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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 19)

Do you really think that Severus Snape tried his best?
He never progressed beyond obsessive love for the one person who reached out to him out of genuine affection despite Snape's insulting and demeaning way of interacting with her.
He selfishly held on to an immature love, even into adulthood.
Yes he was brave, intelligent and purposeful, but still bitter, selfish and petty.
He is a well written believable character.

Posted by Patty from Quincy MA on August 18, 2007 08:05 AM

the role of severus snape is complex to say the least. its amazing, sad, tragic and yet holds a savage beauty. I do not believe that snape held any love for harry personally, who could. We have been told countless times that harry looked just like james, snapes arch nemesis, a man he hated and also ed, but he also sees a remnant of the woman he loved but also ed. In my opinion snape sees harry as james arrogant, proud, y even, but he cant escape harrys eyes eyes, his loves, eyes he despises and eyes he fears. some ask why would he fear harrys eyes. imagine loving someone, ing that person and then having them look at you almost every day for seven years. its a prospect that would make most go mad. now some say i can understand why he was mean to harry but what of ron hermione and neville. now as one who was emotionally ed by having to watch the girl he loved fall in love with a man he hated, he understands that by hurting someones friends he can hurt that person. this is demonstrated when harry gets mad when snape nags ron for some potion mistake.

so snape is not essentially evil but of course does evil things for hatred, and yes he was evil while working for vodemort and even then was not completely evil, although it was through selfishness he still asked to spare lily.

snape sees in harry love now lost and if youve ever had someone you love ignore you for someone you hate its a terrible feeling, i say avoid it if you can, so snape is reminded by the comparison of harry to james every time he sees him that he lost lily to james. now im not sure how many of you would have considered this, but had snape married lily harry would have been snapes son. I think in snapes pride hes always thought of him and lily as kind of married so to him harry now seems as a bastard son who was spawned of the cheating of someone he considered someone he loved and someone he hated. someone he thinks should have been his son. if i loved a women and she had a kid with another man i think i would hate that kid as much if not more than the man that brought him into existence. thinking of it this way, is it any wonder that snape hates harry. and yet... and yet he still loves. he still finds it within him self to protect his enemys son the son he thinks should be his.

Severus Snape is a hero. Snape is brave. and even if he was bad at some point the argument is if he was good after he left voldy the first time and the answer to that is yes.

Posted by garrett on August 18, 2007 11:15 AM

I think Snape is definately a hero. His impacted me the most out of all the s. other than Harry, he is probably the bravest person in the series. Even though he only did it because he loved Lily, he protected Harry and thats the point. I think Harry needed a while (8 years) to change his mind about him. People brought up the topic of whether he owed Harry a , but he already paid off the . On page 300 (U.S., Sorcerers Stone) Dumbledore says "I do believe he [Snape] worked so hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and your father even." He already paid it off.

Posted by elantheconqueror from Birmingham, Alabama on August 18, 2007 4:21 PM

In HBP, when Bellatrix is doubting Snape's loyalty to the Dark Lord, Snape says that voldemort is 'the greatest legilimens of all time,' so then how did Snape manage to fool him?

Posted by Prerna from Singapore on August 18, 2007 9:24 PM

"He selfishly held on to an immature love, even into adulthood."

Patty, I would say Severus Snape is many things but not holding on to an immature love. That statement devalues the whole concept of his sacrifce, surely?

Posted by Marjorie from New Zealand on August 18, 2007 9:58 PM

snape is a hero, he sacrificed himself for harry, and he also admitted he loved harry, meaning he wanted to protect harry and lily. snape is written so good in DH and harry even agrees snape is a hero.

