A Writer's Room of Requirement

A home for the many random insights that cross my mind from time to time.

Archive for the tag “fictional universes”

Which types escape the Matrix?

neo-wakes-up

When faced with the incredibly realistic but ultimately false reality of The Matrix which cognitive functions would prove most useful in detecting the machines’ simulation?  Certainly not all functions were created equal in this regard.  Certain types have to prove more difficult to subdue.  Who bucks the simulation of this logical world?

To recognize the Matrix I would want the ability to think imaginatively, to see beyond what my senses tell me.  The machines own my senses now.  I need alternative means of perception.

It would also help if I had values and abilities that the machines themselves can’t emulate.  If they can’t feel what I feel, then that makes me far more difficult to predict.  They have more difficulty cutting my perceptions off before I can realize them.  They will always have a superior logic.  They possess flawless objective processes.  But as a mammal, I will always have more capacity for unique emotion.  I must fight them on the battlefield where I have the advantage.

With this rubric in mind, I outlined the eight cognitive functions from most potentially helpful to least:

High

Introverted Feeling (Fi) – No matter how long they study, the machines will never truly understand the depths of a man’s heart.  They will never find a way to emulate the connection the Fi type feels with their fellow man.  Of all the types, the Fi types possess the strongest sense of empathy.  Through the observation of so many cues of body language and speech, they begin to feel what someone else feels.  No matter how accurate the Matrix becomes, the simulation always puts a thin film, a slight barrier, between the full interaction of two human beings.  The Matrix places a wisp of haze in front of the feeler’s empathy.  With such a perfectly crafted world, these slight, constant inconsistencies mean all the difference.  The Fi type never feels as fully connected to humanity as they should.  Maybe that explains why so many great Fi artists  – Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger, Jimi Hendrix – come to tragic ends.  They just finally escaped the Matrix.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – No cognitive function possesses a higher capacity for imagination.  The Ne types constantly scan their environment – on an almost subconscious level – for any and all connections between all things.  This form of intuition loves to follow each and every rabbit trail that springs to life in the mind’s eye.  This gives the user two advantages in fighting the Matrix.  First, the Ne types, more than any other, notice the inconsistencies in their reality.  They stands apart as the great satirists and revolutionaries like Machiavelli, Mark Twain, and Stephen Colbert.  This constant examination of their reality could potentially lead them to notice the machines pulling the puppet strings behind their reality.

The Ne type also has the imagination to create a world different from their own, a world where these puppet masters don’t exist or don’t hold any power over their human slaves.  Ne types don’t just imagine a better world, they seek to engineer one.  No matter how well the machines prepare, they can never fully plan for every permutation of an idea that can occur to these scatter brained geniuses.

Medium

Introverted Intuition (Ni) – Like their Ne brethren, Ni types possess a strong imagination.  They have an ability to plan for the future that borders on precognition.  They see all of the possible outcomes in a situation and can plan for the most likely ones.  They could entertain the idea of a world dominated by machines and a false reality.  However, because they direct their perception inward, it leaves them rather divorced from their external world.  As such, why should they care whether they live in a “real” world or one dominated by the simulation of an artificial intelligence.  As long as they remain free to read their books or organize that reality in a sensible manner, they could care less about their supposed slavery.  The Ni might see the Matrix, but will they do anything about it?

Low

Introverted Thinking (Ti) – Introverted thinking helps the user solve puzzles.  It provides a logical framework from which they can experiment with their external world.  In solving most problems – such as defeating your robot overlord – this kind of sharp, focused mind comes in handy.  Unfortunately for the Ti type in this universe, their enemy will always have a superior logic.  Like pitting the school chess champion against a grand master, the human simply has no chance.  The Ti type could potentially notice a logical inconsistency in the Matrix but the machines will probably always stay one step ahead.

Introverted Sensing (Si) – The machines have co-opted humanity’s five senses to an alarmingly accurate degree.  Thus, the Si type only notices the Matrix if they witness the machines change something.  They have such a sharp memory that they would pick up on any alterations made by the Agents or the Matrix’s over-arching program long before anyone else would.  However, the Si type probably goes their entire life without ever encountering such a change.  They still have long odds of noticing an event that has long odds of occurring in the first place.  The Si type lacks any agency in noticing the simulation.

