I had to ask myself; was I, too, a duffer?
Growing up with the Harry Potter novels, I always knew what to think about the Hogwarts house Hufflepuff and – spoiler alert – it wasn’t favourable. Ever since Hagrid informed 11-year-old Harry, and therefore 11-year-old me, that the Hufflepuff house was meant for ‘a lot o’ duffers’, I cast them aside. If Hagrid wasn’t a fan, then neither was I. And who has time to even consider putting on a yellow and black scarf when all the action is happening over with the Gryffindors?
As such, when I eagerly took the Pottermore Sorting Experience a few years ago, fully expecting to pop up as either Gryffindor or Ravenclaw (and frankly, even Slytherin would do), I can even now recall the moment the screen turned that ironically bright and peppy yellow. My housemates, who were watching me be sorted (after one was also placed in Hufflepuff and the other in Ravenclaw) screamed with mirth at what we all considered to be my misfortune. After all, who really wants to be placed in the house whose very founder described its students as ‘the lot’? Who wants to be classed as ‘the lot’ instead of brave or intelligent or resourceful?
Staring at the screen, I thought there must have been some mistake. Maybe I really would have preferred to walk through a leafy forest at night rather than by a babbling brook? Maybe my worst fear wasn’t really a locked room with an eye watching me from the keyhole? Maybe I should try the Experience again? Of course, I wasn’t the only one to have an adverse reaction to being placed in Hufflepuff. Sophie, 23, who was placed in Hufflepuff despite her determination to be a Gryffindor, said: “My first though was, ‘Oh, why am I not in Gryffindor?’ Gryffindor is the place where you want to be.”
Many of the Hufflepuff characters from the early days of the novels didn’t really help us feel better about our new house either. Justin Finch-Fletchley narrowly survived two snake attacks (thanks to Harry and his friends), pompous Ernie Macmillan cared about school even more than Hermione but with none of her fun-factor, Susan Bones had to be the one to go and splinch herself during Apparition lessons and as for Hannah Abbott, come on. When your claim to fame is being the first person on the register at school, you know you’re really scraping the barrel. Ahem, no offence Hannah.
Of course, Hufflepuffs weren’t all a boring bunch. Things changed by Goblet of Fire, when the man, the legend, the hero Cedric Diggory came into the mix. Smart, brave, not too bad on the eyes, Cedric was perhaps the first to change everything for the good Hufflepuff name. He proved that Hufflepuffs could be intelligent, they could be noble, and that they are indeed “unafraid of toil” as the Sorting Hat once said. You also had to hand it to his fellow Hufflepuffs, plenty of them joined Dumbledore’s Army to fight against Voldemort following his death. Indeed, Emma, 28, was “chuffed” when she was sorted into Hufflepuff. She said: “I think they’re the underdogs and I’ve always felt like that. Also, Cedric Diggory was a real Hogwarts champion.” That being said, I still wasn’t convinced.
Then, J.K. Rowling gave me the very information about the badger clan that I was looking for.
In a Pottermore article entitled, ‘Why you should fall in love with a Hufflepuff’ she said: “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, 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 showoff-y 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 the Hufflepuff house.”
After Jo’s superb explanation of what it really meant to be a Hufflepuff, my perception of the house couldn’t have been more different. I began to feel pride that I might have some traits considered worthy for such a bunch. Yeah, I wouldn’t have stayed at the Battle of Hogwarts to prove myself! Frankly I would have been terrified. I like to think I would have stayed to help out, though.
Then came along Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and ding ding ding, I was sold. Our second wizarding world hero, Newt Scamander, repped the badgers while saving magical creature lives and pinning down Grindelwald during his NYC adventure, and the world suddenly realised that Hufflepuffs weren’t all that bad. Even Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson shouted out his allegiance to Hufflepuff, tweeting: “Huffpuffs in the house!” Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series, also went through a journey of acceptance, and tweeted: “I take back everything I ever said about being a Hufflepuff. I was obviously born to be in that house.”