Our introduction to Hufflepuff House may not have been the greatest – Malfoy’s disparaging remarks inside Madam Malkin’s, Hagrid alluding to Hufflepuff’s reputation ‘a lot o’ duffers’ – but in true laid-back Hufflepuff style, they never really seemed to take these unjust judgements to heart.
Of course they knew it was far from true: most Hufflepuff students were anything but duffers (well, with the possible exception of Zacharias Smith.) This is the House that gave us Newt Scamander, Tonks, Cedric Diggory and Professor Sprout. Why should they be bothered by such thoughtless chatter? With their easygoing attitude, we could all learn a lot from Hufflepuff.
If Hufflepuffs are sometimes seen as less bright, it might be because of their founder Helga Hufflepuff’s reputation for fairness. Which is actually pretty unfair. But as the Sorting Hat reported, she once said:
‘I'll teach the lot /And treat them just the same.’
And if Gryffindor took the bravest, Ravenclaw the cleverest and Slytherin the most ambitious, what did that leave Hufflepuff? Everyone else.
But this is definitely not the house of last resort – and more fool anyone who underestimates a Hufflepuff.
Take Cedric Diggory. When he entered the Triwizard Tournament, Ron called him an idiot, Seamus Finnigan dismissed him as a “‘pretty boy,”’ and Hermione only expressed her admiration for him because he was a Prefect. Good or bad, everyone thought they knew who Cedric was. But there was a lot more to him than good looks and Quidditch prowess. A fair-minded Hufflepuff through-and-through, Cedric also showed immense bravery during the Triwizard Tournament, was clever enough to outsmart a dragon, and had as much ambition as any Slytherin when it came to Quidditch. Because being in Hufflepuff doesn’t mean not possessing those qualities. Sometimes, it means possessing them all.
Basically, never assume anything about a Hufflepuff.
As Newt Scamander said, whilst in pursuit of an escaped in-season Erumpent:
'My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.’
This is peak Hufflepuff. They take pretty much everything in their stride. They’re not scared of hard work, and they definitely step up to the plate when called upon, but they also don’t worry about things they can’t control.
This is because, as Newt himself demonstrates, Hufflepuffs don’t have time to worry. They just get on with the task in hand – yes, even when the task in question is some mysterious Dumbledore-directed crusade. Focus on the big picture and everything else will take care of itself. That’s the Hufflepuff way.
When it comes to friendship Hufflepuffs are famously loyal, but they don’t always get it right first time. Case in point: when Justin Finch-Fletchley and Ernie Macmillan convinced themselves (and others) that Harry was the Heir of Slytherin, based largely on his ability to talk to snakes.
But the thing about Hufflepuffs is, they aren’t too proud to say they’re sorry. Justin and Ernie apologised as soon as they became aware of the truth, and ultimately they became friendly with Harry – well, apart from that time all of Hufflepuff was mad at him for threatening to steal Cedric’s Triwizard thunder. But even Harry understood why they might be annoyed about that, so we’ll let them off.
Hufflepuff’s students don’t tend to shout about their achievements. If he’d been in any other house, Cedric Diggory could have been unbearable – handsome, sporty, a good student – but because he was a Hufflepuff, he was also pretty humble. He was certainly never arrogant – he helped Harry with the second Triwizard task, and he never seemed as irritated by Harry’s entrance into the Tournament as the rest of his house.
Other Hufflepuffs also possess this quality: Tonks, with her self-deprecating jokes; Newt Scamander, with his apologetic shows of defiance. In many ways, this innate humility makes Hufflepuffs great company. They aren’t reckless, they don’t show off, they dislike being the centre of attention. But it also plays into the idea of Hufflepuff as the least-recognised house. When Cedric is selected as Triwizard Champion they are all delighted, because it’s so rare for Hufflepuffs to get any glory. And yet, he is far from the only talented Hufflepuff in the building. So maybe it is worth shouting a bit louder.
Lastly, we come to the famous Hufflepuff sense of fairness. From Ernie and Justin’s apologies to Professor Sprout’s even-handed teaching approach to Cedric’s attempts to re-play the Quidditch match that saw Harry fall to the ground after a Dementor attack, this is a Hufflepuff trait that seems universal.
It’s not showy, but in a school that is often divided by rivalry, it does stand out. And we think Helga would be proud.