Archive for June, 2011

Sorting: Firefly

I know I said that the fabulous Geardrops was going to be guest posting this week, but she’s super-busy, and I had a great idea for a subject anyway!

Ok, to be fair, I’ve wanted to sort these guys since before I even thought of this blog, so that it’s taken me three weeks to actually get around to it is something of a testament to my willpower.

In honor of Joss Whedon’s birthday last week, I think it’s only fitting that I sort the characters of his undeniably brilliant show, Firefly.  Full of charismatic, multi-faceted characters, this sci-fi western got far less than it deserved when Fox cancelled it after only one season.  The episodes had enough stand-alone stories that a casual watcher could easily become enthralled in any show they happened to catch, and the overarching storyline kept the devoted watcher enchanted.  There was humor to keep it lighthearted, and enough emotion to make the characters seem real and relatable, their flaws only adding to their depth.  All in all, it’s a fantastic show, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

The following character images are all from Can’t Take the Sky, a fantastic resource for all things Firefly.

From the fabulous website, still-flying.netMalcolm Reynolds: In the war between the Independent outer worlds and the Allied core planets, our captain volunteered to fight for the Independents.  He gained the rank of sergeant, but the Independents were eventually overrun by the Alliance in the Battle of Serenity Valley.  After the war was over, Mal and his loyal corporal, Zoë, look to stay out of the Alliance’s long reach and watchful eye.  Mal buys an old Firefly-class transport ship and pulls together a crew to live aboard it,  becoming smugglers and occasionally taking legal jobs, if they must.

Mal is fiercely protective of his crew, and would do anything to keep them safe.  In the first episode we see him run from the Alliance in order to save his mechanic, and in that same episode he shoots an Alliance spy that would turn them all over to the feds.  Throughout the show we see Mal thumb his nose at the Alliance; he picks fights at Alliance bars on Unification day and eagerly jumps on all opportunities to make the Alliance look stupid, but when one of his crew members requires medical services and the doctor is unavailable, he swallows his pride (albeit somewhat unwillingly) and approaches the Alliance for help.  When it appears that his ship had failed and was slowly going to suffocate them all, he insisted that the crew split up evenly between the two shuttles and that he would go down with his ship, preferring to give the crew equal odds at survival.

Mal has a very strict moral code.  When the doctor is concerned that Mal might kill him in his sleep, Mal assures him that he would only ever kill him in a fair fight.  He’s brave and rarely backs down from fights.  He’s a natural leader, and has a way about him that makes people want to follow him.  He fights for the things he believes in, even when he recognizes that they might be the losing side.  He can be vengeful, but that comes with the kind of passion for life and freedom he carries.

Verdict:  Gryffindor

Zoë Alleyne Washburne: Zoë fought under Mal’s command during the Unification War.  After the war was over, she stuck by his side, sometimes doubting his choices – she was surprised that he’d buy a broken down piece of junk to start their new lives – but always remaining loyal.  She’d follow Mal through the pits of hell and back again, if he asked her to.  Her loyalty is returned – Mal trusts Zoë to have his back more than anyone else on the crew.  They still maintain a commander/subordinate relationship, even though the war is long over.

Zoë marries the pilot, Hoban “Wash” Washburn, sometime between when he joins the crew of Serenity and the start of the show.  While it’s clear that they have a loving, solid relationship, her loyalty to Mal is a point of contention that comes to a head in the episode “War Stories.”  Yet when she is forced to choose whom to save by a sadistic captor, Mal or Wash, she wastes no time in saving her husband.  They do, of course, come back later to rescue the captain.

Zoë is clearly very brave, having fought in a war and willing to face anything in order to protect those she cares about.  She’s aware of the dangers in life, but chooses to face them head-on instead of hiding from them.  She’s strong and compassionate, but it’s truly her loyalty that defines her, her willingness to do whatever she must for those she loves.

Verdict: Hufflepuff, with Gryffindor leanings.

Hoban Washburne: We get our first impression of our pilot, Wash, as he plays with toy dinosaurs while the rest of the crew are out on a heist.  Having never fought in (and subsequently lost) a war, he lacks the weight-of-the-world austerity that sometimes comes over Mal and Zoë, and is generally a pretty happy person.  He’s excited to experience new things, and he’s usually very laid-back and easy going, but he has a jealous streak when he’s reminded of how close Zoë and Mal are.

Wash tends to be the voice of reason within the crew, keeping a clear head when other tempers run hot.   He may not be as brave or eager to fight as Mal or Zoë, but he’s definitely got backbone – he doesn’t fall for a certain vixen’s advances and he stands up to Zoë when he finds out that she lied to him about a discussion she had with Mal.  There’s only two times in the entire show that he ever truly appears overwrought with emotion – when he’s being tortured, and when he thinks that Zoë is about to die.

Wash is a talented pilot, with enough smarts to get second in his class and rack up a long line of positive recommendations when Mal is looking for a pilot.  He’s enthusiastic and genuinely seems to enjoy the life they lead, danger and torture aside.  He’s level-headed and fair, and generally likes to talk things through and come to a conclusion that satisfies everyone before moving forward.

Verdict: Hufflepuff

Jayne Cobb: Jayne is, for all intents and purposes, a mercenary.  Brought onto the crew for some additional muscle, it’s clear from the start that Jayne’s role on the show is to be the crass, trigger happy gun-nut who makes his way through life by intimidating people.  He’s opinionated and often speaks before he thinks – if he thinks at all.  He joined the crew when Mal was able to convince him that it was in his best interest to switch sides from a gang that attacked them – he promised him more money and a better bunk if he betrayed his comrades, and it was good enough for Jayne.  His main goal is always to exploit a situation so that it benefits him, even if it doesn’t benefit the crew as a whole.

