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The Ravenclaw House's motto is:

"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasue." (Rowena Ravenclaw)

And from their welcome letter, it seems Ravenclaws associate eccentric behaviour with creativity and intellectual giftedness:

"...Another cool thing about Ravenclaw is that our people are the most individual – some might even call them eccentrics. But geniuses are often out of step with ordinary folk, and unlike some other houses we could mention, we think you’ve got the right to wear what you like, believe what you want, and say what you feel. We aren’t put off by people who march to a different tune; on the contrary, we value them!"

But it seems that Luna Lovegood, who is definitely an original, and her behaviour is often described as highly eccentric, gained the nickname "Loony" and felt out of place in her house, even saying to Harry she really loved the DA meetings:

"I enjoyed the meetings, too. It was like having friends." (HBP)

Indicating she felt pretty isolated in Hogwarts. And it seems she wasn't just friendless, but was also pranked, as in fellow students hiding her stuff, including her shoes. (I am assuming those were Ravenclaws, as who else had access to the Ravenclaw dorms where her belongings were?) It's not a very nice joke in Scotland where the mildest winter in the 1990s had an 5.15 °C (41.27 °F) average temperature.

Myrtle, a muggleborn Ravenclaw student was also treated badly and felt out of place in Hogwarts.

And the Slytherin acceptance letter states:

"...we Slytherins look after our own – which is more than you can say for Ravenclaw. Apart from being the biggest bunch of swots you ever met, Ravenclaws are famous for clambering over each other to get good marks, whereas we Slytherins are brothers."

Even though the welcome letters are far from being objective, they do give insight how the students preceive the Houses.

So all this got me thinking how accommodating Ravenclaw house is towards quirky people? Maybe instead being the best, it's the worst place they can be?

  • 3
    I think Loony Lovegood was especially eccentric, even by Ravenclaw standards – Valorum Aug 28 '16 at 12:05
  • @valorum pinterest.com/pin/146437425359811112 – user68762 Aug 28 '16 at 12:22
  • Generally speaking, you think of words like 'genius' (the most intelligent) and you think of eccentric characters. From Einstein to Doc Brown! I suppose they may well be the least harmonious house, but partly because of lots of clever eccentrics together! Plus, you've got to make space for some Slytherin slander! – ThruGog Aug 28 '16 at 14:04
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    @ThruGog The thing with Slytherins like DMalfoy is that they know exactly where the weak point of the opponent is. That's why they're sooo good at pissing off ppl – user68762 Aug 28 '16 at 14:18
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    In my real-life experience, putting a bunch of eccentrics in one place usually ends up with at least some problems, exactly because eccentrics' extreme behavior can make them hard to deal with. As a house, Ravenclaw might value unique personalities, but I imagine that individual students will get annoyed with each others' strange behavior and annoying habits like anyone would. – Torisuda Aug 28 '16 at 16:53
5

I think you may be slightly mis-reading the welcome letter (never mind buying into pro-Ravenclaw propaganda :)

The letter doesn't quite say Ravenclaw is absolutely "accommodating towards ALL quirky people".

It merely assets that (1) "some ... are eccentrics" and "we think you’ve got the right to wear what you like, believe what you want, and say what you feel" "unlike other houses". This means they are

  1. ... better at it than lockstep jocks at Gryffindor... but it does not necessarily mean they are all THAT perfect in absolute.

  2. ... that there are more people there that are accommodating.

    But every house has its share of jerks - do you seriously think Quirrell was Mr Nice? Or Mr. Creepy Ollivander? Or "you are irrelevant because you have No Inner Eye" Trelawney?

  3. ...That they may not accept absolutely everyone. But Luna was really really really weird even for an eccentric wunderkid - if you recall, even friendly, accepting Hermione was put off by her.

    For that matter, most of them probably thought she wasn't all that smart because of her belief in weird stuff. She didn't go out of her way to advertize her Ravenclaw-ness.

  4. As one of the commenters pointed out, in reality, having a bunch of uber-geeks together is hardly a likely ground for peace and universal harmony.

    Ravenclaw type people can frequently run from merely "not suffering fools gladly" abrupt personality, all the way to socially malajusted geniuses on Aspergers/Autism spectrum. Friendly Hufflepuffs they are NOT.

  • 1
    Just to be clear - it's an amazing and good question, and i hope this answer didn't come off as denigrading it, despite disagreeing with your conclusion. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 28 '16 at 22:33
  • Great answer. Just 2b clear, i'm not asking why the claws aren't more like nice puffs, excelling at teamwork. Claws are supposed to be competitive, antisocial (one scool for the gifted i know called by some 'a bunch of little sociopaths' :-) but the students (especially in a'gifted' class within a regular school) are more likely to look down on the 'regular' students than their 'own'. They won't mock even their most illustrious members, because they are 1.themselves feel diff from the avg 2. too immersed/busy with special programs/uni/hobbies to pay attention to others 3. were bullied/isolated – user68762 Aug 29 '16 at 0:39
  • ... in the past for being nerds 4. consider themselves above mundane stuff like bullying and name calling. But you might be right about the Hermione vs. Luna conflict that is scientific method vs superstition and conspiracy theories. On the other hand, one might argue that Hermione has an almost comic belief in the written word and is too afraid to divert from it and experiment, while Luna's mind is more flexible. – user68762 Aug 29 '16 at 0:40
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    @Neeshka - having been around "gifted" people, I can tell you they can be just as catty and a*(&*&(sh as anyone else. Hell, some are over totally ridiculous reasons. Try to ever venture into the middle of such meaningful wrathful debates as emacs vs. vi or god forbid Star Wars vs. Star Trek (or original Star Trek vs. reboots). – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 29 '16 at 0:44
  • Sure :) Having crazy debates is fine and we're all used to it. But if Cho and Marietta (and the ones who pranked Luna) are the typical claws, then they are nothing like the annoying, supercilious but brilliant 'gifted' students i know. their behaviour is completely different. They are more like boring 'normal' students. – user68762 Aug 29 '16 at 0:52
10

