Today, on the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, it is statistically certain that you did an online quiz to sort you into a Hogwarts house. (Anyone who didn’t can see themselves out quietly).
Most likely, that quiz isn’t the first time you’ve considered where the Sorting Hat would place you. As a child – and again, frequently, as an adult – I have been consumed by contemplation of the four Hogwarts houses: brave Gryffindor, clever Ravenclaw, ambitious (and occasionally evil) Slytherin, and Hufflepuff, which apparently bundles up all the students with no real skills in any useful areas and softens the blow of their rejection from the better houses by telling them they’re really “nice”.
It is, therefore, not surprising that the normal response to being sorted into Hufflepuff appears to range between anguished outrage (“I’m a Gryffindor! I’m so obviously a Gryffindor!”) to devastated acquiescence (“I guess I am a bit useless”).
It’s true that the books do a poor job of fleshing out the nuances of what it means to be in Hufflepuff house.
Those glimpses we do get are often of a house that’s a little down on their luck – they’re a laughing stock at Quidditch, they never win the House Cup, they had a single hero who died in the same book he was introduced in (poor, dear Cedric, may he rest in peace) and even the Sorting Hat doesn’t have anything particularly rousing to say about them – Hufflepuffs are “just and loyal”, “patient”, “true” and “unafraid of toil”.
(So to be clear, Gryffindors get “daring, nerve and chivalry”, and Hufflepuffs get… working hard in the fields? Is there anything less sexy or inspiring than being “unafraid of toil”?)