Lockhart is a bumbling idiot - except when it comes to memory charms, and he was so driven to be a famed writer that he used inscrupulous means to obtain his status as star autobiographical wizard and hero. So, how on earth does one explain his being sorted into Ravenclaw? Doesn't his level of ambition and the use of tricks in getting there seem more fitting for Slytherin?

One might argue he is intelligent in his ability to pull of his ruse for so long, but Ravenclaw qualities that are valued are intelligence and wit. These forms of "cleverness" (another value) are usually associated with a high degree of knowledge, the ability to problem solve and bandy about with riddles and turns of phrase. One part of wisdom or intelligence though, can also include an understanding of your limits and knowing when others are better suited to something - something Lockhart can't let happen. His ambition drives him to try to "fix" things best left to others (such as Harry's broken arm).

I'll admit Lockhart must have been fairly good with words (wit) to have written and published so many books so the wit part might fit, but I just don't see any other way that he fits with the Ravenclaw quality list.

Apparently Slytherin values ambition and cunning (which is a type of cleverness associated more with the fox - a kind of "tricky intelligence.) While cunning is also a form of intelligence, it seems more fitting to the type of intelligence Lockhart did exhibit. Between this fact and the fact that he left other witches and wizards without their memories (and who knows in which state of mental deficiency based on what his memory charm did to him when it backfired) for his own gain, I'm really at a loss as to explaining how he could wind up in any house other than Slytherin.


You are actually correct! 100% on the nose guess.

In Jan 2014, JKR revealed audio clips on Pottermore which stated that Lockhart very narrowly escaped being sorted into Slytherin:

"He was Sorted into Ravenclaw House... though I suspect, I think that people would be unsurprised to hear, that I think he narrowly escaped Slytherin... that he scraped into Ravenclaw." (src)

Now, as to why he was sorted in Ravenclaw, Pottermore covers that explaining that he was, indeed, very smart, just lazy:

This is not to say that Lockhart had no talent. Indeed, his teachers felt that he was of above-average intelligence and ability, and that, with hard work, he might make something of himself, even if he fell short of the ambitions he shared freely with classmates ...

The article shows later that he was basically gifted but lazy and only caring about fame and winning.


People always seem to assume that a person's house has to do with what sort of qualities they possess. This assumption is not true. People are sorted based on what qualities they MOST VALUE. This is why most people exhibit those qualities - you tend to try and fit those things that you value. But not everyone who values bravery is capable of being brave, and not everyone who values intelligence is actually smart.

  • 2
    You are so right to point out this distinction - and one that is so easily forgotten! He most valued intelligence even though he did not use his own intelligence in a more "moral" way and therefore exhibited more of a "cleverness" with it. I've chosen DVK's answer because it has links and research to back it, but feel yours is also very good. If you added a quote (which I know is in there somewhere) to back it up further it would be EXCELLENT and deserving of a bounty. – balanced mama Feb 28 '14 at 5:17

Gilderoy Lockhart had exercised his wit by manipulating all of the witches and wizards he had interviewed to write the books about "his" adventures. He was clever by altering their memories, which is an example of a Ravenclaw quality. Although, he does express more Slytherin qualities; manipulative, clever, etc. The most likely explanation would be that he told the Sorting Hat that he did not want to be in Slytherin, the way Harry did it. Lockhart wasn't particularly brave or loyal, so the only choice the Sorting Hat had had was to put him in Ravenclaw.

  • Given his manipulative prowess, is it possible that he manipulated the sorting hat into putting him in Ravenclaw? – Christi Dec 27 '13 at 11:49
  • That is another possibility. I still stand by my original statement that he simply told the Sorting Hat not to put him in Slytherin, though, simply because we do not exactly know how clever he was when he was in his first year. – Dragona13 Dec 28 '13 at 21:57

He built his entire wizarding career on gathering knowledge. He doesn't even use it for any particular end (except, perhaps, his memory charm) as much as he just shows it off, be it by writing his books or doing overly complicated fancy spells (such as when he fixed Harry's broken arm). That's more Ravenclaw than Slytherin in my eyes.


In the books, I don't believe it specifies. Although, in the movies it shows him as Ravenclaw. The movie could have been completely wrong and Lockhart might have, in fact, been a Slytherin. Lockhart does show the characteristics of a Slytherin and Ravenclaw. Although Peter Pettigrew was sorted into Gryffindor, but he is not described as brave. It is possible that it is because his family was a Ravenclaw family (such as Andromeda Tonks (nee Black) was in Slytherin, but she doesn't show all of the characteristics of a Slyerthin. I highly doubt Sirius would have his favorite cousin be a pure-blood snob). Lockhart is clever enough to worm his way out of certain situations and is, to some degree, bright enough to do do more complex spells (such as memory charms). Lockhart could have been a bright student, but fame got to his head, so he changed. It is also known that students can be mis-sorted (the sorting hat never admits this or changes his decision) with examples of daft Ravenclaws, cowardly Gryffindors, and, traitorous Hufflepuffs. I hope this helps!

  • I don't know, Pettigrew eventually does allow the bravery within to win out - and dies for it. Lockhart never has a redeeming moment that demonstrates the hidden intelligence we don't see otherwise. Plus, the intelligence he does exhibit, the "cleverness" to worm his way out of certain situations, fits more with cunning - a Slytherine thing to me. Interesting to think about him having been more ravenclaw-ish but then letting his abilities go to his head as well as the family aspect to the decision making though. – balanced mama Dec 23 '13 at 3:24
  • Pottermore specifies that Lockhart was in Ravenclaw, although the Hat considered putting him in Slytherin. – E. J. Jun 23 '15 at 0:42

He's smart, just lazy. Also intelligence doesn't always guarantee success.

  • 2
    This answer seems to be unsubstantiated speculation. Canon support would improve it. – Christi Dec 27 '13 at 11:47
  • @Christi - JKR said so :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 4 '14 at 6:18

Other answers have addressed some important reasons why Lockhart became a Ravenclaw, not a Slytherin, but there is one no one else has addressed. You hint at it here:

One part of wisdom or intelligence though, can also include an understanding of your limits and knowing when others are better suited to something - something Lockhart can't let happen. His ambition drives him to try to "fix" things best left to others (such as Harry's broken arm).

Both Slytherin and Ravenclaw are relatively intelligent Houses. (Draco Malfoy alludes to this when he says, before being sorted, that he hopes he'll be in Slytherin, although Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad.) But they have different approaches to intelligence. Ravenclaws like knowledge for its own sake, not for what they can do with it. They don't care if they are studying something irrelevant to any practical purpose. Intelligent Slytherins may enjoy learning, but they want to be able to use what they learn. Ravenclaws are journey people; Slytherins are destination people.

As a result, Ravenclaw tends to produce eccentrics. Slytherin doesn't, partly because Slytherins are generally more self-aware than Ravenclaws. They want to stand out for their achievements, not for their individuality. So, while both Lockhart and Voldemort evidence signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, they exhibit NPD in House-specific ways. Lockhart exhibits it in a rather eccentric way--signing autographs with incredibly flamboyant pens. He is also relatively easygoing, which is typical of Ravenclaws (except when grades are at stake). Voldemort is not easygoing at all, and he doesn't care about signing autographs. They are of no practical value. He is vain, but he knows what his goals are, and he knows his capabilities. If Lockhart knew his capabilities, he would never have come to teach at Hogwarts.

Ambition alone will not put someone in Slytherin, because Dumbledore and Hermione Granger are both quite ambitious and ended up in Gryffindor. Lockhart's lack of self-awareness, eccentricities, and easygoing nature make him a better fit for Ravenclaw than Slytherin.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.