Learn about character from Harry Potter

In the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling uses a foolproof way to distinguish her characters.

When young wizards and witches start their training at  Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they’re sorted into houses.

Hogwarts has four houses. Each house represents different characterizes, distinct to one of the school’s four founders.

The sorting is done by an ancient witches hat that sings—that’s right it sings.


If you read the lyrics you’ll see the distinction.

Here are the lyrics:

Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.

You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m the Hogwarts Sorting hat
And I can cap them all.

There’s nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can’t see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.

You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell brave of heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;

You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;

Or yet wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;

Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.

So put me on! Don’t be afraid!
And you won’t get in a flap!
You’re safe in my hands (though I have none)
For I’m a Thinking Cap!

The amazing part of this fabulous display of writing is how J.K. Rowling keeps these characteristics in tact throughout the seven books. There are hundreds (literally hundreds) of characters, and all hold true to the traits distinct to their house at Hogwarts.

While not all of the characters are students, the diversity she displays is brilliant. Every character she writes has a voice and style different from all the rest.

I read all seven books before I started writing.

Now that I’m studying the craft of fiction writing, I’m in greater awe of these stories, and by Rowling’s talent.

If you want to learn about characters and be entertained at the same time, read these books. I promise, you learn something.

Are you ready to be sorted?

14 thoughts on “Learn about character from Harry Potter

  1. Man, am I behind the curve ball. I’ve not read a single Harry Potter book. But now I’m compelled to order one today. Even if read as a character study alone it would be worth the effort.

    1. I’m listening to the book seven on audio in my car. I suggest if you read it, make the commitment to read all. You won’t appreciate the story telling unless you read everything.

      1. Like you, Darksculptures, I haven’t read any. I didn’t realize they were written well (I’ve literally never opened one). But keeping hundreds of characters consistent takes some serious focus. Perhaps I’ll add them to my ever-growing reading list…

      2. I think when counted, there are like 800 characters mentioned in the books. Rowling created an entire world, completed with laws and government. The imagination she has is endless. Between the spells, the character’s names, and the places she’s developed, it’s really incredible. I don’t usually read fantasy but I couldn’t put these down.
        Oh, and, don’t believe the comparisons to Twilight, there is none. Twilight does not, and cannot hold a candle to Harry Potter

      3. You lost me at SEVEN books. I’m just not that big a fan of magic. This sounds like it may be a better candidate for my time on the treadmill. I think there are some audio books in my future.

      4. HAHA LOL Yes, it’s a commitment for sure. That’s why the audio books work so well for my commute.
        The audio books are excellent! They’re read by Jim Dale. He does a different voice for each character. You can get them at the library too.
        If you wanted a short cut route you could watch the first two movies, they’re a pretty good match for the books, but after that, don’t bother.

  2. I haven’t read any Harry Potter books since I seriously started trying to write fiction. Might be time to head back to my bookshelf and look at them with fresh eyes. Thanks for the reminder!

    It was a lot of fun to read early HP along with my son who was in middle school when the first one came out. Great books to read with your kids!

    1. It’s a completely different read after you start studying the craft of fiction. It’s also a great example of the omni POV. I can’t believe you started reading the series and didn’t finish. It ends on such a high. Rowling tied up every loose end and answered every question.

  3. What a wonderful success story J.K. Rowling’s writing life presents!!

    I haven’t delved into her books but you make me think that it will be to my advantage if I do.

    Thank you, Dayner.

    1. I never had any desire to read them either but once I started I couldn’t stop.
      When you get to the third book you’re so deep into the story there’s no stopping.

  4. Your entry on Harry Potter caught my attention. I’ve read all seven books and you’re right. There ‘s so many unique traits in her characters but each one still ties back to the House they were sorted into.

    I read these books before I started writing. It’ll be fun to go back and reread to see how my mind perceives her writing now that I’ve finished my own novel.

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