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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 3)

Personally I LOVE Severus Snape..I mean he is a real hero for me! Despite his enormous courage, he won the biggest battle – the battle with himself. He found a strength inside to protect Harry until very end. I was hoping that he is on “our” side, up until he ed Dumbledore…and still I had hope that it was some plan between them (yeay, I was right). So in my opinion - yes, he did mistakes, really big and bad ones, but he paid his completely and even more. And I also think that he had bad , would be a lot better to have let Voldy know, that he was never on his side!

Posted by JK from CA on August 1, 2007 1:20 PM

Well.. Would suffering under Judges who behave towards Counsel as Snape towards Harry count? Remembering that they can put you in Jail rather than mere 'detention'? If so, I can understand the pain from the first comments. And yet, I disagree. Snape is heroic.

Snape had a genuine 'change of heart'. He has had a wrenching life-altering wound from having anything to do with the of his once in a lifetime love. Given much of his background and life there was not that much chance of anyone as special as Lily Evans ever coming close to a romantic involvement with him more than once. It truly was his one great love.. and his choices at the time cost him that one chance. He never recovered.

There are posts above this one which indicate that Snape did not do much for Harry until the end. This clearly is not so. Snape was there to protect Harry from Quirrel despite those who suggest it was merely a plot trick at the start.

Snape was there for Harry much more specially in POA. In POA Snape follows the trio to the shrieking shack for two purposes. The first purpose is to protect them from Lupin and from Black. The second was to avenge Lily's betrayal by Sirius Black. Yes! If you re-read the section carefully you note that Snape taunts Harry that James d because of trusting the evil Black. Even Snape did not know it was Pettigrew who actually betrayed the family. Snape was acting in POA for the same purposes as in DH. Snape was to achieve justice for his lost love and to protect her progeny.

Those who decry that Snape's associations and motives are base and evil suggest that it is 'revenge' and selfishness that drove him. How is that different from Justice and retribution?

Snape sees too much of James Potter in Harry to be 'cuddly' with him. Harry himself realizes that Sirius and James were unfair to Snape. In part they may have 'driven' him into the arms of the Eaters as an alternative power block to associate with... we simply don't know that. And why did they do that? Not merely OOP Sirius and Lupin let out that James' actions when certain girls were around (Lily) were perhaps more out of control. The jealous torments inflicted upon Snape by Sirius and James may have been too much for Snape to ignore when faced with a boy who looked and often acted just like his father. And, when that boy also reminded Snape of Lily at the same time... the entire conflict within Severus Snape would be set in motion again.

At the School Headmaster Snape goes out of his way to devise methods of safe punishment (the forest with Hagrid) for Harry's associates to save them from the Carrows. When he is confronted by the staff... he flees rather than injure any of the staff. Can we actually sit here and say that the Snape who can legillimens as we saw in the duel with Harry in HBP, who knows so much dark magic could not have simply won a duel with many of the staff? After all, only Voldemort and Snape were able to fly without brooms in the series...does this tell us something of the s and power level? He left once again 'to protect' staff members rather than to fight them.

In HBP Harry is attacked by Eaters. Snape, who was not present at any of the planning for this 'raid', tells them to leave Potter alone that it is part of their instructions to do so. Snape simply asserted this to them...he had no knowledge of the raid in advance and nothing of the 'instructions' for it. He simply protected Harry. Had it been looked into carefully he might have been punished, even ed. He, again, risked his life for Harry in a subtle way. I see no 'self gain' or 'selfishness' from saving Harry after Dumbledor's and Snape's flight from Hogwarts. He likely was not going to see Harry's eyes after that but was merely risking himself to 'do the right thing'.

In the end, if nearly two decades of 'doing the right thing' are not enough to redeem Severus Snape for you, then you may continue to condemn him. For my part I am prepared to both forgive and admire The Potions Master and I think that Harry and Ginny must have agreed with my point of view from the final chapter of the series.