Extraverted Thinking (Te) – Like the Ti type, the Te type uses a strong logic in an attempt to order their world.  I’ve already shown how hard a thinking mammal has it against a purely logical machine.  And like the Si type, the chances of a Te type noticing the Matrix rely purely on circumstances.  Te will only see proof of the Matrix when they try to order their external world and that world doesn’t react in a logical manner.  In other words, for an extraverted thinker to see the Matrix, they have to find a bug in an expertly crafted game.  The machines just don’t make those kinds of mistakes very often.

Completely Useless

Extraverted Feeling  (Fe) – The Fe type seeks the harmony and growth of all people in their tight-knit community.  They have no incentive to seek out the Matrix because the extraverted feeler can accomplish these aims within the confines of the simulation.  In fact, the Matrix actively uses community harmony to keep their subjects in line.  Morpheus tells us that you can feel the Matrix “when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes.”  The Fe type may even aid the machines in working against those searching for proof of the Matrix.  They believe that such “terrorists” pose a threat to the harmony of society with their dangerous ideas.

Extraverted Sensing (Se) – Above all else, the Matrix seeks to corrupt our senses.  We see what they want us to see, hear what they want us to hear, etc.  Se type leans heavily and completely on those very senses.  Above all others, they find it the most difficult to extract themselves from the Matrix’s sticky web.  They think they see more than all others, but they are clearly the most blind.

neo stops

I  won’t bore you with the details, but I assigned a point total to each function and then weighted the impact of that function depending on where if falls in the stack of a given personality type.  I came to the following ranking for the most likely type to escape the Matrix.

Rank Type Functions
1. INFP Fi, Ne, Si, Te
2. ENFP Ne, Fi, Te, Si
3. ISFP Fi, Se, Ni, Te
4. ENTP Ne, Ti, Fe, Si
5. INTJ Ni, Te, Fi, Se
6. INTP Ti, Ne, Si, Fe
7. INFJ Ni, Fe, Ti, Se
8. ENTJ Te, Ni, Se, Fi
9. ESFP Se, Fi, Te, Ni
10. ISTJ Si, Te, Fi, Ne
11. ESTJ Te, Si, Ne, Fi
12. ENFJ Fe, Ni, Se, Ti
13. ISTP Ti, Se, Ni, Fe
14. ESFJ Fe, Si, Ne, Ti
15. ISFJ Si, Fe, Ti, Ne
16. ESTP Se, Ti, Fe, Ni
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Lost and Myers-Briggs Typology

My wife and I recently binge watched Lost on Netflix, the popular television show that follows the exploits of a group of plane crash survivors on a mystical island.  Neither of us have watched the show in its entirety before now.  She had only seen the first two seasons.  I watched the first three seasons religiously before becoming frustrated with the show’s lack of answers and plot holes.  I dropped out for two seasons before hate-watching large portions of season 6.  I find I enjoy the show much more the second time around.  I realize the writers never had a grand plan from the beginning.

Having a general idea of the end, I can gloss over the mysteries the story raises and focus on the overwhelming strength of the show: the character development.  Lost always does an excellent job of juggling a variety of complex characters and their dynamic relationships.  Lost never pigeonholes a character in the main cast.  They all possess great capacity for sin and redemption, for selfishness and selflessness.  Naturally, I began to wonder about the personality types of these characters.  Their realistic development offers a rich tapestry from which we can divine their internal patterns and basic social and psychological natures.

Any fictional character poses unique problems for the typer.  We only see them in the heightened state of the epic story, the exceptional crisis.  We do not see their off stage personas.  That said, I feel fairly comfortable with the assumptions I have made in typing these characters.  I chose to type only the characters that played in at least sixty one episodes, or more than half of Lost‘s total run.  Characters that appeared in fewer episodes like Juliet and Michael, Miles and Desmond, appear as more static roles, supporting actors meant to reflect certain aspects of the main cast’s personalities.  The roles, in order of appearance:

jack-shephard-lost

Jack Sheppard (played by Matthew Fox) – ESTJ

Jack takes up the mantle of leadership on the island very early.  While he may not seek such a position, he possesses talents that make him a good choice for the role.  Jack feels compelled to order and organize and do everything in his power to lead his small band of survivors off the island.  A purposeful determination drives him to stand at the front of every expedition.  Jack clearly shows extroverted thinking (Te) as his dominant trait.  Always outspoken, Jack shows no fear in leadership.

