The basic structure of the sortinghatchats system is that you aren’t just sorted into one House, but into two tiers of Houses: Primary and Secondary. Your Primary House defines WHY you do things. Your Secondary defines HOW. To build this system, we’ve drawn on the Sorting Hat’s songs, general HP canon, extracanonical data (ex. interviews with JKR)… and then extrapolated.
People are complex– for joy or for utility, due to social pressure or careless recreation, people often use the reasoning or methods of Houses that aren’t their Primary or Secondary. We call this “modelling” or “performing” a house and we will explain it in greater detail later. These additional layers help us capture some complexities in characters that we couldn’t get using Primary and Secondary alone. People can vary hugely in how they embody their Houses; in this system, Aang, the heroic pacifist protagonist from Avatar the Last Airbender, shares most of his Houses with HP’s Lord Voldemort.
The way you decide which Houses are yours is not necessarily by looking at what you do, but at what would make you proudest and most content if you were strong enough to do it. Your sorting is what you want to be and what you believe you should do, whether or not you actually live up to it. That’s how people like Peter Pettigrew can end up in Gryffindor.
Your Primary is your why. It’s your motivations, your values, and the way you frame the world around you. It’s how and what you prioritize, and what you weigh most heavily when making your decisions. People often also assume that others share those priorities. A common response to our system is “but you must oversort into Gryffindor/Slytherin/Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff–everyone has that type of morality, deep down!”
Gryffindor Primaries trust their moral intuitions and have a need and a drive to live by them. They feel what’s right in their gut, and that matters and guides them. If they don’t listen to and act on that, it feels immoral.
We call Gryffindor morality “felt” but that doesn’t mean they’re all impetuous, emotional hellions. Gryffindors can still be intelligent, deliberate creatures who weigh their decisions and moralities carefully. Reasoning, intellectualizing and debate can be support for a Gryffindor’s felt morality– but those things can never make a fully satisfying morality in themselves. Some things are just wrong, no matter what pretty words you use to explain them.
Ravenclaw Primaries have a constructed system that they test their decisions against before they feel comfortable calling something right. This system might be constructed by them, or it might have been taught to them as children, or it might have been discovered by them some point later in life. But it gives them a way to frame the world and a confidence in their ability to interact with it morally.
Ravenclaws do not lack an intuitive sense of morality or gut feeling about things, but they distrust those instincts and have a need to ignore or to dig down deep and dissect those internal moral impulses. Living within their built moral system is as important to a Ravenclaw as to a Gryffindor; it’s the source of the morality that differs between them–what they trust.
Hufflepuff Primaries value people–all people. They value community, they bond to groups (rather than solely individuals), and they make their decisions off of who is in the most need and who is the most vulnerable and who they can help. They value fairness because every person is a person and feel best when they give everyone that fair chance. Even directly wronged, a Hufflepuff will often give someone a second (or fifth) chance.
This doesn’t mean all Hufflepuffs are inherently tolerant human beings, any more than all Gryffindors are inherently good, moral creatures. Hufflepuffs tend to believe that all people deserve some type of kindness, decency, or consideration from them–but they can define “person” however they want, excluding individuals or even whole groups.
Slytherin Primaries are fiercely loyal to the people they care for most. Slytherin is the place where “you’ll make your real friends”– they prioritize individual loyalties and find their moral core in protecting and caring for the people they are closest to.
Slytherin’s reputation for ambition comes from the visibility of this promotion of the self and their important people– ambition is something you can find in all four Houses; Slytherin’s is just the one that looks most obviously selfish.
Because their morality system of “me and mine first” is fairly narrow in scope, Slytherins often construct a secondary morality system to deal with situations that are not addressed by their loyalty system.
Your Secondary is your how. It’s how you approach the world as a person interacting with it, and how you make your way. It’s how you problem-solve. It’s not necessarily what you’re best at, or even what’s the most useful to you, but about what skills and methods you value as being intrinsic to you. Do you improvise, do you plan? Do you work on something a little bit every day? Do you charge into the fray and tell people exactly what’s on your mind? What do you do? How would you describe the way you meet the world?
Note: the term “Secondary” is not meant to imply that how you do things is any less important than why (the Primary House). It’s simply the way our terminology fell out and we’re too lazy to change it. The importance of motivations v. methods is a personal sliding scale– it’s perfectly valid for a person to identify with their Secondary House over their Primary. (When drawing from canonical sources, we assumed each character likely was in a House that matched to either their Primary or their Secondary. For instance, Harry is in Gryffindor for his heroic Gryffindor Primary, but Ginny Weasley is there for her brash and bold Gryffindor Secondary.)
