There’s a strong possibility that this will be the most controversial thing I have ever posted on the internet.
I’ve been blogging in some form or another since the late ’90s. In my youth, I wasn’t above getting into angry political fights in comment sections. I had an active Facebook account during the 2004 primaries and went to a college known for having one major, campus-wide controversy each semester.
And yet, here we are.
I am going to sort the Hamilton characters into Hogwarts houses.
This is a dicey proposition for multiple reasons. For one, this podcast and its listeners exist in a larger internet social group of book people that sorts characters for fun pretty regularly. For another, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, King Nerd of the Nerds, certainly has capital-I-Ideas about what houses these characters should be in, even if he won’t share them with the public. And, of course, sorting in and of itself is based on so many subjective qualities that any answer given for any character can be disputed with an alternate interpretation of the text.
Let’s visit the larger issues with sorting for a moment, along with some issues particular to this case:
1) Age – In Harry Potter, characters are sorted into their houses at eleven years old. There’s a lot to be said about the things about your personality that are steadfast and unchanging, but let’s be real–no one is the same person they were at eleven. When I was eleven, my social anxiety/shyness led me to believe I was the world’s biggest introvert who never wanted to be around people, despite spending all my spare time either hanging out with my local friends or chatting on the internet with my far away friends. I clung to that identity–the broody loner who wasn’t like other girls–very strongly. I imagined my whole future based on those assumptions about myself. AS IT TURNS OUT, I’m a chatty type-a leader who needs human contact to get through the day. Surprise!
Which is all to say, unless we’re sorting middle grade characters or characters whose journey we’ve followed for quite a while, we’re already using a different set of characteristics to sort than the hat would be if these characters actually found themselves at Hogwarts. In this case, though we get a little background about Alexander Hamilton’s youth in the opening number of the musical, we’re mostly working with men and women in their early twenties through late forties. Who knows if the Alexander at eleven would have been sorted the same way as Alexander at twenty-two?
2) Good/Evil Dichotomy – There is a tendency, in people who don’t spend as much time thinking about this as you, reader who’s already made it this far, for Gryffindor to be equated with good guy, Syltherin to be equated with bad guy, Ravenclaw to be equated with nerd, and Hufflepuff to be equated with cheerful idiot. All of this is, of course, incorrect. I know it. You know it. Whether JK Rowling knows it is up for debate, but the point is that all of the Hogwarts House traits are admirable in their own way and all of the houses have their flaws. It’s important to look past that when sorting, but many non-fannish types, major media outlets doing this for kicks, and casual fans can’t seem to do that. Your protagonist isn’t always a Gryffindor. Your antagonist isn’t always a Slytherin.
3) Interpretation – As I mentioned above, the defining traits of the Hogwarts houses are all present in all of us to some degree or another. No fully developed character is a cardboard cutout that is only ambitious or only loyal, with no other personal motivations. This means that interpretations of what a character’s strongest trait is are very objective. You can probably find evidence in the text to argue one way or another about many of the houses and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong; it all comes down to what particular things about that character you value above the rest.
4) Personal Preference – Sometimes we want our faves–or at least the characters we over-identify with–to be in our house. Simple as that.
And, specific to this sorting:
5) Historical vs. Literary – Lin-Manuel took a lot of liberties with timelines, events, and characters in order to turn Hamilton’s life into a condensed, three hour biography with a coherent narrative. Some bits of characters/historical figures’ personalities suffered from that. For instance–Margarita Schuyler was, by all accounts, kind of a badass in real life. In the musical, she takes a decidedly more timid role. John Laurens was, pardon my French, a total reckless shithead. The music as we hear it glosses over that somewhat (although I will say that seeing the show live, a lot of Laurens’ more reckless nature comes through in the staging). Historical Hercules Mulligan seems to have been something of a braggart and cheerful opportunist. Musical Hercules Mulligan acts exactly like you’d think a guy named Hercules Mulligan would act.
I’m going to focus on sorting the characters based on their musical personalities/arcs, but I can’t promise a little of their historical counterparts won’t shine through.
So, with all that out of the way, let’s get to the part you’ve been waiting for. I eagerly await your refutation in the comments:
Alexander Hamilton – Slytherin
Ambition is all but this dude’s middle name. He spent his entire life fighting to get further up the social ladder. He put his ambitions above his friends and family, to devastating effect at times. A.Ham is resourceful, cunning, intelligent, and also prideful, arrogant, and not above doing backroom dealings to get what he wants. He spends the entire second act wearing green. He basically has Slytherin tattooed across this forehead.
Aaron Burr – Slytherin
Okay, so, this one is interesting to me because Burr and Hamilton are described so often as being opposite sides of the same coin. Popularly, the opposite of Slytherin is held to be Gryffindor. But. Burr is also a Slytherin. Rather than opposite sides of the Hogwarts coin, I see Burr and Hamilton as opposite sides of the Slytherin coin. Burr was also ambitious, but he was quieter about it. He switched parties to get ahead–not exactly a Gryffindor quality. He wanted the glory that Hamilton had, he wanted Hamilton’s accomplishments, he was just too aware of maintaining his own legacy to go after them immediately. Burr is definitely Slytherin as well, a thing that would drive a Hogwarts!Hamilton (or even a modern AU Hamilton) endlessly crazy.
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton – Hufflepuff
This one is maybe the most no-brainer of the list. The Eliza we get in the musical is loyal to a literal fault, dedicated to her family and friends, patient, kind, and fair. Her biggest moments are centered around being deeply shaken by a betrayal she couldn’t imagine and then offering forgiveness for said betrayal. Hufflepuff through and through.