Two types show this dominant Te: ENTJ and ESTJ.  Does Jack pull the information for his decisions from the forward thinking vision of introverted intuition (Ni) or the sharp memory of introverted sensing(Si)?  I vote for the latter.  Jack’s drive and peerless ambition derives from a desire to prove his father wrong, to stand up to the school bullies of his past, or to win a longstanding argument with Locke or Ben.  When Jack’s marriage falls apart, he can’t stand to think he erred.  He plays the scenarios in his mind over and over and holds on way too long.  When he regrets his decision to leave the island, it eats away at him from the inside out until his Te has a chance to rectify the situation.  Jack is an ESTJ.

kate-austen

Kate Austen (Evangeline Lily) – ISTP

Like the heroic drifter, ISTPs would rather keep to themselves, more comfortable with their tools and their abilities than in the presence of others.  Their combination of introverted thinking (Ti) and extroverted sensing (Se) creates an adeptness with tools unmatched by the other personality types.  From the start, Kate demonstrates her ability with the sewing needle and the firearm.  She can quietly track as well as anyone in the group.  She repeatedly escapes police custody with her adaptiveness and sharp wit.  I have no doubt she would have made an excellent mechanic had she spent any length of time with the Dharma Initiative.

Her distance from others and devotion to her own internal logic, that Ti, makes her more than capable of killing her mother’s husband.  Logic dictated that she serve justice to the abusive man and a relatively weak feeling function left her feeling little connection to him or to mankind in general.  Kate follows her own counsel.  Kate does adopt Aaron for a period of time, and I have no doubt she cares for the boy, but even she admits she kept him more out her own sense of need.  Kate is an ISTP.

hurley

Hugo “Hurley” Reyes (Jorge Garcia) – ENFP

Throughout the show, Hurley demonstrates the optimism and diplomacy of the NF.  He goes out of his way to learn the names and stories of all of the planes survivors, even the ones that never warrant screen time.  He builds a golf course and jump starts the van as ways of improving team morale.  He often strives for accord among the survivors, even acting as a messenger and peacemaker.  When the mantle of protection for the island finally passes to Hurley, I have no doubt he serves as a healer and reconciler in the wake of the war-driven reigns of Jacob and Jack.

I believe it would take a more people-energized person to interview so many survivors.  While I have known INFs to show a great deal of people skills at the cost of their own exhaustion, I believe Hurley enjoys these E interactions.  I can also speculate that Hurley’s overeating and mental problems tie strongly to a shaken introverted feeling (Fi).  With so much anomie and psychological dissonance following the deadly balcony collapse, this strange form of self-flagellation may help Hurley resolve the deep sense of guilt that weighs on him.  From these clues, I think Hurley is an ENFP.

lost_sawyer_2

James “Sawyer” Ford (Josh Holloway) – ESTP

With his ability to charm the socks off anyone, Sawyer demonstrates all the hallmark traits of the ESTP.  His driving desire for pleasure, action, and excitement stem from his dominant extroverted sensing (Se).  He makes love to Kate, Anna-Lucia, and the many women he cons with reckless abandon.  He often finds himself traipsing off into the jungle on whatever foolish journey the group chooses next.  He  positions himself in the center of the action by seizing key resources like the stock of firearms.  He mouths off and picks fights with the others both because he loves the rush of a good fight and because he works best when he keeps his opponent talking.

That wit also marks him as an ESTP.  It comes from his secondary function, introverted thinking (Ti).  His shrewd control of the black market, his insightful quips and insults, and his love of a good book all proceed from a well developed logic.  This logic processes the many details observed by his sensing function and formulates a strategy by which he can con and manipulate his opponents.

Even his ability to lie and exaggerate marks him as an ESTP.  His ability to lie and con shows the SP strength for acting and sleight of hand combined with the least empathy of the four temperaments.  For the most part, he is incapable of guilt.  Guilt would require an examination of the past, something SPs do not particularly care to do.

01-john-locke-lost-season-5-012610-lg-16043599

John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) – ISTJ

Before Locke’s untimely death, he proved the perfect foil for Jack not because of their differences but because they had so many similarities.  They both desired to lead and instruct the survivors.  They fight for the spiritual direction of the group, Locke’s unrelenting faith against Jack’s pure reason.  They both seek the prestige and respect of the group at large, Locke as a Hunter and Jack as the Doctor.  They both struggle to forget the memories and failures of their past.  Locke can never quite get over his father’s betrayal, being raised in foster care, losing the woman he loved, and his father ultimately trying to kill and paralyze him.  Locke is every bit the STJ that Jack is.

