The Gryffindors. Brave, true, the supposed heroes of Hogwarts and all of magic in Harry Potter. But who is the greatest Gryffindor of them all? Who truly embodies what Godric Gryffindor prized above all? Is it Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived? Hermione Granger, the greatest witch of her age? Perhaps Neville Longbottom, the quiet savior. Better yet, Minerva McGonagall or Albus Dumbledore, with long storied careers as professors at Godric’s prized school.
Nope. It’s Ronald Weasley.
The constant screw-up. Second youngest (and possibly least) of the Weasleys. It seems like the only thing he has in common with Godric Gryffindor is his hair matches the House color. Why should he receive the title of greatest Gryffindor?
Well, to start off…
Beat McGonagall at Chess
Can he claim the crown just from this?
Ron Weasley had an okay beginning to Hogwarts. Sorted in to his family’s House, he enjoyed a small measure of popularity amongst the boys in his class. Mostly, his achievements resided in complete obscurity (including taking on a particularly nasty troll one Halloween night).
In fact, the only thing Ron Weasley was good at that first year was wizard’s chess. A fair hand at the game, he then proceeded to do the impossible, and beat the best the school had to offer. Maggi…Minerva McGonagall.
Consider this success carefully. This challenge was to win access to the Philosopher’s Stone. The Hogwarts Professors wanted none to get even close to the prize. Professor McGonagall, second only to Dumbledore, designed a chess game that was intended to never be bypassed. And Ron Weasley dismantled her strategies.
While he never saw the culmination of these efforts, Ron is credited with the victory. He took the best that Gryffindor had to offer, their Professor, and soundly beat her.
As Dumbledore said, it was “the best game of chess that Hogwarts had seen these many years.”Advertisement
What has Ron Weasley Done?
Ron Weasley has never achieved anything of consequence. Beyond one lucky game of chess. Right? Except…
Prefect of Gryffindor. Keeper of his House’s Quidditch team, winning the Cup his first year (it took Harry three). Thumper of troll. Survived the Whomping Willow, an Acromantula horde, a werewolf attack, the Battle at the Department of Mysteries, the Battle of Hogwarts, wielder of Godric’s blade, slayer of Horcruxes.
Ron Weasley did not exactly slouch his way through Hogwarts. The fact that he became an Auror without finishing his schooling at Hogwarts is credit to that claim. He accomplished many things during his time as a student.
But he will always just be known as…Harry Potter’s other friend. The ginger one.
The Family Business
The Weasleys are not exactly a family of underachievers. Even before he had to compete with the attention directed at The Boy who Lived. Just keeping within his own siblings is enough to make someone feel small and inadequate.
The eldest son Bill was a Head Boy for his house, now a Curse breaker at Gringotts. Charlie was the best Seeker Gryffindor had had in years, until some boy with a scar. He now tames dragons. Percy was the second Head Boy, then became a Ministry official and assistant to the Minister of Magic himself. Even his goof-off brothers Fred and George were the best Beaters for Gryffindor, and turned out to be two corporate and comedic geniuses. Then his sister Ginny is possibly the greatest witch/Quidditch player in the family.
And yet, through it all, Ron may be near the bottom of achievement, but he is no slouch himself. He promises. Really, he’s important.
Ron had to strive to meet up with his brothers and sister. He was never Head Boy, never Captain of the Quidditch team. And yet, he was a Prefect. He won the Quidditch Cup. Maybe he wasn’t the best of one singular thing, but put all of his siblings together in one gangly boy with freckles, and maybe he took the best of each of them.
Could ONLY be a Gryffindor
Another thing to consider is that Gryffindor was Ron’s only House. Seriously. He couldn’t have been anything else.
Hufflepuff? He consistently bickered and abandoned his friends at critical times. Ron fought with Harry when he wasn’t making up and apologizing for being such a fool (see Harry “putting” his name in the Goblet of Fire, Hermione’s choice of boyfriends, Ginny’s choice of boyfriends, house elves…)
Ravenclaw, then. He got some O.W.L.s…some. He almost flunked out of History of Magic and Divination, and never seemed to have any sort of interest in schooling other than that was where his friends were.
Slytherin…interesting. Ron Weasley is a pureblood. That’s what they care about, right? Except that the Weasleys could care less about their “purity,” in fact disparage the entire concept. They mingle with half-breeds, Mudbloods (I apologize for cursing), and other undesirables. Absolutely not.
How can I defend Ron Weasley? Well, to put it bluntly…
The Bravest of Them All
Yup, I said it. Ron Weasley is the bravest of everyone in the entire Potterverse. A lovable loser, who runs screaming into danger despite knowing he isn’t even close to good at…anything.
But why? He complains about everything. Abandons his friends when they need him most. And isn’t even exactly that great a wizard. And it is these qualities that make him so brave.
Ron is completely aware that he is not the greatest, or even close to fourth-place in a friend group of three. He knows that his spells go awry, that he isn’t the one who will understand the greatest spells. Don’t even get his mother started on the state of his grades.
But he tries. For most of Harry’s greatest adventures, the one by his side is Ron Weasley. The red-headed screw-up dives headfirst into adventure, with the full knowledge that he will screw up. He will fight a werewolf, follow the spiders, reconcile his own jealousy, and stand face-to-face with Death Eaters determined to kill him. He will do this, because it needs to be done.
The Sorting Hat always had specific criterion for Gryffindor. They weren’t the best, or the smartest, anything of that like. They were the bravest. Those who looked into the mouth of a monster and say “I need to go in there.” Ron Weasley charged into danger armed with nothing but a broken wand. This is what defines him as the truest heir of Godric, and the best Gryffindor of them all.