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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 18)

I would say hero... because, after all, he did what J.K considered most valuable in life, after love, feeling remorse. He did feel remorse for what he'd done... and, did the best he could to do what Albus asked him, even though Harry Potter always remembered him of the man he hated the most in his life: james, who had the woman Severus loved.

of course he was no angel, no Hagrid, no Remus, or not even Sprout, because he isn't this kind of person, and more: he was a man in pain a severe pain in his soul for the guilty he felt.

I don't love Snape, but I can't say I hate him. And I found very touchy that harry named one of his sons after him.

Posted by marília from salvador, Brasil on August 15, 2007 7:22 PM

Charlie Tarbox: we should add to your last post that Snape also risked his life for Lupin when he brang him his potion in PoA, on a full moon night. Of course, it helped the plot, but I think Jo wanted us to know that Snape, although he never accepted the fact Lupin could be teacher at Hogwarts, acted as a very brave person, protecting both Lupin and the students from being injured, as Sirius would do hours later, when as a dog, he took Lupin aside.

Moreover, in the movie, Snape protects Harry and his companions from Lupin.

I think this is much more meaningful than the sarcasms Snape uses against the Gryffindor students (Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville), a very sful way of Jo's to remind us of our most hatred teachers and then have us consider Snape as an evil man.

Notice that she did the same with Filch (who, as long as I remember, was rude in his talking, but not in his acts, despite his reputation), but she didn't make Filch appear differently in DH (as a matter of facts, he didn't appear at all, vanished!). Maybe she had that in mind, but didn't have the opportunity to use it as a "coup de theatre", because as soon as Snape was the Headmasters in Hogwarts, there was no real place for action in Hogwarts until the last battle.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on August 16, 2007 01:41 AM

It must have been really difficult for snape to live with wormtail knowing it was he who betrayed lily! Snape has wormtail to thank as the actual weak link that broke the chain of protection surrounding the potters.
Sev must have been a very patient man just to have lived with wormy and not be truly tempted to off him!

Posted by Des from Korea on August 16, 2007 01:42 AM

Absolutely THE most important character and personal favorite in the series. An extremely complex character, anti-hero, brave and able to endure the hatred of everyone while actually he was doing the service for Dumbledore. I think most people love Harry and detest Snape just because he hates him. So Snape didn't do anything for Harry so what? Actually I believe he developed a small affection about him in the end. The point is that Snape is the true kind of hero, the one that no one knows about, the one that isn't shiny, is in the shadows always watching, always making the difference with no recognition from anybody ever (even from the readers, this is the success of Rowling to be a hero and even convincing the readers he isn't).

Posted by telis from Greece on August 16, 2007 05:30 AM

All of the characters in the books had flaws and Snape was no different. Look at how Sirius treated Kreacher or his actions as a youth, or James Potter and his arrogance as a youth or Dumbledore and his craving for power when he was a youth. I think the message was that we all made mistakes at times particularly when we were young and Snape was no different. Snape made a mistake as a youth. He was angry and fell into the wrong crowd. I think people fail to realize just how many times Snape saves Harry. In the first book alone, he tries to save him when Quirrel is attempting to jinx the broom and then referees the next match to protect Harry. Snape made a ton of sacrifices and had to work harder for redemption than most for the crimes that he committed. Eventually, it cost him his life, which he probably knew from the beginning would be the result of crossing Lord Voldemort. Snape was definitely a hero, a flawed hero, but a hero nonetheless. He had to work harder then anyone to keep his secret, and eventually become an enemy of everyone. I may dislike Snape as a person and for the way he treated Harry, but he also sacrificed so much so that Harry could succeed. (If you need proof of that just read his reaction when he finds out that Harry must to be victorious.)

Posted by John from Middletown, NJ on August 16, 2007 09:36 AM

to herve from strasbourg:
filch didnt vanish in DH, he appeared in the "battle of hogwarts", he said to mcgonagall that there are students out of bed. this looks like a normal behaivior for him, but consider that:
1. he is a squib - it is dangerous for him to stay in hogwarts, he might have did it to try to protect the students.
2. he said it to mcgonagall - he knew that the carrows were in charge of punishment. but he didnt want to say it to them. it was the rare occasion that students really should have stayed in bed, for their own safety.
so snape might be not the only one newly-revealed hero.

Posted by dk from il on August 16, 2007 1:21 PM

john: Snapes reaction after realising that harry must , is just to calmly say "the boy must ?" he is totally calm. not really hurt, or showing love for harry. then when dumbledore says "you have grown to care for the boy?" snape says, "for him?" (like saying not for him but for lily, because then he casts the doe patronus pronouncing his love for lily).