Yet despite his surliness, Jayne seems to genuinely care for most of the crew.  He forms an unlikely friendship with Shepard Book, and he seems very concerned when Kaylee is shot by the Alliance spy.  In general he gets along with Mal, though the two do occasionally disagree on the way Mal runs things.  We know that he still corresponds with his mother and sends her money when he’s able.  He seems to enjoy being part of the crew, and will – most of the time – do what’s best for them.

A noteable exception to the afformention affection of the crew is Jayne’s constant animosity with Simon and, to a lesser degree, River.  He dislikes them right off the bat, as their presence means that they’re unable to take as many easy jobs as they were previously able to, since they’re now avoiding the Alliance.  When they first take on Simon and River, Jayne chooses not to sell them out to the Alliance spy, claiming to Mal that the money wasn’t good enough to turn on the crew.  He gets the chance again, though, and later on in the show Jayne does try to sell Simon and River to the Alliance.  They’re able to escape, but Mal threatens to kill Jayne if he does it again.

Verdict: Slytherin

Kaywinnit Lee Frye: Despite the rather unusal circumstances in which Kaylee was introduced to the crew, she’s by far the most innocent of the crew.  She’s constantly bubbly and cheerful, always seeing the bright side in even the worst situations.  She’s a natural mechanic, and is almost always able to sense when something’s wrong with Serenity.  She loves her home on the ship, and is very proud of the life she’s chosen.

The entire crew adores Kaylee.  Mal dotes on her like an older brother, and Inara watches over her like an older sister.  Even Jayne teases her affectionately (or, at least, in a way he percieves to be affectionately – it can sometimes be a bit crass, but, well, that’s Jayne for you) and is distraught when she’s shot by the Alliance spy.  River can relax enough around her to actually act like a girl and play games with her, and Simon…well, if Simon wasn’t always so concerned about River, I’m sure he’d notice and return her affection.

Kaylee is an interesting character in that she’s ready for the rough-and-tumble if she needs to be, and she’s a fantastic mechanic with natural intuition as to how all the parts work.  Yet she’s also the very picture of a girl – along with loving girly things and adding a woman’s touch to the ship, her feeling for Simon are a fairly sizeable part of the storyline.  She tries to be brave when she needs to be, but getting in fights and coming out the victor really isn’t her strong suit.  She loves the crew and constantly tries to make them all happy, and she normally succeeds – her sunny disposition rubs off on the whether they like it or not.

Verdict: Hufflepuff, but with some Ravenclaw leanings due to her natural smarts with engines.

Tune on on Thursday for the rest of the Firefly cast!


Sorting: Ender’s Game, pt 2

As promised, the conclusion of the sorting of Ender’s Game!  Initially I had wanted to put Peter and Valentine in the first post, but I figured that if I put all the heavy hitters in the first post, it wouldn’t make for a very exciting second post.  And I knew that writing Bean would be a challenge, as I’ve read Ender’s Shadow as well, but I really wanted to focus on the characters as they appeared in Ender’s Game.  I know the last post stirred up some controversy with how I sorted Bonzo, maybe this one will cause some rumblings as well?

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Ender’s Game, just like the last one.

Peter Wiggin: The eldest of the Wiggin children knows early on in his life that he wants to take over the world.  At ten he thinks the only way to do this is brute force, by hurting and intimidating those he views as threats.  He’s jealous of Ender’s success where he failed, jealous that Ender gets to go into space and save the world while he’s stuck on the ground, and he takes out his frustration on his younger siblings in cruel, malicious ways.  He acts out in school, an his parents worry for his future.  A short while after Ender leaves for Battle School, they move out to the country, hoping that being more in touch with nature will help soothe Peter’s violent personality.

While the move doesn’t quell Peter’s desire for power, as he grows he realizes that there are better ways to grab attention than by acting out.  He starts behaving himself in school, earning the teachers’ trust so that his parents will believe he’s calmed down.  Once that’s happened, he uses his sister’s intelligence, along with his own, to really shine – behind the anonymity of the internet, he steps onto the political stage.

He plays his own character, Locke, against his sister’s moniker, Demosthenes.  He instructs her to write Demosthenes as radical, so that Locke can come in as the voice of reason when they are eventually pitted against each other.  They start out small, just comments here or there, and eventually they’re both picked up by major news sites (I’m guessing that the internet changes vastly in the future; right now, I’m pretty sure if they tried this out the result would be exactly how xkcd predicts).  Just as Ender is taking down the Bugger’s home planet, war breaks out on Earth, and Peter’s voice (as Locke) is the only one that can resolve matters.  When Ender and Valentine go off to colonize the Bugger world, Peter becomes Hegemon and unites Earth under his rule.

To Peter, everything can be a tool to help him accomplish his goals.  His teachers’ admiration, his parents’ sympathies, his sister’s intelligence – he finds ways to use them all.  In the end he uses them for something productive, but he’s never acting for the greater good – it’s always to further his own interests.

Verdict: Slytherin

Valentine Wiggin: Valentine has all of Peter’s smarts, but in the place of his ambition, she has empathy.  She protects Ender from Peter, endangering herself in the process.  She misses Ender for far longer than the rest of the family, and worries about him constantly.