Yet Jack succeeds in winning the trust of the other survivors and Locke does not.  Jack became the clear leader of the group.  Why?  Locke is an introvert.  Aside from the charm and social skills advantage this gives Jack, by placing his introverted sensing (Si) ahead of his extroverted thinking (Te) function, Locke places the message, his search for justice and faith, ahead of the day to day operations of organizing the survivors.  While Jack tries to acquire the next resource needed for survival, Locke leaves in search of the next missive from the island.  The people notice.

sayid-gun-03

Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews) – INTP

As my favorite character, I always felt a stronger connection to Sayid than anyone else on the show.  I am an ENTP.  It makes sense then that Sayid, as an INTP, is my more introverted brother.

With dominant introverted thinking (Ti), Sayid shows many of the same traits as Kate.  He has weapon and hand to hand combat proficiency.  He prefers to work as a lone wolf, stalking and observing his prey before making a decision to strike.  He has a certain moral flexibility that makes him capable of actions, like outright torture, that most people could never do.

Unlike Kate, Sayid prefers a more abstract interaction with the outside world.  He seeks meaning more than pleasure and holds the notion of a one true love.  He grasps for long term achievements, like finding said one true love, over the easy action of the moment.  The most telling sign of his extroverted intuition (Ne) lies in the way he approaches the tools he uses.  Sayid possesses a fundamental understanding of the way many things work.  The survivors often seek him out to repair communications equipment and other electronics devices.  He doesn’t just observe two wheels grinding, he can tell you why the designer required them in that precise location.  This understanding of theory allows him to seek novel and complex solutions like setting up multiple antennas in an attempt to boost the power of a survival radio.  As an INTP, Sayid offers his sharp intellect and unusual skills for the benefit of the survivors.

sun jin

Jin-Soo Kwan (Daniel Dae Kim) – ISFJ

Sun-Hwa Kwan (Yunjin Kim) – ESTP

I combine the Kwans because I simply couldn’t tear them apart again and because I had so much difficulty trying to wrap my mind around their respective personality types.  Cultural differences always throw a wrench into one’s ability to type another.  I believe the Jungian types remain constant across all cultures, but our type, like a piece of computer hardware, only tells part of the story.  We place a multitude of experiences on top of our type like so much software.  Different cultures often produce different experiences and can produce varied manifestations of the same type.  That said, I can defend both of my assertions of type in this case.

Jin exudes a great sense of duty and strong desire to improve his family name, to achieve a high level of prestige.  He submits to his father-in-law so he can uphold his duty to protect and provide for Sun even at his own displeasure.  He leaves the country side to seek upward mobility in the city and quits his plush hotel job when his manager discriminates against his kind.  Jin has a fierce pride.  Such values remain very common among east asian cultures, but I find nothing in Jin’s personality that rebels against these ideals.  This leads me to believe that he is an SJ.

Unlike Jack and Locke, he does not follow a cool logic, but rather his own feelings.  He can show warm affection to Sun, but he also pouts when he does not get his way. Jin also possesses a mean jealous streak.  He nearly kills Michael when he finds the man talking to his wife.

The language barrier might pose a problem to Jin, but he doesn’t talk much even when he achieves fluency in English.  This suggests introversion in Jin.  All of this lead me to conclude that Jin is an ISFJ.

While separated by class, sex, and culture, Sun exhibits the same ESTP traits as Sawyer.  She follows her heart in spite of convention with both the poor fisherman’s son in Jin and the forbidden hotelier’s son.  Sun speaks her mind with a sharp wit and stands out as one of the few people who can give it right back to Sawyer when he runs his mouth.  Like Sawyer, she will also bend the truth if it serves her interest.  She gets a maid fired as a child to defend her own accidental vandalism and as an adult she struggles to hide her affair from Jin.

Jin and Sun’s personality types also validate one another.  Keirsey considers the pairing of an ISFJ and ESTP ideal for both.  From my own experiences, I agree that such a pairing rests among the three best possibilities for either.

