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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 24)

"Not all heroes wear white."

I like that, I really like that. It makes me think of the solrs, firefighters, etc. that we see everyday - the real heroes. They don't literally wear white which is what brought them to mind.

Anyway, back to Snape. He truly is a complex, interesting character. One that you could really sink your teeth into analyzing (no pun intended). I think that he can be considered a hero because he was living a double life, putting himself in great danger living as "Volemort's spy". He was brave and courageous throughout the story although I thought he was evil until the last book. I was truly shocked to discover that he was Dumbledore's man through and through. Pretty ironic as Harry was Dumbledore's man as well.

I do not agree or condone many of the things Snape did or said but as Snapekat said, "Heroes don't always wear white."

Posted by Kim from Manchester on September 6, 2007 6:09 PM

To whose who think Sanpe is mean and evil. In the Prince's Tale (DH), Dumbledore asked Snape to deliver the sword to Harry and he said: "- and he must not know that you give it! If Voldemort should read Harry's mind and see you acting for him-"

Does that sound inspirational? I bet Dumbledore has been telling Snape all those years that he mustn't show softness to Harry as he knows Voldemort can and see into Harry's mind. Of course, that would include all of Harry's friends as well. So, Snape did what he was asked by Dumbledore. He may be unpleasant as a boy and teen, but he's not a mean and evil grown-up. Snape is a tragic hero.

Posted by Fiona from Hong Kong on September 8, 2007 12:11 PM

Sorry Fiona...gotta disagree here.

Snape really hated Harry; he was not acting mean on anyone's orders where that was concerned. In "the Prince's Tale" we even see Dumbledore disagreeing with Snape's estimation of Harry as a rule-breaking, attention seeking, louse. What is heroic about Snape is that (at first) he did "the right thing" out of love for Lily and the grief over her . Eventually his character grows and that love truly transforms him into "Dumbledore's man" (someone who recognizes and sides with goodness). He still hates Harry because the wounds he suffered in his youth have not healed. So, he still hates James and so, Harry. But he knows right from wrong...He wants to fulfill his oath to protect Harry and he wants to do the right thing. He really hated Harry. He was certainly flawed. And, he was a brave and tragic hero.

Posted by leah from ny on September 8, 2007 6:39 PM

Chris from Walla Walla:
Over a week ago we had a kind of a little argument regarding Snape's obssessive love towards Lily Potter. I am not sure in which of the books this has been quoted and/or by who it was quoted, but this is what I had found in J.K.Rowling quotes site: "When you have seen as much of life as I have, you not underestimate the power of obsessive love". I tend to think that this was quoted by Dumbledore.

Posted by KazakhWizardsnet from Kazakhstan on September 10, 2007 02:14 AM

That quote was from Slughorn at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince when he was describing the effects of a love potion.

I give you the fact that love is a very strong and powerful emotion, and can make you do great or evil things, but Snapes was an obsession.

If you remember, he was alright with Vol ing James and Harry, just as long as he got Lily back. Does that sound like love to you? It certainly doesn't sound like love to me. It sounds like a selfish obsession to me.

As I stated before, if you love someone, truely love them, you accept their decissions in life and support them to the end. You don't hope (or aid in) the s of the ones that they love just for your possible gain.

Posted by chris from ww on September 10, 2007 07:34 AM

Ok, to all of you who consider Snape's love an "obsession" and who think he's evil, selfish, not a hero and etc.. Here's what I think: J.K. Rowling must have had a reason for stressing the fact that Snape's a hero in the end of the book, and that's probably because she hought so too. (Why write about something you don't believe in!) And although we can't be 100% sure, it's highly probable. Now, J.K. knew Snape best, she made him up! And I think it's her opinion that matters most here...Not that we can't have our own, but I still agree with her. And plus, and obsession keep you risking your life for fifteen years (more!)? I highly doubt that. Shape SHOULD have been in least the Snape we found out about in book 7!

Posted by K from J on September 10, 2007 2:23 PM

To Chris,

Well, we tend to believe that love should be selfless and act for the better for one's love. But hey, let's face it, the world doesn't work like that. Everyone, more or less, has some selfishness when love is concerned. I really doubt anyone can be very happy for the one they love even if he/she loves someone else, let alone that someone is your enemy.