Her empathy, it turns out, becomes a tool for others to use against her.  Twice the Battle school administrators use her to encourage Ender to keep at his studies, knowing that only her influence can pull Ender from the bouts of depression he falls into.  Peter uses her, uses her intelligence to work his way up the political nets to achieve his own goals.  Throughout the book, we see her helping other people accomplish their own goals, but we never know what it is that she wants.  Only at the very end of the book does she do something for herself – she decides to leave Earth and join Ender in space, so she can spend time with the brother she loves instead of the brother she hates.

Valentine is extremely intelligent, but lacks the backbone required to keep herself from being used by others.  She’s able to use her intelligence in a way that ensures she benefits as well, eventually, but she’s certainly not as cunning or ambitious as Peter.

Verdict: Ravenclaw

Petra Arkanian: One of the only girls at Battle School, and the only one we as readers are exposed to, Petra is a fighter.  She constantly works hard to prove herself among boys, and strives to excel as a means to stand out.  When Ender joins her in Salamander Army, she sees herself in him – they’re both outcasts, and they both have far more potential than the rest of Salamander gives them credit for.  She takes him under her wing and teaches him everything she knows.

When Ender moves on to Rat Army, Petra still has an interest in Ender’s progress, even if she’s forbidden from actively teaching him anymore.  Once he’s promoted to commander, and she’s moved on to command her own army, she’s impressed with his ability to lead, but hates that he’s so easily able to beat her.

In the final battle, it’s clear that Ender still trusts and relies on Petra’s judgement, and she works herself sick to make sure she doesn’t let him down – literally.  She’s the first to collapse from exhaustion, due to Ender putting more pressure on her than anyone else.  She’s devastated that she let him down, and tries her best to make up for it.

Petra is extremely driven and is desperate to prove that she’s not only just as good as, but even better than most of the boys at Battle school.  She’s smart and an excellent teacher for Ender, and it’s clear that her influence left a strong impression on Ender, with how much he relied on her during the final battle with the Buggers.  She’s hardworking and loyal, and fights for what she believes in.

Verdict: Hufflepuff, though she could do well in Gryffindor as well.

Bean: We only see Bean for a small portion of the book, but he leaves quite an impression.  His intelligence makes up for his small stature, and Ender sees a lot of himself in the young soldier.  However, Bean is different than Ender – he’s got nerve.

Right away, with no experience, Bean confronts Ender and says he wants to be a toon leader.  Ender tells him to prove himself, and he does.  Bean constantly comes up with new ideas to help Dragon army, finding new tools and coming up with new tactics to combat the increasingly unbalanced battles.  Ender comes to rely on Bean’s brilliance, and gives him a specialized toon to command.  Ender continues to rely on Bean through the Bugger battles, and Bean never lets him down.

Bean presents an interesting problem.  Knowing his early childhood as I do from  Ender’s Shadow, I know how he scraped and fought to survive to be old enough to get to Battle School.  But as I said before, I’m only looking at him as he is portrayed in Ender’s Game.  And while I think he could fit easily into two houses, in this book, one outweighs the other.

Verdict: Ravenclaw, with very strong Slytherin leanings.

Stay tuned next week for a guest post from Geardrops, sorting the members of the Batman universe!

Sorting: Ender’s Game

courtesy of hatrack.comWhen my dear friend Geardrops asked me to help out with her fantastic new Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fan blog, The Fansible, I was reminded how much I adore Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.  And while reminiscing on this fabulous sci-fi story, I was struck by its similarities to Harry Potter – a kid, chosen for his unique abilities, is thrust into a specialized school in a very foreign world.  Both of these heroes are trained to fight a terrifying enemy that devastated their worlds long before they could even comprehend what was happening, and both ultimately have connections with their enemies that define who they are.  And since Ender’s Game focuses so heavily on school-age kids, why not sort them into their respective Hogwarts houses?

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Ender’s Game.  If you haven’t read it and don’t wish to be spoiled, read no further!

Ender Wiggin: Our hero has something of an unfortunate life, and even at 6 years old, things don’t look great for him.  Born the third child of a family living  in a world of 2-children-per-family population control, his short childhood is wrought with constant teasing and hatred for his existence.  His older brother is jealous of his success (more on him later), and his peers mock him for his family’s blatant rule breaking, even if it was government-sanctioned.  The government had asked his parents to have a third child, when their first two children proved amazingly talented yet not quite suitable for their needs to ward off an imminent alien threat, thus deciding his entire life for him if he turned out to be suitable to lead the Interntional Fleet.  He excels in school and mostly tries to keep his head down, though he refuses to back down from a fight and instead works out, logically, that if he beats up the bully hard enough, it’ll stop any future fights before they begin.  His strategy works, but in the end, there’s no need for it.  He’s selected for the task the IF has at hand, and is shipped off to battle school.

If Battle School is a place where Ender hopes he can escape the tyranny of his brother and the mocking of his peers and possibly have the chance at a normal childhood, he’s sorely mistaken.  Alienated from his launch group right at the start, the teachers use his isolation to draw out his talents.  He works very hard to learn all that he can, and earns the respect and friendship of at least some of his classmates before he is promoted – quite early – into an army.