Lost-claire-littleton-8607784-399-279

Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin) – INFP

I find its easiest to determine Claire’s type just by going the old fashioned way of letter by letter.  She does not go out of her way to interact with others and she seems to draw energy from sitting on the beach alone, much like most introverts.  Her alternative/goth phase as a teenager while working in a body modification shop and her relationship with a (flaky) artist indicate an openness to ideas and an attraction to the counterculture common in intuitive types.  Like many feeling types, she show great compassion for her son and dotes on him constantly.  Thinkers can also have great affection for their children, but they don’t always emote as easily as Claire.  Claire appears completely unfazed by the details of their situation, the gravity of their plane crash on a strange island.  Like other perceivers, she adapts to any situation thrown her way.  This spells out INFP.

Her overwhelming devotion to Aaron also confirms my hypothesis.  She fiercely defends her values like other INFPs I have met.  Such ethics have a sacred place for them.  Defending their loved ones sits at the top of the list.  The NFPs I know would go berserker on someone if they threatened to harm the NF’s loved ones.  Pacifists by nature, all bets are off when you threaten their family.  It makes perfect sense then that an INFP would seek to protect the one or two people they’re closest to, especially a child.  Even Charlie invokes her wrath when she believes he poses a danger to Aaron.  It also creates sympathy for her descent into madness once she gets separated from her son.  No matter her mistakes, she always believes she does the best for Aaron.

Charlie_pace

Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan) – ISFP

An introverted feeling (Fi) dominant like Claire, Charlie also seeks to defend the people he loves, namely Claire and Aaron.  However, as a more grounded sensing type, Charlie aims to provide more of the basic needs like blankets and shelter.  Sometimes to his own detriment, Charlie actively seeks to prevent any present danger or conspiracy against the mother and son.  He even goes so far as to kill Ethan in revenge for the harm the doctor did to all three.  Charlie shows this devotion to family from the start, using his musical talents to try to elevate his family from poverty into something better.  Charlie goes so far as to give his life in an attempt to get Claire and Aaron rescued.

Unfortunately, that combination of Fi and extroverted sensing (Se) also makes the SFPs the most aware of their environments, the textures and colors, the smells and tastes.  The SFP’s predisposition to hedonism makes them among the types most prone to addiction.  As a rock star, Charlie succumbs to a heroin addiction that plagues him when he arrives on the island.  He eventually kicks the habit, but not before it threatens his relationships with his closest friends and family.

On a brighter note, that connection with the real world makes Charlie and other ISFPs incredible artists.  They have a special ability to translate that beauty better than most other types.  Thus the ISFP often earns labels like the composer or poet.  Charlie is a true musician and ISFP.


ben linus

Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson) – INTJ

Though Ben didn’t make his first appearance on the show until half way into season 2, he made a huge impact on the show.  I wouldn’t accept anything less from the brilliant mind of an INTJ.

Ben derives his power from the INTJ’s dominant introverted intuition (Ni).  Ni provides the foresight Ben uses to perceive the available outcomes.  With this skill bordering on prescience, he can then subtly manipulate the people around him until he achieves the desired outcome.  When he initially has Michael bring Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley into the ambush, he does so with a plan for each one.  He needs Jack to operate on his spine.  Kate and Sawyer will ensure he does it while also creating a lack of leadership among the survivors.  He wisely sends Hurly back as a most able messenger to prevent a rash reaction from this now leaderless group.  Ben deciphers and plans for every scenario so he never gets caught off guard.

Ben achieves his ends through extroverted thinking (Te).  He knows how to give concise, logical orders that subordinates follow without questions.  When Ben asks Goodwin and Ethan to run to the crash sites and blend in with the survivors, they obey.  Like Jack and Locke, Te exudes leadership.  However, with Te as a supportive function, Ben never feels it necessary to use his leadership in an overpowering way like an ENTJ might.  Rather, he attempts to lead the subordinate to make the decision on their own as if they had a choice all along.  Keirsey accurately described the the INTJ as a “Mastermind.”  Ben is a textbook mastermind.

The Sorting Hat of Harry Potter and Myers-Briggs Personality Typology

I am not the first person to try to decipher the method’s of JK Rowling’s Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter series.  I am also not the first person to try to apply Myers-Briggs typology to the Hat’s madness.  When we hear descriptors like brave and daring, patient and hard-working, witty and intelligent, or cunning and ambitious, we easily assume that the Sorting Hat speaks of personality traits, something inborn in the wearer.  Perhaps the truth remains more complicated and we are more than our mere birth.