Posted by Charlie Tarbox from Gettysburg, Pa on August 1, 2007 3:12 PM

snape is a true hero!

snape would not have cared for harry if he wasnt lilys son. on the other hand, as harry looks like his father, snape must have felt jealousy when he sees harry. lily chose james over snape (what a fool), so obviously, snape must have hated james. this results to snape hating harry, as harry looks like james (we are told this repeatedly over and over again!)

snape d in the comfort of seeing lilys eyes when he told harry; "look at me!" this was why in all the books, we are told repeatedly that harry had his mothers eyes.

snape picked on harry. he loathed him, and said over and over again that harry was turning out just like his father!

snape was a true hero. he looked after and saved lilys son, even though lily chose james potter over him! he is loyal to dumbledore, and obviously seems threatened by harry!

severus snape still be alive inside our hearts!

Posted by chiarafsc from malta on August 1, 2007 3:27 PM

Snape is definitely a hero! He felt really guilty about telling Voldemort about the prophecy which lead to Lily's , and he could barely live with himself. He had a choice to remain faithful to Voldemort, or to go over to the right side with Dumbledore, and he picked Dumbledore.

Snape risked his life and spied on the eaters for Dumbledore, knowing that if Voldemort found out he would be ed. He also kept protecting Harry for Lily. Snape couldn't have been braver! And like J.K. Rowling said, Harry make sure everyone knows that Snape was on the good side.

Posted by Hibah from UAE on August 1, 2007 3:55 PM

Snape was a real hero from my point of view. He may have bullied Harry but that was only because he couldn't get a hold of James. He was paying back James for being cruel. Plus he was doing a favor for Lily whom he had always loved. But indeed Snape had a enormous amount of courage and bravery. I mean to Dumbledore on his orders takes a whole bunch of bravery. In my opinion he should have been in Gryffindor. Dumbledore trusted Snape from the beginning even though Harry hadn't. Snape also tried to protect Harry as much as he could, right under Voldemort's weird looking nose! He risked his life for Harry just as much as Mad Eye and Tonks had! The Order of the Phoenix Wasn't trusted as much as Snape was! Snape had a lot of guts!

Posted by Whittney from NC on August 1, 2007 3:58 PM

I was "bullied" and "pursued" by a few teachers. I do know how it feels. Still, that doesn't make me think that because Snape was rough it makes him that bad. I know he didn't like Harry, but that only made Harry stronger. At least that's the way I feel about the teachers I had and how I see things in the Harry Potter books.

I think Snape was kind of a hero and think about this: he risked his life more than anyone else. We know from the books he is a good occlumens but what if he failed? Well.. even knowing he was "bad" after all, I still like him... but that's just me!

Posted by Fredy from Portugal on August 1, 2007 4:12 PM

Snape spent his years at Hogwarts protecting Harry, yes. But, whose idea was that? Was it Snape's offer to Dumbledore or was it Dumbledore's request of Snape? In the passage where Snape reveals the truth to Dumbledore (Snape's last memories) about his role in the Potters' s, he seems to be surprised that Dumbledore expects something in return from him.

I would concede that Snape spent his years in Dumbledore's service both as spy and as protector for Harry in exchange for the safety of Hogwarts and gaining Dumbledore's trust. But that is not what I would expect of a hero. He did take risks being a double agent and over the years gained the confidence of Dumbledore as he worked to redeem himself in the Headmaster's eyes.

Certainly, it is the right thing under those circumstances to forgive him and of course Harry does the right thing. But, I don't think I could admire a man who endangered the woman he loved knowing that his information would destroy her husband and the child she bore. Snape didn't want to be called a coward but I can't find a better way of describing him. Snape's moral choices left much to be desired.

Posted by Hannah from Los Angeles on August 1, 2007 4:29 PM

Snape was both a hero and a heel.

American Heritage Dictionary: "Hero: A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life." "Heel: Informal A dishonorable man; a cad."

Snape was brave and risked his life over a long period of time ultimately sacrificing it. At the same time, he was dishonorable and despicable in the way he treated most of the people he was around. Yes, he respected Dumbledore, but I'm not sure he would have stood by him so long if he hadn't seen him as the best way to destroy the one who ed Lily. He helped Harry not because he cared for him, but because he cared for Lily. His love for her was obsessive, but he was still unable to see how much she hated the Dark Arts. Calling her a Mudblood was just the last straw. I think she could have even forgiven that, if he had been ing to give up the Dark Arts and his "friends" who made use of them. That was what she asked of him at the end -- she didn't ask for an apology, she asked him to get back on the right side and he couldn't even see why it mattered.