Gryffindor Secondaries charge. They meet the world head-on and challenge it to do its worst. Gryffindor Secondaries are honest, brash, and bold in pursuit of things they care about. Known for their bravery, it is almost a moral matter to stay true to themselves in any situation that they’re in.
Ravenclaw Secondaries plan. They collect information, they strategize. They have tools. They run hypotheticals and try to plan ahead for things that might come up. They build things (of varying degrees of practicality and actual usefulness) that they can use later– whether that’s an emergency supply pack, a vast knowledge of Renaissance artistic techniques and supplies, or a series of lists and contingency plans. They feel less at home in improvisation and more comfortable planning ahead and taking the time to be prepared.
Hufflepuff Secondaries toil. Their strength comes from their consistency and the integrity of their method. They’re our hard workers. They build habits and systems for themselves and accomplish things by keeping at them. They have a steadiness that can make them the lynchpin (though not usually the leader) of a community. While stereotyped as liking people and being kind (and this version is perhaps a common reality), a Hufflepuff secondary can also easily be a caustic, introverted misanthrope who runs on hard work alone.
Slytherin Secondaries improvise. They are the most adaptive secondary, finding their strength in responding quickly to whatever a situation throws at them. They improvise differently than the Gryffindor Secondary, far more likely to try coming at situations from different angles than to try strong-arming them. They might describe themselves as having different “faces” for different people and different situations, dropping them and being just themselves only when they’re relaxing or feel safe.
But the Journey Continues…
These four basic Primary and Secondary houses are summarized starting places that we use as a basis for further discussion. What are some ways this gets complicated?
i love how much jim respects women and deconstructs gender stereotypes and the hyper-masculine hero trope in general
he loves cooking and cleaning and taking care of his household, a typically feminine role, not because his mom made him do it–she in fact sucks at cooking and rarely has time to clean–but because Jim just genuinely enjoys doing it.
he’s nurturing and compassionate. he enjoys taking care of his mom and best friend. he enjoys getting up early to pack his mom and best friend lunches. jim is shamelessly the Mom FriendTM.
his hardworking, single mother is literally his hero and he would do anything for her
“i am james lake, son of barbara”
the only time he’s ever willingly gotten into a fight with the school bully was when said bully insulted his mom. jim literally knocked him out and delivered the most iconic line: “she’s a doctor actually.”
he calls his best friend, toby, out when he mistakenly thinks toby’s insulting another woman, “okay so she’s not your type, you don’t have to be rude about it”
also gets fed up with toby when toby tries using ‘winning older girls’ as a reason jim should run for spring fling king
the gender roles are reversed between him and his crush, claire
she’s bold and confident. she takes the initiative, she asks him out, and its not until he’s sure she’s comfortable that he makes any real advances toward her.
claire’s also “the popular girl” but jim doesn’t care about her status. he doesn’t care about popularity. she’s not a prize to be won. he admires her as a person, and an equal.
claire’s also sorta “the smart girl” but she’s never just “the info dump” and jim doesn’t view her as such either. he doesn’t depend on her to tell him whats going on, like a lot of other male heroes i can think of.
between the two of them claire is more likely to be charging headfirst into the fray while jim is losing hair watching her. claire and toby both probably give jim gray hair by the time he’s 20.
jim is not brash and bold. he values safety. he’s constantly thinking about the danger around him. he’s patient. he works hard in training to be prepared for fights ahead of time. he takes his job seriously.
he actually reads the book. a lot of male heroes dismiss what the book has to offer, preferring to rely solely on their brawn (or, again, a “smart girl” to tell him what’s up), but jim doesn’t. he actually uses the book along with his combat training.
jim’s sensitive too. he literally cries.
he’s just really well-balanced?? he doesn’t lean extremely traditionally masculine or traditionally feminine. he likes cooking and taking care of his home, but he’s also into bikes and scooters and baseball. he’s an actual, well rounded person.
i can’t think of any one label you could pin him under except maybe “stressed”
The trail-blazer. The pioneer. Me, myself, and I. Fire. Civilization. Self-growth. Self-improvement. Taking the next step. Entitlement. Moving forwards. Hating boredom. Needing excitement and goals in your life. The first sign of the zodiac. The infant. Eternally young. Egotistical. Experimental. Creative. Competitive. A little reckless, but brave, brash, and bold. Hiding your sensitivity. Hiding your feelings with aggression. Self-assertive. Self-directed. Action-oriented. Force of vitality, force of nature.
