Yes, you read that title right and I’ll say it again for the people in the back…KYLO REN, MASTER OF THE KNIGHTS OF REN, SON OF DARKNESS, HEIR APPARENT TO LORD VADER, AND THE NEW SUPREME LEADER OF THE FIRST ORDER…IS A HUFFLEPUFF.
Surprising I know but go figure.
I stumbled upon this discovery after reading a hella fun article over on Strangely Pop Cultured a few days ago wherein the writer explained how Kylo’s parents are both actually members of the Slytherin house. As a Snake myself, I was thrilled to have Princess Leia and Han Solo among my ranks because in all honesty, we need all the heroic Slytherin examples we can get — but it left me wondering… if both his parents are heroic Slytherins, what exactly is Kylo Ren/ Ben Solo?
I won’t lie, this question stumped me for a while. Kylo is an extremely complex character wrapped in layers of frayed emotions and self-deceit and I wanted to do him justice. The easy answer and the one I think most would give is that he’s a Slytherin as well, but I think that’s for all the wrong reasons i.e. Slytherin is evil and so is Kylo therefore bad person equals bad house, but that’s unfairly profiling and simplifying both the character and the house. Slytherin is not an evil house comprised solely of evil people. Evil isn’t house specific (I’m looking at you Pettigrew and Lockhart). Slytherins simply idolize cunning and ambition, traits that when wielded correctly can actually be used for great good! And Kylo Ren is one of the most complex, fully realized characters in the sequel trilogy, so to judge him without understanding his motivations would be childish. So again, I asked myself: what Hogwarts house would encapsulate all that Kylo is?!
And the answer was simple.
For all his over-the-top destructive behavior and bravado, cunning and ambitious are not keywords I’d use to describe Kylo Ren. Slytherins are go-getters and he’s reactionary at best. Brave and wise go out the window too and with them, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw – not because he doesn’t have any of these qualities, he does, but they are not driving forces behind his personality. No, Kylo at his core exemplifies dedication, fairness and above all: loyalty. A Hufflepuff through and through.
Still don’t believe me? Let’s break it down a little bit shall we?
First up: dedication… Kylo’s pretty damn dedicated to a few things, namely eradicating the last vestiges of the Jedi and the Sith teachings in the galaxy. As an ex-padawan learner, Kylo saw first-hand how dangerous the Jedi ideology and practice is when his own uncle nearly killed him in his sleep because of perceived darkness. Never mind that Vader actively wielded and misused his inner darkness for over twenty years and was somehow still forgivable, it’s the mostly-dormant darkness in Kylo that warrants an immediate death sentence. This easily demonstrates how unjust and unreliable the Jedi/Sith system is as it houses no room for middle ground and yet is executed with individualistic concerns. That being said, Kylo has spent years methodically searching for his uncle to ensure that that kind of uncompromising lethality is annihilated and if that’s not dedication I don’t know what is.
Second up is fairness and again, it’s easy to see in both films. Kylo is extremely reactionary, he’s a tit for tat character when it comes down to it, you strike out at me, I strike out at you. Fair is fair. We see this best when he faces his father Han Solo. Whatever our preconceived notions of Han, it is made abundantly clear in the supplemental reading and The Force Awakens itself (Kylo telling Rey Han would have disappointed her as a father) that Kylo has unresolved issues with his father. In Daniel Jose Older’s novel Last Shot, we see a young Ben Solo distraught when his father leaves him for a mission that almost ended with baby Ben being killed by his unqualified babysitting droid and we’re left with the sense that this forced separation will be a reoccurring theme in their relationship. And once he’s older, Ben is sent away to Luke for training (an act again that almost resulted in his death) so it’s not hard to imagine the resentment that comes from being constantly left behind or sent away. Therefore, after all the years of unnecessary painful goodbyes and resulting near-death experiences and a lifetime of Snoke whispering poisoned words in his mind, it’s no surprise that a severely conflicted Kylo redresses the issue and strikes a blow for himself – in the worst way possible of course, but morality aside, Kylo finally stands up to his father and makes it clear: you hurt me, now I’m hurting you. Again, worst possible way to make this point, but it’s a space opera and it’s go-big or go home. This goes double for when he faces Luke in The Last Jedi. Whether or not he completed the act and whether or not it’s understandable, Luke tried to kill Kylo and Kylo definitely returned the favor. Fair is fair after all.
Last, but not least, the epitome of Hufflepuff traits: loyalty. Broken and used as he is, Kylo Ren is undoubtedly loyal…to those who deserve his loyalty. He doesn’t bestow it lightly, it’s made clear that until Luke’s ill-fated attempt on his life, Kylo struggled with the darkness inside his head, never giving into it until that final act of familial treachery. Betrayed by his uncle, sent away by his parents, Kylo made his way to the only constant presence in his life: Snoke. He does all that he can to become the person Snoke wants him to be, aka the next great Vader. He constructs a mask for himself, literally and figuratively, drawing any tangible or perceptible lightside qualities deep into himself until he is left with Kylo Ren, a deception, a mask in every definition of the word. The loyalty that binds him to Snoke takes him down the darkest paths, nearly destroying him, but he endures it and it’s not until Snoke proves un-loyal in turn by first tasking him with killing his own father and then again by using his connection to Rey for nefarious purposes and then demanding he kill her that Kylo retracts that loyalty. For a moment we think that loyalty will be given to Rey, but Rey isn’t quite ready or deserving of it yet. She doesn’t know enough about Kylo, his motivations, or the galaxy at large to be deserving of a Hufflepuff’s loyalty, she can’t see past what she herself wants and so for the time, Kylo is loyal to the only person he has left: himself. I imagine that will change in Episode IX, but for now it’s for the best, he needs to heal before he can give such a large piece of himself away to another person and another cause.
And there you have it, Kylo Ren is a clear-cut Hufflepuff if I ever saw one: dedicated, fair, and above all, loyal. Destructive and dangerous, it’s easy to take his actions for those of a “stereotypical” Slytherin, but he’s not. He playacts as one, trying so desperately that it comes off as unauthentic and that’s because at his core, Kylo Ren embodies the very best of the Hufflepuff qualities – they’ve just been twisted by negative forces both outside and within. But there is still hope for his future. As my favorite Gryffindor once said: “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). I think we’re going to see a whole new Kylo Ren in the next film, a Kylo who chooses for himself for once, someone who had taken the time to examine the mistakes and hurts of his past and has resolved to be better in the future. Not a perfect person mind you, because as Luke famously said himself in The Last Jedi, “It is time for the Jedi to end.” The galaxy doesn’t need perfection, it doesn’t need absolutes, it needs people who truly understand themselves and can act with both passion and clarity. It needs a middle-ground. Souls with a touch of darkness and a taste of light.