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Severus Snape: Heel or Hero?

Is Snape a hero? Would James and Lily be alive now if not for him? Would Harry be dead now if not for him? Did he ever care about Harry, or only Lily? At the end of the epilogue, Harry says that Severus Snape was the bravest man he ever knew. Did he feel that way only after years of reflection? How do we feel now, while it's still fresh for us?

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Reader Comments: (Page 11)

I have been re-reading the series and found something really annoyed me.

In PoA, Snape was beyond reasons when he met Sirius and Lupin and the trio in the shrieking Shack. He believed, at that time, Sirius was the reason why Lily was . He sure wanted revenge. "Give me a reason and I swear I do it." In retropsect, his actions there were all understandable.

However, in HBP, Spinner's End (brilliantly named), Wormtail was staying with him. He would have known by then that it was Wormtail who has betrayed the Potters. How could he possibly let Wormtail lived and not trying all his might to get him ed? I wonder.

Despite this, Snape is,and remains my fovourite in the series. He's braver by far than Harry, even Dumbledore. And probably suffered most out of all people. I keep remembering his expression when he had to Dumbledore; "Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face." "Severus....please." Can't begin to imagine what he was feeling at that moment. My heart ached for him.

Posted by Fiona from Hong Kong on August 7, 2007 09:26 AM

Snape is by far the bravest man ever! Regardless of his irritating behaviour towards Harry, his sacrifices seem to have covered it all up. Not a lot of people have the courage to do what he did. To lie to the darkest and most powerful wizard of all time, risking your life for a loved one that doesnt even exist anymore and to put his life at stake on someones orders several times. What Severus Tobias Snape did, no one by far has dared to do so. Dumbledore has said it himself, he would never give this job to anyone but Snape. He had to conceal Dumbledores grand plans while spending most of his valuable time with Voldy. I think his character really needs an applause! If Harry himself agrees that Snape is undoubtedly the bravest man ever, why do other people have a problem with that? For everything Severus Snape has done, hats off to him! He always be remembered...

Posted by Ayesha from california on August 7, 2007 10:16 AM

Hey, just because I said I like Severus Snape doesn't mean I have to worship him!

He's an interesting character, but he's not my fave. Heck, I don't think I have a fave!

After all those years of anger and humiliation with Snape, I wonder how Harry ever managed to name his son after him. It's not that I don't like the idea, Snape at least deserved some credit after all he did, but it's just kind of weird how Harry hated Snape so much and then he names his son after him. It's an odd kind of long-standing tribute to give your worst-favorite teacher.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on August 7, 2007 10:23 AM

All I can say is Snape gained some love for Harry. At first, I believe Snape despised Harry for being like James, but as Snape grew to know Harry better through the years, Lily started to shine through and Snape was able to see past Harry's appearances to see the unique person underneath. If Snape had truly only been taking care of Harry because of a promise, he would have felt no need to justify his actions to Harry. Snape wanted Harry to see that he was a good person and felt the need to lay himself bare in his revealing of his deepest thoughts to do so.

Posted by nmGirl on August 7, 2007 10:57 AM

SherryBinNH you have hit it just right. Snape was a heel of the first order and I just couldn't understand Harry naming a child after him. Forgive him, yes, because those who don't forgive have difficulties of their own, but there was no need to name a child after him!

Posted by Deb8er from Cheshire on August 7, 2007 11:29 AM

Snape is human, therefore we are unable to qualify his as "good" or "bad". He is, most definately, a remarkable character, the ultimate flawed hero. Harry himself finally acknowledged him as an adult, when he tells his son Albus Severus he is named after a hero. I don't think he was referring to Dumbledore.
Snape was unpleasant to Harry. As any other human being, he carried grudges. But he was also a reformed eater, someone who has witnessed true evil and watched himself almost completely submerged in it, yet managed to pull himself out and work on the side of good. There is much to say for that. And in the end, it is the outcome that counts. He lived a hard life, putting himself in contact with mortal danger, knowingly villified by everyone, and made the ultimate sacrifice. I wonder which of you Snape-haters would pass the test Snape passed with such flying colours, dignity and humanity.

Posted by Noa from Toronto on August 7, 2007 1:36 PM

I think snape is a true hero. yeah, he did make mistakes, but as soon as he knew voldemorts intentions he tried to save his one true love. yes he did say to spare just lily at first, but he also asked dumbledore to hide them all, keep them safe, he said he would do anything for dumbledore to do that. (and we all know how badly james had treated snape.) and even though dumbledore didn't manage this, snape still decided to help dumbledore and did not just give up.

yes he was harsh on his students but that might have been his teaching methods, or who is to say that he only did that to look the part (he did, after all, look after the students when he was headmaster and only gave out not so harsh punishments). he also on many occasions has saved harry so to speak. in ss/ps he was counter-cursing quirrell. in poa he stood in front of harry when lupin turned into a wearwolf, as well a other things. but in the end he did everything he could to aid harry. and in effect he was living on a knife edge doing so. that makes him a true hero, he gave his life to the greater good. that's just my opinion though. i wish we got to see him and harry come to a understanding. but it looks like harry got that with the bravest wizard comment. mind you snape is my fave and i cried buckets from the prince's tale onwards.