Silk sheets, good food, long walks in nature, gardens in full bloom. Sensuality, stability, sturdiness. Wanting the good things in life. Wanting to take it easy. Wanting comfort in life. Earthy, laid-back, relaxed. Blue skies and light breeze. Level-headed. Reliable. Dependable. Averse to change. Averse to stress. Stubborn. Clinging to the past. Not willing to see other points of view. Need to decompress. Naturally attuned to music. Attuned to nature. Loving, caring, sweet.
Duality. Having several personalities. Intellectualizing your emotions. Clever. Witty. Improvisation. Natural comedians, tricksters, storytellers. Going with the flow. Preferring to take life as it is. Sly eyes and smiles. Curious. Quick-witted. Sharp mind. Hard to keep up with, can blend in anywhere. Endless inner monologue. "I think, therefore I am." Learning how to speak up. Learning how to articulate. Learning how to learn. Astute, adaptable, flexible. Learning how to speak up.
Empathy. The nurturer. Intuition. Just “knowing” things. Flash insights. Having hunches. Kindness. Showing your vulnerable side. Guarded, careful, shrewd. The rise and fall of the tides. Getting wrapped up in your feelings, feeling consumed by your emotions. Feeling drained by a lack of emotional support. Nourishing presence. Soulful eyes. Looking like an old soul. Learning how to let go. Learning how to deal with attachment in a healthy way. Your strength comes from your emotions, your sensitivity.
Big ego, big heart too. Glamorous, grandiose, good-hearted, and good intentions. Egotistical. Self-involved. Self-centered. Generous. Kind. Loyal. Looking for the brighter side in life. Focused on self-expression. Focused on expressing your creativity. Shining light. A little flashy. Effortlessly getting attention. Needing attention. Needing praise. Honorable, courageous, high-minded. Inner child. Innocent in a way. Always wanting to see the best in people. Hopeful. Inspiring.
Observer. Focusing on the the details. Wanting to serve. Wanting to be helpful. Naturally intellectual and analytical. Critical, exacting, perfectionist. Down-to-earth. Au-natural. Hidden quirks. Witty, worldly, wise. Suave. The little things make your day. Self-criticism. Criticizing others. Nothing is ever good enough. Wanting to always improve yourself. Checking your work once, twice, three times. Piercing gaze. Delicate look. Hidden sensitivity. Modesty. Pure soul.
Charm. Pleasant appearance, pleasant voice, pleasant personality. Wanting to be well-liked. Wanting to be agreeable. Suppressing your own wishes in order to appease others. People-pleaser. Doormat. Loving beauty. Loving having an easy life. Naturally skilled with dealing with others. Natural eye for beauty. Natural eye for balance. Wanting to keep things on the lighter sides of things. Fashion-icons. Schmoozer. Tactful, diplomatic, likeable.
Hidden things. Secrets. Alluring in a dangerous way. Challenging yourself. Changing yourself. Feeling the fear and doing it anyways. Loved or hated, feared or revered. Lack of self control. Powering through. Leaving your old self behind. Provoking extreme reactions from other people. Being extreme, swinging 180 degrees- being very good or very bad. A mysterious aura. A dark appearance. Hidden strength. Hawk eyes. Jealousy. Possessiveness. Mother tiger. Remembers every slight and every bit of kindness, and will repay it tenfold.
Wanting freedom. Naturally uninhibited. Feeling relaxed, feeling good. Big, cheesy grins. Laughing with your entire body. Seeing the bigger picture. Having a feeling that everything will be alright. Trying to look at the positive side of life. The philosopher, the explorer, the thinker, the optimist, the adventurer, the traveler. Hypocritical. Doing things in excess. Winging everything. Honest. Too blunt. Fantastic sense of humor. Enthusiastic, sincere, positive.
Calm, cool, collected. Composure. Serious faces that light up beautifully when they smile. Cold exterior, hidden empathy. Traditional values. Moral integrity. Principled. Old-fashioned. Timeless. Classy. Facing difficulties in early life. Not feeling comfortable in your own skin. Aging like a fine wine. Getting older suits you. Building something for yourself. Building up a new life for yourself. Starting with nothing and now having something.
