Long ago, when Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was first built, the four founders chose to divide the students accepted to the school into four individual houses, each named for the founder who served as its head. These houses serve as the living and learning communities of the students, as we share a common room, dormitories, and at times, classes. Thus these houses became a sort of fraternity among the students within them, a fellowship of students who share similar traits and values. Naturally, over time however, these houses began to develop stereotypes. And it is those stereotypes which I write of today.
Ravenclaw, the house of Rowena. It is this house and its stereotypes I intend to discuss this week. Intelligence, wit, wisdom, creativity, originality, individuality, and acceptance. These are the traits for which Ravenclaw is know, and though each of them are positive, this house still suffers from negative stereotypes.
Today, we will start with the founder of Ravenclaw and exactly how her reputation effects those who enter her house each year. Rowena Ravenclaw was one of the four founders of Hogwarts, known as one of the brightest witches and wizards of their time. She was noted for her intelligence and creativity, and often called “beautiful yet slightly intimidating.” It is a popular theory that our dear Rowena was the one who chose both the name and location of Hogwarts, and she certainly is to blame for our ever-changing floor plan. Rowena selected students for her house based on their intelligence and wisdom, valuing a sharp mind, wisdom, creativity, and cleverness in her members. The most notable traits of Rowena were her intelligence and creativity, something she equally valued in her students. Despite seeming strict and intimidating, she was said to be forgiving and loving. She was very proud but not prejudiced towards wixen of Muggle parentage or inheritance.
Ravenclaw House thus prizes learning, wisdom, wit, and intellect in its members, just as their founder did. Many Ravenclaws tend to be talented and academically motivated, priding themselves in their original ideas and methods. They are oftentimes hardworking and diligent, curious and occasionally eccentric. They are also frequently noted to be logical and rational. Ravenclaw tend to be competitive and proud, but within their own house, they are well-known for being welcoming, encouraging of creativity, eccentricity, and individuality.
Despite all this, however, those negative stereotypes still exist- and loudly so. “Nerd.” “Know-it-all.” “Weirdo.”. These are words most Ravenclaws are familiar with as they are often referred to as the house with no academic chill. They are said to take themselves too seriously, fighting over the loss of House Points, obsessing over homework, never having fun that doesn’t involve a book and a 90 page essay. They’re called reserved or distant. They’re made out to be snobby and cold, looking down upon anyone who isn’t an academically focused Ravenclaw like themselves. Ravenclaws are said to be overly competitive, to follow the rules too closely, to lack self confidence and to be far too emotional when it comes to those things. They are called anti-social beings who find more solace in the written word, fictional or otherwise, because the rules make more sense. They’re made out to find more value in knowing what the right thing was later, than doing the right thing now. Or to value progress over the safety of themselves and others. Sometimes, they’re even made out to be, not smart, but strange, with their heads in the clouds and disconnected from reality.
Ravenclaws are more than this, however. Ravenclaws are open minded, accepting of those who are unique, different, or eccentric. They are ambitious, much like the Slytherins, though where those ambitions lie and how they are achieved make all the difference. Also like the Slytherins, Ravenclaws are witty, and what is witty but another way of saying cunning? Ravenclaw are savvy and smart, no doubt, but this is applied to the mastery of anything, not just academics. It’s all a matter of intent, like anything else in our world. They aren’t antisocial, they simply need to be approached on their own terms, and even that isn’t true of them all. They are creative and show clear ingenuity, able to conceive sophisticated plots for either good or bad. They are highly critical and analytical, thinking outside of the box and bringing new perspective to everything they do and settle for nothing, whether it be in their assignments, relationships, or self worth.
Garrick Ollivander, Filius Flitwick, Luna Lovegood. All of these are examples of just what it means to be a Ravenclaw. Garrick Ollivander, considered by most to be one of the greatest wandcrafters of all time, is an excellent example of a Ravenclaw. Though little is known about his early life, he is known as an intelligent man with a perfect memory in regards to his work. Any difficult customer can tell you, Ollivander cheers up at a challenge, thrilled to rise and meet it. His greatness aside, it is said that Ollivander’s enthusiastic fascination with wandlore sometimes overshadowed his sense of right and wrong, which goes to show that even great eagles have their flaws. Still, no one could ever deny that the great Ollivander is an accomplished wizard any Ravenclaw could look up to.
