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Patronus Cold Reading

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Steelbadger, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. Steelbadger

    Steelbadger Unspeakable

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    Many many words have been written on the subject of what form patronuses might take. I've always felt that the fandom didn't dig quite deeply enough into them and their meanings. The idea that they're some kind of manifestation of the caster's personality or happy thoughts never quite worked for me. It just seems a bit haphazard. This extends to fanfiction. Very often Patronuses are chosen because they're cool or beautiful and not a thought is given to what they say about the person who creats them. So I'm going to wank a bit about my thoughts on the subject.

    But first, we need to do some (in places) baseless speculation on the related subject of dementors.

    Dementors

    A popular interpretation of Dementors within the fandom is that they are in some way representative of Death. Now while that is perhaps somewhat true it doesn't really appreciate the depth of the association.

    JKR herself has stated that Dementors are inspired by her own experiences with depression. Anyone with experience in that area can probably see the connection, then to death.

    Depression is, to many sufferers, worse than death; in the same way that the Dementor's kiss is regarded by the characters of the Harry Potter world as the absolute worst thing that can happen. Depression is often described as hollowing a person out, it removing all that was bright and good from their lives and leaving them an empty shell.

    So that is what the patronus must fight. Well, that and Lethifolds.

    So what is a Patronus?

    Well, first of all, it's not just a 'manifestation of happy memories'. That's silly, that's like trying to drown a fish. It's theoretically possible I'll grant but if we return to the issue of depression it's like saying 'cheer up' to someone suffering from depression. A singularly unhelpful suggestion.

    Of course depression is an intensely personal experience and there is no singular silver bullet for pulling yourself out but most approaches involve a focus on something outside of your own feelings. That something has to be important to you, it has to hold your attention and it has to be able to stay the course. That thing becomes the shield you hold up, it might be your family, a hobby or something like exercise.

    How does this apply to Patronuses? Well Patronuses are a manifestation not of the wizard or the happy thoughts used to conjure the spell, but of that shield. It is the thought each person goes to in their darkest moment, the thought that can shield them from the worst of their shades.

    This is also why the very first attempts at a Patronus will often be semi-transparent shields. When asked how to protect ourselves I think we all would answer along the vein of a shield or other form of physical protection. And so it is with the Patronus. It is not until the caster looks a little deeper and understands just what it is that they're trying to protect (the happy memory upon which they focus) that they gain the understanding needed to form a true Patronus.

    Examples

    For Harry this thought is simple, and a little tragic. It is the simple fact that he had parents, and they loved him. That might seem silly to people who have not lost a parent or close family member but to an orphan who for the longest time believed himself utterly unloved and worthless this is perhaps more understandable.

    Albus Dumbledore is a man who fears the darkness within himself. He is ashamed of the actions of his youth and avoids authority wherever he can as he fundamentally believes he cannot really be trusted with it. For him the shield is Fawkes; a reminder that he is a good man, even if, to his mind, it is through effort rather than nature.

    James Potter has self-confidence in spades and this is what he uses as his shield. He possesses an unshakable, even arrogant sense of self-worth. When presented with a problem he is always utterly assured of his own ability to overcome it. His patronus is a stag, a creature associated with rash pride and confidence.

    Lily Potter loves her family. For her husband and son she will do anything, she will tear down the walls of magic in her absolute devotion to their survival. Her Patronus is a doe, and it symbolises her familial relationship with James; together, they can take on anything.

    Severus Snape looks to Lily for his shield from the darkness. Where Lily looks to her love for her family Snape looks to Lily specifically. It was Lily who stopped him from falling completely as a child, it was Lily who held him just far enough away from the Death Eaters to be able to break free and go to Dumbledore. It was Lily that was the only path he could see to any kind of salvation or forgiveness.

    Hermione Granger is a little more difficult and for her I think we need to understand just what the darkness means to her. I would suggest that it is related to loneliness and her inability to make friends as a child. Her patronus is an otter, a creature known for being playful and fun; things that Hermione believes she is, but in her dark moments fears she isn't.

    Ron fears his own irrelevance. Not as smart as his brothers, not as cool, not as talented. Yet he has a determination. When things go bad he will fight, it might not be pretty, or well thought out, but he'll bloody well try. His Patronus is a Jack Russel Terrier, a small, scrappy dog known for sheer bloody mindedness.

    I could continue with the known Patronuses, but I think reversing it is more interesting. The reason I was thinking about this was in the context of my Harry/Fleur story, I wondered just what Patronus form the Fleur I had created would have.

    Creating a Patronus

    Fleur is confident. Fleur is self-assured. She knows she is beautiful but that is not what she relies upon as her shield. For this reason her having a patronus like, say, Cho Chang (swan) rings false to me.

    She is also honest, even to the point of bluntness. She believes herself to be utterly straight-forward and without falseness or artifice. Thus something like a Peacock is right out. No, I think that a self-possessed Fleur would have something less showy. Which unfortunately means I might have pigeonholed myself into giving her a cow as her Patronus.

    Oh well, back to the drawing board.
     
  2. Paradise

    Paradise Paraplegic Dice DLP Supporter

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    The tags omf. But honestly I think Fleur would be some type of dog. You know because she is a total bitch. (don't kill me I was kidding.) She would definitely be a dog though. Maybe like a Yorkie?
     
