Courage and chivalry are two of the most recognisable qualities when it comes to this house – but that doesn’t mean that every Gryffindor is always supremely confident and self-assured. Some can be nervous or unsure of themselves and still belong there. Courage doesn’t have to involve flashy or daring gestures. Bravery can be found in what appears to be smaller actions. Whether it is overcoming shyness to speak up when needed, facing a situation even though it makes you anxious, or standing up to those who are your friends – those are all still examples of courage. Neville Longbottom was one Gryffindor who was often nervous. When we first met him, he had no faith in himself and questioned where he belonged. But by the end of Philosopher’s Stone, he had proved himself to be a worthy Gryffindor by standing up to Harry, Ron and Hermione and even earned some house points from Dumbledore for doing so.
One Gryffindor stereotype is that they all love being the centre of attention and the loudest in the room. While there are many members of that house who do enjoy having all eyes on them – or wish that they did more often (like Ron) – there are also those who would rather eschew the spotlight. Harry Potter certainly wanted to. And yes, as one of the most famous people within the wizarding world you might find that hard to believe. Yet, Harry didn’t want all the attention that came his way and often felt uncomfortable when thrust into the limelight. A perfect example of this was when he found himself as a Triwizard Champion in Goblet of Fire, despite not entering. Harry had actually been looking forward to a quiet year – where someone else could be the main focus of the school’s attention for once. Even if he had been eligible to put his own name into the Goblet, he wouldn’t have necessarily wanted to. When it turned out he was the fourth champion anyway, it was mortifying, frustrating and not what he wanted at all.
Albus Dumbledore, Remus Lupin, Minerva McGonagall, Hermione Granger – these are arguably some of the cleverest witches and wizards to exist in the wizarding world and they are all Gryffindors. In fact, some might think that they would be a better fit for Ravenclaw, but it was how they chose to use their intelligence which made them a perfect match for their house. Whether it was Dumbledore using his brains to find a way to defeat Voldemort, Lupin using his intelligence as a member of the Order of the Phoenix, Professor McGonagall using complex magic to defend the school in the Battle of Hogwarts, or Hermione using her abilities to create S.P.E.W. to try and help house-elves – they didn’t just pursue knowledge for the sake of it but used it to fight for what they believed to be right.
Ambition is most often associated with Slytherin, but that that didn’t mean there weren’t Gryffindors who had big dreams and goals in their life. Percy Weasley was highly ambitious. He wanted to rise through the ranks of the Ministry of Magic and benefit from the respect and recognition it would bring him. Fred and George were also incredibly motivated – with a real nose for business. The pair of them used their skills as mischief makers to develop a successful joke shop. They went from testing their pranks on fellow students, to running Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes – one of the most popular shops in Diagon Alley. They even managed to stay open during Voldemort’s return to power whilst selling products like ‘U-No-Poo’… which was certainly a very bold move.
Gryffindors have a reputation for acting first and thinking later – Sirius Black, James Potter and even Harry were all frequently guilty of this. However, there were plenty of others who didn’t fit that stereotype. Hermione Granger springs to mind. She was not somebody who threw herself into a situation like breaking school rules without thinking it through carefully and weighing up the pros and cons. When she decided to brew the Polyjuice Potion in Chamber of Secrets, it was only because the threat to Muggle-borns was much more important to her than risking detention. When Umbridge banned groups from gathering in Order of the Phoenix, she forged ahead with the DA because getting a proper Defence Against the Dark Arts education was worth facing Umbridge’s wrath. Hermione may have been careful, but she certainly wasn’t afraid to take bold and brave risks – which is a very Gryffindor trait – she just approached things less hot-headedly than her peers.
Loyalty is a characteristic that is mainly associated with Hufflepuff house – they certainly would do anything for their friends and family, but Gryffindor has their fair share of dependable members too. They are often loyal to causes as well as people, especially when it comes to following their own moral code. Sometimes their dedication to protecting others can slip into stubbornness and put them in dangerous situations. Harry, Ron and Hermione’s loyalty to one another, and to defeating Voldemort, definitely meant they found themselves in peril on more than one occasion. But whether they were stopping Voldemort from getting his hand on the Philosopher’s Stone or hunting Horcruxes, their devotion was never in question.