Another great week guys! Here's some of my thoughts.
Concerning whether or not portraits can learn, here is a quote from Jo that might help, taken from her 2004 interview at the Edinburg Book Festival:
All the paintings we have seen at Hogwarts are of dead people. They seem to be living through their portraits. How is this so? If there was a painting of Harrys parents, would he be able to obtain advice from them?
JKR: That is a very good question. They are all of dead people; they are not as fully realised as ghosts, as you have probably noticed. The place where you see them really talk is in Dumbledores office, primarily; the idea is that the previous headmasters and headmistresses leave behind a faint imprint of themselves. They leave their aura, almost, in the office and they can give some counsel to the present occupant, but it is not like being a ghost. They repeat catchphrases, almost. The portrait of Sirius mother is not a very 3D personality; she is not very fully realised. She repeats catchphrases that she had when she was alive. If Harry had a portrait of his parents it would not help him a great deal. If he could meet them as ghosts, that would be a much more meaningful interaction, but as Nick explained at the end of PhoenixI am straying into dangerous territory, but I think you probably know what he explainedthere are some people who would not come back as ghosts because they are unafraid, or less afraid, of death.
Going off of this quote, I think the Marauder's Map might be somewhat similar to the portraits in terms of the Marauders leaving an imprint of themselves behind in it. Since the portraits can't interact like the ghosts do, they can only repeat catchphrases of their former selves or knowledge they already knew. Maybe that's how the Marauders are interacting from the map when people try to use it.
Also, I disagreed with what one of the hosts was saying about ghosts. I think I'm to the point now where my headcannon is that ghosts are actually mostly made up of soul, rather than what was said on the episode about them not having any soul at all. I think that they have soul and that's why they can't move on, they just exist without the body portion, making their existence trapped and stuck in time. And because of this, I would guess ghosts would appear on the Map.
Here are some quotes Jo has given us about Animagi and Patronuses:
Does the animal one turns into as an Animagi reflect your personality?
JKR: Very well deduced, Narri! I personally would like to think that I would transform into an otter, which is my favorite animal. Imagine how horrible it would be if I turned out to be a cockroach! - Oct. 19th, 2000 AOL.com chat
Robert Dawson for Asda - If you were an animagus, what would you like to be?
JK Rowling: This always amuses me this idea. You see, you do not know what you are going to be until you have done it, so you might spend half a decade trying to turn into an animal and then find out you were a slug or something, which would be most unpleasant.
I gave Hermione my favourite animal, which is an otter. If you wanted to be something impressive, you would probably be something like a stag or a tiger, would you not, I just suspect I might be a guinea pig or something which would be so embarrassing. - Edinburgh "cub reporter" press conference, ITV, 16 July 2005
So, we can see that we don't choose our Animagus. The Animagus reflects our personality. I'm not sure if Jo meant to say 'Animagus' or 'Patronus' when talking about Hermione's otter, because so far as we know, we don't have confirmation of her becoming an Animagus at any point, though we know her Patronus is an otter. However, this convo was about Animagi and not Patronuses, so I'm not sure.
My theory is that the Animagus is a 100% pure representation of you as a person - your personality, attitudes and disposition. Your Patronus can reflect that as well, but can also be influenced by your values and beliefs, which is why it can be changed to reflect the various relationships you hold most dear in your life, thereby explaining why we can have some Patronuses who change for romantic love and others for familial love.
I think that I agree with Rosie. I don't think we have any idea when Ron would have been killed off, only that at some point midway through writing the series did Jo consider the idea. If she had gone through with it, though, I think it would have had to have been during Book 7 because I can't imagine him dying in Book 5 and Harry having to go through those last two years with Hermione alone. I mean, the two of them held their own for a while in Book 7, but things really fell apart and Harry has moments in the books where he reflects that Hermione just wasn't the same as having Ron around. I think it would have been weird to read without his best guy friend there for him the final two books. I see Ron dying in the Battle of Hogwarts maybe after the hardest bits have been done already.
I'm so sorry Noah, but as with MuggleNet Academia's sexual innuendo episode, I just really don't see any of the sexual metaphors here. But maybe that's just me! If you haven't listened to Academia - I think it's Episode 4 - you should check it out because this is exactly the kind of stuff they hit on!
Finally (sorry for always writing a novel guys!), I thought that the idea George couldn't cast a Patronus after Fred's death was one of those rumors, similar to the one about Nagini being the same snake from Sorcerer's Stone. I don't know, but I did some digging and I can't find any legitimate source or quotes that say he failed at producing a Patronus from Fred's death on. Does anyone have confirmation of this?