In Battle School, much of the focus is on the mock battles the armies participate in in null gravity.  Ender had been promoted early in his career, before he’d really grasped how to do anything in null gravity, into the Salamander Army, commanded by Bonzo Madrid.  Bonzo believes Ender’s presence is an insult to his command, and forbids him from actively participating in any fights – he’ll be there, as all members of the armies must be present, but he’s forbidden from firing his weapon.  But Ender is determined to learn.  Petra, one of his fellow Salamanders, offers to teach him how to shoot, and on his own initiative he gathers a group of his old friends from his launch group and practices with them in their free time.  And, above all else, he learns.  He watches how Bonzo commands, and takes note of his weaknesses and how he can improve.  In his last battle with Salamander army, as Ender’s the only Salamander who hasn’t been disabled, he’s able to single-handedly turn the loss into a draw.  Bonzo, instead of being grateful for Ender’s help, is furious that he disobeyed his orders.

Ender is transferred to Rat Army, where he’s put under the direction of Dink Meeker.  It’s here that he really begins to blossom, as Dink appreciates his brilliance and better guides him in the battles.  He absorbs the information like a sponge, and quickly proves himself to be the most adept soldier in the school.

Shortly after, Ender is assigned his own army, Dragon Army, and it’s here where things really start to go downhill for Ender.  His army is made up of new launchies and unmemorable veterans, but Ender is able to do amazing things with them.  After just four weeks of training – far less than most armies get – he’s given his first battle, and he wins.  The next day, a new battle, and he wins again.  This continues, on and on – the school administrators come up with every way possible to stack the cards against Ender, but his brilliance outwits them every time.  His record-breaking career angers his old commander, Bonzo, and Bonzo tries to kill him one day after a battle.  That same day, when Ender has already endured one battle and had to fight, literally, for his life, he’s forced into another battle against two armies.  He wins by outsmarting the computer that runs the battles, and decides to finally take a stand against the school and refuses to fight any more battles.  His decision is unnecessary.

Ender’s shipped off to Command School, where he learns the intricacies of commanding a fleet in far off sections of the galaxy with what he believes is an advanced computer simulator.  His teacher now is the legendary Mazer Rackham, the commander that previously won the war against the alien invasion.  He’s isolated even more now, but is overjoyed to learn that in his more involved exercises, his most trusted soldiers and friends from Battle School are now in command of sections of his fleet.  He learns how the enemy thinks; he understands their tactics and uses his armies wisely, but he is pushed very hard, and in turn pushes his friends very hard, and they’re all strained by the pressure.  He progresses through battles, winning every time, until what he is told is his “final exam,” where he’s faced with the alien homeworld.  Now, not caring what the adults will think of him, he ultimately sacrifices his entire fleet to destroy the planet and all surrounding enemies.  Only then, once the battle is complete, does Mazer inform him that it was a real battle, and he really destroyed the alien homeworld and the billions of aliens living there.

Ender is extremely intelligent, with a constant thirst to not only learn everything possible, but the why and the how and all the theory behind everything he can.  He gets into the mind of his enemy and exploits their weaknesses – he does this when he’s young and viciously attacks a bully who picked on him not expecting a fight, and when he’s older facing Bonzo, knowing that Bonzo’s Spanish honor will even the playing field.  He constantly looks at new ways to see things and do things and refuses to do anything that’s considered right or traditional unless he himself comes to the conclusion that it’s the best way to do things.  He’s naive and trusting until the point where it’s too late, he’s already been used as a pawn for someone else’s chess game.  He shows bravery when he knows it’s the smartest thing to do, but never truly chooses it on his own.  He’s malleable and thus easily believes things if they can be shown to be the most logical, but is often led astray by people who would choose to use his intelligence for their own means.

Verdict: Ravenclaw

Alai:  Alai is Ender’s first real friend in Battle School.  Starting out as the best friend of Ender’s nemesis in their launch group, Alai befriends Ender when they are the first launchies to grasp the concept of movement in null gravity.  Alai is well-liked by the entire launch group, and his acceptance of Ender helps soothe some of the hard feelings instilled by the administrators in an attempt to isolate Ender.  It’s with Alai that Ender begins his free-time battle practices, and he can bounce ideas – sometimes literally – off of Alai.  The two challenge and push each other to be better while remaining close friends.

In Ender’s time at Command School, Alai is one of the commanders he leads to battle against the Buggers.  While they are all pushed to the very limits of their endurance, Alai tries his best to calm Ender by cracking jokes from their early days at Battle School.  He, along with many of the other commanders under Ender’s leadership, stays by Ender’s side while he is recovering from the final battle and is the first person Ender speaks to upon waking.

Alai is one of the few characters in this book that could fit into a number of the houses.  He’s nearly as smart as Ender himself, smarter than the majority of the students at Battle School.  Yet he’s not afraid to break the status quo, and doesn’t buckle to peer pressure during a time when he could have been easily swayed by his friends’ prejudices against Ender.  His position in his launch group is perhaps the most telling about his personality – he’s liked and respected by everyone, and is accepting of those that others would shun.  He’s fiercely loyal to Ender and trusts his command implicitly.

Verdict: Hufflepuff, with strong Ravenclaw leanings.

Bonzo Madrid: Ender’s first commander is a product of honor and justice.  He firmly believes in the order in which things are done, and his world is turned upside down by this smudge of a launchie that replaces one of his soldiers far earlier than most students get promoted into armies.  But he refuses to be beaten by this obstacle, and swears that his army will be successful despite Ender’s presence.

Unfortunately for Bonzo, he’s really not prepared for Ender’s persistance.