  3. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Fleur also accepts and likes her non-human heritage, so her patronus will be a bird. Majestic, deadly, and elegant: An eagle. Now watch her soar.

    There you go, I saved you from the cow. No thanks necessary :p
     
  4. Stan

    Stan Order Member

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    I still prefer the cow.
     
  5. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    100 internet points to the first person to write a fic wherein Harry milks cow animagus Fleur.
     
  6. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

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    Harry's is actually a White Demon's Blood Dragon Phoenix.
     
  7. Newcomb

    Newcomb Minister of Magic

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    You realize Steelbadger actually wrote Ron/Dumbledore smut because of comments like this, right? It could happen. Be careful what you jokingly suggest.
     
  8. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Realise? I'm counting on it.

    On topic: I think the form of the Patronus has less to do with the caster's own personality and more about the person/thing/whatever they consider to be their natural protector. I don't have my ebooks on this computer, but in a conversation with Dumbledore at the end of PoA (in Lupin's office, after he resigned), doesn't Dumbledore explain to Harry this is why his patronus is a stag?

    As for what the Patronus is itself, I don't think it's a literal manifestation of the happy memories used to conjure it. Rather, I think it is a "spirit" of the same kind as the spirits that inhabit Fiendfyre. Not a spirit in the traditional sense of an intelligent otherworldly being, but a kind of intelligent magical construct born of the caster's magic.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  9. Stan

    Stan Order Member

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    Harry/Fleur/Cow-animagus threesome please.

    Will totally blow the Ron/Dumbledore fic out of the water.
     
  10. H_A_Greene

    H_A_Greene High Inquisitor –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    Dibs. Dibs dibs dibs.
     
  11. Republic

    Republic The Snow Queen ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Fleur must have a cow Patronus that she constantly has to defend to people, Steelbadger. Make it happen.
     
  12. Klackerz

    Klackerz Bridgeburner

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    The cow animagus reminds me of the nonjon fic with Lily as one.
     
  13. Steelbadger

    Steelbadger Unspeakable

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    It completely loses its impact when people are expecting it though. I think the impact would be much greater if someone else, someone known for producing serious-business stories of high quality and intelligence, were to do it.

    Hint, Newcomb, hint.

    I always felt that any kind of bird for Fleur's patronus was kinda low-hanging fruit with the whole Veela thing. I really wanted to de-emphasise that aspect as much as possible.
     
  14. Ankan

    Ankan Professor

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    Bluetits (tihi)
     
  15. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage ~ Prestige ~

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    I like the idea of Fleur having an unusual and seemingly ill-fitting patronus that she has to constantly justify and defend, I just don't see that being a cow, as fun as the idea is.

    I think the person has to consider the animal to be able to defend them against dementors and I think a few animals are right out for that. Doubt we will ever see a chicken, fly, sheep, worm, pig or cow animagus.

    Granted, otters, bunnies and does are not usually the go to animals for rangers but I guess they have a certain symbolic worth and provide comfort that the other named animals lack.

    For Fleur, some kind of cat always seemed fitting. Or you could go with something like a boar.
     
  16. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Cat doesn't fit right with me. She's confident, at ease with her own beauty and occasionally a bit of a bitch, but she also places a lot of importance on family and loyalty. A bird of paradise would be a good fit for her, or a lovebird. If not a bird then some kind of social creature that is also known for its pride and temper. A lioness (no pun intended) or a horse, maybe?
     
  17. Klackerz

    Klackerz Bridgeburner

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    So will Draco's be a ferret or a peacock?
     
  18. World

    World Oberstgruppenführer Moderator DLP Supporter

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    You could always check what characteristics people have so far attributed to animals and go from there. A short google query offers things like

    Seahorse: Confidence, grace
    Elk: Strength, agility, freedom, power and nobility.

    On the other hand, your post started with connecting patronuses not with charateristics of the people but rather what represents their darkness and their saving grace.

    Considering her being part-veela and very beautiful, I can imagine her darkness being the feeling of worthlessness as a person, of being reduced to her outer appearance and being treated like chattel. She has to prove her worth as a witch, as more than a pretty face.

    As for her saving grace, it is either pride in her accomplishments and the assurance that she is, in fact, a worthy human being (at least three quarters) or, considering her apparent attachment to her sister, the love of her family.

    Based on that, it could be something like
    Seal - love, creativity, family oriented, active imagination

    Or, going with an actually family oriented animal that also represents strength, why not go with elephants? Female elephants are also called cows, so we have come full circle. :sherlock:
     
  19. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage ~ Prestige ~

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    Really like seahorse, seal and elephant, and not only for Fleur.
     
  20. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 ~ Prestige ~

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    I was actually thinking peacock, but the more I think about it, that doesn't fit. She doesn't seem to strut around showing off her looks. It's more a arrogant thing. Add to it that, as World said, she wants to prove herself as well as her love for family, and I think you come up with a very specific list of things that represent her. So, what animal can represent family loyalty, arrogance, and proving oneself?

    My first thought was a Red Fox. Not only do they have strong family ties (a female fox may help the mother raise the litter from the next group), yet, they hunt by themselves. I'm not sure I'd call their demeanor arrogant, but the are definitely stand-offish (unless conditioned to equate humans with receiving food).

    I'm not sure I'd ever include that in a fic, however. The Western (American?) slang of fox = cute female would make it too campy.
     
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