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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 22)

I don't think we ever really know for sure when the prophesy was revealed in relation to the knowledge that Snape had about who it actually referred to. It seems most likely that if Snape knew that the prophesy referred to Lily, then why would he have ever put her in danger?

Although this event does allow Snape to experience and see that his choices to become a eater were "wrong" because it ultimately jeopardized and ed the person he cared for most in this world.

While I also agree that Snape's initial motivation in coming to the "good" side was his love of Lily and that is what brought Snape to Dumbledore in the first place, I think that the books demonstrate that he grew to care for Dumbledore, Harry, Lupin and others as well.

With Dumbledore, Snape is disgusted and angry that he put on the ring and tells him that he could have done more for him if he had come to him sooner. He is also shown in the pensieve memories to have cut Fred's ear off because he was trying to save Lupin from a Eater spell. Heck, even his comment to Dumbledore about not being able to save people shows some amount of change in Snape from his poor choice when he was 19-20 years old to join the Eaters.

Snapes caring about Harry is a little more complicated. I think that by giving him those additional memories of Lily, Snape was giving Harry something of his mother even if it would have been "nicer" for him to have done that for Harry before he is lying on his bed.

The scene to me is very symbolic and when Snape says to "look at me" it can be interpreted on several different levels. Even the reader needs to look closer to see Snape for who he really is.

No question, he is a hero. Clearly, the "bravest person" in the series as Harry recognizes him to be too.

Posted by Sam from USA on August 27, 2007 10:58 AM

Someone said Snape didn't care if Harry learned occlumency and was cold as usual. But if you think about it he had to be. If he had suddenly become nice to Harry then it would be very suspicious. Also i think that during occlumency the reason snape taunts Harry and calls him weak is just his way of getting through to him that occlumency was essential for him. He did stop giving Harry occlumency because of what Harry saw in his pensieve, but can you blame him. I mean he had to repeatedly risk his life for and teach someone he didn't even like just because he had loved his mother, and then he finds Harry viewing his most painful memory which could mean the risk of being laughed at again by the son of the man who bullied him the first time.

Posted by Lucy from London on August 27, 2007 12:54 PM

Snape was a hero, and I agree with harry when he says he was one of the bravest men, although he treated harry horribly, that was because he resembled james so much, and because it would rise suspicions if he treated him well..
As Dumbledore, he made a mistake and then changed, chose to change.

Posted by pamela from trelew, patagonia argentina on August 27, 2007 4:17 PM

KazakhWizardnet from Kazakhstan wrote:
"I am not evil, but if you love someone as selflessly as Snape did Lily - you can do anything."

Snape may have once upon a time loved Lilly, but as soon as he told Voldemort about the prophecy that love turned into an obsession. You can't love someone and hate all that they have to do with (James and Harry). When you love someone you take their decisions for what they are and continue to love them for who they are. To do differently is pure selfishness.

It was for nothing but personal gain that Snape told Voldemort the prophecy. What Snape did (intended or not) would have "ed" Lilly. Imagine if you , that you have someone that loved you from childhood (or stalked as Snape did), but you choose to marry someone else. Then you had a child with that other person. Then a year later the childhood "friend" came along and was a WILLING contributor to your spouses and childs s...What would you say that person is?

Snape is as responsible for James and Lily's s as Wormtail and Voldemort.

Posted by Chris from Walla Walla, WA on August 27, 2007 4:20 PM

The fascinating thing about (most) of the convoluted plot threads is that they do make sense. The question of whether Snape and his love for Lily was ultimately benificial is answered both philosophically and practically. Philosophically, we have the theme of love being the most powerful and mysterious kind of magic. If Snape had not loved Lily, he or someone else would have overheard the prophesy and told Voldemort. But NO ONE would have asked Voldemort to spare Lily. So, she would not have been given the choice to sacrifice herself. Remember, James also sacrificed himself, but that did not conjure the same type of protective magic because he was never given the choice to live. Lily was only given that choice (which then, bestowed upon her sacrifice the protective magic) because Snape loved her and asked Voldemort to spare her. Ultimately, it was not only Lily's love for her son, but snape's love for lily plus her love for her son, that gave Harry the power the dark lord knew not.

Posted by leah from nyc on August 27, 2007 7:46 PM

Chris from Walla Walla writes:
Snape is as responsible for James and Lily's s as Wormtail and Voldemort.

Does anyone else think so? What Snape did was a desperate, thoughtless attempt to let Lily know how much he cared for her, loved her. Snape was suffering. He needed to show Lily how devastated he was after she left him.

Posted by KazakhWizardnet from Kazakhstan on August 28, 2007 02:16 AM

I think Snape is one of the most complicated character in the book. Since I started the saga of HP, I always hated the moments where Harry was with Severus Snape. Always. Until the 5th book. There I knew that he was on the side of Dumbledore. I am really happy that J.K. Rowling did not only put him in the story as a bad character, just because he was reserved and because everybody hated him.

Posted by Anonymous from Montreal on August 28, 2007 07:56 AM

I think that Snape was inadverdently responsible for the s. He didn't know that the prophecy meant Harry which meant Lily and James before he reported what he heard to Voldemort. Voldemort made the choice to pick Harry.

Posted by Kim from Manchester on August 28, 2007 2:10 PM

I personally think that Snape was so hateful towards Harry because all those years Snape loved Lily and then she went off and married a total git. I personally don't think James is a git but Snape sure did. I think that if you loved someone and they married someone you felt total hate towards you would be crushed and hurt. Well Harry looks like James and the resemblence made Snape think about James. Harry has Lily's eyes, so every time Snape looks at Harry he sees Lily and remembers what he said.

Posted by Mallory Seney from Raliegh NC on August 28, 2007 5:40 PM

excellent analysis. you're -on. i hadn't thought of it that way before.

i think that those who aim to vilify snape are forgetting one thing: the tragic hero is SUPPOSED to be flawed. so he hated james. so he was mean to harry. as a human, given the way he was treated, how could he not? he did not have to risk his life, he did not have to make wolfsbane potion, or try to protect the others that he did.

im sorry, but self sacrifice, especially from someone emotionally stunted to begin with, trumps taking ten points from gryffindor or giving detention, in my opinion.

Posted by chuck from nj on August 28, 2007 6:25 PM

I think Snape was a good person. He was not a particularly warm person, but he made the right choices. Imagine how difficult it would have been for him to see the eyes of the woman he loved so much but with the hatred that Harry felt for him the moment he first met him. I didn't think that was fair. Snape has never been treated nicely so how could he possibly treat anybody else in the correct manner if he never learned what correct was. I also think that he hated the fact that he always had to do the dirty jobs. He was the one who had to spy on Dumbledore as well as Voldemort with the risk of being ed himself. But he always did it without complaining. He was also the one that had to Dumbledore; without a doubt the only person in the world who fully trusted him. I also believe that the fact that harry hated his guts is the only thing that kept him alive so long. If Snape would have helped Harry the way he did and Harry would have apreciated it for what it was, I think his fate would be the same as dumbledores and he wouldn't have lived to be the one that saved harry in the very end. I think Snape was a really brave person for being so lonely as he would probably have been, but still keeping his eye out for Harry and doing the dirty jobs all for a greater cause.

Posted by Carola from The Netherlands on August 29, 2007 03:51 AM

no one is perfect, all the characters have flaws, being human.

Posted by abby from Johnstown,PA on August 29, 2007 04:07 AM

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