The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is divided into four houses, each bearing the last name of its founder: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. It seems that the Sorting Hat tended to place students based on qualities they valued rather than qualities they exhibited.
The Sorting Hat could detect nascent qualities in a student and place them in the House that would challenge them and put their character to the test. The Hat also appeared to take the students' wishes into account, considering how one's personal choices are very much of a reflection of the qualities that they valued in themselves. According to Rubeus Hagrid, "There isn't a wizard that's gone bad that wasn't in Slytherin," (though this is for the most part correct, there are a few exceptions, former Gryffindor Peter Pettigrew the most notable of them).
House rivalry was most seen between Slytherin and Gryffindor ("Gryffindor and Slytherin students loathed each other on principle"[HP6]). Usually, though not always, the other two houses appeared (in Harry's eyes) to support Gryffindor in its rivalry with Slytherin, which again is reminiscent of how Slytherin was in the end opposed by all three of the other founders.
Hufflepuff, founded by Helga Hufflepuff, values hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play. Slytherin house values ambition, cunning and resourcefulness and was founded by Salazar Slytherin. Each House represent one of the four classical elements: Fire (Gryffindor), Earth (Hufflepuff), Air (Ravenclaw), and Water (Slytherin).
Slytherin stands out as the only House whose primary colour is not one the three primary colours; red, blue, and Yellow. When the founders worried how students would be selected after their deaths, Godric Gryffindor took his hat off and each "put some brains" in it, allowing the Sorting Hat to choose students.
This was never more apparent than with Peter Pettigrew, who was sorted into Gryffindor but ultimately turned out to be quite cowardly, self-serving and corruptible. Case in point, Neville Longbottom was sorted into Gryffindor because the Hat sensed that he was capable of demonstrating bravery and leadership during his time at Hogwarts. Just because someone was placed in a certain House did not mean that they could not display characteristics of other Houses.
At one point, Albus Dumbledore observed that his loyal, courageous nature was much more befitted to Gryffindor. Each has its own common room and dormitory, its own table in the Great Hall, and students mostly share lessons with classmates of their same house. This rivalry was demonstrated in the Quidditch matches and the annual school competition for the House Cup, which was determined by the number of points earned or lost by each member of the rival houses. None of this necessarily means, however, that all Slytherins are evil (Horace Slughorn for example). This rivalry likely goes back to the days of Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin after they founded Hogwarts, because the Sorting Hat said that they were the best of friends before they founded the school.[HP5] While it is not clear if there is a similar rivalry between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, it seems fairly unlikely due to the cheerful disposition of the Heads for said Houses, as opposed to the contempt of Professor Snape and the passion of Professor McGonagall. One exception to this occurred when Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin all initially supported Hufflepuff's Cedric Diggory instead of Gryffindor's Harry Potter in the Triwizard Tournament.[HP4] Also in the first Quidditch match of 1996, it was said that many of the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws had "taken sides" in the Gryffindor vs Slytherin match, but does not specify which Houses took which side. Each of these also represents one of the fours states of matter: Plasma (Fire, Gryffindor), Gas (Air, Ravenclaw), Liquid (Water, Slytherin), and Solid (Earth, Hufflepuff). The houses compete throughout the school year, by earning and losing points for various activities. Now, at the beginning of each school year, the magical Sorting Hat is placed on each new student's head during the Sorting ceremony.