First, Ender embarrasses him in front of his army by defying his order to not practice with his launch group during free time.  And then Ender embarrasses him in front of the rest of the school by unintenionally having the best ratings of all the soldiers even though he’s never fired a shot in a battle – in fact, Ender’s pristine rating is due to Bonzo’s order that he not participate in the battles.  But perhaps the worst thing Ender does is disobey his order – and turns a certain loss into a draw.

When Ender becomes a commander himself, tensions only increase with Bonzo.  He soundly beats Bonzo’s army when they should have had a head start, and Bonzo misinterprets Ender’s disdain with the administration as mockery of Salamander Army.  Dishonored time and time again by Ender, Bonzo plots to kill him.

Bonzo, along with a number of other students that dislike Ender, corner him in the shower and demand that Ender stop doing so well at the battles, that it’s not fair that Ender win all the time.  They advance on him, and Ender comments that Bonzo’s father would be so proud that it took him and six others to beat up a kid smaller than him – and Ender’s taunt works.  Bonzo tells his companions to hang back, that he’ll take on Ender himself.  But Ender’s too small, too quick, and too smart, and this confrontation leads to disastrous results for Bonzo.

Bonzo would rather lose, or die, with honor, than live with shame.

Verdict: Gryffindor

Dink Meeker: Ender’s toon leader in Rat Army is the first person to make Ender see that the games in school aren’t about the armies fighting against each other, but about the administration working against the students.  It’s a lesson Ender learns the hard way when he takes command, but at the time Ender can’t understand why Dink has refused the multiple offers to command an army.  He’s intelligent and teaches Ender everything he knows, and he’s a far better leader than their actual commander, Rose de Nose.

Dink is full of conspiracy theories.  In addition to thinking that the battles between armies are just a means of pitting the students against each other, he believes that there is no more alien threat, and that the IF is just trying to train up the best and brightest for an eventual war back on Earth.  However, he believes in Ender’s military ability and strives to nurture it as much as he can.    In the final battle he loyally follows Ender’s command.

Verdict: Gryffindor, though for very different reasons than Bonzo.  He stands up for the things he believes in, but is flexible enough to see that, while he may not have been 100% correct in his ideas, there is still a greater good worth fighting for and a champion to believe in.  So, Gryffindor, with a healthy dose of Hufflepuff.

Tune in on Thursday for more Ender’s Game sorting!

Announcement: Posting Schedule!

Starting this week, posts on TheSorter will be broken into two entries, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Look for a new post, focusing on a beloved sci-fi novel, tomorrow!

Sorting: Les Miserables

As mentioned in the introduction, I recently saw Les Miserables (again).  This show has been one of my favorites for over a decade now, and it actually held top honors as my Best Musical Ever until I saw Wicked in 2004 (and that will no doubt be the subject of a later post).  While watching it, I realized what intricate characters this show contains, and that while it may seem easy to sort the characters into their respective houses, such depth of character deserves more than just a quick, throwaway label with little consideration.

This post contains spoilers for Les Miserables, if you don’t want to know the details of what happens in the show, don’t read anything else!

The Thenardiers: To start, I’ll pick an easy couple to analyze, the Thenardiers.  Of all the characters, they are the least complicated, and possibly most repulsive (yet highly entertaining).  Their role in the show begins with them as innkeepers, where they swindle their guests and steal their goods.  Fantine, the single mother of the young Cosette, has entrusted them with Cosette’s care while she works to support her, and she sends them as much money as she can.  The Thenardiers use Cosette for slave labor, while constantly complaining about her presence and the meager amount of money Fantine sends them.  When Fantine dies and Jean Valjean comes to claim Cosette, the Thenardiers use every excuse in the book to try to swindle money out of him to take her – first that they love her like their own daughter (after openly favoring their own daughter over her), then that she’s had many costly illnesses, and they top it all off by accusing Jean Valjean of possibly being a pedophile.

Ten years following their loss of Cosette, the Thenardiers are living on the streets of Paris, running a thieving crew, their inn having gone out of business.  Aside from preying on the sympathies of the generous rich folk by pretending they have an unfed child, Monsieur Thenardier  attempts to sell out Jean Valjean to Inspector Javert, and tries to rob Jean Valjean (though his attempt is thwarted by his now teenage daughter, Eponine).  After the battle, Monsieur Thenardier is seen pulling gold teeth from the dead and stealing jewelry off the corpses of the fallen soldiers.  Near the end of the show, the Thenardiers crash a wedding, where they attempt to force the groom to pay them for some important information, and then attempt to steal the silver cutlery and dishes from the banquet table.

The Thenardiers clearly aren’t very intelligent – first squandering the money they got from Jean Valjean, then losing their business and ending up on the streets.  They show no bravery, submitting willingly to the Inspector’s demands and preferring to flee from danger instead of facing it.  They show no loyalty to anyone but each other – and even that is sometimes up for debate – and it’s quite clear that they’re only looking out for themselves.  They follow no moral code, willing to go to any lengths for just one more sou.

Verdict: Slytherin, and the worst kind at that.  Some Slytherins make something of themselves, and use their ambition and cunning to achieve great things.  These two…well, I suppose the fact that they’re not dead yet says something about their will to survive, but not much.

Fantine: Fantine is dealt a pretty rotten hand in this show.  Before the beginning of the show she met the man of her dreams, got pregnant, and then was abandoned by the father of her child.  Desperate to make sure her child received the proper care, she leaves Cosette in the care of the Thenardiers, who have a daughter the same age as Cosette, and goes to work in a factory to pay for their care.  She is unaware of the abuse Cosette receives at the hands of the Thenardiers.

