Hufflepuff: The Nearly-Forgotten House of Hogwarts</i>
In the Harry Potter series, there are four separate houses of Hogwarts: Gryffindor, the house representing courage and justice. Ravenclaw, representing intelligence and wisdom. Slytherin, representing ambition and resourcefulness. Hufflepuff, representing loyalty and tolerance. Each of these houses embody important virtues. So why do many people assume that Hufflepuffs are useless?
I recall the Sorting Hat song which mentions Helga Hufflepuff's statement "I'll take the lot" when the other founders revealed what virtues they would value in their students. I feel that this statement by Hufflepuff has been vastly misinterpreted by many fans of the series. As the importance of blood status has always been a major issue in the Wizarding World, to the point that that Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin (who were great friends before founding Hogwarts) came to resent each other over their opposing feelings about it. So it is my understanding that Helga Hufflepuff meant taking in any student regardless of blood status. Even if "take the lot" did not refer to blood status, think about this: She'll take the lot. That means she'll gladly accept the smart kids, the brave kids, and the ambitious kids. According to Rowling, Helga Hufflepuff was known for her kindness. So even if she didn't care how well her students do in academics, or even if they aren't always brave, or particularly cunning, the point is that they are, above all else, good people.
It's stated frequently throughout the series that Hufflepuffs are hard-working, loyal and honest. So why are they considered the "useless" and the "throw-away" house? Are these qualities in a person that one would simply want to 'throw away'? Is a person who has a strong work ethic, unfaltering loyalty, and believes in doing the right thing "useless"? Who ever said that just because a Hufflepuff's most obvious qualities were loyalty and honesty, that these individuals could not be intelligent or courageous as well?
Think about this when comparing Hufflepuff to the two most popular houses, Gryffindor and Slytherin. The primary Gryffindor quality is courage, but loyalty can inspire courage. If you never have anything or anyone to feel loyal to, be it a person you care for or an ideal you believe in, what would there be to fight for? Hufflepuffs also value tolerance of all people regardless of race or blood status. Having such tolerance for others is just, and justice is another Gryffindor quality. The primary Slytherin quality is ambition, and another Hufflepuff quality is hard work, but in many cases performing hard work, in itself, is a form of having a great deal of ambition. This shows that Hufflepuffs can be ambitious, but will only attain their success through hard work, as opposed to more dishonest means.
Another factor which suggests that Hufflepuffs can have many other important qualities, is, believe it or not, Gryffindor's own Hermione Granger. She is certainly brave, as Gryffindors are meant to be, but she also displays a great deal of intellect, which is valued by Ravenclaw. In the fifth book of the series, Hermione says that the Sorting Hat had also considered placing her in Ravenclaw, but that her own personal preference was Gryffindor, so the Hat sorted her accordingly. As we also know from Harry's sorting in the first book, he asked the Hat to place him in Gryffindor, though it said he could also do well in Slytherin. This proves that students sorted into one house can still uphold qualities of other houses. Therefore, a particular Hufflepuff may be as brave as any Gryffindor or intelligent as any Ravenclaw, but their strong sense of loyalty or great belief in tolerance may be the strongest quality in that particular individual.
Also consider this: (spoilers for the 4th book in this paragraph) During the fourth Harry Potter book, the Goblet of Fire would choose only the student most capable of the tasks in the TriWizard Tournament. Aside from Harry Potter (who was chosen only because of the interference of Crouch Jr.), the student chosen to represent all of Hogwarts was Cedric Diggory- a Hufflepuff. Therefore, out of the entire 7th year class, among all of the other houses, a Hufflepuff was the best suited for the tournament's dangerous, life-threatening tasks. And Cedric excels at each of these tasks. Had a cruel plot not intervened in the end, I think it's safe to say that Cedric would have taken home the TriWizard Cup: He certainly earned it.
Never, in any book or interview, has J.K. Rowling said: "Hufflepuff is the house you go to if you aren't good at anything else." Aside from the talented, kind Cedric Diggory and the fiercely loyal, courageous Nymphadora Tonks, Hufflepuffs are not prominent characters in the series. However, Rowling has spoken well of them. In a web chat following the final book, Rowling has stated that Hufflepuffs have the most comfortable (and in my opinion, interesting) of the common rooms and dormitories, having a warm, inviting common room, big, comfortable furniture, tunnels that lead from the common room to the dormitories, and circular doors that resemble "barrel tops" (and Hobbit homes, anyone?). Rowling also had several Hufflepuff characters join Dumbledore's army, such as Hannah Abbot, who, although not a particularly well-known character, has been a friend to Harry throughout many of his years at Hogwarts. Hannah's friends and fellow Hufflepuffs, Ernie MacMillan and Justin Finch-Fletchley, are two other members of Dumbledore's Army, and are both very well-spoken, bright young students whose intelligence and courage have been displayed throughout the course of the series. To be fair, I will not pretend that all Hufflepuffs are equally just and loyal, however, as a Hufflepuff boy named Zacharias Smith had been shown as being judgemental and a poor sport. However, in any group, there will be a few less-than-honorables, even in Gryffindor, as in the case of Romilda Vane, and Marietta Edgecomb in Ravenclaw.
In the Final book (more spoilers, obviously) Hufflepuffs undoubtedly prove their worth: second only to Gryffindor, Hufflepuff is the house which had the most students willing to stay at Hogwarts and risk their lives to fight in the final battle. This gives concrete evidence to my prior statement: loyalty can inspire courage.
So when you think of Hufflepuff, remember that they are more than just one extra house in addition to Gryffindor, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. They are the most loyal of friends, they are the ones willing to work hard to make the world a better place, and the ones who are willing to fight to keep it that way.
Never underestimate a Hufflepuff.