Spaceman. Electricity. A lightening bolt. The wilderness, the bizarre, the future. Innovation. Technology. Everything new. Everything bizarre. The rebel without a cause. "Think different." Feeling misunderstood. The outcast. The outsider. Black sheep. Keeping people at a distance. Learning to become an individual. Unique. Creative. Wanting to be authentic. Unable to be conventional, unable to do what's expected. Iconoclast.
Dreaming, surrealism, idealism. Glamour, Golden Age Hollywood. People who are larger than life. Myths, legends, archetypes. Wanting to live up to an image. Delusionment, confusion, disappointment. Imagining how you should live instead of actually living it. Getting lost at sea. A cloudy morning with the horizon shrouded in fog. Spirituality. Connecting with your higher self. Connecting with a higher purpose. Working for a bigger cause. Compassion. Enlightenment. Elusive, dreamy, imaginative.
“William could not figure out what Harold had seen because he was too distraught to say a coherent sentence.”
coherence(n.) the quality of being coherent, clear or logical
complacency (n.) self-satisfied ignorance of danger (or indifference to danger)
“Lucas tried to shock his friends out of their complacency by painting a frightening picture of what might happen to them.”
complacent(adj.) describes a person who is ignorant of danger, one who behaves with indifference
Some words on the list have multiple forms (adjective and noun, etc.) but only one version of each word was included on the original list, so I added some of the other forms. Let me know if anything is confusing!
Mod Jess said in the 1st chronological post in the "Dragon Lady" tag: "I think when it comes to Asian ladies, they immediately fall into the Dragon Lady stereotype whenever they get angry, no matter what kind of angry it is." Been pondering that, b/c everywhere else lists it as a specific set of traits derived from racist pulp fiction portrayals (not just "angry"), but that sounds more like "Asian equivalent of Angry Black Woman". Makes me wonder. What're your current thoughts/feelings on this?
Anger in the Dragon Lady vs. Angry Black Woman Stereotype
It’s tempting to make superficial comparisons like this, because hearing about specific emotions that fall into multiple stereotypes leads you to think that the root of stereotyping is tied to individual emotions and how they present. Stereotypes are, instead, meant to reinforce a behaviour or belief set about an ethnicity, and as a result cannot be compared on traits.
As a result, our thoughts are that you’re drawing a false comparison without understanding the history and beliefs behind the stereotypes.
Asian women are taken as submissive, and Dragon Ladies are understated, cool anger… when Angry Black Woman is the polar opposite of this, as being loud, brash, and bold. Whiteness views them as extremely different people, and uses the tools to reinforce completely different behaviour sets.
While some stereotypes do indeed share root similarities— Magical Negro and Magical Native American both fall under “x ethnicity has special powers inherent to being x ethnicity"— most do not. Making comparisons like this without understanding the behaviours that are being perpetuated leads to only revealing more ignorance, instead of making you sound educated. Stereotypes do not come from “x people express emotions in y way”; stereotypes come from “x people should behave in y way, which influences all emotional expressions allowed and imagined.” Of course stereotypes are going to cover the same emotions, because people only have so many emotions. They just express them in different ways, and different people will have different default sets of behaviour.
What racist stereotypes do is limit the set of default behaviours allowed down to a single note. Angry East Asian women are Dragon Ladies because white people assume all Asian women are submissive and restrained in their behaviour, and that falls in line with the Dragon Lady stereotype— clinically calculated, refined, seductive, and deadly. Angry Black Women are their own stereotype because all Black women are loud and hot-tempered— motivated by exploding at the smallest provocation from a chip on their shoulder.
Most racist stereotypes are reinforcing different sets of behaviour, founded in totally different beliefs from centuries of white people creating certain images for certain ethnicities. Dragon Ladies have their roots in the “dangerous Asian who will seduce then kill you” stereotype, while Angry Black Women come from “slaves complain about everything” stereotype. The two do not mix.
You need to have a much deeper understanding of stereotypes before you go throw around comparisons such as this. It is hurtful to try and flatten individual ethnicities’ experiences with “both of these stereotypes impact the same emotion, therefore you’re similar, right?” It’s the same logic that drives “Japan and China are close enough I can blend the two cultures easily, right?” or “Native Americans are all the same, right?”. Just because we have some tenants of shared oppression and limitations in our expression does not mean our experiences are the same. Individual stereotypes should be taken as individual stereotypes until proven otherwise.