I don't agree that Snape is just obsessed with Lily, he really loved her since their childhood. Maybe that "love" did get stronger by the day since she d. It's something Snape craved for, but he would never get it, that ed him. It's more about regret and remorse, not obsession.

And I don't think Snape really hated Harry. Have tried to re-read all the books and singled out the scenes when they were together. Most of them were more like an interaction between Snape & Harry. Snape said/did something and Harry retorted. He never showed respect to Snape who was very conscious about his image. It's like Harry was repeatedly challenging Snape's authority. The only time I think Snape was really angry and Harry wasn't resentful, was when Harry cursed Draco with the "sectumsampra".

Snape was mean to Harry (no matter what the reason was) but he kept saving Harry's life. While Harry hated Snape and against all reasons, never tried to believe in him. Did Hermione, before Snape ed Dumbledore, always told Harry & Ron that there was no evidence that Snape was on the dark side even they tried to pin everything to Snape?

Posted by Fiona from Hong Kong on September 11, 2007 10:40 AM

But Snape DID love Harry! He found love for him through Lily, that's why he cast the doe in Dumbledore's office. The reason he was mean to Harry was not only for cover, but for anger at James. This hate was his flaw, because it led to him calling Lily a Mudblood when he loved her, and to hurting Harry. When he saw Harry from the outside, he saw the James he had so hated, and let it override his instincts, but deep down, Snape knew that Harry was different from his father, and he loved Harry. It wasn't that he completely loved or completely hated Harry, it was a love-hate feeling, kind of what Harry ends up developing for Draco.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on September 11, 2007 9:24 PM

I think Snape hurt himself most with his actions. He made one very big mistake in his life (becoming a Eater and telling Voldemort about the prophecy) and paid dearly for it. He lost the love of his life and had to watch her drifting away from him and falling in love with someone he hated for good reasons (James humiliated Snape in front of Lily).
He spent the rest of his life making amends for what he did.
There's nothing more a human being can do.

Posted by Siena from Leeds. UK on September 12, 2007 07:04 AM

K from J wrote:
"Now, J.K. knew Snape best, she made him up! And I think it's her opinion that matters most here..."

I totally agree. JK make Snape up and it is her opinion, when asked at a live studio aunce if Snape was a hero said that "he is more like an anti-hero."

Just because Harry said that Snape is the bravest man that he ever met doesn't mean that he was a hero. Did he play his part in undermining Voldy...yes. And he played it quite well.

"And plus, and obsession keep you risking your life for fifteen years (more!)?"

I wouldn't know. I have never been obsessed to that point. But I agree that some remorse could have played a roll in Snape becoming Dumbledore's man after Voldy ed Lily and James.

To Fiona from Hong Kong:
I can appreciate your take on this issue, but how old do you have to be to truely FEEL love? Do 9 or 10 year olds love? Can someone love the same person from the time they are 9 through adulthood? I feel that love is more of an adult thing. With 9 year olds, they might think that someone is cute, and want to be their friend. But 9 year olds don't love others. By the time they were in school, the only time Lily and Snape really saw each other was when they were stu or in a class together. Other than that they both had their own friends within their own houses. I do find it interesting that Lily was able to move on, but Snape couldn't. Typically love goes two ways, not one. With one way love, you typically have obsession.

Was Snape too obsessed (at age of 11) to move on and find other friends.....? I don't know but the thought of an 11 year old with such feelings disturbs me. Sounds like he could be the next South Hill rapist or Greenriver er.

As for Snapes hatred of Harry. I don't think that he truly hated Harry. I think he hated James and since Harry looks like his father he took the brunt of that hatred. I also think that Snape "hated the fact" that he was helping to bring the downfall of Voldy for someone that looked like his most hated rival.

To CJ from Utah:
You mentioned that Snape casts the doe patronus out of love for Harry? Although we don't know what Lily's patronus is, but I would assume it was also a doe. He didn't cast the doe out of love for Harry, but out of love for Lily. That is why DD said "Even after all these years, Snape?".

I don't believe that Snape loved or even liked Harry. He found Harry to be a means to an end, and that end is the of the one who ed Lily....hum, that is more obsession.