George Washington – Hufflepuff
Hear me out. With the exception of Eliza, Washington is the character who most resembles the venerated figure in our history books. The show portrays him as being dedicated to the cause of the revolution, caring deeply for Hamilton, and making a choice to return to a simple life, not just because he longs for it, but because he knows it’s what’s best for the country. He’s a person who values hard work and patience and who makes a point to hear all sides of an issue.
Angelica Schuyler Church – Ravenclaw
Angelica is one that I can see going a couple different ways. And while, yes, her main song is about giving something up out of loyalty to her sister, I don’t necessarily think that’s her most defining trait, especially given how few of the other Hufflepuff traits she conforms to. For Angelica, we’re going to get a little technical. Angelica has one of the fastest minds in the show. She’s an intellectual match for A.Ham, she’s the person he consults with on political matters, and while her nearly showstopping number is about a sacrifice she makes for her sister, that choice is framed in an incredibly complicated and whip-quick show of mental gymnastics. The bulk of “Satisfied” takes place over seconds of “real time.” Angelica meets A.Ham, assesses his character, reviews her family role and responsibilities, and processes Eliza’s desires, all over the course of an introductory conversation. Angelica’s mind is her strongest, fastest asset. Angelica belongs in Ravenclaw.
John Laurens – Gryffindor
John Laurens was a suicidally reckless shithead. John Laurens concocted an elaborate plan to free southern slaves to serve in the army. John Laurens introduces himself by challenging authorities to a fight, is the first one to jump on A.Ham’s insistence that they need to take their shot, as it were, and his refrain during that song is an encouragement for everyone to fight for their freedom. John Laurens’ recurring musical motif is “I may not live to see our glory / but I will gladly join the fight.” The hat did not even fully touch this kid’s head before it put him in Gryffindor, bless his tiny heart :’)
Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette – Ravenclaw
At first glance, it may seem like Lafayette belongs in Gryffindor. He leads a song called “Guns and Ships” in which he raps at lightning speed about beating the crap out of the British. Much like Angelica, however, a closer analysis of Lafayette’s arc skews me more towards Ravenclaw. At the start of the show, Lafayette can barely speak English. His goal is freedom for France, but is also wary of the form current unrest is taking. By the end of the first act, however, he’s giving us the fastest rap in the show, fluent in English, having risen to the rank of general. He provides Washington with thoughts on strategy and tactics and, this is key, when describing why he wants to bring Hamilton back in, his emphasis is on Hamilton’s intelligence and how Hamilton is the only mind equal to his own. Lafayette’s arc is about learning and growing not in physical prowess, but in mental dexterity.
Hercules Mulligan – Gryffindor
The strengths involved with being a spy could skew someone towards any of the houses, I think, but Mulligan lands firmly in Gryffindor thanks to his resiliency, tenacity, and fighting spirit. The dude is just itching for a fight and dedicated to doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
Peggy Schuyler – Hufflepuff
There’s tragically not much to work with for musical!Peggy. What we do know, however, is that she’s nervous about the upcoming war, she’s not as interested in the intellectual stimulation of the revolution as her sisters, and she’s not upset about being the tag-along. She loves her sisters, she’s a good kid, so we’ll put her in Hufflepuff.
Thomas Jefferson – Gryffindor
This is the one I had the most trouble with! I could see three ways that TJ could go–Gryffindor, Slytherin, and Ravenclaw. With a little more examination, however, I’m going to come down on Gryffindor. Jefferson is a pain in the ass and sneaky as hell, but everything he does is, in my opinion, to make the country better. In his mind, this is all for The Greater Good (the greater good). Sure, he finds A.Ham personally annoying, but if you listen to “Washington on Your Side,” it becomes clear that the reason he resigns, the reason he runs for president, the reason he wants A.Ham out isn’t so much for personal gain as it is because he does honestly, truly believe the country will be better off with A.Ham out of the picture. I don’t agree with his picture of America and his morals are obviously incredibly sketchy, but that doesn’t mean that acting on behalf of them is any less a bullheaded, pure-hearted Gryffindor thing to do.
James Madison – Ravenclaw
JMads is an ideas man who doesn’t understand why cool logic doesn’t win the day. He wrote the Bill of Rights and some of the Federalist Papers, so he’s a big ol’ nerd. When TJ shows up, he’s mostly annoyed that there has been no one to help him tell this new guy that he’s just WRONG on the proto-internet!!!! Ravenclaw.
Philip Hamilton – Gryffindor
I think I said in my review of the show that Philip and Laurens is the double-casting with the closest characters, personality-wise. Anthony does a brilliant job making them wholly recognized and characterized individuals, but it’s no surprise that Philip is also in Gryffindor. Honor obsessed, scrappy, arrogant, getting into fights…very Gryffindor, the poor baby.
Maria Reynolds – ???
Lin-Manuel Miranda–my problematic fave. We don’t get nearly enough about Maria for me to make a definitive decision about her house. While her character is much richer once you see the show in person, there’s still not enough about her for me to make a decision either way. She’s a mystery to me.
So there you have the principles of Hamilton sorted as I see fit. Go forth and argue with me in the comments about why I’m so wrong about your fave. You won’t sway me, as I’m a pedantic, dismissive Ravenclaw who is quite secure in her well-analyzed answers, but I appreciate the input nonetheless 😉