Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Friction Fiction (#4): Hogwarts Houses vs. Divergent Factions

These posts are meant to bring about some conversation, discussion, and perhaps even a debate. These discussion posts can occur at varying days of the week, mostly depending upon what's scheduled on the blog and what I feel like discussing.

Having recently watched the Divergent movie and having read an article on Hypable that stated that "Like at Hogwarts, teenagers in Divergent are asked to suppress their originality and conform to a specific set of ideals," I knew I wanted to write this discussion post. Why? Because I refuse to agree with that statement and for particular reasons.

I must start off by saying that at the time that I'm writing this post (3/22), I have not yet read all of Divergent. I'm basing most of my points off of the movie, and I can only hope that they are accurate with what's in the books. If they're not, please let me know and then decide on your own thoughts based on the books. 

I firmly believe that though they are similar in idea, they are very different in execution and are fundamentally different. They are similar in that they group people based on personality, but that's close to where the similarities stop, in my opinion.

In Divergent, yes, people are ultimately allowed to choose their factions. But once they decide, they're stuck there. They have to learn to conform to their factions' way of life, attitude, personality, etc. They learn that it's "faction over blood." The statement the author of the Hypable article made isn't that far from the truth for factions. People are limited and are forced to become one and the same. They're told how to dress, how to act, and they're even told that aren't even allowed to see their family (except on family visitation day, if I remember correctly from what I read in the book). In Divergent, they are very much expected to conform to the ideals and expectations of their faction. They are told that being Divergent is a bad thing and that human nature is their enemy.

But I believe that Hogwarts Houses are different. Yes, they are similarly based on personality, but the Sorting Hat sort of makes the choice for you. It knows who you are, deep down inside, even if you don't know yourself. You don't have to know who you are yet. Otherwise, would Neville have been put into Gryffindor? I highly doubt he'd ever consider himself brave. Yes, there is some room for choice if you're a hat stall and are like Harry. Even in this idea, I think the two are fundamentally different. At Hogwarts, you're sorted into the House that the Sorting Hat knows is right for you, regardless of what you think. In Divergent, you're given the liberty to make your own choice. I think factions are less about your personality and more about who you think you are, who you want to be, and what you value most. Tris chooses Dauntless because she values their bravery. She wants to be like them. She isn't necessarily like them yet (depending on your definition of bravery). I don't doubt that the Sorting Hat would put her in Gryffindor anyway, but I think there's a specific distinction between the two in that sense.

But the thing about Houses is that it doesn't confine you to one set of ideals and personalities. You can still be yourself. You're just put with people that also have the same biggest personality trait. Hat stalls and even non-hat stalls show that you can be a little bit of everything. Luna, for example, is in Ravenclaw, largely, I'd say, because of her creative spirit. But isn't Luna also brave? Yes. I think so (for various reasons). Houses give you a place to feel at home where you're surrounded by people that are similar to you but not the same. You can be friends with people from other Houses because you recognize that their strongest quality has its flaws and strengths but that you might have some of that within yourself as well. The Golden Trio, Ginny, and Neville are all friends with Luna. She is not from their House. Yes, they tend to stick with people in their Houses, but they're not limited to those Houses.

Houses allow people to be a mix of everything without condemning them if they are. They even acknowledge the fact that people may have various very strong personality traits. Harry and Hermione are examples of this.

Yes, there may be some sense of the pressure of conformity in Hogwarts, and I will not deny that, but it isn't comparable with that of the factions. Besides, you certainly won't be kicked out of your Hogwarts House, as far as I can tell. Do both factions and Houses cause some kind of conformity? Yes. But Hogwarts Houses do not necessarily tell you who to be, especially at the moment (ahem Neville). Hogwarts Houses do not tell you that you can only be one thing/have one personality trait and nothing else. Houses are much more flexible and fluid, and they don't condemn people that have a mix of personality traits. And no, I'm not just saying this because I obviously love Harry Potter. I believe that factions and Houses are similar in idea but very different in execution.

What do you think? Am I completely wrong? Or do you agree with me?


  1. This is a great post. I didn't read the article you are talking about, but I have read all of the Divergent books and all of the Harry Potter's (multiple times.) I completely agree with you.
    In Divergent you choose what you belong to and then they make you train to become that thing.
    In HP, even if you are a Gryffindor, that doesn't mean the professors are going to throw knives at you to make sure you're brave.

    Great post. Check out my book blog sometime.

    1. Exactly! At Hogwarts, you can still be yourself, but you're surrounded by people that are like-minded and will probably support you. In a faction, you're supposed to conform. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

      I'll be sure to check it out (aka right now)!


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