At the factory, things aren’t much brighter.  The foreman is a lecherous jerk who likes to force his female employees to provide him sexual favors in order to keep their jobs.  Fantine refuses his advances, which already angers him, and one day she receives a letter from the Thenardiers demanding more money.  One of her coworkers reads the letter and reveals her secret to the foreman, that she has a daughter and therefore must be sleeping around.  Jean Valjean, now the mayor of the town where Fantine works, witnesses the altercation between Fantine and her coworker and allows the foreman to settle it.  The foreman fires Fantine.

Following her dismissal, Fantine tries to find legitimate work any way she can, first selling her necklace then selling her hair.  Desperate to provide for her daughter, she finally turns to prostitution in order to make money.  She contracts a disease, refuses the wrong aristocrat her services, and ends up at the mercy of the law.  Valjean, recognizing her, takes her to the hospital, but it’s already too late for her.  Valjean agrees to care for her daughter, but he cannot save her.

We see very little of Fantine in this show, only about a third of the first act, so it’s hard to really get to know her.  We don’t know anything about her intelligence, though as she’s unable to find or keep a job better than blue-collar work, and also based on the time period, odds are she hasn’t spent too much time in school.  From her experience with the foreman she doesn’t appear to have much of a backbone, though she most likely was trying to keep her head down to hold onto her job.  She is willing to do anything in order to make money, but that’s to save her daughter, not her own hide.  She’s extremely hardworking, and tries her best to follow the rules, even if those that made the rules put her where she is.

Verdict: Hufflepuff

Cosette: Cosette is one of those characters that tends to rub me the wrong way.  Yes, we feel bad for her because of her tragic childhood…forced into slave labor at the hands of the Thenardiers, and then losing her mother, but truthfully, she has a pretty good life.  Jean Valjean takes her in and makes it his life’s goal to ensure she’s safe and happy, if not a bit cloistered.  We know little about her, and more about how the people around her respond to her.

The “good” characters love her instantly, the “bad” characters abuse her.  Aside from showing herself to be a scared child early in the show, and a philanthropic teenager (mostly, I assume, on Jean Valjean’s initiative) near the end of the first act, we know nothing about her.  She is beautiful and longs to know about her past.  She makes men want to change their lives for her – at least, two of the leading men in the show, anyway.  This character trait is similar to early Disney princesses, who had no other purpose than to find a suitable Prince Charming, and find her Prince Charming Cosette does.  From here on out, I think I’ll refer to this particular type of character existing in a story as the Isabella Syndrome.

As a child she shows fear at having to go into the woods, though from what we can tell there’s nothing dangerous out there.  I suppose that could be attributed to an overactive imagination, but as kids are sorted at only a few years older than Cosette is at that point, odds are she wouldn’t be put in Gryffindor.  We see nothing of her brains, and while she does have a thirst for knowledge of her own past, it doesn’t seem to spill over into any other sort of desire to learn.  She shows no real ambition or cunning, other than wanting to see Marius again and marry him.

Verdict: Hufflepuff, as the other three have been ruled out.

Eponine: Ahh, Eponine, every teenage girl’s idol for unrequited love.  She starts off as the spoiled daughter of the Thenardiers, but her pampered lifestyle is taken from her when they are ousted from their inn and tossed to the streets of Paris.  She’s described as “hard to scare” and “without fear” in her teenage years, and also helps out with her father’s thieving operation.  Yet, her most defining aspect is her loyalty to Marius, the plucky student-turned-soldier who hangs around her patch of the Paris slums.

Her affection for the french schoolboy is clear as soon as we see the two of them together, but he seems blissfully unaware of her feelings for him, treating her instead like a younger sister.  Shortly after we see them interact, Marius meets Cosette, and it’s love at first sight, choirs of angels sing, the whole shebang.  Marius, still ignorant of Eponine’s love for him, asks her to find out where Cosette lives.

And. She. Does.

She tracks down Cosette (her knowledge of Paris is probably something to be commended as well) and watches the two of them admit their love for each other.  As Marius and Cosette run off in the back to a more private area, Thenardier’s gang of thieves comes by to rob Valjean, and Eponine thwarts their attempts to protect Marius’s opinion of her.  Once the battles in the streets begin and Valjean plans to take Cosette out of France, Marius has Eponine deliver a letter to Cosette, which she again does for him.  Eponine then returns to the barricade mid-battle to be with her beloved, only to be shot and die in his arms.

Eponine’s got a lot going on.  She’s street smart, though doesn’t seem to have much of a thirst for knowledge.  She’s survived on the streets and stood up to her own father, so she’s certainly not without nerve, but it’s her loyalty to Marius that truly motivates her.  She is quite literally willing to do anything for him, whether it be turn her father over to the police, discover the hiding place of his new-found love or put herself in harm’s way just to see him.

Verdict: Hufflepuff, due to her fierce devotion to Marius, but with some serious Gryffindor leanings.

Enjolras: At the beginning of this post, I said the Thenardiers were easy to sort.  Well, that’s nothing compared to Enjolras.

Enjolras is the leader of the student uprising against the “oppressive” government (I use the scare quotes because in truth we don’t really know how oppressive the government is, just that Enjolras feels that they don’t care about the little guy enough.  Due to the lack of support he receives in the battles, it leads me to believe that things aren’t bad enough to constitute a full uprising.).  He is supremely dedicated to his cause of supporting General Lamarque, a popular defender of the people, and inspires a group of students to join his cause.  He makes plans to barricade the streets, builds a weapons arsenal, and as soon as Lamarque dies, he sets his plan into motion.

