It’s rare that the Sorting Hat ever gets a sorting wrong (rarer still that it’ll admit it), but when it comes to Hermione Granger, the hat definitely made a mistake.
It isn’t that Hermione shouldn’t be in Gryffindor, or shouldn’t be in Ravenclaw (though she shouldn’t be in Hufflepuff), it’s that Slytherin is the best fit for her. The only reason Hermione wasn’t put in Slytherin is because she’s muggleborn. Way to perpetuate Slytherin’s elitist mentality, Sorting Hat…
A singular trait isn’t enough to place you in a house, no matter how dominant it is. Hermione is intelligent, but that doesn’t automatically mean she’s a Ravenclaw. Hermione is brave, but that doesn’t automatically mean she’s a Gryffindor. Ambition, resourcefulness, cunning, cleverness, and fraternalism are all traits Hermione Granger possesses. They are also all traits of a Slytherin.
Even at 11 years old Hermione reached for the stars. Before her first term at Hogwarts began, she was already studying magical theory and performing practical magic. How many other students would have actually read Hogwarts: A History cover to cover?
Hermione pushed herself to limits unheard of at Hogwarts. In her third year, the Ministry granted her special permission to use a Time-Turner, allowing her to take more classes than could fit in a regular schedule. She’s so determined to be the best version of herself, she actually broke time. These high expectations for herself run so deep, her Boggart is failure.
Not only is Hermione ambitious, she also has more brains than Draco has grease in his hair. She was frequently touted the smartest student in her year, and was rarely challenged academically. Lupin even thought her to be the cleverest witch of her age.
With all that intelligence, you’d think Hermione belonged in Ravenclaw. However, generally speaking, Ravenclaws are open-minded, which Hermione is not. Once she’s made an opinion on something, it’s very hard for her to change her views.
Her closed-mindedness extends to an inability to think outside the box. Hermione is a logical thinker. People like Luna, who have very different ways of looking at the world, don’t make sense to Hermione. She can’t understand their way of thinking, nor does she want to.
Despite all the brain power Hermione possesses, it’s clear Hermione values friendship and loyalty over anything else. In Sorcerer’s Stone, she said as much, “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things- friendship and bravery…” Certainly loyalty is not singularly a Slytherin trait. Gryffindor and Hufflepuff both share this value as well. However, what Hermione will do for her friends is what places her in Slytherin.
Teenaged Hermione certainly made questionable choices in defence of her friends. Goblet of Fire introduced us to Rita Skeeter, who brought out a conniving side to Hermione. After one of Rita’s many scathing articles on Harry was published, Hermione captured Rita in her Animagus form. While holding Rita hostage in a jar, Hermione blackmailed Rita to stop writing, else she would reveal Rita as an unregistered Animagus.
Unlike a typical Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, Hermione can also act rather cold even to those she considers a friend, particularly if they are in her way.
Take Sorcerer’s Stone. When the trio were leaving to find the stone, Hermione froze Neville because he was in the way. Then seven years later in Deathly Hallows, Harry and Ron got in a huge argument that resulted in Ron leaving. Hermione stayed with Harry. By this point we can assume she was already in love with Ron, and still, she didn’t go with him.
It’s always assumed that if you’re brave, you’re automatically a Gryffindor. But, as Phineas Nigellus put it, “We Slytherins are brave, yes, but not stupid.” Hermione will put herself in the line of fire, but not carelessly.
Compare Harry and Hermione, two people who have braved numerous challenging and dangerous situations together. When put in the same predicament, did they act similarly? Harry was much more inclined to act first think later, whereas Hermione preferred to plan ahead as much as possible.
In Deathly Hallows when they needed to break into the Ministry, Harry thought it best to just get on with it, even though Hermione didn’t feel they had planned enough.
Hermione’s bravery is also very cunning. She was quick to lie to Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix, deceiving her into going into the Forbidden Forest where she was subsequently captured by centaurs.
Likewise, rule-breaking is a non-issue for her. The rules Hermione follows are her own, a very Slytherin mentality. How else could she justify breaking into the Ministry of Magic, breaking into Gringotts, creating a forbidden club, making a prohibited potion, or confunding Cormac at Quidditch tryouts? All of these actions were ultimately for her own ‘greater good’, nonetheless they were also against the rules and/or illegal.
Hermione was the Slytherin we needed
Hermione was written as a Slytherin. She has the mind, heart, and moral compass of one, even if her blood status doesn’t comply with Salazar Slytherin’s ideals.
Reading the Harry Potter series entirely from Harry’s perspective, we’re subjected to his biased view of the world. Harry thought Slytherins to be ‘evil’ so that’s what we saw.
A great opportunity was missed in the series to show a Slytherin student in a positive light. Had Hermione, one of the lead characters and best friend to the Chosen One, been a Slytherin, there would have been yet another great lesson in the series, that of breaking prejudice.
A muggle-born in Slytherin would have shattered the notion that ‘blood purity’ matters in magical ability. Not to mention, having Hermione specifically in Slytherin would have demonstrated a cross-house friendship that was much needed in the series.
Of course, 19 years later we got some house diversity in the form of a Potter in Slytherin, and a Slytherin Malfoy that wasn’t a prat. But Cursed Child canon isn’t quite the same as Harry Potter canon.