Posted by Cdh from WW on September 12, 2007 09:35 AM

Snape was definitely a hero. I can�t understand how anybody can deny that. To me he was one of the two biggest heroes in the story (the other one being Harry).

I can see many people are upset about what kind of a teacher Snape was. I think there were many reasons why he behaved like he did. But if anything is sure it is this: he wasn�t a sadistic or cruel person. I think it would be illogical to claim he was sadistic and cruel after we�ve seen how he cared for the students of Hogwarts, how he saved people risking his own life, how he tried to teach Harry even when he was fleeing from Hogwarts in HBP ("Blocked again, and again, and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!"), how he wouldn�t let the Eaters torture Harry (Voldemort wouldn�t have had anything against this as he only wanted to Harry himself) and so on. Snape cared for other people. That�s why I say he couldn�t possibly be a cruel person.

So there MUST be other reasons for his behaviour. As for Harry, I think Snape was so embittered by what James and Sirius had done to him at school that he just couldn�t help feeling hate when he saw this little-James in front of him. Not only did Harry look like James (and remarkably so) but also Snape assumed that he would be like James. This is what Snape said to Harry in the very first potions lesson, when Neville had made a mess: "You - Potter - why didn�t you tell him not to add the quills? Thought he�d make you look good if he got it wrong, did you?" When I first read this, it felt so unfair! Now I can see that James had been just like that: James wanted to make Snape, and some other pupils, look ridiculous just to show off. Snape, falsely, assumed that Harry would be like his father. And this was the mistake Snape did. Later he got proof that Harry indeed was arrogant like his father when Harry broke the school rules and had conversations in classes.

But it is also true that Snape had to act the role of a Eater, even when teaching. There were children of Eaters in the classes. So it was kind of fortunate that Harry resembled James so much. I think it would have been very difficult for Snape to handle his feelings and to behave like a Eater towards Harry if Harry had looked like Lily.

About Neville - Snape: Snape hated clumsiness, being himself so perfect in all ss. In the first potions lesson Neville was awfully clumsy and, in addition, caused danger to himself and other pupils. He in fact caused bad boils to himself. Note: in his heart, Snape cared for the pupils. So I think it�s no wonder Snape called him "Idiot boy!". And we must remember that it was also very good for Snape�s Eater role to show contempt for this boy, the son of the Longbottoms who had fought Voldemort.

Hermione - Snape: The same thing: it was good for Snape�s role to show contempt for a muggle-born. In the teeth-occasion there were children of Eaters present, and this incident, and Snape�s remark, would surely be laughed at at their dinner-tables. I have a little theory that in this occasion Snape was acting his role because he looked "coldly" at Hermione, he was not sneering. But, as was said in an earlier message, Snape also tried to push Hermione to the direction of not relying too much on books.

Lastly, Snape really had an ironic, sarcastic sense of humour. He sneered and jeered. He made a remark about Neville�s clumsiness in front of their new DADA teacher, Lupin. And there were no children of Eaters present. He just was like that. He was not a perfect person. But he would never have done anything to really harm any of the children.

To me, Snape is a hero because he was an incredibly courageous spy, and because he sacrificed his whole life to protect the son of the woman he loved, and to fight against Voldemort. He is a hero also because he succeeded in growing into a man with the right values, although he had a bad beginning to his life. I respect Severus Snape very much. And I love him, in spite of his faults.

Posted by Sara from Finland on September 12, 2007 11:55 AM

To Cdh:

Well, 9 years old may not understand the affection they have is LOVE. But obviously Snape was drawn to Lily, I think it was her magical abilities that fascinated him at first. But then, he grew to like her personality and progressed to love her. In a word, Snape admired Lily and devoted to her. That was certainly not obsession to me. Look at Ron and Hermione, they started to feel for each other since their second year, more obvious in their third. How old were they? 12? 13? That's when adolescence starts. Just that Ron & Hermione were lucky belonging to the same house and could be friends! As Dumbledore said: "I sometimes think we sort too soon." Only if Snape could be in Gryffindor, life would be very different.

You did express why you think Snape didn't really hate Harry. But what about Harry hating Snape? If Harry could act so unreasonably towards Snape and still be considered as a hero, why not take it easy for Snape? The man needs some slack.

Posted by Fiona from Hong Kong on September 12, 2007 12:09 PM

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