He and his band of students are woefully outnumbered, yet he works tirelessly to push back the militia.  When Javert’s cover as a spy within their ranks is blown, he is completely disgusted with the turncoat’s tactics.  When Valjean valiantly fights alongside them, Enjolras rewards him graciously by giving him Javert to do as he pleased.  When he sees that the tide is turning, Enjolras insists that the women and fathers of children leave the battle to save their lives, though his request falls on deaf ears.  He dies bravely, defending what he believes in.

Verdict: Gryffindor.  He’d give Harry a run for his money.

Marius and the Students of the Barricade: It would be easy to say that, as these students were fighting for Enjolras’s cause, they’re Gryffindors as well, but I don’t think they should be dismissed so easily.  They remind me of typical college students, naive yet desperate to learn, desperate to experience what the world has to offer.  They’re easily swept up into the romantic idea of fighting for the little guy, believing that in a perfect world, everyone would be taken care of equally.

They’re malleable.  Their minds are open, thirsting for information, and Enjolras gladly fills their heads with thoughts of revolution.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Enjolras intentionally led them to their demise, not at all – I’m sure that Enjolras fully believed every single thing he passed on to the students.  They believed it as well.

Marius deserves some extra consideration, as he’s a big of a bigger character.  However, he’s really no different from the rest of the students, other than he’s luckier in that he survived the battle and had Valjean watching over him.  But he is so absorbed in his cause that he fails to see what’s right in front of him – Eponine’s feelings for him.  Had he realized that, he may have been able to save her life, by making different choices in an effort to not hurt her.  And later in the show, his thirst for knowledge of what happened and why drives him to keep asking questions and get to the truth.


JavertInspector Javert: Aside from the generic “prisoners in a prison camp singing about our prison woes,” Inspector Javert is the first character we meet in this show.  A prison guard, he begins the show by releasing prisoner #24601 on parole, but not before making it quite clear that he views him as the scum of the earth, unworthy of even a name, because he ended up in jail in the first place.  He hands Valjean his yellow parole ticket, and sends him away.

We next see Inspector Javert just before Fantine’s death, where Mayor Valjean (under a different alias, of course) saves Fantine from jail and sends her instead to the hospital.  In the following scene, a runaway cart pins a man beneath, an no one but Valjean will try to save him.  Once the man is saved, Javert comments to the mayor that he’s only known one man with that sort of physical strength, an old prisoner who broke his parole some years back.  But Javert is practically gleeful because he believes that he’s just recaptured Valjean, and the man he has in custody is going on trial that very afternoon.  Javert’s victory is spoiled when the mayor himself comes into the courtroom and admits to being Valjean, complete with prison brand and number, but then flees to Fantine’s side.  Javert goes to the hospital to confront Valjean, but Valjean, who has just sworn to protect Fantine’s daughter, knocks Javert out, collects Cosette, and flees to Paris.

Ten years later, Inspector Javert is in Paris as well, doing his best to keep the “scum” – ie, the beggars, whores, and thieves (because they’re all the same in his eyes) – off the streets.  He hears from Monsieur Thenardier that Valjean may be in the city as well, but he has more pressing matters at hand – he must infiltrate this upstart of a student revolution and quash all their dreams of being successful.  Once Lamarque is dead, Javert volunteers with the students to be an informant.  He returns to them with false information, but is ratted out by a younger member of the student rebellion that recognizes him for what he is.  Tied up and held captive, he witnesses Jean Valjean arrive at the barricade and fight alongside the students.  Valjean asks for Javert’s life as repayment for he assistance in the first battle, and Enjolras grants it.  Javert is certain that he’ll die at Valjean’s hand, but instead Valjean frees him.  His whole world turned upside down by the revelation that Jean Valjean is not a cold, heartless criminal, Javert throws himself off a bridge.

I think many people would want to say that Javert is a Slytherin, simply because he’s the main villian of the show.  However, I think that’s completely wrong.  He follows a strict moral code, and has a deeply rooted sense of what’s right and what’s wrong.  He’s brave enough at least to put himself in danger to defend that, willing to die to uphold the government he believes in.  But when his foundation is rattled to the core, when his belief system of what’s good and what’s bad is shown to be wrong, he’s unable to handle it.  His own moral rigidity is his own undoing, and no Slytherin would ever limit themselves like that.

Verdict: Gryffindor

Jean Valjean: Our central character is perhaps the most complex in the show, yet I don’t find him particularly difficult to sort.  He’s alone in that I think he has qualities of all four of the houses, yet I do believe one stands out among them.

Jean Valjean spent 19 years in jail.  Five years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s child, and an additional fourteen because he tried to escape.  The show starts off with his parole from jail, where he’s given a sack of clothes and a yellow ticket saying he’s a convict.  He tries to get work legitimately, showing his employer his yellow ticket, but he’s let go after a single day with only half of what the fine, upstanding citizens were paid.  He tries to get a room at an inn for the night, only to be turned away due to his convict status.  A bishop takes him in, feeds him and gives him a place to sleep, and in general treats him like a human being.  After the rest of the house is asleep, Valjean steals the silver goblets used with the meal and flees.  He doesn’t get very far before he’s captured and returned to the Bishop.  However, the Bishop covers for him, saying that yes, he gave the goblets to Valjean, and the matching silver candlesticks as well.  Valjean, freed, tries to return the silver to the Bishop, but the Bishop refuses, saying that the silver is payment for Valjean to now become an honest man.