Posted by to john from australia on August 17, 2007 04:58 AM

Why is it that flashes of inspiration always come 200 odd comments into a discussion!?

I believe I have the single answer to the 'Snape is Nasty' or 'Snape is hoplessly twisted' argument:

"You think the we loved ever truly leave us? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him...Prongs rode again last night' (Dumbledore to Harry, 427-28 POA, US)

"Harry stared at the her inexplicable framiliarity" (DH 'the Silver Doe, US 366)

"After all this time?' 'Always,' said Snape" (DH 687)

First, that much Lilly Evans LIVES WITHIN SEVERUS SNAPE. That alone means that there is not only good, but compassion dwelling there. It also means that the capacity for love continues there.

Secondly, as messages and control of Patronus' appear to be possible for sful magic users, Snape works through Lilly. Just as Harry met up with his Father in POA, Harry met up with his Mother in DH through Snape and his Patronus. Snape sent the 'Snape Lilly' with its compassion, affection and attraction for Harry to lure him to the sword. That affection for Harry ALSO came from within Snape and was shown through his projection of the 'Snape Lilly'. Not only did Severus keep his love of Lilly alive, he kept her love of Harry alive at the same time within his heart.

All of that emotion and compassion was kept safe, held, 'all these years' within the heart of Severus Tobias Snape. Agatha Christie has said 'Don't let Evil into your Heart, it make a Home there' (Evil Under the Sun). The converse must also be true. Snape has not only let Love into his Heart, but it has made such a home there that it lived until the end of his existence.

I cannot accept that someone posessed of that much projectable Love... love kept alive in the pure form of the Doe... could be unredeemably a heel.

Posted by Charlie Tarbox from Gettysburg, Pa on August 17, 2007 08:27 AM

Great observation. I think you've really hit the nail on the head.

BUT if the only time Snape does good is when he is being like Lily, is he really a hero? Or is it the Lily residing in him that is the hero?

I guess stuff like this is what makes Jo so extraordinary.

Posted by Lydia Wolcott from Lubbock, TX on August 17, 2007 10:58 AM

I consider Snape to be a hero. At first I didn't like him or how he treated Harry, but I came to realize that he did the best he could. He cared for Harry because he was Lily's son and Snape loved Lily. But, Harry's appearance was so much like James that I believe Snape remembered all the pain and humiliation that had been associated with James Potter, including the fact that the person Snape loved more than anything, married James and was very happy with him. I also think that Snape didn't deserve to , but even though he did, it was good that he s looking into the eyes of Lily Evans.

I think that JK wrote the character of Severus Snape phenomenally and it is sad that he had to suffer so much. Snape is one of the many great heros in DH and the overall Harry Potter series.

Posted by Some1 Random from jacksonville fl on August 17, 2007 11:13 AM

i never said that severus was a hero...according to a writer from my country (Borges) a real hero has to be perfect...and snape made a lot of mistakes. but still, he was of a great importance and he was always there for Harry, even if it was thinking only about lily. if it hadn't been for snape, things would have been very different.

Posted by ceci from argentina on August 17, 2007 5:38 PM

I dont see how anyone can accuse Severus of being selfish. EVERYONE is selfish. Harry is - denying Ginny's right to fight because HE doesnt want her to get hurt, and in turn, himself.

Severus showed immense courage, throughout the books. i mean, when life treats you badly from the very start, you cant expect him to be open and loving about everything.

his parents fought, didnt love each other, his father was probably a drunk and they were poor. He would be a lot more scarred than Harry, because it was his OWN parents who did this to him - not relatives. Harry still had the hope that people out there still loved him and d loving him. but Snape had no one.

Harry continued to grow up good and noble but he also had friends to help him. Slytherin wouldnt have that conductive happy atmosphere. Snape learned to keep things close to heart.

it is actually impossible to define him. even after all the books, we CANNOT know what he was thinking, only make guesses. but i am inclined to his better side. Life turned its back on him from the beginning and the only ray of hope he ever had was ed on his information. no wonder he is messed up.

Maybe he didnt deserve a noble but he deserves to be remembered. heros arent always the loud people who charge blindly into danger. Heroes can be anyone. there is no specific stereotype. Please, dont be so hard on Snape. he was only human and tried his best.

Posted by Olivia from NEW ZEALAND on August 17, 2007 10:03 PM

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