kerravonsen: Harry Potter writing with quill (Harry)
[personal profile] kerravonsen
It just occurred to me to wonder... why do the Hogwarts Houses have passwords to keep people out? (*) It is yet another thing which divides the Houses and prevents them from getting to know each other. Why should one have to barricade oneself inside a tower when Hogwarts is supposed to be the safest place in Britain? Surely one wouldn't need protection from within the castle?

No wonder the poor Sorting Hat had to keep singing about unity - none of the staff of Hogwarts bothered to lift a finger to facilitate it. Almost complete segregation was the rule. The only times people from different Houses are allowed to interact are when they are competing against each other, (a) in class and (b) Quidditch. Yes, it is possible for classes to be set up so that cooperation rather than competition is the norm, but in practice, even when students are working in teams, they are always split along House lines.

I mean, I'd already noticed that the mealtime segregation wasn't helping, but the passwords on the House entrances is yet another enforcement of isolation - even if one had friends in other houses, one isn't allowed to bring them into one's common room. Or at least, strongly discouraged from doing so. This means that two opportunities for socializing (meals, and relaxation time) have been completely cut off. For no good reason. Yes, I don't think "tradition" is a good reason. And I'm wondering how that tradition started, and when.

(*) Yes, I know there are Plot Reasons. I am looking at this from a Watsonian perspective, not a Doyleist one.

Date: 2014-07-05 07:13 am (UTC)
sgac: heart made from crumpled paper (Default)
From: [personal profile] sgac
1. The obvious answer is that at some points in history, rivalry between houses turned outright violent and students needed to barricade themselves away so they could sleep in safety. I can quite imagine something like this happening back in Hogwarts' deep and murky past.

2. From a pedagogical point of view, you could argue it divides the students into four more or less manageable masses rather than a vast amorphous group.

3. The house curfew, I believe, is only enforced through the later part of the evening and overnight. Students do have opportunities for inter-house socialisation outside of class during the day, and on the weekends.

Date: 2014-07-05 08:16 am (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
SChools are very large and it's easy for a shy person to become isolated. Focusing more on the smaller community of the houses gives a social group that is more closely defined where it is easier to make friends and harder to get overlooked.

(It's probably no coincidence that my two best friends at school were the girls who sat next to me in the classroom. (We always sat in the same seats and we didn't choose where we sat.)

Date: 2014-07-04 01:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drinkingcocoa.livejournal.com
If I'd been the grown-up who'd installed the passwords, I'd have done it to help the prefects and Heads of House keep track of their students. It's so hard to keep track of anyone in that castle and even the school that lost Montague for weeks might want to provide a little accountability. ;-)

Date: 2014-07-04 10:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaxomsride.livejournal.com
It's not like the passwords were that hard to work out or overhear. I suppose the idea was to prevent students playing tricks on rival students in the dorm. But as they made no attempt to prevent them anywhere else in the Castle that doesn't make sense either.

Date: 2014-07-07 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] temeres.livejournal.com
Why have school houses at all? It's all part of Rowling's right-wing middle-class nostalgia for Victorian values.

Date: 2014-07-11 04:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marta-bee.livejournal.com
The house passcode thing made sense to me personally. That's not going to keep Voldemort out - we see that a determined adult wizard can get through even (I'm assuming) without benefit of a wand, when Sirius breaks into the Gryffindor tower in POA. I suspect the bigger concern were things like people stealing Luna's shoes, perhaps on a more sinister but still student-ish level of mischief. Giving people an area that's more or less restricted to a small group of people gives the students more security. (And makes it more obvious who did it after the fact.) Easier to restrict the whole tower or whatever than each individual room. It's kind of like locking the main door at a college dorm.

And if it was just the dorms, I could understand that. The trouble is, if there are some students that interact, we don't really get to see that, it's not part of the narrative. I mean, it's not like students have to spend all their time in their house common rooms, that's a pretty extreme security measure that jumps out as above and beyond when it's put in place for COS, and there are clubs and sports besides Quidditch (I'm assuming) where people should be interacting with folks outside their individual houses. But we don't see it. It's lazy writing if nothing else.

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Kathryn A.

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