So, Valjean does what any honest man would do – he tears up his parole ticket, and under a fake name, presents himself as just a regular guy looking for work, and slowly starts his life over.  Ten years later, he’s mayor of the factory town where Fantine works, and where Javert believes he has tracked down the escaped convict Valjean, but he (obviously) has the wrong man.  Valjean wrestles with his chance at freedom, knowing that Javert has been hunting him, but eventually his conscience wins out and he goes to the trial, admitting that he is #24601.  He goes to Fantine’s bedside and, guilt-ridden with the thought that he caused her death by not intervening in her foreman’s actions, agrees to care for her daughter.  Javert confronts him in the hospital, and he again does what any honest man would do – knocks him out and flees.  He pays off the Thenardiers for Cosette and takes her to Paris.

Another ten years pass, and Valjean has once again done well for himself, living in a comfortable estate in Paris with his beautiful young daughter.  While before his main goal was his own survival, now her life and protection are tantamount.  One day while on the street, Monsieur Thenardier recognizes him and attacks him, and Javert appears to sort out the disturbance.  Recognizing Javert, Valjean flees in order to protect his cover.  Later that night, Monsieur Thenardier brings his gang of thieves to rob Valjean but he is thwarted by Eponine, who is hanging around with Marius as he just needed to see his new love again, Cosette.  Eponine’s scream alerts Valjean to the danger, and he believes that Javert has discovered his hiding place, and plans to take Cosette away from France.  At the same time, the battles in the streets begin, and Marius decides to fight with them instead of follow Cosette.

Eponine delivers a letter to Cosette, and it is intercepted by Valjean.  He reads this letter, which speaks of Marius’s love for Cosette and her love for him, and decides to go fight with these students and see what this Marius character is all about.  He meets him and likes him, and the main goal of his life now changes – he knows he’s old, but this young man can care for Cosette when he’s no longer around.  He sees Javert, a prisoner, and knows he will be killed at the hands of these students unless he intervenes, so he negotiates a way to free him while appearing to kill him.  Once the battle is over and he and Marius are the only ones left alive, he drags Marius’s nearly lifeless body through the sewers to avoid the rest of the fighting, and brings him to a hospital.  He approves of Marius and Cosette’s marriage, and then explains to Marius that he must leave the city because he doesn’t want the truth of his identity to come out and ruin Cosette.

Valjean is perhaps the most human of all the characters in this show.  He has a fierce instinct to survive, and he’s clearly intelligent enough if he can rise above the working class twice from almost nothing.  He believes in fairness and doing things the right way, if at all possible.  He is brave, and doesn’t back down from a fight if it needs to happen.  He’s got a moral compass that directs him through life, but he doesn’t let it control him like Javert does.  His desire to always improve his life and the lives of those he loves, and his cunning ability to use whatever means necessary to protect what he believes is important, truly define his character.

Verdict: Slytherin, though I think he would do well in Ravenclaw or Gryffindor as well if he wanted to.  However, I think his will to survive, and his willingness to do anything to achieve that goal, define him even more than his intelligence and chivalry.  The latter two are tools he uses to achieve his goal of having the life he wants, and passing that life on to his daughter.

The media sorting hat

So,yesterday as I sat enjoying Les Miserables for the seventh (or eighth…or was it ninth?) time, I realized that I’d slipped into doing something I frequently do – dwelling on which characters would fit into which Hogwarts houses.  Now, when I say I do this frequently, I don’t mean that when I see a hero being especially brave I think “oh, what a Gryffindor” or when a villian is particularly slippery and snakelike I think “stinkin’ Slytherin.”  I mean constant, unending deliberation as to the motivations behind the characters’ actions, and weighing conflicting character traits against each other, for the entirety of the time I’m watching the show/movie/what-have-you, and I’ll dwell on it for a good chunk of time afterwards as well.  And I had to figure, well, I can’t be the only person who does this.

The Harry Potter Wiki breaks down the four houses as follows:

 The main traits of a true Gryffindor are bravery, daring, nerve and chivalry.








Slytherin: Ambition, cunning and resourcefulness are the traits of a true Slytherin.  Also, there’s a tendency to look down on those without purely magical blood, but that probably won’t come into play much in this blog.







Ravenclaw: True Ravenclaws value knowledge, intellegence and wit (yes, all three things are different) above all.








Hufflepuff: Valuing hard work, patience, fair play and loyalty, true Hufflepuffs are the most accepting of the four groups.








Now, these are the descriptions we’re given from the books, but obviously it must be more than that.  If we look at a particular character without going into details (for those of you who haven’t finished the series yet), while he may be a prominent member of the Slytherin house, many of his actions, both in the current books and in the past, could be viewed as courageous, and it’s clear that he’s quite intelligent as well.  And he’s worked quite hard to get to the place where he’s at now, a predominantly Hufflepuff trait.  Yet, why is he in Slytherin?  Why is this character – a half-blood, no less – this character with brains and a muggle-born friend thrown to the pure-blooded wolves of the Slytherin common room?  Because, above all else, he wants to overcome his humble beginnings and make something of himself.  He views his intelligence and diligence as tools he’ll use to get ahead in life, not as virtues in their own right.   Also, odds are he probably wanted to be in Slytherin in the first place.

These are the sorts of things I’ll be exploring here – odds are, most characters will have attributes of all four houses, but to determine what it is that truly motivates them will decide ultimately in which house they belong.