The release of the director’s cut of The Godfather Part III has me pondering one of my favorite film trilogies again. It’s fun to consider fictional characters in the context of their Hogwarts Houses, especially given the Sorting Hat Chats System’s rich, deep analysis of the Houses. The Godfather’s characterizations really illustrate the difference between a Slytherin loyalty “family first” mindset, and the colder, more calculating nature of a “system-driven” Ravenclaw.
The family patriarch, Don Vito Corleone, is a Slytherin to the core. Not only does he place his family and friends ahead of everyone else, in his role as a ‘benefactor’ and the Godfather of his community, he feels a sense of ownership and possessiveness over his fellow Italians. They are “his” to protect from those who would seek to exploit them. Vito directs much of his criminal activities toward those outside his own boroughs—and keeps those within them safe. His heavy focus on family makes it difficult for him to accept or comprehend Michael’s desire to leave them for a life outside the mafia, through his decision to join the military. But it also makes him the “beloved” don, even if his decisions are not as tactical as those of Michael. Vito is ambitious for himself and his sons, and when he sees a chance to gun down a man in his youth and assume power, he does it. And he adopt a benevolent, almost Hufflepuff-like persona to deal with those outside the family, but there is always a strong sense of repayment, of friendship, of owing and being owed favors (“One day, I shall call upon you to do something for me…” and the recipient of his favor must hope it doesn’t include getting rid of a body). Vito has a Hufflepuff Secondary House – he gathers a supportive community around him, among whom he can trade “favors” to his advantage, but also who will come to his defense if necessary. As he grows older, Vito leans more and more into this side of his nature, and becomes tolerant, forgiving, and generous… to his own determent, when the other dons see him as “weakened.”
The message he imparts to his children is “family first, above all.” It’s one his son, Sonny, takes to heart, even though he is a double Gryffindor. Possessive, protective, and violent in his Gryffindor Secondary House (inclined to rush into things without thinking about them first), Sonny’s first and only priority has only ever been to protect his own; he makes them into his Cause, and allows his instinctual gut responses to dictate his decisions. Sonny has strong opinions about what he considers to be right and wrong, and the conviction to act on those impulses. When he finds his sister Connie sporting a black eye after her husband beats her, Sonny tracks him down in the street and gives him the walloping of his life. He “cares” enough to act on her behalf. When his father is gunned down in the street by thugs, Sonny bands all his men together, and plots revenge. It’s his own protectiveness toward his sister that winds up getting him viciously gunned down on the speedway—he was rushing to her defense yet again, after her husband gave her a terrible beating as part of a trap to get him to leave his friends and protectors. In the end, his impulsive nature, all to support his love of his family, killed him.
Connie is a Slytherin, always championing the rights of “family.” This includes her attempts in the third film to include Sonny’s illegitimate son, Vincent, in their family dynasty, by convincing Michael to bring him into the fold and give him a powerful position. When Michael suffers a diabetic stroke, Connie authorizes a vicious assault against those threatening their family. She also personally delivers poisoned treats to her godfather, whom she knows has turned against them in a bold assassination attempt. Her own loyal, devoted nature means she struggles immensely to understand how Michael could ‘betray’ her by having her husband murdered, and why she cannot believe he murdered Fredo. Connie would not have had her husband killed (because he is her husband), and she would never have allowed Fredo’s death, just as Vito would never have allowed it. Family is family. You can banish them, but not betray them.
Though not a Corleone, but an ‘adopted’ member of the family, Tom Hagen is a Hufflepuff—loyal to his “family” to the bitter end, and deeply hurt when Michael removes him because he is not a “wartime” consultant, but also far more tolerant and willing to forgive injustices than his adopted brothers. Tom is hard-working and reliable, always there when needed. He has the deep emotional attachment to his ‘brothers’ in the Corleone household that make him unwilling to betray them, even when his own life is under threat. He schemes with them on how to avenge the murder attempt against Vito, and stands with Michael when he faces prosecution. He even arranges for the death of a prized racing stallion to intimidate a Hollywood producer into giving Johnny Fontaine a role in his next picture, because his godfather ordered it. But he has no ambitions of his own and lacks a possessive Slytherin drive.