Most of the metrics I have seen that combine Potter lore with personality typology try to assign only one house to each type or temperament.  I found that lacking.  While each Hogwart’s House maintains its own peculiar culture, they feature a variety of personality types.  You can’t say that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and the Weasley twins have much more in common than their bravery.

I also have great difficulty determining my own house.  As an ENTP, I can never decide if I should party it up as a king among nerds in Ravenclaw or jump headfirst into a myriad of experiences as a smart ass in Gryffindor.  Even outside of the fantasy, I am both an experience-addicted Army veteran and a student finishing a masters in English while writing three blogs.

When recalling the experiences that individuals had with the hat, I realized that the Sorting Hat often gives first years the choice between two houses before making its final decision.  The hat offers Harry both Gryffindor and Slytherin.  It suggests both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw to Hermione.  I theorized that each personality has up to two ideal houses.  I tried to go type by type and select the best two houses for each, but no clear pattern emerged.

I began to notice the patterns when I broke down each type by its dominant and supportive functions.  Without getting too much into the theory, we use one of our inner letters in an extroverted fashion and one in an introverted fashion.  Perceivers tend to show their N or S to the outside world.  Judgers tend to show their F or T to the outside world.  As an ENTP, my dominant function is extraverted intuition (Ne) and my supportive function is introverted thinking (Ti).  Each of the eight functions lines up well with a Hogwart’s House:

Extraverted Intuition (Ne): Imaginative and innovative, we search for new ideas, people, and possibilities.  Gryffindor.

Introverted Intuition (Ni): They examine patterns, symbols, and meanings to solve complex puzzles. Ravenclaw.

Extraverted Sensing (Se): They spontaneously seize the moment, following anything that draws their interest. Gryffindor.

Introverted Sensing (Si): They rely on a strong memory, drawing information from past experiences and traditions. Slytherin.

Extraverted Thinking (Te): They sort, organize, and make decisions.  They speak their mind. Slytherin.

Introverted Thinking (Ti): We operate from pure logic, sorting theories and solving problems. Ravenclaw.

Extraverted Feeling (Fe): They nurture relationships, promote collaboration, and validate others.  Hufflepuff.

Introverted Feeling (Fi): They rely on their values and empathy to create inner and outer harmony.  Hufflepuff.

That produces the following chart:

Personality Type Primary Function Supportive Function Primary House Secondary House
ENTP Ne Ti Gryffindor Ravenclaw
INTP Ti Ne Ravenclaw Gryffindor
ENTJ Te Ni Slytherin Ravenclaw
INTJ Ni Te Ravenclaw Slytherin
INFP Fi Ne Hufflepuff Gryffindor
INFJ Ni Fe Ravenclaw Hufflepuff
ENFJ Fe Ni Hufflepuff Ravenclaw
ENFP Ne Fi Gryffindor Hufflepuff
ISTP Ti Se Ravenclaw Gryffindor
ESTP Se Ti Gryffindor Ravenclaw
ESFP Se Fi Gryffindor Hufflepuff
ISFP Fi Se Hufflepuff Gryffindor
ESTJ Te Si Slytherin Slytherin
ISTJ Si Te Slytherin Slytherin
ESFJ Fe Si Hufflepuff Slytherin
ISFJ Si Fe Slytherin Hufflepuff

I line up with Gryffindor and Ravenclaw as expected.  The chart works remarkably well, however issues still arise.  For instance, the ESTJs and ISTJs all come across as pure Slytherin.  All other things remaining equal, they fit there.  Unfortunately, before Harry’s victory against Voldemort, that house did not take muggle born and those that supported them.  That would explain how personalities like Percy Weasley and Hermione Granger ended up in Gryffindor in spite of themselves.

Of course that brings me to the true lesson of all this.  Throughout the Harry Potter series, Rowling repeatedly tells us that we have a choice.  We determine our own actions for good or evil.  The Sorting Hat takes into account our inborn personality, our home environment, and our family history, but it always gives us a choice in the end.  We are more than the sum of our parts.  Sirius Black, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, and even Draco Malfoy have a choice to reject their supposed fate.  A sacrifice freely given will always triumph over tyranny and fear.

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