Negotiating with the Sorting Hat

Everyone has a favourite Hogwarts House (don’t deny it, I’ve seen you waving your wand and muttering spells). Everyone secretly hopes the Sorting Hat will choose them for that House when it slips onto their heads and over their eyes. Why? Because they know that is where they will fit in – or where they want to fit in.

What’s in a House?

Generally, members of each house are known for possessing some common characteristics. They are known for being courageous or clever or crafty or kind. And so it is with great trepidation that each first-year stumbles over to the little stool in the Great Hall and settles the Sorting Hat on his or her head on the first night at Hogwarts, hoping that the Hat will place them in their favourite House.

So pretend this hat is black and pointy. Use your imagination.

So pretend this hat is black and pointy. Use your imagination.

As a first-year, you believe that the Sorting Hat is all-powerful and that its word is law. Only later, after discussing it with others, do you realise that most people negotiated their way into whichever House they ended up in. Harry convinced the Sorting Hat he belonged in Gryffindor, not Slytherin; Neville narrowly avoided Hufflepuff; and Hermione almost went to Ravenclaw. That conversation with the Sorting Hat’s little voice in your ear is one of the most personal of your life, as the hat looks into all your potential and you persuade it one way or another.

Other people are hats

Every one of us has some idea of how we want to be thought of and remembered. Throughout our lives we are labelled, tempted and excluded by different groups of people and societies, as we achieve certain goals and make various decisions. Many of those decisions are very, very difficult, but there is usually no right or wrong choice (although it certainly feels that way at the time). The paths you choose, like the House you’re Sorted into, will influence how you are remembered by others, however, so try to imagine where each road will put you in ten or twenty years’ time.

It is very easy to go along with other people’s ideas of who you are and what you should become. Always remember that you have the power to decide your House and whatever it is you want to be known for. You can negotiate with the Sorting Hat.

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