Fredo has a tender and kind heart, too easily mislead by those around him. He has a wife he cannot control, a desperate desire to earn Michael’s approval, and a sweet nature—he alone supports Michael’s decision to join the military where the rest of the family saw it as a betrayal of their way of life. He is a Hufflepuff, a popular and much-liked man who simply wants to enjoy life and be tolerant of others, forced into maintaining a family business that he has no real heart for. But in the end, through his own foolishness, Fredo betrays Michael. The movie doesn’t make it explicit, but Fredo thought his ‘allies’ were going to kidnap his brother to scare him, not kill him. Nonetheless, he played a role in the assassination attempt, and dies because of it. Despite his sometimes impulsive nature, I suspect he has a Hufflepuff Secondary… he expects good things to come to him because he is always there for his loved ones, and is putting effort into helping them.
Kay, Michael’s second wife, is another Hufflepuff. Loyal and devoted to her family, she invests in him and hopes he will change and walk away from his father’s way of life, but her increasing awareness of his ‘crimes’ causes her to lose all respect for him, followed by her love. She hates this ‘sick’ thing his family has dragged him into, and betrays him by aborting his child, a son, because she did not want him to grow up to be like his father. Ultimately, her reason for leaving him and confronting him is tied to her own humanity, her inability to place a family member’s life above that of a stranger—essentially, her own Hufflepuff nature boiling over into longstanding contempt for a crime family.
Sonny’s illegitimate son Vincent is a double Gryffindor—like his father, hot-tempered and violent, but willing to defy orders and bring aggression into negotiations. Michael lectures him many time about concealing his thoughts from others and stopping to think about the consequences of his actions, but Vincent simply does whatever he deems best, without fear of the consequences. He also feels protective over his cousin, Mary, likely a Hufflepuff like her mother. She has a deep love and devotion to her father, but not to the exclusion of anyone else, and takes her role in the charitable organization seriously. She doesn’t want to believe ill of her father, and probably would forgive him of his crimes… if he ever let her hear the truth, which he never does.
Which brings us to Michael. Though his actions are often to defend and protect his family, he does it with none of the warmth and loyalty of his father’s natural Slytherin nature. Michael is far more logical and realistic, and he lives by a code of his own—formed of the belief that you must treat all enemies the same, regardless of where they come from or whose blood rushes through their veins. His desire to break out of his family lifestyle and pursue his own career elsewhere shows his willingness to think outside the box; being “pulled back in” to the mafia soon reveals he has taken what his father taught him, the traditions of his family, and subverted it into his own personal code by which he lives. He does not allow his emotions to blind his judgment or stay his hand. You betray him, you threaten his family, you pay the price—even if you are Fredo, his own flesh and blood. Michael cannot understand why his actions separate him from the love of his family, because he believes you make decisions with your head rather than your heart. He isn’t afraid to replace Tom when Tom is not able to be what he needs. He urges Vincent not to hate his enemies, because “it effects your judgment.” Don’t let pesky emotions get in the way of sense! Loyalty be damned.
He’s an example of a Ravenclaw who has not included compassion into his ‘constructed’ ideology. He wears a Slytherin Model, but his actions stem from a place of detachment. He is a planner and panicked when he must improvise, so he’s a double Ravenclaw. And proof not all notorious characters belong in Slytherin.
Ooooooooooooh, a villainous Ravenclaw. Fascinating stuff!!
I imagine there are more (other than Javert in Les Mis, and I don’t really consider him a pure villain) but not many come to mind, that’s for sure!
And Frollo from Hunchback is a Ravenclaw Model, not a true Ravenclaw …
Indeed. He broke my poor little villain-loving heart, being a Gryffindor.
I wondered if Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins might be a Ravenclaw, but he’s ruthlessly pursuing a Cause to cleanse Gotham of its own evil in a “with me or against me way,” which makes him a broken Gryffindor.
I’m sure I will find more… and the nice thing about this system is only specific kinds of villains wind up in Slytherin, which allows more balance in the Houses and sends the message that evil can be found everywhere, not just in the dungeons at Hogwarts. 😉
That moral zeal and demand that everyone else get on board with your “Cause” sounds more Gryffindor, yeah.
That’s what I LOVE about the SHC system!!! It’s so much more neutral on a moral scale: here, it’s actually plausible and natural to sort both good and evil characters into the same House. Because they have the same basic motivation, they just … made different choices with it.