Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Godric Gryffindor
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
Godric Gryffindor was one of the four founders of Hogwarts and the creator of Gryffindor House. He preferred to teach students who exhibited honour and courage, and members of the House are now known for these traits.
Role in the Books
While Godric Gryffindor has been dead for possibly a thousand years, and thus cannot play any direct part in our story, he has influenced events that occur throughout the series.
Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger are sorted into Gryffindor house, as the Sorting Hat determines that they contain qualities that Gryffindor would treasure: daring and bravery, no matter what their origin. The Sorting Hat does suggest Slytherin as a possibility for Harry, but is swayed by Harry's opposition to being placed in that house. We also learn, from the Sorting Hat's song, that the Hat was once Gryffindor's.
Professor Binns tells us the legend of the Chamber of Secrets. The four founders of the school, Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff, and Rowena Ravenclaw had existed in harmony for only a short time, before Slytherin and Gryffindor began to disagree over the nature of the students to be educated. Slytherin felt that only Wizards descended from Wizards, "pure blood Wizards", deserved education while Gryffindor felt that the ability to do magic outweighed any question of ancestry. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw agreed with Gryffindor, and Salazar Slytherin left, after (according to legend) creating a secret chamber in the school, and hiding a monster within it. The chamber could only be opened by Slytherin's true heir, according to the legend.
When Harry finds himself in the previously-legendary chamber, Fawkes brings him the Sorting Hat to assist him in his battle against the Monster. The hat, in turn, produces the sword of Gryffindor, with which Harry vanquishes the Monster.
It is mentioned that Harry's father and mother, along with Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, were in Gryffindor house as students. We presume this means they had those qualities of character that Godric Gryffindor felt were important.
In discussing Lord Voldemort's pattern of making Horcruxes from relics of the Founders, Professor Dumbledore mentions that the only known relic of Gryffindor's was the sword. (It should be noted that the Sorting Hat was his, also, but as it had been granted a rudimentary consciousness, there is question whether it could be considered a relic.)
We learn that Godric's Hollow, where Harry's parents lived, is named after Godric Gryffindor, it having been his birthplace.
The Sword of Gryffindor is returned to Harry in the Forest of Dean, in a manner that requires courage, a trait beloved of Gryffindor, to regain it.
The sword is later provided to Neville Longbottom, a student in Gryffindor House, by the Sorting Hat as it was earlier provided to Harry, possibly in part as a result of Neville's bravery.
Relationships with Other Characters
While very little is known of Godric Gryffindor, we can surmise that Godric Gryffindor was, if not an active fighter against Muggle discrimination, at least one who believed that Muggle heritage was not grounds for denial of Magical skills. We know, from the words of the Sorting Hat, that he favoured students with courage, loyalty and chivalry. His specific magical skills remain unknown, though there does seem to be a certain affinity for Transfiguration among those who are Sorted into the House he founded – the Gryffindor Head of House, Professor McGonagall, and the Transfiguration teacher before her, Professor Dumbledore, are extremely skilled at Transfiguration.
The Sorting Hat's reiterated statement that Harry would have been good in Slytherin House could lead the reader to question the difference between Gryffindor's character and Slytherin's. Clearly, power and daring were treasured by both wizards, but we gather from the Sorting Hat's song that Slytherin was more interested in what power could get for him personally, while Gryffindor was more concerned with using the power he had to help others. Readers can plainly see that Harry is not interested in power for himself; why can the Sorting Hat not see this? We never find out, but it seems that the Hat may be unable to reliably detect the self-serving aspect of personality, possibly because it was something alien to Gryffindor himself. We note that in at least two, and possibly three cases, the Hat seems to misjudge appropriate House affiliation: trying to place Harry in Slytherin, placing Peter Pettigrew in Gryffindor, and possibly placing Snape in Slytherin.