Posted by jojo from aussie on August 18, 2007 11:57 PM

What sacrifice are you referring to?
I don't see his as sacrifice so much as a release from a miserable life. What did he have to live for after the downfall of Voldemort? After Lily's he devoted himself to Harry's protection for her sake, and her sake only. Dumbledore gave him a reason to live by giving him a task he could fulfill. He was a brilliant wizard, capable of inventing spells while still a student. He was a master of Legilimency, Occlumency and being a spy. But to what end did he use his abundance of talents? Did he try to move on from the mistake he made when he informed and inadvertently caused Lily's ? Did he try to improve himself or the wizarding world? He singlemindedly focused on Harry's protection and the downfall of Voldemort. Once that was done, he was done.
I don't see what he did as sacrifice, but an immature obsession, beyond which he had no purpose.

Posted by Patty from Quincy,Massachusetts on August 19, 2007 09:02 AM

i am rereading all the books again...we all know Harry's signature spell... "expeliarmus" right? who thought him this? SNAPE did (CoS). How many times has it saved Harry's life?! So as you can see Snape was protecting him in any way...

Posted by Julie from CA on August 19, 2007 09:32 AM

No, I would not agree Snape's life could be defined as miserable, not really. Both characters had miserable starts, yes, and crucially we can begin to see that the choices made (as Dumbledore says) are more important than the abilities of the characters. Harry remains hopeful and learns, Snape takes the other path - voluntarily.

I see it as JKR creating a character who is a counterpoint to Harry. They both love, but come at love from different directions. Harry has always been seen as a 'good' person, and Snape as a 'bad' one. We see, in the pensieve, that it was Snape's own fault he lost Lily but I can't agree it was in immature obsession - that, as I say, devalues the whole concept of the 'love' JKR is writing about. The whole point is about 'love' and how it can enhance life, everyone's life - and I am sure she means this to be seen in a wider context.

Snape's life before Lily's was one with a leaning towards the dark arts. Without her this would, perhaps, have continued and he would have been just another 'bad guy' like Yaxley, or the Carrows. Giving him a torch to carry allows JKR to counterpoint the redemption theme; Voldemort does not show remorse and as a result finds out that there "are worse things than ," Snape - showed remorse and was, after a life devoted to a particular cause, redeemed. He had sacrificed his life to the cause of removing Voldemort. Snape had a life that was difficult, full of the danger of discovery, regret, and with a singular selfish focus, but I would not agree it was a miserable one. We shall have to agree to differ on that one I think.

Posted by Marjorie from New Zealand on August 19, 2007 1:54 PM

john from australia:

After Snape casts the doe, Dumbledore says,"After all this time?", and he's still talking about Harry. Snape obviously knows this, why else would he answer, "Always."? Besides, Dumbledore already KNEW that Snape loved Lily. Snape casted the doe to say that he realized Harry to be like his mother, and he likes him just the same.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on August 19, 2007 4:07 PM


Snape definitely started working for Dumbledore only for Lily's sake. But at the end of DH in the pensieve scene when Dumbledore asks him about how many s he has seen, Snape answers that lately he has seen only those whom he could not save. Now why is he speaking of saving others? He is only bound to save Harry and that's all. But it seems that his love for Lily and may be the company of Dumbledore did transform him to some extent. He was at least 'bothered' if not grief stricken for the of others. The of other wizards did matter to him. Snape is not the person who would 'carry his heart upon his sleeve', he would never harp upon his feelings.

Posted by doyel from Kolkata on August 20, 2007 04:34 AM

As much as I always loved the character of Severus Snape, I now describe him as "pathetically sympathetic". I can feel sympathy for him (his treatment by the marauders, his home life as a child, losing the one true friend he had in Lily), but he could never let go of the guilt of Lily's (taking the end of Sirius's letter from Lily and ripping the photo to keep just Lily's face), nor did he even try to have any other real friends in his later years. That is the pathetic part of him. He let his actions as a young man (probably around 19 or 20 years of age at Lily's ) ruin his entire adult life. To be mature means to let go of the bad parts of your life (a courageous act) and find love, friendship, and happiness again. Severus could never do that. He didn't even seem to be on friendly terms with any other Hogwarts staff members (even after working alongside them for 15 years).

It's confusing for me to look at his character now and truly tell how I feel.

Posted by monique from Greencastle, Indiana on August 20, 2007 1:27 PM

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