Luna may not be one of my very FAVORITE characters in the whole Harry Potter universe – I mean, I love her, but there are so many to choose from! – But I think that her existence is calculated and important. She’s in Ravenclaw, allegedly the “smart” house, but she openly embraces things that are thought to be unproven nonsense. Luna is, at her core, a reminder that Hermione-type “book” smarts is not the only type of intelligence there is.
Ravenclaw is the house of those “with a steady mind, where those of wit and learning will always find their kind.” Somehow, that little couplet the Sorting Hat spouted at us became an image of Ravenclaws as nerds, who are obsessed with research and are too stuck up to bother with the other houses. Facts and figures and learning take the forefront when you’re talking about Ravenclaws, even though the smartest witch in the entire series is in Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw boasts one of the stupidest characters (Lockhart). Based on the simplistic disccription of the house, those two should be reversed.
But Luna reminds us that there’s more to intelligence than books – she’s incredibly emotionally intelligent, believing the stories that people tell her (as long as she deems it believable) and adept at reading situations so that she can help others. She’s very logical – at least, in her own brand of logic. While Hermione desperately points out that it’s impossible to PROVE something doesn’t exist, Luna is more interested in the PROBABLE. It’s much less probable, after all, that everyone who claims to be affected by Nargles is lying than it is that Nargles exist and nobody has yet caught one. She understands that there are things in the world that she doesn’t understand, and has made peace with that fact. As long as she still deems something probable, she’s willing to believe in it.
I think in many ways, that’s a way more important type of intelligence to have than loving books and remembering what you read.