Like many people we consider heroes in real life, Snape had courage and ability, but was not really a nice person to live with in everyday life. Hero AND heel.

Posted by Beatrice from Abilene on August 1, 2007 4:54 PM

I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Severus. Don't know why, really, as I always have understood him to be a bitter, nasty, and generally unpleasant person. But I never doubted his loyalty, never doubted his allegiance, even after he ed Albus. His motives were never clear to me until this book, and I even asserted against the possibility that he was in love with Lily. But a hero? No. Severus was definitely very brave, and it must have taken quite a lot for him to have to protect the one who so much resembled the one he hated most. But bravery and pain do not make one a hero.

I don't think he deserved a "grandiose" of self-sacrifice at the final hour, but the he got I don't believe he deserved. I think the main reason for this lies in the reason behind it - not only was it pretty much pointless and in vain, but it was under a false pretense, an assumption made by Voldemort that was untrue.

Severus, I think, does come to care for Harry a bit; I think this is reflected in that he ends up sharing not only his memories of Albus and his allegiance to him, but also the earlier memories of Lily. All he had promised to do was tell Harry that he was to sacrifice his life, that he was the seventh Horcrux. He didn't really need to share his reasons, didn't really need Harry to understand why he did what he did. But, for the most part, it was simply that, as Albus had told him, Severus did not want Lily to have d in vain.

Regarding his doe Patronus - he says it was the same as hers, but why do you think Lily's was a doe? Perhaps to match James' stag? That's my guess, and so now, out of his love for Lily, Severus is pretty much stuck with a Patronus that is parallel to James'; that's gotta hurt a bit, too.

Posted by Monkeeshrines from orlando fl on August 1, 2007 5:09 PM

I think it's interesting to note, at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince, Petunia lets slip a comment that she knew what dementors were, when she overheard 'her' (Lily) and 'him' (James) talking about it, harry assumin it was his parents. Turns out the him was actually snape, as we discover in ly Hallows. Hows that for a bit of trivia?

Snape was a jerk, no denying, but was true to his word, and his cause, not letting his little pet hates getting in the way. Shows discipline, to do that, without losing it because of how everyones treating you.

Posted by Michael from Sydney, NSW on August 1, 2007 5:21 PM

Throughout the entire first 4 books, I could not stand Snape. In the pensieve scene in book 5, I began to realize that Snape is an actual human with actual feelings. But then in book 6, I started disliking him again with all of the Dumbledore craziness. In Book 7, he redeemed himself in my mind, but not enough for me to declare him a hero.

I think that Snape did many horrible things and also many good things. But the bad things can't overrule the good things, just as the good things can't overrule the bad things. Snape was human, as I admitted to myself over the course of the series. A human is not all villian or all hero. Snape had parts that, if focused on alone, could condemn him as a villian or allow him to flourish as a hero. But you cannot look at only some parts of him; you must look at everything as a whole.

In conclusion, while I do not think of Severus Snape as a hero, I do believe that he did things that he should be respected for.

Posted by Hannah from Ohio on August 1, 2007 5:47 PM

Snape is probably one of the most under-appreciated characters. He has an unbelievable amount of talent that he is unrecognised for. For example, he was the most accomplished occlumens, even beyond Voldy and AB, proven by being the right-hand man to the most powerful wizards. Also, he is an amazing potions master (maybe even the best) who AB relies on and this is also proven in HBP when harry accidentally gets snapes books when we find out about how snape has improved the potions. He can fly (in DH) and the only other wizard of doing so is Voldy.

He has the power to love, even though he is a -eater -by producing a patronus, which can only be produced through love. Okay I totally admit that he was an idiot in the past and maybe Lilly would have been romantically attracted to him if he wasnt so interested in the Dark arts and the people who he befriended in school, but he wanted to belong to something, something powerful because of the way he was treated, even from a young age before hogwarts (arguments in his household) and by James and sirius. he wanted to prove that he can be somebody. He didnt care much for harry because of James, but to still protect him, even though he loathed his father is a lot to ask. JK has made snape a character who isnt "the big man" or a person whol likes to be in the limelight, even though he was getting abused by the entire world, he could have easily just said, "ive had enough" but he kept to it and thats why he is a hero in my eye.

Posted by gav from liverpool on August 1, 2007 6:14 PM

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