The sorting hat was wrong before

Sorting hat

The Sorting Hat (in the original: The Sorting Hat) is a shabby ancient wizard pointed hat that originally belonged to the school's founder, Godric Gryffindor. He and the other founders of Hogwarts have so enchanted this hat that it harbors their wisdom and knows their different focuses.

When a first grader puts on the hat, he can see his character and talents. On this basis, the old hat judges which house each of the school beginners fits best:

The annual assignment ceremony

At the beginning of the reception party for the new school year, the speaking hat decides in a very solemn ceremony in which house the new students will live during their school years.

Before the feast starts, the hat is brought from the headmaster's office to the Great Hall. Initially, the hat opens a crack on its brim and sings a song that it has composed itself. His lyrics are different every year. They are about the school and the special characteristics that are important to each of the houses. But sometimes his song also contains more: e.g. after Lord Voldemort's return he warns the members of the various houses not to stand against each other instead of holding up the goals of the school together.

Then the allocation of the students to their homes begins:

In front of the entire school and teaching staff, all first graders have to put on their thousand-year-old hat one after the other, which is already so worn that it slips wide over the face of most of them. The enchanted hat recognizes their character and abilities, considering what they are capable of and what they stand for. Sometimes the hat knows immediately that there is a Slytherin under him. It is difficult with others and he ponders for a long time. In doing so, he mentally talks to the first grader to be assessed, who has just put his hat on. He explains his considerations or waits for intellectual contradiction on his part. Finally, he announces loudly for everyone to hear in which of the four houses the first grader will live during his school days.

Enchantments of the hat

It is not known what spells the sorting hat was put on to make it think and speak. There must have been an Inanimatus metamorphosis among other things. Certainly, more magic was necessary so that the school founders could transfer their own knowledge and way of thinking to the hat in such a way that they could judge according to their wishes (JKR / FAQ).
Another enchantment of the hat that Harry and Neville experienced creates a magical connection between Gryffindor's old hat and his sword: if a true Gryffindor asks for a weapon in his mind, he can pull Gryffindor's sword out of the Sorting Hat (HP II / 17) + (HP VII / 36).

Harry and the Sorting Hat

When Harry puts on the Sorting Hat at the start of school, he realizes Harry's abilities, including those that Voldemort inadvertently passed on to him. The hat weighs the diverse talents and Harry's chances of success in the Slytherin house against Harry's wish not to come to Slytherin. As Joanne K. Rowling emphasizes again and again, what matters is not a person's abilities, but what they want to use the abilities for. So the wise hat chooses Harry's courageous conviction that he is not primarily interested in his own gain, and sends him to House Gryffindor instead of Slytherin.
Harry, who in the meantime doubts whether he belongs to the right house, has not persuaded the hat to make a wrong decision. This is later shown by the fact that he can pull Gryffindor's sword out of this hat when he urgently needs a weapon.


Although the hat was set on fire by Lord Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts, it does not burn but, as the epilogue shows, assigns even more generations of Hogwarts students to the houses that suit them.

Translation review

  • This enchanted hat is called in the original Sorting Hat, a sorting hat, because it can do much more than just speak: it recognizes, considers, reacts to the thoughts of those who put it on and makes decisions just as the school founders would have done. In the process of sorting is this included. It is criticized that the German translation withholds it and pretends that it is the special thing about this hat to be able to speak.
  • In the song that the hat sings at the beginning of the school year 1994/1995, it seems in the first editions and in the audio book version that all the school founders were male (HP IV / 12). This translation error was corrected in later editions.