Expecto Patronum!

Having unintentionally become Pudding Shot’s Harry Potter correspondent, I thought I would keep up my streak and discuss the much-anticipated Patronus quiz that blew up the Internet this week.

pinemarten

Like many childhood midnight release party attenders, I have a fairly distrusting relationship with Pottermore. From the news that the Sorting Test was rigged to keep any one house from getting overcrowded, to the endless teasers that didn’t usually result in much, to the sudden rehashing of the site that mostly meant lots of listicles, I’ve always felt it lacked a lot of the potential it had as the online home of Harry Potter news.

And yet. I love personality quizzes, the nature vs. nurture debate, and any kind of theory about what makes up our characters. I’m a hardcore MBTI enthusiast and have a wealth of thoughts about the Enneagram, although I’m a bit skeptical about its accuracy. The personality quizzes, beyond anything else, are what keep me coming back to Pottermore.

Because I like to figure stuff out, I’ve got about six Pottermore accounts, which I’ve used to play with the quizzes and see if I get the same results as I did on my main account. Through this kind of trial and error, I’ve found out that I’m quite a Ravendorish Ravenclaw, with a couple of Gryffindor results mixed in there; I’m pretty solidly Pukwudgie, despite my Thunderbird yearnings; and my wand is invariably cypress, unicorn hair, and rigid. So I was very interested to see what my Patronus was, especially as I didn’t have any idea of what it might be (although my friend Allie, whom I dragged to the fields of Colonial Williamsburg a few too many times, would probably say a sheep, and then cackle victoriously).

Aesthetically, the quiz itself is probably the coolest thing Pottermore has ever done, although you do need to be prepared for it. I started off on one of my throwaway accounts, which turned out to be a good idea, because the test is timed, and I missed a few questions initially because I was still figuring out how it worked. (For what it’s worth, if you spend your quiz experience panicking and not clicking things, as both Dana and I did on our first tries, you might end up with a sparrow or a Bassett hound, respectively. I mean, I like sparrows. But still.)

At any rate, you start off with a quotation from Remus John Lupin, Greatest of the Marauders, and soon come to a dark, tree-strewn landscape that is probably the Forbidden Forest. You’re told to think of something happy, which I’ve noticed people interpret differently—some have answered the quiz questions as they pertain to the memory, whereas others think of the memory at the beginning and then just go for the quiz answers they like best. (Verdict’s still out on which is Jo Row’s preferred way.) There’s some spooky music in the background, and some hopeful little silvery streaks that flash across the screen with each answered question, and it really does feel like you’re preparing to fight for your life against dementors, or at least as much as you can feel that way in front of a computer screen.

The questions are quite different from the other three Pottermore quizzes. At this point, we’re used to being asked things that are obvious determiners of character, with a few random questions thrown in, like eye color or “right or left?” The Patronus quiz is much more instinctual, a bit like that psychological “say the first thing this word makes you think of” test that you see in the movies. (A highly dedicated Reddit user has actually recorded them all, and is well on their way to figuring out which answers result in which Patronus.) For each “question,” you’re given two or three words and have about five seconds to pick one. You can choose from things like “shine, glitter, glow”, “stone, wood, earth”, or “forever, sometimes”.

A twist in the quiz is that if your answers follow a certain path, you may end up with an “unusual” Patronus, which adds one or two questions to your quiz. All magical creatures, from Granian Winged Horses to unicorns to fire-dwelling salamanders, reside in this category, but lions, eagle owls, peacocks, and many others are also considered unusual. My question is whether they are actually unusual in terms of how many people got them. I would guess that there are certain answers people just wouldn’t gravitate to, making the Patronuses that those answers result in rarer than the ones Pottermore has decreed to be harder to get. But someone would have to do a long and extensive survey to find that out, and so I think I’ll leave that question to those analytical people on Reddit.

Anyway, after the Confused Sparrow Attempt, I took the test twice with more presence of mind, and got “pine marten” both times, so that seemed to clinch it. The only thing I knew about pine martens was that Dustfinger of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart had a pet one, and then someone reminded me that Lyra Belacqua’s daemon settles into one in The Amber Spyglass, so that’s pretty cool. Also, I’ve since found out that they’re weasely ferrety things that live in the woods and guard their territory with surprising ferocity for something so cute. So I think I’m good with that, although I’m not entirely sure what they’re meant to symbolize on a “this is the animal of your soul” sort of basis. And sending a weasely thing after a dementor has got to be pretty amusing to watch.

It has been interesting to see other people’s reactions to what they’ve received. One issue a lot of people seem to be having is that when they retake the test, they get something completely different to what they got the last time, leaving the question open as to how accurate the quiz really is. This is particularly annoying when you consider that Pottermore doesn’t let you retake any of the tests, so you may end up with something that feels wrong on your main account. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the test is just a bit of fun, and you may as well take it as many times you want until you get something you like.

Which is important when you remember that possible results include salmon. And while I like fishcakes as much as the next person, I’m not sure that I’d want my Wizarding world soul to be represented by lemon zest and breadcrumbs.

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