once share this disregard for Hufflepuffs. Like many, I regarded them as a bit of a joke, not to be taken seriously.
As I’ve matured, however, I’ve not only grown to respect Hufflepuff above all other houses, but have also made every effort to be more like them in every aspect of my life.
The first we really hear of Hufflepuff is in PS, during the sorting hat’s song.
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil.
Fair, loyal, honest, and hardworking. All of these attributes are extremely positive. This is exemplified again and again by the admirable Hufflepuff characters in the Harry Potter series: Ernie Macmillan, Nymphadora Tonks, Cedric Diggory, and more. When Harry fell off his broom playing Quidditch against Hufflepuff in POA, Cedric called for a rematch, even though Hufflepuff had won fairly. When the school suspected Harry of being Slytherin’s heir in COS, Ernie was the one to issue a public apology to him at the end. He also openly declared support for Harry when the entire Wizarding World was against him in OOTP. The qualities of Hufflepuff house are reinforced throughout the series, such as in the sorting hat’s song in fourth year:
For Hufflepuff, hard workers were
Most worthy of admission
And also in Dumbledore’s speech following Cedric’s death:
Cedric was a person who exemplified many of the qualities which distinguish Hufflepuff house. He was a good and loyal friend, a hard worker, he valued fair play.
So what is it about Hufflepuff that turns people off? Is it the fact they always came in last in the house cup standings? Last in the Quidditch cup standings? Is that really more important to us than being loyal, honest, and kind?
Unfortunately, I fear that society has indeed programmed us to prioritize different values. People want to be known as intelligent, brave, or strong. They don’t want to be known as kind, and yet, true kindness is the most difficult quality to embrace.
The sorting hat’s song in the OOTP says the following about Hufflepuff house:
Said Hufflepuff, “I’ll teach the lot
And treat them just the same.”
While Slytherin, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw were all selective about their students, Hufflepuff embraced everyone equally. This does not mean, however, that Hufflepuffs are not intelligent, brave, or ambitious. It merely means that they do not feel the need to boast about it. Those are not the traits that define them. They do not act in the hopes of being recognized or praised, but merely because it is the right thing to do. Nowhere more is this exemplified than in the final battle of Hogwarts, when almost all of the eligible Hufflepuffs chose to fight, as J.K. Rowling herself states.
In many, many ways, Hufflepuff is my favourite house. There comes a point in the final book where each house has the choice whether or not to rise to a certain challenge. The Slytherins, for reasons that are understandable, decide they’d rather not play. The Ravenclaws, some decide they will and some decide they won’t. The Hufflepuffs, virtually to a person, stay, as do the Gryffindors. Now the Gryffindors comprise a lot of foolhardy and show-offy people. The Hufflepuffs stayed for a different reason. They weren’t trying to show off. They weren’t being reckless. That’s the essence of Hufflepuff house.
The fact that so many people have said they would rather die than be in Hufflepuff is a very disappointing indicator of the priorities of our world. Even more disturbingly, so many have expressed that they would rather be in Slytherin than in Hufflepuff. Slytherin house is defined by strength, ambition, and cunning, and Slytherins tend to act out of their own self-interest or the interests of loved ones. Although by no means inherently bad either, it is responsible for producing the most dark wizards as a consequence. Hufflepuff has produced the least. Yet, I’ve almost never heard anyone complain about being sorted into Slytherin.
J.K. Rowling once said that everyone should want to be a Hufflepuff. Imagine how much better off we’d be if our world was run by Hufflepuffs — people who made decisions based on kindness, patience, and honesty. Unfortunately, it is usually the Slytherins, Ravenclaws, and Gryffindors who rise to the top, because we often act in our own self-interest, and all possess a great deal of pride and faith in our own abilities. We live in a world that rewards those characteristics. Since grade school, awards are given, not for kindness, but for excellency, all while disregarding that the real traits we should all try to embody cannot be measured.