When sorting Draco and Ron It seems the hat didn't waste time to find out their character traits . In Ron's case he even says:

"Another Weasley! I know just what to do with you."

It seems as if the first priority is by family alliances/political fractions and only in cases of the 'neutrals' (Luna, the Patil twins) and newcomers (like the Creevy brothers) is when the hat puts in some effort to try to sort by character traits. But it still seems completely random to me. Hermione is ambitious, cunning and can be ruthless (keeping Rita Skeeter in a bottle for months then blackmailing her, hexing Marietta in fifth year) she is loyal, intelligent and brave. So why Gryffindor? Because she's a muggleborn, would she have a hard time in Slytherin?

So what is the function of the sorting hat and the houses? To keep the wizarding society static? Not put kids in houses their families wont like unless the kid specifically asks?

And why on earth did the hat try to put Harry in Slytherin? Sure, he had a piece of Voldemort in him, but it was dormant. Harry himself barely demonstrated any character traits fit for a Slytherin.

Here is that hat, sitting all year long in the headmaster's office, probably listening to pretty intriquing conversations, then sorting the kids and shaping the wizarding society. Is it supposed to be apolitical? Or is it supposed to obey and be loyal the Headmaster, like the paintings?

How that thing works? ??

  • 1
    This might be a duplicate.
    – Adamant
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 8:34
  • @adamant - oh sorry :( Can you point me to the question where the sorting hats political power and influence on wizarding society discussed? It bugs me, i am really curious.
    – user68762
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 8:40
  • 1
    Sorry, "priorities" is a dupe, indeed. The site already has answers about family influence and such. "and it's influence on the wizarding society" is an interesting question but that discussion is both too broad AND less importantly partially too subjective for the site. Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 10:54
  • 1
    See also scifi.stackexchange.com/q/54865/4918 "Why was Hermione not in Ravenclaw?" and scifi.stackexchange.com/q/81130/4918 "Sorting Harry Into A House". The latter question even mentions that some people are supposedly sorted according to their family.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 11:13
  • 1
    "Choosing to do the right thing" is not a Griffindor attribute, bravery is. It just so happens that a lot of the time (especially in the times the books take place) one requires the other. When Dumbledore is talking about Snape, he is very specifically referring to the fact that Snape is incredibly brave. Anyway, best leave that here, this is in danger of being modded as a conversation.
    – DavidS
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 14:28

2 Answers 2

  1. The Hat is loyal to Hogwarts and to its mission of sorting kids. Not the Headmaster (though presumably, some/most of the time, a Headmaster is a useful proxy).

    This is easiest demonstrated by Harry. The Hat wanted to place him in Slytherin, which 100% certainly went against what Dumbledore wanted.

  2. The hat sorts according to people's future potential first, present characteristics second, and as an emergency override in cases of hatstall, on wearer's requests if they are deeply held. This is covered in the detail elsewhere on the site, so there's no point in copying that info here.

    An important note here is that the hat finds the best outcome (by the criteria above), but not the only outcome.

    Belonging to a specific house is not necessarily a "pick one of the four" discrete set. Many people fit with more than one house - from the obvious hatstalls (Harry, Hermione, etc..) to an obvious fact that people in Gryffindor aren't precluded from being loyal like Hufflepuffs, ambitious like Slytherins (Hermione is certainly ambitious in many ways, so's Ron, definitely Percy or McLaggen), or studious like Ravenclaws (Hermione, McGonagle, Dumbledore, and often-overlooked Gred and Forge). Luna is both loyal and brave. Peneloper Clearwater must have ambition, to be a Prefect/Head girl. Snape is brilliant and studious, so's presumably Slughorn. Flitwick was a dueling master, which certainly requires bravery. And on and on... Short Version: wizards, like all humans, are complex multidimentional beings not easily bucketed by four primary non-exclusive characteristics.

  3. The hat's role/influence on the society is twofold:

    1. First, its role is to improve the society by matching up people's abilities and potential to the best path to realize them.

      This is an incredibly important function, both in fiction (Strugatsky brothers wrote on this extensively), but also IRL.

      As a random in-universe example, imagine where Wizarding society would have been if Neville wasn't placed in Gryffindor where his innate bravery was nurtured and helped realize by his friends?

    2. Second, as a uniter. It wasn't terribly great at that, but if you listen to its songs (especially in later books) that becomes far clearer.

  • The Strugatsky brothers? You mean the edu system in their Noon Universe cycle?
    – user68762
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 11:15
  • @will yes, exactly Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 11:44

I think JK meant we all have traits from different houses. But the most prominent one is called out.

Now Ron was put in Gryffindor because, he had the traits like bravery (he did accompany harry in really dangerous situations, even when he didn't have to) yes he inherited these traits from his parents who were part of the order of Phoenix just like his siblings who were all brave and chivalrous in their own way.(training dragons is no easy task) (yes percy could be in raven claw but just like hermione he had other traits more dominant though it wasn't out till the last books)

now coming to Harry, He was considered for Slytherin because, he had the soul of Voldemort in him. but also, he was cunning enough to evade Voldemort again and again using his wits. it was never said that harry was powerful compared to many powerful ones. he was simply destined to defeat him because it was needed to stop the reign of evil. also Voldy killed his parents. If he wasn't so damn humble, maybe he could get power too as well as greatness, being famous and all.(what Slytherin wouldn't love all his fame and fortune?)but of course he had his bravery and chivalry , kindness towards weaker and he wasn't that ambitious as we can see he doesn't even keep the elder wand with him at the end.

So we had the opportunity to understand why they were in their houses. Similarly, we must accept that the supporting characters were also placed logically and not just because they weren't important enough. Most of the characters proved they were worthy of their houses along the 7 books. Be it heart brain power or bravery.