He was probably placed there because at the time, he admired strong, brave individuals like James Potter and Sirius Black.
However, these qualities did not fully surface until Neville learned to believe in himself.
Harry Potter, for instance, embodied many of the traits that were appreciated by Salazar Slytherin.
However, as a child, Snape's sadism, disdain for Muggles and sheer ambition made him an obvious Slytherin when he first came to Hogwarts. There is no rule against students from different houses mingling, but in practise a good majority of social interactions occur within the same house. Slytherins were chosen for their cunning and pure-blood heritage (although blood purity did not appear to be essential - Lord Voldemort and Snape were half-bloods, though they both were prejudiced). Pomona Sprout was the Head of Hufflepuff during 1991 - 1998, Sprout left the post of Head of Hufflepuff and Herbology Professor sometime before 2017 and her successor for the position of Head of Hufflepuff is currently unknown. Professor Horace Slughorn was the Head of Slytherin during the 1997–1998 school year, replacing Severus Snape, who as well, replaced Slughorn when he retired for the first time several years ago. Rowling tapped to illustrate most of her Harry Potter characters, including Hedwig the Owl and Harry Potter himself, both displayed here in this watercolor. HD Wallpaper and background images in the Books Male Characters club tagged: harry potter and the chamber of secrets (2002).
It is also evident in Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, who despite being stupid and rather lazy, were placed in Slytherin, the house of the clever and ambitious. He was clever, resourceful and cunning, yet the Sorting Hat made him a Gryffindor because the very fact that he asked not to be in Slytherin showed that he did not belong there. All members of the faculty and the Head Boy and Girl have the authority to grant and deduct points as they see fit in each instance.[1] Some, like Severus Snape, the former Potions master, tended to favour their own house, but that does not seem to be against the rules.
It has also been said that all four houses must band together and fight as one if Hogwarts is to stand. It was sometimes thought that there was some dislike between the members of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff due to the Ravenclaw students' reputation for boasting about their intelligence, which often annoyed Hufflepuffs, who were known for being modest, gentle and kind. Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, also known as "Nearly Headless Nick", was the house ghost. The ghost of Ravenclaw is the Grey Lady, who was the daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw, the house's founder. Unsigned illustration, which appears on the book's cover, depicts the memorable scene in the book when Ron Weasley steals his father's Ford Anglia to escort Harry back to Hogwarts.
Before beginning the Sorting ceremony, it sings a short song about the founding of the school and the four Houses; the Sorting Hat's songs are different every year, and the Hat is said to take all year composing the next one (according to Ron Weasley, at least).
They flocked around Draco Malfoy, who they admired and who exhibited the traits of Slytherin.
A true Slytherin would not have had any doubts about whether or not it was the right House for them. He was despised by many students, other than those in Slytherin, where he was very popular.
It must be remembered that all of the Houses had their virtues and flaws: none were inherently good or evil. As a whole, Gryffindors were thought to get on best with Hufflepuffs, whereas Ravenclaws were thought to be quite friendly with Slytherins.

Wright charmingly brings each character to life in the illustration -- Potter is depicted in his signature glasses and red pullover; Ron is depicted with flaming red hair and freckles.
These two competitions breed rivalries between the houses, the greatest of which is that between Gryffindor and Slytherin. It was not known how much favouritism the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw Heads showed, although it can be deduced that it was minimal or non-existent, as both Professor Filius Flitwick (of Ravenclaw) and Professor Pomona Sprout (Hufflepuff) were kind, lighthearted people, who obviously wanted to win the House and Quidditch Cups but were not as vindictive as Snape in going about it.
Slytherins may have earned their reputation as evil because they showed such contempt towards Gryffindor, the protagonist house. There are certain exceptions however, such as Harry's friendliness with Cho Chang and Luna Lovegood, both from Ravenclaw, as well as Cho's relationship with Cedric Diggory, a Hufflepuff. The Hufflepuff dormitories and common room are located somewhere in the basement, near the castle's kitchens. The Ravenclaw common room and dormitories are located in a tower on the west side of the castle. The Slytherin dormitories and common room are reached through a bare stone wall in the Dungeons. Both Harry and Ron are pictured grinning at their flying car feat, while Potter's famed owl, Hedwig, is perched in the back seat. It is known that Professor Minerva McGonagall, the stern head of Gryffindor, did not show much favouritism towards her house.
They also did not show much generosity towards other houses either, whether those in them were pure-blood or not. The common room is located in one of the highest towers at Hogwarts, the entrance is situated on the seventh floor in the east wing of the castle and is guarded by a portrait of The Fat Lady. It can be accessed by tapping the barrel two from the bottom, middle of the second row in the rhythm of "Helga Hufflepuff" and is described as being a cosy and welcoming place with yellow hangings, fat armchairs, and underground tunnels that lead to the dormitories, which have perfectly round doors, similar to barrel tops. Ravenclaw students must answer a riddle as opposed to giving a password to enter their dormitories.
In fact, she deducted 50 points apiece and awarded detentions to three students in her house (Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Neville Longbottom when they were caught out of bed after hours in Harry's first year), and supported Professor Snape wholeheartedly in giving Harry detentions for the rest of the school year, even on overlapping Quidditch matches, after Harry used the Sectumsempra spell on Draco Malfoy in Harry's sixth year. She permits entrance if given the correct password, which is changed numerous times throughout the school year. Famous Hufflepuffs include: Hengist of Woodcroft (founder of Hogsmead), Newt Scamander, and Artemisia Lufkin (first female minister for magic). It is a long, low underground room with rough stone walls and silver lamps hanging from the ceiling. Bloomsbury publishers then superimposed this illustration with a background landscape also done by Wright to create the finished cover design. Famous Ravenclaws include: Gilderoy Lockheart, Ignatia Wildsmith (inventor of floo powder), and Garrick Ollivander.

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