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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 28)

C.J.: You and I are in agreement. I must not have expressed myself well earlier. Snape's basic integrity was learned the harder way, without much love and support in early life and disappointments in later life--but he did get it. Possibly his being a truly great wizard assisted in his self-development. Harry had integrity earlier (he had integrity during his childhood despite his treatment at home), possibly supported by his first year of experiencing parental love and care that taught him to trust his baby "world." What I was trying to convey earlier is that many commentors have emphasized Snape's actions as being totally influenced by his love/obsession for Lily. They then exprapolate that love directed toward Harry. I don't think Snape loved Harry at all, and, in fact, could hardly stand him. I think many of Snapes's actions were relative to that love for Lily and subsequent remorse for his inadvertent betrayal of her (emphasize HER--he knew he was betraying someone), but his growth as a person and commitment to thwarting Voldemort and his evil empire (of which helping Harry was a part) demonstrate his basic mature integrity and allegiance to the "good" side of the wizarding world.

Posted by Alice from Milton on September 24, 2007 06:35 AM

Also I don't think there's anything "obsessive" about Snape's love for Lily, there's no hint that he followed her around or anything. He kept her in his heart for all his life, she was his first (and probably only) happy thought in life. Rowling created something deeply romantic and tragic in her novels with the way she outlined the Lily/Snape connection and said Lily loved him as a friend and might have grown to love him romantically as well if it wasn't for his involvement with the Dark Arts.
James felt threatened and jealous about the friendship which was the main reason for him to torture Snape.

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on September 24, 2007 07:25 AM


I think I see Lily being Snape's only love, but not, I think, his only happy thought. His other happy thought was probably the torment of others; take James, for instance. When Lily insulted James in "The Prince's Tale" he seemed rather happy, indeed, there was a "new spring in his step". And Hogwarts was his other happy thought. "[Harry] and Voldemort and Snape, the abandoned boys, had all found home [at Hogwarts]."

Posted by C.J. from Utah on September 24, 2007 10:04 PM

As much as I love reading everyone's comments, after reading DH 5 times, I am still firmly of the opinion that Snape was always #1 in his own mind.

At no point did he deviate from that plan, Eater or not. He may have signed on with Dumbledore due to his love of Lilly, but never did he "love" Harry...I personally felt violated on behalf of Harry, when he said "" what a thing to request of a young man who you knew had to , and not for himself, but for his mother?

Snape was, in my opinion, TWISTED by his love of Lilly, and Dumbledore, with the "greater good" in mind, capitalized on that fact.

Harry, whatever his flaws, is the the end, he put it all, ingly, without surprise, without force on the line...Harry, you rock forever! Snape...well lets hope you are not tormented by James in the next level!

Posted by Susan from Ontario, Canada on September 25, 2007 10:18 PM

For all of those who keep writing that Snape was only good and protected Harry because of his love for Lily and because he felt remorse about his past:
Does it really matter WHY someone does good?

Also for everyone who contributed to this discussion: I think you are all brilliant thinkers and I gained some valuable insights on my own thoughts and feelings about the Snape topic!

I just wish that J.K. Rowling would get to read the comments as well, it would be interesting I think for her to know how her characters are perceived... and of course, for us to know what she thinks!

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on September 28, 2007 07:32 AM

I felt violated by the fact that Dumbledore requested to be ed by Snape. This is quite a lot to ask for I think and Snape is quite right when he asks Dumbledore what he thinks that would do to his soul.
If Snape hadn't been ed by Voldemort and Harry hadn't been there to collect his memory which would reveal the reason for this request everbody would have assumed Snape was a cold-blooded er. Who would have believed him, if he was still alive and told the truth about this request?

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on September 30, 2007 08:43 AM

Yes, Siena, it was quite a request in itself. Plus it put Snape in mortal danger as Voldemort thought that Snape was, after ing Dumbledore, the true owner of the elder wand. And Dumbledore knew Voldemort would try to get the wand. And Dumbledore didn�t tell Snape anything about the wand and the danger it was. I just can�t accept Dumbledore�s unethical actions. And I don�t understand why Rowling wrote it like this. I would have understood it if she, in the book, had somehow criticised Dumbledore�s actions. But, on the contrary, she made Harry name his son after Dumbledore.

Posted by Sara from Finland on October 1, 2007 10:32 AM

But we are forgetting that Dumbledore says to Severus, "You know whether it harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation." So really, since Snape never defeated Dumbledore, his soul was never damaged, and even if it was, then he would have felt remorse and healed it.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on October 1, 2007 9:21 PM

Yes, C.J., Snape�s soul was not damaged. But Dumbledore�s was, as he was dishonest and deceitful towards Snape. He only told Snape the ing would be to save Draco and to give Dumbledore a more pleasant . But what Dumbledore really was after was that, as Snape ed him, the wand would lose its power. A good plan, except that Snape should have been told the truth about it and the danger the plan was to him. You can�t ask people to do such things and not tell them the truth. Dumbledore used Snape shamelessly, the way Voldemort would use his men and women. And I wouldn�t have wanted to become so disappointed with Dumbledore.

Posted by Sara from Finland on October 2, 2007 01:09 AM

Even at war, we have to stay loyal and honest to the people who are on our side, who are loyal to us and trust us. What have we got left if we lose that? Look at what Harry did. He always saw to it that Hermione and Ron knew exactly what they were putting themselves into.

But Dumbledore said it about himself: he said himself he couldn�t be trusted with power.

Posted by Sara from Finland on October 2, 2007 02:30 AM

I'd like to relate to the readers a story about my High School English teacher. I was much like Harry in English class like he was in Potions class with a Teacher very similar. Yes, I was truculant, tardy, a class clown, and failed my exams.

I was given detention, made to sit seperate from the class and scrutinized above all others. When it came time to write our Thesis, I attacked the research like crazy because I wanted to show I was better than what she thought I was. My thesis was "How Henry David Thoreau influenced Ghandi and Martin Luther King through peaceful protest". I needed alot of guidance from my teacher and by the end of the school year we had become great friends and I got the highest score of all her classes.

Reading the Harry Potter books helped me related to this teacher who is still a mentor and source of inspiration, much like Snape.

Posted by Francis from Dallas, Tx on October 2, 2007 1:14 PM

Yes, Sara, but Ron and Hermione weren't hanging around with the Dark Lord every few weeks, and Severus would probably not have wanted to Dumbledore if he knew about the Elder Wand. Snape too, proved that he could not be trusted with power at a young age.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on October 2, 2007 2:25 PM

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