Posted by 3ps from uk on August 7, 2007 3:21 PM

All the hype about Snape was just that...hype. He hated Harry and his father...he loved Harry's mother but was rejected by her where's the beef? Did his human side try to reconcile his differences with James by protecting Harry? No. I think he feared the wrath of Dumbledore more. Bats can't see...they navigate by did Snape. And by the way, what was all the hullabaloo about his pact with Draco's mother? Too many questions unanswered that an "encyclopedia" never fulfill satisfactorily. Disappointed? Yes...and so were many more of you, who find courage enough to admit it.

Posted by dee from Sourhtern USA on August 7, 2007 4:03 PM

SherryB and Deb8er, I have a question: What exactly are these flip flops of loyalty you perceive in Snape's actions during the series? I note that dozens of comments posted here list Snape's consistent actions of loyalty to Dumbledore's resistance to the Dark Lord.

It is conceded that Snape, outcast by all but the most extreme Slytherins, joined the Eaters as a younger man. Having immediately seen the results of these actions he took effective measures to attempt to correct his error. He continued to do penance thereafter and to work for 'justice' if that can be sorted out from 'revenge/retribution'.

JKR has created a series which revolves about Love and . Love and remorse figure highly in this setting. Why does Snape, his remorse and bravery not qualify as a Hero then? Which flip flops or deeds serve to remove Harry's judgement of him?

Are you as certain that Regulus A. Black cannot be a hero? Regulus became a Eater, Regulus was helping to store a Horcrux after doing heaven knows what prior to this for the Eaters. His revelation about the wickedness of these actions and his involvement in them caused him to save Kreacher, destroy (order it anyway) a Horcrux, and to in what may have been an attempt to protect his family from Voldemort. Did Regulus display as much courage and determination as Snape? Are Snape's similar actions not worthy of Harry's judgement that Snape is the Bravest man he ever knew?

Posted by Charlie Tarbox from Gettysburg, Pa on August 7, 2007 4:38 PM

I dont know its hard to say i wish he had done more.. but at least he didnt really betray Dumbledore i like Snape and i think hes a good good guy after what hes been through.

Posted by Matt from Idaho on August 7, 2007 5:33 PM

snape ultimately did what was right. please give him credit. he was always, ultimately, if only underneath, right. credit is due where credit was earned.

Posted by dumbledore from hogwarts on August 7, 2007 5:49 PM

"We Slytherins are brave, yes, but not stupid. For instance, given the choice, we always choose to save our own necks." - Phineas Nigellus Black [OP, US p495]

Jo stated in (I believe) the webchat that she thought Severus was sort of an antihero, which I do agree with. He had his virtues, but it took a massive tragedy in order to bring them out.

I can see what Albus is saying when he tells Severus "Sometimes I think we sort too soon," but I also can't help but think that, while Severus was brave for fighting against Voldemort, he wasn't so much until Lily was in danger. It was only when something he held dear was in jeopardy that his bravery showed through; only then did he reveal the best of himself. It is indeed only then when he decides to do "anything" for his love. It doesn't seem, to me anyway, that sorting at any other time, or even not sorting at all, might have changed the outcome of his life. The Sorting Hat takes into consideration which House you can choose to go to. Lily was sorted into Gryffindor first, and yet Severus still ended up in Slytherin - Gryffindor House's "mortal enemy". Surly if he truly cared for her, he could have chosen to be sorted into her house.

Ok, so let's say then that his affection for Lily was not as developed as his desire to follow his preconceived ideals at the time of sorting. He even seemed to look past this ancient rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin to stay friends with a Gryffindor Muggle-born girl, but never completely. He still wouldn't do what she asked of him - he hung out with the wrong crowd, he bullied people using "Dark" magic, and he didn't stop apparently, even after she told him she didn't like it and wanted him to. Then, the worst memory of his life, the estrangement of his girl - he calls her what he calls everyone of her birth: M...... um... well, something not very nice to call someone of Muggle parentage, and a word that James refuses to even say as reference or example. Why? To keep up a facade of model Slytherin? To defer his "friends" of suspicions of a potential relationship with a Gryffindor and Muggle-born? (For a literary device? Oh, right, we're pretending he's real. Sorry.) He didn't need to say anything to her, he could have easily just stormed off without a word, and no one would be the wiser to his friendship, and he didn't have to estrange her. Yet he made that choice, and paid dire consequences for his "ideals."

That incident changed a lot of minds for a lot of people. Lily, as far as we can tell, never again spoke to Severus after the apology conversation that night. Severus never again uttered that word, and didn't like to hear it. I highly suspect, also, that this incident also leveled James out a bit, based on his reaction to what she had called him. Remus and Sirius tell Harry that James' arrogance at some point deflated and that Lily started dating him in seventh year. If he had deflated in seventh year, then it didn't take Lily very long to get over six years of thinking James was an "arrogant toerag." However, if this end of fifth year incident leveled him, and after a year of showing her he'd changed his ways, she might have had time to change her mind, or realize that James had made the effort that Severus never seemed to be able to make - that he was ing to change himself to be with her.

Before any fellow "Snape believers," as Charlie so wonderfully put it on page 9, lynch me, let me assert once again that I never wavered on my belief that Severus was very loyal to Albus. I love Severus (don't like him very much, though - there's a difference; and I did try to "save" him...) and my aim is not to trivialize the pain and danger he obviously has put himself through. But what it took before he was finally ing to do anything for the woman he loved seems selfish and childish. You've gotta admit that, no matter how much Severus loved Lily, James deserved her more.

Posted by Monkeeshrines from orlando fl on August 7, 2007 6:41 PM

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