Ravenclaw House might not necessarily be the most kindly, nurturing place for the eccentric based on the points you made, but there is evidence in the books of them being on good terms with the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, and they certainly do produce a lot of eccentric individuals.

Let's look at some of them.

Luna and Xenophilius Lovegood - enough said!

Professor Flitwick - very unusually among characters we see, he is part goblin. He is particularly kind and nurturing to his students and entertains them with things like dancing cupcakes. He's also rumoured, despite his size, to be a duelling champion. His drink of choice is cherry syrup and soda with an umbrella!

Professor Trelawney - erm... enough said!

Mr Ollivander - described multiple times by Harry as if he is strange, pale and perhaps a little creepy. Certainly a genius, but quite peculiar.

Gilderoy Lockhart - perhaps not the strangest character, but he's certainly odd and full of individuality.

I take your point that maybe it isn't quite as nurturing as it could be, but I think it certainly must accommodate them effectively. Also, Hogwarts is a school filled with quite well-rounded characters. As a result, I'm afraid things like bullying and personal cruelty is bound to happen among its students.

Finally, as you said, on this subject from the Ravenclaw welcome message:

"But geniuses are often out of step with ordinary folk, and unlike some other houses we could mention, we think you’ve got the right to wear what you like, believe what you want, and say what you feel. We aren’t put off by people who march to a different tune; on the contrary, we value them!"

  • 2
    Whether Flitwick is part goblin depends on which canon doesn't it? I'd be interested to know if I'm wrong, but the way I remember it is in the films they chose to heavily hint at that, but Rowling just saw him as a (admittedly extremely short) small, withered old man. – Au101 Aug 29 '16 at 3:33
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    @Au101 - JK Rowling has said that Flitwick has "a dash" of goblin blood. – ThruGog Aug 29 '16 at 7:22
7

I think you may need to distinguish between Ravenclaw (the house) and Ravenclaws (members of the house).

That is to say that Ravenclaw house will let you be what you wanna be. Whatever you wear, whatever you believe, whatever you say, you're still a Ravenclaw and nobody with authority in the house will tell you that you can't do these things.

But that doesn't mean that anybody else has to like it. You've got the right to wear what you like, believe what you want, and say what you feel. And everybody else has the right to think you're a ...

So in other words, Ravenclaw A is at perfect liberty to be whoever Ravenclaw A wants to be. They don't have to be chivalrous, they don't have to be brave, they don't have to be loyal, they don't have to be hard-working, they don't have to be cunning, they don't have to be daring.

But that's no guarantee that Ravenclaws B, C, D, E, F and G will like it. They are at perfect liberty to think whatever they like about Ravenclaw A.

And, indeed, if you're gonna take a very hands-off attitude to personal development and let people go whichever way they choose, and if you have no common value system that you hold people to, it's very difficult for you to construct and enforce a mechanism to make people get along and, indeed, to make people feel loyal and connected to their peers, and to make the outliers feel accepted and part of a community.

Whether that's a good place for eccentric people to be is a matter of opinion. I think most outliers are quite content to be allowed to get on with it and may not appreciate being made to fit in. They can certainly develop their eccentricity in Ravenclaw, and it seems unlikely they could develop it as well anywhere else. Whether they would do better in a more supportive, cohesive community I can't say, but it strikes me that if they needed and valued that, they wouldn't be outliers and they wouldn't be in Ravenclaw.

Some people value autonomy. Some people like to go against the grain. And some people need to belong, more than they need to be themselves.

  • Great answer! I think the answer to "whether it's a good place", may simply be "they beling in Ravenclaw not because of eccentricity but because of brilliance"? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 29 '16 at 5:34
  • but the Ravenclaws are the Ravenclaw house. Or rather it is a shared myth, intersubjective reality that exists as long as ppl believe in it and identify as claws. (even those already graduated) I agree every group has a set of common values, otherwise it would cease to function, and sure maintaining a collective identity can be challenging in R what individualism probably bordering on egotism and whatnot. That's why the welcome letter stresses the importance of individuality, self-expression and tolerance while also emphasising common identity. It tries to create an environment in which the – user68762 Aug 29 '16 at 8:46
  • ...behavioural patterns and rules are flexible, and one can walk around with a jellyfish in his head without being subject to ridicule, called weird or loony but still being part of the group. Not suggesting members of the house 'should made to fit in' but they do should feel at home in R. thats the whole point, at least left alone to express themselves and not be bullied... uhh, sorry for the rant. Once i start writing it's hard to stop .. :P – user68762 Aug 29 '16 at 8:48

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