Filius Flitwick is a former Head of Ravenclaw House and Charms master. He is said to have been eccentric and caring, but often underestimated. The former Head of House was said to be emotional but gentle spirited, and to have opposed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named during the Wizarding Wars. He was a master at charms work and a Master Duellist, who earned the title of Duelling Champion, proving that he was an accomplished and ambitious wizard. Being part-goblin, Flitwick was already naturally different and it is said he was more than accepting of other unique and eccentric wizards. He wasn’t simply well read or obsessed with rules, he broke rules to oppose High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, Dolores Umbridge and the Dark Lord. This is a true master and an amazing example of a Ravenclaw.
While we do not have extensive detail of the life of Luna Lovegood, we do have some, as the Ravenclaw with an aura of distinct dottiness grew to fight in the Second Wizarding War and became an accomplished magizoologist. She has been said to have been a very, extremely quirky, or one might say eccentric, witch with a serene disposition and many… unique beliefs and qualities. Like many Ravenclaw, she was a complete nonconformist with a lack of self-consciousness who was unafraid to show who she really was. Despite all of this, or perhaps, because of all this, she was also intelligent and unusually perceptive. She was a true Ravenclaw, sorted as one of those of wit and learning. Lovegood was said to have a knack for embarrassing honesty and when her father or his magazine, The Quibbler, was insulted, her dreamy nature was replaced by one of steel and she would immediately become quite angry. Lovegood was often the subject of ridicule as many Ravenclaws could relate but that never lead to her becoming reclusive. Instead, she was accepting of everyone and often would be the only one who could calm her friends. She was an artistic Ravenclaw rather than one for the books, painting many things often for her friends as well. She was brave and loyal, talented and eccentric, a competent duellist, and a famous Magizoologist who discovered and classified many species that had never been encountered before. Any Ravenclaw should be proud to share a house with her.
Despite not being suggested, this writer would like to bring up one more notable Ravenclaw. The wizard known as Gilderoy Lockhart is certainly one to break the stereotypes of his house. This former Ravenclaw student, famous wizarding celebrity, author, and former Hogwarts Professor, is without a doubt, unique and not at all the studies obsessed recluse his house is rumoured to be full of. The man invented a shampoo that guarantees lustrous locks of hair, though it was never produced for mass marketing due to the danger and expense in procuring the main ingredient, occamy eggshells. Lockhart is also an accomplished author, writing quite a good many of books that were /very/ popular. And these books? Based all on his great adventures. This is a Ravenclaw who was invited to join the Dark Force Defence League as an honourary member, a brave wizard awarded with the Order of Merlin, Third Class. He’s written a total of twelve books, nine of which about eradicating dark forces, facing banshees, hags, trolls, vampires, werewolves, yetis, and even ghouls. He is an extremely talented expert of charms, an expert at Defence Against the Dark Arts, talented at Care of Magical Creatures, gifted at potions, with a fair amount of knowledge of healing magic. He is intelligent, clever, cunning, and resourceful. He is knowledgeable, and quite skilled at tracking as well. And of course, he is an amazing wordsmith. He is also said to be self-confident and charitable, a Daily Prophet article reporting he gifted his entire collection of books to The Boy Who Lived. Truly, Gilderoy Lockhart is a Ravenclaw to aspire to be like.
There are Ravenclaws who hate studying and procrastinate every assignment. Who slack off because they aren’t suited for academic work, but when it comes to art and creative processes, they are brilliant beyond compare. There are Ravenclaws who are possibly the brightest wixen of their generation but fail to /ever/ do homework. Ravenclaws who are too busy doodling to pay attention, who skipped first period because they needed to sleep after staying up all night reading their favourite book, who can’t figure out the answer to their common room’s riddles, who write their notes for Transfiguration on the back of the sheet music for the symphony they’re composing. Ravenclaws who are social butterflies because they may not understand alchemy, but Merlin human psychology is simple. Ravenclaws who are average in class but are business geniuses and run top-notch underground exam answer businesses. (Author’s Note: The Owl Post does not condone the secret selling of exam cheat sheets. However, if anyone is working on one for Magical Theory, please come by the office.)
Being sorted into Ravenclaw doesn’t mean you must be a nerd, weirdo, or know-it-all. It doesn’t dictate who you must be or how you must act. Being sorted into Ravenclaw means you value learning, wisdom, wit, and intellect. You don’t have to be obsessive, there is a difference between valuing your education and caring for nothing else. You don’t have to enjoy studying. You can enjoy art or music. You’re not obligated to follow the rules.
Being Ravenclaw means so much more than any list of attributes could ever reveal and this house is so much more diverse than you could possibly imagine. Like all houses, they are misunderstood and stereotyped.
Ravenclaw, this is your year to break the stereotypes.